All in continuous improvement
An old post from Donald Reinertsen on "The Cult of the Root Cause" got me thinking about our use of logic and over-reliance on tools. He describes over-reliance on the Five Whys without applying some common sense. And I add some of my own thoughts on top.
The Manager Tools podcast has a recent entry on The Five Whys which come out of the suite of tools from Toyota / Lean / Toyota Production System. It's a great root cause analysis tool, but the way the Manager Tools team describe it struck a chord with me.
April K. Mills' "Everyone is a Change Agent: A Guide to the Change Agent Essentials" is a distillation of several change management approaches into clear and enjoyable approach to change.
If you look for something, you will likely find it. If people know you are monitoring or looking for something, they will make an effort to supply that thing. And on the other side, if you don't ask for that thing / report / result, you won't get it.
Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization by Domenico Lepore, Angela Montgomery and Giovanni Siepe. It's a good read for people interested in management and creating ever-flourishing organizations.
The latest DFJ Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders podcast has a great discussion from Julie Zhou, VP of Product Design at Facebook, about creating great solutions to problems. You need to define the problem well!
My focus in "process improvement" circles has to do with Theory of Constraints concepts and approaches, but that doesn't prevent me from appreciating other approaches as well. One of the ideas that comes up in the Lean world is that of Respect for People.
I came across a great illustration by Henrik Kniberg, summarizing a talk he did recently on the topic of how to create and maintain focus. The blog post is a set of short commentary, all revolving around the three points illustrated: Create slack; Say no; Stop thinking, "I don't have time".
What does "continuous improvement" mean? What does it mean to you? There is a strong connection to humility and acknowledging that "I don't know". Or at least, I have more to learn.
Depending on who you talk to and where you listen, the Lean and Theory of Constraints communities are either close partners or opposing players in the "continuous improvement" arena. But from my perspective they are much closer to being friendly than opponents.
Kevin Kohls had a great talk on the topic of The "Bad Luck" Obstacle - Management Churn. Essentially, he is asking the question of how people who do TOC (or any other) implementations deal with the fact of life in organization: management moves around.
Break away from Groundhog Day of solving the same problem over and over. Dissolve the problem instead of merely resolving it.
More on time management and multitasking. It's a topic near and dear to what I've been doing for many years.
Stephen Bungay's "The Art of Action" brings together ideas around how people and organizations should be led, based on the study of Carl von Clausewitz and other military thinkers around how they deal with the fact of life: we can't know everything before we must act.
In my work the idea of "flow" is all about ensuring the right work gets started - work that will create value for the organization. And, once it has started, that it doesn't get stuck or stopped or held up until the value is created. Ideally: customer buys the results; savings are truly achieved.
So, is multitasking bad or good. This author talks about both sides and then decides he wants to continue multitasking anyway.
"Pride and Joy" by Alex Knight is a Theory of Constraints business novel about a hospital in chaos and a way of thinking that can help move beyond the chaos to a truly patient-centric, high quality environment.
Big Visible posted a great photo / poster a few weeks ago with their article Velocity Is Like A Helium Balloon. While their focus is Agile development, the thinking behind it can be applied to just about any area of improvement. "Velocity is like a helium balloon. It will rise on its own, if nothing is holding it down!"
One of the many people I follow on Twitter, Richard Cushing, has been interviewed and the results posted as "Where Does Your ERP Selection Fit with Your Continuous Improvement Efforts?"
Yishai Ashlag's new book, TOC Thinking: Removing Constraints for Business Growth, is a good overview of the Theory of Constraints approach to thinking about running organizations.