All in continuous improvement
I first heard the term VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) five years ago when I started working with a client that epitomizes this view of the world. It's one of those terms that, once explained, seem to describe the world perfectly.But isn't this just a way of looking at the world?
The goal isn't efficiency. The goal is getting the right things done.
Eli Schragenheim did a nice TOC ICO webinar the other day on the topic of buffers, "Time Buffers, Stock Buffers and Buffer Management – The Key Insights and Their Universal Use."
When bringing a new way of doing things to organizations, we often get enamored with the physical or technical changes that support the new way of working. Surely if we have this THING, then we must be doing THAT.
But does this really mean that we have changed?
"The Incredible Transformation of Gregory Todd" by AJ Sheppard is an interesting take on the business novel with the guru character played by a young upstart, rather than a grizzled veteran or external consultant. There are a lot of good nuggets, but I missed an overall picture of how the transformation was accomplished.
The Ministry of Ideas podcast has a recent episode of the idea of "(In)Efficiency." It was also excerpted in yesterday's Boston Globe, "Long Before Uber, Efficiency Was Divine." It was informative, but there is a big element that is missing for me: why is the concept so strongly embedded in the way we think - so much that it actually damages individuals and organizations.
A quick post about flow and the challenge of bringing this idea into organizations - it challenges deeply-held beliefs.
A client sent a link to Tom Wujec's TED Scotland 2013 talk, Got a Wicked Problem? First, tell me how you make toast. His idea is to use drawing and visualization to help people bring clarity to their problems. And I pick up on the idea of allowing ourselves to iterate around the visualization as being important to understanding the deeper system.
I came across "Guest Blog: Finding Science and Success with Lean Principles in R&D" by Norbert Majerus of Goodyear on the Factory Physics website, and it describes the Factory Physics ideas as applied in new product development, and I thought it was a pretty good summary. This is also a lot of what we do with Theory of Constraints concepts applied in product development (and project management) arenas too.
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.