Spending two packed days at the Building on Success 2017 conference, presented by the Utah Office of Management and Budget and Goldratt Consulting. (I've been working with Goldratt Consulting for several years, so my conference fee has been covered.) The overall theme is "Breakthrough results for business and government", and there are presentations from all over the map: several from Utah's great work, military, aviation, consumer product, information technology... More sessions that I could possibly follow. Most of this work is tied to using Theory of Constraints to create breakthrough results.
Kris Cox, the Executive Director of Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, gave one of the opening keynotes. Hers was another great talk on what she sees as the 7 Essentials for Breakthrough Results in any type of organization. (I've seen her at other Theory of Constraints conferences in 2016 and 2014.) I'm guessing she could give a version of this talk that would last for two hours, as she did not go into detail on each of these essentials.
The essentials, as she sees them.
- Think Big. There is always room for improvement, regardless of what has come before and what we've been asked to do. The audacious goals the things we think "how can I possibly get there?" This is what drives us to get something better.
- Embrace constraints. Constraints help us to focus, and with our knowledge of constraints give us a framework within which to innovate. There is the TOC version of "the constraint" that blocks improvements, as well as the larger version of constraints and strictures around how the work can happen. These would be things like growing the business while maintaining quality and safety. Is also the place where we might describe What Good Looks Like.
- Focus on THE right problem to solve. We cannot improve everything - we must focus. And the TOC five focusing steps help frame this very nicely. Using structured thinking processes will help to define the core problem and how to go about creating the change that is needed. In this context of this conversation, she also talked about 8 flaws of thinking that people bring and often cause them to not focus: believe things are complex, believe the problem is obvious or overlooked, ignore management time and attention, problem is a lack of something, problem is outside our control, define problem too narrowly, ignore the underlying need, no structure to define the core problem.
- Don't compromise.
- Make change real. Real work happens in execution, and this is where the value is created.
- Stop doing what's not working. Deciding what NOT to do may be more important than deciding where to focus. Limiting the distractions for people and organizations is a key to this idea.
- Be persistent. Passion and Patience. Things will go wrong, and there is uncertainty.
She also led off with a set of "Seductive 7" activities that always seem like good ideas, but often results in even bigger problems. These are read as "if only we had more XXX we would be successful." But, as Kris said, if you don't understand the underlying problem, these lead the wrong direction.
- more money
- more tech
- more reorg
- more training and communication
- more data
- more accountability / blame
- more strategic planning