Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Responsible In Change

Part of being a responsible leader is preparing your people for change.  With any good
organization, there should be change.  There will be change.  And your staff can probably sense it, even if you'd rather think otherwise.  So promise change . . . because it’s a promise you can keep.

In fact, you should be taking advantage of this opportunity to make some changes that you've already identified in your area of the organization.  With your preparation, you need to understand that the workforce will be primed for change, anticipating it, and therefore poised to adapt more readily than usual.

As part of the management team, you're also responsible for helping to “sell” the changes.  But this doesn’t mean you just throw people a sales pitch about the positive side of the changes and how wonderful things are going to be.  There's normally both good news and bad news, and both sides of the story should be told.

So let people know what they can expect.  Give it to them straight.  They deserve to know - they're adults, they can handle it.  Plus, you couldn’t fool them for long anyway.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Value Stream Mapping

In a nutshell, value stream mapping is a lean-management method for analyzing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer.  Now I'm not typically too big on theories, statistics, mapping, etc.  But when I read Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation, I had to rethink a bit as I started to compare it to storyboarding - which I DO like.

Karen Martin and Mike Osterling have taken the confusion out of value stream mapping (VSM) and show how to utilize it in an easy and effective way.  They show us that VSM can not only be used with manufacturing, but also in logistics, supply chain, service oriented industries, healthcare, software development, product development, and even administrative and office processes.  Have you ever thought of using VSM as an effective means to orient new hires?  It can also "provide a clear line of sight to the external customer from every function and work area involved in the value stream".  How can that possibly not be good?

Hey, here's a novel idea from Karen and Mike - go the Gemba.  I love that term/idea.  Gemba, as they describe it, is a Japanese word for "the real place, where the work is actually done".  A critical step in VSM is physically walking the value stream.  I believe that's where most organizations fail right off the bat.  You must be willing to walk the talk.

You don't need to be a big statistics geek to understand what Karen and Mike are talking about here.  The book is well written and easily understood which will help you to quickly understand the basics of VSM all the way through the execution steps.  The historical problem with VSM is that people just don't understand it.  Well after reading this book, that will no longer be a valid excuse.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I'm Not Accountable

Most people view accountability as something that happens to them when performance
falls off, problems arise, or results fail to come about.  The fact is, many think accountability only crops up when something goes wrong or when someone else wants to pinpoint the cause of the problem - all for the sake of pinning blame and pointing the finger.  When things are sailing along smoothly, people rarely ask, “Who's accountable for this success?”  Typically, no one starts looking around for the responsible party until something adverse happens.

If you take a look at dictionaries, most provide a definition of accountability that promotes a pretty negative view.  Webster’s defines accountability as: “subject to having to report, explain, or justify; being answerable, responsible.”  Notice how the definition begins with the words, subject to, implying little choice in the matter.  This confession and powerless definition suggests that accountability is viewed as a consequence for poor performance, something you should fear because it can only end up hurting you.

Since most people experience accountability this way, it’s no wonder they spend so much time shunning it and explaining and justifying poor results.