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  • Management by Walking Around

    Management by walking around (MBWA) is based on the concept that a manager needs to actually understand what is really going on – not just view reports in an office. By seeing the actual state of affairs they can better understand what management improvements are actually doing where work is being done. Lean thinking includes a great deal on the importance of going to the gemba to make decisions. Anyone interested in MBWA should look at some of that material (as often MBWA is too superficial to do much good). 

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  • Respect for People – Understanding Psychology

    I see building improvement capacity of the organization, which largely means building the capacity of the people, as an extremely important focus of improvement efforts. It is, at times, important to slow down the pace of change to ensure that people can adopt and incorporate the new concepts fully. If not, the improvements tend to only take effect on the surface.

    Improvements in results are important but it is also critical to have management improvement concepts adopted as the natural way of doing business.

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  • Focus on Customers and Employees

    I believe it is the purpose of organization to serve many stakeholders(customer, employees, stockholders, community…). Thankfully some companies agree: Compensation at Whole Foods – Starbucks: Respect for Workers... Here is another example – How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart...

    I am happy to invest in companies where all stakeholders are winning – I think that is a great long term strategy...

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  • Process Improvement and Innovation

    Every so often an article appears discussing the need to change focus from process improvement to innovation... I disagree on several grounds. First you have needed to focus on both all the time. Second, it is not an either or choice. Third, the process of innovation should be improved.

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  • Failure to Address Systemic SWAT Raid Failures

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  • How to Get Ahead

    I find that who says something is usually more important in predicting how people will react than what is said. As I have tested this myself I have learned how biased people are by who is talking; and I have tried to correct the judgments I reach (I know I don’t do it all the time but I try to especially for important things).

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  • No Excessive Senior Executive Pay at Toyota

    Toyota’s 32 top executives received just over $12 million in salary. Toyota made something like $13,000,000,000 in profits. With the top 32 executives getting about $20,000,000 that is .15% of earnings. Even if there are some other benefits not included in the total that .15% figure for the top 32 executives doesn’t really compare to ludicrous pay of many CEOs in the USA. Toyota has a different paradigm than the others (they believe in the organization as a system not hero worship practiced by USA companies to justify ludicras executive salaries).

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  • Why Isn’t Work Standard?

    When standard work is not followed by one person then it might be that intervention with that one person is needed (or in some cases it might be that person found a better way and you need to update the standard and figure out why the standard wasn’t updated before – probably a system problem, annoying to follow procedure to get improvement adopted…). Much more often “policy” (which might be similar to standard work – but I think standard work really requires a system that is missing in places where “standard work” is not standard at all) is not followed in general – everyone does their own thing.

    ...

    What needs to be worked on is the failure of the management to create a system where standard work is the way work is done, not blaming everyone for not following the standard in various ways.

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  • People are Our Most Important Asset

    ideally the organization would be providing all employees excellent coaching opportunities, all employees would be paid more than fairly, all employees would have the opportunity to develop along their desired plan, all employees would have great leadership, all employees would not be subject to continually annoyance of management system failures, all employees could count on the support of the system when needed…

    But in organizations that I have worked for we are have not reached that point. So while working to move the organization closer and closer to that goal, I believe making some extra effort to focus on those people that are helping move the organization in that direction. But it is risky if done without an understanding of systems, variation, psychology, etc.  Providing extra coaching, advice and attempting to protect people from the management failures you can’t get fixed seem like pretty safe methods.

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  • Tilting at Ludicrous CEO Pay

    I continue to tilt at the robber barron CEO pay packages. Hopefully, at some point, the people approving these obscene pay packages can be shamed into stopping or replaced by people with some sense of decency. I was taught in the days of robber barrons the business world was seen as an amoral place (morality did not belong in this area of human endeavor) but that over time society decided that in fact morality did apply there. It is hard to reconcile that change with the behavior of CEOs and board approving ludicrous pay packages.

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  • Continuous, Constructive Feedback

    The correct strategy, communicate and coach continually. Have defined process that are clear to everyone. Have clear expectations for what people are suppose to do and have methods to make problems visible so they can be addressed...

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  • The Awesome Cat Cam (2007)

    This great project (CatCam) involved taking a digital camera and some additional equipment to create a camera that his cat wore around his neck which took pictures every 3 minutes. The pictures are great. The cat got photos of several other cats and seemed to like cars.

    ...

    This is my favorite home engineering project. The concept is great. The explanation of the technology is great. The adjustment to real life situations is great. The end result (the photos) is great.

    After writing this post, I interviewed the engineering behind the CatCam, Juergen Perthold - The Engineer That Made Your Cat a Photographer.

     

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  • Bad Management Results in Layoffs

    Layoffs are a failure of management.  If the company has not been executing a long term strategy to respect people and manage the system to continually improve, manage for the long term, working with suppliers... it might be they have created an impossibly failed organization that cannot succeed in its current form.  And so yes it might be possible that layoffs are required.

    ...

    At exactly what point some layoffs are necessary and how much other stakeholders are squeezed to avoid layoffs is not simple to answer (just as employees are squeezed to avoid suffering by other stakeholders).  I think to have any pretense of good management systems while resorting to layoffs management must say what specific failures lead to the situation and what has been done to fix the system so such failures will not re-occur.  Those explanations should seem to be among the best applications of 5 why, root cause analysis, systems thinking, planning... that you have seen.  Layoffs should be seen as about the most compelling evidence of failed management.  Therefore explanations attempting to justify the layoffs have as high a barrier to overcome as any proposed improvement to the organization/system.

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  • Six Sigma Outdated? No.

    ...execution of six sigma often focused too much on cost reduction, optimizing short term projects (which resulted in sub-optimizing the entire system), ranking and rating employees… But innovation is not harmed by a good six sigma program – in fact a good six sigma effort a decade ago understood the importance of innovation perfectly well.

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  • Boston Travel Photos

    After I presented the Deming Management Seminar in Boston last year a spent a few extra days in to enjoy the city. See photos from my Boston visit including: Boston Fine Arts Museum, Boston Science Museum and Boston Common.

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