Oct 13, 2018

Only the challenges in your way matter, the rest are a distraction . . .


Many of us process improvement types have a strange view of the world. We see everything around us as slow, ineffective, or just plain broken. The world would be a happier place if, and only if, we could just fix everything! It's a pretty glum way of looking at things, but there's a strange beauty to this view nonetheless. It gives us Lean Practitioners the fire to work tirelessly on everything around us and thus perfect our craft. It's a great path to deepen our skills. Truth be told, this was me for a very long time. As the years passed, the wonderful effect of the PDCA cycle yielded a new wisdom. Yes, everything can always be improved. That said, not everything that can be improved is a problem. The missing piece is your overall objective. Once you set an overall objective, only the challenges in your way are problems worth addressing. Everything else, is just a distraction. So, the next time you decide to put on your process improvement gloves, ask yourself, is that problem even your way? What do you think? How do you organize your teams to only solve the problems that matter?

New Posts
  • Companies deliver value to their customers through a myriad of interconnected processes. In order to serve our customers better, we need to keep improving our processes. Unfortunately, not all areas of our business have the same aptitude for change. Some parts evolve easily, while others resist even the smallest improvement. In other words, every area of a business has an inherent aptitude for change . I called this aptitude Process Fitness . How do you elevate process fitness? The short answer is, practice. Find yourself a coach, and start the journey of practice. There's nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
  • Whenever someone gives me their heartfelt advice, the first thing I ask is if they've tried it for themselves. If the answer is some flavour of no, then I know it's not advice. It's just gossip. It's something they heard about and thought sounded cool and progressive. Never having applied their own advice, they're so ready to give it away. I call this kind of knowledge gossip , and these types of people gossipers . There is an insane amount of Lean Gossip floating around. People just throwing around tips, templates, and jargon like cheap confetti. Lean principles were discovered and refined by great women and men who were Authentic Practitioners . They were grounded in the fundamentals and thoughtful in their application. The next time you receive advice about Lean, take a hard look at the person advising you. Do their words carry weight? Do their titles bear true knowledge? Are they Authentic Practitioners?
  • Business leaders frequently find themselves at critical crossroads where decisions need to be made in order for the company to move forward. Should we invest in that new IT system? Should we purchase additional capacity to meet future demand? Should we open up another business unit in a new geography? Making the right decisions at these critical junctures can move a company light years ahead of it's competition. Wrong ones can be painfully costly and demoralizing. With the magnitude of these decisions weighing down on you, it sometimes feels better to postpone them altogether. Keep in mind though, not making a decision has an impact as well. Strategic decisions live within a window of time, after which, everything changes. In other words. inaction matters. Think thoroughly, and act swiftly . It's part of being a good leader.