Thursday, May 21, 2009

Staying on the Winning Line

It’s Tough Out on the Track

The Indy 500 is this weekend of course. There are certainly bigger fans than me, but you don’t have to be a fanatic to find the race fascinating.

For me, at any competitive event, it's the psychology that captures my attention most. I've never been that close to the participants, but the psychology of the race must be intense. After all, there may be one driver per car, but it is a team sport and there is a lot on the line. All kinds of unpredictable stuff happens between the start and the finish. How people work together before and during the race must play a huge part in the outcome. Surely it’s an environment where cool heads and cooperation have the greatest chance of prevailing.

500 miles is a long way when you’re frequently exceeding 200 mph. Tires wear out, the car suffers from the strain, unpredictable events like crashes and rain mean everyone suddenly has to make decisions – do we pull into the pits and make changes to the car?, what changes do we make?, or do we stay on the track?

In the end, it’s all about whose on the winning line and in position to win on the final lap. It isn't easy to put yourself at the front of the pack; to keep your nose always pointed toward victory. It takes:

  • the right plan
  • the right preparation
  • fast reactions
  • cooperation
  • smart adjustments along the way
  • vigilance and discipline

Sounds like a job for hoshin kanri, doesn’t it?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Winning the Lean Race - "What's the Right Lean Implementation Speed?"

If accomplishment wins the race, why do we often drive at the speed of activity?

Is it because those above us can't see our true "Lean" speed? After all, business scorecard measures usually aggregate too much data to be good gauges of Lean progress over short time periods. With this fact in mind, and in the absence of a good "lean speedometer", maybe executive management interprets more activity as "moving faster".

If this is the case, how do we correct the situation? Is it managment's job to come up with the right measurement to accurately indicate Lean progress? Or is that up to a technical person in charge of the technical side of your Lean effort? Or, maybe a financial person on your "Lean" team?

If you took on the challenge to create a "Lean Implementation Speedometer" what would your design look like? Would you be able to get agreement on one, or maybe a few, simple measures? Or would you want to try-out several measures, "dashboard" style, to give a larger audience a way to help you sort out what the indicators should be? If so, what metrics would you shop-around first?

blog posting - Dashboards - Not Just for Cars