Friday, July 31, 2009

Without Hoshin Kanri, the CEO Won’t Pull the Trigger on Her Plan

A service business CEO, leading an organization with 650 employees, wants to launch a strategic initiative but isn’t ready. Something is missing from the picture. What is it?

The CEO's idea is strong - boost financial results by putting a “pay for performance” model in place for employees. Her plan ties pay to productivity, quality, and other important measures. The financial argument is solid. The design looks great –

  • it’s been skillfully crafted by an industry expert

  • it's based on a model with a proven track record

  • and it's been tailored specifically for her business

Yet, even under the pressure of a struggling economy and shrinking profits, the CEO is reluctant to pull the trigger on the plan. Why? Well, as good as the plan is, she’s just not sure it will work.

What if the employees don’t like the change and resentment leaks through to customers?

What if the project runs into difficulty after launch, who will see it through?

What if the definition of service quality that was used to construct the model is slightly off?

Will an early performance boost be followed by a downward slide in results as customers realize things “aren’t what they used to be”?

What can be done to assure the CEO her plan will be a success?

Hoshin Kanri strategy deployment, also known as Policy Deployment, is a process designed to give the CEO the confidence she needs to pull the trigger on her plan. The process framework will not only communicate and deploy her idea, but it will launch her idea on the best possible footing, then protect and safeguard her investment by testing and proving her idea will work, under controlled conditions, before she’s in too deep.

Hoshin Kanri ensures CEO’s leading their businesses into the future will arrive safely and reap well deserved rewards. Hoshin Kanri makes sailing into uncharted waters safer and less stressful. When it comes to implementing strategies for boosting business performance, it’s as close as you can get to buying piece of mind.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Nobody Likes Bad Change" to be Presented at the TQM Network

You can attend a lively interactive presentation of "Nobody Likes Bad Change" at the offices of the TQMNetwork in Fort Wayne, Indiana on September 3rd, from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM.

I will:

  • smash a common myth about people - hint: do people really naturally resist change?
  • explain how to easily overcome "resistance to change"
  • the one thing you must have to get people to fully cooperate with change

Potential general business audience members should consider atending if:

  • you are in charge of making change successful at work and you want to keep unnecesary stress and problems from getting in the way or slowing you down
  • you are concerned about yourself, or someone you know, putting themselves at risk by responding to changes at work in a way that may be interpreteed as "resistance"
  • you want to increase yoru chances of playing a future leadership role in a business organization

Potential special topic audience members - you should consider attending if you are interested in one or more of the following:

  • change management
  • policy deployment, strategy deployment, Hoshin Kanri
  • implementing Lean, particulary in a non-manufacturing setting

In the last portion of the presentation, I will explain briefly:

  • why you must understand how to to manage change if you want to play a future leadership role in almost any larger organization
  • why "Hoshin Kanri" guided change management allows organizations to outpace their competition
  • why a particular personal philosophy can put you on the "leadership" fast track, and how you can get it, or at least take advantage of it, even if you don't have it

You can learn more about the session content and register for the event at the following link register.

You can preview a sampling of the presentation material below - albeit without my promised-to-be engaging stories of course, and without the opportunity to challenge my hopelessly positive attitude regarding people and what it really means when they "resist change".

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Organic Lean™ - a Natural, Resistance-Free, Implementation Approach

It’s no secret – companies often struggle to implement Lean. In fact, according to an Industry Week article, By The Numbers: Of all firms responding to the IW/MPI Census of U.S. Manufacturers less than 20% of companies report a major increase in performance generated from improvement initiatives like Lean.

A typical transition to Lean starts out just fine. Once the executive vision for Lean as a business strategy has been communicated, introductory training then follows. The training is usually effective - bringing exciting Lean ideas and concepts into view. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm often quickly fades when the first Lean activities begin. What's the problem? Organizations frequently see standard implementation practices as potentially harmful. This perception of danger leads to a fast build-up employee resistance. Overcoming this "resistance to change" increases costs, weakens results, and decreases return on investment.

Organic Lean™ corrects standard implementation practices to fully deliver the benefits of Lean.

To learn more, read the full article An Introduction to Organic Lean , or see the presentation below.

Vist the Systemental website for information about Organic Lean™ Services

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Nobody Likes Bad Change

Research has shown 8 out of 10 executives who launch major change initiatives are dissatisfied with the results delivered by their efforts. In larger organizations “resistance to change” and “lack of implementation know-how” are two of the top obstacles consistently identified as blocking or weakening success. The impact of these problems can be significant. At the least they cause excessive stress at work, and, at their worst, cause the loss of jobs and even business failure. The presentation below describes how to view “resistance to change” from a new, positive perspective. Tactics are then presented for using the fresh perspective as a problem solving tool capable of making the implementation of change easier, less stressful, and more successful.
For those interested in Lean management, the presentation, through stories and explanations, will develop a thorough understanding of the concept of "gaining social authority". In addition, tactics for applying the concepts are presented in a practical , easy to understand format.

Excellent MIT Sloan Management Review Article Explaining A3 Management Methods

The author, Michael S. Hopkins, bases the article content on John Shook's book Managing to Learn. I highly recommend the article - "Problem Solving by Design". (You may have to sign up with MIT Sloan but it is quick, easy and worth the effort.)

I was pleased to notice how consistently the article implies improvement is about building a more effective process, not finding fault with people. The article communicates through an example the underlying assumption of A3 Management - "people are smart and want to do good work", and the fundamental directive that follows - "let's work together to find the best way to get the job done".

The article includes a priceless quote from John Shook's book where early in his career his Toyota mentor told him,

"John, you must use the organization. It is there for you. Use the organization as if it were a tool to wield, an instrument to play ..."

The statement indicates high respect for the organization's capability. And, for those of you who like to take analogies a little further - if you think of the musical instrument comparison more deeply, you realize his mentor is also saying - there is a right way to play the instrument- if you learn the right way you will reveal the true, natural capability of the organization to solve problems and make improvements.

I recommend John Shook's blog as well. You can visit his blog using the following link: John Shook's Lean Management Column

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

That's Just Not Natural - 5 Ways to Squash Employee Involvement

Genuine employee involvement requires an understanding of what employees naturally appreciate when they participate in improvement activities. The following list describes five things employees definitely do not appreciate:  
  1. forced-march improvement activities
  2. a leader  employees perceive as having his or her own agenda with little concern for the needs of others 
  3. spending time solving problems that most people don’t care about
  4. “dog and pony show” style charts and visual management boards that mean little to real improvement
  5. someone from above or outside that apparently has all of the answers
Unfortunately, the most popular from the list above is the first point, the forced-march improvement activity.  This is perhaps most typified by a poorly prepared and poorly run kaizen event.
The second point from above is the easiest to spot.  It often happens when someone from corporate flies in to deliver a training event or run a project session.  Employees often complain of these events not being equal in value to the amount of time they take to complete.
The most frequent cause of point number three is tactical action planning that is driven from the top down instead of being driven from bottom-up. In these cases projects end up on the list that only the bosses seem to think are good ideas.  In itself, making one or more bosses happy isn't a bad thing, but when it happens at the expense of project that are better suited to solving urgent problems it really takes the wind out of the employees sails. 
Don’t get me started on point number four. A little bit of this may be understandable or even necessary but too much is simply unbearable. Too much damages motivations and turns the average employee into a cynic about company management.  When this happens it can take months or even years to repair.
You know number five is at work when employees start to openly complain about having to participate in improvement activities that are driven by corporate resources or by experts from outside the company.  The most common root cause of this kind of complaining by employees is a failure to encompass employee perspectives and concerns when designing the activity in the first place. 

Encompassing employee perspective and concerns in the design of an activity before launching the activity involves
  • getting to know the employee groups expected to attend
  • determining how the planned activity relates to the employee's concerns and interests
  • incorporating features into the activity which address employee concerns and interests
  • doing so in a way which creates synergy between the expectations and interests of employees at each level of the company - leadership, management, and organizational level employees
In fact, following the four points above is the answer to all "five things employees do not appreciate" mentioned in the first paragraph above.  A failure to encompass the various perspective's and concerns is guaranteed to slow things down and make them more difficult.  On the other hand, experience shows activities which do a good job of covering the various perspectives and concerns enjoy better participation, meet objectives in a shorter timeframe, and generate stronger results. 

Monday, July 06, 2009

Hoshin Kanri - Unreasonable Prima Donna or Your New Best Friend

It is easy to get intimidated by the many heavy, state-of-the-art, "tools and templates" style presentations of Hoshin Kanri material. This may leave many with the impression it would be almost impossible to convince key players it's worth the effort to adopt the methodology.

This would be a shame - first-hand accounts present a different story altogether - they reveal a very reasonable Hoshin Kanri character. In fact, under the right conditions, the methodology is really about making change more practical and comfortable for all involved.

Read the article "Hoshin Kanri - Get Ready to Move Her In" to learn more about the the star processes's pleasant alter ego.