Friday, August 20, 2010

Don’t be an Answer-Man Super Hero

If you are a young, zealous technical person and you think the boss wsupermanants you to personally come up with the answers, you might want to know how my first boss set me straight:
  • I wasn’t supposed to work alone to come up with the answer by myself; I was supposed to orchestrate the development of an answer using the best expertise I could find for every aspect of the problem.
  • Any answer developed without engaging, and involving, the people who do the work was unworthy of my boss's time or attention.  The answer would not be adopted.    
  • Once an answer was developed on paper, I was to begin implementation by starting with a trial, pilot or prototype in a small area.  This approach enables stakeholders to be hands-on.  By enabling stakeholders to manipulate the changes and give them a thorough test, stakeholders are able to provide meaningful, well considered feedback. 
  • Next I was to take the feedback and feed it into the design of change in order to make adjustments. 
  • Finally I was to continually practice these cycles of testing feedback and design enhancement to increase the quality of change as the change advanced through every area where it is needed. 
My boss made it clear that by orchestrating the development of answers in this way, I would be giving the entire organization a chance to engage in the process of building high quality change.   

Upon reflecting on the excellent business results this process of development has produced time and again.  And upon reflecting on how it has impacted each organization where it has been persistently applied, I recognize now that my first boss understood how to transform organizational culture.  He understood that by carrying out, and being dedicated to, the process above, he could take an organization that struggled with change and transform it into one that excelled at change. 

My first boss understood the values and the behaviors that must become embedded in the organization in order to make the transformation last.  He knew these values had to be learned through a process of "learning by doing." He understood that in a culture that excels at change, there isn't any room for answer man superheroes.    

Friday, August 06, 2010

Excellent Lean Blog Post about Lean Culture

Check out Mark Graban’s post about how the CEO of Akron Children’s Hospital is building a true culture of continuous improvement.  Another Hospital CEO Talks Lean Culture

If you want to learn more about how to establish a company culture genuinely supportive of Lean, I recommend you read the full article appearing in the online periodical Smart Business Akron/Canton | August 2010  William Considine embraces Lean Six Sigma to improve Akron Children’s Hospital  From this article, I particularly like the following quote attributed to CEO Considine:

“You’ve got to believe in your people, you’ve got to trust your people, empower them, and you’re going to be blown away when you see what they come back with,” he says. “They’re going to show you improvements that you would never have thought about. They’re going to show you ways to be efficient that the high-stake consultants you could bring in wouldn’t be able to find. You just have to keep celebrating that.”