Category: Culture

Lean – Have it Your Way

It’s easy to determine whether the leadership of a company truly embraces lean thinking.  One of the more frustrating “tells” is the insistence of leadership to precisely follow the path others have taken.

The underlying notion of achieving the same or similar results may be appealing but it does not address why the specific path or methodology was chosen by a given company to begin with.  Many automotive companies have learned that lean is not a simple matter of copying and duplicating the practices of a company like Toyota.

If lean is indeed a journey, it is only fair to say that any competitor or other company you have chosen as a model to follow is still in the pursuit of perfection to achieve the ever elusive ideal state.  Since we don’t or can’t possibly know what their ideal state could possibly look like, implementing the best practices of other companies is merely nothing more than a starting point.

To be a “copy-cat” or “me too” company does little to differentiate you from the competition.  What advantage or benefit will the customer realize if you are just like all the others?

The tools of lean and six sigma are not the concern here.  Rather, the concern extends to the very systems and processes of the organization and business itself.  It is the underlying thinking that forms the foundation on which the organif the underlying thinking and assumptions

Innovation is Lean Thinking by Design

Differentiation is a trait best demonstrated by a company like Logitech.  While some companies simply attempt to make products faster and cheaper, Logitech’s appeal is to offer something more in the product itself.

Consider Logitech’s recently introduced flow technology where a single keyboard and mouse combination can seamlessly switch between two computers as though they were one.  Spending a little more money on a premium or advanced product offering is still cheaper than having to buy three of each and also offers the benefit of having more available desk space.

As another example, Logitech recently released the MX Vertical Mouse, an ergonomically designed mouse that improves performance, productivity and reduces the risk of injury that may occur due to prolonged use of the device.  Although the design changes are only slightly radical, they demonstrate the never-ending cycle of continuous improvement.

Systems, methods, processes, and procedures are present in every facet of an organization or business.  Consider how lean thinking can be applied to increase their effectiveness, improve performance, and ultimately eliminate waste.

As I’ve said before, “What you see is how we think.”  I contend that Lean thinking is best demonstrated by what differentiates your company from the competition.  The greatest value may be found in those elements that defy logic and the small things that set you apart to position your company ahead of the curve.

Until Next Time – STAY lean!Versalytics

Related Articles and Resources

 



 

Advertisements

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

 

people vehicle sport motion
Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

Have you ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect?  I stumbled across this term while reading 8 Unexpected Signs You’re Smarter Than Average by Jessica Stillman (Contributor Inc.com).

The Dunning-Kruger effect, according to Wikipedia, is best described by the first two paragraphs and paraphrased in context as follows:

The Dunning Kruger effect is a cognitive bias where people of low ability people assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is and do not recognize their low-ability.  Low ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

High ability people may incorrectly assume that tasks easy for them to do are also easy for other people to do, or that other people will have similar understanding of subjects that they themselves are experienced in.

~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect

Why is this relevant?

Assessing our own abilities or the abilities of others will directly influence our own ability to learn or teach.  Regardless of whether we are teaching or learning, we must first have the ability to recognize that a gap exists.

How many times have you encountered someone who thinks they have all the answers?  Where a knowledge or skill gap exists, a person with this mind set is likely not going to be very teachable.  How engaged will this person be when they think they know all there is to know?

On the other hand, it is as important for the person teaching or speaking to know their audience.  Assuming a certain level of prerequisite knowledge or a given skill set may impede your ability to teach those who are there to learn.

Exposing the Gap

Recognizing the Dunning-Kruger effect gives cause to reflect on the four stages of competence:

  • Unconscious incompetence – unaware, lacks knowledge or skill
  • Conscious incompetence – aware, lacks knowledge or skill
  • Conscious competence – aware, has knowledge or skill with conscious effort
  • Unconscious competence – aware, knowledge or skill is second nature / autonomous

People and organizations are generally not open to criticism, constructive or otherwise.  In this regard, assessing an individual or organization can be quite challenging.  Asking questions that emphasize and expose potential gaps and deficits where a clear and defined value can be found is sure to raise awareness and peak the interest of most.

A Final Thought

As cited from 8 Unexpected Signs You’re Smarter Than Average (# 8),

A study of nearly 10,000 Americans found that natural blonds actually have IQs slightly higher than their darker haired compatriots.

Perception is a matter of perspective.  As a natural blonde, the above was encouraging until I read, “The difference was too small to be statistically significant.”

Until Next Time – STAY Lean!

Versalytics

Related Articles and Resources

8 Unexpected Signs You’re Smarter Than Average – Jessica Stillman (Contributor Inc.com)

Dunning-Kruger effect – Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning–Kruger_effect)

Four Stages of Competence – Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_stages_of_competence)

The Pulse of Leadership

In theory, Employee Opinion Surveys provide a pulse of the workforce and the workplace in general.  In practice, they measure the performance of executive leadership and the management team.  They serve as a tool to understand what is working and to identify opportunities for improvement.

Unfortunately, collecting and compiling survey data is very time-consuming and only represents a snapshot in time.  While the survey data captures the essence of what is occurring, every good leader knows, things can change very quickly – even too quickly, as  in times of crisis.

The attitude of Leadership is reflected in the gratitude of their Employees. ~ Redge

Leaders who are actively engaged with their teams are likely to dismiss the need for an employee opinion survey and we would tend to agree with them.  The attitude of Leadership is reflected in the gratitude of their employees.  The only way to get a real pulse for what is happening is to regularly walk the floor and engage with your teams.

Make the time to take the time to engage with your teams.  A regular “walk and talk” will yield more benefits to you and your teams than any survey could ever provide.  Acting on their suggestions and offering regular feedback will foster a culture of trust, respect, accountability, integrity, and open communication.  For that, your employees will be truly grateful.

Your feedback matters

If you have any comments, questions, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to leave your comment in the space below or email us at feedback@leanexecution.ca or feedback@versalytics.com.  We look forward to hearing from you and thank you for visiting.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

[twitter-follow screen_name=’Versalytics’ show_count=’yes’]

Vergence Analytics
Enhanced by Zemanta

Desk Jockey Leaders – Where Did That Come From?

desk jockey
desk jockey (Photo credit: notorious d.a.v.)

The inspiration that tipped the scales and served as a motivator to write about Desk Jockey “Leaders” came from a headline that appeared on the front page of Friday’s edition of the Toronto Sun (October 25, 2013):

“Despite $862M repair backlog, housing boss says: I need a bigger office! – Keeping Up With the Jones – TCHC Eyes $2-Million Reno to Rosedale HQ”

I would like to think that when people are struggling to survive with the most basic necessities of daily living, renovating the offices of the very corporation that’s helping them would be the last thing on everyone’s mind.

At least one city councillor echoed the voice of reason stating, “I don’t think it’s something we can justify to either the taxpayer of the City of Toronto or our tenant base.” I’m certain this statement also resonates with most people who read the accompanying article.

The CEO of the TCHC (Toronto Community Housing Corporation) suggested that a more professional environment would be more appealing to visitors and tenants and a larger office could be used to host meetings.

I would suggest that focusing on the purpose of the corporation’s existence is first and foremost. Could it be that some people have decided to make a career out of an ever-growing problem that should never have risen to the scope and scale that it has

Whatever hardships the CEO and fellow TCHC employees must endure to perform their work could hardly compare to the conditions that the tenants must live with each and every day.

What could make this any worse? Knowing that our Liberal government wasted $1.1 Billion to cancel the construction of two gas plants – a decision that was sure to win them a few more seats in the last provincial election. No one is accountable and no one is responsible. Unfortunately, the one’s who suffer most are the taxpayers who fund it all.

As I complete this follow-up, there is some good news. The CEO of the TCHC has withdrawn the motion to renovate their headquarters. Maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel after all.

Two of my greatest pet peeves are working with people who 1) attempt to manage everything behind their desk , and 2) believe meetings are the answer to resolve everything else that can’t. This article presented a CEO who was planning to do both – in the same office!

As many quickly discover, being a desk jockey “leader” simply just doesn’t work.

It’s Time to Celebrate! Happy Thanksgiving Canada

It’s Thanksgiving Monday here in Canada and I want to thank you – our valued subscribers, contributors, and visitors – for your continued support.  This is also a day where we turn to family and friends to celebrate and share the many things that we are thankful for.

I am also reminded that we need to be thankful for the people who help to make our successes a reality.  A successful outcome or “win” may be cause for celebration, however, we should also take the time to celebrate the very people that help to make them possible.

Over the past few years I have been working with a company that is going through a significant transformation and expansion. Installing equipment on the coldest days of winter and the hottest days of summer will quickly become fond memories and yet another opportunity to be thankful for.

Thank you for visiting and have a happy thanksgiving.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or by sending an email to LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

[twitter-follow screen_name=’Versalytics’ show_count=’yes’]

Vergence Analytics

Leadership is NOT an Event

Leadership
Leadership (Photo credit: glennharper)

We’ve all been to the employee “town hall” meetings where a senior executive attempts to motivate the team and clarify the vision just one more time. A captive audience, donuts, and free coffee are all it takes to reignite the passion and synergy that once was – or so they like to think.

Leadership is not an event, it’s a lifestyle.

~ Redge.

Today’s leaders are present and involved in all facets of the business, tangible to every one, and their leadership traits are uniquely woven through the fabric of the operation that is equally reflected in their lifestyle.

To be a leader is to be yourself.

~ Redge

Leadership is not a play where actors pose as leaders who are “in character”. We can think of many examples where certain people who have assumed leadership roles (no pun intended) have seemingly been “caught off guard”. Real leaders who are true to themselves and those whom they serve seldom find themselves in such circumstances.

If you really want to motivate your team, be the leader that people can expect to see at any time, all the time, 365/24/7. Although actions may speak louder than words, leaders understand that the key to building trust and respect is ensuring that both are sending the same message! Earning the trust and respect of your team begins by being true to yourself – trusting and respecting yourself – first.

Character is who you are when no one is looking

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

While this may seem to be somewhat of an anomaly, fostering a culture of change requires constancy in leadership in what we do, how we think, and who we are at the very core of our being.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or by sending an email to LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

[twitter-follow screen_name=’Versalytics’ show_count=’yes’]

Vergence Analytics

Collaboration …

The Collaboration Experiment
The Collaboration Experiment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Great minds don’t necessarily think alike, they think together.

~ Redge

How many times have you heard someone say you should just set aside your differences and move on? I suggest that bringing our differences to the table is an opportunity to create something that is new and better than we ever imagined.

We tend to be quite content when someone shares our vision,thoughts, and ideas. While it’s a great feeling to be “on the same page” as everyone else in the room, it does little to expand our thinking beyond our immediate comfort zone.

Embracing our differences creates the opportunity to step outside the box and to create something that is greater than ourselves. I continue to be amazed by people outside of a given discipline who present ideas that are uninhibited by preconceived notions or specific expertise that would cause them to be suppressed.

Even more intriguing is the synergy that is created when great minds come together and create something that neither could have conceived as individuals. A lean culture is one where creativity is continually stimulated and permitted to flourish, all the while remaining focused on that ever elusive vision.

Often times resistance to change serves to improve and reinforce its necessity.

Your feedback matters

If you have any questions, comments, or topics you would like us to address, please feel free to contact us by using the comment space below or by sending an email to LeanExecution@Gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

[twitter-follow screen_name=’Versalytics’ show_count=’yes’]

Vergence Analytics

Learning From Mistakes

always make new mistakes
Always make new mistakes (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

An event occurred this afternoon that required an immediate resolution. When asked whether we were going to pursue the root cause, I could only respond with this question:

What’s the point of making mistakes if we’re not going to learn from them?

This is likely the shortest post I ever published here, however, I think the simplicity of the message makes the point very clear.

If you do wish to delve deeper into the topic of mistakes, I encourage you to read some of the related articles featured below.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

[twitter-follow screen_name=’Versalytics’ show_count=’yes’]

Vergence Analytics

Apple-opoly: It’s Not a Game

money
money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

Some people can hardly contain their excitement when a company like Apple is thriving with sky high profits in the midst of a dismal global economy. Yet, this same excitement is seldom shared when banks or oil companies report similar results. Wouldn’t we all prefer reduced fees or lower gas prices over excessive profits from the very companies that portend to serve our best interests?

This past week a colleague forwarded an article from cultofmac.com titled Apple’s Astonishing Profit in Context. My colleague’s opinion of Apple’s incredible performance is also echoed in the article itself. Of course, I would be hard pressed to disagree with them as I’ve written many times before that “The proof of wisdom is in the results.” The following quote from the article puts Apple’s “wisdom” in perspective:

From October 2011 to September 2012 Apple made more money than Microsoft, Ebay, Google, Yahoo! Facebook and Amazon combined. In that same period, Dell, Asus, Intel, Acer, IBM, Lenovo, and HP (basically the entire PC industry) only made $19.3 billion in profit, which is less than half of Apple’s profit.

Who can argue?

Apple has effectively advanced available technologies into unique devices that have dominated several market segments including: Computers (Mac), Smart Phones (iPhone), Tablets (iPad), and Media Players (iPod). Although Apple did not necessarily “invent” the core technologies that define their devices, they did find innovative ways to integrate them to provide an extremely user friendly experience.

Hardware is not Apple’s only source of revenue as the “App Store” is yet another venue that continues to feed Apple’s bottom line. If I understand the terms correctly, Apple receives at least 30% of every App Store purchase and as Apple is quick to mention more times than not, the number of available apps is in the hundreds of thousands and continues to grow every day. That in and of itself is an incredible feat.

I contend that the level of success enjoyed by Apple has peaked. This article, “Apple Losing Lustre On Wall Street: 3 Theories Why” is one of many that have surfaced recently as Apple’s stock has plummeted over the past few days. As stated in my recent post, Apple’s Best Kept Secrets … May Be Their Worst Enemy, Apple’s products are expensive and are subject to higher rates of planned obsolescence giving people cause to “wait” before buying.

Waking Up The Competition

Many would suggest that there is no competition when it comes to Apple’s products and, to some extent, there may be some truth to that. The question is, “What really sets Apple apart from it’s competitors?” I contend that a key component of Apple’s success is driven by their exclusive integration of the iOS operating system into virtually all of their devices. When compared to the number of competing companies selling electronic devices based on the Windows and Android operating systems, we quickly learn that Apple is the sole proprietor of it’s core hardware / software environment and the current court battles with Samsung strongly suggest that Apple wants to keep it that way.

In other words, while there are a number of competitors in any given segment, Apple has no direct competitors that manufacture computers using their operating system thus allowing them to command the price at which their devices are sold. In this context, Apple can determine it’s own price points, void of any threat from a competing manufacturer. From a financial perspective, Apple’s strategy to stay the course is a huge success – at least it was until now.

Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

The wisdom of Apple’s strategy to integrate hardware and software is perhaps a lesson learned by Microsoft as they too have joined the tablet race with the introduction of the Surface RT and soon to be launched Surface Pro. There is, however, a very stark difference. Whether Microsoft intended to become a tablet manufacturer is open to debate but Microsoft did not exclude or attempt to prevent their competitors from developing devices based on the Windows operating system. Microsoft certainly intentioned to develop a hardware environment that will best reflect the capabilities and performance of the Windows 8 operating system.

Competition inspires innovation as manufacturers attempt to earn a bigger share of the market with more differentiating features and ultimately lower prices. As a result, margins are strained on Windows 8 devices and competing products using Google’s Linux based Android operating system among others. Unlike the exclusive Apple-opoly market, consumers continue to reap the greater benefit of an open competitive market in the “non-Apple” world.

There is indeed a price to be paid to sustain a company that attempts to maintain an exclusive monopoly in the market place. I contend that Apple has more to lose and very little to gain as competitors continue to define and differentiate themselves in their applicable market segments.

The “App” Store – Remember Your Roots

Chart showing downloads and available apps on ...
Chart showing downloads and available apps on the app store over time, since the App Store was opened in 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If Apple’s devices are the cash cow, then the App Store is the cash calf. As mentioned above, Apple’s take is 30% of every App Store purchase. For a developer, losing 30% for the opportunity to sell an “app may be a great deal but … to a company like Microsoft, nothing could be further from the truth. Presently, Microsoft is subject to the same “App Store” rules of engagement as any other developer and this has now become a major point of contention between the two companies.

When it comes to Microsoft, Apple’s memory seems to be lapsing. In 1997 Apple (very much like RIM) was struggling to stay afloat and Microsoft’s Bill Gates stepped in to bail them out. It seems this gesture of goodwill has waned as Apple has subsequently grown to become a monopoly of it’s own making. In the world of Windows, Microsoft’s Office suite is unparalleled and I suggest the same can only be true in the world of Apple.

It appears that relationships between people still matter in the world of business and we can only wonder if Steve Jobs would feel differently about giving Microsoft a break in the App Store. Clearly, Apple would be a different company – or not exist at all – without the injection of Microsoft’s support as announced on August 6, 1997 at Mac World Boston. As Steve Jobs himself said during the conference:

“We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose.” – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs encouraged the audience in this video to “think differently”. Perhaps those who have succeeded Steve Jobs have forgotten (or never had the opportunity to remember) what it was like all those years ago when they were struggling to just to stay afloat. If there was ever a move to burn bridges with a once “rival turned ally”, the app store’s rules of engagement is one of them.

The Extremes

Remember RIM and the BlackBerry? They too have an exclusive operating system and hardware platform that at one time lead the smart phone segment by storm. The BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) service between BlackBerry devices is second to none and now includes BBM voice calls. Apple’s iPhone was a major disruption to both hardware and software as we knew it, offering users a substantially improved experience with available technologies. RIM’s market share and stock prices decreased dramatically for failing to introduce fresh, innovative technologies in a timely manner. Whether RIM’s OS10 can reignite the passion for their products and the profits in kind remains to be seen.

So hopefully what you’ve seen here today are some beginning steps that give you some confidence that we too are going to think differently and serve the people that have been buying our products since the beginning. Because a lot of times people think their crazy, but in that craziness we see genius and those are the people we’re making tools for. – Steve Jobs

Today, RIM is in a place where Apple once stood. Unfortunately for RIM, there is no rival stepping up to bail them out. In today’s world, rivals simply wait for their competitors to fold or file for bankruptcy before swooping in to reap what’s left behind. It is unfortunate, but as time will tell, consumers who are left with empty pockets will soon part ways with companies that choose to monopolize a market that serves the best interests of their shareholders and the bottom line.

Lessons Learned

Value is Not Market Share – In the delicate ecosystem of finance and business, the underlying theme is the perception of “value” for the consumer, the company, and it’s shareholders. I commend and praise Apple for the design and quality of their hardware with few exceptions although I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the frequency at which these devices change. As for their software offerings, I am also somewhat underwhelmed, at least from a business perspective. As for connectivity, Apple provides a seamless bridge between devices with unparalleled ease.

However, knowing that up to 40% of the purchase price is gross margin, the question for Apple devices still remains, “Does the price reflect the true market value?” Fundamental economics would suggest that the value of a product or service is determined by the price the consumer is willing to pay. I contend that in a society based on capitalism, competition will yield a price that better approximates the true value of a product or service.

“Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.” — Andrew Grove, co-founder Intel

Competition = Innovation – The Windows 8 and Android operating systems give us a greater appreciation for how real competition can lead to innovative hardware and software technologies at lower prices that benefit consumers versus those that ultimately aim to benefit shareholders. RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 reaffirms the inertia that exists within a company where only two options exist – to survive or die. With that inertia, we now see momentum building for the unveiling and launch of another new and innovative solution in hand held devices from BlackBerry.

Hansei / Reflection – Success can be both a blessing and a curse. Too few companies take the time to reflect on their history to appreciate their current state of affairs. Very few companies like Apple can claim to have risen from the ashes to become a self sufficient world renowned icon. However, in their wake, Apple’s success has also led to a certain “ego” or culture of arrogance that suggests “nothing can stop us now.” As we consider the current court battles with both rivals and allies, it’s difficult to discern which is which.

Collaboration = Mutual Successes – Success is seldom the result of one person’s effort and typically the result is greater than the sum of its parts.

We can choose to fight for the current state to preserve “what is now” or we can – in the words of Steve Jobs – “think differently”.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

[twitter-follow screen_name=’Versalytics’ show_count=’yes’]

Vergence Analytics

Transition Versus Change – 2013

Change Management
Change Management (Photo credit: larry_odebrecht)

The time between Christmas and New Year’s eve is one of transition as we consider the events that occurred over the past year and prepare for the new year ahead. Experts are sure to present their annual summaries and will also attempt to “predict” what may be in store for us in the year to come. As lean leaders we also recognize the necessity to make and take the time for introspection and hansei (reflection).

Lean is by definition a perpetual transition from the current state to an ideal future state as we understand it. As our culture and technologies evolve, we continue to open doors to more opportunities and perhaps an even greater potential than first imagined. As such, we seek to advance our understanding as we pursue our vision of lean and it’s scope of application.

Lean is often described as a journey. While the vision is clearly defined, the means for achieving it continue to evolve and, as we’ve stated many times before, “There’s always a better way and more than one solution.” From a lean perspective, the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle challenges us to consider every change as a temporary state where each subsequent iteration ultimately brings us closer to realizing our vision.

Recognizing that we are in a continual state of transition should give us cause to embrace the ideology that the nature of change can only be viewed as a temporary condition. True resistance to change should only occur when the vision itself is compromised. Similarly, the absence of a clear vision is also cause for resistance. We contend that where the purpose or vision remains constant, the means or the methods of achieving it – incremental or disruptive – are more readily adopted.

The “Change Curve” presented in the diagram above clearly suggests that the commitment to change progresses from Leadership to Change Agents and finally to the End Users with each “group” requiring an increasing span of time to absorb and embrace the change accordingly. A potential for frustration and resistance to change occurs when the next iteration is introduced before the change that precedes it has been adopted and “experienced”. For this same reason and as suggested in our post, “Apple’s Best Kept Secrets … May Be Their Worst Enemy“, companies (including Apple) must be careful to manage the frequency at which change occurs to avoid frustrating employees and potential customers in the process.

The absence of change or lack of evidence that change is coming is and should be cause for concern. Research In Motion’s (RIM) continued delays in releasing the BlackBerry 10 (BB10) resulted in lost confidence from investors and share prices dropped sharply in return. RIM’s attempts to “talk” through the company’s strategy and the future of the BlackBerry could not sustain their one time dominance of the smart phone market. Thankfully for RIM, the BlackBerry, slated to launch on January 30, 2013, is receiving raving reviews as a high quality next generation smart phone. Only time will tell if too much time has passed to win people over.

Lean leaders recognize that real change begins in the hearts and minds of every stakeholder and is a pre-requisite before any physical changes can occur. A learning organization embraces the concept of “transitional” thinking where each change represents the current level of knowledge and understanding. Where perpetual learning occurs, transitional thinking ensues, and subsequent changes mark our progress along the journey.

As we look forward to 2013, we thank you for your continued support and wish you the best of successes in the New Year ahead.

Until Next Time – STAY lean

[twitter-follow screen_name=’Versalytics’ show_count=’yes’]

Vergence Analytics