Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Serve. Aspire. Transcend. @JonathanFields

January 13th, 2012 Posted in Change, GTD, Personal Development Tags: , , , ,

I read few reviews of people on blogs or Internet at large. I can barely, if at all, identify with those. Indeed, that’s not what they’re for anyway (why the hell are they published at all is something I still wonder…)

But the 2011 annual review by Jonathan Fields is of a different, mind-blowing, kind.

Although giving personal insight views of how he managed his life and businesses (yes, plural!) last year, it’s also full of suggestions and comments that give you a thrill. Because you know you can be part of that too.

Just the title of his review is thrusting: Serve. Aspire. Transcend.

Isn’t this in itself a summary of all positive psychology, strength-based, psychotherapy, life coaching books you had seen in the past few years?

Serve others, Aspire to more and Transcend yourself...

To best serve yourself, serve others first.

Give first to be given.

And aim at excellence. Not just big.

Wouldn’t it make for a powerful driving force if adopted as an organizational vision?

Would you like your company to just beat its competitors or Transcend and Inspire its market?

I know what I’d choose.

That too works on a personal level. Do review your personal vision (from a 50,000 feet perspective as advocated by GTD). It should be a vision, but is it a BHAG (Big Hairy and Audacious Goal)? If not, think bigger. And Bigger. And BIGGER. Until you get to that “woah” moment: there you are: aim for this!

 

Hoshin kanri is key to #Lean deployement because it respects people

October 13th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

How many Lean programs start with an objective of reducing costs? How many of them are named “Lean” when it’s spelled “L.A.M.E“?

Management still thinks that because they’ve decided something ought to be done (such as lowering costs or increasing quality, reducing delays), that will be done without them being personally involved?

Hoshin Kanri is the Lean way of deploying objectives top-down through the hierarchy.

Yet, these should not be seen as traditional in the types of objectives (aka “SMART“), or in the method in which this is done.

How to do hoshin kanri?

First, the method is not really that of a “top-down” approach as I said above. It starts in a top-down manner, but only as a way for top to give some direction down as to where people should look after for improvement. And then, each level down should investigate where there’s room for improvement that could contribute to the top objectives and ask for improvement down his own hierarchy in the refined sub-objectives. All this goes right to the shop floor (bottom level) where people then know precisely:

  • in which direction do the improvement objectives need to be done
  • and why they are necessary (more on this below)

Only when the top objectives have been declined down to the shop floor can bottom people start thinking to how the improvement will be done and lead their kaizen efforts in the proper direction.

Of course, it could happen that lower managers (and people) know better than upper management about what the next improvement should be or in what time frame it can be done reasonably. That’s the bottom-up part of hoshin kanri where bottom people negotiate with upper people on what ought to be done. This is constructive dialogue taking place. Not dictatorship.

What kind of objectives?

Toyota's Vision PictureThe next important point in hoshin kanri to be taken into account is that the top of the top objectives are not what people could expect out of “SMART” objectives. That level of company-wide objectives is called “True North“. Often times, that kind of direction doesn’t change very often and it more importantly needs to have an intrinsic property not advocated by SMART: it needs to be motivating. This is the why of the objectives that are so deeply sought after by employees. Simon Sinek in his famous TED performance explained that “people don’t buy what you do but why you do it“. Don’t expect your people to buy-in your objectives if you’ve not sold them why you want them.

Toyota doesn’t have a company objective. It has a vision. This is maybe more clearly expressed in their Company Vision:

Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people.

Through our commitment to quality, constant innovation and respect for the planet, we aim to exceed expectations and be rewarded with a smile.

We will meet challenging goals by engaging the talent and passion of people, who believe there is always a better way.

That’s not “SMART”. But it’s engaging. Now, every department of the company can work toward this vision, by interpreting what it means with respect to its role inside the company, to its current performance and so on.

What about your company? Are your people carving stones or building a cathedral?

A response to Youtellus: The power of questions

I really like this blog post: Youtellus: The power of questions. All the stuff about asking powerful and mind-blowing questions is true and should be practiced all day long.

Yet, this part makes me wonder:

“Leaders and managers have the obligation to always look for ways that the organization as a whole can function more effectively.To do this, they need to ask questions about practices, processes, persons and structures:
Why do we things this way?is there a better approach?”

I mean, do we really need to ask people questions about practices, processes and structures? I guess that if we do, we’d find problems. People rarely get interested in these (I do, but then, I’m a Lean coach, so that doesn’t count because I’m not “normal” 🙂

To be a bit more serious, I was interested in processes at the beginning because I was a sort of productivity geek. But then I understood that improving processes with Lean or Six Sigma was not a matter of using tools. Even further, it was not a process matter.

Improving organization is a people thing.

I don’t mean a social or psychological thing (though these may help, but at the same level as can IT for instance – heck, I am in IT now!) When I say “people” I mean real people, with a head and a heart!

Improving organizations is about taking care of your people and what they care about.

And in the sentence “what they care about“, the important word is not “what” (it’s none of your business) nor is it “care” (how they do it: again, it’s personal to them). What’s important is “they“.

  • If you want money in your pocket as a manager, you won’t be able to motivate people.
  • If you want to improve your organization’s efficiency, you won’t be able to motivate people.
  • If you want to serve your customers better, you won’t be able to motivate your people.

In order to motivate your people, you need to help them identify their WIIFM factor: What’s In It For Me?

You need to ensure your people have identified what motivates them (but they’ll tell you only if they want to). You need to provide them with the support they need from you.

By instituting a permanent Dialogue between your people regarding what and how they want to contribute to the world, you will be able to fuel the change your organization desperately needs. By building on what works for them, they’ll build an organization that will also:

  • work well (efficiency)
  • provide your customers what they want (efficacy)
  • and help them fulfill their dreams
  • which may, in the end, provide some earning for you (and them) as a side effect.

Of course, you need to trust your people to be able to come to an agreement about making a profitable company. But do you sincerely think they’ll imagine something that can’t pay their salary?

If you don’t trust your people, they’ll notice and they won’t trust you. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Try giving first and see what happens. Only a bit, something that you won’t regret afterwards. Notice how it comes back, sometimes bigger. Then, next time, gives a bit more. And a bit bigger next time.

Then ask your people now that you’ve rebuild a trust relationship what they would like from you first.

And then give it to them.

Then see.

Enjoy.

 

What Steve Jobs can teach us in order to really appreciate systems?

Here is a very nice article from The Personal Excellence Blog. I will just recall the 11 points made over there:

  1. Life is what you make it out to be
  2. Dream big – very big
  3. The greatest things started somewhere
  4. Certifications don’t matter
  5. Live every day like it is your last
  6. Stop listening to what others say
  7. Do not underestimate the impact you can have on the world
  8. Failure only happens when you deem it to be so
  9. Do what you love
  10. Have faith – Never lose hope
  11. Outdo yourself – Over, and over again

Isn’t this a near perfect mix of Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focus?

I’ve read elsewhere that you need to always think big because lower and mid-levels are already crowded. There’s still room available at the most higher levels: it might be easier to play big than to make room for yourself in mediocrity.

Let me rewrite the list by adding the powerful concepts at play underneath:

  1. Life is what you make it out to be – constructivism, appreciative inquiry
  2. Dream big – very big – constructivismappreciative inquiry
  3. The greatest things started somewhere – solution focus (smallest next action)
  4. Certifications don’t matter – strengths
  5. Live every day like it is your last – Buddha also said: and learn as if you would never die
  6. Stop listening to what others say – be active in constructivism, don’t let others construct you!
  7. Do not underestimate the impact you can have on the world – constructivism again: your questions are fateful, appreciative inquiry as well
  8. Failure only happens when you deem it to be so – constructivism!
  9. Do what you love – what else? Solution focus also
  10. Have faith – Never lose hope – constructivism though indirectly: when you want something strong enough, the universe will conspire to make it happen (recalled from memory, Paulo Coelho)
  11. Outdo yourself – Over, and over again – constructivism as well: think big and it’ll happen to you because you’ll construct the world accordingly.

Thanks Celes for writing this excellent article!

 

Generation Y and #Deming’s Constancy of Purpose by Poorani Jeyasekar on PEX Network

September 27th, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , ,

Here’s a very good article I’d wish to pass along!

Generation Y and Deming’s Constancy of Purpose by Poorani Jeyasekar.

I feel Internet and all that combination of Social and Information Technologies (yes, there are social technologies as well) has made it possible to move and learn fast up to the point where purpose can be lost. Which, in a clear negative feedback loops, brings it forth to the foreground once it got lost too far away.

Constancy of purpose is not something specific to Gen Ys (indeed, Deming stated it way long before!).

We somehow lost it during the early days of Internet. Now the technology has matured, the social network has been enhanced by IT so purpose need is back.

Welcome purpose!

The magic of social constructivism (#appreciativeinquiry #solutionfocus)

I have 1 hour of commute time each morning and each evening between home and work. I invest that time in reading. Which means, at 2 hours on my hands every work day, that I read a lot!

So, reading this morning about Solution Focus, it reminded me about something I’ve read elsewhere about social constructionism and how appreciative inquiry helps you change your own world.

In fact, you can reverse the path of time and have the future influence your present.

In AI terms we say that we move in the direction of what we repeatedly ask questions about. When we build a clear and detailed vision of the future, it becomes so powerful that it influences our present and allows us to move into the direction of that (new) future. The more positive is the vision, the more forceful is the move.

Now, when combining this with Solution Focus that helps people see bits and pieces of the future already occurring now or even having occurred in the past, I can safely update the preceding quote and say that:

The future can change the past.

How is that? Well, the future we can know only in our mind. And, without any further consideration, it influences your choices in the present moving you into that direction of that future you have in mind (AI stance).

But with deliberate action, imagining a preferred future can help shed a new light on your past by  seeing how it already occurred (at least partially). Indeed, your past don’t really change, but the way you see it from now changes, which is all that counts and which will bear new consequences on your future to come.

By thus noticing that that preferred future of yours has already started to realize itself in your past, you get a further boost of energy and confidence to choose your present and follow a new path to that very future.

This is the magical power of the mind and the constructionism stance toward life.

Further, that constructionism magic is fueled by human energy that appears to behave like radioactive matter: the more you bring together, the further more energy is created in a chain reaction. It’s not just additive, it’s exponential! So is, in my mind, the power of social constructionism.

(Of course, there’s a dark side to that magic through demeaning words and behaviors: these can bring power and results in the short-term, but is self-destructive in the longer term). Positive social construction is powerful now and later.

What’s more, you don’t need 7 years in Hogwarts to learn that kind of magic! 😉

People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it (#TED talk by Simon #Sinek)

March 22nd, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Go check this empowering video available here (and maybe the corresponding book also).

Simon greatly explains that people don’t buy what you do or how you do it, but why you do it.  He also explains that you need to have this in mind in order to cross the chasm to get the vast majority of your niche buy your product.

 

Reblog: Compassionate #Coaching Evokes Better Results | Business News Daily (#appreciativeinquiry)

Here is a very interesting article on BusinessNewsDaily about coaching people for a positive vision, backed with research on brain imagery: Compassionate Coaching Evokes Better Results | Business News Daily.

Coincidentally (or not?), the research was done at Case Western Reserve University, home of Appreciative Inquiry.

Applications in parenting and management is cited in the article.

Donella Meadows: #vision is a necessity before any other #systemsthinking method (sort of #AppreciativeInquiry)

Reading through the Systems Thinking World LinkedIn Group, Gene Bellinger (SystemsWiki owner and group owner) posted the link below to a video of Donella Meadows talking about Vision.

Meadows is a renowned systems thinker whose main work is the “Limits to Growth” book about how our continuing use of non renewable resources will bring a brutal stop to our growth.

In the video posted (http://www.uvm.edu/giee/beyondenvironmentalism/Meadows.mov), Meadows talks about the very importance of always having a vision in mind before trying to do something and how this helped her discover things that she thought she wouldn’t have otherwise. Read more »

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