Sunday, August 30, 2009

Four words to show "Respect for People"

Tom Peters recently blogged about his summary of important viewpoints in business.  Some good reading.
At the center is to simply ask the question "What do you think?"   Regularly. 
I've been trying this, intentionally, for a couple of months now.  It's kind of amazing.  Folks appreciate it. If you ask the question correctly.
Think about it...there are four ways to ask this simple question.  Your tone of voice makes all the difference.  Say these out loud:
  • WHAT do you think?
  • What DO you think?
  • What do YOU think?
  • What do you THINK?
Only the third version has the hope of being sincere.  The others can be quite demeaning or condescending. 
Yet, with the emphasis on the "you", followed by good listening and exploratory questions, it becomes an open door and a welcoming set of inputs from alternate views.
Try it...let me know what you learn.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Perfection the enemy of improvement

My colleague Kira was frustrated recently.  She was leading an improvement effort and was almost at an actionable point. 
When a well-meaning member of the team ratcheted up the ante, seeking to take "improved" to "perfect."
I can't get too upset on the one hand.  The other person did intend to help things. 
Yet, a crucial part of Lean leadership is to know when "good enough is good enough."  When do we accept an 80% improvement, let it sit and mature, then look to move it up another 80%.
It is not a science, it's not a checklist.  But Kira's gut feel in this case was right.  She opted out of the suggested change. Perfection had became the enemy of improvement. 
Keep learning.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Maddening Effectiveness of Root-Cause Analysis

Dang, I wish it didn't work so well. 
The problem presented last week.  I gathered the objective data surrounding it.  I pondered the data. 
And then asked why.  Writing my question down.
I wrote the answer.  On a piece of paper.  In a complete sentence
I asked why again.  In writing.
And wrote the answer THAT question.  In another complete sentence.
I sat and thought.  And did it a third time. 
More thought...and a fourth written question and answer.
At that point, I got upset.  I had hit the root cause.  I knew it.  And I didn't like the answer.  Yet, it was undeniable.  It made incredible sense, explaining both the observed problem and several related issues.  All at the same time. 
The fact that I didn't like the root cause gave it added credence.  I was something I avoided because it was hard to fix. 
And I wonder:  how often this is a subtle blockage to individuals and teams doing good root cause analysis?  How often am I fearful of Really Knowing just what is at the root of some undesirable outcome?
Makes me think. 
Keep on learning.