mercredi 30 mai 2012

A question about successfull transformation

One of the best measures of a successful transformation is that it has been accepted and integrated into the organization without anyone being able to refer to the program that allowed this transformation. What do you think?

mardi 29 mai 2012

Working together to understand measures

A paradox in most of Organization is that figures used to measure improvements can limit learning, don’t tell us what’s going on or worst can mislead. However those reports are predominantly used in Services. Leaders are used to analyze productivity using monthly reports showing current productivity, average productivity to date, variation between current productivity and productivity for the same “month” last year,… People working on the field knows that average data means nothing. They know that their job is subject to variation. By reviewing such data, it’s impossible to explain why data varied. Is it due to variation in the process ? to variation in the workers capabilities ? to variation in the demands ? to variation in the environment ?...Leaders are most often ready to listen to their collaborators and have the anxious feeling that workers are right. Unfortunately, they have to explain the KPI. So they ask explanations for any figures which are not good as they wanted. They ask us to write reports to explain why and action plan to improve performance. However, most often actions taken are waste without knowing what's due to system. I don’t say that no action should be taken. If variation is due to special causes, a direct action is appropriated but if variation is due to the system, the direct action would be tampering. Understanding variation is key in the leadership of people. So, what should you do when you’re confronted with such “common” situation? Stop and take time to learn about SPC chart. You will find insightful articles about SPC in "out of the crisis, Deming "and "Understanding Variation - the key to managing chaos - Wheeler. SPC chart really helps to reconnect leaders and workers, helps to take the right action the right way and helps to think about improvements . It also helps to understand that taking actions is not just a question of figures but a question of profound knowledge. No data have meaning apart from their context (Dr. Shewart's principle) 95% of variation are due to system (Deming). A better practice is to understand the system to improve the processes.

mardi 8 mai 2012

Experience versus mobility of Management

For Deming, 10, 15, 20 years of experience is meaningless. It could be one year of experience repeated 10, 15 or 20 times. However Deming consider the mobility of Management as a deadly disease. The two concepts are not contradictory.  Helping an organisation to change is  not about "to change the Management" but about "to change the management thinking", is not  to achieve short-term results but to achieve long-term results through a long-term engagement of workers and leaders in the transformation of their company.  Helping an organisation to change is not only  to gain and apply new knowledge but is to create a durable system to gain and apply new knowledge continuously without the support of the consultant or a "great insider" (see the blog great insider"). Helping an organisation to change...

jeudi 3 mai 2012

Lean combined with IT : 1+1 >2 - conference report

The conference on Operational Excellence organized by Marcus Evans was held on March 22, 2012. The overall objectives of the conference were to share experiences on Operational Excellence approaches. The conference consisted of several sessions followed by a discussion panel ( )

During the day, it was interesting to see the diversity of approaches that find their origins in Lean, Six Sigma or System Thinking and diversity of the companies involved (pharmaceutical, industry, aerospace, luxury, services…sectors).

We, Eric Belleflamme (Head of Process Improvement) and myself, have presented a case study duo on the benefits of Lean associated with IT instead of Lean applied to IT.

The System Thinking/Lean approach within EFA is conducted through successive interventions aiming at a transformational purpose. During our interventions, systemic conditions that hinder the performance of the company are identified. They are challenged to gradually make the management thinking of the company evolve. Our transformational approach is evolving to the pace of learning, resistances and events affecting the company like projects, arrival of new customers, new regulations ....

From our experience, combining Lean and IT:

• put our IT project in a broader context linking the project with the customer's nominal value. Generally, a project starts with a problem or a solution defined by internal resources without specifying if it matters to customers.

• reduce our IT development costs. The IT developments costs are exponential above a certain degree of complexity. Lean Improvements combined with a well-defined customer’s nominal value (Taguchi loss function) allow us to better manage what should be taken in charge by IT on the one hand and by acting on norms, policies, capabilities, processes and measures, on the other hand

• support the elimination/reduction of waste. We presented some in-house examples without forgetting to recommend reading Lean Software Development by Mary Poppendieck.

• support our company strategy. The Business, Lean expert and IT define the perfect flow based on Lean Principles. This flow helps us to build a structured IT project plan to achieve our vision, to make architectural choices and also align the thinking of everyone towards the same vision. The trade-off between short-term and long-term efforts is facilitated.

• deliver first what matters the most for the client without changing the pace of delivery of our IT developments.

To conclude, Eric shared his experience on being associated with IT in the Organization. Knowing the job of internal consultant is quite difficult, his position within IT has created an healing place for him and his team. Our combined approach (Lean associated with IT) brings together two key competencies in the innovation process of the company.

Jean-Marc Verdure concluded that you don’t have to manage lean as you manage an IT project. You have to acknowledge the difference of the two approaches and never try to normalize. It is essential to consider the intrinsic differences of lean interventions and IT projects:

We ended the conference by two questions to the participants:
• Should we build a mixed competence IT + Lean?

• Are agile methods a "must" in a transitional Lean? or transformational?

Don’t hesitate to share your comments.

Jean-Marc Verdure – Eric Belleflamme

mercredi 2 mai 2012

The obstacle to improvement

A lean "specialist" shared yesterday certain obstacles to the improvement he usually meets.

My experience is that there are no simple answers to handle this obstacle. The first thing I usually do is to check if I'm not that obstacle. Three tips if we are able to accept that we can be the obstacle.
- Do not look for the obvious, do not ask questions that confirm your view. Learn how to ask questions (see previous posts)
- Do not get lost in the method and in the details, think in terms of purpose of the process studied.

- Challenge your thinkings/assumptions about work and people, even if you think you do.