Operational Excellence Mixtape: August 3, 2018


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Healthcare – Creating Value for Patient

Not surprisingly, healthcare organizations with poor cultures of rigid hierarchies and disconnected leadership struggle to improve quality.  And yet many keep trying to improve quality through projects or ancillary departments.  Kim Barnas (author of Beyond Heroes: A Lean Management System for Healthcare)  bolsters the evidence with success stories and results from several healthcare organizations that chose to drive the culture of quality through systems of alignment, improvement, and enablement. 

Healthcare still lags industry when it comes to placing service users at the centre of planning and decision making. This article describes ways to get closer to “Nothing About Me Without Me” using co-design.

Operational Excellence

Go slow to go fast.  Do it right the first time.  Changing culture is a slow process.  If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?  Assuring quality at the source is a long-held principle of operational excellence.  Why do we continue to seek excellence through whirlwinds of tasks, deadlines, rework, poor communications, and rigid project plans?  Read this nowTom Peters reminds us that excellence is not about speed, and that taking your time matters.  

We continue to perpetuate the cult of overwork and the view that if you're not ‘doing something' you are not working or creating value.  Research shows that salaried employees actually only do about 3 hours of real work a day – despite the fact that we continue to put in more hours at the office. “Busy is not your job.  Busy doesn't get you what you seek.”  The incomparable Seth Godin reminds us that busyness is not business.

What does good look like for continuous improvement in operations?  Industry Week stacks up the numbers for Best Plants on many dimensions including first pass yield, average hours on the job training, and safety. 

Innovation & Design Thinking

You may be hearing “continuous delivery” or “continuous development” more frequently in the digital product world.  Is “Continuous Development” the new Agile? Yes, according to this HBR piece.

Leading & Enabling Excellence

“You either run the day or the day runs you”.  Managers furiously strive to get ‘caught up on the work' and continually feel stressed out when they're behind (which is most of the time).  Art Markman advises us to be more self-compassionate and to stop feeling guilty about not being ‘caught up' on work.  

Is it a manager's job to keep everyone busy?  Have all the answers?  Be an expert in every job?  Not according to Joseph Flahiff in this pithy summary of the Top 4 Myths Believed By Managers.

In 2009, Dan Pink wrote the seminal book on motivation, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  Has he changed his mind since then?  In this interview with Corporate Rebels, Dan Pink updates his thinking on motivation, a relief for those of us who fret that we aren't “changing the world” in our day-to-day jobs.

Many organizations continue to rely on training (or simply telling) as their primary transformation approach, and are continually surprised when it fails to create behaviour change.  Systems are required to drive behaviours by providing routines, tools, and feedback.  Benjamin Spall discusses the Power of Routine in this podcast with Whitney Johnson.  When training fails to deliver change, we often simply ‘re-train' using the exact same method but expecting different results.  Allison O'Neill believes that applying PDCA to teaching  serves to improve the teacher and the student.

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Managers don't need to become coaches – they need to become more coach-like.   Are companies really abandoning rating systems in droves and creating armies of coaches instead of managers?  Not really, according to this great Coaching for Leaders podcast featuring Michael Bungay Stanier.  The performance revolution is more of an evolution, as organizations find the balance between coaching and traditional performance management.  

Books, Videos, Podcasts

Leaders need to attend to the balance between ‘owed respect' and ‘earned respect',according to Kristie Rogers in this excellent HBR Ideacast.

I'm eagerly awaiting the imminent release of Edgar Schein's latest book Humble Leadership

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Ryan McCormack
Ryan is an operational excellence professional with over 18 years experience practicing continuous improvement in healthcare, insurance, food manufacturing, and aerospace. He is an avid student of the application of Lean principles in work and life to create measurably better value.


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