Operational Excellence Mixtape: September 14, 2018


Healthcare – Creating Value for Patient

The legendary quality leader W. Edwards Deming is widely known for his thoughts on statistics and systems.  However, Deming believed that psychology was of crucial importance when improving organizational performance.  The Institute for Improvement in Healthcare shares a useful model on using the psychology of change to lead safety transformation in healthcare.

The New York Times shares an interesting op-ed on how Emergency Rooms are to blame for out of control costs in US healthcare.

Operational Excellence

Lean leaders know that asking questions and curiosity is a key trait for driving improvement.  HBR describes the business case for curiosity in this cover-story of their latest issue.  Can you grow a team's curiosity?  IDEO shares some advice on how to get design teams to embrace curiosity.

Is it improvement or innovation?  Matthew May argues that there is no distinction and that ” As humans we all solve problems in essentially the same conscious way: we pose a question, hypothesize an answer, test it out, and then reflect on whether the cause and effect we were anticipating came true.”  Innovation is a hot word.  Matthew May's books are excellent – check out Winning the Brain Game: Fixing the 7 Fatal Flaws of Thinking or The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Simple Rules For Winning in the Age of Excess.

Improvement professionals or leaders often approach transformation as an exercise in mass training in the view that you need to “get everyone on board”.  How many people do you need to start a workplace revolution?  Not as many as you think according to Corporate Rebels.

Fresh eyes are sometimes helpful when doing strategic planning in order to challenge thinking and ask difficult questions regarding goals and the necessary conditions to achieve them. 

Improvement teams and professionals often lament that “they don't get support” from senior leadership and are quick to blame top leadership for failing to meet goals related to improvement.  No-nonsense OpEx leader Joseph Paris challenges us all to look inward first

Just because something works or is a “best practice” somewhere else doesn't mean you should simply adopt the method.  This thinking can be a recipe for mediocrity and the adoption of generic practices that should be customized.

Leading & Enabling Excellence

Bob Sutton updates his 15 Things I Believe – I love most of his stuff.

(Yet) another reminder that when you hear “we need to hold people accountable” the speaker is probably meaning “we need to find someone to blame.”

If you want to help extend compassion to others, practice Self-Empathy.

Quick click-bait article on 3 ways Netlfix Created a Culture of High-Performing Employees.

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

The best experts are often lousy teachers.  Adam Grant drops a bomb with this New York Times piece that suggests that researchers should not be required to teach, and proposes separate tenure tracks for teaching and research at Universities.

People learn by doing, not simply listening, yet many approaches to development or behavioural change in organizations continues to be focused on didactic learning by reading Powerpoint delivered by OD trainers.  “We have to go beyond the idea that the perfect presentation of the relevant facts will be enough to help the majority of our students learn”, according to the article “Your Students Learn By Doing“.

EI expert Daniel Goleman reminds us that great coaches work on improving their own EQ to become effective coaches.

Books, Videos, Podcasts

Improve your management system with a simple chart – Mark Graban walks you through how to make your management system more effective in this 30 min video:

Lean Nostalgia!  A small collection of Classic Throwback Lean videos from the 1980's:

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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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