Operational Excellence Mixtape: March 15, 2019


Healthcare – Creating Value for Patients

The new venture between Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase to fix healthcare is called “Haven” according to a new press release.  I will be following with interest. This venture has great leadership, vast resources, and (claim to be) patient and mission focused.  

The FDA provides exemptions for some medical device manufacturers that allows malfunctions and defects to remain unreported or available in “alternate summaries”not available to the public or providers.  What could possibly go wrong?

Operational Excellence

Counting things and creating metrics is a cornerstone of operational excellence.  However, we continue to be terrible at counting and measuring things, and even worse, wield these poor metrics like weapons.  I came across this brilliant paper from Cambridge on The Ethics of Counting.

Lean thinkers know that automating bad processes does not usually create more value for customers.  Here's a good reminder of 3 key pitfalls to avoid in automation. 

Assigning cause and blame to individuals rarely leads to sustainable systemic improvements.  Mike Stoecklein nicely summarizes the opex principle of focusing on the process and not the person.

Prototyping in a service industry can be challenging.  IDEO shares 6 tips to help prototyping a service.  

“If I asked a customer what they want, they'd ask for a faster horse” – a quote attributed to Henry Ford – is an example of an oft-used cliche encountered in design sessions by those who wish to avoid engaging customers.  Here is a comprehensive list of UX (User Experience) design cliches that one encounters when designing process or product.

GM is closing one of its last remaining “legacy” factories in Ohio – the Lordstown plant.  The demise of GM and its once desirable jobs is multi-faceted, but a worker in the article laments the good old days when “(he) could get ahead of the job for three hours, and at that point I could go goof off for three hours. Those were the good old days.”  Telling statement indeed about the culture.

Leading & Enabling Excellence

Don't ignore the disgruntled and cynical misfits at work.  Frustrated people whose ideas have been ignored may be responsible for the next breakthrough.

Human judgement is unreliable, yet senior leaders often underestimate the biases present in strategic decisions.  This MIT Sloan article suggests structured interviews could reduce cognitive biases and enable better strategic decisions.

We love a story of a charismatic CEO that leads an organization to excellence – but the data rarely supports the idea that the “best and brightest” generate sustainable improvements in corporate performance (better systems will outperform better individuals).  CEOs from elite MBA schools or consulting forms fail to outperform others (in terms of share price) according to this great article: The MBA Myth and the Cult of the CEO.

Major corporations continue to abandon “traditional” performance management systems of annual reviews and merit ratings.  Jeez, even IBM has adapted performance management to reflect the modern workplaces need for shorter feedback cycles.

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Start a To-Don't List that includes helping everyone that asks, says Adam Grant.

Being an innovator in your field requires a deep commitment to continual learning.  It will be uncomfortable.  

Stanford psychologist Bob Sutton discusses the art of avoiding a**holes.  You've met them, you've worked for them.

Books, Podcasts, Videos

A good list of interesting looking non-fiction books for the springtime.

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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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