Ryan McCormack’s Operational Excellence Mixtape: September 10, 2021

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Thanks as always to Ryan McCormick for this… there's always so much good reading, listening, and viewing shared here by him!

News, blogs, articles, resources, and links about creating value, continuous improvement, innovation, and leadership.


Healthcare – Creating Value for Patients

The pandemic has caused many organizations to rethink traditional elements of the workplace.  This may also be an excellent time to rethink the foundational elements of healthcare systems around the world.  Seizing the moment to rethink health systems.

All (or at least most) healthcare organizations profess that they embody a “culture of safety”.  But how do they know?   There is no agreement on the key dimensions of a safety culture and most organizations rely on self-reported surveys to assess the efficacy of their safety culture efforts


Operational Excellence

I first learned the A3 problem solving method over 20 years ago. It's not a cure-all, but it is extremely reliable for many operational problems, but more importantly, it trains your brain.  Peter Watkins finishes his 8 piece blog on A3 Practical Problem Solving

Deming's 11th point implored managers to “eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce”.  A California Bill seeks to rein in Amazon's quota system, to which lawmakers attribute unsafe and inhumane conditions and alleges that algorithms are optimizing quotas without regard to human factors.  I've never been a fan of individual quotas.  There are other ways.

Why are changes hard to sustain?  Why is change a constant? Entropy.  James Clear with a great essay on Entropy: Why Life Always Seems to Get More Complicated.   Some self-evident implications to the practice of continual improvement.

Building trust in science requires a complete dedication to transparency, fact-based reporting, and the scientific method, even when it's tempting to “fit” data to our narrative.  We're witnessing a tremendous distrust of science these days and stories about trusted authors like Dan Ariely using fake data in published studies certainly don't help. We have to do better – Never Trust a Scientist.

A great article on the history of innovation (and resistance to it) in the railway industry.

One of the biggest wastes in the corporate world was business travel for in-person meetings.  I say good riddance to unnecessary travel.  Will Business Travel Come Back?

Talk about backlog due to large batches!  A record-breaking 44 container ships are stuck off the coast of California.


Leading & Enabling Excellence

Customer experience isn't a single variable.  It's a “complex relationship between your company and your customers” and it needs to be understood deeply.  The 3 Levels of Customer Experience Every Successful Company Must Provide.

If you feel bearish on the future of work and business due to the speed of technological change, perhaps legendary founder of Wired, Kevin Kelly can convince you of the Case for Optimism.  

I prattle on regularly about the importance of leading with humility, yet Modern Executives Are More Susceptible to Hubris Than Ever.   


Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Doubting whether coaching skills are critical for managers?  Udemy research shows that demand for learning and development on their platform for coaching skills has surged with a 345% increase in consumption

Coaching In Leadership: How To Empower Those Around You


Books, Podcasts, Videos

Books I'm currently reading:

I briefly review Noise by Daniel Kahneman et. al. here.

My Fall “to read” list includes:

The Calling – Why Healthcare is So Special by Quint Studer.  The pandemic has highlighted the importance of caregivers, and why they must be taken better care of. 

Testing Business Ideas: A Field Guide for Rapid Experimentation by David J. Bland.  Definitely looks like it may scratch my pragmatic and scientific itches in the workplace.

The Blueprint: 6 Practical Steps to Lift Your Leadership to New Heights 


Podcasts I'm listening to:

Fear, yelling, and threats can indeed alter behaviours – in the short term.  But it may also breed resentment, revenge, and a host of other damaging long term consequences.  Or perhaps the survivorship bias (i.e. “it worked on me back in the day”) may be clouding your long term coaching approach.  There has to be a better way. 

Check out Coaching Culture episode 208 Why Threats (Blaming, Shaming, and Yelling At Athletes) Aren't the Best Ways to Lead.


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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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