Ryan McCormack’s Operational Excellence Mixtape: November 18, 2022

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Thanks as always to Ryan McCormack for this… there's always so much good reading, listening, and viewing shared here by him! Get these directly from Ryan via email.

Insights about improvement, innovation, and leadership


Operational Excellence, Improvement, and Innovation

Deliberate testing vs. Doing dumb things

Elon musk has declared that Twitter will “do a lot of dumb things” during his first few months at the helm. Heck, I'm all for learning from doing, but I've long been a believer that PDCA begins with a Plan. Mark Graban asks ‘Does Learning From Mistakes Mean It's OK to Try Any “Dumb Thing” – For Elon Musk or Any of Us?' What do you think?

Diving into a shallow pool

Most everyone agrees that business conditions are at all-time highs for volatility, uncertainty, and ambiguity and that organizational agility is a key capability to meet the changing needs of customers and markets. It would seem that Lean would outperform in these conditions given its principles related to problem-solving, waste reduction, and continual improvement. So why do so few people truly take the lean leap?

Eliminate inventory? Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets

The proliferation of Lean over the last 25 years has been great at spreading some ideas, but also terrible for spreading superficial understandings of its principles. For example, many people have been taught that Lean is all about eliminating waste and seeking zero inventory levels, and the mistaken belief that this is “what Toyota does”. Here's what really makes Toyota's production system resilient.

A few quick hits:

A Quick Quote:

“One of the common trappings of success is overproducing.

Companies make money and rapidly expand their product line. Authors become popular and churn out books at a faster clip.

Scale can empower, but it can also dilute. Something is lost when quantity is valued over quality.

You have to maintain your standards even when all the forces around you seem to be calling for growth. Push back against more, more, more and remain committed to better, better, better.” – James Clear


Creating a Culture of Improvement

“Achieving your goal is the penalty for setting it”

Imagine there are no targets. It's not easy if you try; goal-setting or target-setting is deeply embedded into the corporate psyche when it comes to driving progress and accountability. Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho shares his perspectives on why goal-setting limits potential and demotivating on WorkLife with Adam Grant.

Don't decide alone

Decision-making in a crisis is important. When all your options look bad, what do you do? The temptation might be to retreat into yourself and simply make a ‘decisive' move as the leader. It's better to get more eyes on the problem and turn to others when the options all look bad

I want to hear it from the boss

People don't want to hear about the big change or initiative from a project team or corporate communications group – they want to hear it from their supervisor or the CEO. Communication is key to managing change, but it's not just about quantity or quality, it's about sender-receiver. Equip leaders to communicate changes.  Why some communications work and others don't

Fools rush in

People watch their leaders' approach to problem-solving as an indication of culture and what is expected. Leaders who thrive in “firefighting” mode and rush in and heroically react to problems signal a preferred approach to the rest of the organization. Here are three simple ways to tackle problems better as a leader.


Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Be free and admit you don't know

Nobody knows everything. Moreover, nobody expects an individual to know everything. So why is it so hard to say “I don't know”? Fear. But fear engenders lying. Be honest and have the courage to say, ‘I don't know'

Single tasking: Focus on one thing to achieve flow

I still see the occasional job that seeks an “effective multi-tasker.” Multi-tasking is usually just multi-switching, a horribly inefficient way to work. Single tasking is not only more efficient, but it boosts creativity.


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