Ryan McCormack’s Operational Excellence Mixtape: December 2nd, 2022


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

Insights about improvement, innovation, and leadership

Operational Excellence, Improvement, and Innovation

A Consolidation of Subtleties

Building a culture of safety isn't something you can simply purchase and roll out. There's not one secret solution or recipe, but rather a “consolidation of subtleties”:

Seven Practical Steps to Build a Culture of Safety and Human Reliability.

Tired of change?

The pace of change in many organizations is leading to change fatigue. Traditional top-down change management can't keep up and loses its effectiveness at scale:

Adopt an open-source change management strategy that enables employees

Lean Beemer

BMW shares a story about its ifactory and its focus on lean (although they capitalize it as LEAN – this bugs me – it's not an acronym).

I found the video to be a particularly good description of lean, including a focus on flexibility to respond to customer needs, people optimizing their own processes, and the importance of coaching and development.

Noticeably absent is a focus on “eliminating waste” and other common superficial lean tropes that don't truly represent lean principles. 

The Fine Art of Problem Solving

Trying to hone your problem-solving skills? Look to art. I'm looking forward to Amy Herman's new book, Fixed.: How to Perfect the Fine Art of Problem Solving. For a preview, check out this interview with Herman on the Big Think.

Creating a Culture of Improvement

Culture is leader-led. It's fashionable for HR to rebrand itself as “People and Culture.” But there's a reason that when we think of strong organizational culture, we tend to think about the CEO and not the HR department – the CEO leads the culture. Here are 3 recent profiles in CEO-driven culture:

Hardcore Culture – Elon Musk – Twitter

Where to begin? Elon Musk took over Twitter a month ago and it's been erratic, to say the least. Whether his insistence on “hardcore” management will yield a sustainable turnaround remains to be seen, but Musk's management style might be a case study in what not to do

No Fairy Tale – Bob Chapek vs. Bob Iger – Disney

Well, there was no “happily ever after” for Disney's recently fired CEO Bob Chapek. Rather than a fairy tale, Chapek's reign was a cautionary tale to leaders to not forget or ignore their company's core business. Bob Iger Is Back – and Disney Is Probably Better For It

Larry Culp – GE

I wasn't able to attend the AME conference, but was excited to hear that GE CEO Larry Culp was keynoting and discussing his attempts to embed lean principles into the lumbering industrial giant. Luckily, Mark Graban has compiled and shared Highlights from GE CEO Larry Culp's Remarks at the AME Conference in Dallas.


Quick Quote

Tom's latest offering Tom Peters' Compact Guide to Excellence is on my wish list for Santa.

Coaching – Developing Self & Others


Last week, I picked up my young daughter from school and asked her, “what did you learn today?”

“How to have a growth mindset”, she replied.

I probed to check her understanding, and she says, “it's basically always believing that you can learn and improve.” 

Whoa. It reminded me to revisit a classic Farnam Street post on having a growth mindset.  

Reverse Mentoring

As an experienced (read “old”) manager, I'm prone to stick to old habits, rites of passage, or outdated paradigms. As Gen Z'ers enter the workforce and with the shifting views of the workplace, I could certainly benefit from some reverse mentoring to listen to the needs of the younger workforce.

Pick Your Brain

I've been following Maria Popova's site The Marginalian for over 10 years (when it was brainpickings.org). There are always excellent posts and insights from great literature, book recommendations, and personal reflections. 

Check out her 16 Life-Learnings from 16 Years of The Marginalian

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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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