Ryan McCormack’s Operational Excellence Mixtape: May 19th, 2023

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Insights about improvement, innovation, and leadership


Operational Excellence, Improvement, and Innovation

Ask your customers how you can improve – and then share the results

“We can't simply ask customers how we can improve. They don't understand the complexity.” “It would be irresponsible to publish customer feedback widely. Then everyone would know that we are substandard.” The bad news – your customer already knows that you can and should improve, and they talk to others. Tesla recently asked its customers for improvements and received 24 000 suggestions. If they share the results widely, as is expected, Tesla will continue to demonstrate transparency and a commitment to being responsive to customers which could strengthen their relationships with their customers. 

EX = CX

Want to improve your customer experience? Improve the employee experience. There is greater acceptance that an engaged workforce provides a better customer experience, and that employees who work at organizations with above-average customer experiences are more likely to be engaged. Organizations can improve their customer experience by making things easier, simpler, and more focused for their managers and employees. Zeynep Ton describes the power of subtraction in When Doing Less Adds Up to More.

Climb a ladder one step at a time

What's the best way to keep your house maintained? Is it better to wait and renovate every ten years, or do small renovations or repairs as they arise? Like everything, it depends. And so it goes with improvement. Here's another case for improving one step at a time rather than changing everything all at once

Innovation Inauthenticity

Organizations that embrace innovation and improvement are often keen to join networks and open their doors to share their journey. But does this incentivize organizations to distort their success? Sachin Jain has come to terms with the inauthenticity epidemic in healthcare innovation, and upon reflection, I realized I have shared many of the same experiences as Dr. Jain. In response, I have developed a skeptic's guide to innovation site visits

Time is money (and market share, and competitive advantage)

George Stalk of Boston Consulting Group shares a wide-ranging conversation about enduring operational excellence principles and competitive advantage across industries, public/private/family businesses, and around the world on episode 165 of the Knowledge Project. George does a great job of describing enduring principles that lean practitioners will find familiar, but without the confusing jargon that often accompanies it. Straight talk about continuous improvement and competitive advantage.


Creating a Culture of Improvement

Hold on tight to your talent

Have you ever noticed that when a superstar leaves the organization, it creates a ripple effect? Turns out this is a well-established phenomenon, especially if the departure was voluntary. A new study of 1 million employees confirms that when high performers leave, more high performers quit.

So you're the boss now? Forget what you think you know.

You're a great engineer and project manager. You have all the answers and you can ‘get things done'. And now, you've been promoted. Congratulations! You're a leader, now forget everything you've learned

Workers are happier than they've been in decades

New Conference Board data shows that 62.3% of US workers indicated they were satisfied with their job – rates not seen since the 1980s. Why? A pretty simple formula: greater flexibility and higher wages. 


Summer reading

Looking for some summer reading? Adam Grant shares  11 New Idea Books to Spring into Summer

Ryan re-reads some classics

My plan for the rest of the year is to re-read some ‘classics'. First up on my list:

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I read this book 15 years ago and have returned to it a few times. I will give it a fresh re-read and provide a review.


Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Busy does not mean productive

Ask your colleagues how their day is going. I submit that 4 out of 5 will respond with some version of “I'm crazy busy”. Turns out, humans love to stay busy. Why? Often to avoid facing reality or being alone with our thoughts. Learn how to get off the hamster wheel and break the illusion of productivity.

Pause in the moment when things go sideways

We've all been there. The meeting where everything goes off the rails and then there's the awkward tension in the room. What do you do? Suzi McAlpine provides a guide for tense conversations in teams.


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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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