Ryan McCormack’s Operational Excellence Mixtape: August 11th, 2023


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Insights about improvement, innovation, and leadership

Operational Excellence, Improvement, and Innovation

Agility, not ‘Agile'

Scientific thinking is an ingredient in your operational excellence culture, not a crusade or methodology movement. Mike Rother shares how scientific thinking drives agility – not Agile.

What is Digital Transformation?

Almost every large organization will tell you they are in the throes of “digital transformation: But what does that mean and how does one “digitally transform”? 

David Rogers, author of The Digital Transformation Playbook, joins Tiffani Bova on What's Next: The Journey to Digital Transformation (30 minutes) where they discuss what digital transformation is (spoiler: it's not really about technology), why digital transformations fail (as most do), and what to do instead. 

David Rogers discusses his upcoming book, The Digital Transformation Roadmap: Rebuild Your Organization for Continuous Change, available in September. 

It's difficult to capture the value of digital transformation using traditional ROI methods. Predicting the capabilities that can be enabled and the future cash flows they may generate often requires greater uncertainty than applying traditional capital technology analysis. 

To realize value, organizations must approach digital transformation as a holistic set of business capabilities and not as a special project.

Creating a Culture of Improvement

Looking for ideas? Ask your people.

Your employees are often an untapped source of valuable ideas for improvement. Managers and supervisors struggle to systematically raise and support employee ideas but it's usually best to start simple and improve the system over time. This feature about an employee input system at Vermont Precision Tools reinforces the value of an employee idea system in driving culture

A couple of great books on employee idea systems that I go back to over the years include The Idea-Driven Organization: Unlocking the Power in Bottom-Up Ideas and Own the Gap – Building a Team-based Daily Kaizen Culture.

Quiet retaliation

“I don't get it. No one speaks up. It's not like anyone gets fired around here for speaking their mind.” 

There are plenty of other reasons that your people are afraid to speak up. The fear of being put in a “dark corner” of the organization is equally as silencing as the fear of job loss. Being excluded from ‘in groups' means being passed over for development opportunities, being ignored, or being humiliated. Does your company have a culture of “quiet retaliation”?

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

“Hard is soft, soft is hard”

Don't sleep on the soft skills. One thing that has definitely changed in my career is the continued growing value of soft skills in leadership, and that view may be accelerating with the growing prevalence of AI. There is growing recognition that the ‘soft skills' are what will help future workers navigate increasing complexity and the need for greater collaboration. The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs 2023 report only reinforces that the expected demand for skills such as creative thinking, systems thinking, and curiosity is on the rise.

Trusted coach

Trust is key to becoming an effective coach. Here are 3 principles for becoming a trusted coach.

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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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