The Best of the Operational Excellence Mixtape 2023

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The most read articles of 2023, book and podcast recommendations 

From Ryan McCormack… Dear Subscribers and Readers,

Thank you for your continued readership and support. 2023 marked another year of continuous improvement, improving organizational culture, and driving excellence in the workplace. 

Following a brief hiatus in November, the Operational Excellence Mixtape is back at a new home on Substack. Regular mixtape compilation and distribution will resume in January 2024. In the meantime, please enjoy this summary of the best of the Operational Excellence Mixtape 2023.

Subscribe to receive these via email — now via Substack.


Here are the Top 10 Most Read Mixtape articles from 2023:

  1. Improvement coach extraordinaire Katie Anderson advises those transitioning from a project leader to an operational leader in So You're a Leader Now. Forget Everything You've Learned.
  2. Stop being busy and focus on productivity! More from Anne-Laure Le Cunff in Ness Labs: The Illusion of Productivity.
  3. Mike Rother challenges us all to embrace a Starter Kata in Learning to Think Scientifically: From the Front Lines to the Top In Your Organization.
  4. Adam Grant shared his book recommendations last summer in The 11 New Idea Books to Spring into Summer.
  5. The president of BMW Manufacturing discusses the transition to Electric Vehicles in ‘We Transform While We Perform': BMW Spartanburg Revs Up for the Shift to Electric.
  6. Larry Rubrich reminds us that kaizen is not an event in Lean is a system – not an event
  7. Don't get seduced by vanity metrics and focus on actionable metrics, says Hayim Makabee in Lean Startup Principles: Vanity Metrics and Actionable Metrics.
  8. Experts from the PEX Network share Operational excellence challenges: 5 tips to overcome them
  9. Long-time mixtape stalwart Mark Graban suggests that we should Stop Spending Money on Problem-Solving Training.
  10. The Systems Innovation Network shares some Complexity Principles for Organizations.

Here are my top 5 book recommendations from 2023:

  1. The Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well by Amy Edmondson. Edmondson provides further clarity on how organizations can learn from different types of failure to ultimately improve performance. 
  2. Wiring the Winning Organization: Liberating Our Collective Greatness through Slowification, Simplification, and Amplification by Gene Kim and Steve Spear. Kim and Spear synthesize the principles and practices of organizations that consistently outperform their competitors. 
  3. Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results by Shane Parrish. Shane Parrish, founder of Farnam Street, compiles the mindsets and habits that drive consistent results and problem-solving. 
  4. The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation by Mark Graban. A beautiful collection of stories about the power of mistakes in shaping our thinking about performance and leadership. 
  5. Understanding Organizations…Finally!: Structure in Sevens by Henry Mintzberg. The definitive guide to organizational structure and the effect of design on business outcomes and culture.

Here are my 5 favourite podcast episodes of 2023:

  1. What's Next! with Tiffani Bova: A New Way of Decision Making with Atif Rafiq. Decisions are increasingly complex and require more input from all levels of the organization. Atif Rafiq describes how to perform structured collaborative decision-making using decision sprints. 
  2. Leadership Next: Prudential CEO Charlie Lowrey on Transforming an Almost 150 Year-Old Company. Transformation is hard. It's even harder and requires special consideration when done at a long-standing institution with a rich tradition.
  3. The Knowledge Project: #165 George Stalk, Jr.: Competing Against Time. Straight talk about continuous improvement and competitive advantage.
  4. WorkLife with Adam Grant: Building atomic habits with James Clear. The master of systems and habits joins the leader in organizational psychology. 
  5. The Next Big Idea: How to Excel When Everything is in Flux. The only constant is change – and it seems to be accelerating. Brad Stulberg updates our models for change for the digital/VUCA age. 

Thanks for reading and we'll see you soon in the New Year!

Regards – Ryan McCormack

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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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