Ryan McCormack’s Operational Excellence Mixtape: February 9, 2024

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News, articles, books, podcasts, and videos about how to make the workplace better.


Operational Excellence, Improvement, and Innovation

Lean is helping the “great GE turnaround”

GE released its Q4 results – and they're great. CEO Larry Culp shares how Lean has helped turn around GE's performance.

As part of our lean transformation, we're developing connected flow using model lines to improve deliveries. By focusing on key constraints, we reduced lead times, for example, over 40% on our ceramic matrix composite components. And in services, we improved LEAP shop visit turnaround times by double-digits. Lean is not only helping us with delivery but more importantly, when it comes to safety and quality.

What should Boeing do to turn around its fortunes?

While GE outperforms, Boeing is still reeling from its highly publicized quality problems. What should Boeing do to regain trust? Dealbook interviews experts on how Boeing could turn around its culture.

All of this focus has many wondering, why do we have zero tolerance for lapses in airline safety when we readily accept defects in healthcare and almost all other industries?

Align your team with OKRs

Make sure your team has clear goals. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) are an effective and scalable approach to aligning teams to organizational imperatives. There are risks in cascading goals to the individual level, but many organizations use OKRs to tie individual efforts to enterprise goals.

Think Systemically

Systems thinking remains one of the competencies that executives predict be even more valuable in the future. Here's a simple guide to Systems Inquiry from the Systems Innovation Network.


Creating a Culture of Improvement

Zombie Leadership: Dead ideas that still walk among us

Organizations obsess over ‘leadership development', and much is written about it, but what do we really know about leadership? What ideas about leadership are actually dead but still written about incessantly? Check out what the research says in Leadership Quarterly's Zombie Leadership: Dead Ideas That Still Walk Among Us.

The Management Paradigm Shift – What the World's Most Valuable Firms Have in Common

Steve Denning explores the shift from Taylor's Scientific Management, Friedman's shareholder value maximization, and Weber's hierarchical structures to the 21st-century ideals of customer and human-centred primacy, democratizing process management and leadership, and stakeholder value maximization in an excellent three-part series of articles:

  1. The Management Paradigm Driving the World's Most Valuable Firms
  2. Understanding The Dark Side Of The World's Most Valuable Firms
  3. Putting The Man Before The System Drives The World's Most Valuable Firms

Use Good Friction to Combat Bad Friction

Faster isn't always better. Bob Sutton joins Adam Grant on Worklife: How to Become a Friction-fixer with Bob Sutton, where they talk about leadership and lessons on friction. Some highlights of the conversation:

  • Why we should stop protecting leaders from inconvenience and let them suffer from poor service.
  • Lead by doing instead of “managing by walking around”.
  • Why leaders should audit their ratio of questions to statements.
  • Eliminate “sham participation” (pretending to listen to others after you've already decided).
  • Argue like you're right, listen like you're wrong.
  • How being boring can be useful for leaders.

Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Some things never change

I love seeking out principles – fundamental truths that govern consequences or behaviour. So it's no surprise that I devoured Morgan Housel's latest book Same as Ever: A Guide to What Never Changes. Highly recommended!

Your “Skilled Pragmatists” are bored and underutilized

We often focus on low performers and high performers to manage performance. But what if many untapped skilled pragmatists were waiting for you to notice them? Large organizations have many employees who are passionate and skilled but prefer to avoid politics and conflict, but who are often underutilized and bored. Tap into your organization's skilled pragmatists.


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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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