Ryan McCormack’s Operational Excellence Mixtape: May 31, 2024

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


Operational Excellence, Improvement, and Innovation

What is OpEx?

Operational Excellence is a bit of an umbrella term, and has a wide array of definitions. So what does it mean? Jamie Flinchbaugh reminds us that OpEx means whatever you want it to mean – and this has consequences.

So long SWOT analysis?

The SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is ubiquitous in strategy sessions but is routinely called into question for its value. It was even spoofed on the TV show Silicon Valley. Does SWOT analysis help strategy?


Strategy expert Roger Martin shares in It's Time to Toss SWOT Analysis into the Ashbin of Strategy History

This one is pretty simple: never do a SWOT analysis. And never pay attention to a SWOT analysis you happen to receive. At best, it is a waste of time. At worst, it will distract you from creating and rigorously testing your strategic logic.

More generally, never do an analysis without first generating an hypothesis. Otherwise, you will engage in aimless data mining.

Grand Tour of German Carmakers

Christoph Roser toured 20 automotive plants in Germany, estimating the % of time spent on value-added activities. I'm looking forward to his more detailed blog posts to learn more about what he observed and what he hypothesizes are the drivers of the differences between plants.

Can Scientific Thinking Save the World?

Scientific thinking is a cornerstone of operational excellence. Data and evidence are more available than ever, but I'm not sure this has done as much to advance scientific decision-making and evidence-based discourse as many expected. Is there hope for scientific thinking in the third millennium? Three researchers share a compelling interview about their book Third Millennium Thinking: Creating Sense in a World of Nonsense in 3 ways scientific thinking could help save the world.

Seth Godin on Incrementally Better (seths.blog)

“Massive leaps in utility and quality are extraordinary events. Going from ver 2.0 to 3.0 is a step change.

But that is almost never what improvement looks like.

Instead, the persistent commitment to slightly better on a regular schedule inexorably makes a difference over time.”


Creating a Culture of Improvement

Summer Reading on Culture

It's impossible to get involved in organizational culture and leadership with out hearing references to “growth mindset”, thanks to Carol Dweck's seminal 2007 book Mindset. Now, Mary C. Murphy is sharing her research on how to create an organizational culture of growth mindset with Cultures of Growth: How the New Science of Mindset Can Transform Individuals, Teams, and Organizations.

I'm a sucker for principle-based leadership and organizational culture. I picked up entrepreneur Damon Stafford's offering Believe in Better: The Evolution of Core Principles that Pioneered an Industry. I've only just started it and am loving it.

Culture Eats Pizza for Breakfast

The Senior Director of People at Pizza Pizza shares the data that suggests that connecting culture and strategy correlates with higher engagement.

“When employees know the organization's goals and feel their contributions matter, they are more engaged, productive and innovative. And when employees are more engaged, productive and innovative, the organization succeeds.”

Of course.

Almost half of CEOs believe they should be replaced by AI

47% of CEOs surveyed believe most or all of the CEO role should be automated or replaced by AI. Will we still need “leadership” in the future?


Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Going slow is gaining speed

Lean practitioners have long understood that flow isn't about working faster, but rather creating the conditions for production to occur smoothly and without interruption – one at a time ideally. Similarly, flow is facilitated by assuring quality at the source – doing it right and doing it well the first time. It seems like organizations are catching on to these particular principles as more organizations are adopting the “slow work movement.

Group Coaching

In organizations, a lot of work is done in groups, through collaboration, yet leadership and management systems mostly focus on individual coaching. Learn some great insights on how group coaching can be effective in this conversation, Coaching as Collaboration from INSEAD Knowledge podcasts.


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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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