Ryan McCormack’s Operational Excellence Mixtape: June 13, 2024

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


Operational Excellence, Improvement, and Innovation

Toyota admits to cheating on vehicle testing

Toyota has long prided itself on its culture of quality and improvement but has recently apologized for falsifying certification on seven vehicle models.

“We are not a perfect company. But if we see anything wrong, we will take a step back and keep trying to correct it,” said Toyoda. 

Continuous Improvement Systems in Healthcare

I spent many years testing and improving frontline continuous improvement methods in hospitals. I was lucky to visit dozens of hospitals across North America to learn about what makes some more sustainable than others. I'm pleased to see that London Health Sciences Centre uses a staff-led continuous improvement system to improve operating room performance in the birthing centre. Empower your teams to make small improvements as often as possible.

Is it a mistake or an error?

Some organizations debate the definition of mistake or error, often attempting to make a distinction between the two regarding intent. Mark Graban challenges us to move away from this debate and focus on creating a culture of growth and learning instead

Does tracking workers increase productivity?

Does providing workers with real-time feedback on what work needs to get done and how they are performing improve productivity? A doctoral thesis at ETH Zurich investigating the effects of using smartwatches for job shop scheduling and control showed limited benefit. The study suggests that individual performance feedback framed positively (e.g. “you completed 2 of 3 tasks!”) led to better productivity than team feedback or negative feedback.


Creating a Culture of Improvement

Managers feel the brunt of most changes

Many change management efforts focus on “what's in it” for front-line employees, but it's middle managers who feel the brunt of disruptive changes more than other stakeholders, contributing to managers being more likely to be disengaged at work than non-managers. The referenced article goes on to suggest how to get the organization to adjust to change faster, but I believe the opportunity lay in making fewer disruptive changes and managing theses changes with much greater quality.

Defining Values

Every organization espouses some set of values, often generic, and without driving commitment. Matthew May describes his process for defining values in ways that create greater commitment

Tips for Better Change Management Communication

Communication is key for effective change management. Everyone knows that. But what does good really look like? Prosci offers 5 tips for better change management communication.


Coaching – Developing Self & Others

Being too cynical at work is holding you back

I was that person – the one who was always complaining about how corporations don't care and how no one can be trusted. Luckily, I've had some leaders and mentors that, over the years, convinced me that I was holding onto some big assumptions that were in need of challenging and that my cynicism was holding me back. If you're that person too, it's time to explore whether being so cynical is holding you back at work.

How's your “flow state”?

There's nothing more satisfying than achieving those moments of peak experience – or “flow states” – when focus is effortless and time seems to stand still. Can technology remove distractions and make it easier to achieve flow states more often? I hope so, but I remain skeptical. Most technology is designed to drive distraction and inhibit focus.


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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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