Thursday, September 14, 2017

Quit Looking for Silver Bullets and Get to Work Improving Management

My comments on There Are No Silver Bullets:

It is somewhat amazing that nearly everyone would agree with the sentiment that there are no silver bullets but if you evaluate what they seek for management improvements they want silver bullets :-(

If you like to find the silver lining amidst clouds this tendency to want magic solutions means that you can make great progress if you are willing to do the work. Others are not using well known management improvement strategies not because they don't work but because they are not silver bullets.

Related: Why Use Lean if So Many Fail To Do So Effectively - The Quick Fix Doesn't Exist - Everyone wants instant pudding

Thursday, September 07, 2017

People and Robots Together

Comments on: The Coming Auto Industry Battle: Toyota’s People vs. Tesla’s Robots?

Toyota's method is the best and will continue to be.

However, I believe we have reached a turning point where the effectiveness of industrial robots has greatly improved. For several decades it was pretty easy to predict wholesale adoption of the robots will save us mantra would be followed by failure. I still strongly believe Toyota's method (thoughtful use of robotics to enhance people is the best strategy). But the ease of using robots to succeed in the long term is much enhanced these days.

Robot first strategies are going to be succeeding quite a bit going forward. Yes those efforts might not be good enough when competing only with companies using the best strategy well (but that will be rare).

I wrote some about this in a recent blog post: Technological innovation brings great opportunity for improving results and our quality of life. But transforming potential benefits into real results comes with many challenges...

Essentially I see people today too dismissive of the usefulness of industrial robots. And they have past examples to point to in showing how a large commitment to robot first failed. It isn't that today robot first is the best strategy but I do believe the real world conditions have improved to make the blanket assumption that such efforts will fail as unwise.

A big part of this is that while we can simplify the argument to "robot first" or "robots helping people" it really isn't that simple. There are many reasons why today the conditions are different than they have been. Technological and software improvements are a big part of that. But also there is more thoughtful consideration of the advantages Toyota's management philosophy brings. Sadly not enough, but still companies are better today at thinking and acting as if their employees have brains than they were 30 years ago. Granted there is still a long way to go, but still progress has been made it seems to me at the macro level.

Related: GMs huge investment in robotics in the 1980s ($billions) has been an example of how pinning hopes on technology often doesn’t produce the desired results. - Toyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair - Two resources, largely untapped in American organizations, are potential information and employee creativity.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Leading Change in the Face of Fear

Comments on the comments related to "How to Combat Fear" podcast with Ron Pereira

"whose skepticism will override the possibility that a change will actually be an improvement"

This feeling is often the result of many previous changes promoted as improvements that were not successful. Most people learn to be skeptical of management claims (sure a few people are pre-disposed to thinking this way but for many more it is a learned response).

I would add to the idea that we need to work with those more willing to try new ideas (early adopters) that last we need to have visible success with those early adopters to gain evidence that this time is different.

Related: Transforming a Management Culture - How to Help Instigate Change in an Organization - The Sociology of Organizational Change

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Code Software to be Robust and Easy to Update Quickly

Comment on: Correction vs Prevention in Software Development

I think both prevention and designing the software and management system so that rapid correction is possible are important. While rare events may be difficult to prevent when looking at each instance there are styles of coding that make more "edge case" failures more likely. Coding so that the system is as robust as possible is wise but you should also realize those efforts will likely not be perfect and so designing in visible notifications of failure and coding so rapid correction is possible is necessary.

In addition to the need to update quickly for bugs, software should be easy to update due to changing requirements and to aid in continual improvement efforts.

Related: Improving Software Development with Automated Tests - Software Supporting Processes Not the Other Way Around - Building a System to Reduce Interruptions for Software Developers
- Use Urls: Don’t Use Click x, Then Click y, Then Click z Instructions

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Earning the Trust of Employees

My comments on: Why good employees (should not) leave (good companies)? – The employer perspective

One of the very challenging tasks as a manager is to get people to trust bringing up difficult topics. Often people are punished for doing so. Most people learn to keep quiet about management problems. Even when managers say they want to hear there are many instances when they then punish those who speak up.

I agree with you that for organizations to flourish management must know what needs to be improved. But few executives or managers put in the effort to earn people's trust. But building that trust is what organizations that want to flourish need to do.

Related: Ignoring Unpleasant Truths is Often Encouraged - How to Create a Continual Improvement Culture - Practical Ways to Respect People - The Problem is Likely Not the Person Pointing Out The Problem - Build an Environment Where Intrinsic Motivation Flourishes

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Using Money to Motivate Creates More Problems Than Benefits

Comments on: Employee Motivation and Lean Implementation – Part 2: Money

Well said. Nearly all "motivation" efforts such as bonuses create far more problems than benefits. Paying people fairly is important, if they don't have enough to live they will be distracted and seeking new options.

And if they are substantially underpaid compared to the market (even if they have enough to live comfortably) they will be prone to seek new alternatives and be disgruntled because they feel they are being treated unfairly.

The best "motivation" managers can provide is to eliminate the de-motivation created by poor practices in the management system.

Sadly these are often common and managers can keep themselves very busy just doing this. If not, they are likely very lucky and probably have no motivation problems to worry about.

Related: Why Extrinsic Motivation Fails - The Defect Black Market - Dangers of Extrinsic Motivation - Extrinsic Incentives Kill Creativity - A "Demotivated" Workforce is a Symptom of the Culture of the Organization - The Potential Benefits, Risks and Folly of Stretch Goals

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Systems Thinking and Management Improvement

This is a response to a comment on my own blog post: Peter Senge on Systems Thinking

Great video on systems. It seems systems thinkers believe it to be a cure all. Deming’s addition of psychology, epistemology, and statistics and interactions is so much more powerful. What do you think? Is it all Japan needed because they had the other elements? Do we need more?

Senge has very good ideas. I would add to his thoughts more of what Deming, Scholtes, Joiner... said. I think many people get into the idea that their areas of interest is nearly everything that is needed.

I don't think Japan just needed systems thinking (for one thing there organizations start with more of that understanding). For another, a real problem in Japan is going along and not speaking up about problems. That is an issue everywhere but is much worse in Japan than the West. Japan has an obsession with customer service that would be valuable for USA organizations to learn from.

A big part of what makes Deming's framework so useful is he was continually learning and adopting new ideas (Senge does a lot of this compared to most people but I can't think of anyone in the Management area that is close to as good as Deming was at this). I do think most Deming folks today would benefit greatly from much more thinking a about the organization as a system. It is often very superficial in my experience (repeating phrases like "we need to break down barriers between departments" or "it is a mistake to optimize the part because it sub-optimizes the whole"). Those ideas are great but you need to manage based on that concept not just say it and move on.


I can't remember if I have added a comment from my own blog here before :-/

Related: Why Do People Fail to Adopt Better Management Methods? - Leadership While Viewing the Organization as a System - A Good Management System is Robust and Continually Improving