Saturday, June 29, 2013

Social Media and Quality Management

My comment on Quality Trends in Uncommon Places: "However, my personal view on the future of quality will be focused on New Industry - Social Media"

I would not agree with this statement.  I agree social media is important.  But it is one aspect.  I expect quality management to continue to be focused on continual improvement, respect for people, systems thinking, customer focus, understanding variation, etc.

I think it is important for companies to use social media well.  And have it be people interested in the business not just flashy cool stuff.  I wrote Red Bull asking where to buy their product and never even got a response.  They spend millions on generating buzz - ignoring direct customer requests is foolish.

Quite a few companies provide better support if you Tweet them than in any other way.  I find it odd they don't do the other options better (phone, email, in person...) but they do at least respond to tweets (they seem to have put a team in place and told them to provide good customer service via Twitter - which is nice, but why didn't they fix their other customer avenues?).  That is another example why I think saying social media will be the key is wrong - it is good to use social media but you need to make customer focus your organizations focus - not social media your orgs focus.

I think, building your personal career brand is important.  I think a blog is the most important way to do so.  Personal web site, Twitter, Google+ etc. (links to mine) are also good.  I personally don't use Facebook.

Reddit is a great social media site (that many managers don't seem to be aware of).  Here is a collection of (sub-reedits) focus on management.  Reddit provide links to online resources ranked by votes of participant in focus topics.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Apply Management Improvement Principles to Your Situation

Can’t Always Believe Somebody Saying “Toyota Would Tell You To...”
We’re not literally hanging “andon cords” or putting tape around every piece of equipment just because a factory does it. We have to be solving hospital problems and not just copying tools. I get that...
There’s going to be variation in healthcare and we have to plan for that and make sure patient care comes first. We need to have a reaction plan for how to try to get back on schedule (and part of that approach could be to have buffer times for charting during the day instead of doing all of the charting at the end of the day).
Well said. Don't surgeons use something equivalent to "tape to make visible if the right tools are ready"? It sure seems like something like that would be wise to me.

The whole idea is to take principles first (and then tools) that are helpful and apply them to your situation/system. The business type will affect decisions (likely software businesses or hospitals will be more similar to those in their industry than others due to some features of that that of business) as will your specific organization.

If you design a system to have much more cross training of people then it will allow you to take advantage of that compared to another organization that instead focused more on specialization.

The decisions you make about individual aspects of the management system will impact what options are sensible for you in any particular instance. It is helpful to challenge yourself by thinking what would others do with this type of dilema but it is helpful not in letting you copy something they do but rather to provide you a new perspective.

Related: Curious Cat Management blog posts on health care - Curious Cat management blog posts on quality tools

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Give People Enough Rope (and the Right Rope) to Achieve

Give ‘Em Enough Rope
How frequently have we heard – or spoken – that expression? The workplace is filled with examples of employees set up to ‘hang’ by being given just enough ‘rope’.

But what if leaders re-wrote this expression… and in the process re-thought how to support employee (and organizational) success with the gift of the right kind of rope being offered for the right reason

Yes, give them enough rope and well designed systems that give them freedom, but also use rope to provide support. You can use rope to help people get themselves to new heights, not just to hang themselves. And you can use rope to give people freedom but also safety.

You want systems that let people take on challenges without too many restrictions but with enough support and training that you don't leave them hanging.

"to figure out how to handle ‘knotty’ problems and tie up loose ends."

Yes, and the ropes should suit their situation. A tightrope over a chasm is fine for a trained acrobat with a balancing pole. It is foolish for someone without the right training or tools. They would be better served with something else - a rope bridge with railings.

Photo by John Hunter on the Juniper Lake Trail in Mount Saint Helens National Park.

Related: Coaching: Don't be Too Timid - Manage Better by Managing Less - What is a Project Manager? - Building on Successful Improvement

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Evaluate the System for Not Just Absolute Failures But Also Consistently Bad Ethics

Thoughts sparked by: The NCAA and Auditing of Processes vs. Enforcement of Rules
I agree that the current process is not working.  I am not totally sure the answer is to make things more binary however.  One of the problems with legalistic thinking is it attempts to make everything black or white.  There is a great deal of grey.

The basic problem it seems to me is the schools basically want to get away with all the bad behavior they can that can be argued doesn't quite rise to the level of clearly provable violation. If they can do something clearly wrong, but hide it that seems fine with them. It isn't being ethical or being fair that those taking the most cash from the schools (the executive leadership, including boards, and college coaches, including assistants) care about. That is the core of the problem. The system is also setup to encourage unethical behavior. And that feeds on itself, driving away those that are not suited to work in a system where ethics hamper your ability to succeed.

I think we may benefit from accepting that bad behavior is grey and when we see lots of dark grey you get punished a lot.

When we see lots of white and this tiny bit of black where two silly violations are found we treat that as what it is - a system that is largely working but a couple special causes need to be fixed up.

A problem with this is many people want to get away with doing bad stuff that technically can maybe be seen as possibly not absolutely prohibited.  Then they want to be able to have ignored that they are largely running a dark grey to black system when they can be shown to have clearly violated specific rules.

This attitude is a horrible example that our educational institutions are giving students.  Talking about how students should be ethical when they act while the schools are being unethical and trying to get away with ever single thing they can without tripping over into provable violations.

Related: Shining light on the actions of those in power - Peter F. Drucker on a Functioning Society - The Moral Consequences of Your Decisions

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Providing background material in advance of discussions

One place I see for improvement is an actual underuse of email. In meetings when lots of data is provided on some issue, that normally would be better handled by an email in advance (or could be some reporting system or whatever - but an email to look at urls of certain data...) to let people review the data.

Also preceding an urgent face-to-face, cell phone... with background info is often more helpful than trying to talk about stuff that is best digested by someone sitting and thinking. When on the phone or in the presence of others we often have a tendency to need to feel the space with noise/talking and deep thought is not likely, unless you already have deep thoughts on the topic and are just thinking of how to tweak those based on comments.

I see a systemic failure to provide background material in advance of discussions in many organizations.

Posted in response to How can you bring standard work to communication?

Related: Process Thinking: Process Email Addresses - Better Meetings - Effective Communication is Explicit

Friday, June 07, 2013

Trust People but Verify Processes Provide Desired Results

The idea that freedom is the only important thing is flawed. Some people want to swing from poor management systems that don't allow employees to provide help customers need to total freedom (thinking respect for people means not process controls). That isn't right.

We need to trust but verify and use processes that are successful (even if some employees think that "cramps their style"). Usually that feeling is just temporary until they learn to understand process thinking and what comes with it.

Reaction to: Quality vs. Innovation: How Much Structure Do You Need?

Related: Improving Processes Helps Innovation Efforts - Process Improvement and Innovation - Long Term Thinking with Respect for People

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Stock Buybacks Often are Misleading

My comments to this post by Jeffrey Pfeffer were not posted, which is obviously his right. My two requests for clarification that it was actually a decision and not just wasting my time due to a bad process that didn't even allow someone to make a decision to post it or not (the post has a great total of 0 comments and is requesting that people make comments).

Sometimes those that have lots of fans don't bother with comments. That is fine. But requesting comments and feedback and then not providing any responses I find doesn't show much respect for people.

 Why Does Apple Care About Its Share Price?
Put simply, executives should spend more time on product development and customers and less time worrying about something (their stock price) that is more outside their control.
As a stockholder I agree with you. Apple has continued to have a great cash flow. Mainly they should focus on that. Apple has diluted stockholder equity by over 10% over the last 7 years with massive stock grants to executives. The $50 billion buyback is unlikely to even return outstanding stock levels to the level of 7 years ago.

Along with the excessive nature of their cash balance (I am all for keeping some money for a raining day and keeping money to invest in research and new market but they have $100 billion more than they need for that) and stockholder dilution they have practiced putting some cash to use reducing the stockholder dilution makes sense to me.