Peter Drucker is considered the leading management thinker of the last century.  He recommended that organizations do a self-assessment based on 5 key questions – What is your mission? Who are your customers? What do they value? What are our results? What is our plan?

 

We believe now more than ever, we need to help our teams focus on the future.  It is a great way to create a discussion with your team on how we can all contribute to our long-term success.  We developed a guide on how to use the questions for your own team.  

 

Check out Tools Page out for the Guide to asking 5 Important Questions

 

Please let me know what you learn.

 

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As we move towards the ‘new normal’, our need to adapt the way we execute our work will demand an increase in our continuous improvement and innovation (CI&I) activity.

 

As you do this, I would encourage you to follow the logic I use for future state design – THINK TO S.E.E – Simple, Elegant and Effective. 

 

When you approach CI&I, the focus should always be on simplifying how we do our work – it is much easier to make things more complicated than it is to simply them.   Solutions should be elegant or well-designed following design thinking methodology.  And finally, it is critical that processes are effective in delivering internal and external customer value.   

 

Developing and executing future state design using the THINK TO S.E.E approach does take more thought and effort, but the effort will have a much higher rate of return.   Quoting Mark Twain – “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter”. 

 

If you would be interested in attending a virtual skill development session on the THINK TO S.E.E methodology, please let me know. 

 

Keep improving. 

Scott

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One of my favourite management thinkers is Peter Drucker.

 

One of his many philosophies is “The best way to predict the future is to create it”.     

 

In simple terms, it is up to you on how your future will unfold.  By coming up with ideas about what you want to achieve, you begin to plan. As you plan, you begin to take action. As you take action, you begin to create your future. 

 

As we approach the new normal, it is more important than ever for both individuals and organizations to embrace this thinking.  

 

Keep improving. 

Scott

 

 

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“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. Originally a proverb, this phrase was made famous by Jack Nicholson in the movie ‘The Shining’.  The real meaning of the proverb is that if you focus only on repetitive work, work that has limited challenge or if you do the same work every day, you will get bored and demotivated.  In organizations, focusing solely on executing daily work can lead to reduced productivity and lower engagement.  

 

Everyone needs meaning and challenge beyond their daily work.   Getting teams involved in continuous improvement projects or problem solving will allow them to focus on activities that will contribute to the long-term success of the organization.   If teams can get involved in improving their own work and work areas, it allows for increased levels of ownership, productivity improvement and reduced levels of frustration.  All very necessary activities to prepare to move into the new normal.     

 

Please let me know your thoughts.

 

Keep improving

Scott

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We have moved from uncertainty to the ‘temporary’ normal.  We appear to be moving through 3 distinct phases – uncertainly and adjustment, the temporary normal and the new normal.     Most of us are now in the temporary normal phase (I know I am). 

 

What is different about this phase?    We are experiencing what it is like to work in a social distance work world, whether at home or at the workplace.   We have figured out methods to execute our work and are falling into some form of operating rhythm.   Most of us have moved to an acceptance phase and are trying to make the best of the current state.  Some of us are learning valuable lessons that we can apply for this phase and for the new normal.  

 

What is required to win in this phase?   We are still dealing with a situation that is not well understood and has limited predictability.  Our natural instinct is to try to predict or control the situation.   In a complex situation, both are very difficult.   Instead,  we need to focus on adaptability and resilience.    Adaptability is preparing ourselves to rapidly reconfigure how we do our work and how we engage with our team members.   Resilience is developing the skills to step back, understand, regroup and then set a course to continue to move towards our long-term goals.   In order to be resilient your team needs to have a positive but realistic attitude, to be able to use failure and set- backs as an opportunity to learn and grow and to execute a plan to adapt and move forward.  

 

As leaders it is up to us to set the example for both adaptability and resilience.

 

Please let me know your thoughts.

 

Keep improving

Scott

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During normal times, it can be difficult to find things we are grateful for at work.    As humans we tend to focus on the negative as a way to protect ourselves.  The negative focus can lead to additional stress. The focus on the negative is magnified during times of uncertainty. 

 

To help yourself, I am encouraging you to take on the gratefulness challenge.

 

As a first step in the challenge, identify what and who you are grateful for with your work.  This will immediately help you focus on what is good, which should help reduce stress.

 

Second, there are many opportunities during this time to learn and develop your growth as a leader.  During the temporary normal, identify what you are leaning and how you can use this to help you grow as a leader, so you are stronger and have additional skills when we get into our new normal.

 

Finally, as a reminder, place a post-it-note where you can see it as a reminder – “What am I grateful for?”. 

For the challenge, please share what you are grateful for and what you are learning that will help you grow as a leader.

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For most of us, we are now in week 4 of the ‘new normal’.   It also appears that we may be in our current situation for the unforeseeable future.  One of the last things we typically think about in an uncertain situation is continuous improvement. 

 

As we get used to our new working environments, we develop habits, tools and methods that help make our work easier.  We also identify those things that make our work more difficult. In a continuous improvement culture, we encourage our team members to share and adopt these best practices.   As well, we also encourage our teams to identify the blockers in how they perform their work and possible solutions

 

As a leader, now is a good time to engage our teams in identifying improvements and best practice sharing in the ‘new normal’.  Ask a few simple questions – what have we learned? What are we doing that works well? What is blocking our ability to be more effective?  Remember to engage your team in solutions, get them involved with the implementation and don’t take all the work on yourself.

 

Please let me know your thoughts.

 

Keep connected.

Scott

 

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It goes without saying that this is an extremely trying time for all of us.  We are all experiencing a high degree of emotion as we try to understand and navigate what this change means for us.   Now more than ever it is critical to Lead with Empathy – to walk a mile in an other’s shoes to get an understanding of what they are experiencing.  

 

How we react as leaders and organizations will be remembered by our people long after the world resumes to whatever the new normal will be.   It is important that we don’t leave our team members, our customers and our communities with the impression that we have an ‘empathy gap’ or that we do not care. 

Here are a few things you can do to help avoid the empathy gap.  

 

1. Communicate with simple, clear and sensitive messaging. The fewer words the better as it leaves little room for interpretation.  Approach the message from the position of those that will receive it and try to anticipate their reaction.

 

2. Keep the goal clear and your communication focused.   Always keep in mind our team members safety and what we are actively doing to help our organizations come out of the crisis as best as we can.

 

3. Connect at all levels of the organization to understand the climate or mood of all our team members. Don’t just depend on your immediate team for their interpretations, go and see (virtually) different areas of the organization.

 

4. Be seen and heard.  Make sure that people can see you when you speak whether in person or by video and speak without notes were possible.  

 

Please let me know your thoughts.

 

Take care and keep connected.

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A highly engaged and motivated employee is the most formidable weapon that an organization can utilize to compete and win. An engaged and motivated employee is more focused on doing their work, more productive, and is more likely to have a better work and home life.  However, less than 30% of an organization’s people fit this category. Less than 5% of organizations sustain high performance over the long term. One of the limiting factors may be your management system.

 

Here are a few simple steps to start to build a strong management system.

 

First, it is important to understand the purpose of a management system. In simple terms, your management system is in place to make sure you are dong the right things for your customers (or clients or patients). It does this by connecting everyone in your organization to your vision, strategy and big outcome measures to allow everyone to understand how they can impact the vision and connect to the big outcomes. The management system engages our humans through solving their own problems. The most effective way to do this is through 'low tech, high touch' planning and measurement white boards.

 

Here are the steps to start building or improving your management system:

 

1. Identify your customer and understand what value they need from you.

 

I find in a lot of cases, there is not a strong understanding of who the customer is.   Your customer is who gets direct benefit or value from what you do. For example, in health care, the patient receives the direct value from the care they are given.   If my role is a support operation in manufacturing, such as engineering that develops product drawings, it is the people who build the product from the drawings.    If my role is production, I deliver value directly to the end customer for the product.

 

2. Understand how you can easily measure the value you provide to the customer.

 

Our customers are easy. They want simple things.  They want their stuff NOW. They want it PERFECT. They want it WASTE FREE. They may also want a good experience during the process.

 

I recommend you start with NOW as it is the easiest.    We should all have a plan to deliver what our customer's need when they need it.   My customer needs their drawings today to build their product.   My patient wants to continue to get better.  All you need to do is measure how well you delivered on your plan.   I would also recommend using a planning white board to show your commitment to your plan.

 

3. Graph your results to understand how you are doing.

 

What does a good day look like?  Did we have a good day? Typically it is getting done what we need to accomplish for our customer.  If you started with NOW, on your next white board - performance board - graph how well you are doing.   Measure for a few weeks so you can start understanding a longer term trend in performance.

 

4. Start understanding why.

 

Why did we not have a good day? If you did not have a good day and did not accomplish what you needed to do for your customer, start understanding the  reasons that are blocking your performance.  You should start seeing some recurring reasons.  For each reason, understand how bad it is by adding a bar or Pareto graph under your performance graph to track the number of occurrences.

 

5. Run some experiments to make it better.

 

Once you have a good understanding of the reasons why you are not having a good day, start running some simple experiments to fix the problem.  Below your bar graph, document the experiment and indicate when you started the experiment on your performance graph. This will allow you to see if the experiment had the results you hoped for.  If it did, adopt this as a new why to do your work. If it did not 't, try new experiments until you learn what does work.

 

6. When you are ready, add your other measures.

 

NOW, PERFECT, WASTE FREE.   Keep it simple and do not add too many additional measures.  Fewer measures are better, but it is important not to have a lonely number so you need to provide some balance.  For example, if you measure NOW, balance it by making sure you are also delivering what you customer needs PERFECT.

 

Remember - a strong management system is elegantly simple and is driven by the daily connections we make with our people. 

 

 

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