Saturday, 31 August 2019

No just cause

One of things we do, as productivity professionals, is to examine the evidence - the performance data - to identify where problems and Improvement opportunities exist.  Indeed, we often go further to investigate the root cause of a problem so we know we are not merely addressing the symptoms of an underlying problem which might re- emerge later.

However, too often I see people not just failing to identify the root cause but even failing to identify whether or not there is a causal relationship at all.

Let me give you an example. In s recent blog (not mine) the author stated that Monday was the worst day for productivity - suggesting that in many, even the majority of, organisations, performance dips on a Monday. If this is true (and I assume the author had evidence to show it was) and we could find out why, we might be able to address that issue and avoid this performance penalty.

However, we might simply be looking at a statistical anomaly or even a piece of well-established folklore. Perhaps there is nothing about Mondays that causes performance to drop.

So be careful how you treat what people say.  Don’t jump to hasty conclusions. Ask what the data is telling you - and what it isn’t. Dig deeper. Triangulate. Find the causal relationship and then identify the root cause. You then have a chance of solving your problem. But don’t address, or worry about, problems that don’t exist.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Technology is not the answer

Many firms believe that technology will make them more productive - technology in their main processes and in their communication/administrative processes. 

Technology, of course, can be an aid to productivity. But it is only really effective when the firm is already quite efficient. We have all seen firms where technology has simply automated or accelerated existing inefficiencies.

And many of us are ourselves caught in the email/ messaging whirlpool, constantly reading and replying to communications that we didn’t need to receive.

Introducing technology is an ideal time to review how you do things - and to find out how you SHOULD do things. Add technology to the improved process and you get a ‘double whammy’ - two sets of improvement for the price of one.

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Rest while you work

A few weeks ago I wrote about the need to take some time away from the pressures of work to recharge your body and mind and come back stronger.  Here is little tip (hack?) complementary to that one.

Most of us have a ‘To Do’ list, things we have to get done. We might use a formal task manager or we might use a notebook but the list exists. Some of these tasks will be urgent, some will be interesting, some will be easy, some will be important; hopefully some will be  challenging and rewarding.

Throughout the day we will prioritise these tasks - hopefully based on their importance rather then their urgency. Some we might leave - perhaps because they are not urgent or important enough .... and sometimes we just procrastinate because we are too tired to face another challenge.

Well if you do tend to do this .. in effect having a mini-break during work time - try to have some of the boring, relatively unimportant tasks available to use during these gaps. You still get a mental break .. but your To Do list does reduce. At the end of the day, another 1 or 2 tasks will have been completed and you feel some satisfaction rather than guilt or shame at putting things off.

So, rest while you are working and you become more productive.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

The Lean Labrynthe

I have been reading and writing about Lean quite a bit recently. It is one if those topics where the more you know and the more you read, the more you realise you don’t know.  There are so many interweaving and interrelated topics where you can’t fully understand one topic without also understanding two more.

Some people might give up, thinking life isn’t long enough to work through all this.

I, however, prefer to think that this simply shows the all-encompassing nature of Lean ...  a philosophy and way of life rather than a set of tools and techniques.

In fact, if you immerse yourself in the basic principles , the rest becomes fairly straightforward and the detail is less important. Just focus on :

Making it flow
Eliminating waste
Respecting your people.

Then, whether you apply Kaizen, Kanban, Jidoka, Heijunka or any other specific tool, this focus on the principles will keep you straight.

Navigating the labyrinth of topics and tools will make you a better Lean practitioner but a simple focus on ‘becoming Lean’ will get you most of the way to being a Lean organisation.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Turn off sometimes

Recently I talked about value - and the fact that it is not a straightforward phenomenon.  What I didn’t mention in that piece was the topic of what you value ... personally.

Presumably if you are reading this, one of the things you do value is productivity - for yourself or your organisation  ... or both. You strive to be productive and to create a productive organisation.

Well, take an hour today .. and be unproductive. Do something frivolous ... just for the fun of it. It’s good to turn off occasionally.

Ironically, of course, it will make you more productive - by recharging your batteries and resetting your mind. 

So, turn off for an hour. I give you permission.