It is time to get excited about the start of this decade. Opportunities abound, I am a great believer in the concept of "Abundance" which means there is enough work around for everyone if you look for it. I have posted recently about the need for deeper conversations on social media and elsewhere. It is hard to be creative, deliver new content all the time, but it is about making connections between the old and the new and braking artificial or perceived walls. One of the reasons I am so passionate about "lean" thinking, is that the concepts can be applied everywhere, because it is about productivity. The new technologies, whether it be Artificial Intelligence, I.o.T. or anything under the banner of Industry 4.0, are all about productivity.
Senior leaders have been wrestling with strategy for years. There has been a trend over the last few decades of linking metrics to strategy. This has obvious benefits, but can be counter productive. An article in the September issue of the HBR highlights an example, where this has gone spectacularly wrong. Wells Fargo was an extreme example of where using metrics to drive sales induced staff to setup deposit and credit card accounts without the client consent.There were significant fines, reimbursement of fees and the consequent loss of reputation.
I have been fortunate enough to attend a couple of events recently, one in Cambridge and one in Milton Keynes on the impact of digital technology , such as AI & I.o.T . Over and above the technological advances there was one recurring theme, that of acceptance.
This is an expanding question because it encompasses everything we do. I have to stay mindful with my work, such that I don't get buried in the historical roots of lean manufacturing. At Aspire2BLean, we analyse the business situation and provide solutions for the traditional process wastes, but also look at the innate connections with energy losses, effluent and inefficient business processes. We are now looking at the digital interfaces and aspects of our daily work.
We have to go way beyond these fundamental processes, and look into the dimensions of personal productivity as a subset of business efficiency. This will have a significant impact on the overall goal of waste reduction. Within this area we have to go deeper and analyse the interaction with the person and machine. Nothing earth shattering, as it about the ability to train and guide staff on new hardware, which we have been doing for some time. We must get to the point where our personal ability to connect effectively with the computers and digital interfaces improves, and our understanding is greater. It is not just about bespoke software for equipment, but the ability to deal with packages like Office 365, CRM and project management software. All of these touch points are opportunities for a loss in efficiency. I have tried to visualise this in a simple animation.
As lean experts and professionals we are always talking about agility based on lean thinking. The majority of people in industry and commerce are aware of the term VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex Ambiguous), its importance and resonance. What does
I have been reflecting quite a bit recently about this topic, and the potential for further improvements in personal efficiency. Overall company efficiency is the sum of the component parts i.e. the aggregate efficiencies. This is why it is important to stay focused on our personal efficiency. I have blogged about productive people before, but quite often we think we are better than we actually are. One factor is that in the corporate or large company world, we can get sucked into "Other People's Waste". What do I mean by that? Inevitably we have to work in teams , whether that be large or small. Each team member will carry with them their own waste.
The Brexit position has become more uncertain and business confidence dropped further, even though the UK is still outperforming other EU nations such as Italy and Germany in terms of growth. This vindicates more than ever the need for a "Lean" approach with businesses more agility in the market place.
In the line of work I do, there is a constant drive for productivity and efficiency. This clearly has its benefits, but it can be a hidden hindrance. As we rush to clear our job lists, key activities and work to have impact with our strategic goals, we have very little time to step back. This may sound obvious, and the principles of effective time management are well established, but what are the unintended consequences of this "hurried" or "rushed" state we create for ourselves? I use the word "ourselves" because even though our plates are filled by others, we have the power to control our environs.
There was a very interesting article in this months HBR by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini titled "The End of Bureaucracy" with an interesting example of how a Chinese company Haier, has adopted a very interesting business model to make it more efficient and agile in the market place. They have adopted the concept of ME (Microenterprises), whereby there are over 4000, each with 10-15 employees that serve the company both internally and externally.