Monday, October 4, 2021

Leadership in Times of Crisis

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

We will succeed beyond any possibility of doubt. If anyone doubts this, let them leave now.

That’s Field Marshal Montgomery upon assuming command of the British 8th Army in North Africa in 1942.

Morale was in the sub-basement. The 8th Army had suffered repeated defeats at the hands of German General Rommel.

Montgomery, in his trademark black beret, made a great effort to appear before troops as often as possible, frequently visiting various units and making himself known to the men. He exuded confidence and energy, based on deep knowledge and experience.

Fellow generals, Brooke and Alexander, were astonished by the transformation in atmosphere when they visited on 19 August, less than a week after Montgomery had taken command.

What’s this got to do with business transformation?

Change is hard, change hurts. You lose more battles than you win. ”Fall down seven times, get up eight…” our Toyota senseis taught.

General Montgomery exuded kaizen spirit – the indomitable feeling that we will prevail, in spite of everything.

Cheerfulness is a big part of kaizen spirit. Not the shallow, Pollyanna version, but cheerfulness based on a frank, mature assessment and acceptance of reality, warts and all.

‘Yes, we are all messed up. We have many weaknesses, and have had many failures. But we are learning fast, and getting stronger every day, and we’re going to do this.’

Kaizen spirit is difficult to sustain in a world of instant gratification, fragmented attention, and non-stop chatter.

Which makes it all the more valuable.

Best regards,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

More on Walt Disney
Walt Disney -- Lean Thinker
Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 3
Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 2


Monday, September 20, 2021

More on Walt Disney

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Further to my earlier blog posting, here are more musings on Walt Disney & lean principles.

Walt's natural instinct for Strategy Deployment helped him define Disneyland's famous Four Disciplines, which first appeared in 1950's training manuals.


They are (in order of importance):
  • Safety
  • Courtesy
  • Showmanship
  • Efficiency

I'm struck by the parallel with Toyota's famous four:
  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Delivery
  • Cost

At Toyota manager training these became our mantra. We came to understand that each focus area built on the last. Safety improvements came first, then quality and delivery. Cost improvement was the last to come, but it stuck when it did, because we'd built a solid foundation for it.

Strange how so many companies focus on Cost alone -- and come to grief thereby. Walt also understood the importance of touching the head and the heart -- another cornerstone of Strategy Deployment.

"The thing that makes us different is our way of thinking....We seem to know when to 'tap the heart'. Those who hit the intellect only appeal to a very limited group." I recently took my family to Disneyworld in Orlando. I casually asked several "cast members" about the Four Disciplines.

Each was able to rhyme them off and explain their significance.

Focus and alignment -- half a century later.

Best,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Walt Disney -- Lean Thinker
Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 3
Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 2
Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 1



Monday, September 6, 2021

Walt Disney -- Lean Thinker

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

The other day I was again leafing through Bob Thomas’ fine biography of Walt Disney.

Walt's remarkable imagination, shone through, as did his energy, optimism and decency.
But there was something else too...

Walt Disney was a consummate Lean thinker.

He practiced the fundamentals every day, including visual management, go see, leader standard work and strategy deployment. is contributions to visual management are legendary. He invented story-boarding, for example, the visual approach to movie-making -- and so much else.

He practiced Go See every day. "I see myself as a little bee," he said. "I go from one area of the studio gathering pollen and sort of stimulate everybody." As a result he had a deep grasp of the situation and was able to articulate strategy in compelling ways.

The creation of Disneyland in the early 1950's was a brilliant example of Strategy Deployment. Walt began with a clear and compelling vision which he articulated through images (story-boards). His vision was informed by extensive travel and research into amusement parks around the world. He knew what worked and what didn't work. As ever, he grounded his vision in concrete experience.

Then he put together an exemplary team, deployed elements of the plan to each team leader and checked progress with visual tools and leader standard work. A remarkable leader indeed.

It strikes me, again, that what we call "Lean" is just good business.

Best regards,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 3
Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 2
Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 1
In Praise of Depth



Monday, August 23, 2021

Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 3

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Last time I asked how to manage our screens, so as to avoid a dreadful dumbing down of society?

As always, countermeasures depend on a
  1. Clear objective and understanding of the gap, and
  2. Good grasp of the situation gained through experience, as well as, reflection
Let me build on my musical example.

What should be happening?
  1. Pascal wants to make music that’s enjoyable for both himself and others (forced) to listen to it
  2. Pascal wants to build his capability to play the piano
What’s actually happening?
  1. Yamaha’s splendid keyboards allow Pascal to create enjoyable music – without the slog of daily practice
  2. Pascal’s capability does not grow
Clearly, to meet both objectives – enjoyable music, and greater musical skills – I need more than splendid technology.

I need to find a capable teacher/sensei who will guide me to greater competence through the old, old way, (well described by Dan Coyle in The Talent Code):


Our Learning Recipe (Talent Code):
  1. Go slow,
  2. Stop and fix (mentor), and
  3. Repeat
Which is exactly, what I’ve done. The past year, Jay and I have worked through piano fundamentals & I’m way more capable than I was.

In summary, anchored in the eternal learning paradigm, the talent code, if you will, our screens are a blessing.

They can accelerate our progress in any skill. (For example, I can watch Nat Cole on Youtube performing a tune I’m learning.)

Disconnected from the talent code, they can make us stupid.

Caveat emptor.

Best,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 2
Do We Manage Our ‘Screens’ - Or Do Our Screens Manage Us? - Part 1
In Praise of Depth
The Fog of Big Company Disease