Monday, November 14, 2022

Beware Prizes, Belts & Self-appointed Experts

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Sir Isaac Newton

My corresponding tweet has had a lively time – thanks. Seems like you all are as tired of this as I am.

Indeed, who cares if Joe Schmoe is a Master Lean Sensei (MLS) and a Super-Duper Advanced Black Belt (SDABB)?

Or if Questionable Financial has received the Mortimer Snerd Prize for RGQ (Really Great Quality)?

Ever known a chest-thumper who is also a sensei? What happens to chest-thumping companies? Jim Collins has written a fine book about it: How the Mighty Fall.

What’s the most common quality of all great senseis – and great companies?

Humility, no? A deep understanding that the world is much bigger than we are, so well expressed by Sir Isaac.

Don’t want to be misunderstood. Building a career sometimes entails achieving certain professional degrees and certifications.

And plenty of fine organizations have committed themselves to achieving some prize or other.

The best ones recognize that the prize or certificate is nothing more than a kick-start, a proxy for the hard work of building a management system & getting results.

And some awards are worth pursuing, but these are almost always based are on detailed feedback from the customer.

At TMMC, our old Toyota Cambridge site, we were lucky enough to have Mr. Hayashi, a venerable sensei from Operations Management Consulting Division (OMCD).

Hayashi-san and his small team would visit a few times per year. He’d give us homework, check on previous homework, and provide very tough feedback, (often very funny, in retrospect,).

(“You have learned nothing since my last visit, Pascal-san…”)

I remember one time, Hayashi-san standing by himself by the Final Assembly line, taking notes. I asked the great sensei how his visit was going.

He smiled, “After many years, I finally understand this important assembly problem.” He went on to explain in great depth to this lowly, not-so-bright manager.

Always practicing, always teaching.

Best regards,

Pascal




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

Big Data & PDCA
PDCA - the Pounding Heart Muscle of Life
Yokoten, Meta-cognition and Leadership
Caffé Macaroni and Italian Design?


Monday, October 31, 2022

Big Data & PDCA

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

LPI Back to Basics Series, Part 2

"Big Data" is all over the Net, and rightly so.

Burgeoning computer horsepower means we're able to crunch numbers like never before.

Manufacturing, Marketing, Human Resources etc. will be able illuminate opaque areas.

Billions of data points -- molecular, customer and team member behaviour, for example -- can be analyzed, patterns identified and conclusions drawn.


Is that it, then? Can we fold up the management tent and let the computer figure things out for us? Can we outsource thinking?

Hardly...

Big Data, wedded to PDCA, is a blessing. Divorced from PDCA, it may become a curse.

Big Data can help us make correlations -- "When we do this, that happens." -- which inform our PDCA cycle.

But it's up to us to

  • Develop hypotheses,
  • Design & run experiments,
  • Reflect on the analyses, and
  • Adjust our hypotheses

It up to us to recognize the data that's missing, unknown or unknowable.

Deming, the consummate data guy, taught us that some things can't be measured.

How do you measure esprit de corps, indomitable courage, a sense of optimism, or simple decency?

Yet great battles and fortunes, achievement and honor, often turn on such unmeasurables.

As ever, technology, in this case, Big Data, comes to fruition only through the application of human finesse and intelligence.

So let's celebrate the Big Data's potential. Let's figure out how to use it to illuminate undiscovered countries.

But let's not outsource our responsibility to learn & grow.

Best,

Pascal




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

PDCA - the Pounding Heart Muscle of Life
Yokoten, Meta-cognition and Leadership
Caffé Macaroni and Italian Design?
The Loneliness of the Small Business Owner


Monday, October 17, 2022

PDCA - the Pounding Heart Muscle of Life

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

LPI Back to Basics Series, Part 1

Plan-Do-Check-Adjust - so easy to say.

An inexperienced young fellow recently said to me, "PDCA is too easy. I need something more..."

At his age, I was thick too. The mist gradually cleared for me, as I'm sure it will for him.

My Toyota sensei once said, "Ten years to learn Plan, ten for Do, ten for Check and ten for adjust. I am beginning to understand PDCA now."


Forty years - for one the world's top auto executives.

There isn't much that's truly new. And there are eternal verities, like PDCA.

How often are we distracted, like crows, by the latest shiny object?

How many people are distracted by the latest get-rich-quick scheme -- Real Estate! Gold! Emerging Markets!

How many folks fall under the spell of latest & greatest motivational speaker?

Some of these may have merit in the short term.

But the real road to success is PDCA, the pounding heart muscle of the universe.

Inhale & exhale, expand & contract, wax & wane.

PDCA distinguishes us from the animals. It informs, or should inform, all human activity

So with all respect to Tom Robbins and Oprah, we already know the answer.

The 'silver bullet' is right in front of us. It's difficult, humbling work, but it works.

As we used to say at our old Toyota factory, "If you follow the recipe, you get a Big Mac every time..."

Best,

Pascal




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

Yokoten, Meta-cognition and Leadership
Caffé Macaroni and Italian Design?
The Loneliness of the Small Business Owner
What is Courage & How does it relate to True North?


Monday, October 3, 2022

Yokoten, Meta-cognition and Leadership

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

A lovely Japanese word, no?

It rolls off the tongue, and ends with a long, pleasing 'nnnn...'

What's it mean?

Here are some definitions:

Horizontal sharing, best practice sharing, lateral deployment, shared experiential learning...

I like the last one. Shared -- experiential -- learning.

Yokoten entails not just cognition (knowing), which tends to be shorter term, but also meta-cognition.

Meta-cognition entails 'knowing about knowing' and mean answering questions like:

How do I learn?

What do I know?

What do I not know very well?

Great leaders know themselves thereby, and can make conscious decisions.

(The Lean Business System is fundamentally about wakefulness.)

Leaders need to ask these questions of their organization:

How do we learn best?

What do we currently know, and not know, well?

Most important question for leaders:

How do I ensure that we'll continue to learn, after our current leaders retire or move on?

A tough one, to be sure.

The late, great Steve Jobs thought about it a great deal.

The result: Apple University.

Cheers,

Pascal




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

Caffé Macaroni and Italian Design?
The Loneliness of the Small Business Owner
What is Courage & How does it relate to True North?
Lean, Leadership & Ethics, Part 1