Friday, March 22, 2013

Change is a result of Action as a Function of Desire (C = D(A))

Viewing many articles on the successful implementation of change or improvement you hear generally the same lament; management doesn’t provide change agents the needed resources or support. People in the workplace don’t want change, put up roadblocks to change, etc. To me, it is a distillation of a basic math equation: The amount change is affected by the desire to change as it relates to change activities.  What does this gobbledygook mean?  Let me provide an example.
My son and I were discussing his current progress in school. A couple of classes he mentioned he had not done to well but his retort was, “I will do better! I will try harder!”  I said that was great but what was your plan, what were you going to change in order to get better grades?  I immediately got the “deer in the headlights look” and the response, I am going to try harder! Things digressed significantly from there based on his frustration from not understanding what I wanted and not be satisfied with the tried and true response that would move the conversation on to another topic. Do you think my son’s performance is going to change if his efforts have not been successful and he is just going to do more of the same?  Anyone heard of Einstein’s vision of insanity? There appears to be a strong desire for change but no plan of action.  The likelihood that grades will change is slim.
Let’s take another example.  It’s a good bet that people are not happy with the current health care system.  The current Administration put forth and based a wide and sweeping plan to change health care as we know it (euphemistically called “Obamacare).  There is a good amount of consternation with this plan. The idea is for the entire country to execute the plan.  Yet, the following AP newswire story suggests something entirely different. In this case, we have a plan and not a consistent desire to change.  Results should be forthcoming.
Evolutionary change comes from a high desire to change and a dedicated plan that is executed with discipline. Current change curriculum concentrates more on the developing and executing the action side of the equation and rarely, if ever, addresses the desire portion. Yet, without both, we do not see change or change is not sustainable.  So, how do we increase the desire?  Often there is negative reinforcement (circumstances dictating a “life or death” choice) or the reward will be so great that it would be stupid not to change.
As change agents I challenge you to include as part of your change efforts some reflection time on ensuring that the necessary desire to change exists.  There are some tools out there to account for desire (stakeholder analysis, WIIFM (What’s in it for Me) analysis) but it is going to require more planning time to ensure success. What’s in it for you? Hopefully, a relief from the frustration of another “less than promising result” from you next change effort.

Friday, March 8, 2013

BB Moral - Never leave an advanced tool lying around without disabling it

The ASQ Influential Voice topic for March talks about using quality tools in nontraditional ways.  It recalls a time when I was first working for the Navy.  In order to qualify as a Navy Master Black Belt I had to do a project outside my parent organization.  The Navy Office of Civilian Resources (OCHR) came calling and asked me to help them get comfortable with Lean Six Sigma.  I worked with them off and on for three years and really enjoyed my time with them. This tale is about the time that I used the Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) in a non-traditional application and ultimately got a little bit singed because I did not offer the appropriate danger messages (i.e., "Do not attempt to do this at home") to the customer.

Context:  OCHR had just completed a large value stream exercise and had identified a number of challenges that required executive leader approval.  These challenges were presented to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Civilian Human Resources (DASN(CHR)) and she requested that we identify and prioritize the challenges to determine what executive decisions needed to be made to help reduce cycle time of the civilian recruitment process. Given how the request was made, I immediately thought that the FMEA was the ideal tool to prioritize the risks so that decisions could be better made by the DASN and her boss, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs (ASN (MRA)).

I was in San Antonio with my Navy clients co-facilitating an event that was determining the next replacement for RESUMIX, the Navy's civilian hiring tool.  After the first day, and just before heading down to Riverwalk, about 8 of us sat around my laptop and proceeded to fill out the FMEA.  In preparation I had created all the severity, occurrence, and detection scales to fit my application so, with the help of 2-six packs of beer, we filled in the FMEA in about 90 minutes, generating over a dozen of risks that we needed an executive leader to address and resolve.  Of course they were prioritized by Risk Priority Number (RPN).  I was really impressed how well things worked out and turned the FMEA spreadsheet over to the Black Belt in training I was mentoring to clean things up for presentation to the leadership.

With me in tow, we went to the Pentagon to brief the DASN.  She loved it. It was exactly what she wanted in a neat package that could be presented to her boss.  The meeting with the ASN was not for a couple of weeks in the future and I could not make that brief.  Suffice the say, the brief that worked so well for the DASN flopped with the ASN.  I was told that ultimately, the ASN was not prepared for the expectation that he had to do something.  He just looked at the data and balked. It took another 6 months before an actual decision came down on the data we presented.

There are many morals to this story. First, just because you have the requested data, doesn't mean the decision maker is ready to make the decision.  Second, what one leader wants is not necessarily what another leader is expecting.  Third, NEVER provide the actual FMEA as a slide; it will scare the living you-know-what out leadership if they do not know what an FMEA is.  Finally, just because you know how to use a tool does not mean novices do.  You have to teach the nuance and risks. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Day 2, 2013 ASQ Lean & Six Sigma Conference

Walking into the reception area today I felt a lot of energy coming off the group. My day started with note taking a Voice of the Customer session with those Six Sigma Forum (SSF) members visiting from outside the United States and Canada.  The gentlemen provided the forum some fantastic ideas as to how we can provide value, not only for the global members but for all SSF members as well.

The opening keynote was Stacy Aaron (@SA_ChangeGuide) a partner at Change Guides, LLC.  Her career focus has been on change management. Three things I took away from her talk.

1. Change is all about the transition from the current state to the future state...and there is a process to do that.
2. Face to face communication is still the most powerful force in effecting change.
3. Providing a free change management app is always a crowd pleaser!

I spent the morning doing some podcasts.  Below are three podcasts (sorry Grace Duffy, technical difficulties) from two participants and 1 ASQ editor.

Robert Woods from the Arizona State Transformation Office closed the conference with a description of their current journey in deploying Lean. 

Their journey sounds an awful like the Navy's in 2005, a lot of excitement, people seeing opportunity.  Their great challenge, and Woods alluded to this, is what happens when the current governor leaves office.  Time will tell.

To me the great takeaway was a clip by Jim Collins that discusses the South Pole expedition as an allegory why some organizations succeed and some do not.  In essence, failure is caused by chronic inconsistency.

All in all, another great conference. I am looking forward to seeing you next year, same place, on February 24-25, 2014.  Until then, good luck with your improvement efforts! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 1, 2013 ASQ Lean & Six Sigma Conference

Hello from sunny Phoenix!  First day of the conference is starting off with a great keynote.

Dr. Jeff Liker talked about the cultural underpinnings of Toyota and how it leads to their success today and identifying the key leadership aspects that makes Toyota and their Production System a world class leader.  Some interesting takeaways:
  • Lean and Six Sigma methodologies are culturally similar in that both have a goal of reducing variation. One is not better than the other; each have their own challenges based on culture. 
  • A major tenet of the Toyota Production System is Dr. Deming's PDCA cycle.  
Dr. Liker wrapped up his talk with the basic leadership tenets of Toyota:

I sit down with afternoon keynoter Jim Bowie and Michael Levy, Deployment Leader @ US Marine Corps to discuss Lean Six Sigma Deployment with the Department of Defense

Some ASQ celebrities here:  5 present or past ASQ chairmen.  Two ASQ editors!
Here is Jim Bossert, ASQ editor for the Six Sigma Forum Magazine, and Seiche Sanders, editor of Quality Progress, both always looking for contributors to their publications.  I had an opportunity to briefly talk to Seiche about Quality Progress.

Three other podcasts that you might be interested in.

I even had the opportunity to talk to Jan Pease, chair-elect for the ASQ Service Quality Division.  Here is a short blurb about SQD's upcoming conference in October.