It's All About the Data

It's All About the Data
It's All About the Data

Monday, October 28, 2013

Big Red Button vs. Elephant Eating



When a consultant is asked how to solve a business problem, the customer/client is often interested in an over-arching, one big button solution.

This approach has two problems:
  • Trying to solve problems with the 'big answer' denies an improvement loop, both by the consultant and by the process itself.
  • It is very hard to solve any problem with just one answer.

There is an old saying "How do you eat an elephant, One bite at a time" .  It is really true.  So what are the key elements:

  • Start with baby steps.  This is the one bite at a time to eat an elephant.  One of the advantages most overlooked is that this method (a stepped approach) reduces anxiety those affected by the change will feel.
  • Adjustments can be made.  If everything is defined, and set in stone, the implementation team (consultant and customer) will be reluctant to modify the process.
  • But the key issue is:

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

Continuous improvement is one of the main tenets of lean thinking, lean services, etc.  W. Edward Deming, pioneer in the field of Lean, proposed that feedback from a process and customers must be evaluated against goals.  This feed-back loop allows for course adjustment, realignment, and even discovery of a different problem statement.  With feedback, a better process is possible.

Eat the elephant one bite at a time and provide feedback of each bite.

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Overcoming the Blame Game



Presently, I am in the Business Analytics Certificate program at the University of Washington, and part of the class deals with how to get groups to be committed towards a goal.  Each class, the students are asked questions about our commitment towards our goals in life.  It is called "Conversations that Matter"  (The tip of the cap to Peter Block of designedLearning + Gary Mesick and Shelly Lawrence of the UofW).

One set of questions asks about how to transform Blame to Ownership.  Before I get into the questions, to review the issues:
  • How many discussions are we involved in each day that revolve around:
    • Whom to blame
    • Whom to 'throw under the bus'
    • It can't be me !
  • Is this productive time, or wasted time
  • How can we overcome the blame game.

Here are the four questions (which can either be done on a scale of 1-7, or in sentence form) that should be asked in the group (at the start of the process/project) and answers should be said out loud. This forces commitment to the responses.

HOW VALUABLE DO I PLAN FOR THIS TO BE?

Great question.  If the process, decision, or project is not valuable - then why bother.  I think what happens is that if it is not valuable to all the team members, then it is easy to sabotage the process, the decisions, and undermine the endeavor by adding 'dead weight'.

HOW PARTICIPATIVE DO I PLAN TO BE?

Another key question.  If we plan to sit there with our arms folded, then why be there.  If we plan to 'snark' at every opportunity, that is no help.  But worse of all is to not participate to the fullest extent to make the meeting, decision, etc a success.

HOW MUCH RISK DO I PLAN TO TAKE?

Ah yes, that pesky risk taking!  I have always said that taking risk is inevitable.  If you wake up each morning and get out of bed, you are taking risk.  The point is that to be involved (to be "all in" - http://connectingthedata.blogspot.com/2013/10/are-you-all-in-or-just-surviving.html), you have to take risk. 

TO WHAT EXTENT AM I INVESTED IN THE GOOD OF THE WHOLE?

Investment is a key part.  If you are floating, then you are not investing.  In this case investment is an active participation, not passive investment.  The other key part is "good of the whole".  The whole; that is the whole project and the whole team.

Important questions to ask of our professional and personal lives.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Where did it all go wrong?



How often have we sat after a bad project/decision and say "where did it all go wrong"?  This analysis usually is full of hand wringing, blaming of some outside source, or even the famous 'beats me'.

This form of post-mortem is not effective, because it isn't focused.  Here is a quick tip:

The most critical of decisions happen in the first five minutes of the action.

We often don't stop at the beginning of a project, or even of a decision, to evaluate the following:
  1. Is the project/action worth doing?
  2. Do we have a chance for success?  What will make it a success?
  3. What assumptions are we making that should be tested?
  4. Who are the people involved (internal/external) that must be successful for the project/decision to be successful?

  MOST IMPORTANT:  Should I go left or right?  

I recently was in city on a business trip, and was trying to get back to the hotel.  I was so confident that I had it down.  If I only had paused to make sure that first turn was a good one - but instead I turned left instead of right.  I got lost, and the rest you probably have experienced yourself.  Wasted time, anxiety, and more wrong turns.

This may sound silly, but the point is that the first step is the most crucial. To head in the right direction.  Before making that next big decision, starting that next crucial project ….Take a second, pause, evaluate where you need to end up and simply say "is this the right direction?"


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Are you ALL IN or just surviving

In poker, there is a term called 'all in' where the poker player puts all their remaining chips on the table in order to win the pot.  In business 'all in' means commitment to making a business decision, or business situation better/faster/stronger. 

My question is, as a member of a team (whether you are the top or the bottom of the team, whether you are an internal member or an external consultant)…

Are you 'all in' or are you 'just surviving'?

More and more I see both internal and external team members taking the passive 'just surviving' approach to their work lives.

How do you know which side you are on?

All in
Just Surviving
I will be committed to success
I am working for a paycheck
I will  communicate my concerns, issues, and comments to make the company stronger
I don't want to make waves.  My boss doesn't listen anyway
I will make the company better
I just work here
I will search to do more, ask how I can help, look to improve my company 'coinage'
I will wait for someone to hand me responsibility and shy away from a challenge
I am fearless
I am fearful/timid/reluctant
I am here for the long haul
I am hanging around here waiting for my next job
I will stretch and grow and learn from my mistakes.
I want things to be safe, and I expect someone to tell me what to do

If some of this makes you feel uneasy, that is a sure sign of just surviving, just floating; hoping that someone else will take charge and make things better.

The interesting part about 'just surviving' is that we won't need to take ownership of what happens at the company.  We get to say we feel unfulfilled and we are still 'deciding what you want to be when you grow up'.  If only someone would show us the path to our 'career'.

The path to job security, and a rewarding career is to be 'all in' - is there a chance we will lose the poker hand by putting all your chips on the table - yes - but we learn from those events and become better and stronger.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.