Monday, July 12, 2021

In Praise of Depth

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Our cell phones, pads etc. are miracles.

They bring the world to our fingertips -- and project our nervous systems around the world.

But Marshal McLuhan taught us that new media have a corrosive effect on existing structures and mental models.

We've already seen the new media's effect on structures: Eastman Kodak is only one of many famous names that have been obsolesced.

But are the new media affecting how we think? In particular, are we in danger of losing important thinking patterns?

Yes and yes.

The biggest potential casualty, in my view, is depth.


Depth of feeling, depth of understanding, depth of experience.

I love my cell phone and pad. I use them to connect with people, places and ideas.

But then I turn the damned things off.

I want to be present for that chat with my daughter.

I want to feel, sense, intuit, and test what my guitar teacher is teaching.

I want to experience Homer, Cervantes, and Tolstoy as completely as I can. I want to be as deep in their world as I can be.

That's why I believe books will always have a place in our world.

Because that's all they are -- books.

When bored or distracted, I can't suddenly check my email or go surfing on Amazon, or check out the hockey scores.

Lean, too, is about depth -- depth of understanding, commitment, reflection, and practice.

If we're serious, we'll turn off the damned screen, so we can have a chance at what some people call deep practice.

Best,

Pascal



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

The Fog of Big Company Disease
What is a Team?
Target, Actual, Please Explain
Why Do ‘Smart’ People Struggle with Strategy?

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Fog of Big Company Disease

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Last time I talked about Big Company Disease and suggested that a key symptom is The Fog…

(It’s fun capitalizing it, and reminds me of a goofy same-name horror movie.


A pal & I have had great fun making up horror movie titles related to, ahem, other atmospheric emissions.)

Joking aside, the Fog is deeply frustrating and debilitating. Here are some symptoms:

Your purpose is unclear. You're not sure who your customers or suppliers are.

You don't know if you're ahead or behind.

You can't see your biggest problems.

So you spend a great deal of time in the "spin cycle".

Life becomes unpleasant so you naturally look for someone to blame.

You buffer the chaos with capacity -- your time.

Eventually, you burn out.

The leader’s most important job, in my view, is making the current condition visible – by gradually dispersing the Fog.

Visual management, standardized work and other core Lean tools are terrific enablers.

Lean principles & thinking are even better.

Best regards,

Pascal



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

What is a Team?
Target, Actual, Please Explain
Why Do ‘Smart’ People Struggle with Strategy?
Social Media & the Lean Business System -- Risks & Opportunities

Monday, June 14, 2021

What is a Team?

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

A team is ‘an organized group of people with a clearly defined goal.’

"Organized" means team members have clearly defined & interconnected roles -- which in turn, depends on shared purpose.

In the absence of latter, our discourse inevitably devolves into random opinions, factoids and, often, recrimination.

"If only those bozos in... would do their jobs!"

Shared purpose shifts our thinking to, "Just how are we going to achieve that objective?"

What sort of objectives are most compelling & effective?


Objectives that are just beyond the capability of the team. (I've found that it's better to err on the side of too aggressive objectives, than the other way)

These compel collaboration. "We hang together -- or separately." Teamwork, therefore, entails interdependency.

Lean factories are organized such that team members in adjacent work zones can help one another and communicate freely.

Work thus becomes a relay race -- if need be, the faster runner can help the slower runner in the baton transfer zone.

(It triggers problem solving too. "Why is the team member always behind? Is it our layout, ergonomics, part fit...?)

Lean offices should be laid out this way too. I've seen finance, insurance, order fulfillment teams achieve remarkable performance levels thereby.

I've described some of the more visible aspects of teamwork.

The invisible is as important. Teams are connected by values, in other words, by shared standards of behaviour.

John Wooden's "sets of three" are good examples:

  • Don't lie. Don't cheat. Don't steal.
  • Don't whine. Don't complain. Don't make excuses.

Tough standards - for me at least! But when a group of people is aligned around values, life becomes more predictable & they can relax.

That's another element of teamwork -- security.

Best,

Pascal



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

Target, Actual, Please Explain
Why Do ‘Smart’ People Struggle with Strategy?
Social Media & the Lean Business System -- Risks & Opportunities
Images and A3 Thinking