vendredi 30 mars 2012

Knowing we don't know, our journey to fun

The last months, I had the chance to work and share with a lot of System Thinkers, Lean, TQM, Six Sigma experts from various countries….. All of them were passionate about what they do.

Working with system thinking, lean and all related theories constantly remind us how much we don’t know. Knowing how much we don’t know, create appetite for learning. Learning autonomously new theories, lead us to a journey to experiment towards a clear goal. Embracing the results of our experiments, make us more conscious on how much we don’t know and so make us curious for new learning’s…

When they speak about they work, all of them are making progresses.

Knowing we don’t know is our journey to fun. All of us have also the great feeling to do a meaningful work for our company, made of sum of small progresses to achieve a larger goal.

mercredi 28 mars 2012

Comparison of LEAN SYSTEM, TQM, SIX SIGMA, TOC, Agile Manufacturing and BPR

Towards An Integration Of The Lean Enterprise System, Total Quality Management, Six Sigma and Related Enterprise Process Improvement Methods

Kirkor Bozdogan, Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In this paper, Dr. Kirkor Bozdogan compares six approaches LEAN SYSTEM, TQM, SIX SIGMA, TOC, Agile Manufacturing and BPR.Find the abstract and the link below :

Abstract of the paper  :

“The lean enterprise system, total quality management, six sigma, theory of constraints, agile manufacturing, and business process reengineering have been introduced as universally applicable best methods to improve the performance of enterprise operations through continuous process improvement and systemic planned enterprise change.
Generally speaking, they represent practice-based, rather than theory-grounded, methods with common roots in manufacturing. Most of the literature on them is descriptive and prescriptive, aimed largely at a practitioner audience.
Despite certain differences among them, they potentially complement each other in important ways. The lean enterprise system, total quality management and six sigma, in particular, are tightly interconnected as highly complementary approaches and can be brought together to define a first-approximation “core” integrated management system, with the lean enterprise system serving as the central organizing framework. Specific elements of the other approaches can be selectively incorporated into the “core” enterprise system to enrich its effectiveness. Concrete theoretical and computational developments in the future through an interdisciplinary research agenda centered on the design and development of networked enterprises as complex adaptive socio-technical systems, as well as the creation of a readily accessible observatory of evidence-based management practices, would represent important steps forward.” Kirkor Bozdogan, Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

I hope this paper helps you.

mardi 20 mars 2012

Is creativity born and can not be made ?

Following A. Di Fiore, Scientific evidence has proven just the opposite. It’s a very insightful article.

I would add two thoughts about this article :

- A. Di Fiore writes “According to several of these, most children display high creative thinking before going to school but gradually lose this creativity as they progress through schooling”. In his book, W.E. Deming, The New Economics gives his answer on how and why we stop to be creative. Extrinsic motivators slowly destroys dignity, self esteem, cooperation and joy in learning – all of which are innate in life. (see Deming, the New Economics, the forces of destruction).

- A. Di Fiore writes “Making an enduring company was both harder and more important than making a great product” S. Jobs about his most important creation (creativity with a small C, A. Fiore). Let’s work on the system to foster creativity by creating a creative and a healing workplace where collaborators can learn, experiment without blame for failures, ….

Do you think ST and Lean foster creativity ?

ST purpose is transformation by changing our Management Paradigms – Transformation is innovation - Lean is not imitation – Lean is innovation.

Thinking in System should be considered as a basic knowledge for any Organization. Thinking in system is certainly a basic knowledge and know-how that foster creativity by addressing our paradigms about the work, the customer, the people who do the work,…. Thinking in System should also support our thinking to transform effectively the way we produce by namely integrating all forms of innovation whether technological or not . Structural Transformation fosters also creativity, isn’t it ?
Lean is often considered as a tool box from Toyota delivering the solutions we need to deliver services. If Lean is seen as a tool box or a cook book to follow, Lean is about imitation. But Lean is not about imitation. Lean is about creativity on processes with a little c.

Lean is systemic. By focusing on value as defined by the customers, by building long-term capabilities, by eliminating muda towards value by transforming managers CC in ST Leaders, …lean thinkers focus on the whole organization, on managing the interdependencies and on creating value for customers and stakeholders.Lean Thinking fosters process and system innovation/creativity, isn’t it ?
But ST and Lean create a favorable context for innovation on processes and organizations. But even if I’m a strong believer in Lean ST, I think it’s not enough. Lean System Thinking is currently addressing the dominant management paradigms linked (mass production) with principles allowing agility (continuous process improvement and systemic alignment to demands).

The next challenge we face is to integrate deeply the consequence on our way of thinking of the evolution of our environment/world mainly characterized by more and more complexity, uncertainty and quick changes (technology, network, communication,…) in order to create sustainable companies around long-term capable people.

What are the next challenges for us as Lean System Thinkers ?

lundi 19 mars 2012

How do you achieve quality ?

Last week, in the train, I meet a friend. He’s team leader and was upset by the evolution of the process he’s working in. He explains to me than now more and more the people working in his team are less interested in quality. Since 5 years, his team is divided in two : doers and checkers. The checkers, the most experienced people, are assuring quality by inspection. Before the doers (the juniors) and checkers were doing the same job but had a clear purpose: “design quality into the services” rather than inspect it.
He’s not the only one to be upset, W Edwards Deming would also be. The third of the 14 points of W Edwards Deming for the transformation of management suggests that inspection is too late: "Cease reliance on mass inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place."

Today, like my friend in the train, a lot of people are working in processes organized around mass inspection. At the end of a process, dedicated full-time collaborators inspect 100% of these products/services, we called them the checker. The ratio of checker/maker is even sometimes of 100%. Those checkers validate the good and ask the doers to rework for the bad. Because full-time checkers control the service, the Management Thinking behind is “the customer is receiving a good service”.

I also see many problems with that thinking. I would only illustrate two.

- It’s expensive. How many resources, time and money dedicates the company to control and to produce products that have to be “reworked” ?
- Don’t we waste our people potential by using mass inspection? Is it not better to use our most experienced resources to build quality in the process instead to control the quality?

Checkers have not to be responsible for the quality of the output but should be responsible to put quality in the process, to produce quality, first time right. Too much reliance on inspection also supports a "blame the maker" mentality.

I don’t mean the goal is to remove all inspection. I don’t mean the goal is to remove all checkers. I mean the purpose of inspection need to be redefined to produce the right things right. Inspection is useful as a means to learn and to drive further quality improvement efforts, rather than looking for a culprit to blame. When organizations work to improve processes and systems, risks, defects are systematically reduced.

vendredi 9 mars 2012

What happens when “willing worker” have to produce results without having the possibility to improve the system ?

What happens when “willing worker” have to produce results without having the possibility to improve the system ?

Two weeks ago, I found this post in the quality digest. The author, Steve Moore, explains the red bead experiment but also shares his “twist” to the red bead experiment :

“Willing workers, when faced with the need to preserve their business and livelihood, have three choices: improve the system, distort the system, or distort the data. Because the willing workers are not able to improve the system, they distort the system or the data (or both). Again, this is no new revelation to the willing workers.”

We are all subjected to the rules of the system we live in.

jeudi 8 mars 2012

How do you choose as customer ?

As customer, you know the service you want and you can clearly define it.

Which provider will you choose?

Some providers can respond precisely to what matters to you. All are doing the same services at different prices.

You choose for the lowest price

Some providers can respond to your needs precisely at the same price, one of them gives better service

You choose for the better service


If as customer, you don’t know precisely what matters to you ?

Price is not the only cost... Which one will you choose ?

mercredi 7 mars 2012

Looking for profound knowledge purpose at work : a great, heuristic and impossible job

In Drive, D. Pink explains how and why tasks can be divided in two categories. The two categories are :

"• Algorithmic – a task which follows a set of established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion.
• Heuristic – a task that has no algorithm, you have to experiment with possibilities and devise a novel solution. “

When you are a leader, a project manager or a consultant , there’s no algorithm to successfully transform an Organization for better. Every organization is different. The approach depends namely, of the people, of the system and of the culture paradigms of the Organization.

So, you, we,... have a heuristic job.

You are learning the importance of System Theories, Theories of Knowledge, Theory of Variation and Psychology. Theory lead us to questions. . . Without the right questions, the result of your experiments teach nothing. Those teaching help you to develop new theory to improve. The use of theory promote your learning. So you reinvent your leadership/consulting approach as and as you advance, as often as necessary. Autonomously, you develop mastery to achieve your purpose (cf. Drive, Pink)

You’ve a long-term purpose. It can change but not every day. You continuously keep an open mind to distinguish the different potential ways leading to it.

Your motivation comes from within. You are intrinsically motivated. It's a great job.

In itself, this is a hard and an exciting job but simply to engage with sincerity, honesty and integrity is not a guarantee of success. The journey to understand a System of Profound Knowledge and be able to implement or help others is long, very long. Even the journey is long, perhaps a never ended journey, I’ve not found a better purpose acting  as leader, consultant or collaborator for a company.

We will never find the best, the ideal system but we will find a better than yesterday...

lundi 5 mars 2012

The purpose of a control chart is not to monitor

 Shewhart has invented the tool called process behavior chart or control chart to provide guidance for improvement.
Control chart helps us to understand the difference between common and special causes.
A common-cause variation is a routine variation. If the data’s are within the limits, the process displays nothing except “routine variation”. Shewhart called a process that features only common-cause variation as being in statistical control The process is stable and predictable.
Special-cause variation always arrives as a surprise. It is the signal within a system. For example, when a points fall outside the limits of a process behavior chart , it’s a signal of exceptional variation. So you try to identify the causes of the exceptional variation.
We’ve all learned that the first mistake in interpreting data is to interpret noise as it were a signal, the second mistake in interpreting data is to fail to detect a signal when it is present.
But most often when we have only common-causes, we look at the process and we think it’s working well. So, things are maintaining as they are. By maintaining things as they are, we don’t improve. Common-causes doesn’t mean that we’re doing the right things right.
The discovery of two types of variation is the first step toward the Deming Management Theory, but most often we use control chart for monitoring purpose not for improvement purpose. If we are just using the control chart to monitor our process, we’re forgetting the major objectives of the tool and the philosophy behind.
As expressed by Wheeler, in his book understanding variation, the question is not whether or not the techniques will work – but rather whether or not you will make them work. Those who don’t use process behavior charts have no advantages over those who can’t.
Source : Wheeler, understanding variation, the key to Managing chaos…

jeudi 1 mars 2012

What is the best training, the best course, the best lesson you've received?

Ten years ago, Patrick taught me the pleasure of discovering new theories and test them and so to learn to improve and to learn to unlearn. Patrick taught me to be curious and to realize the infinite path to knowledge and wisdom.
Do you think the school system was built to give us the desire to be passionate, to learn, ... or just to be compliant with what the system expects of us?

Set Godin gives us his view of American educational model. His book is written in series of essays or blog posts. The author wants to provoke conversation.

This book should help us to discuss about our schools and how the system has to change to create a better future for next generation.

What’s your dream for schools and what is school for ?

The impact on company performance by changing our assumption about people.

Freedom Inc., the book of Isaac Getz and Brian M. Carney, gives us a perspective on enterprises that have decided to free their employees.

A lot of factories are today always managed through Taylor methods. JF Zorbist (FAVI see below) called those companies the “How companies” also called hierarchical, bureaucratic or command-control companies. The authors challenge us by asking the questions : Are those companies managed for the three percents ?

The purpose of Taylor was also to increase performance, but performance expressed as productivity. In his scientific Method, Taylor has specialized supervision, has standardized tools and work methods, has created a management planning function, has rewarded efficiency (doing the things right and fast) and has broken tasks into smaller and smaller tasks,…Scientific management works. But the basic assumption of Scientific Management was that employees were not highly educated, compliant to do exactly what they were told and so just able to perform the simplest tasks. So, this worked. But does it really work today and if "Yes" at what cost to our employees, at what costs to adapt to new demand variety, at what costs to change the way we do the service,…

Are we in the same context than in the industrial revolution ? I don’t think so. Are those scientific management principles adapted to serve our customers, to create joy in work and make our organization agile to adapt to new opportunities ? I do not think so

So are our companies managed for the 3 percents ? What will happen to 97 % of our collaborators ?

A lot of us has learned that Toyota Success is based on a fundamental assumption about people : people’s willingness to do a good job and to learn. Deming has demonstrated that 95% of organizational problems are caused by the company’s operational systems and merely 5% caused by its people. Changing system conditions and thinking behind, it is the best way to achieve sustainable improvements

So...? and if we started before to think about systems, lean,… to challenge our assumption about people ?

Isaac Getz and Brian M. Carney invite us to discover enterprises like FAVI, Harley Davidson, Oticon,... The leaders of those companies were sincerely convinced that all their collaborators are intrinsically equal …Is the relationship between employee freedom and company performance is due to” hazard”  ? I do not think so.

To conclude as I. Getz :  “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing” - Socrates

The link to FAVI :

The link to the blog of Freedom Inc. :

The link to the book :