Saturday 17 September 2011

Why oh why oh why... oh why oh why

So why do these thing happen? In the office, in the factory, in the customer service centre?

If you really want to find out why we do things, ask why 5 times - who knows what you might find...

Check this funny little video : A Funny "Whys" Video from the Lean Blog

And a more in depth look at Wikipedia: 5 Whys

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Changing time at the zoo

My wife and I took our two year old boy to Twycross zoo today, and we had a great time. 

Though I suspect some parents may not have done, and it is all down to a bit of [missing] common sense.

Here's a photo of the changing facilities, could do with a bit of padding for the child to lie on, but not a disaster.

I cleansed the changing surface using the spray mounted on the right-hand wall then lay my son down - choice of head on the ceramic sink or feet on the sink. I chose the feet on the sink option.

After watching me use the spray to clean the surface his first reaction was to press the sprayer (a fairly understandable bit of curiosity for a two year old) which was directly above his head - fortunately I got there just in time to prevent him squirting the detergent. Otherwise he'd have had a couple of eyes filled with surface cleaner!

Now maybe I could have thought a bit more about additional hazards, but also by designing out the risk flustered parents may have one less thing to fret about? I imagine that around 50% of parents must initially put their child down that way?
I wonder if anyone tested the new facility with a doll or baby? A detergent above a child's eyes doesn't sound a great idea?!

Let's see if the feedback I left will get someone to move the sprayer!

Thursday 8 September 2011

5 warning signs to watch for in failing businesses

This is a fascinating article - aimed at Apple - but probably true for any large business.

What I found more interesting is not about what to look for to check your share valuation, but what goes through the minds of the senior management team that thinks these courses actions are going turn the tide, and return the business to growth and success.

As a short cut, the headline are here:

1. The size of the board of directors starts to grow.

2. The number of products expands dramatically.

3. Departures of senior executives.

4. Leaks to the press.

5. Acquisitions, especially big ones.

The main article is very much worth a read: click here to the original article.

Link to the author: Bob Sutton's Work Matters Blog

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Mistake Proofing - always looking for ways to improve

The devil is in the detail - and getting things right can help your business improve service and reduce costly errors.

This is a simple example of where small change can eliminate repeated frustrations.

But what happens when this thinking is applied to all aspects of your business: in purchasing, servicing, manufacturing, delivery, finance, HR - error proofing the process, maximising "Right first time", eliminating waste and failure...

Link to the original blog entry here

Steve Jobs and the Eureka Myth

It may appear that Steve Jobs is an inspired leader who succeeds by taking big risks on personal hunches, but there's more to it than that. His success, and that of Apple, is designed in to the way they think and develop products.

Their key to success, is to compete internally - ensuring the quality, desirably, and usability is first class, before it hits the streets - getting it right first time.

Written by: Adrian Slywotzky

Mend the roof while the sun shines

Most, if not all, well managed businesses have plans in place should disaster strike.  Though for many businesses the first time the plans are tested is when the dreaded day arrives and all too often the plans come apart at the seams when the disaster doesn’t go quite as planned.  Disasters can be awkward like that.

In December 2010 the UK experienced some pretty fierce (by UK standards) winter weather.  At a distribution centre their ‘snow clearing’ disaster management plan kicked in.  During sunnier times local farmers had agreed to clear the roadways within the distribution centre site. 

During the snow the farmers arrived as agreed and cleared the roadways.  There was one vital piece of information missing in the disaster plan – where should the cleared snow be put?  The farmers cleared the snow, management had been informed that the roads were clear and deliveries could commence the next day.

The next day senior management arrived on site to find more than half of the trailers blocked in by mountains of grey snow cleared from the roadways!  In the absence of any better or clearer advice the farmers did what they thought was required – they pushed the snow out of the way.

It took two more days for the snow to be cleared (with shovels) and deliveries to commence as planned! 

An answer to the simple question “where will we put the snow?” hadn’t been considered during the halcyon days of summer, and an appropriate escalation route (in case of any doubts) hadn’t been made clear – and why should it?  We’ve got a detailed plan!

Common sense can often be lacking in life, and when under pressure to recover it can be even more elusive!

The most effective time to define your disaster recovery plans are when the pressure is off.  But how will you test those plans, and how will you ensure that they deliver their benefits when the pressure is on?

Sunday 4 September 2011

Camila Batmanghelidjh - If you could edit your past, what would you change?

Camila Batmanghelidjh was born in Tehran in 1963. She was educated at Sherborne Girls' School and Warwick University and became a psychotherapist. In her early 20s, she started her first charity, The Place To Be, a counselling service for schoolchildren. In 1996, she founded Kids Company in six converted railway arches in London, and in 2006 her book, Shattered Lives: Children Living With Courage And Dignity, was published. She lives in London.

When asked: If you could edit your past, what would you change?

Her response was: I so underestimated the destructive powers of middle management.

So what has she experienced to reach this conclusion?  What's it like in your organisation?  And what can we do to help?

See her interview at The Guardian

From: The Guardian, Sat 2 Sept 2011

Friday 2 September 2011

Thoughtful design - problem gone

How often have you picked up a stapler in the office, clipped the corner, and sworn when you discover there are no staples. The problem always crops up - time after time.

What other 'Design' issues happen time and again in your work environment:

  • Monthly reports that don't really get to the heart of the problem? 
  • Errors that your customer highlights after every service delivery? 
  • Sitting in your manufacturing debrief meeting, and it's the same story? 

Well at last! Someone has designed a small window in the side of that stapler - giving you information about the contents over a period of time - leaving ample opportunity for a quick refill.

So how about redesigning those monthly reports, understanding the end-to-end customer service stream, or fixed that manufacturing issue?