Sunday, 28 October 2018

How to Write a Book Using the 100 Words a Day Challenge(!)

For those of you that are regulars to this website, you will know that I have recently published my next book - What Does Good Look Like?

The purpose of this post is to explain how I wrote the book when I was already up to my eyeballs with consulting projects, a busy home life and some voluntary work thrown into the mix. Clients and friends have asked me in the last few weeks "How do you have time to write another book?"

The short answer is that I am the same as pretty much everyone - I don't have time to write a book!
Kaizen improvement strategies
Available for Kindle and in paperback

That's where our good old friend Kaizen comes in. I didn't write a book; I created my own 100 words a day challenge.

Writing a book - I don't have time for that!

Writing 100 words a day - how could I fail?

If you haven't come across the Kaizen method before it is a brilliant approach to break big challenges down into tiny bite size chunks. The real power of Kaizen is to avoid triggering the 'fight or flight' response and particularly the 'flight' element (as this normally translates into procrastination, in my experience).

Writing 100 words, for me, is a little challenge and one that I could squeeze in between meetings, parenting and chores(!).

If you are thinking that writing a book in 100 word intervals would take an incredibly long time then you may be right. You could argue that you would be making some progress rather than no progress, but that isn't the power behind the Kaizen approach. Approaching a task in small steps can help you to build confidence, motivation and momentum. It is a powerful strategy for undertaking change in an organisation and it helped me to write my book.

I would rarely write just the 100 words; once I got started I would get into a flow and end up writing anywhere between 250 and 1000 words. It wasn't the time that was the issue it was the perception of time and the realisation of the rest of the workloads I have that would cause the inertia. Before I knew it I had written a 26000 word book!

Anything that you are looking at, that you are procrastinating with, can be broken down and the Kaizen method applied. Appraisals, continuous improvement projects, report writing, the ironing(!)... Small steps can get your projects off the ground and then accelerate progress until the activity is completed.

I write about applying the Kaizen approach in the book What Does Good Look Like? and show how it can help to implement change and form the new habits that you need in your organisation. I didn't intend to practice what I preach in order to write the book, but after all it is the results that count and I needed a strategy that works!

If you are looking to write your own book, or want to get your continuous improvement projects moving, trying out the Kaizen approach (of tiny steps) would be a great place to start.


All the best,

Giles



About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.


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Thursday, 25 October 2018

First Official Review of 'What Does Good Look Like?'

My new book What Does Good Look Like? has now received its first official review:

innovate risk wrote on the 20th of October:
business performance book
Available in paperback and on Kindle

"Quite simply I have bought 3 more copies of this book to provide to members of my team.

For too long, the focus of consultants and advisors has been on "define the problem" and then resolve, but to me that was always missing the real point. The real point is to define "what good looks like", or "what awesome looks like" as per Giles.

This book hits this exact point between the eyes and I thoroughly recommend reading this quick and easy book. The techniques provided are simple but most importantly easy to understand and undertake.

We need to move away from defining the problem, to defining what "good looks like" for our customers and our people."

(This quote was taken from https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07J3988KW#customerReviews)

To get your copy of the book click here.

Giles


About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

Subscribe to my email updates and receive my on time delivery and productivity improvement guide:



Saturday, 20 October 2018

Have You Defined Your Performance Principles?

business performance principles
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When we experience the day to day frustrations of our team not working in the way that we want them to we have a few options:

  • We can shout at them and tell them that their work isn't good enough.
  • We can try and figure out why their work isn't good enough and try to help them improve.
  • We can articulate what good looks like and help share with them some principles we want them to work to.
The last point, sharing with them the principles of how you want your team to run, can be invaluable not just for your under-performing team members but for the wider business.

Let me give you an example.

I worked with a business that was struggling to keep up with their client projects. We looked at a number of their failings and came up with handful of 'performance principles' that included:
  • We don't do surprises - if something bad happens tell your team mates immediately and work on a plan together.
  • Walk don't run - if the pressure gets too much don't do the 'headless chicken' dance, slow down and think!
  • Preparation equals productivity - if you haven't prepared, don't start.
I'm sure that you get the gist. These were reminders of the way that we wanted to work and were written in a way that helped the team to periodically focus on how they wanted to act and behave so that they could adjust their management and leadership style for the deliver of their projects.

Performance principles are another way of sharing a standard with your team. If you do it right then you will be able to get the team involved with defining the standards and the principles and get even more buy in to this approach.

The business that I mentioned before came up with ten principles and they now regularly score themselves out of ten as to how many of the principles they are living and breathing. This is also one of the strategies that I share in my book Losing the Cape; it is a great way to help your business shift away from re-active firefighting and into proactive work on improving the performance of your business operations.

If you haven't defined and shared something like this with your team is today the day to put pen to paper?


Giles



About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

Subscribe to my email updates and receive my on time delivery and productivity improvement guide:



Friday, 12 October 2018

New Book - Free Today on Kindle - What Does Good Look Like?


My new book What Does Good Look Like? has just been released and is available for free this weekend on the Amazon Kindle platform (note - you don't need a Kindle device to read the book). The promotion runs from 12:00AM PDT on the 12th October, for three days.


create effective business habits

This book is a must for any organisation that has defined a big picture vision for their business but fails to see that vision translate into practical, meaningful, day-to-day activities.

Many businesses fail to ask the question 'what does good look like?' for a wide range of processes, standards and behaviours and get frustrated that the follow up actions don't get the results that they wanted.

This book is split up into two main sections:

Part One - provides four methods to help define what good looks like for your business, even if you are not entirely sure yourself.

Part Two - offers methods and ideas to help you deliver a practical improvement plan that develop the right kind of habits to allow your business to reach its vision.

I have written the book so that it is highly practical and at 164 pages it won't take you forever to read.

To get your free copy - click here.

Enjoy,


Giles


About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.


Subscribe to my email updates and receive my on time delivery and productivity improvement guide:



Thursday, 4 October 2018

Continuous Improvement - spotting the generic issues when everything seems different (every time)

Do your continuous improvement ideas get shot down because people say:

"It's different every time!"

I find that this is a common response across many different businesses that deliver projects and /or don't have their own line of products. In this situation I feel that the above response is largely down to the fact that people get embroiled in the nitty-gritty of their work that they can't see the process sitting in the background.

The truth is that if you look past the detail of the task in hand, should it be prone to variations, you will see generic activities behind it. These generic activities are the ones that you can focus on to improve the results of every 'variation' that then goes through your process.

Just because every project, product or service running through your business is different to the last one doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities for improvement sitting there. There will be similarities between projects and different services are likely to share some characteristics. If you look for them you will find them.

Most businesses will launch their customer orders in a similar way, process them in a similar way and despatch them in a similar way. When you stand back from the detail of the day-to-day busyness you will see the generic process much more clearly and from here you can start to plan your improvements.

I ran a factory many years ago that produced bespoke products. We made the 'weird' stuff that the volume producers in our sector  didn't want to touch. We made a name for ourselves as being the 'one off' people and that stuck in the minds of our staff. Everything was chaotic and the anthem of 'you can't plan and improve because you never see the same product twice' rang through the teams.

Deliver change faster with theImprovement Accelerator FrameworkClick here for more information.
The fact was that we produced four generic products, some a little longer, some a little heavier and some a little prettier. We made four generic products! They all started in the same poor fashion, they all had the same generic problems and we delivered all of them late!

When we stopped talking about the problems of being a one off producer and started talking about four generic families we started to make progress. We simplified the way that we handled orders, our planning was standardised and we made our reporting align with one style.

Once we changed our mindset from 'it's hard because everything is different' to 'we need to become excellent at delivering four generic families' everything changed. Lead times dropped, material shortages ceased, on time delivery soared, profitability notably improved and customer satisfaction went through the roof.

If you feel stuck because you don't have the 'luxury' of a moving production line with a limited number of products then think again. There is a generic process lurking in the background for you to take advantage of and a raft of benefits attached.

Is today the day to step back and look for the generic business sitting underneath the one you see day-to-day?


Giles


About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.

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