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Considering a continuum

When a change needs to be designed (as it always does) you need to come up with ideas. What if you find the process of creating new ideas difficult? Is there an easy method you could employ to help you do this? Using a continuum could be one such easy option. Taking a range of possibilities and using this to create new opportunities can be a quick way to do this. At one end of our spectrum could be poor performance, in the middle could be normal (or professional) levels of delivery / performance and at the other end could be… well something amazing. Applying this to various parts of your business you can quickly identify the good and the bad characteristics. Then you can consider the amazing features by extending your thinking. New ideas can be formed and then exploited. If you feel that you are getting stuck for ideas then try applying a continuum to your problem. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Sticking plasters

Day to day there are many challenges that businesses face. A risk that is present in these situations is that sticking plasters are put over the problems, rather than resolving the problem once and for all. There are several ways to do this, some are easier than others. Have you tried '5 Whys'? A straightforward approach – you don't accept the first answer. You keep on asking questions that start with 'why…' until you find yourself staring at some basic, fundamental business issue. At this point it becomes very easy to resolve the problem (once and for all). As skill develops with the use of this tool you may find that there needs to be some brief exploration of the answers provided in order to ask a question good enough to allow you access to the next level down, as you progress to the root. Don't accept the first answer and keep going until you hit something fundamental. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Describe it in one sentence

Businesses can often get lost. The amount of information that they handle can be quite phenomenal and this can lead to a lot of confusion.   Sometimes the people within the business get lost and start doing things that they weren’t employed to do in the first place. So, how do we regain our focus? The simplest approach is to describe what we’re meant to do in a single sentence. This short string of words will clearly define the value that we are expected to bring to the organisation.  The same can also be said for departments and even businesses. This is not trying to re-invent the mission statement of a business, just trying to refocus on what is important so that effective action can take place. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

The driving force behind change

One of the thoughts that I have on a regular basis is about the structures of businesses when it comes to effective change in the workplace. Some businesses seem to get more focussed on the techniques being used than the fundamentals of running an effective business. Lean is a great example of this. Lean has some amazing tools and methods for driving out waste in an organisation, but it relies upon people to make it happen. So lean cannot do the change on its own – it needs the leadership and support of the management to make it work. Six sigma is the same – it is a toolkit to be embraced by the organisation as it goes through its change. The best metaphor I saw recently about this referred to Gordon Ramsay. The statement said “you have same kitchen implements as a leading chef in your kitchen at home – but this doesn’t make you into Gordon Ramsay.” The leadership and management of the organisation is what brings lean (and other improvement tools) to life. Smartspeed Consulting Limited

Getting employees to play

There was an interesting section in one of the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) magazines the other week – talking about improving employee engagement. This is one of the most discussed topics I come across when working with companies who need to get their teams onboard to make a change happen. They listed four points. Employees are engaged by: 1 – Leaders who inspire confidence in the future. 2 – Managers who respect and appreciate their employees. 3 – Exciting work that employees know how to do. 4 – Employers who display a genuine responsibility to employees and communities. An interesting check list I think you’ll agree. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Re-visiting PDCA

In any organisation we are faced with the ongoing need to deliver change. Improving the way we operate and deliver our services is expected from all concerned – our superiors, our customers and our owners. Many times the change doesn't work as planned. Things go wrong, we get delayed and people don't do what we expect. Smart companies understand this and use a form of constant correction and reinforcement to manage their changes. The tool that is most common is the PDCA approach (Plan, Do, Check, Act). This makes us ask the questions – 'have I gotten the result?' and 'how close was I?' The difficulty with this simple approach is that most people don't do it on a consistent basis. There are several ways to bring this kind of management into the work we do. The most straightforward would be to build the review steps into your project plans, use scheduling software to remind you to ask the questions, or to use the opportunity of 'failure' to be a

Lost disciplines

From time to time – if we look back at what we are doing – we may see that disciplines have slipped. From the team meeting to the sales order process the need for discipline is necessary, but how do we regain it in a simple way? Talking with our teams to ‘redesign’ the activity is probably one of the easiest ways to bring discipline back into the fold. The pure awareness of what the purpose is can get the discipline back in place. Speaking with influential individuals about the activity and asking what they can do to help is another simple way to get things back on track. This method is more discreet and possibly could take less time to organise. There are many ways to regain discipline, but few reasons to be disciplined.  Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'