About Teams and Projects

In The Wisdom of Teams, Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith explained that, for a working group to coalesce as a team, it needs a common goal, complementary skills, and mutual accountability among members. It sounds simple, but it is in fact a tall order, and there is no evidence that it is sufficient.  The authors don't claim it is, but they found these characteristics among successful teams in sports and business, and found them lacking in unsuccessful ones.

1. What Makes a Great Team

Let us explore the meaning of these three characteristics in more detail:

1. A common goal. It can be organizing a successful conference, or JFK's "before this decade is out, landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth," or building a motorcycle that wins a race. Whatever it is, the goal must be clearly stated in few words, with obvious success criteria, for team members to sign up.

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The Lean Champion: Window-Dressing or Agent of Change?

Question seen in another blog:

I work as a deployment champion in a manufacturing company, but I don’t have the support of my managers because they don´t believe in the lean methodology. Which lean tools can be used to help them believe?

Image de Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy

Image de Zacharie Gaudrillot-Roy

I have to assume you are not self-appointed. If you are "deployment champion" for Lean in a manufacturing company, it is because someone in  gave you the job, presumably because he or she believed in Lean and in you at the right person to champion it. But don't presume it, find out what the motivation is. If it is that the company must be "Lean-certified" in order to continue doing business with its biggest customer, chances are that the whole effort is window-dressing, and your own job in particular. If this is the case, you need to decide whether you want to play along.

On the other hand, if the person who gave you the job is the CEO, the company must improve its performance to survive, and the CEO is convinced that going Lean is the only feasible way to do it, then it is a real job and you have the backing of the one manager who matters most.

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Booze, bonks and bodies | The Economist

The various Bonds are more different than you think

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.economist.com

Michel Baudin's comments:

Once hailed by Edward Tufte as purveyor of the most sophisticated graphics in the press, Britain's "The Economist" has apparently surrendered to the dictatorship of the stacked-bars.

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Cars Per Employee And Productivity At Volkswagen Versus Toyota

Seen this morning in a Lean consultant's blog:

"Two decades later, VW has topped Toyota as the world’s number one automaker, but Toyota generally is considered to be [...] far more productive. In 2015, VW employs 600,000 people to produce 10 million cars while Toyota employs 340,000 to produce just under 9 million cars..."

Is it really that simple? VW produces 10 million/600,000 = 16.67 cars/employee/year, and Toyota 9 million/340,000 = 26.47 cars/employee/year. Ergo, Toyota is 60% more productive than VW -- that is, if you accept cars/employee/year as an appropriate metric of productivity.  Unfortunately, it is a bad metric that can easily be gamed by outsourcing.

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"I've had results with Lean but Corporate pushes ERP. Any advice?" | LEI | Michael Ballé

Question:  "I’m the head of a business unit and have had visible results with lean. Yet, my corporate colleagues refuse to acknowledge this and want to force their ERP and purchasing practices on my division. This is very frustrating – any advice?"

Answer: "I certainly understand (and share) your frustration and, unfortunately, I don’t really have useful advice[...] No easy answers"

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.lean.org

Michel Baudin's comments:

Ballé then follows up the non-advice with a 1,079-word essay where, among other developments, he equates the use of ERP with colonialism, leading to the conclusion that there are no easy answers.

Let us assume that the question is from a real manager in a real situation, in a position to make choices with real consequences for his or her career as well as for the company. It deserves an answer.

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Standardization Doesn’t Stamp Out Creativity | The Deming Institute Blog | John Hunter

"[...] One of the things I find annoying, in this way, is that reducing variation and using standardization is said to mean everyone has to be the same and creativity is stamped out. This is not what Dr. Deming said at all. And the claim makes no sense when you look at how much emphasis he put on joy in work and the importance of using everyone’s creativity. Yet I hear it over and over, decade after decade."

Sourced through Scoop.it from: blog.deming.org

Michel Baudin's comments:

Yes, the metric system did not stifle anybody's creativity. By making commerce, engineering, and science easier, it actually helped creative people innovate, invent, and discover.

But when Deming says "Standardization does not mean that we all wear the same color and weave of cloth, eat standard sandwiches, or live in standard rooms with standard furnishings," he seems to exclude the possibility that standardization could be abused.

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Unilever’s new program for WCM | business-improvement.eu | Jan van Ede

"Unilever changed their approach in 2012. Within Fiat they discovered a balanced WCM-program, developed by professor emeritus Hajime Yamashima. He integrated Lean and Six Sigma from the start in the TPM management pillars. The result: more focus, better opportunities for cross-departmental improvement, and more attention to the role of the people."

Sourced through Scoop.it from: business-improvement.eu

Michel Baudin's comments:

In the late 1980s, as part of Kei Abe's MTJ team, I went to Unilever facilities in the Netherlands, Italy, the UK, and the US to help them implement what had yet to be called "Lean." Unilever was impressive as an organization in that, in markets including detergents, processed foods, mass-market toiletries and prestige cosmetics, they were afraid of nobody, anywhere.

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"Lean Propaganda Contest" in Russia

As part of their upcoming 10th Lean Forum in Moscow on 11/16-20, our partners in Russia, OrgProm, are organizing a "Lean Propaganda Contest and Exhibition," co-sponsored by the Russia Academy of National Economy and Public Service under the President of the Russian Federation (RANKHIGS).

This is the banner under which they announced it:

Contest banner

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Principles About Principles

Abstracting underlying principles from practices is essential when you are trying to learn from the way an organization works, for the purpose of helping other organizations, engaged in different activities in different contexts. Unless you can do it, you are reduced to just copying practices without understanding what problems they were intended to address.

Unfortunately, articulating a set of principles is hard because they must be (1) understood, (2) actionable, and (3) memorable. Here are a few meta-principles on how to achieve these goals:

  1. Banish words like "thoroughly," "rigorous," "towering," "powerful", or "fully." If the meaning is in the eye of the beholder, it doesn't belong in a statement of principle.
  2. Express principles as an action verb followed by a single object. "Develop," "create," "cancel," or "hire" are all appropriate action verbs in a statement of principle. If you have multiple objects, you need a statement of principle for each.
  3. Keep the number of principles down to a maximum of five. Otherwise, they won't be remembered. Most Jews can't recite the 613 commandments in the Torah; most Christians, their 1o commandments; most Americans, their bill of rights. If you want principles to be remembered, make a shorter list.

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