Redefining “problem” (with Goal in mind)

In problem solving or continuous improvement workshops a problem is usually defined as a gap between the actual situation and the desired situation, and thus a problem causes an unsatisfactory situation or an UnDesirable Effect (UDE).

This definition, while true, is somewhat too vague to be useful when working on solving problems and continuous improvement.

Indeed, in a business environment* many things can be qualified “undesirable situation” or “undesirable effect”, from bad tasting coffee to important production equipment breakdown, from laser printer toner stockout to quality control rejecting an important production batch.

In most business environments improvement opportunities are literally infinite.

*business environment can be very vague as well, I suggest every reader to transpose this article into his/her environment.

From these few examples it becomes obvious that the too broad definition of problems need some refinement. The limited time and resources of an organization should not be wasted on every so-called problems, but instead solely focused on the critical ones.

Failing to do so bears the risk of spending time and burning up resources to solve “problems” without any system-wide noticeable positive effect. That’s what happens to so many Lean initiatives or continuous improvement programs, draining significant resources for frustrating results.

So, how to select the problems worth coping with?

In a business environment the organization exists to achieve a Goal, itself subordinated to the achievement of several objectives. When something hinders the organization to achieve its objectives, hence its Goal, the hinderance is worth attracting (all) focus for problem solving.

In “The Logical Thinking Process, a  Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving”, Bill Dettmer defines a UDE as “something that really exists; something that is negative compared with the system’s goal, Critical Success Factors or Necessary Conditions.” This definition is linked to The Goal Tree and if this one is properly built, the understanding of what an UDE is will be straightforward and unquestioned.

Now with the organization’s Goal in mind, a “problem” can be understood as an UnDesirable Effect (UDE) being an obstacle for the organization to achieve its objectives, its Goal. Anything felt undesirable but not directly threatening the achievement of the objectives or Goal is an annoyance at best.

Does it mean anything NOT threatening the objectives and Goal is not worth considering?

While priority must clearly be given to issues and UDEs hindering the organization to achieve its Goal, some “annoyances” should be taken care of as well. Things making job or life easier for employees for instance may not directly contribute to corporate objective achievement but can help improve morale, ergonomics, safety and the feeling of being important enough to the organization to deserve some attention.

Well, how to select these “problems” worth considering?

This is where methodologies handover to management, “science” handover to “art” and plain rationality to humanity. It’s up to managers to sense what is to be done, why and to what extend.


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Goal Tree Chronicles – Why You should NOT use a model

A Goal Tree is a logical structure linking the Goal of the organization to all subordinate Necessary Conditions (NCs) to achieve the Goal. The top most NCs are called Critical Success Factor (CSFs) in order to highlight their importance: they are the last things to achieve in order to achieve the Goal.

These CSFs should remain few, three to five (rule of thumb), as it is not reasonable to have a Goal depending on too many CSFs. If they are too many, chances are some of them are overrated NCs and should return some level deeper into the Tree .

>Lisez-moi en français

Yet saying three to five and with Eli Goldratt’s first (universal?) definition of the Goal, many will think about having maximum Throughput (T), minimum Operating Expenses (OE) and minimum Investment (I) as CSFs.

Indeed, they may very likely be found somewhere in the Tree, but are they always CSFs?

Some consultants and/or Theory of Constraints practitioners suggest having a generic skeleton of a Goal Tree ready, with T, OE and I at the top and then fill the underlying NCs with the organization’s related requirements.

I do understand the idea, but do not endorse it.

Why You should NOT use a model

A generic Goal Tree could be a consultant’s tool, not an owner’s nor CEO’s.

A Goal stated in a Goal Tree should not vary much nor frequently over time. Neither should the CSFs and NCs. Bill Dettmer states that a properly built Goal Tree remains valid as long as market conditions do not change significantly and in most businesses, the disruptions do not happen very frequently.

An owner or his/her deputies may build one strategic Goal Tree in a decade. So what is it to the CEO or owner to invest a couple of hours going through the top of the Goal Tree without any preset in regards of the life span of the Goal Tree?

Somebody’s else strategic intent

Besides, starting with a so-called generic tree is starting with somebody else’s tree, thus giving up what makes the organization specific. Does an owner or CEO only want to go for a me-too strategy? If yes, buying a how-to book on Goal Tree building or reading my posts on this blog may suffice to copy-paste what others thought out.

I believe going through the whole process, from Goal Statement to the definition of CSFs and first layers of NCs is a very useful exercise for an owner, a CEO or anybody in charge of achieving the organization’s Goal.

Much have been written about the importance of a properly stated and verbalized Goal. Giving some time to do it and review it with a facilitator and scrutinizer is often a very useful exercise and a good investment.

So is the understanding of the links from Goal to underneath Necessary Conditions. Owners and CEOs or their deputies do not have to build the whole tree, but give high level input. From my point of view, CSFs and first layer of NCs define much of the organization’s soul, culture and how this will go on in future.


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Goal Tree Chronicles – Refrain from depicting the current reality

It is silly obvious but didn’t occur to me until I faced it: building a Goal Tree is NOT mapping the current processes, a Goal Tree is NOT made to depict the current reality.

It happened while I tried to promote the Goal Tree as a tool to reengineer a process. Nothing very complicated but a challenge to get the attendants to think out of the box and redefine a much better performing process.

Not being familiar with the actual process to be improved, I clung to the methodology: wrote the Goal on top of a large paper sheet and invited the attendants to build the Tree using the necessity logic.

So we went. I asked “in order to … we must….” and the participants gave answer after answer.

The Tree that was growing was logically sound, but at some point we realized the group wasn’t building an improved process but mapping the actual one!

While I was somewhat embarrassed for letting myself trapped, I picked some useful takeaways:

Be very specific when verbalizing the Goal.

When it comes to reengineer an existing process, the facilitator can help verbalizing the (limited) Goal. This should be done with great care in order to avoid ambiguity and misunderstandings as well as for leading the participants to think properly about the possible new process.

Refrain from depicting the current reality

This warning goes to both the facilitator and the participants. A Goal Tree is a means to list all the Necessary Conditions that must be fulfilled in a sequential order so that the Goal can be achieved.

The underlying assumption is that the current process fails to achieve the Goal and therefore a new approach has to be found. Mapping the current process is not likely to bring the group very far and chance are that minor changes (e.g. incremental improvement) on the current process will not suffice to achieve the Goal.

Building a Goal Tree is not a brainstorming which is way too open, but a necessity-logic driven investigation about what is strictly necessary to achieve, in order to achieve the Goal.

Going through the exercise of building the Tree from scratch should open new perspectives and filter out the resource consuming but not contributing nice-to-haves.

A perfectly logical tree is not enough

A logically sound Goal Tree is not necessary a good/appropriate tree. Just as it happened with the group who inspired this post, if the group builds a Goal Tree which is a mapping of the current reality, it may be logically flawless but still remain ineffective.


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How can Theory of Constraints help startups – Purpose, Goal and how to achieve it

I believe most entrepreneurs started with a brilliant idea, a new product, a smart solution, new services… and the underlying desire to write a story on their own, not for a boss.

The startupers then start up as the brilliant new offer needs funding and some structure to bring it to the world.

But how many entrepreneurs started with a higher Vision, a Purpose beyond their product, smart solution or new service?

Once the initial project gets some uplift and before the scarce resources are wasted on inadequate investments, a short pause to think about Purpose and Goal is recommended.

Entrepreneurs, what is the Purpose of your undertaking? What is your Goal?

Make money now and in the future” are probably chanting those who got their basics about Theory of Constraints, first edition.

I don’t think that making money is the main driver for startupers, because if it was, a majority would go for more secure ways to achieve their goal and startuping wouldn’t be that popular.

There must be others drivers, each personal to the entrepreneur. Whatever the Purpose is, it is a Goal that requires some Necessary Conditions to be fulfilled in order to achieve it.

And precisely here Theory of Constraints can help, providing guidance and a structuring process with the Goal Tree!

I described extensively Goal Trees already on this blog, but in short the Goal Tree is a logical network of nested Necessary Conditions, describing what is absolutely necessary to achieve prior to achieve the Goal.

Taking some time to verbalize the Purpose or Goal of the undertaking and listing the first Necessary Conditions will give guidance about what is required and what to focus on. With this high level description of requirements, the entrepreneur can wisely allocated limited resources to what is contributing to achieving the Goal and avoid wasting them on nice-to-haves or totally off-topic things.

The Goal Tree stands out among other tools and methods with its merciless necessary-logic base: whatever does not answer the “in order to achieve… we must…” in a robust and logically sound manner is to be discarded.

Besides its robustness, building the first, most strategic layers of a Goal Tree requires only about a couple of hours, provided the Purpose / Goal is clear…

Once the Tree is built and scrutinized, amended and declared satisfactory, it serves as a guiding map and a benchmark.

Over time, the entrepreneur should check how many of the Necessary Conditions have been fulfilled (turned Green) and what is still to be achieved to get closer to their Goal.


>Related: Goal-Setting Theory and Goal Trees


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Goal-Setting Theory and Goal Trees

Goal-Setting Theory states that goal-Setting, when done properly, is motivating. A Goal Tree complies to the requirements of a motivating goal-setting, here is why.

Goal-Setting Theory

According to Theory, Goal-Setting (and the underlying objectives) helps to focus onto the Goal and keep focused. Set Goals tend to increase effort in order to achieve them. Once Goals are set, they reinforce persistence as one does not want to admit failure. Goals make us creative or make us learn when necessary skills are not mastered.

Yet good Goal-Setting requires:

  • Specificity, which means clarity of purpose, precisely specified objectives, etc.
  • Challenge or Difficulty, which make achievement a victory and more satisfactory. Goals impossible to achieve are not motivating, though.
  • Acceptance and commitment. Goals forced onto someone may not motivate much.
  • Feedback and appraisal. This is necessary for “calibration” and benchmarking.

The following video made available by Alanis Business Academy tells you a bit more about Goal-Setting Theory.


Goal Tree and Goal-Setting Theory

A Goal Tree sets a Goal, that’s why this logical tree has been created for. It was because many efforts got lost by not knowing what the Goal was that Bill Dettmer derived the Thinking Processes (TP) Intermediate Objective Map (IO Map) into a more suitable tool he called the Goal Tree.

The Goal is set on top of the Tree where it is very visible and symbolically well placed so that everybody know on what to focus. The Goal statement should make sense and be understood by everyone. The Goal is the reason why the organization exists, so being member of the organization obviously requires accepting the Goal and committing to achieve it.

The array of underlying objectives, called Necessary Conditions (NCs), should be verbalized in a clear and specific way. This is verified when building the Tree and checking it with the Categories of Legitimate Reservations (CLR), which also ensure the overall logical robustness of the Tree.

Many of these Necessary Conditions are not fulfilled when the Tree is built (otherwise the Goal would be achieved..!) and fulfilling them is the challenged required by Goal-Setting Theory. A decent share of these NCs will be difficult enough to keep contributors motivated.

In the same way, some necessary skills may not be mastered, thus giving opportunity to learn or find by-passes.

The periodic reviews of the Tree status give opportunities for feedback and benchmarking, as well as appraisal or eyebrows frowning.

Wrapping-up

Going through the requirements of the Goal-Setting Theory, the Goal Tree is not only compliant, but allow the whole (often strategic) intent to be stated in a clear logical way. Reading a Goal Tree is reading the storybook.

If Goal-Setting Theory needed a tool, the Goal Tree is the one.


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Goal Tree is a Lean tool

This post title may sound provocative to all readers knowing the Goal Tree origins lay with Theory of Constraints and to hardliners of each philosophy wanting to keep their toolbox clean of “imported” tools, yet it won’t change the fact that a Goal Tree is a Lean tool.

Goal Tree

Goal Tree

1. Goal Tree as its name tells is totally goal-focused

Starting with the Goal statement is totally in line with Jeffrey Liker’s first principle the 14 principles of The Toyota Way: “Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

The Goal Tree sets a benchmark for the long-term in order to achieve the organization’s Goal or purpose. The Goal is by definition far away, otherwise it would rather be called an intermediate objective on the way to achieving the “real” Goal.

Once the Goal is stated, the Goal Tree describes all Necessary Conditions to achieving it, thus an explicit invitation to take all necessary management decisions. As the focus is on the Goal, the short-term goals are nothing else than Necessary Conditions or Intermediate Objectives and never a diversion to fetch a short-term opportunity.

2. Goal Tree’s necessity based logic filters out all nice-to-haves

A Goal Tree is built on a cascade of Necessary Conditions which are allowed into the Tree only if they comply to the necessity logic. The test is binary: if the condition responds positively to the condition “in order to have…[objective], we must have…[condition]”, than it passes the test. If the suggested idea does not respond to the test, it does not fit into the Tree.

This means that a robust Goal Tree is lean as it is built only on strictly Necessary Conditions and the required or available resources will therefore be used only for really necessary things!

Conversely, everything that would consume any resource without being strictly necessary (muda) is discarded, keeping the Tree lean.

3. Goal Tree trumps Hoshin Kanri

In my opinion, Goal Tree “trumps” Hoshin Kanri when it comes to list all the necessary breakthroughs to achieve mid to long-term objectives.

The reason is the same as above: the necessity logic that guides the analysis of what is required vs. what we have, hence the gaps that must be filled with breakthroughs.

Hoshin Kanri is too open and to pervious to nice-to-haves as it intrinsically lacks the filter to keep them out, the necessity logic.

Yet to be fair, Hoshin Kanri does better than Goal Tree in later steps, when the breakthroughs must be broken down into short-term objectives with proper KPIs and resources allocation. While Hoshin Kanri does it all within the same X matrix, the Goal Tree needs other logical trees or action plans to do it.

Hoshin Kanri X matrix

Hoshin Kanri X matrix

This is why I like to combine both: start the analysis of what gaps to fill with the Goal Tree and then feed findings into a Hoshin Kanri.

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Why 5S fail? Nobody is interested in housekeeping

This post is part of the series “why 5S fail”.

Nobody is interested in housekeeping.

This is particularly true in heavier industries with more male workforce, “housekeeping” is incompatible with (macho) pride and way beneath their dignity.

Lego_018aThey may not hesitate to manually lift heavy weights and handle greasy dirty parts, but would be reluctant to mop up spilled lubricant or dry-wipe a machine casing.

In most machist workshops they complain about being turned into “maids”.

Therefore announcing decluttering and cleaning up is never the best way to start, even in environments with lesser testosterone levels.

What is far most appealing is the call to join a challenge, for which 5S are a necessary condition but not telling it.

My way would be to find such a challenge and while searching how to achieve the goal, gently lead the participants to express themselves the need for order, cleanliness and suitable work environment.

When facilitating 5S deployment, I put myself in a learning posture and ask lots of questions, in a smart way. People usually love to share their knowledge, especially because on shop floor it is not that common that somebody pays attention to their work and experience.

A bit of flattering “you are the subject matter experts, you know best” is usually welcome and sweetens their day, which is also true and is what I really think.

Of course my questioning is not that candid but a way to surface the required basic conditions to achieve our goal.

Once these basic conditions listed, I manage to go through the 5S rollout quickly in order to start the next level of tasks, usually more appealing, like problem solving or technical improvements.

Of course, I do not hesitate to iterate back to sorting, arranging, cleaning and redefining the standards if the 5S maturity is not at desired level.

I simply explain why it is common to iterate and if my audience don’t know about, I’ll explain the Deming wheel (PDCA cycle) and its wedge.


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12 tips for leading in a downturn

Slowdown, downturn, crisis, recession, words and condition that are around for some time now and for some businesses it seems to be the new normal.
I witnessed several companies’ and their leaders’ reactions when facing difficulties and I’d like to share my list of dos and don’ts.


Elevate your ambition

Chris HOHMANN

Chris HOHMANN – Author

When time is hard for business and everybody in the company gets anxious about the future, the ambition should be more appealing than the disappointing “live another day” and its variants. Yet how many times did I came across a similar sounding “ambition”! Frightening.

The leader’s skills, including inspire others, are supposed to show in troubled times. Gather your staff around a higher ambition, prepare all together the exit of the crisis and the turning of the vision into reality.

If the crisis is severe, people are more open to challenges and changes. Go for a leap, not a timorous step.

Focus!

When times get tough for your business, it’s time to (re)consider what your business is. instead of trying anything in order to meet the plan or budget, take a moment to (re)state what the purpose of your organization is.

With purpose clarified, the organization’s precious (and scarce?) resources can be focused on the purpose and deliver more, better.

I strongly believe that this exercise, in many cases, is enough to re-energize the staff and get better through the hard times.

Tip: with the Goal (re)set, the Goal Tree is a great tool to define all Necessary Conditions and on what to focus to achieve the Goal. Using the Goal Tree is a framework will help to break the new strategy down into concrete, meaningful and strictly necessary actions.

Search your blue ocean

The slowdown may be the result of recession and/or of competition. It may be the right time to question your offering and how it ranks compared to competition. You may be swimming with sharks in the blood-red ocean and then it is the right time to think about leaping into a quiet blue ocean, free from shark-like competition.

Make a side step, reinvent, do different

If you are to remain in the same business, and chances are you will, then what would distinguish your product, service, offering or company from competition?

Be bold. It’s about disruption, not small incremental change. You’ll have to surprize your customers, outmatch your competitors and inspire your staff.

So what sidestep would get you out of the war of attrition? How can you reinvent your business, products, services and get a wow effect in your market? What can you do different?

Ask your staff, all of them. Those closest to market and customers may have the right answers.

Sometimes brilliant ideas unexpectedly originate from people or departments you would not think about: accounting, finance, HR, delivery truck drivers…

Improve. Revisit your processes and create more value

In tough times customers are pickier, more demanding. They may be worried just the way everybody is but still have needs and problems to solve. Revisit your processes and improve in order to create more value for your customers.

Again, be bold! Competition may adjust to minor improvements and keep up. They may be afraid or unable to follow a bolder move.

Show confidence

Keep your worries for yourself or a very close circle. To all others, show confidence. Staff nor customers don’t like worried bosses/suppliers/partners. They are worried themselves. If you can’t show confidence in what you stand for, employees may seek more secure haven for themselves and customers will seek alternate suppliers or solutions.

Trust your staff, it’s not your enemy

Concentrate your energy to outmatch competition, not to harass your workforce. Too often worried managers turn their disappointment or anger towards their staff. Chances are few the situation is the staff’s fault, so why bother them?

Better build up a task force engage your team in finding and building a way out. Your staff is your ally, not your enemy.

So far for the dos , let’s see some don’ts

Don’t harass your staff because they have less to do in the downturn

When activity slows down it is normal to have more slack time. Consider using this freed time for training or creating new value for the customers, finding a way out of the crisis…

Refrain from micromanagement.

Constantly looking over the shoulders of your staff will not help getting out of the crisis, but will only stress your workforce more, show your lack of consideration and confidence.

Again, you cannot get angry with your staff just because business is not that good anymore.

Do not be unfair

If you are disappointed about some of your workforce not taking initiatives, first ask yourself if they ever were encouraged to take some or if this is a sudden expectation of yours.
Second, ask yourself if you gave enough insight and direction for people to understand where you want the organization to go, what the Goal and objectives are.
Third, if people are not the self starters you’re hoping, why did you / your organization hire them? What did you / your organization do to develop them?
If you objectively did everything to have autonomous self starters and they don’t behave like this, you may further ask questions about their attitude, by using the BlessingWhite X model for example.

Chances are that your workforce is nothing more than a representation of the general population, with some brilliant people, a bulk of average people and a some below average but still good enough for coping with their chores.
And chances are that your competition is not better off.

Don’t change direction every morning

In difficult periods doubt may surface about the strategy, the pricing, the customer relationship, about almost everything. Keep your cool and do not change direction too often. First because it will only confuse everybody, second because it will show your state of panic. Remember: people expect to have a self-confident leader.

You may conduct some experiments, but structure them with some consistency, show an overarching logic. If you can’t link the different ideas with some straightforward logic, some elements may have to be questioned.


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Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a Goal Tree

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a well-known KPI in many industries for nearly forty years in western countries. It reflects overall performance in a single number, and is built upon or integrating three other metrics: Availability, Performance and Quality.

  • Availability is the readiness of the machine / equipment to operate when required
  • Performance is the actual run rate compared to the nominal run rate
  • Quality is the number of good parts or  quantity right first time compared to the global quantity (good and no good)

Everyone of these metrics is expressed in %, OEE = availability x performance x quality

As OEE is multiplying fractions, the result cannot be greater than the smallest value of Availability, Performance or Quality. That is why OEE is a severe KPI: if one of the intermediate KPI decreases, the OEE decreases faster.

If someone is in charge of improving OEE, he or she will “speak” a Goal Tree, and it goes like this: in order to achieve the highest value of OEE, we must have:

  • the machine / equipment steadily ready to operate
  • running continuously at nominal speed
  • producing only good parts

Now with this said, what to do next? Where are the leverage points?

OEE is great to give a snapshot of performance taking into account the three high-level must haves, but when it comes to action OEE must be broken down to find where and what to act on.

In Logical Thinking Process lingo, Availability, Performance and Quality are Critical Success Factors (CSFs), high outcome objectives that enable achieving the Goal: the highest OEE.

Critical Success Factors are very useful because they provide top management the minimal but sufficient dashboard to monitor progress towards the Goal.

These Critical Success Factors are dependent on underlying Necessary Conditions.

Availability for example depends on machine’s technical condition as well as on setup and material availability. It depends also on availability of trained and entitled workforce, work orders and possibly other documents.

OEE Goal Tree

Example of OEE Goal Tree

Performance will probably depend on the machine’s condition, itself depending on the maintenance policy, maintenance frequency, and so on. Performance is also depend on the proper use of the machine by workers, the type and quality of raw material, the type and condition of its tools.

The breakdown goes on this way, from each Critical Success Factor down to the least Necessary Condition, building the whole Goal Tree. In order to list all Necessary Conditions, the same phrase applies: “In order to achieve… We must…”

The list may go on, both horizontally and vertically, according to the business.

The more regulatory constrained the business, the more likely to have a horizontally-wide Tree, as those regulatory constraints will add many mandatory Necessary Conditions.

What I really like with Goal Trees is the provided guidance by the necessity-based logic, insuring a complete and robust Tree is built. On top of it, it helps discriminating the must-haves from nice-to-haves.

Therefore it’s easy to respond logically to the claim “the machine is too old to achieve good performance, get us a new one!”. When considering what can be done to improve OEE, the age of the machine does not appear as being the biggest influencer.

In fact, many examples show that properly tended old machines can still be performant assets.


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Continuous improvement: how easily focus is lost

In an industrial environment improvement opportunities are literally infinite, especially if nothing has been done so far about improvement and maturity, about industrial best practices and considering methodologies like Lean, Theory of Constraints (ToC) or Six Sigma was nearly nonexistent.

When starting to improve, it happens quite often: committed people get lost and lose focus. Instead of concentrating on the core issue to achieving the Goal,  they dilute efforts on lesser important subjects, secondary objectives or even unimportant things.

As a consequence real improvements are delayed or even won’t happen.

How to prevent this from happening? Here are three things that will help:

  • Choose proper KPIs
  • Have a sponsor keeping some distance
  • Start with a Goal Tree

Choose proper KPIs

Measurement is the first improvement step. Choose the (few) KPI(s) that really reflect the achievement of the assigned key objectives and assess the effects of improvement efforts with these figures.

Assigned key objectives points to a Goal set by the organization’s owner or the delegate executives. Bottom-up chosen improvement targets lead most often to local optimization which is scarcely contributing to the overall system improvement, hence the reservation about point kaizen or kaizen blitz workshops focused on local improvements/problem solving.

Expected improvement is generally about productivity, quality, timely deliveries or any combination of them. Outcome should be measured in physical units, e. g. widgets per hour, right first time rate or on time in full (OTIF) deliveries.

Pitfall to avoid with KPIs is to choose activity-related instead of outcome-related ones, like the number of kaizen events held in the week rather than additional widgets made ready for shipping.

Teams may get some scolding for not delivering the expected results even though they were convinced to have worked hard and gotten nice results. They are just not aligned with top management’s expectations.

Back-standing sponsor

Having someone higher ranking / legit, keeping some distance from details and looking at the project with a broader perspective is a good way to prevent shop floor teams to get pulled down into details and away from their objective.

The sponsor should have authority to both help the team to overcome some difficulties, when decisions are to be made with other stakeholders and authority to demand regular reports and direct the team when necessary.

Regular reports and expectation of results are powerful incentives for the team not to lose themselves during their improvement journey.

Having a back-standing manager is common practice in the consulting business where a manager will follow, support and coach the consultants shop floor team, making sure focus is kept on the right objective and progress is consistent.
Some customers can’t understand the importance of this management they consider costs added, not value-added, an easy way to charge more (Yes this may happen, but let’s assume the consultants we’re considering are good ones with real care about delivering value and some ethics).

Well, the cost of meaningless efforts, wasted time and resources on ill-chosen or defined objectives is often much higher than the cost of the back-standing manager.

When the Goal is defined at the top-level and the objectives assigned to the teams, the project governance is usually defined as well, with someone high-ranking taking the sponsor / jury role. Bottom-up initiatives do not always have it.

Start with a Goal Tree

My regular followers are used to read my posts promoting this fantastic tool: the Goal Tree. Many of you readers may not yet be familiar with Goal Trees, and I strongly recommend you to learn more about them and evaluate the potential benefits using them.

At the beginning of a project, building a Goal Tree is a smart investment worth the couple of hours required: a well-built Goal Tree will give guidance toward the assigned or chosen Goal as well as the associated few Critical Success Factors to achieve and the list of Necessary Conditions to fulfill.

The Goal Tree is built upon necessity logic (in order to achieve… we must…) and thus prevents to get lost in nice-to-haves or irrelevant “improvements”.

From the moment I used a Goal Tree from the start myself, I kept focused, consistent and more efficient for myself or the teams I worked with. Conversely, when I thought I could save the effort starting with a Goal Tree it went not that brilliantly, with some deviations, drifting and the like.

These unpleasant experiences were powerful reminders, especially when the back-standing manager legitimately “kicked the a**”.


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