Sunday, February 19, 2017

Continuous Improvement in Work and Life

Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) might sound like a nebulous term.  In reality, however, CPI is intensely action oriented.  It centers around eliminating waste by making what adds value obvious and reducing everything else.  Although the discipline of CPI applies to work processes, I’ve found the same discipline applies to life.

The overarching personal mind-set:
·         Our purpose in this life is to become the best version of ourselves.
·         How well we achieve this purpose is measured by our effect on those around us.

Basic tenets of CPI:
·         Respect: Taking every stakeholders' problems seriously, and making every effort to build mutual trust. Active respect means taking responsibility for other people reaching their objectives.
·         Teamwork: Developing individuals through team problem-solving. The idea is to develop and engage people through their contribution to team performance.

The collective mind-set of CPI:
·         Challenge: Having a long-term vision of the challenges that need to be faced.
·         Kaizen: Understanding that no process can ever be thought to be perfect. Operations must be improved continuously, constantly striving for innovation and evolution.
·         Genchi Genbutsu: Going to the source to see the facts as clearly as possible for oneself, and then directing the processes based on those clear facts.

Using the tools of CPI (like 6-S, Andon, Just-In-Time) doesn’t necessarily mean you are practicing the discipline.  Organization-wide CPI requires leadership and the overarching mind-set outlined above. 

CPI is a balancing act, and few organizations truly achieve the full measure.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Enhanced Productivity by Doing Less

For many years, I worked full-time as CFO of a local career school.  It was a demanding job that entailed much more than finance.  It required the ability to handle several situations simultaneously, and solutions to problems weren't always clear.  Our team operated in a culture of Continuous Process Improvement.

Occasionally, I could be seen in front of the building soaking up sunshine.  To some people, it looked like idle time.  It was!  However, when I would return to my desk, I found I could frame problems differently and countermeasures to them seemed to become more evident.

This strategy was based on a something reflected in Matthew May's book, Laws of Subtraction: LAW NO. 5 BREAK IS THE IMPORTANT PART OF BREAKTHROUGH.

Breaking away to get quiet allows for reflection and helps us get a higher level perspective on problems that seem insurmountable.  Breaking away also requires discipline, especially in this goal-oriented, constantly busy business culture.  But it is a discipline worth developing!