Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

Imperfection is a fact of life. How does a project manager address it? There is a Buddhist concept that just might help – Wabi-sabi. It is very common in Japanese design aesthetics. It is based on acceptance of transience and imperfection. Imagine a beautiful vase develops a crack. One could try and fix it and attempt to restore it to its original state. With wabi-sabi a more interesting approach can be taken.

Think of the crack being filled with gold. What impact would that have? Can you see how there would be the elements of the original design merging with the transformation that has taken place? In one way, there is a new vase. In another, the original is still there.

We can pull this over into personal development. We all have flaws. What would happen if we decided to do something with them, to transform them rather than trying to erase them? Character develops. This also applies to team building.

Leaving team members to resolve their conflicts can be a source of great, positive energy. There is a cost associated with it but the benefit is worth the price. What am I getting at? Think of two team members having conflict. One common way to “deal” with it is through avoidance, i.e., keep the team members apart. This is like putting a Band-Aid on the vase. It really doesn’t work and the environment worsens because the tail called avoidance starts wagging the dog called the project.

On the flip side, think of when people have stayed in the conflict and worked to understand themselves and develop a comprehensive work plan. Synergies appear. Are the team members perfect — no. Have they created a space where they can be more in touch with who they are and get more from the situation — yes!

There are some underpinnings to this process, the most important of which is the desire on each person’s part to explore and see if there is a way to work with others to create a more empathetic environment. It can be scary and, if there really is a crack that needs addressed, it probably should be. People do drop out of this process and suffering results. For those who stay with it, though, a door opens to greater growth and accomplishment. All that experience and wisdom is brought together in a new way to create a better team!

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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Time For a Change #12: Get More Done in Less Time

by William Reed on April 26, 2012

Rethinking Time

The characters in Japanese for the word time (時間 jikan) literally mean time-interval, or space of time. This is an interesting perspective, because it joins two concepts that in English are treated as separate things. Einstein spoke of space-time in the context of the Principle of Relativity, but that branch of Physics is still beyond the average person’s comprehension. For most people, time is something more closely associated with the clock and the calendar.

Consequently, when people think about how to get more done in less time, they usually focus on how to work faster or more efficiently, as if productivity against the clock was the ultimate objective measure. The production line mentality still holds sway over the way many people experience time. It is high time that we rethink that proposition.

From one perspective, time matters a lot. You may have noticed that time seems to fly faster as you get older. I remember commenting to a friend on my 16th birthday that the year seemed to have gone by quickly. My friend’s father, who must have been in his 50s, overheard me say that and said to us, “Boys, when you get to be my age, the decades just fly by.” The usual explanation for this is that one year is a smaller fraction of the whole for a 50 year old than for a 5 year old. Nevertheless, as time goes by you tend to appreciate how much it matters. Whether or not time is on your side depends a lot on how well you appreciate and use time. If you look back on what has gone well in your life, you realize that timing is everything.

From another perspective, time doesn’t matter much at all. It isn’t the quantity of time that you spend with people so much as the quality that you remember. The way we experience time is a lot more relative than the way it is measured in minutes and hours. If you are having fun and deeply engaged then 8 hours can pass very quickly, whereas if you are stuck in a boring job the minutes seem like hours.

Synchronicity is the phenomenon in which things occur simultaneously that cannot be explained with any apparent connection. A person suddenly mentions a thing that you were just thinking about. A friend calls you just as you pick up the phone to call them. A discovery or invention is made by two people at the same time living in different countries, despite having no apparent connection or communication between them. We are connected in mysterious ways that are  not bound by time and space.

The art of getting things done

If you want to get more done in less time, a good strategy is actually to do less, but to focus on doing the things that matter most. This is the thinking behind the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities. Manage the things that make a difference, and you will see that small efforts can produce big results.

If you focus too much on perfection your work will never be done. Better to focus on the process, leaving yourself room to breathe. It is not worth sacrificing your days for the sake of filling up all of the time you have with work.

The oriental game of Go has a fascinating strategy that can apply to life as well. Black and white stones are placed on the intersections of vertical and horizontal lines on the Go board, the purpose being to surround territory by surrounding and capturing the opponent’s stones, while maintaining breathing space for your own stones. Go strategy involves playing the whole board and connecting your stone groups across the board. If you play too tightly by concentrating on one of the corners, you end up missing the big picture and losing the game. The connections are not obvious until the mid-game, except to the experienced eye, which sees time in terms of space, not in local logical steps.

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell refers to the “10,000 hour rule,” which applies in many endeavors from sports to music, whereby world class success seems to depend in part on quantity, not years of practice but the number of hours of deep practice, focused, intentional, quality practice time. Such people not only practice, but also perform more consistently in a Flow state, described in Flow Psychology as a state of full immersion and joy in the task. One of the characteristics of being in Flow is a distortion of the sense of time. Hours can pass like minutes, making you wonder where did the time go? Time can also slow down, in sports when the ball seems to travel in slow motion. It is accompanied by a feeling of spontaneous joy, and freedom from the clock. People in the Flow state are also more likely to be successful, and get better results.

Common sense

Voltaire said that “Common sense is not so common.” It is therefore worth reviewing a few common sense approaches when it comes to getting more done in less time.

  • Eliminate. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Shorten your To Do List, and just focus on those things that matter most. Don’t get caught up in trying to do a task more efficiently, without first asking if it is the right task. Free your mind by striving first to be more effective.
  • Outsource. Trying to do everything yourself is not only futile, it is downright foolish. Just because you can is not always the best reason that you should do something yourself. Look for ways to free up your time by paying or training someone else to do the task for you. Instead of yielding to the seductive lure of routine, look for shortcuts that can save you time.
  • Right Tools. A good craftsperson is very particular about their tools. One of the most effective ways to get more done in less time is to select the right tools, and leverage them to accomplish more. Whatever your trade, tools save you time.

No regrets

A Catholic Priest once commented that of the many last rites he had performed for dying people, most of them expressed far more regret for what they did not do in life, than what they had done. Their primary regret was for a life not fully lived, dreams left unattended, words left unsaid.

If you want to live life with no regrets, it is important to attend to your dreams and work on your chosen goals. Your dream calls to you constantly, if you can just free yourself from the illusions of time which pull you away from it. When you are selecting your tools, be sure to consider GOALSCAPE as the tool of tools, because it helps you gain perspective and focus on those things which matter most.

Download a TIME MANDALA as a reminder of the attitudes and approaches that can help you get more done in less time.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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Flexible Focus #70: The Carp of Creativity

by William Reed on September 22, 2011

If you have ever been in Japan in early May then you will remember how the landscape is covered with carp streamer kites (koinobori), suspended on high poles and streaming in the wind. These are to celebrate Children’s Day (Boy’s Day) on May 5th, and are flown in hopes that boys will grow up strong and healthy. This national holiday follows the Girl’s Day Japanese Doll Festival on March 3rd. The symbolism of the koinobori is based on the legend that the carp swims against the stream, climbs a waterfall, and becomes a dragon. It is a powerful picture of the power of swimming against the stream, the very opposite of going with the flow.

Author Steven Pressfield wrote a book called The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, which describes a process by which writers, artists, musicians, and anyone engaged in a creative endeavor can overcome the internal and external resistance which comes of swimming upstream to create something new. In some ways, the stream acts and filters out all of those who lack the resolve to press through and create something new. After all, it is much easier to simply allow yourself to be swept along with whatever else goes downstream. As Pressfield says, it takes a special mindset to overcome resistance and achieve the unlived life within.

You need something other than sheer will power to help you navigate against the stream. You need fins and a strong tail to weave your way against the current and overcome gravity. When it comes to publishing and presenting, the Mandala Chart can give you an added advantage in this process. There are 8 key words that can help you see it through.

  • Passion. This is the driving force, the tail of the carp. Without passion your project hasn’t any hope of meeting or overcoming resistance. People without passion are mentally and physically set adrift in the stream, and subject to its whimsical nature. However, if you know what you want and are driven to achieve it, you have what is called a “fighting chance”. If you don’t yet know what you want, look deeper to see what drives you.
  • Perspective. This is the eye of the carp, which provides a sense of direction and helps stay the course. Any creative person must have a vision, a point of view, a perspective. The creative task of the artists is to give shape to what he or she has seen, and thereby transport others to it. The witnessing precedes the rendering. If you lack a clear perspective, you can deepen what you have by exploring the perspectives which other artists have rendered, and then search for your own.
  • Preparation. These are the muscle fibers of the carp which strengthen from use. It is the daily search and struggle which builds creative staying power. Because creativity rarely proceeds in straight lines, it is the muscular zig zag which finesses the current and allows the carp to swim against it. It is like this in the creative process, which is constantly in search of ways to weave its way back to the source. If you lack ideas and inspiration, you can more easily find it by keeping a daily log of your ideas of insights, which will develop your creative muscles and keep your thoughts in flow.
  • Pressure. This the current of resistance against which creative people must swim to create anything new. It comes in all kinds of forms physical and mental, and is the undoing of all who give into its subtle force. The current is actually not strong enough to stop you, if you manage to master the creative process. But if you yield to it and surrender your creative spirit, it can cause you to procrastinate, compromise, or even give up. If you feel you are weakening to the pressure, think of the resistance as your ally and don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Think of it instead as the rope ladder which will help you to climb higher.
  • Platform. This is the riverbed, which supports the stream and provides all kinds of interesting shapes and variations in the current. It is in these that you can find opportunities to express your ideas and develop your creativity. It is also the media through which you publish and present. Today there are many options and formats for a personal platform, either in print or online. You may start with a blog or Facebook account, or you may wish to create works in tangible form that you can share with others. A platform is a place where people can find you, experience and enjoy your work, as well as comment on it. Using such platforms to talk about what you had for lunch will only interest a very small audience. Why not use it as a means of practicing and improving the way you express ideas, the way you capture them in titles, the way you express them in visual or auditory form?
  • Productivity. These are your writing tools and techniques, the fins of the carp that steer and shape your path. Every artist, every writer, every musician, and every creative person has discovered ways to be productive, to give more fidelity to their message, to express the finer nuances. If you follow or befriend a creative person, you will find that they are often more than happy to share their secrets, as others have done for them. To be productive is to produce, to continuously create and give shape to your ideas and insights. It is an essential part of the process, and that which gives you momentum for the big leaps ahead.
  • Presentation. This is the carp climbing the waterfall, the thrilling leap that transcends the limits thought impossible. It is the goal of swimming upstream, and represents the performance, the big stage, the formation that precedes the transformation. It is not a single event, because truly creative people continue this process as long as they live, and leave behind a creative legacy that in some cases is treasured for generations to come. Not everyone can be a Picasso, but each person can achieve something of creative value, if you overcome resistance and bring to life that which is inside struggling to come out.
  • Payoff. The character for Carp 鯉 consists of two radicals, that of fish 魚 and that meaning home or place of origin 里. In a sense the payoff for the Carp is returning to its original form, freedom achieved after persistent creative efforts to overcome resistance, to climb the waterfall, and to transform into a Dragon. For many artists, this is enough, although they may and should also be able to earn a living, gain recognition, and help spark the creative spirit in others through their work.

As a reminder of the elements of the creative process, you can download here a Mandala Chart entitled The Carp of Creativity. Whatever your media or message, a wonderful way to ensure your creative growth is to overcome resistance and find ways to publish and present your ideas and insights. When you awaken your creative spirit, you will find all kinds of resources and resourceful people come out to support you on your path. In time the resistance you felt in front of you seems to be replaced by a counter current pushing from behind which drives you forward and keeps you in creative flow.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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How to create your own good moods?

by Vijay Peduru on March 30, 2011

Whenever we meet certain people, they trigger a mood within us. Same with objects, places, smells and a lot of other things in our life.   Anxiety, flow, joy, fear, exhaustion… different moods are triggered. We human beings are hijacked by our surrounding emotions. When we watch a movie, we laugh, we get tensed, bite our nails etc i.e we get deeply involved in the movie and allow the same emotions to be in us as the actors. If you look at these situations the common thing is we allow emotions to be triggered in us.

Is there a way where we can choose our emotions?

Just like we choose to enter any room in our house, we  can choose our moods ourselves instead of getting triggered. We humans have the amazing capacity and ability to think before we respond but most of us are not aware of this. How do we use this in our everyday life?

  1. Be aware that there is always a mood that is triggered in you, in any situation. All of us have this – it is one of the things that comes along with being human.
  2. Decide our mood before-hand: We can choose our mood prior to our encountering something, like beginning of the day or beginning of an interaction. In the morning, we can say to our self that today I choose to be optimistic, happy etc. When we encounter any situation or person the default emotion/mood is triggered, but we can stop it and remind ourselves about the choice we made and immediately choose the mood we desire.
  3. Consistent Practice: The difference between a Pro and an amateur is the pro practices his skill everyday rain or shine.  If we treat this habit like a game and practice it daily, it will eventually become a habit.  It will initially be difficult, so, we can try this for an hour or so every day and slowly increase it for a day, then week.. months and then years, until this practice becomes second nature to us.

This is a key skill that entrepreneurs stand to benefit from. Why? Well, lets just say that entrepreneurs have their share of “Situations” to deal with that might trigger the default moods.

Vijay Peduru is an entrepreneur in the bay area and is the co-founder of a bootstrapped startup. His interests are bootstrapping, leadership and spirituality.
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A recent article in NYT  talked about how kids are wired for distraction by always being online . Every Gadget they use is connected to the internet and the kids are always distracted.  Thinking about this, I thought it is not just the kids even we grown-ups do this.

The next time you see someone with an iphone, you can see every few minutes, he checks his email or something on the iphone. Yes, these gadgets are distractions, but there is a deep underlying problem than this.

Each one of us wants distractions and these tools are just another avenue for our distractions.  We want distractions because we want to escape from things which are bothering us like laundry, doing the vacuum, taking the kids out, unfinished work at office etc.  We all know that the easiest way is to go head-on with what is bothering us and resolve it, but the great majority of us flee and engage ourselves in distractions. So, how do we fix this?

Next time, you feel anxious and want to go for a distraction, notice it and then take on positive distractions like watching a movie or a funny video and once done, sit quietly with a paper and pen (ok, iphone is fine, too) and write down what bothers you. Most of the time, it is just some unfinished tasks,  Next to the task write down what will be the next clear step you will take to resolve this. Resolve to look at it on a certain day. When that day comes, look at your list and take action. That’s it.  You can do this mentally too but writing down seems to be effective, since when the bothering thought comes to your mind, you can remind yourself that you have already written it down and will take action on the appointed day.

Choose to face the problem and use the time previously used for distractions for more enjoyable tasks.

Vijay Peduru is an entrepreneur in the bay area and is the co-founder of a bootstrapped startup. His interests are bootstrapping, leadership and spirituality.
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We all know the demands of starting up and running a business. With so many things to focus on, delegation and prioritization become important from an early stage. But many entrepreneurs mistakenly give low priority to talent management practices, relegate them to an HR administrator or even ignore them altogether, thinking they’re unimportant administrative activities.

Before we look at why that’s a mistake, let’s start by defining what we mean by talent management. Talent management encompasses the set of management practices and processes that support employee performance, development and recognition, throughout the employment lifecycle, from hire to retire. Talent management includes things like: job descriptions, goal setting/alignment, performance appraisals, competency assessment, employee development, compensation management, succession planning, etc.

Here’s why talent management is so important.

Good Talent Management = Better Business Results

More and more research is showing that mature, integrated talent management practices have a direct impact on corporate performance.

  • The Hackett Group recently reported that companies with more mature talent management capabilities have on average18% higher earnings, 54% greater net profit margins, and greater return on equity and assets than those without mature capabilities.
  • The Aberdeen Group’s latest research finds that companies who integrate their talent management processes see significantly greater performance gains, and can measure a correlation between their talent management efforts and business operational results.
  • IBM, HCI, IDC and others have shared similar findings.

When you think of it, these findings are not all that surprising. At their core, talent management practices are designed to help you get the most out of your only sustainable competitive advantage, your workforce.

Keep Your Employees Engaged and Productive

Study after study has shown that to be engaged and productive, employees need to have:

  • Clear goals and know what is expected of them in their work;
  • Regular feedback about their performance, what they are doing well and areas for improvement;
  • Opportunities to develop, prepare for career progression and address skill gaps.

We’re also hearing almost daily that employee engagement is at an all time low.

Good talent management formalizes the practices that ensure employees have what they need to be engaged and productive. It includes the setting of SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals, the identification, assessment and development of competencies important to the role as well as to the organization, and the assignment of development plans to expand knowledge, skills and experience. It also provides employees with regular, formal and informal feedback on their performance and encourages an ongoing dialogue on performance between the employee and their manager. All of these management best practices are known to foster higher employee performance, productivity and engagement.

Align Your Workforce

Simply making sure your employees have SMART goals isn’t enough. Effective talent management helps you align your workforce by tangibly linking each employee’s goals to the organization’s higher-level goals, mission and values. This gives every employee much needed context for their goals and helps them how their work directly contributes to organizational success. For the organization, it ensures that everyone’s efforts are focused on achieving the organization’s mission, vision and values, not just completing tasks and collecting a pay check.

Develop Competencies as a Competitive Differentiator

As business cycles shrink, and products and services become increasingly commoditized, your people become your only sustainable competitive advantage. Given this reality, it becomes all the more critical to identify the key competencies that differentiate your business, and cultivate these in your employees. Integrated talent management practices use competencies as the foundation for job descriptions, performance appraisals, development activities, and succession plans, and foster their continued development. In this way, they help your organization ensure its competitive advantage.

Identify and Retain High-Potential, High-Performing Employees

Identifying and investing in developing and retaining your high performing, high potential employees is key to your organization’s continued success. Even in tough economic times, retaining these employees can be a challenge. Talent management practices help you to more objectively and accurately identify your high-potential and high-performing employees, and then challenge, reward and develop them, so they remain happy, engaged and loyal to your company.

Identify and Address Performance Gaps

If you don’t know what your company’s weaknesses are, how can you address them? Mature, integrated talent management processes allow you to effectively identify and measure performance gaps by evaluating employees’ performance of goals and demonstration of key competencies. Armed with this data, you can take action to address performance gaps at the individual, departmental or organizational level, and then monitor the effectiveness of your actions in terms of improved performance. Identifying and addressing performance gaps in this way helps you to foster a culture of continuous improvement and development. It also helps prevents performance challenges in any part of the business from going unnoticed or unaddressed.

Drive Focus, Accountability and Efficiency

Having mature, integrated talent management processes help keep individual, group and organizational performance at top levels. Everyone is accountable for their personal goals, competencies and development plans, as well as those of the organization. It encourages everyone to regularly discuss progress, opportunities and challenges and improves focus, accountability and efficiency.

Conclusion

As entrepreneurs, we’re all focused on the success of our business. By ensuring our companies adopt talent management best-practices right from the start, we set our employees and our business up for success.

Sean ConradSean Conrad is a senior product analyst at Halogen Software, working closely with customers on a day-to-day basis. He has spoken at numerous industry events sharing his unique blend of technology expertise and understanding of HR-specific challenges. In his downtime, Sean enjoys running and recently completed his first marathon. He’s an avid Formula 1 fan and loves traveling and scuba diving.
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Is using Social Media an impediment to your Organization?

by Himanshu Jhamb on February 8, 2010

Au Contraire, it can lead to improved productivity and branding.

First and foremost, let’s get one thing clear about Social Media. It is not just a tool, or a tactic or even a strategy. It is simply a channel for having online conversations. Depending on if you know and intend to use it purposefully or not, it can increase productivity… or not. There are two kinds of stances organizations that do not believe in the power of Social Media take when it comes to using Facebook or Twitter, at work.

  1. Employees will be distracted. They’ll spend too much time on these sites and it will be an impediment to the actual work. So, they should not have access to these at work.
  2. Social Media is not useful at all. I don’t want to know when someone is going grocery shopping or cleaning his car.

The issue with the first stance is simply not about social media. It is about ethics. Just like you shouldn’t be browsing the internet for 7 hours a day in your 8 hour workday and you shouldn’t be chatting on the phone about your favorite football team with your buddy for the better part of your workday, you shouldn’t be using the different social media channels for extended periods of time. Blocking the websites wouldn’t do a lot of good if the people in your organization are looking to spend the majority of their working hours elsewhere. You might want to look at “Why are they distracted”? more than “What distracts them”?

The issue with the second stance is simply ignorance and a fixed way of thinking about social media. There are some Social Media Rockstars who have branded themselves impeccably using the various social media channels. It does not mean they have never got subjected to online conversations about grocery shopping from other folks. It simply means they have been participating and contributing to the social media space purposefully and with an open mind. They do not allow themselves to be led by popular opinion. They are in the department of changing the popular opinion… or even being a source of a new one! There is a reason why companies like CNN, BestBuy, Dell and JetBlue continue using Twitter and the reason is simply that were ready to experiment and they’ve found a way to make it work for whatever it is that they are after. Contrary to popular belief, these companies not only use Twitter as a channel to market their offers but also to have online conversations with their customers which, mind you, involves listening to the customer’s concerns and then engaging with them by taking action to best take care of them.

Regardless of your organization’s stance on Social Media, Social Media is here to stay. It’s not any different from any new practice or technology that is invented. About 30 years ago or so, with the advent of computers, we got a real taste of what machines can do from a small microchip. About 20 years ago or so, we got a taste of what connectivity means with the advent of the internet. Perhaps it’s time for organizations to give up their rigidity on Social Media and leap into this new decade with a sense of exploration and genuine intrigue to see what conversing online means with the advent of this dangerous opportunity (Social Media).

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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Quality #7: Productivity and Quality

by Tanmay Vora on November 17, 2009

speed_velocityWelcome to the seventh post in this 12-part series on QUALITY, titled #QUALITYtweet – 12 Ideas to Build a Quality Culture.

Here are the first six posts, in case you would like to go back and take a look:

  1. Quality #1: Quality is a long term differentiator
  2. Quality #2: Cure Precedes Prevention
  3. Quality #3: Great People + Good Processes = Great Quality
  4. Quality #4: Simplifying Processes
  5. Quality #5: Customers are your “Quality Partners”
  6. Quality #6: Knowing what needs improvement

#QUALITYtweet Tracking productivity without

tracking the quality of output is like tracking

the speed of a train without validating the direction

In F1 racing, one of the primary challenges for a driver is to keep a close eye on speed and direction. One wrong move at a high speed and car bumps with the edge of the track.  “Speed” when combined with direction is termed as “velocity”.

One of the rules of management is, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” But an obsessive focus on metrics can prove harmful for organization’s health because:

  • You may be measuring wrong things that do not directly relate to organization goals
  • You may only be measuring outcomes without focusing on qualitative aspects.
  • You may be using measurement as a sole base for decision making without considering the variable/unknowing aspects of your business.

A lot of resource managers in technology and business area narrow their focus on hardcore metrics that reveal volume but not quality. Examples could be number of hours logged during a day (versus tasks achieved in those hours), number of modules completed in a day (versus quality of those modules), number of cold calls made during the day (versus quality of research and depth of communication in each call). This list can go on, but you get the point. More, in this case, is not always better.

Metrics are important to evaluate process efficiency, but not sufficient. Quality system of an organization should have processes to assess both qualitative and quantitative aspects of work. How can this be achieved? Here are three most important pointers:

  1. Hybrid approach with focus on good management: Measuring productivity solely by units produced could be a great way to manage in manufacturing world. In knowledge world, where the raw material for products or services is a human brain, qualitative approach combined with common-sense metrics is a great way to ensure balance between quality and productivity. Key to higher productivity in knowledge based industry is ‘good management’.
  2. Quality as a part of process, rather than an afterthought: Quality is not an afterthought. Quality has to be built through process by people. Process should have necessary activities defined at each stage of product to ensure that a quality product is being built. These activities can then be measured and improved upon. Process also shapes up culture of an organization and hence due care must be taken to ensure that quality system does not form a wrong culture. Process has to take care of softer aspects of work including trust, commitment and motivation levels of people.
  3. Measure to help, not to destroy: Metrics are like a compass that shows direction. In order to move forward, you have to walk the direction. Metrics can give you important trends, but these trends need to be analyzed and worked upon. Key challenge of any process manager is to ensure that metrics are used to evaluate process and not people. If you start using metrics as a base for rewards, you are not allowing people to make mistakes. When people don’t make mistakes, they don’t grow. As an organization, you don’t grow either.

Process can be used to gain “speed” or to gain “velocity”. The choice is yours.

Tanmay VoraTanmay is a Software Quality Management professional based out of India. He hosts QAspire Blog and tweets as @tnvora. He is also an author of the book #QUALITYtweet – 140 Bite-Sized Ideas to Deliver Quality in Every Project
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Quality #6: Knowing what needs improvement

by Tanmay Vora on November 16, 2009

Qualitytweet_6Welcome to the sixth post in this 12-part series on QUALITY, titled #QUALITYtweet – 12 Ideas to Build a Quality Culture.

Here are the first five posts, in case you would like to go back and take a look:

  1. Quality #1: Quality is a long term differentiator
  2. Quality #2: Cure Precedes Prevention
  3. Quality #3: Great People + Good Processes = Great Quality
  4. Quality #4: Simplifying Processes
  5. Quality #5: Customers are your “Quality Partners”

#QUALITYtweet The first step of your

process improvement journey is to

know what really needs improvement

In modern day sports, players and their coaches have sophisticated facilities to learn from recorded versions of the game with some great analytical tools. When reviewing these recorded versions with the team, an important job of a coach is to tell the player:

  • What is going right? How can we consolidate that?
  • What can be improved further? How will it help the game?
  • What needs to change?

Process improvement is all about improving your game with a thoughtful consideration to critical aspects of business.

You can do a lot of improvement in non-critical areas (and feel good about it). Just because you are improving something does not mean you are improving the right thing. The key to success of any improvement initiative is to pick the right areas. To get driven by operational nitty-gritty is one of the biggest mistakes most improvement managers commit. Process improvement can become an important business enabler provided all improvement initiatives are business oriented.

Do a quick reality check by answering following critical questions to gauge return-on-investment of process improvement initiative:

1) If a particular area of operations is improved, will it have a direct impact on customer’s satisfaction level or customer’s experience? (Focus: External Value)

2) Does the improvement in a particular area directly improve the productivity of team and enable them to execute faster? (Focus: Productivity)

3) Does improvement in a particular area directly have impact on revenues and business? (Focus: Revenue)

4) Does improvement in a particular area make it easier for people to generate qualitative outcomes and improved job satisfaction? (Focus: Internal Value)

How do you find out what “really” needs improvements? The answer is – by collaborating. You can never identify broader improvement areas by isolating yourself in a comfortable cabin. You have to actively collaborate with the following stakeholders:

1)      Customers : In a customer-centric process culture, feedback from customers are carefully assessed to identify customer’s expectations on what can be improved. Your customer can be your strongest ally in improvement journey. Seek feedback.

2)      Business Development Folks: They are the ones who have maximum face time with customers. These could be project managers, account managers or client relationship managers. They can give improvement areas that directly map with business.

3)     Middle managers and team: They are people on floor who get things done. They are best candidates to give suggestions on what can be improved operationally to deliver quality upfront and improve productivity.

The famous 80:20 rule applies to process improvement initiative as well. 80% of improvement happens by focusing on continuous identification of 20% improvement areas. It helps to adopt a clinical approach in identifying the 20% that really matters – yes, that much (20%) does make that much (80%) of a difference!

Tanmay VoraTanmay is a Software Quality Management professional based out of India. He hosts QAspire Blog and tweets as @tnvora. He is also an author of the book #QUALITYtweet – 140 Bite-Sized Ideas to Deliver Quality in Every Project
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The NEW World!

by Deepika Bajaj on October 13, 2009

Our world has been continually evolving. With the advent of globalization, technology and internet, we are now embarking on the phenomenal growth of the virtual worlds. So, what are Virtual Worlds? Virtual world is a real-time, multi-player 3D environments in which the user takes on a specific role, represented on screen by an avatar. Obvious example is SecondLife. People who live in virtual worlds can buy homes, go shopping and play games with friends – this is the social networking element of it. With the current economic recession, companies are finding it cost-effective to hold meetings, recruit candidates and do promotions in virtual worlds. Offline events require hotel, travel costs and lost time in productivity – so why not meet your potential clients, employees and colleagues virtually  – Afterall they exist both in the real and virtual world.

Here is a brief intro of a what is a virtual world?

Where is the MONEY??

Virtual worlds reshape the real-life Retail:
With the rise in Virtual world, many small businesses are using it to interact with their customers. Many businesses are marketing their products and services in virtual worlds – you can hold events, do strategic placements for audience development and building relationships with their customers:

Where is my LOVE?
Virtual worlds are all about experience and community.
Want a cool girlfriend? Who needs a real deal? She is exactly what you want and is gone when you log off.

Our world has expanded – it has multiple dimensions….ARE you present Virtually?


DD-new-pic-headshot Contributed by Deepika Bajaj, President and Founder, Invincibelle, LLC and co-founder, ActiveGarage (the company behind 99tribes). Deepika is also the author of the book DiversityTweet: Embracing the growing diversity in our world and Pink and Grow Rich:11 Unreasonable Rules for Success You can follow Deepika on Twitter at invincibelle
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