Category Archives: Lean Six Sigma

Ethics and Insanity in Consulting


If we are continually hired to resolve the same issue that was previously addressed, is that insanity, misinformed decision making, misguided, or something else? What role should we play?

There is no doubt in my mind that some of the greatest companies in the world have made their name by re-purposing or re-packaging the same item and selling it to anyone that is willing to buy it. Recycling has become an industry unto itself in which we re-purpose something that has outlived its usefulness or passing something on that is no longer of use to the original owner. Over the life of my consulting career, I have continually built upon and improved documents, deliverables, and ideas that I had previously provided to a different customer. However, something seems to be changing.

Five years ago, I was working with an organization known as “Effective Government Now”. The organization was established to raise interest in, and to enable the use of, strategically driven performance improvement capabilities (e.g. Lean Six Sigma) across all of Federal Government with the goal of reducing waste and inefficiencies, thereby increasing effectiveness and eliminating unnecessary expenditures. At the time I was just catching on to something that I now realize has been happening forever. Five years later, nothing has changed.

The phenomenon, the continual request from my clients to reproduce products or deliverables that they have already purchased or funded on numerous occasions. I could even understand if the organizations hired a consultancy to perform work, were dissatisfied with the results and then hired a different consultancy to finish the job. These clients are continually paying to have the same studies done, the same requirements built, the same recommendations made, etc. without following up on much, if any, of it. As if they do not believe that the results could be true, they hire another organization to come in and do the work, getting the same results. On numerous occasions the clients have traveled this road so well that we have returned to one of the original contractors to re-perform the work they had done on a previous occasion. As a Master Black Belt and your Common Sensei, I find that this seems a lot like RE-WORK, something that as a CPI professional drives me mad.

Numerous people including Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein have been quoted as saying “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. In saying this, I hate to think my clients meet this definition. Is this an issue of avoidance, is there something wrong with the process, or has our culture moved even further toward a complete and total resistance to change? I could write it off as the “not invented here” phenomenon that I describe in an earlier post except that more times than not, they are avoiding things that were invented here. Beyond the question of insanity, beyond the issue of change management or process improvement lays a deeper question of morality and our capitalistic nature. The capitalist in me says that if I don’t take the work, they will just hire someone else to re-do what has already been done. No matter how hard I try to persuade them that it is time to implement the recommendations and begin the transformation, I, as have so many of my partners and competitors, get nowhere. I often come to the conclusion that I might as well take the money that they seem so desperate to throw away. The little voice sitting on my other shoulder is encouraging me to just walk away from the mess with a clear conscience and let someone else deal with it.

Now, what if I told you I consult almost exclusively with the US Government and the money they are using is our tax dollars? What insights do you have now?

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Filed under Business, common sense, consulting, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Management

Talent Identification for Peak Human Performance


Corporations, Military Organizations, and Sports Teams are constantly looking to find and attract “Peak Performers”.  As technology continues to advance, it is becoming clear that the human component is most often the limiting factor in any endeavor.  Utilizing proven Lean and Six Sigma approaches in concert with expertise in Anatomy & Physiology, Kinesiology, and Psychology; we understand how the human body is intended to move, how to train an individual to perform efficiently and effectively in their given environment, and that the level of motivation an individual needs to carry out their assigned task is critical to the success of any manually driven process.  However, the question remains, even if we can make people better at what they do, how can we find the best person for the job.

You can read more about Lean Six Sigma for Human Performance here: https://thecommonsensei.com/2011/10/07/human-performance-lean-six-sigma-a-process-based-approach-to-improving-human-performance/

Expanding on the concepts presented in the article above we will refer to peak performance in terms of the 3P’s for Human Performance (Physiological, Psychological, and Proprioceptive) and that maximizing efficiency in these three areas entails reaching peak performance.

3 P's of human Performance

Physiological Factors include one’s skill set, conditioning, training etc.

Psychological Factors include motivation, readiness, self-efficacy etc.

Proprioceptive Factors include spatial awareness, coordination, etc.

In order to identify a specific talent that is best suited for any given activity we must first define what excellence looks like and then identify individuals who share common traits that can be trained to achieve or exceed the stated goal.  Utilizing our Talent Identification Model (seen Below) we can build a customized tool to identify talent, track progress and make training corrections/decisions over the course of time.

Talent Identification Model

Stage 1: Baseline Key Process Indicators for Human Performance is all about building a baseline of core competencies that are required for an individual to develop the required future state capability.

Stage 2: Identify, Filter, and account for variables that may alter individual baseline scores. Individual variables will play different roles in Human Performance.  When accounted for, these variables can be determining factors for future capabilities assessments or guidelines for the development and duration of training required for an individual.

Scale

Step 3:  Match individual Human Performance Scores (HPS) with job classification.Best In Job

  • The use of current job/position classifications in combination with the HPS from current Best in Job performers provides a Job/Task specific HPS to align new individuals to a job/role
  • On the job training can be accounted for through regression analysis and will provide a tracking mechanism to ensure that candidates/employees are on track to reach Best in Job standards

 

Individual and Team TrackingStage 4: Individual and Team Tracking.

Tracking of individuals training and performance against their Best in Job performance goals allows for adjustments to each individual or teams training and/or career path.

Food for thought

This approach has been used informally for decades in the selection of individuals to play roles in teams and organizations.  I utilize formal and informal versions of this approach in coaching as well as business endeavors with great levels of success (see Trust the Process, Winning is the Result).  By instituting this approach, organizations can create their own longitudinal study to identify causal relationships which can boost their production.  If you know that people are the key to your organization’s success, shouldn’t you be maximizing their talent?

Until Next Time,

Happy LEANing,

David Allway

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