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Serious Question From Darth

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  • #43843

    Darth
    Participant

    This is a two parter which I hope to receive some helpful feedback on.
    1.  How can you measure, tell, sense or feel whether you are overwhelming and stressing the organization with the number of projects being launched?
    2.  Same thing but overwhelming or stressing the organization with the number of improvement recommendations needing implementation.

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    #139642

    greenhorn
    Participant

    Hi Master Darth,  I can very well tell if some of my projects, regardless if launching or implentation stage, are moving in a slow phase.  It could be that I’d been bombarding the organization with too much projects that the existing resources could handle. 

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    #139643

    Marz
    Participant

    Darth,
    Your organization may lack the necessary resources to implement your suggestions. A good practice is to prioritize the implementations based on what is important to your company, such as hard savings or customer satisfaction.

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    #139644

    Milton
    Participant

    When your CEO fakes his way thru a GB project and your finance guys sign off on anything you throw in front of them all in the name of progress.  Ah, Chuck Goslee, where art thou?

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    #139645

    vikkee
    Member

    When organizations are not able to effectively track the projects they take up,when the number of project hold-ups start accumulating, Champions have more projects than they can manage – these are all signs of an organization having bitten off more than it can chew
     
     

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    #139646

    Observer
    Participant

    Piles.
    When people don’t or can’t perform as you expect there will be piles of any kind almost everywhere to see: input piles, inline piles, piles of responsibilities shifted around and the like.
    After arguments have been exchanged (talking) the visible result of action taken will be a pile of unresolved issues (doing). Unexpected budget developments will be just a consequence.
    Piles are visible today, when you still can take action. Overstressed budgets will be visible tomorrow, when it’s too late.

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    #139650

    EdG
    Participant

    Darth,
    A few thoughts…
    1) Change brings about stress and stress can adversely affect people’s temperament.  A potential sign that too much change is happening is an increase in workplace violence (not limited to fights, but verbal confrontations as well).  This can be potentially minimized through communication – with better communication, the more change an organization (their people) will be able to tolerate.
    2) We are going Full Throttle, but we are still tied to the pier…
    a) The number of projects being initiated greatly exceeds the number of projects being completed. 
    b) The number of projects being completed keeps increasing but the results are never realized.
    c) The number of projects in-work greatly exceeds the number of personnel for that area.  Too many priority 1 jobs???
    There are probably many others but these were the first two areas that came to mind.  Hope it helps…

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    #139654

    BOAMBB
    Participant

    Darth,
    In both cases, I believe one of the first warning signals is a breakdown in focus and discipline.  I think these are difficult to measure … more on that in a moment.  When organizations are getting overwhelmed you will see things start to spin out of control … you’ll begin to see loose association with core metrics, financials for the sake of financials, poor follow through on Control Plans, lack of management routines to contain the mess, lack of appropriate resources, etc.  The analogy of “full throttle and tied to the pier” is a good one – I view it as an event horizon but the meaning is the same.
    In effect, think of it as quality of input and quality of output of the DMAIC process.  Some inputs I look for / measure: Projects entering candidacy are not tied directly to core operating metrics, “soft savings” instead of hard savings are presented as financial support (exception might be Sat projects but that’s a totally different issue), the process to select candidates has broken down so anyone can get access to training, etc.  You know what the outputs look like, so I won’t waste forum space.
    With specific comment to #2, breakdown in Kanri (and Hoshin).  Lack of prioritization routines and governance are key symptoms that this is a problem.  Lack of leadership awareness of projects is another – I like to quiz senior partners on how many projects (and what they are) their organization has running and what the predicted net effects will be (not just financial effects, but process effects as well).  In organizations that are out of control, they will have no clue … and neither will their direct subordinates.  How far down the chain until the picture becomes clear?  “Just how far does the rabbit hole go?”
    Just some thoughts on a rainy Tuesday morning…
    BOAMBB

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    #139655

    OLD
    Participant

    Darth:
     
    In addition to the feedback you have already received, I would add the following:
     
    1.  How can you measure, tell, sense or feel whether you are overwhelming and stressing the organization with the number of projects being launched? 1). Ask the informal leaders within the organization for their view on how things are going. These people may or may not be Belts but are most likely plugged-in to the feelings of their co-workers. 2). Monitor Green Belt resources – how many projects teams are they on? Do they have any time to do their normal job? Are the SME’s spending all their time on projects? 3). Ask your Black Belts about the level of enthusiasm/participation of the key team members on the their respective projects. Do the team members feel energized or taxed? 4). Is the organization taking time to celebrate/acknowledge accomplishments before heading-off to the next project? 5). The number of soft savings projects/$’s exceed the number of hard savings/$’s projects.
    2.  Same thing but overwhelming or stressing the organization with the number of improvement recommendations needing implementation. 1). Improvement recommendations can imply that something is wrong/bad with a particular operation/process. Too many projects in one area can be demoralizing to the point where people begin to ask “what if anything do we do right?”.  Spread-out projects. 2). Lower the visibility of easy/quick win projects so that they get done without a great deal of fanfare (but celebrate/acknowledge the accomplishment). Evolution is/should be expected and not every change has to be a project. 3). Lean, SS, Lean SS, Kaizen, etc., (whatever the company calls their efforts) can get confusing to the average employee. Try not to attack on too many fronts at one time. Keep it simple and do it RIGHT!Good Luck!  OLD

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    #139657

    Brent
    Participant

    1.  Some stress is normal in a Six Sigma environment.  Some signs of being overwhelmed are increases in the number of employee conflicts (mentioned previously), unexplained decreases in primary (basic) plant metrics such as Throughput, On time delivery, Quality, etc.  These can be rather subtle, but are good indicators of problems.  However, the best indicator is probably quality communication with all levels of the organization by a knowledgeable provider.
    2.  An overwhelming list of projects and the stress they bring can be seen easily seen from the Belt level back up the food chain.  It is my opinion that managing this list is the responsibility of the Steering committee and Champions.  Again, effective communication is probably the best weapon to use in recognizing problems.
    I would like to also say that these issues are exacerbated by both poor Champion training and selection.  Champion training is a very much overlooked aspect of the Six Sigma puzzle.  It has been my experience that a good percentage (30-40%) of Champions I have met with are woefully lacking in understanding of the methodology, and have weak abilities to manage Six Sigma projects.  This can be a huge generator of both stress and uncertainty for the Belts.  You have to work a lot harder to compensate for successful completion of projects.
    Training providers need to stop rubber stamping Champions and start rejecting them based upon some established criteria. 

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    #139658

    Bob Adams
    Participant

    Darth,
    Decent question, but one that makes me need to ask:
    1) How effective are your champions? (do they support your efforts..)
    2) How large of a company do you work for? (Are they changes ‘earth shacking’ or merely absorbed…)
    3) How many Green/Black belts are there working on projects?
     
    Answer these questions to yourself and then let your common sense derive an answer. I normally try not to handle more than 2 projects every 6 or so months. Of course, I am a full time IT project manager and Six Sigma is but a tool that I use to build business cases for change and improvements in our various processes.
    If management is not able to see the benefit of your project and your project(s) are not supporting an enviroment of change and improvement, then there are probably too many irons in the fire.
     
    respectively,
     
    Bob

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    #139661

    Darth
    Participant

    Thanks for everyone’s contributions so far.  I am getting some good insights.  Would love to hear more.

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    #139663

    TVI
    Member

    Hey Doc,
    A couple thoughts:

    Similar to SPC concepts, look for real change in some output: Are avg project timelines lengthening?  Are BB productivity numbers (project/time/BB) dropping? Are reward and recognition awards slowing/diminishing?  Are gains being sustained? Has the ratio to projects completed v. projects closed changed in a negative sense? etc.
    Similar to lean ideas, is the customer (aka process owner, vsm manager, etc) PULLING projects through the pipeline, or are they having them PUSHED upon them?  If process owners continue to submit high quality project charters and clamor for quality resources, keep up the good work.  If mediocre charters are being submitted, changes are not being sustained, or BB are getting pushback from teams, etc then perhaps demand has been impacted
    Either way, sounds like a balancedscorecard approach with a handful of both quantitative and qualitative metrics would be helpful
    My 2 cents.  Take care doc.

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    #139666

    Andejrad Ich
    Participant

    This is way easy.  Watch (okay….measure) how long people are staying at work.  If they aren’t going home to their families at the end the day, then you are asking too much of them. 
    Andejrad Ich

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    #139668

    EdG
    Participant

    Darth,
    Another thought or two on your post…
    1) This is not a metric however it would potentially offer a world of insight.  Talking with the grunts…  Communicating with the folks that, day in and day out, do the job may offer the most insight as to how much stress a company, plant, or office is experiencing and if it is excessive or not.  However, to whom one communicates with must be considered.  I had a former Boss that commented that he had one person on the day shift that was his eyes and ears to the floor.  It wasn’t the Day Shift Team Leader (supervisor) but one of the hourly workers.  Over time he had develop a relationship in which he knew the information being provided him was a good gauge for the whole floor, either day or night shift.  He recommended that I do the same.  Like I said, it isn’t a metric.  You can’t tabulate it nicely in a spreadsheet and track it, but it can offer tremendous insight into the health of the organization.
     
    2) Just noticed that most of the posts focus on #1.  As for your #2 question, might an indication that the org has been overwhelmed by recommendation is if your capacity to complete improvements is a small fraction of the inputs received.  For example: Given the number of improvements that we can successfully accomplish this year, I won’t need to ask for inputs again until 2012 if we are luckey…
     
    Hope this helps…

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    #139671

    Grosvenor
    Participant

    Thanks for inquiring.  I am nicely retired again, this time very comfortably with the huge amount of money that BOA gave me to unretire from Kodak plus the cool $1M in stock that I cashed in before the price went south.  I am enjoying the yacht and wonder how you, Milton, could have screwed up so quickly the good foundation that I laid out.  Now you dump it in poor Mark’s lap to try and put it back together again.  But don’t worry, you can always layoff a couple of thousand people from MBNA to make up for your shortsightedness.  Sorry, got a big bite on the fishing line.  Chao
    Chuck

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    #139675

    luke skywalker
    Participant

    Hey, let’s chat offline. I can see some of what you’ve asked about here and have actually though through it a bit.
    But, since the kids are playing upstairs (“Milton” and “Chuck”), I’d prefer to keep program specifics out of the cheap shot arena.
    Hopefully I can address your other e-mail at that time as well.
    Luke

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    #139677

    Grand Moff Tarkin Ret.
    Participant

    May I join you?  Perhaps we could meet at that little coffee house on the corner and discuss olde times over lattes.  Face it;  we’ve all mellowed with the passing of years and sometimes I miss seeing the old familiar faces, the dark times, the empire. 
    You may inquire when ready.
    Grand Moff (aka “Tarky”) Tarkin (Ret.)

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    #139679

    luke skywalker
    Participant

    Thanks for letting us inquire. I’ll be sure to send an Outlook invitation when I’m ready to do so.
    Besides, why sit in a coffee shop when there’s a perfectly good pub around the corner?
    Tell me the name of the pub.

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    #139680

    Grand Moff Tarkin Ret.
    Participant

    You can’t mean that dreary little cantina on Mos Eisley (how perfectly dreadful).
    I do know a fresh little cocktail place not far from here.  Perhaps you’ve visited there:  “Pub Ic”?
    Tarky

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    #139683

    Princess SIPOC
    Participant

    One answer with a two-part response to your inquiry.
    From my own experience, your question (1) is when the kinds of projects being chartered and agreed upon by Lead and deployment champions are “push-off” projects that at the root are actually “just do it” research projects that have “TBD” as the benefit…and the topic of the project is usually a hot-topic as determined by company leadership.  This keeps the BB’s busy and out of sight from the mainstream workers.
    To answer (2), when the organization that chartered the above project hears that there really is no financial benefit or improvement needed, they either give a sigh of relief that all is working as it should (i.e., thank God there’s no improvement I have to implement).  Or, conversely, to keep you busy and out of their hair they will try to expand the scope of the chartered project to include seeing if putting flow meters on the bathroom sinks will help us find ways to cut the water bill.  Which is another way of keeping BBs busy and out of everyone’s hair and avoiding an implementation or control plan.
    Best yet, if the organization that successfully got one or both of the above done, they probably also got their “points” for being a process owner for their annual Six Sigma involvement target, and in reality, they didn’t have to do a thing.

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    #139684

    Darth
    Participant

    Thanks son.

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    #139685

    Darth
    Participant

    Luke and I don’t do lattes but if you want to join us for some Praire Fires, you are more than welcome to meet us at the usual venue where “curriculum discussions” often took place.

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    #139687

    Darth
    Participant

    Thanks to all for all the continuing input.  You are making some great points.

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    #139775

    Jim Bossert
    Participant

    In me count….
    Yoda

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    #139776

    Darth
    Participant

    Be sure to bring Leia and make sure she is wearing that cute little gold number that I love to see her in :-).  Don’t bring the Evil Queen unless you have duct taped her mouth and beaten her a bit with the stupid stick.
    Felt a strong disturbance in the Force and some nasty rumors from one the former members of the Universe.  Moving B4s back to B3s???????  Whose dumb idea is that?

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    #139780

    Ritz
    Member

    I’d like to join the club if possible.  Maybe Wedge?  I’d also settle for an obscure but recognizable character like Muftak or Sy Snootles?
    Luke – I’ll be in town next week for a couple of days if you have some time to get together.
    Ritz
     

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    #146930

    Lorax
    Participant

    Hey Darth,
    I know this is an old post but we’re starting to raise similar questions here. I remembered this thread and…
    The indicator I’m thinking of using is the “ease of getting resources for new projects”.
    If the getting commitment-of-peoples-time-to-work-on-stuff-which-is-important is becoming like drawing wisdom teeth, then the organization is at the limit of its current capacity.
    Lorax

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    #146933

    John Travolta
    Participant

    Use  your  common-sense?

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