The whole process begins with forming what I like to call “the unanswerable question.” The question, when answered, that will put us on an entirely new path. It is through the formation of this question that we start to focus our minds and energy. The creative process begins when this […]Read More →
Corporate PlumbingTraining Management, Fixing Problems, Flowing Work
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Reasonable assurance that management
delivers results without depending on luck…
… or you can continue shooting dice.
This is done through:
A strategy for business competitiveness
Why Management Development, Key Beliefs
• The intellectual capacity of an organization (talent) is the foundation of a competitive business.
• Building an organization’s capacity is the precursor to shifting organizational performance; developing people is a strategy serving a business purpose.
• Better management talent drives a better business.
• A ritualized process of management development establishes an
organizational rhythm for improvement and discipline.
A Strategic Decision
• Using Management Development as a strategy for being a more effective business requires understanding the dimensions of performance that drive the business.
• Defining the Dimensions of Performance is a strategic decision.
• Management development not aligned with Performance Dimensions is of limited value to the business.
• A curriculum map is developed when development activities are defined for specific target audiences relative to Performance Dimensions.
– Senior Management
– Middle Management
– Frontline Management
Fixing Complex Problems
Multi-stakeholder + technically sophisticated + legally regulated + export controlled + aggressive personalities + multi-level supply chains = Complex Problems
We are specialists in solving complex problems with a group-based process.
Sample problem statements:
“Current production problems are resulting in $29M contract overruns,” Program Office of most complex product manufactured.
“We need a regional approach and teamwork to successfully grow the New York City Market,” VP of Regional Engineering.
“Our business is being harvested yet I must still grow revenue and margins with a mature, highly engineered product in an area where it is difficult to get engineers,” General Manager.
“We need to create a safety first culture,” GM of steel mill.
“Management development is key to our profitable growth and I need a rhythm of development events for each level of management,” aerospace GM.
“We need to include junior engineers in the selling process,” VP Business Development, engineering company.
“Kaizen the factory and reduce the overall order entry to delivery time,” VP Operations customized electric motor business.
“Turn around an angry workforce of 5,000 engineers,” VP Defense business.
“Rebuild the relationship between the Program Office and the Contact Office,” Program VP large defense system.
“Teach my staff critical thinking skills,” VP Business Development Defense Business.
“Show how the ValueTree can help our IT department make improvements for our major bank,” IT Project Manager.
“Redesign this factory and keep it from closing,” GM 1,500 person factory.
“Create a joint labor-management process to redesign work to match new cellular production,” VP HR aerospace manufacturer.
Infrastructure requirements are best defined when guided by a set of principles. Principles established in the lean philosophy. Capital: Within the context of the cell, spending capital dollars does not insure a high return on investment or productivity. (The fewer dollars to do the same work, the better.) Space: Compressing the […]Read More →
“The First Law of Mentat”, from Dune “A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it.” This is the critical first step in all improvement efforts…understanding the flow. Be it parts in the factory or […]Read More →
Organizational Design People design houses. They mark-out the plans for buildings, cars and jet engines. Their designs are guided by engineering realities or artistic preferences. Structures of institutions are also designed. Work is carried out within this structure. Values guiding the Design of our Organizations Clarity of Accountability Enables Action […]Read More →
The Success Formula
Successful Corporate Plumber reveals his formula that…
Saved a Closing Factory…Delivered a decade of financial improvement, and…set the stage for massive job growth.
Hi, I’m Alden Davis, known by colleagues and friends as the Corporate Plumber. No, I do not install toilets and tighten leaky pipes for businesses, but rather, I keep product flowing, unclog stuck thinking and fix the leaks of ineffective processes.
The formula I’m talking about also eliminated a $23M overrun manufacturing one of the most sophisticated missiles in the country. This formula allowed me to be the first management person to teach at the Machinist Union’s Training school in Placid Harbor. Let’s be honest, though; results like these are off limits for a lean apprentice. Just because you know how to use a hammer and a saw does not mean you are ready to build a house…but you can build a bird house. Access to bigger projects is earned over time as you master each element of the formula. And that is exactly what happened to me over the course of my career. I started with the smallest of the small projects, helping a manual drill operator develop a “T”-shaped tool to clean chips from the slots in the drill table so that fixtures could be changed faster. Now, this project did not transform the business, but it did make the life of the operator a bit easier and I earned credibility for willingness to help.
Had I mastered lean at this point? Lean wasn’t even in the vocabulary. JIT and the Toyota Production System, forerunners of Lean, had just come onto the manufacturing scene and I was right in the middle of it. A big turning point for me was when I had the good fortune of mentoring and working side by side with the great Dr. Paul Boulian, a noted leader in the world of Organizational Development, fluent in the teachings of Charlie Krone.
For many years we worked together on organizational change projects, ranging from strategic planning to labor relations to factory change. We traveled the world together leading simulations that helped people experience what it is like to work in a “high performance” work system. It was clearly a privilege to gain so much experience in this transformative technology.
This formula can be introduced to you in a one-page handout…a test if you will…to see if you are ready to become more than a lean apprentice. The question you face today is, “Is lean enough to create sustainable value for all stakeholders of the business?” This is the question I have wrestled with through the years. And after hundreds of kaizen events, each one predictably delivering double-digit improvements, I finally came to a conclusion. Let me add a bit more color to my history, first.
After 29 years in the corporate world I moved into private practice for a wider array of projects and industries. Here I came into contact with private equity companies and venture capital companies. The rules were different and I had to learn more and adapt the formula to these organizations. The challenge was that the goals were different. The balance sheet was less important than earnings. Quick bumps to EBITDA, not building a great company, is all that was desired; the goal was to flip the business. Egos and winning were more important than team and the best decision. Did this mean the formula was insufficient? It meant integrated change is not for everyone, although the principles driving the formula are relevant to everyone.
So, after all these experiences, what is my answer to the question, “Is lean enough to create sustainable value for all stakeholders of the business?” The answer can be understood from the perspective of one specific stakeholder…the worker. The union leadership had a great perspective on this issue, having lived through the implications of continuous improvement. I remember District Representative Ed for IAM Local 562 in San Jose, CA. He said, “You’re just going use everybody’s ideas to improve the process, then put it all on pallets and move it to cheaper labor over in the valley.” My experience since then would say Ed was right. Companies would optimize processes and then chase cheap labor. Hardly seems like a process that considers all stakeholders. Why would anyone want to participate in improving themselves out of a job? Does the formula include this? The answer is yes.
Understand one important element of the formula before clicking the button. This formula works because it is grounded in a group-based process. The driving belief is “the people who do the work are best able to improve the work.” Nothing is done in a unilateral fashion. You could say the first rule of the formula is “high involvement.”
Ready to start your journey? Test your knowledge by identifying the elements of the formula depicted. Two of the five should be easy for you as a lean person. Let’s see. Get started now.
Principled Employee Book
“Welcome to work!” Nice to hear coming into the workforce. But many people do not know how to think about this experience. How do I assimilate, how do I manage my career, how to I build my reputation? These key ideas for starting a job are covered in this quick read book. Order copies for your new hires and have discussions with them. Great way to bring them into your business.
Would love to discuss building the capabilities of your people. Please call at 860-677-4619