The First Foci of Management

The first of five Foci – for Management – is:

Alignments

You’ve simply got to be in tight Alignment with all of your Stakeholders and their goals, their needs, and sometimes their wants as well.

In this first area of Foci for you as a manager - Alignments – requires and enables you to focus your limited resources on the current and strategic needs of not just your Customers – but of all of your key Stakeholders – including your Customers..

You really need to understand very well who your Stakeholders are, and where they are both internally, and externally as the case of the Government.

We will explore this next graphic, an illustrative example of a Stakeholder hierarchy, to help you determine both who your Stakeholders are, and what their priority needs and wants from you are – so that you can assess your alignment with each.

From the Foreword by Richard E. Clark:

If books on management were judged by a cost-benefit analysis, in my view Guy Wallace’s “The Fifth Management Foci” would take first place, hands down.

Readers in a hurry can finish it in less than two hours – or you can dwell on his advice and the piercing questions he asks for weeks or months.  I started with the fast read and then went back for a more leisurely and thoughtful stroll – and took away valuable insights from both.

Reading requires less time and work because Guy has spent the effort required to boil complex insights down to brief, pity, clear and insightful statements about managing large and small organizations at all levels.   My thinking about his ideas was aided by the challenging questions he urges readers to ask at every one of the five stages he describes and the fact that he lets us provide the answers from the prospective of our own organization.

For More Info

For Information about this book and how to order as a Paperback or a Kindle – please go here.

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3 Things to Check If Your Process’ Products/Outputs Aren’t Meeting the Downstream Need

The Short Answer: 

1- The Process Itself

2- The Environmental Assets

3- The Human Asset Managements

Click on the graphic above to enlarge – and/or copy.

The understanding of the ideal and actual for these three is crucial, as it is one, two, or all three of these variables which may be in need of an improvement effort to leverage overall performance. Those improvement levers are determined after the analysis has been completed and ROI has been calculated for various improvement scenarios.

It may be that the process and human assets are fine, but that ¾ of the performers lack one of the proper environmental asset. Think of ¾ of the lumber jacks and jills with dull saw blades due to a budget constraint.

Let’s go deeper…

1- The Process Itself – Overview

The Process is merely a “paper design” initially – until brought to life with the Human and Environmental assets.

Either The Process – as designed (in the “As Is” state) is capable of meeting the needs of its downstream customers, their downstream customers – but also all of the Other Stakeholders – Stakeholders include but are beyond the Customers’ chain.

If The Process isn’t designed already to meet those needs – balanced if in conflict – then you start there. If The Process doesn’t exist yet – and is in someone’s mind’s eye – you still start there.

You use things like ToC (Theory of Constraints), Lean and Six Sigma (including many other tools/methods such as DoE – Design of Experiments)   approaches to make sure that it – The Process – is or will be capable of meeting those needs.

To determine those needs BEFORE you design The Process – you might use marketing tools and QFD (Quality Function Deployment) for the Customers, interactions with representatives of other stakeholders (Regulatory, Compliance, Legal, etc., etc.) to determine “those other pesky NEEDS” – to make sure that The Process’ design is capable before you start making it real.

Process design/redesign is targeted at improving error reduction, cycle time reduction, and cost reduction. Better, faster and cheaper. Tools and techniques used in process design/redesign include: process mapping, value stream mapping, statistical process control, process simplification, process automation, activity based costing, and so on.

Not all of the enterprise’s systems/processes have to always be in tight, statistical process control to produce the required outputs/deliverables necessary to achieve peak performance. But some do.

Control won’t make up for a bad business plan or reconcile with other conflicting goals within the enterprise. But it is still a critical component to pulling off the business plan. The stakes are high for the high-impact processes. Failure of core business processes is usually not a viable option, for it can result in the overall death of the enterprise.

The Performance Model provides an illustration of both ideal process performance and actual process performance via its gap analysis, and can provide the basis for the targeting of improvement resources for various improvement interventions, including design/redesign of the process itself.

Either the process is designed to meet its current or future metrics, or it needs to be redesigned to do so. This is always the starting point…the process itself.

After that one would look to the other assets that enable – and if they are deficient – then one would look further upstream to see their Processes and Systems that provide what their downstream Processes requires.

2- The Environmental Asset Management (Provisioning) Systems – Overview

The Environmental Asset Management Systems that “provision” the right stuff – non-people-wise – to the Processes provide the Processes with all of the non-people things in the right balance between what the Human Assets (Performers) provide to meet the needs of the Processes.

Environmental Asset Requirements Enabler Analysis is where the requirements for all non-human assets are determined, again, via a systematic review of the documented mastery performance. Environmental assets categories are:

  • Data/Information
  • Material/Supply
  • Tools/Equipment
  • Facilities/Grounds
  • Headcount/Budget
  • Culture/Consequences

Whatever these Enterprise Systems provide to The Process must be in balance and harmony with those other assets…

3- The Human Asset Management (Provisioning) Systems – Overview

The Human Asset Management Systems that “provision” the right stuff – people-wise – to the Processes provide the Processes with people who have the right balance between what the Environmental Assets (Supports) provide to meet the needs of the Processes.

A Human Asset Requirements Enabler Analysis – is where the requirements for the human assets are determined via a systematic review of the documented mastery performance of THE PROCESS’ outputs and tasks. The Human Assets categories are:

  • Awareness, Knowledge, Skill
  • Physical attributes
  • Intellectual attributes
  • Psychological attributes
  • Personal Values

Whatever these Enterprise Systems provide to The Process must be in balance and harmony with those other asset-type provisioning systems – the EAMS.

Click on the graphic below to enlarge – and/or copy.

Like Russian Dolls

The EAMS and HAMS have many Processes – and they too have Provisioning Systems – luckily –  they are usually the same as those “feeding” the original or other Processes – so if an EAMS or a HAMS is not meeting the needs of The Process – it needs to have its Processes analyzed – just as you did for the original “The Process” – and see if its Process is an issue – not designed to really meet all of the Stakeholder Requirements in the first place – before going to solve the issue with a fix to one or more of the EAMS or HAMS.

For example – don’t fix your Process issues with Training/Learning – unless the Awareness, Knowledge and Skills of the Performers in the Process  are THE PERFORMANCE LEVERAGE FULCRUM – “THIS TIME.”

Deming claimed that it’s not The Worker in 94% of the cases – which may be part of The Reason that most workers learn their jobs primarily on-the-job mostly informally (watch another, trial and error, etc.). Because THAT’s NOT THE ROOT CAUSE of problems/opportunities.

So it’s very OK for that to be like that. Something few in the L&D field seem to appreciate.

Rummler said 15-20% of the time it was The Performer.

Rummler also said:

Put a Good Performer in a Bad System and the System wins every time. 

Mostly it’s The Big-Bad System.

According to them.

What’s That – The System? 

If it’s not the People, the Performers, the Learners – then where do you turn – to look for Root Causes?

What is this System thing anyway?

Again, I would look to:

1- The Process Itself

2- The Environmental Assets

3- The Human Assets (even though this is not where to start for problem solving – it is the place to start sometimes for new hire needs).

And then – look to the EAMS and HAMS upstream.

Want More?

For more about THIS MODEL/APPROACH to Performance Improvement (by any number of “names”) – see my recent book – whether you are from the Training/Learning world or not:

For info on this book and an ordering link – please go here.

For consulting support/help on this – please connect with me via email or phone.

If you’d like to offer me a job to help you with implementing something akin to this in your Enterprise – I’d be happy to consider your offer.

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There Is No Such Thing As Communications…

Communications. Is there such a thing? Do we ever really communicate? Or do we
simply mis-communicate with greater or lesser amounts of error?

I know I’m playing with the semantics of it all, but as a colleague quotes a friend, “it’s not
just semantics, it’s always semantics!” The American Heritage Dictionary defines
communications as: “The exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by
speech, signals, writing, or behavior.”

Communication/communicating connotes that the message intended was the message
received. But how often does that happen with zero defects?

If we started with the premise that there is really no such thing as communications, that
we never can achieve zero defects in our communications, we will then be on the road
to better communications. Nirvanic communications.

For my 2000 article on this – please go here.

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Collaboratively Focus on Performance and Enable That

I conduct most projects Fixed Fee – and in 30 years I have never used a Change Order on a Fixed Fee project. I can help you with…

The EPPI Framework for Alignment of Enabling Systems to Their Process Architecture

Every Enterprise is Different

They have organized themselves in functions that may look similar to others, but they have probably organized, defined and perform their Processes differently.

Back in the 1980s the Quality gurus told everyone to organize by Processes rather than by Function. Lots of noise about Functional Silos and little forewarning about Process Silos. Most firms didn’t make that transition. But many got a bit more process-centric within their functional architectures.

The goal I think/have thought for quite a while – is to be more Process-centric in the Functional-centric structure of the Enterprise. For the Functional structure didn’t seem to be going away. I needed to treat it as a given.

For Profit or Non-Profit. For Governmental Agencies. A flexible framework, adaptable where needed and rigorous where needed.

Take your Organization Chart – and for each and every department (or whatever you call the equivalent) complete one of these.

Then you can begin to systematically derive the enablers.

And where those fall deficient look upstream to the enabling systems that I sort into two: Enabling Human Assets – and Enabling Environmental Assets. You won’t find yours in this configuration. Yours will vary. Use this next graphic as the framework to uncover “where it’s happenin’” in your world.

As I have written before – I started with the Ishikawa Diagram. Back at Motorola in 1981. And while working for about 18 months on projects with the late Geary Rummler. Where “his stuff” – licensed by Motorola – is the basis for Six Sigma – a way to organize the big picture down to the detail levels so various improvement tools and methods could be organized – a kind of VR on VR – Variability Reduction on Variable Reduction – not a novel concept, huh?

Practicing what we Teach. Walking your own talk.

Let me digress.

I recall my AT&T client asking me about Curriculum Architectures for our staff at SWI – Svenson & Wallace Inc. back in 1987. We had a semblance of one was my truthful answer. But it would have been inappropriate from an ROI perspective to invest in formal learning when informal learning could happen “well enough” – as we were team oriented and new people could be integrated into the flow of the projects of the moment will OJT. We had defined our own process-set back then.

And so with a knowledge that the functional organization structures weren’t going anywhere – I decided to use a departmental level as one key framing device for Processes – and just as both Financial Budget Roll Up and Down – and Sales Quotas Roll Up and Down – so would the data that my process was intended to capture – of data needed for the next downstream step and steps.

Here is one branch of that tree – of a Departmental to Function to Enterprise “Roll Up” – if EPPI data. EPPI being Enterprise Process Performance Improvement.

And I brought into the data capture/structure/architecture – an MRP influence (later an MRP II and then later an ERP extension) framework to my thinking – and combined all of that with a Rummler-like Process Orientation.

Which – Process data -at the Enterprise level – is simply a roll-up of all of the processes, and can capture/report out data about the enabler requirements for the humans performers as well as the enabler requirements for all of the non-human stuff, the Environmental supports/enablers. Taking the Ishikawa Diagram to only two key variable-sets. It’s because I came from that Human Improvement side – Training. And I understood that somewhere between 20% and 6% (Rummler and Deming) of Process Performance, System Performance – has problems that are attributable to the human element. The workers. The rest are systems issues and management is in control of that system. The System. THE SYSTEM.

Please note that I use “Systems” at varied levels to be more conversational than formulaic. Sorry.

The Big Picture…of EPPI.

If you started greenfield, with only a set of paper processes (processes only on paper) – and had to enable them, stand them up and then operate them – what would you need?

I think something like this – to capture your specifics. 1- The Processes. 2- The enabling Human Assets. 3- The enabling Environmental Assets.

Because Every Enterprise is Different

And this data enables all departments that design, install and enable the 3 types of Processes of their world:

1-Primary Processes, the Value Chain – to determine Follow the Money in a Backwards Chain sort of way.

2-Owned Processes, that we – the Department – control.

3-Supported Processes, that we – the Department – don’t own or control – but support.

This way we have something to use that’s the same framework, up and down and across the hierarchy and breadth of the Enterprise, however flat and narrow – or not. This is intended to provide the flexibility point to control maintenance to change with changes in the Enterprise. All linked to processes – of three types.

This allows you to create a common, shared understanding of The Processes – the Primary Value Chain processes, and all of the other enabling processes. Some (think Payroll) are important too. And while I believe that not every process is worthy of performance improvement investments – due to ROI perspective – every Enterprise needs a common framework for processes to capture their architecture.

To reflect the needs of their unique set of Stakeholders and their unique internal organizational structure of enabling organizations and sets of resources to meet the needs of the Primary processes and all of the Enabling Processes.

This EPPI framework and model-set allows you to better:

Focus on the Processes – and Enable Them 

More systematically and systemically. Using data.

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Many of My Published Articles Are Archived in the Resources Tab – and My Latest Is Now Online

I’ve been publishing/published since 1984 – in the big press – Training Magazine (1984) and the then NSPI Journal (1984) – as well as more recently in PROVEN (2011) and in that new-fangled web thing at eLearn Magazine (2011).

Here on this site I have listed over 85 of my publications – since 1979.

Click on this GIF to see the short slideshow…

Here is a link to that newest publication – at eLearn Magazine – here – on:

Why Is the Research on Learning Styles Still Being Dismissed by Some Learning Leaders and Practitioners?

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