Sunday, October 25, 2020

109 - Sunday Reflection

Good morning.

With travel this past week, I missed recording on Thursday and Friday.  Saturday I have managed to skip for 3 weeks in a row.  I still have in mind to do a travel related show on Saturdays to have some fun and to boost my travel agency a bit.  We'll see how that works out.

The pandemic had an effect on my travel to New York.  I had checked the travel restrictions and New York apparently has some of the tightest controls in the country.  I'm happy about that, because we don't seem to be taking it as seriously as we probably should especially since we had  a record number of new cases yesterday.

To make it to my client in Rochester, I had to complete a form for the New York State Health Department giving the details of where I was arriving from and if I've shown any symptoms or if I'd been exposed to anyone with symptoms or been in any potentially hazardous activities that could have put me at risk.  

Unlike Massachusetts, New York didn't say they would waive the requirements with a negative COVID test within the past 72 hours.  I decided it would be prudent to get one anyway, for my client's and my own peace of mind.

CVS does drive through testing that easy and essentially free, so I took care of that on Monday morning hoping to have the results before I arrived in New York.  I didn't, but I filled out the New York travel forms and got an email back with a green check mark that said I'm good to go.

When I arrived in Rochester, the National Guard was there to collect information from everyone arriving.  I showed them my green check mark and they let me sail on through.  I picked up the car at Hertz with no trouble and arrived at the Marriott hotel with no trouble.

The client had a similar statement that I had to sign, plus they took my temperature before they let me in.  Our group met in a large, well-ventilated training room that allowed everyone (a group of 9 people) to spread out.

At lunch, I got a phone call from the New York State Health Department and we had a nice conversation about how I was feeling, and if I'd had any symptoms at all.  They said if my employer had restrictions or quarantine requirements I should follow their guidance.  I was following the client's guidance so I think I'm good to go.

Later that afternoon, I got an email from them (the Health Department) that was pretty much a form letter that they must send to everyone arriving in New York from almost any other state that ordered me to quarantine in my hotel room for 14 days.  There was no hint of this coming based on the phone call I had, which clearly indicated I could work following the employer's guidelines.  

About this same time, my test results arrived - a nice big "Negative" across the top.  I forwarded this to the client, and showed them the email, and we decided to proceed with the second day of training.

I was supposed to get periodic text messages from the Health Department asking about symptoms, but they sent them to the wrong phone number so I didn't see them until I got home.

I'm home now, feeling fine except for not sleeping much because my poor wife is still hurting so badly from her knee surgery.

This past week, I showed you my C4 Card and explained how to use it.  On Wednesday, I talked about 4 types of problems:  Alert Response, Measured Response, Individual Idea, and Management Response and how they tie in to the C4 card as well.  

This week, I'll bring up the C4 worksheet and a Master file I give to groups to use to hold everything they discover on their problem solving journey.  I'll talk through both of those, then go into a little more depth on  the types of problems and on the types of gemba walks.

I hope you'll stick around.  Let me hear from you!  Make a comment.  Let me know if you'd like to know more about anything I'm talking about.  Let me know if you'd like me to come to you and take a group through these steps.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

108 - Four Types of Problems

I mentioned yesterday that how we process the C4 Card depends on the type of problem we have.  The types of problems that I have written about in my books are:

Alert Response Problems:
• Problem occurs that threatens your ability to serve your customer
• Requires immediate report and immediate response
• Short term countermeasures contain the problem from spreading further
• Follow up analysis to find the root cause and develop a permanent solution

• For these problems, you'll need to take some action to contain or correct the problem immediately.  When the "crisis" passes, grab a C4 card or worksheet and quickly capture the problem and describe what actions you took.  Try to pull a few people together to dig into the problem deeper to make sure your countermeasure will correct the root cause.

Measured Response Problems:
• Problem is visible through process metrics as an "out-of-standard" condition
• Could also be a nuisance problem but doesn’t threaten customers (usually smaller in scope)
• Individual reports the problem
• Coach works through the problem with the individual, escalating the problem if warranted
• Together they develop and implement the countermeasure

• For these problems, when you see the deviation from standard in your process, pull a C4 Card and capture the problem as the gap between what you planned and what you actually got.  Assign a coach - or do it yourself - and work through the card to define and clarity the problem, the find the root causes.  Afterwards, develop several countermeasures to try and implement the one that works best in every similar process.

Individual Ideas:
• Individual has an idea and is willing to share it with us
• Ideas often stem from unresolved problems that may be hard to define
• Coach works through idea with the individual to identify the problem and check if the idea actually solves the problem
• Together they decide whether or not to implement the idea
• For these problems, write the idea in the countermeasure section of the card, then, as the leader coaches the team member, we identify the problem that prompted the idea, the find its root cause.  If the idea solves the problem at that root cause level, we can say it's a good idea; if it doesn't solve the problem, try something else!

Management Response Problems:
• Problem is created when management sets a goal that exceeds current ability (push the standard; set a stretch goal) OR
• Business is making slow or no progress on annual or quarterly goals
• Assign a team to work through the problem solving process to pinpoint problems or barriers to success, find its cause or articulate the obstacles, develop and implement a set of countermeasures, then track progress

• For these problems, pull a team together from the start and build the plan to achieve the goal, but dig through to understand not just the root causes of any problems you foresee in pursuing this new standard, but also to identify any potential barriers to success.
Tomorrow, let's talk about escalating and using the C4 worksheet.
Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

107 - The C4 Card Part 2

Good Morning.

Yesterday, I showed you the C4 Card and what it's used for.  Today I want to show you how it works.

Working the Card
• Problem occurs/team member has an idea
• Post card
• Leader pulls
• Assign coach
○ TL or Peer coach
• Dialogue 
○ Critical thinking
○ 5 whys
○ Initial evaluation
• The Dialog piece not only helps the team member but it teaches the coach how to ask better questions and build stronger relationships
• Cross unit coordination
○ Cross-shift/Cross-Dept
• Adjust inputs
• Countermeasures
○ Explore multiple options
○ Evaluate
○ Plan
○ Execute
• Confirm - Check the result.  Do we need to update any procedures or standardized work? Review the process - did we follow it as planned?  If we deviated, why did we deviate?  What did we learn by going through this?

How it works depends a little on how the problem shows up.  We'll cover these tomorrow!

I'm David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2020

106 - The C4 Card, Part 1

Good morning.

Do you need an easy way to get more people involved in sharing ideas and in finding and solving problems?

Let's talk about the C4 Card.

Every problem or every idea that a team member has is an opportunity for developing problem-solving skills.  So this C4 Card System is first a skills- and people-development system, and second a system to solve problems.

The C4 card is designed to be the initial recording device for all the problems identified or exposed in the workplace.  It is relatively simple and hopefully non-threatening, so that every employee would have, or develop, a high level of confidence that they can fill it out.

The C4 card is sufficient by itself for many smaller problems that employees experience, but still requires all four steps - Concern - Cause - Countermeasure - and Confirm.  Since we are driving learning, and not just solving problems, it is essential that we require evaluation of countermeasures to reach those higher levels of learning for people.

The C4 card is also sufficient for use in an employee suggestion system, where we can capture their ideas, and assist them in analyzing, evaluating, and implementing those ideas themselves, while giving us a tool to keep track of all of them.  For this, you simply start on the back, recording the idea in the Countermeasure box.

Many problems will be more significant and will require more resources to solve than the C4 card will support.  A problem may be initially captured on the C4 card, but could quickly elevate to the next level, which brings us to the C4 worksheet.

Join me tomorrow and I’ll walk through the details of working through this card. It sounds like it will be very time consuming, and the first few times it may be.  But the idea is to get better at these key skills so that we can blast through all the steps in the shortest possible time - Maybe as little as 10 or 15 minutes.

I'm David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

105 - Review and Reflection

Good morning!

What did you learn this week?

Overall, this was a pretty good week.  I celebrated my 100th episode on Monday and got a chance to explain why I'm doing this daily show.

When I got into the prep for Tuesday morning's episode on the scientific method, I searched for some new information.  What I've had in my notes for a long time focused on the impact that the scientific method had on accelerating the Industrial Revolution - but that was only a few hundred years ago.

When I read about the Edwin Smith papyrus I was fascinated. I love finding things that make me want to learn more.  But it makes you think:  People have always had the capability to think in a focused and deliberate fashion.  The hard part is getting people to actually do it.

Finding out why we don't has been a significant part of my research.  To me, it's much less about the sequence of steps in applying the scientific method and much more about people's general behavioral and cognitive habits. 

What makes people do what they do always intrigues me.

I also covered the quality movement; first as part of the discussion on the scientific method, then, on Wednesday, in terms of a shift from inspection at the end of a process to process control.   We haven't gotten away from inspecting and auditing anywhere that I've been, but we have learned that we don't have to rely exclusively on inspection to ensure our products are good.

On Thursday and Friday, I shared the stages and steps of the C4 Process.  I want to emphasize once more that I designed the C4 Process to develop people through problem solving, not just to solve problems.  I hope that focus on people stick with all of you who might decide to use the technique at work.

This week, I have a couple of days with a client that will likely delay or eliminate a couple of episodes.  The plan is to share with you how to use the C4 Card and C4 Worksheet with teams to help solve problems and develop people.

I also signed up for Orienteering Cincinnati's TROL/WARS series of orienteering meets this fall.  I'm excited about getting back out into the woods and get lost again.  They had to suspend meets at the beginning of COVID but we're on this fall - since orienteering is largely individual and spread out in the woods.  I just can't wait to do it; it's one of my favorite things to do.

I hope you'll stick with me. 

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

103 - The C4 Process

Good Morning!

On this day in 1878, Edison Electric Light co. founded. More relevantly, in 1951, the First episode of I Love Lucy aired on American Television. That's relevant because we use a clip from I Love Lucy in teaching the principles of problem solving. That clip is available on my YouTube channel.

I've mentioned my process for solving problems a few times, but so far, I haven't had an episode dedicated to the C4 process. After discussing the evolution of the scientific method and the history of the quality movement over the past couple of days, I think it fits in nicely here and will help set the tone for future episodes.

The C4 Process is an evolution of the PDCA cycle that I first learned in the Army, but later really focused on in working with Toyota to understand what makes the Toyota Production System tick.

I taught PDCA for several years. It's stages of Plan, Do, Check, Act I found were excellent for conducting a thoroughly scientific analysis of a problem that we needed to solve or for an improvement we needed to make to a process.

I ran into problems with people taking shortcuts in the process. Mostly, people would tend to skip completely over the Plan stage, and Do something, then see what happened, and then do something else.

I was working with the team the developed the Rolls-Royce Production System and having lots of discussions about learning, employee development and engagement, and simplifying the problem solving process.

Separately, we had both began to focus on the key activities within the Plan stage, to call them out separately, so people might stick to them a little better. As we worked through these issues, Mike Kirkby of the RRPS team, told me that they had run a trial of a simple system they were calling the 3C's process because it focused on the Concern, then the Cause, and then the Countermeasure.

I had already decided that Cause and Countermeasure had to stay, but I couldn't find the right word for the first stage until this discussion. I immediately adopted this (or abducted it - or stole it outright) but because my focus was much more centered on what the employees can learn from the process rather than simply getting a solution in place, I added a 4th stage to capture the need for some retrospective thinking to solidify the learning. I called that 4th stage "Confirm."

So the 4 stages of the C4 process are Concern - where we understand the real problem; Cause - where we find the root causes; Countermeasure - where we develop and evaluate potential solutions; and Confirm - where we collect and analyze the results and reflect on what we learned by going through the process.

Tomorrow, I'll break these down into 11 key steps that I teach.

I'm presenting tomorrow and the People Processes Digital Summit that kicks off this morning.  My presentation on Solving Tomorrow's Problems will go at Noon Eastern time tomorrow, October 16.

Hit the link in the comments to register. It's free, unless you want to upgrade to VIP access for only $30 - that will get you access to all the videos for another month plus a few other perks.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

102 - Quality

Good Morning.

Let's talk about quality today.  Producing quality products isn't something we've only recently focused on.

I suspect that since the first human carved something and traded it to someone else, quality has been an important part of work.  But Quality has a spotty history.

Back in Medieval Europe, craftsmen banded together to create guilds that would prescribe and enforce quality standards for a variety of products.  The guilds would conduct inspections and put some kind of mark on the product to indicate that it met their quality standards.

Many craftsmen recognized the value of a consistent string of quality marks and added their own mark to all of their products - yes, this is the birth of the Trademark.  Consumers could trust certain marks to consistently provide high quality goods.  For the most part, that hasn't changed.

But sometimes, we get a little mixed up.  As we evolved through factory age and the industrial revolution and supplying products to meet surges in demand, as in world war II, our focus frequently drifted from quality to quantity.  Guilds, factory managers, and government customers responded to this with a heavy emphasis on inspection. 

This legacy of inspection lingers and production planners today will build schedules to release more material than actually necessary so they can satisfy the day's demand despite a percentage of products failing inspection.  In other words, if they need to deliver 100 dishwashing machines today, they would release material and order the build of 125 because they know that some will fail inspection.  25% failure rates are extremely high and extremely rare, but this is happening everyday, at a tremendous cost.

Walter Shewhart introduced the world to the concept of process quality and process control.  The idea is that if you design an excellent process and keep it excellent and in control, it will consistently delivery the required quality.  This means you can build exactly what you need to deliver without the extras to cover failures.

The US relied heavily on this during world war II and began inspecting samples instead of everything.  This was necessary because we lacked enough skilled inspectors. We also put into place a Training Within Industry program designed to teach supervisors how to train people to keep the process in control, to do the required work properly and quickly, and to improve the processes and methods.

But at the end of the war, that all changed for us, but not for everyone.  I'll tell a couple of those stories in future episodes.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Elevate Episode 101 The scientific method 20201013

Back in August, I did a short video about the scientific method, outlining it's basic steps of observation and measurement, questioning, developing a hypothesis, testing, and analyzing the results.  Today I want to run through a brief history of this kind of thinking. 

The scientific method is given credit for accelerating the industrial revolution of the 18th century, but that's not where it begins. 

There's a document called the Edwin Smith Papyrus, which is a medical text from Egypt dating back to 1600 BCE.  I think it's safe to say that we as humans have had this capability to think like this since we became humans.  Just imagine what kind of thinking was required to build pyramids with limited tooling, not just in ancient Egypt, but in ancient civilizations around the world.

The scientific method requires an ordered way of thinking that aims to strip emotional noise and bias out of the analysis we do on any phenomenon.  It turns out that this is the hard part.

But let me fast forward a few thousand years.  Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, also outlines a scientific method and gives us the theory of empiricism.  Empirical evidence is that which is directly observed and measured.  Aristotle also taught us inductive and deductive reasoning, which essentially requires us to question even that which is directly observed in order to make sense of what we see. 

So observation and thinking really go hand in hand.  These days we see a lot of shocking videos and our emotional responses are predictable as we jump to conclusions based on the very limited evidence provided by most of these videos.  Because we aren't to see and describe ALL the circumstances surrounding what we are seeing on the video, we aren't able to properly decide what happened, so we fill in the gaps with whatever our emotional and experiential triggers give us.

The 1600's gave us Francis Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, and Isaac Newton, all of whom devised ways of thinking, measuring, and reasoning through the problems they were interested in and took us in a different direction, away from inductive and deductive reasoning and into quantitative analysis and experimentation.  These guys brought mathematics to the game.

In the lean world, we tend to begin our historical analysis with Walter Shewhart, who, in 1939, published “Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control” and introduced the Shewhart Cycle which he listed as “Specification – Production – Inspection.”

W. Edwards Deming, a disciple of Shewhart’s (and editor of Shewhart’s book) evolved the Shewhart Cycle into a 4-step cycle he labeled “Design – Produce – Sell (Get to market) – Redesign through Market Research” while working in Japan in 1950. 

The Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers called this the “Deming Wheel” and deployed it to companies throughout Japan after relabeling the steps “Plan – Do – Check – Act” in what Deming later called “the corruption.”

We'll pick it up from here as we move forward.

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.