The other day I was catching up on reading some blogs. I came across one on the Harvard Review Blog titled “Seven Questions to Ask Your Data Geek.”
The title drew me in because I can be a data geek myself sometimes.
The seven questions caught my eye very quickly. When you read them you can see they are related to what good problem solvers with lean thinking ask.
- What problem are you trying to solve? You want to be sure there is a problem to solve and not just a band aide or a just going and implementing something the customer wants. You want to truly understand what is needed. This is the first question to ask because it helps to define the problem.
- Do you have a deep understanding of what the data really means? Read between the lines and it says to get off your rump and go and see what is really happening. The data is a good directional start, but how are people gathering the data? How are people using the data? The person needs to understand what is really happening.
- Should we trust the data? Now that you have gone out and seen how the data is really gathered, can we use the data to help with the problem we are trying to solve? Do we need to gather different data to better understand the problem?
- Are there “big factors”, preconceived notions, hidden assumptions or conflicting data that could compromise your analysis? This is still getting at drilling deeper and understanding the current state for the data. During the problem solving process you should be spending about 75% of the time just understanding what is really going on before looking for solutions. As you can see the first four questions are about understanding the current state.
- Will your conclusions standup to the scrutiny of our markets, moderately changing conditions, and a “worst-case scenario?” Now that you have deeper understood the current state, you start looking for solutions. Will the solution hold up? Are you getting to the true root cause of the problem? Will the problem be eliminated?
- Who will be impacted and how? Now that you understand the problem and have a solution you need to know how this will affect the business. Change management should always be a piece of the problem solving process, because changes always affect people. Sometimes they embrace the change it if helps them a lot. Sometimes they don’t embrace the change, so always be aware.
- What can I do to help? Always be willing to help fix the problem. Don’t always leave it to someone else.
These are seven great questions to ask anyone when problem solving, not just your data geek.
Scott Adams does a great job of nailing how typically organizations take on transformational change.
(click on image to enlarge)
Two concepts I see Scott Adams touch on here. The first one is the idea of just speaking about transformational change will cause transformational change. It isn’t enough to just talk about it or say it. It is very hard work to create transformational change.
Which leads into the second concept shown. Transformational change does not have to be bad or painful on people..causing us to want to hurl. It can be good and as management we need to convey a clear message and show actions that back that message up. We have to consider how people process change differently and create change plans with that in mind.
If all else fails….just show them this cartoon.
Leading change from a traditional way of working to the lean way of thinking can be very frustrating. When you have seen how efficient and profitable an organization can be you want them to be there RIGHT NOW. The problem with this thinking is we can’t get there right now. The other organizations that have had great success did not get there instantly either. It took time and hard work.
All of this can be frustrating if it is allowed to be. As change leaders we can’t let it be. We have to remember to go to where people are at mentally and emotionally with the change. We have to bring them along one step at a time. Before you know it, you will start to see the change to lean thinking and results will follow.
Unfortunately, the bigger the organization you are working with the more time and the harder work it will take. Like steering a cruise ship, a large organization will not turn quickly. Sometimes the organization is so large you are not seeing the change occur even though it is happening.
Remember to have patience. Patience is not an excuse to go slow. Patience is pushing to move forward as fast as they can stand without alienating them even though they may not be moving as fast as you believe they should or could.
From time to time, remember to step back and look at all the positive changes that have taken place. Moving forward is something we should remember to celebrate to help keep the perspective.
- Squawk Point by James Lawther
The blog isn’t necessarily about lean, but Steve talks about many things lean thinkers struggle with. One of Steve’s most recent post talks about ways to be coachable. He talks about the characteristics of someone who is coachable. It is a great insight to understand the roadblocks you may have in coaching someone or shine a light on why you may not be receiving coaching very well.
Lean implementers are leaders of change. We struggle with change management and the human factor involved in wanting to change to new way to do something. Here Steve talks about how to prepare people for change.
A characteristic of a good lean leader is the ability to keep learning. In this post, Steve suggests that smart people are people that keep learning that is why they can do so many things.
I encourage you to read Steve’s blog. There are a lot of subjects related to lean and leadership there.