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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Team Tips – 12 {Lean, mean, machine}

One part of my consulting and training life deals with IT Service Management. Those are the principles and practices associated with the view that an IT department is a provider of services to its business counterparts which improve the value and potential of business outcomes. Usually good IT Service Management is achieved by adopting best practices from a framework such as CobiT or the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

In fact it was the need for teams of IT staff to adopt and adopt ITIL Service Management processes for their own use that made me realize that what I thought I knew about team building and team work was truly inadequate.
Let's get a group of people, toss them in a boardroom, and call them our process development team.  -Great idea! 
Let's use all the classic organizational methods to facilitate their working together, making decisions, building trust, becoming productive.  -Yes!
Except it very rarely works.

Similarly the Agile software development methods and Scrum in particular depend upon “self-organizing teams”. But the question remains: HOW do we build a self-organizing team?

Hold that thought.

A key element of the ITIL Framework is the principle of continual improvement drawing on W. Edward Deming's work which was foundational to the entire Quality Management world. In that context you might have heard of the Toyota Motor Corporation?

Toyota's focus on continuous improvement breaks down into three basic principles:1
  • Challenge: Having a long term vision of the challenges one needs to face to realize one's ambition (what we need to learn rather than what we want to do and then having the spirit to face that challenge). To do so, we have to challenge ourselves every day to see if we are achieving our goals.
  • Kaizen: Good enough never is, no process can ever be thought perfect, so operations must be improved continuously, striving for innovation and evolution.
  • Genchi Genbutsu: Going to the source to see the facts for oneself and make the right decisions, create consensus, and make sure goals are attained at the best possible speed.
Respect For People is less known outside of Toyota, and essentially involves two defining principles:2
  • Respect: Taking every stakeholders' problems seriously, and making every effort to build mutual trust. Taking responsibility for other people reaching their objectives.
  • Teamwork: This is about developing individuals through team problem-solving. The idea is to develop and engage people through their contribution to team performance. Shop floor teams, the whole site as team, and team Toyota at the outset.
Another call for team building and effective team work.

Hold that thought, too. Please.

The last thread in this tangle (for this post) is the growing interest in applying “Lean Manufacturing” principles (from companies such as Toyota) to IT organizations. This prompts IT groups to look at and study Six Sigma concepts, and “Lean IT” all of which centers around measuring defects in service delivery and reducing waste (muda).

Again from Wikipedia re: Lean Manufacturing, the original seven muda are:
  • Transport (moving products that are not actually required to perform the processing)
  • Inventory (all components, work in process and finished product not being processed)
  • Motion (people or equipment moving or walking more than is required to perform the processing)
  • Waiting (waiting for the next production step)
  • Overproduction (production ahead of demand)
  • Over Processing (resulting from poor tool or product design creating activity)
  • Defects (the effort involved in inspecting for and fixing defects)
  • Later an eighth waste was defined by Womack et al. (2003); it was described as manufacturing goods or services that do not meet customer demand or specifications. Many others have added the "waste of unused human talent" to the original seven wastes.
Anyone with any experience in an IT operation of any size will recognize most, if not all, of these problems occurring in managing the IT infrastructure, in group interaction, with programming bugs, and poor communication with the business customers. So I get asked if I can help here too.

Now what?

Behind the first door we have the need for self-organizing teams. Behind the second door the requirement to be continually improving. Behind the third, the quest to reduce waste in our organizations.

What if we could address all three of these issues? What if we could open all these doors and not get eaten by the tiger?

Nah! Can't be done! Rubbish!

Well ...
Check out the Core Protocols as a means to building self-organizing teams, dealing with all the questions of waste, and continually improving your results and satisfaction. And more.

When people start to notice your results with these simple rules and tools, and you become famous because your team is a Lean, Mean, Machine, just tell them you're a genius ... because you were smart enough to try the Core Protocols.

1 From:
2 Also from: