Geko Operative

Perfection is not about always succeeding; it is about being aware of your failures and successes, weaknesses and strengths and about you neutralising the former and growing the latter


"Getting the right things done" by P. Dennis (LEI)

I ordered this book off the LEI website with the view in mind to learn more about strategy deployment.

In a simple narrative the author goes through the motions of defining the 'True North' targets and deploying down the organisation. Many useful A3 templates to draw from (I already started to adopt the 'dashboard') as well as different yet complementary structures to problem solving (I think that the 'problem investigation form' can be plugged and played in the quality department).

The idea that a 'True North' should first be defined before the targets are deployed down the ranks seems to be a slight variation (if not identical if not for the semantics) of Drucker's MbO which makes it all the more powerful. Imagine that your front line managers are defining their own goals, there will not be much alignment as well as much sidetracking. This scenario is what MbO is designed to combat.

Overall a good read with many ideas you can plug and play in your operations.


"Leading Change" by P. Kotter (HBR)

A few weeks ago I went to a hole-in-the-wall bookstore and I spied me a keeper. It was Leading Change by John P. Kotter.

Written in 1996 for Harvard Business School Press it is a revisit of Kotter's earlier success of the Leading Change article in March-April '95 for HBR (Harvard Business Review?). The A5 190 page paper back book outlines Kotter's 8 steps to leading (made distinct to managing) change in medium to large organisations from executive/top management levels.

Briefly these steps are outlined as follows...

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"Blink" by M. Gladwell (Back Bay Books)

Finished reading "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell today.

A book on the powers of the unconscious and an examined look into how this unconcious can help or stop us from making good decisions. Gladwell at times can get a bit too technical for his readers (on a half of a page he went through several muscles of the face - in their latin forms which was promptly skipped over) but he makes up for it with more than a few very good examples that help explain his ideas.

Better than to give a summary of his findings it would be more to the point if I reiterated a sample of his examples:

Before purchasing a rare statue a museum in USA debated with themselves for a few years, collecting background information, licences and scientific experiments. After buying the statue they showed it to an expert who after 2 seconds said that it was fake. The expert was right.

An orchestra maestro auditioned candidates for trambone without seeing the candidate - only listening. After years of hiring only male trambonists (because of their "better performance" - so he says) suddenly he discovers that he is hiring women!


"The Lean Manager" by F. & M. Balle (LEI)

I learnt about lean in my third year of university. I really enoyed it as it seemed so simple to comprehend and so beautiful in its central concepts - provide customer better quality at better value and continue to do so until perfection is reached. Lean came across as something of a nirvana that one pertains to though almost impossible to achieve. I like that in a challenge for some reason.

There are a 1,001 lean blogs out there, some good, some bad, some interesting and some unnoticeable. When I have time I check out J.Shook's column on the (a very good source of lean resources) or just peruse the articles that they send with the newsletter. One such news clip was of a book's release. The book, The Lean Manager (why some people abbreviate it to LTM I have no idea - its a book!) by Balle F & M. There is the foreword and the first two chapters available to download (go to the download tab) which I strongly recommend. It's a book about lean but in a novel format which turns out to work very well as the narrative draws you in.

I'm no lean expert (the furthest I've got so far was to set up a just in time system for ironing my shirts - every morning 15 minutes before I'm out the door) but I did pick up on this contradiction in the text.

On one hand,
"...managing production sites through stable teams of multiskilled workers." pp107

Yet on the other,
Andy: "Next you're going to tell me that the operators should always be at the same station, working on the same parts to gain as much familiarity as they can on the parts."
Amy: "And how is that surprising?" pp92

How can you have a multiskilled workforce if they are at the same machine the whole day doing the same part? Multiskilled suggests the ability to use many machines with competence. How can it be spun any other way? Does lean support multiskilled workers or workers that expertly do the same thing day-in day-out. Of course you would want both but then you can't look at your cake and eat it at the same time either. This has thrown me.