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James La Trobe-Bateman

Advice to Your 20 Year Old Self

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Professional and Personal Development

If you could go back in time, what do you wish your 20 year old self knew?

When you’re a professional, engineer or whatever, you think that development is about Professional Development. You are learning new techniques, going on all these professional training programs, all manner of things.

But, in fact, what I didn’t know until really quite recently is that in order to really advance in this world, you need to grow as a person not as a professional.

So I would be telling my 20 year old self to pay attention to Personal Development as much as professional development. Because at the end of the day I like to think of this. If there are ten of you and there is going to be one of you left.  Shall we say: the last one standing. Who’s that going to be? I think you’ll find that it’s probably going to be the most rounded, the wisest (or whatever word you want to use) person. Most people when they get to a point in their career where they resent so and so got promoted over me. Or I don’t know where I am going to go from here, because I don’t want to be one of ‘those kind of bosses’ Those kind of thoughts. You are really talking to yourself and saying ‘what have I not become that I need to become’ in order to be something different. Not necessarily the boss, but something different.

P.s. Hear the full context of these words in the Lean Effect Podcast with Mark De Jong

Read more about this in another blog post.

People are fly-by-wire

People Are Fly By Wire

By | Featured, Paradigms - Illogical Improvements & Achieving | No Comments
People are fly-by-wire

Why don’t we do what we say we want to do?

For example: “I want to lose weight, but then I didn’t”?

It’s because what you think consciously is not connected directly to what you do. Your steering wheel is not mechanically connected to your wheels. It’s what engineers call ‘fly-by-wire’. In an airplane, there’s something in between the joystick in the cockpit and the control surfaces. That ‘something’ interprets what you are asking, checks against built in programs that it is OK to do what you ask and only then follows the command.

We believe that when we say we’ll do something, we’ll do it. Actually, we know it is not quite as simple as this. What we don’t understand is why that ‘middle man’ stops us.

In the case of an airplane, the computer that stands between the joystick and the parts that move does some calculations to make the job easier and safer. If you move the stick to the left, in a conventional plane the plane would turn and dive slightly. With fly-by-wire, the computer adds some ‘up’ to the control surfaces to hold the plane at the same height. That makes it easier for the pilot. It all sounds good. But if you really want to fly outside normal limits, that computer is going to get in the way of your doing it and, in a way, thwart your efforts.

So it is with people. Under normal circumstances those programs (let’s call them ‘paradigms’) make life semi-automatic and keep you safe. When you want to make an unusual change, the paradigm puts up a resistance. Then, you don’t do what you said you were going to do.

So to make the change, you need to create a new paradigm and that takes more than just wishing it.

Lean six sigma improvements need improving

Where Is Lean and Six Sigma Going Next?

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Lean six sigma improvements need improving

If you are in the business of improvement, then you must use lean, 6 sigma or total quality tools.  Or you have no credibility.

But does it make you effective?

The lean movement outside Toyota has been around for 30 years and yet it still only scores about 25% success rate (ref 1).

Why doesn’t it do better?

Some say ‘try harder’.  Many say that the key part of the Toyota method is ‘respect for people’, ‘empowerment’ or something similar, and that this is still missing from most implementations.  We need more ‘soft skills’, supposedly.  And even if we had them, would we be able to fight the rising tide of shareholder power (“give me results this quarter”) over stakeholder power (“sustain and grow the community that the business feeds from and to”)?   Big issues that ‘trying harder at lean’ will not solve.

That’s the context.

What does it mean for those who practice lean?  Those whose job is to improve things?

One thing is for sure. You do not have job security.  If 3/4 of the time you fail, those accountants aren’t going to want to keep paying you.  I’ve certainly been there, although I jumped before I was pushed.

So what do you do…as an individual working as a change agent?

You have to take a different approach.  You should think about improving yourself, as a person rather than as a professional.  I mean Personal Development not Professional Development.  Not another 5S or Taguchi or Poka Yoke program.  I mean grow as a person.  More Tony Robbins than Shigeo Shingo.

Why?

Because those failures are failures to change people’s minds.  How do you do that if you can’t change your own mind? It starts with you.

Now I know that this is a scary thought for engineer types.  In fact, I have to admit that I ran screaming from a live 2 day Tony Robbins event after only 4 hours of it.  Luckily I have a partner who understood about Terror Barriers and the way through them.  We learnt a model for understanding this that can be taught and that people can internalize.

We live in an ever faster changing world.  You can see this in the strong reaction to it in all walks of life.  The world needs change agents more than ever.  But those change agents must be skilled in more than Lean.  Then they will be really valuable.

There’s some learning to do.  You need to get past your own terror, then you can help others.

Once you get past the terror, you will find freedom.

  1. Ignizio, James P. 2009. Optimizing Factory Performance: Cost-Effective Ways to Achieve Significant and Sustainable Improvement. 1st ed. Mcgraw-Hill Professional.
Phase B Paradigm

Lean is a Phase B Paradigm

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Phase B Paradigm

Or How to Provide Job Security for Lean Experts…

Joel Barker talked about the life cycle of paradigms in his 1992 book ‘Future Edge’.

His definition of the word ‘paradigm’ is more general than mine. He defines it as a consciously defined model or way of doing things that is useful because it solves lots of problems.
My own definition separates ‘paradigms’ from ‘models’ by saying that the paradigm is what you get when a model is sub-conscious. Despite this difference, we are in the same field, because we both care about how you change them.

He talks about the evolution of paradigms. In Phase A, they are being tried out, pioneered and tested on problems that had previously been poorly solved. In Phase B they pass into the mainstream and become adopted as the ‘go-to’ approach for (in this case) improving operations.

Lean and 6 Sigma have been mainstream for several decades, and so very much in Phase B.

But what happens to phase B paradigms?

They handle many situations, but not all. Over time, they accumulate unsolved problems. Sometimes a hammer is NOT the tool to use. Or perhaps I should say the philosophy does not help.

So what are the operational problems that Lean & 6 Sigma fail to solve?
Here are some that we have had to deal with:
• Argue against a proposed factory closure
• Reconcile supplier disputes
• Create co-operation between ‘rival’ sites
• Compare manufacturing systems of product concepts (during design)

…and some that we might have to deal with
• When to change to a new product concept
• Optimize new product design before start of manufacture

…and one that nobody talks about
• How to provide job security for lean experts

The solution to these is one or more new paradigms.

We have one: it’s the use of explicit models that force both parties to a disagreement to be clear about what they want.
But there are an infinity of other new paradigms that would work.

Lean and 6 sigma will keep you going for now.
Eventually you will need to adapt and adopt a new paradigm or two.

Models&Paradigms

Models and Paradigms

By | Featured, Goals - Dreams - Illogical Achieving, Manufacturing - Illogical Improvements, Marketing & Sales - Illogical Goal Achieving, Models, Paradigms - Illogical Improvements & Achieving | No Comments
Models and Paradigms Blog

‘Models and Paradigms’ means this to us:

Models are explicit.  Things are connected logically.  You can scrutinize the logic and challenge the assumptions. You can change them without emotional upset.

Paradigms are rooted in the human subconscious.  They are implicit. You can only tell they are there, because they show themselves through your behaviors.  The paradigm causes those behaviors.  For example, the way you walk is driven by a paradigm.  Can you describe its precise logic? Can you say why different people walk in different ways?

Or believe different things?

Or make decisions?

So What Do You Do About It?

If you want a different outcome, we have 2 approaches:

  1. Play with the variables of an explicit model for its logic to produce the results you want.
  2. Modify the paradigm so that you dream up a completely new model that produces a better result (this is harder to do)

1 is about Optimizing what you have.  It also serves to open up your thinking ready for 2.

2 is about taking a quantum leap to Create completely new model.

It’s 2 that corporations and modern society really needs, but it gets stuck on those subconscious paradigms.

Remodel International’s approach is to first create explicit models and then work on 2 to invent a new model and make that quantum leap.

Creating models is an intellectual, conscious exercise and lays the groundwork to tackle the subconscious paradigms and unleash your creativity.