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James La Trobe-Bateman

How to Escape Catch-22

By | Attitude - Illogical Achieving, Goals - Dreams - Illogical Achieving, Paradigms - Illogical Improvements & Achieving, ReModel Your Habits, Terror Barrier - Illogical Stuck-Buster, Uncategorized | No Comments

Are You Frightened Of Giving Up A Well Paid Job to Have a More Satisfying Life?

So, you’re a professional type working in a large corporation.  You are well qualified academically and have held jobs with increasing responsibilities.  Now you have a family, maybe kids at or about to go to college.  Plus you are paid well, good healthcare scheme, pension being funded well.  It all sounds very good: the envy of many, even. But…repeated downsizings, reorganisations and corporate ‘nonsense’ seem to be increasing demands on you whilst reducing your resources.  Do you want a promotion? But, do you really want to play the politics needed to get noticed? Are you really sure this job is what you are on this planet to do?

For many of you, the answers will be: ‘Maybe’, ‘No’ & ‘Probably not’.

But you’re stuck anyway.  Because the money every month is too good to let go.  Even if you are clear what your ‘dream life’ is. Even if you can see your dream life as eventually being more profitable in money terms. Plus, giving you freedom to do more of the things you don’t seem to have time for. Like, being with the family, teaching your kids to play football, taking long vacations.

It’s a Catch-22.  You’ve got to be crazy to leave such a job with all that it allows you to have.  But to stay means that you will find yourself under more pressure to do more.  In Joseph Heller’s book, ‘they’ kept raising the number of missions that bomber crews had to fly before they were sent home.  Sound familiar?

Catch-22 has got into our culture.  But most people are not aware that there is a way out. And the way out is not to do with the central character in the book, Yossarian.  Rather it is to do with his room mate, Orr.

There Is A Way Out of Catch 22

Wikipedia explains:

“Orr is a fictional character in the classic novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Orr is a World War II bomber pilot who shares a tent with his good friend, the protagonist of the novel, Yossarian. Described as “a warm-hearted, simple-minded gnome,” Orr is generally considered crazy. His most notable feature is repeatedly being shot down over water, but, until his final flight, always managing to survive along with his entire crew. On his final flight, perhaps two-thirds of the way through the novel, he is again shot down into the Mediterranean, and is lost at sea. Only in the last ten pages of the novel does Heller reveal that Orr’s crashes were part of an elaborate (and successful) plot to escape the war.

Orr is the only airman of the group to successfully get away by the end of the novel.”

So how do you ‘crash your plane safely’ in corporate life?

It’s about practicing something that your job does not ask you to do. It must be useful, actually vital, to take you to where you are going.  Orr practiced living in a survival dinghy, learning to fish and staying optimistic.  None of these were needed for his job, but were needed to get away safely.

So what might these things be for you?

Alcohol Makes You More Creative – says HBR

By | Productivity | No Comments

The Next Big Leap in Productivity Improvement?

Was really intrigued by the article in the May-June 2018 Harvard Business Review describing the effect of a few drinks on people’s creativity.

I have long joked that the most creative marketing ideas come up in the bar after work.  But, it seems that there is some truth in this.

So why do I bring the matter up?

Well, it’s another thread in my hunch.  Which is that the next big leap in corporate productivity will not be a technology or organizational one, but rather a personal development one.

Now, before you get turned off by boring phrases like ‘corporate productivity’, ‘organisational’ or ‘personal development’, how about we call these ‘Shared Bonanza’, ‘People Going the Same Way’ and ‘Becoming More Aware’?  I’ll follow up about all these phrases later.  Meanwhile…

Creativity is the result of all this and creativity is what is desired.  The world constantly needs new things, new experiences and new ways of doing things.  These all have to be created.  It feels like the constraint to growth everywhere and yet is somehow doesn’t find its way on to the agenda at Strategic Reviews.  It’s either confined to the R&D folks or simply left to chance.

So having a few drinks may boost creativity.  I am not suggesting it as a panacea, but the thought gets you thinking.

P.s. The same HBR article mentions that ‘editing’ is best done sober, so this article wasn’t completed in one session!

Hard Thinking not Hard Work

By | Purpose | No Comments

Falcon 9 leaves Cape Canaveral on Oct 11, 2017

I’m a great fan of Elon Musk.  His #10 rule for success is “Work super hard”.  And he’s not the only one who says this.  Many people say this.

And yet there are many of you who “work hard” but don’t feel that it is bringing success. So what’s the problem? How does hard work become success for Elon Musk but not for you?

Here’s a thought.

When you say ‘work hard’ don’t you really mean ‘work a lot’? Maybe we need to redefine what ‘hard’ means.  When you work a lot, it’s hard because you get tired, you have to concentrate for longer, you don’t see how life is going to get easier, you don’t have a rosy view of the future.  You are urged to keep slogging up that mountain. And then what? Then you die.  When you are faced with this view, it is no wonder that retirement looks like a great opportunity!

It’s not so much ‘hard’ as ‘lacking purpose’.

To get out of this way of thinking requires…thinking!

Thinking is what Elon Musk does to come up with his impressive goals. He said to himself that one day life on Earth will be obliterated by some catastrophe, so we should get on with living somewhere else (Mars).  He said to himself that almost all energy on Earth comes from the Sun, so cut out the middle man (fossil fuels) and harvest it directly.  Simple bits of logic that lead to a dramatically different view of what to do in life and provide purpose for everybody that works with him.

He is a natural for this.  Most of us aren’t, and that is why I say it is ‘hard’. But it is what we must do first to get the sense of purpose that will take the ‘hard’ out of the work we do to make it happen.

15 Seconds of Silence = $15 Million Y.o.Y.

By | Attitude - Illogical Achieving, Finance - Illogical Profit, Manufacturing - Illogical Improvements, Paradigms - Illogical Improvements & Achieving | No Comments

Stopwatch and money

ILLOGICAL Improvement – Made Real & Logical Overnight

Here’s a true story from few years ago.   Names and places have been changed to protect the innocent…

A growing diagnostic reagent manufacturing business had a bottleneck in its key manufacturing process.  The line was running ‘flat out’ and the production team leader was under pressure to make more to supply a growing market. His boss called me in from the company’s central business services engineering group. Equipped with stop watch and notebook…went straight to work.  This may sound very ‘60s thinking but it is still worth doing today.   By the end of the day there was enough data to come to a conclusion. A quick analysis showed there was at least 25% spare capacity.  So, why the impression that the line was running flat out?

Coffee was needed with the team leader…

What’s going on? Who are the characters?  There’s Gareth reporting to the team leader, who has responsibilities beyond just this line.  He is experienced and not very opinionated.  He is a solid team member and good follower. On the line itself is Martin and some young and eager people, all willing to do what is needed. It’s Martin who really runs this show.  I had already been told to “watch him”, he holds the key, it seems.   First thing Martin said was, “I’ll eat my hat, if you can come up with ‘anything’ to make this line run faster.”

Hmmm… little did Martin’s know… I already had come up with something, though it was very important not to say just yet. …And we don’t want Martin to eat his hat; we want him to come up with the ‘something’ himself.   For Martin, who lived and breathed running this line, it was totally illogical there was any improvement possible and it was the machine not running fast enough causing the issue.

Having learned about the Socratic Approach from a training course, you know it is far better to ask people questions so they come up with answers themselves.  When ‘they’ think of the solution, it’s theirs…not yours ‘imposed’ on them.

It’s now time to arrange a little meeting with Martin and a couple of his colleagues, no need for the hierarchy to influence things.

First, we do a conceptual warm up exercise and show a picture of a highway with a traffic snarl up on it to get them thinking from different perspectives of the same issue.   Then start asking the ‘illogical improvement’ questions: “Where is the bottleneck?” and “How can you tell?”

They get the answers right without prompting.  So there is no problem with their fundamental understanding. Now let’s relate it to the problem in hand.  “So, where is the bottleneck, exactly?” Answered correctly.

Now the ‘illogical improvement buster’ question for them to realize the solution…“What do you have to do to maximize throughput?”

At that point I shut up and waited.  It took about 15 seconds for the team to figure it out.

Eventually Martin replies. “You have to keep it working all the time.”

“Excellent! Exactly correct!”

Together we examine the data recorded in the notebook and in more detail explain the findings.  “See here: the critical piece of equipment is idle, and then here again and here and here.” In fact, it was idle more than 25% of the time through the day.

“Oh!?” Martin replied surprised and happy hear, more importantly, he was now open to the how-to’s.

Instead of ‘telling’ them… again I asked a ‘results thinking’ question, so they were able to come up with the solution themselves, even though I already had the solution… “So what do you have to do to get 25% more output in the day?”

Martin replied without delay: “Keep it working”.

Which lead me to the next question for them to ‘results think’ about: “How are you going to do that?”

Martin thought for a minute: “Well, the reason your notes show a temporary stoppage is that I have to stop sometimes to do these other things.”

Again asking the next ‘results thinking’ question: “So, how could you rearrange the work to avoid this?”

“We need an extra person.  Is it really that easy?”

“Yes.”

“Let’s try it then!”

Then I explained and asked: “The extra person does not need to be recruited: she is already there.  We just need to redistribute the work a bit. Agreed? Can you do it now?”

“Yes”

Very pleased they came to the conclusions themselves asking the right questions for them to ‘results think’ I wrapped it up for them to get on with it:  “Let’s try it then. I’ll go back to head office now and you will do an extra-large batch tomorrow – ‘30% larger’, in fact.  I’ll call you on Monday to find out how you did.”

Monday came and with it the news that Martin has surprised himself and his team.  He is ecstatic to admit that he got 30% more output overnight.

That crew went on to sustain the performance.  That meant sustaining an extra $15 million of business year on year, without capital or extra revenue expense.

Martin didn’t eat his hat, because through the ‘results thinking process’ he came up with the solution and made the change himself.   Martin did admit, few years later, “I really take my hat off to you!”


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Thank you again and as Jeff Walker says… ‘Let’s Go Get ‘Em This Week!’

James La Trobe-Bateman, Co-Founder & C.E.O.

reMODELInternational.com …Since 1997

ILLOGICAL Improvements…Personal, Professional, Business

Email/Contact:  Think@reMODELInternational.com

 

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