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James La Trobe-Bateman - ReModel International

Impact-ology Wheel - outside view

The Impact-ology Wheel

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Impactology Wheel

Corporations get a bad press.

Mostly because they seem to dehumanize the people who work in them and sometimes spoil the environment for others.  So how do you make corporations ‘more fit for human habitation’? That has been our mission.  But what does this really mean?

Well, we are going to get to that, but first we need think about the idea of a ‘corporation’…

In many ways, you can think of them as like people: some do good, some are self-serving, all are less than perfect, but all aspire to being better.

Corporations are co-operations.  There are other kinds of co-operations, of course, and what we say here applies to them. Like people, they are fundamentally good.  Our standard of living is due to the ability of people to work together for the benefit of others.  Pick almost any object or thing that you use every day and imagine how it could have been created without a group of people working together to make it happen.

So how do we focus on the good aspects of corporations?

Models are part of our business, so here’s a model:

Think of a corporation (/organization/education system) as a wheel rolling through life leaving the world a better place.

How does it work? How is it propelled? What’s it like to be part of it? Is it fun?

First: why do they exist? What is their ‘Purpose’?  Much is written today about having a clear purpose.  More than just a mission statement, although this is what you tend to see. It’s a ‘reason to be’ that requires imagination of a better world for at least some people.

To make the purpose real, people have to create and then provide some thing or service to someone outside.  Those in the company make a ‘Contribution’ which manifests as that thing or service.

When the product or service is delivered, it has an ‘Impact’. This is where the rubber meets the road.  That impact is initially on the customer.  However, there are ripples from that impact, after effects, you could say.

Impact is a neutral sentiment, but ‘Well-being’ is the feeling that you want.  If well-being increases, then the world feels a better place for those in it. That well-being ripples out to the customer’s family, community and the world at large.   If I buy a smart phone, I immediately feel good.  But then the community feels it when people are better connected. And then the world is better when people in remote areas can communicate where they could not do so before. The well-being left behind in the world as the smart phone corporation ‘rolls them out’ is immeasurable, but real.

Let’s talk more about those who work in the corporation.  Do they really feel all these things? Are they really clear about their purpose? Are they allowed to make a contribution? And do they like the working conditions? How is their well-being? Maybe if those employees fully realized the good they are doing, they would find meaning in their work and be motivated to do more.

If the answer to all these questions is a ‘yes’, then they will feel that they ‘Belong’. Think about it. That sense of belonging is the measure of how good that company is to work with and for.  It boils down to satisfying basic human needs: to have a reason to take part, to be able to contribute, to enjoy the journey with others and to find meaning in their work.

We all need some ‘Why?’, ‘How?’ and ‘What?’ [Simon Sinek has them in this order]

With belonging comes a greater sense of purpose and the wheel rolls on with greater contributions.

And so the wheel accelerates away, leaving more and more well-being in the world.

Notice some features:

The outer rim of the wheel is somehow inanimate, it’s just a machine.  But the machine is driven by a human motor.  Its heart is people. The heart is stronger when people Belong.

It’s what we call the ‘Impact-ology Wheel’.

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.

Trying To Improve Too Far

By | Manufacturing - Illogical Improvements, Productivity | No Comments

Suppose you work in a factory which is part of a larger group of companies.

What happens when the operations boss comes to visit you from head office?

He or she will congratulate you on your good work, meet and greet your staff…smile. However, you will always be left with an instruction to ‘keep it up’. This usually means ‘make your products cheaper next year…and the next’.

If you have been that good up to now, you know it is going to get harder and harder to reduce cost.  You will feel that you are being driven against a steep mountain slope and being whipped into going up it.

Here’s what the operations boss knows. His marketing people are telling him that the gross margin of your products is being eroded and that to maintain profitability, unit manufacturing cost must keep coming down.

If there are alternative business approaches that you could take in the market, then you don’t have enough information to say and anyway it’s outside your authority.

If you are truly reaching the limit of cost reductions set by the inherent product design, then it is difficult to say so without the operations boss feeling that you lack determination.  It would put your own future in jeopardy.  .

The upshot is that you continue to work harder and harder to achieve less and less, until the time comes when the last cost reduction that makes any sense is to move the improvement people out and save their salaries.  Your accountants will very quickly be able to tell you how much you will save in this scenario.

In the meantime, a number of increasingly (they have been getting better and better at improving) talented improvement people get more and more frustrated because they know they are achieving little in measurable results.  Plus you will have to pay them.

To avoid this lose-lose situation, you need to know when to stop improving.

At that moment, you will also have to clearly decide: do we stay where we are, do we undertake a significant product redesign or do we explore different business improvement ideas that exploit the ability of manufacturing to be more flexible or responsive for the same cost?

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 | No Comments

Catch-22: 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?