10 Questions to Answer When Fixing Processes

August 31, 2012

This post talks about how processes created and implemented in hurry overlook the impact on resources, and do not help in long run. Don’t panic and trap yourself in a complicated web of rules, processes and policies to prevent future happenings when something goes wrong. It becomes quite easy to show the world how well thought and fool-proof bureaucratic system we have put in place to catch problems at each level.  Management asks what checks are in place to prevent this in future, we bring up the slide that shows our safeguards, sometimes without realizing if its sustainable, what goes through such scrutiny.

The day a process failure identified in a process and gets top management’s attention, teams scramble to fix the problem immediately.  All hands on decks! Its stand-down till we fix the issue. Teams become reactive and a lot of work is put in to discover what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. This is all good but in hurry to fix the problem and report that all is good, often processes are created that add inefficiencies and add bureaucratic layers, approval processes, workflows, checklists, etc., etc.  We all know that finding the origin of the problem and fixing it there is more effective than putting a process that will catch the issue or problem downstream. 

No doubt that we need to plug the hole(s), fix the processes immediately to keep our business running while ensuring it does not happen in future.  Please pay attention to following thoughts & questions when developing and implementing a solution to fix the problem.

  1. Is team 100% reactive. Root cause analysis is there to help.
  2. Did we understand completely, problem might be the tip of the iceberg.
  3. Is it an issue or problem? What are the statistics telling?  Is it recurring problem or it was a rare occurrence?
  4. Assess the impact on system and organization. Seek external input and consult stakeholders.
  5. Discover why it occurred, could it have been avoided, if yes, then how?
  6. Is there any strategy in place through risk assessment exercise to deal with it?
  7. Where does the problem exist – people, processes, technology, data or a combination thereof?
  8. Is new process to fix problem seems kind of bureaucratic? Are you overdoing it? What it does to efficiency / performance of people?
  9. Is new process stifles creativity in any way?
  10. Are there accountablity, attitude or communication related issues present in the teams?
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Community Leadership – Lessons Learned

March 3, 2010

How do you play shows some of your character, how do you win or lose shows all of it. – Anonymous

For last couple of months, I have been quite busy with community leadership related work.  I had an opportunity to mentor and advise leadership team on the issue that was dividing the community. I  also had to stand up against the group of people whom I found was neither acting fairly nor was impartial. Per my research, it was abuse of power and leadership role.

It is now over and resolved satisfactorily, but it was a learning experience for me and I would like to share my lessons that I have gathered from both sides, without referencing to any incident.  One side was new and young group of individuals who was selected to lead the community and other group had been in control for over 16 years was not giving up the power and resisting the change.

When I reflect on my decision to support the new and young group get their right, I feel great that I could serve the community. 

Here are some of the common sense lessons I learned from both sides of the issue –

  1. As with each problem, understand the issue; background of politics & people involved and their agendas;
  2. Always be fair, remain truthful and act impartial towards all – if you want to be really helpful;
  3. Read any relevant document being referred; do not just believe what is being told;
  4. Don’t sit on the fence and enjoy conflict, become active if you are passionate about the issue and can contribute;
  5. Talk to leaders and offer your help to mediate; negotiate with win-win mental model;
  6. Not every effort to resolve issue will be welcomed, negotiations will fail miserably, stay hopeful – any conflict has its own life cycle as well;
  7. Expect rumors, allegations and indirect threats – do not waste all of your energy on addressing these;
  8. Talk to community members, educate about the issue, tell the truth and share the facts;
  9. Keep all doors open for compromise; find out what price are you willing to pay to keep community together;
  10. Find influencers in the community, get them on your side and ask for help, validate your interpretation of the issue;
  11. Do not quit or bend against pressure if you know you are standing for the truth and justice, you will face lots of pressure and many curve balls;
  12. Whatever you negotiate, offer or communicate, make in writing;
  13. Do not go negative; don’t get involved with personal attacks on opposite group;
  14. Deliver response to any negative propaganda with facts and positive tone – remember truth is like the Sun and false propaganda as clouds, the Sun will eventually shine, the truth will always prevail;
  15. Do not get into reactive mode, expect urge to say negative – but control it;
  16. Remember truth has to go through tough test before it wins;
  17. Keep your head high, keep thinking positive and stay visible in community or group;
  18. Always remember that difference of opinion is natural human behavior, other people might be thinking you are wrong;
  19. Seek lawyer’s help if needed, you need to get involved in fund-raising, planning course of action is key to success;
  20. Do not twist the facts, do not talk out of context, do not exhibit attitude towards people who aren’t agreeing with your opinion;
  21. Always seek advice of people who can tell the truth and fact of the matter, not your supporters only who speak your mind and tell you one-sided story;
  22. If what you hear is truth and is contrary to your belief, consult and reflect that you are not manipulating the situation;
  23. Establish a core group who offers views of issues without any prejudice;
  24. Listen to truth and act upon it, keep your mind open to everything but attached to nothing;
  25. Do your best in every circumstance even if no one is watching you, do not do things to impress others;
  26. Expect victory if you are truthful, impartial, positive, open and just towards all;
  27. Do not give advice to score point or take credit, keep it simple and make it team effort;
  28. Expect confusion in your group, keep all informed and motivated;
  29. Once you get what you want, do not demean other group but let it go;
  30. It will take some time to heal the divide, but keep focused on delivering value to community;
  31. Do not cling to power but work on empowering others to lead;
  32. Power is to serve community not to rule, you may have to make tough decisions;
  33. When you are serving as a leader, it’s not walking on red carpet – you are there to take on challenges; and
  34. Any choice or decision should be based on good for all not only for you.

When I talked about the issue in my community with friends in other communities, all told me one or other kind of similar story in their community or organization.  I hope my lessons will help or guide someone someday.

Thanks for your visit and comments on the post.


How does it go up the communication chain?

October 15, 2009

In the beginning was the plan, and then the specification.

And the plan was without form, and the specification was void.

And the darkness was upon the faces of the implementors;
And they spoke unto their managers, saying: “It is a crock of cow manure, and it stinketh.

And their manager went to the second level manager, and he spake unto him, saying: “It is a crock of excrement, and none may abide the odor thereof.

And the second level manager went to the third level, and he spake unto him saying: “It is a container of excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide before it.

And the third level went to the division manager, and he spake unto him, saying: “It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength.

And the division manager went to the assistant vice-president, and he spake unto him, saying: “It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong.

And the assistant vice-president went to the vice-president, and he spake unto him, saying: “It promoteth growth and it is very powerful.

And the vice-president went before the president and spake unto him, saying: “This powerful new product will promote growth of the company.

And the president looked upon the product and saw that “It was good!

What lessons can we draw from this funny tale?  I am interested to know.

Thanks for reading and have a great day.

Reference- ‘Project Planning, Scheduling & Control’ by James P Lewis, Irwin Professional Publishing, Burr Ridge, IL.


11 Principles of Leadership

August 20, 2009

 I came across 11 leadership principles of Marine Corps in Guide Book for Marines on the Internet and here is my interpretation of 11 principles.  I am interested in hearing from Marines about their leadership experience. 

  1. Take responsibility – we need to seek and take responsibilities if we need to grow; never shy away, whatever seems challenging will help you expand your perspective.
  2. Know yourself – reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses; seek improvement and understand that you can achieve only those goals that you set.
  3. Set an example– conduct your business in a professional manner; do not loose temper – small minds are bothered by small problems; not only work in your job but also work on your job as well.  Be a brand that people want to associate with.
  4. Develop your subordinates– consider this as part of your job; learn to delegate; as Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want“; give them opportunities to learn & grow;  guide them if they fit somewhere else.
  5. Be available – in every respect; be available to listen to problems and challenges people are facing; to motivate, to lead and to show right direction; to hear criticism; to take decisions and to act on time.
  6. Look after the welfare of your employees – the way you want your boss to look after your welfare; develop emotional intelligence; connect with people and find out what motivates them; do something that touches their lives; help them when they are in need.  Arrogance and ignorance will not take you to the top or won’t keep you there for long.
  7. Keep everyone well informed  – right communication is the key; make sure that the tasks are understood, supervised and accomplished on time and tell why you need all this done; do no assume –  aks and tell.
  8. Set goals that are achievable – always set the goals – people need to know what they are expected to deliver and by when; let people figure out how;  goals should motivate teams to act; measure the results and reward people.
  9. Make sound and timely decisions– that are aligned with the core principles of your organization and with your job descriptions; there will always be more than one right answer – choose the one that benefits the most and not only you; take decisions like a servant leader.
  10. Know your job – be technically and tactically proficient in your job; know your people; know the processes and challenges; know how can you add value to the organization or your department.
  11. Build teamwork– not all people can perform equally but they should complement each other while working towards a common goal; promote team work and diversity; shield your team from external pressure; be flexible with team.

“Leadership is intangible, hard to measure, and difficult to describe. It’s quality would seem to stem from many factors. But certainly they must include a measure of inherent ability to control and direct, self-confidence based on expert knowledge, initiative, loyalty, pride and sense of responsibility. Inherent ability cannot be instilled, but that which is latent or dormant can be developed. Other ingredients can be acquired. They are not easily learned. But leaders can be and are made.” – General C. B. Cates, 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps

Thanks for reading and welcome your input.  Have a great day.


Quotes for Managers

August 14, 2009

 

Here are 6 quotes for I.T. managers from Norman R. Augustine

  1. Hardware works best when it matters the least.
  2. A revised schedule is to business what a new season is to an athlete or a new canvas to an artist.
  3. One of the most feared expressions in modern times is ”The computer is down”.
  4. It has been wisely said that the world is not interested in the storms you encountered but in whether you brought the ship in safely.
  5. If a sufficient number of management layers are superimposed on top of each other, it can be assured that disaster is not left to chance.
  6. The last 10 percent of performance generates one-third of the cost and two-thirds of the problems.

Thank you for visiting and have a great day.


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