Thursday, November 01, 2012

With the Northeastern MBA's

I always enjoy giving guest lectures at Professor David Boyd's leadership classes at Northeastern University. Last night's session with his MBA students was no exception.  As is my custom, I include pictures of a few who made particularly insightful observations.  Names are included so you can hire them!

I started out by asking the students to set forth likely characteristics of the high performing anomalous company in a given business sector.  Mark, here, pretty quickly keyed in on the importance of empowering front-line staff.

But, what, I asked, did we hope those front-line staff would do?  Someone replied, "To suggest solutions to problems in the workplace."  We probed this a bit and concluded that--while suggested solutions were always welcome--the more important value brought by front-line staff is to point out problems in the workplace.  What conditions might lead to poor production quality, to a poor production process, to waste, or to an unsafe condition?  The responsibility then falls to the supervisor to be responsive to those concerns and to bring in people from throughout the company to explore the problem in real time, invent possible solutions, and experiment with those.

I had them recall the work of Steve Spear, who has diagnosed companies that do well.  Here's a summary from a previous post:

As Steve has written in his studies of Toyota and reviews of other high performance organizations, the common characteristic of these organizations is not in their ability to design perfect and complex production or service delivery systems. Rather, it is their ability to discover great systems. They do this by managing their work flow to encourage people at all levels to call out problems; to "swarm" together to solve those problems; to share this process of discovery with others in the organization so that the solutions are diffused widely; and to cultivate the skills of people throughout the organization to be involved in this kind of constant improvement.

1 comment:

iklan said...

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