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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Connecting is at the Heart of Developing People: Relationships


(Perspective 2 in a series of weekly perspectives on Lean Six Sigma Mentoring/Coaching principles)

Last week in part 1 of this series on Lean Six Sigma Mentoring/Coaching principles, we introduced the concept of Explosive Growth and how you generate it: Through Leaders Developing Leaders.  This week we expound on the ingredients that produce the glue and the environment to successfully mentor and coach: People + Connection = Relationships. 

The wording in the title is very intentional: Connecting at the Heart.

People.  Regardless if you are manufacturing cars, fixing planes, providing service at a hotel, seeing a patient, doing transactions at a bank, investigating a crime, or running a back office, People are the Company.  No matter what we do, we do not lead machines, paperwork, or any other inanimate object:  We lead, mentor, and coach human beings that have Hearts.  If you see any company mantra, vision, or mission statement that reads “People are our competitive advantage,” “People are our greatest assets,” or something to that effect: RUN.   I could provide you loads of data, but all you need to know is that when those companies hit a hard patch, their layoff actions speak louder than words:  “People are our greatest liabilities.”

Connection.  Going back to the virtuous circle diagram, see how the inner circle now overlaps with the middle.  For those who have “think 4 hours ahead of your student/team mindset,” you can see how powerful a Venn diagram can be to illustrate points:





In a nutshell:  Leaders engaging people create connections and relationships.  We cannot begin to discuss mentoring and coaching principles, even more importantly, successful coaching and mentoring until we can fully grasp that that you must get at the heart of people (people are the company) and the only way you can do this is with engagement and trust to build an enduring relationship.  

Relationship.  No relationships = No Mentoring and Coaching. 
As a CPI Leader, you cannot even begin to have the mentoring and coaching discussion until you understand that you must have a relationship with your people:





Successful mentoring and coaching begin with a great relationship with the people you work with.   In the next perspective, we will discuss and define what successful mentoring/coaching is and a way to measure it.  

About the Author: Ernie Shishido is a Master Black Belt with the US Air Force’s Business Transformation Office with 29+ years of uniformed military service.  Ernie can be found on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/in/ernieshishido or by email at er.shishido@gmail.com / ernest.shishido@pentagon.af.mil (until 10 Dec 2010). 



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Problems are Just Mile Markers and Turning Adversity into Opportunity Mindsets


(First in a series of weekly perspectives on Structured Problem Solving)

As Lean Six Sigma Practitioner Professionals, these ARE the mindsets we need to live by and a core practitioner skill we need to have honed and some may call it our weapon: Structured Problem Solving.  Mindsets we also, need to ingrain into the culture of the organization we live in or support.   

You may be wondering why there are two titles.  For me, each of them were epiphanies, and although they are essentially the same, they truly are different “states” along a continuum of a CPI Structured Problem Solving mindset.     

“Problems are Just Mile Markers” is the mindset of incremental and continuous process improvement.  As you tackle each problem, additional challenges arise because you never stop growing and learning about your processes.  Although it can feel stressful and confusing, it is also very powerful as continual engagement of people (both between the employees themselves and also your engagement with teams) create such awesome effects.  

The only thing constant in life is change.  Good change framed in a virtuous cycle of process improvement (Plan-Do-Check-Act or Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Check or Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) looks at problems as opportunities, so problems become mile markers. Each one we pass, means we’ve gotten better.  I cannot stress enough:  A journey of a 365 days/steps starts with a single step.  

“Turning Adversity into Opportunity,” on the other hand, assumes we already understand that problems are indeed opportunities; however the mindset here takes it a giant leap forward.  The mindset is about Failing Forward or Falling Up.  What does that mean?  It will take a little bit more time (and space!) to fully illustrate Falling up and it will be the topic of Part II of this series, but as a primer think about this phrase:  Lasting success is more than about simple resilience, it is about using that downward momentum to propel ourselves in the opposite direction -- you can create a third opportunity when adversity happens.  

Here is a visual depiction:
About the Author: Ernie Shishido is a Master Black Belt with the US Air Force’s Business Transformation Office with 29+ years of uniformed military service.  Ernie can be found on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/in/ernieshishido or by email at er.shishido@gmail.com / ernest.shishido@pentagon.af.mil (until 10 Dec 2010). 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Your Culture is Your Brand

(First in a series of weekly perspectives on Building a Culture based on CPI principles)

Where have you heard about this before?  Does Tony Hsieh, CEO of the billion dollar company Zappos that was recently acquired by Amazon.com, sound familiar? When I heard Tony Hsieh utter the phrase “Your Culture is Your Brand” in his audiobook, “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose,” all other thoughts ceased.  This was so deep and I knew right away that the interpretation was so clear-cut and unambiguous in nature, but the awareness (self and organizational) and execution are so distorted that people believe they know what culture is and believe they are working on culture when indeed, they may not.  

Why is this important?  If you create a strong culture at all levels (more on that in the picture below), you build lasting success in your organization.   Some people talk about fixing it, some just think it is so tough they give it some effort, and there are those that let it go because “culture” it is too soft.  Successful people and organizations work on culture and then work on it some more and never take it for granted.  

Why is this important for you as a Lean Six Sigma Practitioner Professionals?  Because building a culture of Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) creates a powerful environment for success to breed.  Two distinct and critical concepts here: 1) Building a culture and 2) Creating a CPI Environment.  You need to understand the first to create the second.  

Understanding what culture is and analyzing at what level it manifests itself, is the subject of Part II of this series.  But as a teaser, here is a visual to get you thinking:

About the Author: Ernie Shishido is a Master Black Belt with the US Air Force’s Business Transformation Office with 29+ years of uniformed military service.  Ernie can be found on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/in/ernieshishido or by email at er.shishido@gmail.com / ernest.shishido@pentagon.af.mil (until 10 Dec 2010).