Eliminating waste from the bottom up

eliminating waste

One of the things that gets lost in the complexity of getting a job done or doing the next task, is a focus on group work.  You need to be able to take a step back from the pieces of the system that you’re involved in and:

  • understand what’s supposed to come out the other end of the organization

  • what’s the value of what you are doing

  • understand your role in the organization

  • understand how the process within your organization help support that value

Over time, whether you’re management or somebody that is working as a component of that system, it’s important to be able to understand when what you’re doing needs to change. Things you should be asking yourself are:

  • How do I get rid of extraneous actions

  • How do I slim down what we’re doing as an organization so there’s less waste

  • How do we more effectively meet our goals

One of the things that people often don’t think about but it’s of critical importance, is that the things that you do in your day to day job that don’t drive value are things that are making the organization less competitive.  They are the things that are taking you farther away from the goals of your organization.  Waste to the organization aren’t just the big 100, 000 million dollar line items they are the time wasters such as the forms that have no point and the meetings that bring no value. Those things add up and if they are pervasive enough in an organization they can significantly change the competitive landscape. The world is moving towards a higher performing environment  and these time wasters will breed bad consequences for the organizations that don’t eliminate them.

People don’t think of that at Monday morning status meetings that go nowhere as the thing that is going to put the company out of business. While that may not be the one thing that ends an organization; it’s emblematic of things that are happening within the organization on a grander scale that could put you on the brink of going out of business. So I can’t stress how critical it is to focus on the big picture but sweat the details a little bit too. If there are things that you’re doing that don’t add to the bottom line then you really need to question whether you should continue doing them. Those things are by definition luxuries and if you’ve got time wasting meetings that add no value, maybe you’d get more value just by giving people that hour off. Maybe you could get some sort of benefit for being a kinder gentler organization, but certainly  no value status meetings are something to be avoided.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Lessons learned from the shutdown

lessons learned

I have to say it’s really nice to be back at work in Washington, DC. That’s not to say that we weren’t working while the government was shut down but it is nice to have everybody back and know that things are going to be a little bit closer to normal for at least the next few months.  When I was in DC the other day, it was just good to see the streets full again. While I can’t say that I missed the traffic as much as I missed the people, you can’t exactly have one without the other so I guess I’ll take the traffic back as well.

Something I’ve noticed that seems to be unique to DC as opposed to some of the other big and busy  cities where people seem to be go out of their way to avoid eye contact is that DC is a seemingly more friendly place. I think part of this is because there are so many people that aren’t from here, they have a tendency to give you a smile and a hello which gives this big city a smaller town feel and I really appreciate that. For instance, the other day when I was walking down the street in DC and I saw a lady walking into her office and she gave me a big smile and said, “It sure is nice to be back at work.” It just felt really good and brings me to my point.

I really hope that one of the things that comes out of the shutdown, at least in the lower levels of government, is a renewed sense of partnership and renewed sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ sort of feeling. We need to sort things out both from the standpoint of public and private partnerships. We need to figure out how do we work together to achieve the mission of the agency, department, or even the country as a whole.

One of the things that came out of the shutdown was a very distinct sense that everybody is unhappy, no matter your party affiliation, with the way things have played out. There’s a sense that we can’t continue to go down this road. We’ve got to find a way to make intelligent decisions as a country and work together to carry ourselves through or we’ll just cease to be the great country that we’ve been for so many years, and I don’t think anyone wants that. So as you go to work this week or as you sit at home over the weekend, it’s worth taking a few minutes to think a bit about the big picture, learn from what has transpired on the national stage, carry it into our work lives, and focus in on driving value for the organization that you’re working for.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Milking the value out of your enterprise architecture

Milking value blog

One of the big complaints that you find with business executives, and even IT executives, with regard to enterprise architecture and strategic planning organizations is that it takes a long time to get to value.  There is a definite perception that these types of organizations and their associated methodologies and tools take a really long time to develop. Consequently, they take a very long time to get to value.  I don’t believe that it has to be that way.

It may take a long time to develop the maturity to churn out a daily return on investment, which is the promise of so many enterprise architecture organizations or strategic planning groups, but it doesn’t have to take a long time to get to value.  You just have to be a little bit more tactical about how you approach the types of information you’re going to bring into the organization and the type of decisions that you’re going to support. You’ll also have to spend a little time doing some explicit planning around delivering value throughout the maturation process. That way you’re not only delivering value at the end of the process when you’ve pulled together all the threads of the enterprises.

A great example of this is the accelerator program that we run on top of, Troux.  One of the things that it enables you to do is take a fixed period of time like 60, 90 or 120 days and really focus in on specific decisions that the organization wants to support. It enables you to find the information to support those decisions and pull together a representation of that information that facilitates decision making. I think that not only is this of obvious value to the organization because it helps support those decisions but it’s of value to the strategic planning or enterprise architecture organization. It helps show that there is a return on your effort for these types of organizations and that you can get value early in the process. I think this is a huge step towards getting buy in from executives in the business. That in turn is the type of thing that enables you to sustain a program so that you can get to that more mature state where you’re delivering daily value, on the basis of informing lots of small business decisions every day.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

A fresh perspective on performance metrics

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I’ve been reading a pretty good book called Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success and there’s a ton of great ideas in it. I think anyone who is involved in performance management or measuring the success of specific activities in an organization should read this. It has a lot of great tidbits in it but I think one of the really powerful themes touched on in the book is the discussion of the context of the measuring system. In this case, the context is: What are the things that we’re going to use these measurements for?
How successful your performance management or measurement system is going to be has a lot to do with how the people that are being measured by it see the system itself. If they see it as a means of finding problems, punishing non-performance, or generally as a way for management to seek out underachievers and carve them out of the organization; you’re inviting people to undermine the system to the largest degree possible and quite possibly render your performance management system ineffective. The author gives some great examples around this and then talks about what makes a good context for a measurement system.
The key takeaway essentially is that the people involved in it have to see it as a force for change. They have to see it as a mechanism for really understanding the organization and building in higher performance as a stakeholder community. By this I mean they are responsible for bolstering performance, they have a say in it, and the measurements are not being used so much as a mechanism for punishment but as a jumping off point for further investigation. The question then becomes how can we as team or an organization perform better? It’s a really powerful and persuasive argument. You hear all the time to be careful what you measure because that’s what’s going to get done, about the dangers inherent in laying down a measurement system that incentivizes the wrong behavior, or measures for measurements sake; but this was a little bit different spin on things. I thought it was a powerful concept and it’s at the core of whether or not you’re going to be successful because it speaks to the human engagement of all the members of the team that are involved in organizational performance. So I think it’s a great read and if you have a chance, pick it up. I’m always on the lookout for great books like this so if you have a recommendation I’d love to hear it.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

A Jiu Jitsu champion’s views on what it takes to excel

I was listening to an interview with one of the most accomplished Jiu Jitsu players of all time, Marcelo Garcia, and he was talking about how he prepared for the championships and what drove him. I want bring up something really interesting that he said and I think it can be applied across anything that you do. If you want to check it out the point I want to bring up happens at the 5:30 mark in the above video.  He was asked, “What’s the most important characteristic that you can have to excel in this world?” He at first started out with a really kind of patented answer and I almost turned my brain off.  He said you have to give 100%.  That answer or give 110% I think is used so often that it’s become meaningless.  It’s what he said afterwards though that I found really interesting.  He said that if you give something just 80% and you don’t get there, you have wasted that 80%. I thought that really was something a little bit different from anything I had heard before and kind of changed the way I think about giving 100%.

When you think about the amount of time that you spend at anything that you’re trying to accomplish, whether its personal advancement, professional advancement, or a hobby, and you think about the amount of time that you put into it, you understand that you have a finite amount of time available to you. It really does put in perspective what giving 100% means when you’re doing something. Essentially, if you’re not giving it your all, you’re wasting your time. You’re not going to get where you want to go and you might as well not be doing it at all; you might as well be doing whatever else it is that you might want to do whether it is sitting on the couch watching TV or reading a book. With that logic he was saying that if you’re not going to give it 100% than what are you really accomplishing? So I thought it was a really interesting point; I’d never quite heard it phrased that way and I thought I’d pass it along.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

PowToon: Making my AppSumo addiction worth it


I admit it.  I’m an AppSumo addict.  For those of you that are unaware, AppSumo is not precisely a daily deal website but they push out deals on things that would be appealing to entrepreneurs, creators and technology oriented folks. I admit I am a complete sucker for a lot of these deals.  I have bought courses on marketing, I’ve bought Piktochart (which I’ve covered previously to rapidly develop infographics) and a whole host of other things here and there.  Recently though I had a deal on an app called PowToon.  Powtoon is a web based tool much like Piktochart, only what it does is it enables you to build out fairly professional looking cartoons that you can then use to drive home messaging.

One of the things that got me to pull the trigger was a conversation that we had recently. We were doing a review of our marketing materials with the product marketing director for Salesforce and while he was very impressed with our infographics, a lot of which was developed right out of Piktochart, he said we really didn’t have anything that spoke to the emotional side of people. Everything we had was very data driven. We didn’t have anything that was funny, or inspiring, or made people care for reasons other than sheer weight of the numbers.

Timing is everything sometimes and so when we got offered a deal to buy a year’s subscription to PowToon, I did. I thought I’d share with you my first draft of what we developed and then I’m curious what other people’s reactions ire.  It’s really kind of a unique way of presenting things and very user friendly. To put it in perspective, my first time out with what I’m about to share took about two hours to make on Independence Day eve while we were sitting around with family watching TV. So it’s really easy to use and there’s not a lot of ramp up time in developing it. I’d love to hear what everyone thinks.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Understanding the value of your everyday organizational decisions

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One of the things that I believe most organizations could do a better job of is explicitly understanding what decisions they need to make.  Now most organizations certainly understand that they need to make decisions. They may also understand what information goes into those decisions fairly well. They may even have some standard reports available to support them but what I don’t see very often is a decision register or an explicit listing of all the decisions that a specific organization or a specific role is responsible for.

I think that’s a big weakness because it’s very hard to do decisions support, develop meaningful business analytics, or generate a return on investment on a decisions support or business intelligence system when you’re not sure what decisions need to be made in anything other than a general sense.  You don’t understand what the value of those decisions is to the organization. By value I mean if you’re going to spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars on a decisions support system, you should understand what the real value of making those decisions is to your organization; otherwise it’s going to be hard to sustain that program over time.

I think it’s worth taking a few minutes and looking at it because if you’ve been in an organization a long time you probably know in your head what those decisions are. You just need to take the time to run down that list, vet it with a couple other folks, and already you are much farther along than you otherwise would be in terms of understanding how your organization works. You can work forward from there to develop the informational inputs that support those decisions to develop business intelligence, or analytics to support those decisions but it all starts with knowing what they are and what they are worth to the organization. So this was just something that is simple that I was thinking about that we could all do a better job of and will have a large impact on an organization.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.