Tag Archives: customer value

Umbrella 2013 – a view from a CILIP trainer


By Elisabeth Goodman

The last time I attended a ‘CILIP’ conference was in the days of one of its predecessors: The Institute of Information Scientists (IIS).  So it was a real treat to have the opportunity to catch-up with so many people (about 600) practicing a range of careers relating to Library and Information Management.

The following blog is based on my tweets, and those of others that I re-tweeted in the sessions that I attended.  (There were many other sessions running in parallel and after I left which you will no doubt be able to catch-up on from other tweets and blogs from the event – just follow #UB13).

Training for Library and Information Professionals

On @CILIPinfo stand until conference kicks off if anyone wants to discuss training

I am one of CILIP’s ‘on-site’ trainers so this conference was also invaluable for networking with and meeting people with an interest in some form of training.  I had lots of great conversations and I’m looking forward to more of these with the CILIP team.

Born Digital?  The British Library at 40

I had not realised quite how wide the British Library’s scope is, and all the ways in which it is developing.  The following tweets just give a flavour of what Roly Keating, the Chief Executive, managed to convey of its 40-year history (and of what is to come) in just 40 minutes.

Really inspiring keynote @rolykeating digital melting the boundaries between departments & institutions & the BL’s fantastic projects! PTEG ‏@cilippteg19h

@rolykeating excellent opening speech – good challenge for British Library to “connect as well as collect”

@rolykeating great achievements re: British Library in helping new businesses and fostering learning

News has broken its print mooring & this reflected in BL building new partnerships with BBC and new media and news centre Phil Bradley ‏@Philbradley20h

Focus session: Future skills and future roles

This was one of 4 parallel focus sessions to choose from, and it consisted in itself of 3 presentations – lots of very rich content in this conference!

Up first was an overview of CPD23 – 23 things for continuous professional development and a self-help programme of learning initiated by Niamh Tumelty and others, which has experienced a tremendous take-up and success.

Niamh and Jo Alcock compared CPD23 with CILIP’s wheel and diagnostic tool – PKSB  (Professional Knowledge Skills Base).  It seems there are tremendous opportunities here for harnessing people’s enthusiasm for learning, the resources from CPD23, the use of the PKSB diagnostic tool and the range of onsite training available for both continous professional development, and chartership.

“@RareLibrarian1: Didn’t know about PKSB online – excellent CPD tool to target your professional weaknesses” for library / info mgmt

Great to see positive take-up of CPD23 & strong mapping with @CILIPcpd PKSB for professional development

We then heard from…

Keri Gray from Sue Hill talking on managing change Jane Roberts ‏@jane_roberts8519h

This is the subject of one of the courses that I offer through CILIP – Achieving successful business change.  The following tweets tell the story …

People are scared of change (especially mothers!) – huge topic affecting everyone in all sectors of libraries. Hannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Big themes for change in Library & Info Mgmt are budgetary cuts, use of volunteers & non-professionals, digitisation

Barriers to change similar to other sectors/professions: reluctance, resources, time, expertise, accountability, need to self-promote

Coping with change – requires a change in mind-set (yes!) – many in room having to manage teams with fixed mindsets

Successful change projects place users at their heart, are aspirational, engage internally as well as externally

And last but not least in the session was Ka-Ming Pang’s truly inspirational presentation (and there were a few other inspirational talks during the conference) about how she initiated the tweet chat #uklibchat – and how it has simply taken off as another forum for sharing learnings and knowledge, and for CPD.

The prezi for my #ub13 presentation is up on the #uklibchat page: http://uklibchat.wordpress.com/about-uklibchat/ … Ka-Ming @AgentK23

The power of SM is demonstrated by #uklibchat to get librarians talking about topics that interest them Jo Whitcombe ‏@jowhit19h

#uklibchat summarised online and archived so always available as a resource. Free way to meet other professionals with new approaches! Hannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Uklibchat – a way to share expertise on library topics on Twitter. Check out http://uklibchat.wordpress.com/  Alan Brine ‏@alanbrine19h

#uklibchat recognised as counting towards CILIP chartership. Meaningful conversation with structure and professional inputHannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Liz Jolly: As information professionals we can’t afford to not use social media

Jo Alcock: I have some very valuable conversations on Twitter and these occur during work time

Information professionals – using our own information management skills to manage our own online presence. Hannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Where does internet end and library begin?

This was one of the debate sessions taking place during the conference, although sometimes, as in this one, it was just fascinating to sit back and listen to what the speakers had to say!

Session on “Where does internet end and library begin?” Access to knowledge & community coming together are common themes #kmers

@librarygame Interesting perspective on how activities such as book borrowing can be gamified: they have challenges, rules & actions

RT @librarygame: Here’s our new site —hot off the coding table librarygame.co.uk  Unbrella2013

Focus session: Beyond Information Matters

Next up “@gig_cilip: Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow: Brian Kelly, UKOLN”

Brian’s was a very enjoyable exploration of this general theme.

[Incidentally, Brian mentioned that a paper has been prepared to raise the profile of Information Management within CILIP…

As ex-IIS member - good to hear that @CILIPinfo pushing for more emphasis on Information Management]

Brian was followed by…

Graham Monk, DWP speaking on Sharepoint though not (yet) using it

And these tweets tell the story…

Do we need sharepoint to do our job? Personally think share point needs info professionals to properly exploit it.Simon Edwards ‏@SimonEdwards7515h

Key challenges with implementing #Sharepoint are collecting & cleaning the content & aligning work practices

Again – reasons for information technology (#Sharepoint) given as managing content & enabling communities (virtual teams

Other reasons for #Sharepoint: information overload, finding info, rework, waste of resource, inability to answer questions

Simon Barron followed…

@simonxix common tensions tween IT & librarians/information mgrs yet increasing emergence of cybrarians

Speaking at now on librarian-IT hybrids, technology in LIS, and transhumanism. Follow along at home: http://ow.ly/mxqD0  Simon Barron ‏@SimonXIX15h

Nice representation of librarian / shambrarian overlap by @SimonXIX accredited to @daveyp #ub13 pic.twitter.com/fgmTRLSDNz Karen Bates ‏@karenfbates15h

@simonxix: we need to be where the users (of library / information services) are and they are on the internet

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No, it’s a librarian!

This was the final session of Day 1 and a wonderful case study of the work of a Clinical Librarian, Victoria Treadway, from the Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, jointly presented with Dr Girendra Sadera, a Consultant Critical Care & Anaesthesia there.

RT @charlotteprew Fantastic & inspirational .. talk by @Librarianpocket & @sadera65 .. about developing role of a clinical librarian

Subject librarians / information scientists could learn lots re: delivering business impact from @Librarianpocket @sadera65 case study

Here’s our film on the Clinical Librarian supporting ward rounds in Critical Care: bit.ly/172NVA0 Victoria Treadway @Librarianpocket

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a librarian! View my Prezi from Umbrella 2013 here: http://tinyurl.com/pvku3nc  

Storify: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a librarian! http://sfy.co/hNQT  Victoria Treadway @Librarianpocket

An evening at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) – mosi.org.uk

This was our evening outing with the Library Awards ceremony  (won by @SurreyLibraries)

Now watching video clips about projects short listed for Libraries Change Lives awards cilip.org.uk/about-us/medal… niamhpage

… and dinner followed by enthralling talk by Fi Glover of the BBC.

Fi Glover doing our after dinner speech! So funny! pic.twitter.com/fL1691sYRV anniemauger

Firgrove Mill tandem compound condensing engine made by J. and W. McNaught, Rochdale, c.1907

Firgrove Mill tandem compound condensing engine made by J. and W. McNaught, Rochdale, c.1907

Day 2 – Highlighting and using your expertise

We had an inspirational keynote from Janice Lachance, CEO of the Special Libraries Association International.

Look for opportunities, take risks, make a difference not just a living, Janice Lachance pic.twitter.com/isCva9x2Zl daveparkes

Great to hear @JaniceLachance talking about non-traditional roles for library and information professionals and using our expertise joeyanne

@JaniceLachance Think holistically re: information needs of organisation & align your inner entrepreneur w/ its & leadership’s goals

(There was quite a lot of Twitter chat about her comments on the word “Librarian” – a great word with a strong historical tradition but a limiting definition?  Maybe?)

Focus session: Information to support society

I was keen to attend at least one of the sessions organized by the Information Literacy group, as I also run training on how to promote IL to end users (a combination of change management and marketing approaches that is also picked up in a UKeIG course that I run jointly with Shaida Dorabjee – Marketing and internal change: a case study based approach…).

Next up: ‘A critical approach to information literacy’ with @walkyouhome CILIPNWBranch

@walkyouhome Advocating better information literacy training thru’ pedagogical approaches, critical thinking & democratic engagement

RT @calire: A critical approach to information literacy  slideshare.net/laurensmith/a-… ijclark

Debate: community managed libraries

The last session that I was able to attend before heading off home! It seemed like a change programme in itself…

Community managed libraries a change programme for the community – librarians can support through consultation & on-going sustaining

Terrific turn-out on a dark evening at consultation on Community Managed Libraries in Yorkshire was early indication of engagement

And so home…

On my way home from excellent @umbrella_2013 #UB13 conference – will be writing my blog on the train! [which I did!]

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the owner and Principal Consultant of RiverRhee Consulting and a trainer, facilitator, one-to-one coach, speaker and writer, with a passion for and a proven track record in improving team performance and leading business change projects on a local or global basis. 

Elisabeth is an expert in knowledge management, and is accredited in change management, Lean Six Sigma and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator).  She has a BSc in Biochemistry, an MSc in Information Science, is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Information and Library Professionals (CILIP) and of the Association for Project Management (APM) and is also a Growth Coach with the GrowthAccelerator.

Elisabeth has 25+ years’ Pharma R&D experience as a line manager and internal trainer / consultant, most recently at GSK and its legacy companies, and is now enjoying working with a number of SMEs and larger organisations around the Cambridge cluster as well as further afield in the UK and in Europe.

Getting it right rather than ‘firefighting’…unless that’s your job!


By Elisabeth Goodman

Being a ‘farmer’ not a ‘firefighter’

Some years ago when I was first learning about Lean and Six Sigma, a colleague shared an article he’d found comparing farmers and firefighters. People in organisations are often singled out when they have worked all hours to deal with a crisis, and yet the people who have worked more quietly to anticipate those problems and put preventative measures in place (the farmers) can often go un-noticed.

Lean Six Sigma and Project Management techniques advocate just that quiet and steady farming approach (the FMEA technique described in an earlier blog is one way to do this).  Lean Six Sigma also advocates stopping and addressing problems as soon as possible after they do arise so as to prevent the same thing happening again.

What can we learn from the competitors in the Olympics at London 2012?

It’s impossible to write blogs at this time without referring to the Olympics and London 2012, which has kept many of us supporting Team GB glued to our television screens!

The competitors have been training for 4 years or more for the Olympics. ‘Firefighting’ is hardly an option when you’re up against the clock in your event, and you just have to get it right on the day.  How did the medalists and the other competitors who achieved their personal bests manage to do so?

“Hard work and grafting” was the approach described by Mo Farah after his exciting finish in the 5,000 metres: the culmination of his strategic planning and execution of the race itself.

Contrast this with Brazil’s men’s football team’s desperate attempt to equalize Mexico’s 2-point lead in their final match. In the words of the BBC commentator: they “started sloppy and underestimated Mexico”. They managed to score a goal in the 90th minute but missed scoring a second with a simple header because “it was too much” for the player involved.  Their ‘firefighting’ was just too tall an order.

The quality of the Olympic competitors’ coaches and their ability to pass on their knowledge, experience and expertise will have been a big factor in these games. It was intriguing to watch the dynamics between the pole-vaulter Holly Bleasdale and her coach as she tried to cope with a persistent breeze. She did seem to be in ‘firefighting’ mode and sadly things did not work out for her on this occasion.

Project management heroes

Coming back to the world of project management, Tony McGoldrick Opinion Piece in July’s issue of Project writes about how we can all be ‘heroes’ by doing the basics well. He also queried the all too frequent emphasis on ‘firefighters’.  For him, getting the basics right involves understanding and delivering what your stakeholders want, and getting the quality, timing and budget right.  Incidentally, the July issue of Project also carried an article by Andrew Hubbard on BT’s goal of ‘flawless delivery’ and getting it ‘right first time’ for the Olympic games!

Being the best that we can be

Amongst all the marvelous reflections and pronouncements about the Olympics, I found the following in this Sunday Observer’s ‘The farewell’ report by Tim Adams: “What these Olympics have been about, though, is not the necessity of being the best, but the pleasures of finding out the best you can be”.

Whether through “hard work and grafting”, anticipating and planning for risks, never underestimating the competition, being clear on how we can deliver value to our shareholders, and being committed to doing so, we can all not only become better farmers and heroes rather than ‘firefighters’ in our everyday lives, but enjoy the process of becoming so.

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma and is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management).

Why is employee engagement such an important topic?


By Elisabeth Goodman

My blog on employee engagement (Employee engagement – some interesting data and perspectives for Lean and Six Sigma practitioners) is, of all the blogs that I have written since 2009), the one that has attracted the most attention.  I wrote it in response to an article I read in the business section of the Sunday Observer1 – a very informative study that the Observer had commissioned, rich in case studies and data from FTSE 100 companies.  So why has this blog attracted so much attention?

Employee engagement is the key to organisational and team effectiveness

The Observer article caught my attention because employee engagement, or involvement is intrinsic to business process improvement through such techniques as Lean and Six Sigma.  If people are not engaged, they won’t be committed to the organisation’s goals, won’t be able to communicate those goals as part of building strong customer relations, and won’t be looking for ways to achieve those goals through efficient internal processes.

People also need to be engaged in order to achieve effective business change.  Participants in my Change Management courses sometimes find it a revelation to hear that resistance from those experiencing change is a good thing, something to be welcomed.  Resistance is an indication that people are actually beginning to engage with a change:  that they are considering what the impact will be on them, rather than oblivious to or ignoring it.

And without engagement, people will find it impossible to identify and share the learning and insights, which are essential to healthy and thriving teams and organisations if they are to learn from their mistakes and build on their successes.

As I wrote in the December 2011 version of my RiverRhee Newsletter, “The answer comes from within… with the help of others”, it’s only possible to have an effective team or organisation if people are engaged.  Employees have the key!

‘Empowerment’ and ‘Intrapreneurs’

One of the big themes in my life as a corporate employee was ‘empowerment’: encouraging employees to appreciate and act upon the idea that they had ‘the power’ to make decisions and carry them out without necessarily referring to their managers.

As someone who is now self-employed and runs my own business, the idea of acting otherwise makes no sense at all!  I work in teams in an associate relationship, and we collaborate in our decision-making and actions.  I meet a lot of entrepreneurs, and have often wondered what it would be like if people took an ‘intrapreneurial’ approach to working within organisations.  In a 2010 newsletter (‘Finding our voice’ – a route to greater employee engagement and empowerment?), I suggested that what might help people to do this is to take a more active perspective of their careers – so that they view their current job as one that they have chosen, and are in control of, rather than something that they are being subjected to (to put it a bit bluntly!).

What if there weren’t any managers?!

I really enjoyed reading the case study of Morning Star in the December 2011 edition of Harvard Business Review.2   Hamel describes a leading food processor, with revenues of over $700 million and 400 full-time employees, which functions entirely around the principles of self-management.

At Morning Star, no-one has a manager, each employee negotiates responsibilities with their peers and is responsible for finding the tools that they need for their work, everyone can spend the company money, there are no job titles or promotions, and compensation is decided between peers. The only ‘boss’ is the overall mission of the company.

This model works at Morning Star because it combines an individuals’ responsibility (and freedom) for managing their work within the context of the overall mission, and collaboration between peers to define and review individual roles and expected performance.

The article goes into a lot more detail, but one of the many interesting aspects of this model is that engagement and empowerment are not issues at all in this kind of scenario.  As a result of this approach, every individual inevitably has to:

  1. Use their initiative
  2. Continuously develop their skills to enhance the quality of their work
  3. Display flexibility to respond to the changing environment of the organisation
  4. Work in a collegiate way to fulfill their role in relation to their peers
  5. Make decisions that directly affect their work

These are wonderful illustrations of process improvement / Lean and Six Sigma (1,2,4,5), Change Management (3), and Knowledge Management (2, 4) in practice.

Some final thoughts about thriving

I love my work, and welcome Monday mornings as the start of another week of new discoveries, opportunities to work with others and practice and develop my skills.  I meet many others running their own business that feel the same.  It sounds like the employees at Morning Star may also feel like this.

Another Harvard Business Review article3 suggests that giving employees a chance to learn and grow will help them and the organisation to thrive.  This time the managers are in charge again, but some of the themes re-occur:

  1. Providing employees with the discretion to make decisions directly affecting their work
  2. Ensuring that people have the information they need to understand how their work relates to the organisation’s mission and strategy
  3. Encouraging good (civil) behaviour – positive relationships
  4. Offering performance feedback

The authors suggest that these 4 mechanisms will foster vitality (or energy in individuals and in those with whom they interact), and learning (or growth from new knowledge and skills).

Conclusion

It seems that, unless people are running their own business or are self-managing themselves in an organisation such as Morning Star, employers need to study and support the mechanisms that will enable employee engagement and so help individuals and the organisation to thrive.  We’re obviously not there yet.

Why are you interested in employee engagement? It would be great to read your comments.

Notes

  1. Are more firms listening to their staff or are they just paying lip service? Observer, 22 August 2010, pp38-39
  2. Gary Hamel.  First, let’s fire all the managers. Harvard Business Review, December 2011, pp49-60
  3. Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine Porath.  Creating sustainable performance.  Harvard Business Review, January-February 2012, pp93-99

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma and is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management).

The future of Social Media? Notes from a recent NetIKX seminar


By Elisabeth Goodman1

Adapted from the original NetIKX blog: Social Media – what next and what can we do with it?

This was the 3rd of NetIKX‘s seminars on the theme of social media, a topic which sits in the group’s 2010-2012 programme framework for Information and Knowledge Management under “Harnessing the web for information and knowledge exchange”.

Previous NetIKX seminars on this theme have explored whether social media should be taken seriously, and how social media could be used to achieve organisational goals and the implications for organisational IM / KM policies and strategies.

This seminar took a broad look at emerging trends and products, their likely implications, and how social media are being, or could be used.

The two speakers were Steve Dale, “a passionate community and collaboration ecologist, creating off-line and on-line environments that foster conversations and engagement” and Geoffrey Mccaleb who describes himself as a social media  / mobile consultant.

The common themes arising from the presentations, break-out groups, and concluding Q&A were as follows:

1. Social media have been evolving into so much more than plain communication tools.

Most readers will already know that tools such as LinkedIn are now key reference points for recruitment, but Twitter is also a growing reference source for this.

The political and journalistic uses of Twitter are also well publicised.

And most people will be aware of the increasing importance of social media for managing an organisation’s reputation: monitoring and responding to comments made by customers or would-be customers, engaging with customers, and generally generating related publicity.

2. A broader exploration of how social media are evolving

Facebook lends itself well to sharing information on interests and hobbies.  In fact I’m having great fun at the moment with a ‘cooking enthusiasts” group that I’ve set up with my friends, and their friends. There are other tools, such as ‘Pinterest’ that take sharing of this kind of information to another level.

Scoop.it, paper.li, Storify, Flipboard are all examples of how ‘social curators’ can bring together content from several different sources that may be of interest to their audiences.  Although we did not discuss this at length, this might be a tool that Library and Information professionals could use to help their end-users with information overload?

Some tools enable people to manage the sharing of physical resources (referred to by Steve Dale as ‘collaborative consumption‘).  Examples of this are ‘Boris’s’ bikes (the London shared bicycle scheme) and ‘airbnb’ to rent out ones house / bedrooms to visitors e.g. to the Olympics.  Might this be an alternative model for managing information resources between organisations?!

Managing big data is a pet subject of Steve Dale’s, with data sets such as medical and traffic data on the cloud becoming so large that they can no longer be managed with standard database management tools.  Visualisation and infographics tools are one way to make sense of them all.

Game-ification is an interesting exploration of how the ‘game’ attributes of user engagement, loyalty to brands, and rewards might be transferred to a professional social network environment.  In a previous seminar we heard how The Open University Library Services were already experimenting with using virtual reality tools as a support for their services.  Game-ification may take this further?

Augmented reality applications for golf let you know where the nearest bunker is and the direction of the wind.  Pointing your phone at the sky can give you information about the constellations. Augmented reality applications help you to look at your world in a different way.

Location-based tools such as Foursquare enable you to find out what’s near you, check-in, see who else is there, become ‘mayor’ of your local pub(!) etc.  ‘Easypark’ enables you to pay your parking fee and have a count-down to let you know how much time you have left to park.  There is potential for these tools to be so much more than a status update, because they tell others that you like something / somewhere.

3. Some final reflections on technology trends and implications

Technology cycles are usually 10 years long, and we are now 2 years into mobile technology and ‘apps’.  The anticipation is that mobile technology will overtake desktop technology within 5 years.

All the people that we interact with online represents our ‘social graph‘: who we know and who we respect online.  Our online contacts can have a tremendous influence on what we choose to buy – as I discovered when I found myself, somewhat to my surprise, purchasing something on Amazon that others had recommended without even ‘looking inside’ first.

4. Implications of what we heard

We explored several themes in our break out discussions and in the Q&A that followed:

  • The changing role of the information intermediary.  Are we being pushed out of our roles by these tools – or does our ‘cyberlibrarian’ or ‘curator’ role become even more important?
  • The associated information risk.  With a lot of personal information going on the internet / in the cloud, is there more scope for criminal activity and identify theft?
  • How to decide what tools to use and when?  The key is being clear about who we are trying to target and what tool(s) they would use.  Phil Bradley’s presentation and notes: “25 barriers to using web 2.0 technologies and how to overcome them” might provide some good insights on internal organisational barriers and how to address them.
  • Using social media tools within organisations.  ChatterYammer are Twitter like tools being used within organisations, and in some cases have a dramatic effect on lowering the use of e-mail.  Such tools could be excellent for idea generation and problem solving, or ‘crowd-sourcing’ within an organisation.

Note

1. Elisabeth Goodman is Programme Events Manager for NetIKX.  She also runs her own business, RiverRhee Consulting.

2. See also Elisabeth Goodman’s blog on Social Media: putting you and your business at the heart of your community

The “Lean Startup” approach to understanding customer needs


By John Riddell

Notes from a Cambridge Network talk by Eric Ries

I attended the January Cambridge Network meeting, which was focused on a talk by Eric Ries, the author of a new book entitled “The Lean Startup”.

Eric had developed the book based on the lessons learned by entrepreneurial start-ups of software companies that he had worked with in California’s Silicon Valley.  Most of these companies had been driving forward Web 2.0, and had either failed or been taken over.

Opportunities to use Lean to improve start-up success

Eric saw the opportunity to apply Lean principles both to identify value in the eyes of the customer, and to reduce the cycle times involved for gathering and obtaining learnings and so improve on their performance.

He described a “pivot approach”.  This involves “keeping one foot planted in what your idea is and the other moving with learning”.  The idea is that, as you gain feedback on your product or idea, you “pivot” (or change your plan) towards what the customer really wants.

The value of focusing on what your customer wants

The “Lean Startup” approach resonated with me as “focusing on your customers” is RiverRhee Consulting’s first principle for enhancing team effectiveness.  This enables you to identify what your customers want (and not what you think they want).

Of course you need to work out how to find out what your potential customers want, and it might involve recognition of the failure of the bright idea that you were so enthusiastic about!

Experimentation vs. customer surveys

An interesting point in Eric’s presentation was his differentiation between using a customer survey, where a broad range of feedback can be obtained from a wide sample of customers (with the results shaping general direction and strategy), and the use of experimentation.

With experimentation, customers can handle a product (in a trial or pilot), give feedback on the product, and, most importantly, give feedback as to whether they would purchase the product or not.  Once you have that knowledge and recognise that you need to change direction then you need to fire up and go again!

The more frequent the number of cycles in which this occurs the better.

In his presentation Eric emphasised that there is no point in brilliantly executing a start-up plan to produce something that nobody wants.  He also emphasised not leaving change “until the building is on fire”!

Closing thoughts

TV programmes like Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice have given us all more exposure to the concept of entrepreneurs and new business start-ups.

Eric’s background with software company start-ups in Silicon Valley seems a long way from the pharmaceutical manufacturing environment that I’m familiar with.  It was very interesting to see both kinds of organisation connected by Lean principles.

Notes

John Riddell is an Associate with RiverRhee Consulting.  He has held technical, operational and project management roles in pharmaceutical manufacturing working with both small and large teams from a local to a global basis. John is a certified practitioner in Lean Six Sigma and is highly experienced in knowledge management.  He has developed a successful programme to coach leaders in developing teams that have multiple cultures and are spread across global locations.

 

Customer pain and customer delight – the economy airline way


By Elisabeth Goodman

As a trainer and consultant on Lean and Six Sigma, I’ll find examples of the principles and tools in practice in every aspect of everyday life.  The following blog illustrates the difference between ‘batch’ and ‘single piece flow’ that we might experience when the customer is what is being moved through a process!

Customer pain

Last Sunday I twisted my ankle coming off a pavement in the mad scrum to catch the airport shuttle between Gatwick terminal and my EasyJet flight to a work assignment in Barcelona.

Someone in a yellow jacket and a kind fellow passenger helped me onto the bus, got me a seat, and offered me water and pain killers.  Once arrived at the airplane, the same kind man in the yellow jacket cleared a space for me on the steps leading up to the plane. I collapsed with relief into a seat, bent over with nausea and faintness, whilst waiting for take-off, vaguely surprised at the absence of attention from any of the air stewards as they hurried up and down the aisle. Meanwhile the passenger in the seat next to me had a loud rant about how she hated economy airlines.

This disagreeable experience was an extreme version of my previous unpleasant experiences of being treated as part of a ‘batch’ of customers in the airline process: a system generally adopted by other low cost airlines.

We seem to have relinquished the right to have any form of quality customer service in return for paying a cheaper fare.  Arriving early at our final destination (with a pre-recorded electronic cheer) seems to be the only other point of the quality, time, cost triangle that we have a right to.

Customer delight

3 days later, sitting in Barcelona airport with my colleague, waiting for my return flight (to Stansted this time), I was describing the wonderful queuing system I’d experienced with Southwest Airlines a few years ago.  We were assigned a boarding letter / number based on check-in sequence.  A line of posts at the departure gate reflected the letters and numbers and passengers calmly lined up in their pre-assigned sequence when it was time to board the plane.  No mad scrum.

What was our surprise this time, when we made our way to the departure gate 20 minutes before final boarding time, to find the a complete absence of people and queues.  We showed our boarding passes and were ushered onto an almost empty bus, whilst I carefully avoided twisting my ankle on the curbs (this time?) clearly marked with yellow tape.

There was no pushing or shoving on the plane as several passengers were already seated, and we found 2 adjacent seats and space to store our hand-luggage.  More passengers gradually arrived, and the plane left, and arrived early.  The general mood on the plane seemed relaxed and happy.

A stewardess joked with me about both of us being short as she helped me reach the overhead luggage compartment to replace my laptop that I’d only remembered to switch off just as we were preparing for take-off.

Although a question remains about extra fuel costs for more shuttle trips between the airport and the plane, for us as passengers, this economy flight experience managed to score highly on all 3 points of the quality, time and cost triangle: true customer delight.

A case study of ‘single piece flow’ rather batching?

Whilst the Southwest Airlines approach is simple and presumably adds no additional cost to the airlines, it will still result in everyone boarding the plane at once: in one batch.  So there will still be the queuing on the plane whilst people find their seats and somewhere to store their luggage.

EasyJet’s approach in Barcelona last Wednesday matched the flow of people boarding the plane to their arrival at the departure gate.  Although we didn’t see what happened when the first people arrived at the gate, what I and my colleague experienced was very streamlined, very simple, apparently very efficient and a real delight.  Of course I’ll be expecting something similar now next time I catch one of their flights!  The Kano model  in action..

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma and is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management).


Enhancing Team Effectiveness in a Time of Change – an introduction


By Elisabeth Goodman and Lucy Loh

Lucy Loh and Elisabeth Goodman have been preparing a few publications and seminars that deal with enhancing team effectiveness, strategies for personal and organisational change, and team development in the context of project management.  We thought it would therefore be timely to write a series of blogs picking up on some of our thinking in these areas.

All organisations, whether in the public, third or private sector, are continuing to experience organisational change on a large scale.  Whether this involves reshaping, redefinition of roles or just addressing internal efficiencies, all of these bring huge challenges.

At the same time, teams within these organisations must continue to deliver today as well as achieve changes to their own roles and services for delivery tomorrow.

Challenges facing today’s teams

As we write, in the second half of 2011, many global economies, including the UK’s, are undergoing unprecedented change.  These macroeconomic changes are triggering change at all levels in the public, private and third sectors.  The public sector faces the challenge of having to do ‘more with less’.  The private sector is seeking increased efficiencies and effectiveness, and is looking at innovation of products, services and the ways in which it does business.  The third sector has the opportunity, and challenge, to take on activities previously performed by the public sector.

Although today’s wave of change has been primarily created by economic conditions, change is now a constant, so this series of blogs is relevant whatever the trigger for change.

Impact on organisations

The economic conditions have created a scale and rate of change to challenge organisations, and the teams within them, as never before.  Within organisations, some teams are being downsized, with difficult choices to make about which people to retain and which to let go.  Often, a team is in the position of waiting and watching as the change ripples down the organisational layers towards them.  Some teams are being reorganised, revising their priorities, or making a case for their survival.  Teams are being asked to be more effective than ever, at a time when they are under more pressure than ever.

Impact on individuals and teams

It is important to recognise that all change involves people: what they do, and / or how they do it.  Many people in today’s organisations have spent their working lives in a period of relative stability.  Their expectations about the emotional ‘contract’ with the organisation (their future, their working style, and terms and conditions) may now be challenged, leading to a sense of uncertainty and instability.  Their job content (what a job comprises, how it is to be done, and how performance is assessed) may have been stable for years.

For many individuals, change is demanding, personally and emotionally, as things that were important in the past are put aside, and new ways of working take their place.  But change also offers an opportunity for renewal: to look again at what each team does, and to reposition the team to meet the voice of its customers.

To sustain team effectiveness during change, engagement of the team throughout the process is crucial.  As Peter Senge said, “People don’t resist change.  They resist being changed”. We believe that it is the uncertainty associated with change that can be so difficult and painful to cope with, and that everyone needs to feel that they have some sort of control over their situation.  Team leaders should value expressions of resistance as an opening up of dialogue on what people are thinking and feeling, paving the way for constructive discussion on how best to go forward.

External and internal drivers of change

Some organisational change is driven by factors outside the organisation, to which it then has to react.  In other cases, an organisation can proactively choose to change, interpreting the changes in customers, services and demand likely in the future and reshaping itself accordingly.  In each case, a particular team may discover that its customers have changed, or the needs and wants of their existing customers have changed.  This means that the value which the team delivers to its customers must also change, which in turn alters the nature of the team itself, its roles, and what ‘good quality’ looks and feels like.

In addition, the team members will have a wider set of established stakeholders with whom they have a good relationship, and whose needs and styles of working they understand well.  As the organisation changes, the stakeholders for the team may change, bringing the need to build relationships with a new set of people.

The UK local government election in May 2011 offers a vivid example of change in organisational values.  A number of councils changed from leadership by one political party to leadership by another, with a substantial turnover in the Councillors themselves.  The incoming Councillors held different political views and values (political and other), and had different manifesto commitments to the outgoing Councillors.  Almost overnight, the local government officers needed to stop working with previous Councillors, and begin adapting to a new programme of work described in the manifesto.  This is change at its most radical: a new direction, new values, new stakeholders, a new programme of work, and new ways of working.  This is the ultimate requirement: sustain delivery to the team’s customers in parallel with evolving the team and its effectiveness.

Concluding comments

Jay Galbraith, a world leader on organisation and team development, tells us : “Every organisation is perfectly designed to get the results it’s currently achieving”.  We believe that it is critical for teams to design themselves for effectiveness, to manage the status quo and to increase their resilience for change.

In this series of blogs, we provide insights into the challenges for the effectiveness of teams when their organisations are changing, and practical tips and suggestions on how to lead and maintain a thriving team.

Our intention is to provide ideas and techniques that both leaders and members can use to improve the effectiveness of their team, whatever its sector or current level of performance.  We describe core principles and general approaches to team development (often initiated from inside the team) and show how to use these to address change from outside the team.  We share ideas on how to ‘diagnose’ the current state of the team, whether it is performing well and is strongly aligned with its customers, or less so.

Our next blog in this series will address: “Recognising reactions to change, and responding to them”.

Notes

Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale.  Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma and is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management).

Lucy Loh is the Owner and Principal Consultant at Lucy Loh Consulting, a consultancy that helps businesses and organisations develop their business plans, and manage change in their organisations and teams to be able to deliver those plans.  She is also a RiverRhee Consulting Associate.  Lucy has 25 years’ experience in BioPharma, where she has held management roles in strategy development and all aspects of performance management, as well as extensive internal consulting.  Lucy has expertise and experience in organisation development, benefits management and in designing and leading business change. She is a certified Master Practitioner of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP), which enhances her work in change management and individual coaching.  She is also an accredited trainer with the Institute of Leadership and Management for Strategic Leadership.