Tag Archives: RiverRhee Consulting

Reflections of a team facilitator


By Elisabeth Goodman

HAVING FUN WITH PINTEREST

Summer is a wonderful time to reflect and play with new ideas.  I’ve been having a lovely time exploring Pinterest for new insights to inspire the teams I work with in workshops.

Reflections

Pinterest has only been going since 2010 and although it already has more than 70 million users it is still not widely used by people in my community, so I was surprised at how much I have started to find in the way of pictures, annotated diagrams, mindmaps, and increasingly popular infographics to inspire and illustrate some of the ideas that I use for facilitation.

If you would like to follow me on my journey of exploration, please see my “Inspiring Learning” board.

But is Pinterest’s use of visuals for everyone?  One of the posts I found is a mindmap stating that we all think in pictures.  And yet the NLP (NeuroLinguisticProgramming) representational styles are all about our different ways of representing and communicating information, suggesting that some of us prefer auditory, and others kinaesthetic (touch or feel) or auditory digital (‘self-talk’) representations.

Pinterest does include YouTube videos and audio files such as on this “youtube tips and tricks” board, but will that be enough to appeal to those whose preferred representational style is other than visual?  Pinterest statistics suggest that female users outnumber men by 4 to 1.  Perhaps we could get a demographic study by NLP representational styles?

Facilitating teams to help them achieve high performance

My colleagues and I have been facilitating a lot of team workshops – in fact that is at the heart of RiverRhee Consulting’s work for enhancing team effectiveness.  The goals and approaches that we use have been evolving as our clients ask different things of us, and as we’ve been developing our own expertise in the options available for helping teams to achieve high performance.

Team members benefit from additional insights on their own and others’ personalities.

Whether the team is relatively new, or has been around for a while, there is no doubt that gaining additional insights on people’s strengths and preferred ways of behaving will enhance relationships and build a stronger team.

A 1-hour icebreaker around the NLP representational styles, or a more in-depth 2-hour exercise based on MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) can be powerful ways to kick off ½-day, 1 day or longer workshops.  The overall event might be focused on team building, managing change or overall team effectiveness.

People enjoy finding out new things about themselves and those they work with, and take away insights that they continue to reflect upon and add depth to as they apply them not only at work, but also in their everyday life.

The importance of articulating the strategic context: vision, purpose and goals

Certainty and control: these are the two key enabling factors that team members identify when asked what would help them move more positively through their personal journey of change.  Understanding the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ – the strategic context of their work – gives them certainty about what will happen and clarity about what they can control or at least be involved with going forward.

Encouraging senior and line and managers to articulate their strategic goals in terms of key messages grounds them in the practical reality of what they want to achieve.

Sharing these key messages face-to-face with team members also makes the managers more approachable and opens up opportunities for dialogue.

I’m excited by how working with managers on their strategy is becoming an increasing component of my role as a coach and team facilitator, both independently and with the government sponsored GrowthAccelerator initiative for SMEs.

Facilitating discussions for improving team working

Managers often wish that members would take more of an active role in improving how the team works.  The answer is to give them the opportunity to have their say, and to then shape the way forward.  A pre-workshop diagnostic on the different aspects of team working, as described in “Team development, pre-requisites for success and temperature checks” can be very powerful for surfacing what’s going well, and what could be improved, especially with an outside facilitator collating the results anonymously into key themes.

It then takes only a little encouragement in a constructive workshop environment for team members to identify the priorities to focus on, along with suggested next steps and the roles they can play to address them.

Finding ways to make more of your team’s time and resources

Leaders and managers often approach us because they are looking for new ideas to address the nitty-gritty of how the team goes about its day-to-day work.

Their impetus may be a realisation that they need to do things differently in order to take on all the new things that their strategic goals entail.

There’s been a recent flurry of discussion in the APM LinkedIn group about the value or otherwise of Six Sigma and its focus on processes.  We use principles and tools taken from Lean as well as Six Sigma in our work with teams.  The opportunities these give for an open, constructive and fact-based discussion on how the team goes about its business has proved invaluable.  Contrary to what some protagonists claim, there is lots of scope for creativity, not only in the form of incremental improvements, but also for breakthrough innovation.  And yes, these workshops do make use of visual tools too!

More reflections to come

I’ll be continuing my explorations of Pinterest to expand my facilitator’s tool-kit.  I’m also looking forward to becoming qualified in MBTI Step II during the summer, so that I can further enhance team members’ insights into their own and others’ strengths.  Meanwhile, if you missed RiverRhee Consulting’s summer newsletter, and would like more food for thought, why not take a look at “Summer and the 3 Cs” now.

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.

Knowledge Management: past, present and future – notes on a NetIKX seminar (#NetIKX60)


By Elisabeth Goodman

Knowledge Management past and present

It’s NetIKX’s 21st year since it’s original formation in 1992 as the IRM (Information Resource Management) group under Aslib.  This seminar (in March 2013) was an opportunity for Stuart Ward (Forward Consulting) to reflect on the past and present of Knowledge Management, and for Alison (Lissi) Corfield (Independent KM Specialist) to help us reflect on its future.

As we know, there are many different definitions of Knowledge Management, Stuart suggested that it’s essentially about helping people to share the knowledge that they have in their heads: their ‘tacit’ knowledge to enable the creation of new ideas.   His view is that once that tacit knowledge is made ‘explicit’, or written down, then it is essentially information.

Stuart suggested that an organisation needs the following for an effective Knowledge Management strategy:

  • Clarity of understanding and purpose: what the organization means by Knowledge Management
  • Engagement of everyone in the organization (he cited Lewis Platt, past CEO of Hewlard Packard, as a role mode in creating a knowledge sharing culture)
  • To be delivering value to the organisation from the Knowledge Management strategy (e.g. establishing and facilitating what an organisation needs to know to succeed)

NetIKX in its present and previous forms has had the benefit of many well-known speakers, amongst them Elizabeth Orna, David Snowden, Nick Willard, David Skyrme, Chris Collison and Nick Milton.

As we know, stories can be a powerful way of sharing knowledge, and past speakers have encouraged delegates to bring objects to a seminar as a starting point for such stories.  Stuart diverted us with a story based on locking his car keys in his boot to illustrate the value of organisations (in this case the AA) having effective Knowledge Management strategies for sharing solutions and accessing them!

Common themes that Stuart pulled out from these and other speakers included:

  • Knowledge Management is about people more than technology
  • Top management engagement is essential
  • You should identify what you know, what you need to know, and then bridge the gap
  • It’s important to link your Knowledge Management strategy to your organisational goals and objectives
  • Put processes in place to enable the translation of tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge
  • Measure when you can

Knowledge Management future

Lissi Corfield brought goodie bags and questionnaires for us to complete in real time to involve us in constructing what the future of Knowledge Management might be.

She asked us to consider several things such as:

  1. To what extent the organisations we were involved in had Knowledge Management strategies backed by a CEO at one extreme, or were just a collection of related activities
  2. What kind of activities were taking place in our organisations e.g. Communities of Practice, Learning Interventions, cultural initiatives, storytelling, technical projects, ‘yellow pages’, knowledge audits
  3. Which related organisations we were drawing on e.g. NetIKX, LIKE, CILIP, Aslib, ISKO, Gurteen knowledge cafés; or commercial ones such as TFPL Connect, the Sue Hill breakfast club etc.
  4. Which specialists we were aware of (e.g. as per Stuart’s list) and did we know how to get in touch with them

Lissi also asked us to consider what might happen next with Knowledge Management.  Would it for example:

  • Become very specialized (for example by being adopted / applied in different disciplines)?
  • Disappear into another discipline (such as ‘Big Data’ or Social Media)?
  • Merge into the mainstream (become just what people do)?
  • Get a better name (such as ‘common knowledge’ or even ‘common sense’!)?

Lissi believes and hopes that Knowledge Management will both become very specialized, and merge into the mainstream.

What the delegates thought: knowledge management is here to stay

As is traditional with NetIKX meetings, we split into syndicate or discussion groups to explore some of the seminar’s themes, and all opted to discuss the future of Knowledge Management.

The consensus was that it would continue to be around, although it might not necessarily be called Knowledge Management.  In fact it seems like organisations are reinventing it all the time!

We also thought that although knowledge is continuously being encoded or ‘outsourced’ (for instance through Microsoft style sheets, SatNavs, online customer reviews of products, surgical techniques, flight simulators etc..), new knowledge will keep developing.

One delegate suggested that it’s the sheer complexity surrounding the various roots and sources of knowledge that is the reason why Knowledge Management will continue to be a separate discipline…

Note.

Delegates were asked to complete a short survey before the seminar, which included identifying the four most important knowledge assets in our organisations.  We’re waiting to see the results of this survey, but for RiverRhee Consulting I suggest that these are:

  1. Our people – their expertise and experience
  2. The capabilities that we teach our clients
  3. Our approach to training
  4. What we learn from working with our clients

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).

 

What can Lean and Six Sigma and Dilts’ Logical Levels of Change bring to effective change management?


By Elisabeth Goodman and Lucy Loh

This is the fifth and last blog in our series on “Enhancing Team Effectiveness in a time of change” based on our recent publication in Business Information Review(1), and other publications and seminars in progress.  We explore two last tools: Lean and Six Sigma in Change Management and Dilts’ Logical Levels of Change.  We also suggest some next steps for you to practice what you will have learnt, and ask whether you would be interested in some follow-up support, and if so, what form that might take.

In case you missed them, this is what we covered in our previous blogs

In our first blog (Enhancing team effectiveness in a time of change – an introduction), we described the challenges being faced by organisations, teams and individuals and the impact that these changes have on them.

Our second blog (Recognising reactions to change, and responding to them) explored how people (either as individuals or teams) respond to change and how to help them through their journeys in a positive way.

Our third blog (Tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change) introduced five more specific tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change.

Our fourth blog (Team development, pre-requisites for success and temperature checks: tools for effective change management) explored three of the tools: team development, pre-requisites for success and team temperature checks in more detail.

Lean / Six Sigma

The Lean and Six Sigma process improvement philosophies and tools can be extremely useful to a team undergoing change.  We have worked with organisations to help them develop strategies and implement change in an approach analogous to that described by Steven Spear(2):

  1. Identify the value to be delivered, and your team’s goals, in the context of your customers’ and other stakeholders’ expectations
  2. Adopt an end-to-end (cross-organisation) process orientation i.e. going beyond traditional silos to explore how to deliver customer value most effectively and efficiently
  3. Commit to identifying, solving and learning from problems
  4. Build capability within the team to perpetuate a culture of continuous improvement

Even short workshops around any one of these steps with a team undergoing change can already help them to be better equipped to deal with it.  We have worked with an academic library team preparing to centralise processes for books and periodicals that were previously decentralized across several college libraries.  An engagement with a pharmaceutical contract research organisation (CRO) has enabled it to engage people across the whole of its organisation, deliver real savings in cost and time, and embed this approach as a sustainable way of working.  You can read more about these case studies on our web site (RiverRhee Consulting case studies).

Dilts – Logical Levels of Change

This tool is one that can be used both as a diagnostic, and as a planning tool in a time of change.

Robert Dilts is a leading figure in the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) who recognised that it is important for team leaders to act at multiple levels to achieve change.  He developed the Logical Levels of change model, as a helpful way of understanding the elements of effective team performance(3).

Logical levels of change

Environment

The ‘Environment’ is outside the team: the place and time where and when the team works, the team’s customers or stakeholders, the physical layout of the work area.

Behaviour and capabilities

‘Behaviour’ consists of specific actions: what each team member does, says and thinks.  This will be the outward display of having successfully introduced new working practices and so it will also be useful to define the key expected behaviours for implementing a particular change.

‘Capabilities’  (or ‘competencies’) are skills, qualities and strategies, such as flexibility and adaptability.  They are consistent, automatic and habitual, are how work gets done in the team and will often need to be defined, taught and practiced in order to support change.

Performance management is an established process for managing goals for Behaviours and Capabilities in most organisations.

Values and beliefs

‘Values’ are what an individual or team holds to be important.  They act as the ‘why’: the emotional drivers for what a team member or the overall team does.  ‘Beliefs’ are what an individual or team holds to be true, and so influences how the person or team acts.

Values are critical: for most of us, they are key, unconscious influences on how we act.  The values demonstrated by the team leader are particularly important.  For example, a team leader who values harmony could act to reduce tension in the team.  In some circumstances, it could be more important that the team leader values achievement, and temporarily ‘parks’ an issue of tension in order to meet an important deadline.

Within the team, it is vital that the team leader manages a sensitive debate on the values which will be important for future team success, meeting the needs of its customers and stakeholders – not necessarily the values which the individual team members hold most strongly.

At a time of change, it is helpful for the team leader to ask all the members of the team to state their Beliefs about working in the team – and to facilitate a healthy debate about these.

Identity and purpose

‘Identity’ is how a team thinks about itself, the core beliefs and values that define it, and provide a sense of ‘who the team is’.  Healthcare professionals could have an identity as nurses, for example.

‘Purpose’ refers to the larger organisation of which the team is part.  It connects to a wider purpose – ‘for whom?’ or ‘what else?’  For healthcare professionals, their purpose could be to alleviate suffering or to provide care.

Using the Dilts model

The model helps the team to understand its status, and to make choices about what to do.  It has a natural hierarchy, and indicates where change is required in the team, to assist its effectiveness in the wider organisation.  Where the nature of the wider organisation has changed, and the role of the team has changed within it, then the team would work through all of the levels, from identity downwards, to consider what has changed and to redefine itself.

When introducing change in an organisation: our first thought might be to put up posters, or run training courses.  To achieve change, it’s tempting to focus activities on the lower levels of Dilts’ pyramid, because they are more ‘visible’, and easier to act on.  Organisation change, for example, (changing the organisation chart, reporting lines, which skills are located in which team), affecting the bottom three levels of the pyramid.  But change at these lower levels will not necessarily affect the higher levels, and we can both identify examples where large amounts of energy went into these activities at the lower levels but little into the identify and values of the new organisation, with poor results.

We can create more lasting and sustainable change, by working on purpose, identity, values and beliefs.  These higher levels in the pyramid are generally more ‘invisible’, harder to change and harder to assess because they address the thoughts and emotions of individuals. For lasting and sustainable change, we therefore need to consider the new purpose of the team, what the new identity would look, feel, and sound like, and what the values and beliefs would be to sustain that new purpose and identity.

It is worth significant effort to engage the organisation and its teams in this as much as is practically possible.  This is the way to change those thoughts and emotions, which will then motivate changes in capabilities and behaviours.   Training courses and posters could be developed which re-emphasised the changes in identity and values, while also developing the capabilities and behaviours needed.  Development of the environment to support the change would also honour the new identity and values.

Conclusions and suggested next steps for you & for further support

There are many drivers for change in today’s business world, and change brings challenges to teams, who are delivering services today and need to evolve to deliver differently tomorrow.

Fortunately, there are many well-established methods of assessing and developing team effectiveness, and our series of 5 blogs has covered several of them.

Now that you’ve read this, and perhaps some of our other blogs, what might you do differently?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Think about the changes that you are experiencing, either at work or at home.  Where are you on the change curve in relation to these?  What action(s) could you take to help you move through the change curve?
  2. If you are responsible for initiating or driving change, think about your personal or organisational context for change.  Is there a way of better articulating the associated purpose, identify, values and beliefs (i.e. as in the Dilts’ model)?
  3. If the change you are involved in has an impact on others, think about what they may be experiencing in the change curve and what might help them through it; use Lean and Six Sigma techniques (in this blog) to identify and engage all the stakeholders involved in an end-to-end perspective of the process
  4. If you are leading a team, or would like to support the team leader, consider the status of the team in terms of team development, and the prerequisites for team success, and engage the team members in building the (new) team
  5. Review the list of tools for organisational change and team effectiveness, and try at least one of them.

And finally, these blogs on organisational change and team effectiveness have achieved a record level of readership.  We’d like to offer further support and are considering webinars, e-books / workbooks, training courses additional to those that we already offer (see RiverRhee Consulting training and development).

Would you be interested in some further support?  What form would you like this support to take? Do let us know!

Notes

  1. Goodman, E and Loh, L. (2011) Organisational change: a critical challenge for team effectiveness.  Business Information Review, 28(4) 242-250
  2. Spear, Steven (2009) Chasing the Rabbit. How market leaders outdistance the competition and how great companies can catch up and win.  McGraw Hill
  3. O’Connor, Joseph (2001) NLP workbook.  London : Element

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.

Team development, pre-requisites for success and temperature checks: tools for effective change management


By Elisabeth Goodman and Lucy Loh

This is the fourth in our series of blogs on “Enhancing Team Effectiveness in a time of change” based on our recent publication in Business Information Review(1), and other publications and seminars in progress.

In our first blog (Enhancing team effectiveness in a time of change – an introduction), we described the challenges being faced by organisations, teams and individuals and the impact that these changes have on them.

Our second blog (Recognising reactions to change, and responding to them) explored how people (either as individuals or teams) respond to change and how to help them through their journeys in a positive way.

Our third blog (Tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change) introduced five more specific tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change.

This fourth blog explores three of the tools: team development, pre-requisites for success and team temperature checks in more detail. Our next and final blog in this series will explore the other two tools: Lean and Six Sigma in Change Management and Dilts’ Logical Levels of Change.  We will also prompt you to reflect on the series of blogs on this topic, and initiate some activity to review and enhance the effectiveness of the teams you belong to.

Using a team development model to progress towards and sustain a ‘high performance’ team

We have used a version of the Tuckman(2) and Hersey-Blanchard(3)  team development models with teams that are just starting up, as well as with already established teams.  It helps leaders and team members to understand where the team is in its evolution, and what they could do to help it develop towards a stage of ‘high performance’.

The renewing (also sometimes referred to as ‘mourning’) and forming stages are the ones that will happen most frequently at a time of change for the team.  These are the ones that require the most ‘hands-on’ and directive attention from the leader.  For a team going through change and renewal, it is important for the team leader and members to celebrate the successes of the past (as previously mentioned), and to take note of what made them successful.

Team leaders and members may fear and try to avoid the storming stage but this is an important time for people to air their views openly and share their ideas constructively in order to make the team stronger.

In fact the team leader needs to play a different role at different stages: one-on-one interactions with team members are especially valuable in the storming stage and a focus outwards to stakeholders in the high performing stage.  Through awareness of these different stages, team members can also support the team leader and other team members, as well as ensure that they are fully developing their role within the team.

Structured learning techniques such as discussing other teams’ experiences in ‘Peer Assists’ at the start of a team’s life, conducting ‘After Action Reviews’ (timely debriefs on lessons learnt) at key milestones, and holding in-depth ‘Learning Retrospects’ at the end of a team’s life can be particularly useful to capture and share lessons learnt between existing and new team members and others outside of the team(4).

Identifying and agreeing on best practices as pre-requisites for success

We have coached team leaders in using variations of a list of prerequisites as a checklist for effectiveness.  Team members can help to identify, prioritise and explore best practices for check-lists such as the following:

  • Clear purpose & goals
  • Trust & support each other
  • Open communication
  • Clear roles
  • Diversity
  • Task / Relationship Balance
  • Decision Making
  • Meeting management
  • Information Management

Using team temperature checks to monitor and enhance team effectiveness

We use team temperature checks as a diagnostic with the previous prerequisites, at a time of change, to determine the status of the team, and to actively engage team members on the priorities to be addressed going forward.

The relative importance of each prerequisite will change during the life of the team, as will the team’s perception of how well they are performing.  Rather than dwell retrospectively on everything that is not working, the team should focus on the biggest gaps between importance and performance of a prerequisite, and explore the suggestions for improvement in order to move forward in a constructive way.

At the request of team leaders, we have polled members individually to obtain ratings of the perceived importance and performance against each prerequisite, and to encourage them to make suggestions for improvement to bring back to a team workshop.  Using an external objective facilitator can help with this, although in the long-term teams could manage this themselves e.g. by doing periodic ‘After Action Reviews’ in team meetings, or at key milestones.

In a time of change it may also be appropriate to involve customers, suppliers and other stakeholders in this process.  This will deliver two benefits: getting some external input, and also building relationships with people of importance to the team either during or after the change.

Notes

  1. Goodman, E and Loh, L. (2011) Organisational change: a critical challenge for team effectiveness.  Business Information Review, 28(4) 242-250
  2. Tuckman, B. and Jensen, M. (1977) Stages of small group development revisited, Group and Organizational Studies, 419-27
  3. Hersey, P and Blanchard, K Situational Leadership.  See for example : www.12manage.com
  4. Collison, Chris and Parnell, Geoff (2004) Learning to Fly: Practical Knowledge Management from Leading and Learning Organizations. Capstone; 2nd Edition

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.

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.

 

Tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change


By Elisabeth Goodman and Lucy Loh

This is the third in our series of blogs on “Enhancing Team Effectiveness in a time of change” based on our forthcoming publication in Business Information Review, and other publications and seminars in progress.

In our first blog (Enhancing team effectiveness in a time of change – an introduction), we described the challenges being faced by organisations, teams and individuals and the impact that these changes have on them.

Our second blog (Recognising reactions to change, and responding to them) explored how people (either as individuals or teams respond to change and how to help them through their journeys in a positive way.

This third blog in the series will introduce five more specific tools for supporting teams during their journeys through change.  As it will take some time to describe each of the tools, we will just summarise them here, and hope that you will come back to find out more about them in our future blogs. (Of course if you’d like to find out more sooner, do please let us know.)

It’s natural for teams to go through a ‘storming’ phase to get to ‘high performance’

Tuckman(1) and Hersey-Blanchard(2) amongst others have developed models for describing the stages that teams go through in their development. We have used a version of their team development models with teams that are just starting up, as well as with already established teams.  It helps leaders and team members to understand where the team is in its evolution, and what they could do to help it develop towards a stage of ‘high performance’. Teams are often relieved to realise that it is natural and in fact desirable to go through a ‘storming’ stage in order to get to high performance.

There are check-lists of activities that teams can use as pre-requisites for success

We have coached team leaders in using variations of a list of prerequisites as a checklist for effectiveness.  We have encouraged them to involve members of the team in its success, through workshops that explore best practices from other teams that they have been involved in.

Team temperature checks are a great way to monitor and enhance team effectiveness

We use team temperature checks as a diagnostic tool combined with the list of pre-requisites, at a time of change (including team start-up).  It helps teams to determine their status, and to actively engage all their members in a discussion on the priorities to be addressed going forward.

The relative importance of each prerequisite will change during the life of the team, as will the team members’ perception of how well they are performing and of what they can do to improve their performance.

Lean and Six Sigma tie in with change management

The Lean and Six Sigma process improvement philosophies and tools will trigger off change for teams and organisations, but can also be an extremely useful support for a team undergoing change.

Many organisations now use a combination of both Lean and Six Sigma tailored to their own culture and needs, and we have worked with some of them to develop strategies and implement change for continuous improvement.

Dilts’ “Logical Levels of Change” can also be a useful support for change

This last team tool is one that can be used both as a diagnostic, and as a planning tool in a time of change.  Robert Dilts is a leading figure in the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) who recognised that it is important for team leaders to address multiple levels to achieve change.  He developed the Logical Levels of Change model, as a helpful way of understanding the elements of effective team performance(3) and so we can and do use this too to help teams and the individuals within them through change.

Our next blogs in this series will explore each of these five tools for supporting teams during their journeys of change in more detail.

Notes

  1. Tuckman, B. and Jensen, M. (1977) Stages of small group development revisited, Group and Organizational Studies, 419-27
  2. Hersey, P and Blanchard, K Situational Leadership.  See for example : www.12manage.com
  3. O’Connor, Joseph (2001) NLP workbook.  London : Element

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.

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).