Creative teams

The secret to unlocking creativity is not to look for more creative people, but to unlock more creativity from the people who already work for you. The same body of creativity research that finds no distinct “creative personality” is incredibly consistent about what leads to creative work, and they are all things you can implement within your team. Here’s what you need to do:

Greg Satell “Set the Conditions for Anyone on Your Team to Be Creative”  05Dec2018 Harvard Business Review

In this great article Greg Satell lays out what an organization that drives creativity looks like. Facilitating creativity is crucial for continuous improvement and thus a fundamental part of a culture of quality. So let’s break it down.

Cultivate Expertise

In order to build expertise our organizations need to be apply to provide deliberate practice: identify the components of a skill, offer coaching, and encourage employees to work on weak areas.

Bring knowledge management to bear to ensure the knowledge behind a skill has been appropriately captured and published. To do this you need to identify who the expert performers currently are.

It is crucial when thinking about deliberate practice to recognize that this is not shallow work, those tasks we can do in our sleep. Unlike chess or weight-lifting you really do not get anything from the 100th validation protocol or batch record reviewed. For work to be of value for deliberate practice it needs to stretch us, to go a little further than before, and give the opportunity for reflection.

Geoff Colvin in Talent is Overrated gave six traits for deliberate practice:

  • It’s designed to improve performance. “The essence of deliberate practice is continually stretching an individual just beyond his or her current abilities. That may sound obvious, but most of us don’t do it in the activities we think of as practice.”
  • It’s repeated a lot. “High repetition is the most important difference between deliberate practice of a task and performing the task for real, when it counts.”
  • Feedback on results is continuously available. “You may think that your rehearsal of a job interview was flawless, but your opinion isn’t what counts.”
  • It’s highly demanding mentally. “Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it ‘deliberate,’ as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting of tennis balls that most people engage in.”
  • It’s hard. “Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s exactly the opposite of what deliberate practice demands.”
  • It requires (good) goals. “The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but rather about the process of reaching the outcome.”

Encourage Exploration

The Innovators DNA by Dyer, Gregersen, and Christensen state that creativity is a function of five key behaviours

  • Associating: drawing connections between questions, problems, or ideas from unrelated fields
  • Questioning: posing queries that challenge common wisdom
  • Observing: scrutinizing the behavior of customers, suppliers, and competitors to identify new ways of doing things
  • Networking: meeting people with different ideas and perspectives
  • Experimenting: constructing interactive experiences and provoking unorthodox responses to see what insights emerge

Exploration can be seen as observing outside your sphere of knowledge, networking and experimenting.

Empower with Technology

Sure, I guess. Call me a luddite but I still think a big wall, lots of post-its, markers and some string work fine for me.

Reward Persistance

Remember this, we are always in this for the long haul. I think remembering the twelve levers can help give perspective.

Improving But Not Learning by Doing

Alex Tarbok on Marginal revolution wrote “Improving But Not Learning by Doing” looking at a paper “Causal understanding is not necessary for the improvement of culturally evolving technology” — which has interesting things to say to those interested in knowledge management. In short it demonstrates that the complex problems we have today need to be approached multi-dimension approach, in short system thinking is required to do true knowledge management.

Knowledge management Circular_Process_6_Stages (for expansion)

Throughout the six stages we need to be evaluating for complexities and interfaces. It is very easy to think in a silo and then create bigger problems done the line.

The DIKW pyramid is a great resource to keep in mind here.dikw pyramid

  • —Data comprises facts, observations, or perceptions
  • —Information is a subset of data, only including those data that possess context, relevance, and purpose
  • Knowledge is —Information with direction, i.e., leads to appropriate actions
  • Wisdom is the understanding of the why

I know that in many knowledge management models wisdom is often discounted, but that is to our detriment. Quality is often all about the why, whether a regulatory commitment, or a deep understanding of history, or as is relevant here , the relationship between parts of a complex system (or the interrelationship between systems).

Quality is about teaching

One of the core skills for a quality professional is teaching. We teach skills, ways of thinking, methodologies. “Great Employees Want to Learn. Great Managers Know How to Teach” by Daniel Dobrygowski nicely covers some key points that every quality professional should think through as we go through out day advocating for quality in our organizations.

Define goals and communicate them clearly

Part of this is an evangelical role. Quality needs to be able to explain the quality goals, whether of the organization of a specific system or process. People in your organization want to know why they are doing things. Spend some time having clear talking points, be ready to give your pitch. Speak proudly of your quality systems. And be ready to understand how other’s goals intersect with your own.

Identify and build skills

Understand the skills necessary for quality, develop a plan to assess and build them and then execute to it. Knowledge management is crucial here.

Create opportunities for growth

Quality raises the prospects of all. Quality professionals who realize that our core job is building skills and growing the people in our organization benefit from teaching will drive continuous improvement and make folks happier using our systems. Growth is a reward loop, and people feeling they are rewarded by your system will want to use it more.

In short take each and every opportunity to use your interactions as a way to grow skills and capabilities. Quality will only grow as a result.

Knowledge Work is the product

Johanna Rothman recently provided some insightful thoughts about Project Work vs Product Work. While focused on software, Johanna has some points that are valuable outside of software as she focuses on the importance of long-lived teams, applying a product work mindset to team functions.

The more we create long-lived teams who have already learned how to work together, the easier it is to work together. Even if that work is project-based work.

I think the critical thing for me is how much we have to view each team, each project as having as one of it’s key deliverables knowledge management.

However, we also need to recognize that in this day-and-age the modern corporation is  a transient collective. Companies do not do a great job of showing loyalty, there are a lot of options for the modern knowledge worker, and people regularly move on.

For me, this is why it is so important for not just projects, but day-to-day work to have as part of the inherent ways of working, processes to bring the tacit to explicit. The lessons-learned is a great place to start but we should be constantly be striving to identify “what have we learned”, “what do we need to make explicit” and “how do we make it explicit” as part of our work.

Knowledge management Circular_Process_6_Stages (for expansion)

Returning to the 6 stages of knowledge management:

    1. Have a way to capture what knowledge bits. For example, if you have a visual board, make sure this is explicitly part of the board. Make it part of your day-to-day.
    2. As a team assess the collected captured (and generated) knowledge and determine what is suitable for retaining.
    3. Share it – pass it up, pass it down. Make it available by tying it into your companies knowledge management system.
    4. Turn it into artifacts that are reusable. Pre-job briefings, procedures, work instructions, whatever is relevant.
    5. Live it. Confirm you are using it.
    6. Remember knowledge management artifacts are living. Things change and need to be updated. We can always refine. Continuous improvement is key.

 

Effective Change Management

Both Curious Cat and A Lean Journey tell me that the ASQ Influential Voices blogs are covering change management. I do love a good blog carnival, and change management is sort of my thing, so I am going to jump in.

It’s often said that people don’t resist “change” so much as they resist “being changed.” So, the job of change management is clear: In a nutshell, you must explain why the affected people should want to change, and thereby cultivate readiness instead of resistance.

 What are some recommended strategies or tactics to help achieve successful change management?

My first piece, of advice, abandon the idea that change management only involves people. Just as all systems are made of people, organization, process and technology; all changes impact all four and need to be viewed holistically.

Second, get rid of the artificial barriers between change management and change control. Change management is the how of change – assess, handle and release. Change control is the what, the execution steps. Remember that all changes are really just projects, and vice versa. The level of change determines the level of activity.

Level of Change Change Management Change Control
Transactional Minor Few

Closely clustered

Operational Major Several

Across several areas

Transformational Fundamental Many

Iterative

Often in waves

Simplify your variety of change controls and strive for scalability within one change management (and control) system. Utilize the levers, which include: regulatory (compliance), product release and risk.

Knowledge Management

Change Management and Knowledge Management are closely entwined. An effective change management system includes active knowledge management, in which information from multiple sources is integrated to identify stimuli for changes needed to improve product and/or process robustness.

There are key interactions with document management and training.

Risk Management

Risk management enables changes and helps assess:

  • The proposed change
  • The effectiveness of the change once implemented

Change Is

Propose the Change

curent and future

Make it SMART:

  • Specific – The proposal needs to be accurate and leave no doubt as to what the change will achieve.
  • Measurable – How will the system owner (sponsor) know when the project is complete.
  • Achievable – Make the change as small as possible after all it is easier to eat an elephant one bite at a time. It is far easier to manage a few smaller change than one big one. This is why operational and transformational changes are many changes and often iterative.
  • Realistic – Make the change easy to deliver, if it is over complicated then it is likely to hit problems and run over budget, be delivered late or of poor quality.
  • Timely – Does the change have to be complete by a certain date? If so put it in the scope that the project has to be complete by that date. Are there dependencies and independencies?

Evaluate

The change Project team leverages SMEs to harness the collective intelligence (synergy) for the benefit of the site.

  • Relevancy – The information gathered is of value
  • Reliability – The process by which the information is collected should be consistent
  • Accuracy – The data should be expressed in a manner that most accurately reflects its information content
  • Efficiency – The design and implementation of the tasks should minimize the burden

Evaluates all four areas (process, technology, people and organization). Includes communication of the change and training.

Vision Importance
What is the vision for this change Why is this change important to our organization
Success Measurements Process Measurements
How will we measure success How will we show progress towards our vision?
Who and what is affected?
What people, departments and processes need to change in order to realize our vision?
How will we support people?
What actions will we do to support people through the change?
What is our plan?
Detailed action plan

Build in effectiveness reviews to your plan.

Implement

Execute the change plan, provide evidence of completion. Escalate significant risks or delays.

Close

Ensure change plan was executed and benefits realized.

Hold a lessons learned.

lessons learned

Conclusion

Change management is a system. It should have its own cycles of improvement and grow as you execute changes. Change is a fundamental pillar of a quality system and spending the time to build a robust system will reap dividends and prove itself a good idea again and again.

 

 

Knowledge management as continuous improvement

An effective change management system includes active knowledge management, leveraging existing process and product knowledge; capturing new knowledge gained during implementation of the change; and, transferring that knowledge in appropriate ways to all stakeholders.

Any quality system (any system) has as part of it’s major function transforming data into information; the acquisition and creation of knowledge; and the dissemination and using information and knowledge. A main pipe of process improvement is how to implicit knowledge and make it explicit. This is one of the reasons we spend so much time developing standardized work.

And yet I, like many quality professionals, have found myself sitting at a table or standing in front of a visual management board, and have some type of leader ask why we spend so much time training when we should be able to hire anyone with an appropriate level of experience and have them just do the job.

Systems are made up of four things – process, organization, people and technology. When folks think of change management, or root cause analysis, or similar quality processes and tools they tend to think the system is only about the activity we are engaging in. But change management (or root cause analysis or data integrity) is not that simple.

This is really two-fold. A person assessing a change is not just needing to be knowledgeable about how the change control process works, they need to be able to analyze the change to each and every process within the systems they represent, to understand how moving the levers and adjusting the buffers within this change influences each and everything they do, even it that’s to be able to make a concrete and definitive no impact statement.

So when we process improve our change management system (or similar quality processes) we are both improving how we manage change and how folks apply that thinking to all their other activities.

In less mature systems we end up having a lot of tacit knowledge in one person. You have that great SME who understands master data in the ERP and how changes impact it. In way to transfer that tacit knowledge to another person is a lot of socialization. It is experiential, active and a “living thing,” involving capturing knowledge by spending a lot of time with that person and having shared experience, which results in acquired skills and common mental models.

For example, my master-data guru needs to be involved in each and every change that might possibly involve the ERP or master-data. I might have reached the point where the procedure has large sections that give detailed instructions on when to involve the master-data guru in a change. The master-data guru spends a lot of time justifying no-impact. Otherwise I might be having change after change forget to update master data. Which leads to deviations.

At this stage of maturity I’ve recognized I need a master data guru. I’ve identified the individual(s). Depending on maturity I either involve the master-data guru on every change or I’ve advanced enough that I have a decision tool that drives changes to the master-data guru.

So now either the master-data guru is becoming a pain point or we’ve had one too many changes that led to deviations because we failed to change master data in the ERP correctly. So we enter a process improvement cycle.

What we need to do here is make the master-data guru’s tacit knowledge explicit; we need to externalize this knowledge. We start building the tools that better define what never has impact, what always has impact, and what might have impact or be really unique. When a change has no impact, the change owner is able to note that and move on (no master-data guru involvement necessary). When it has definite impact the change owner is able to identify the actions required, knowing exactly what procedures to follow and how to execute those within a change. We still have a set of changes that will trigger the master-data guru’s involvement, but those are smaller in number and more complex in scope.

The steps we took to get here also allow us to more easily develop and train master-data gurus. Maybe we have a skills matrix and it is on development plans. Our training program now has the tools to allow internalization, the process of understanding and absorbing explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge held by the individual.

At this point I have the tools for my average change owner to know when to change master data and how-to-do it (this might not involve them actually doing master data management it is really knowing when to execute, and the outputs from and inputs back into the change management system) AND I have better mechanisms for producing master data experts. That’s the beauty here, the knowledge level required to execute change management properly is usually an expert level competency. By making that knowledge explicit I am serving multiple processes and interrelated systems.

Knowledge management Circular_Process_6_Stages (for expansion)

To breakdown the process:

  1. Capture all the knowledge. Interview the SME(s), evaluate the use of the system, gather together all the procedures and training and user manuals and power point slides
  2. Assess what is valuable, what needs to be transferred
  3. Share this knowledge, make sure others can understand it
  4. Contextualize into standard tools (job aids, user guides, checklists, templates, etc.)
  5. Apply the knowledge. Train others and also update your system processes (and maybe technology) to make sure the knowledge is used.
  6. Update – make sure the knowledge is sustained and regularly updated.

Change management has lots of inputs and outputs. As does data integrity and may other quality systems. Understanding these interrelationships, ensuring knowledge is appropriate captured and utilized, is a big way we improve and thrive.