Would You Pass The Culture Test?

This week, I asked our team members to write down what they thought were the values and principles of our workplace. I did not give them definitions, examples, or a form to fill out. People were asked to write their ideas on an index card and turn them into me by the end of their shift. No discussion. No sharing.

This was a test of how well our leadership has communicated, through word and deed, the values and principles of our workplace. Our aspirations and the principles by which we live and work. How we treat each other and our customers, vendors, and competitors. What are the big ideas that guide us.

Everyone approached the issue differently, which pleased me. I would be concerned if my co-workers had recited identical platitudes.

I was touched, amazed, surprised, and dismayed. Touched by what team members wrote. Amazed that important ideas are being communicated well. Good job, boss. Surprised that we all missed some key issues. A wake-up call. And dismayed that I will have to live up to what are some lofty goals. Motivates me to be a better person in 2014.

WordleFinalColor2013

Wordle.net was my obvious choice to create this portrait of the ideas the team collected. Their shared top picks made me very happy.

Your turn. Ask your employees, co-workers, customers, and/or bosses to write down what they think your workplace’s values and principles are. Don’t coach them what to say or how to say it. Limit their contribution to what fits on an index card. If you are lucky, you will be heartened and humbled like I was.

Introduction to Lean Government Reading List

Our friend and training partner Steve Elliott of Constant Improvement Consulting, Inc. has annotated this reading list for both new and experienced Lean enthusiasts. You can find information about his introductory webinar series at https://patternresearch.com/free-webinar-kicks-off-lean-government-webinar-series/

The Change Agent’s Guide to Radical Improvement, by Ken Miller. Copyright 2002 by American Society for Quality. This is a handbook chock full of exercises, templates forms, and step-by-step instructions for how to work your way through implementing Lean in your organization. I was a member of a book club that read this book and met every week to go over one chapter. It brought up some good discussions!

We Don’t Make Widgets, Overcoming the Myths that Keep Government from Radically Improving, by Ken Miller. Copyright 2006, Governing Books. If you are in government, you need to read this book. It’s small: 118 pages; you can read it in a day.

Extreme Government Makeover, Increasing our Capacity to Do More Good, by Ken Miller. Copyright 2011 by Governing Books. I’m a Ken Miller fan; have you noticed? Another good book for government employees.

Good to Great, by Jim Collins. Copyright 2001 by Jim Collins Published by HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. The first line of this book is: “Good is the enemy of Great.” Think about it. Complacency is an insidious, seductive siren. Good enough is good enough. If you believe that, you’ll never be great. This book identifies great companies and the common threads that make them great. Read this book.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean, Lessons from the Road, by Jamie Flinchbaugh and Andy Carlino. Copyright 2006 Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Again, aimed at manufacturing. But it contains some of the best real-life examples of how to overcome problems usually passed over in books trying to champion a new methodology. Things like: Where do you start, how do you overcome resistance, and managing expectations.

Lean for Dummies, by Natalie J. Sayer & Bruce Williams, Copyright 2007 by Wylie Publishing, Inc. Need I say more? Like all the Dummy books it gets right to the meat and lays it all out.

Lean Six Sigma for Service, by Michael L. George. Copyright 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies. At last, a book about Lean that isn’t aimed at manufacturing.

Lean Thinking, by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones. Copyright 2003, Free Press. This is one of the very first books about Lean I read and one of the few available when I got interested in Lean. A good overview of Lean Thinking – but definitely aimed at manufacturing.

Office Kaizen, by William Lareau, Copyright 2003 American Society for Quality. This is the book that translates manufacturing into service and describes how to identify Lean concepts in an office environment. For example, waste in the office is waiting for a return phone call or a signature, or being given an assignment to create a report that isn’t needed.

Kaizen Event Planner, by Karen Martin and Mike Osterling. Copyright 2007 by Karen Martin and Mike Osterling. 2010 reprint by CRC Press. Charts, graphs, checklists worksheets, and a CD in the back. If you’re going to facilitate a Kaizen event, this will help to make sure you are really prepared.

The Big Book of Six Sigma Training Games, by Chris Chen and Hadley Roth. Copyright 2005 McGraw-Hill. Let’s face it, if you’re going to do any training, you’re going to have to have exercises for your class. Somewhere in here is an exercise that you can use. It will, at least, get your brain cells working on the kinds of things you can do.

Innovator’s Toolkit, Second Edition by David Silverstein, Philip Samuel and Neil DeCarlo. Copyright 2012 by BMGI. Wiley & Sons. Buy this book. Study this book. Memorize this book. Reference it weekly. People will think you’re a great consultant. You don’t have to tell them how you got that way.

Visual Thinking, by Nancy Margulies and Christine Valenza, Copyright 2005 by Nancy Margulies and Christine Valenza. Crown House Publishing. OK, this isn’t strictly a Lean book, but if you ever have to stand up in front of a white board with a marker in your hand this will make you look better. With a bit of practice, you can wow people with your fantastic cartoon capabilities. And, you’ll be able to get simple concepts across to everyone.

Hoshin Handbook, by Pete Babich. Copyright 2005 by Pete Babich. Total Quality Engineering. At some point you will realize that Lean is just one part of the puzzle. If you are going to have an organization with purpose and direction, there has to be a way to get the entire organization aligned and to coordinate everyone’s efforts. This is how it’s done.

Mistakes Only Experienced Instructional Designers Make

I will be attending InstructureCon 2013 this week in Park City, Utah. Besides immersing myself in the world of Canvas with Tim Sullard and Bronwen Abbattista, I will be presenting a program on the pitfalls of being an experienced instructional designer; what happens when success makes one a tad smug and indifferent. – Pat Wagner

Photo Credit: This work is in the public domain.http://commons.wikimedia. org/wiki/File:Albert_Einstein_Head.jpgMistakes Only Experienced Instructional Designers Make

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013, 3:15 pm- 3:45 pm Kokopelli 3 (Higher Ed track)

Have you have been designing online courses for more than five years – a generation in ID dog-years? Along with the wisdom that comes from experience you might have also acquired some bad habits. Learn to identify typical blind spots that even experienced designers develop, from relying heavily on favorite templates to refusing to adopt new technologies that challenge your status as head ID geek. Topics include isolating yourself from student feedback, falling in love with the first theory you mastered, and not understanding the demands working adults face while taking online courses.

Photo Credit: This work is in the public domain.http://commons.wikimedia. org/wiki/File:Albert_Einstein_Head.jpg

Seats Available for Live FL Everyday Library Ethics Class March 14, 2013

I understand some seats are still available. If you live near Tallahassee, will be at FAMU library.

http://www.floridalibrarytraining.com/index.php/2013/02/12/everyday-library-ethics/

Ethics is one of my favorite topics to share with live or online audiences. It is about asking questions, understanding different points of view, becoming well-versed in a variety of topics, and always remembering that you might be wrong, and they might be right. My experience has been that people who think in terms of black-and-white often have trouble with sometimes ambiguous and complex ethical challenges.

Although there are many flavors of ethics and ethical theories, I stick to a pretty vanilla party line: I currently (notice I am hedging here) prefer a standard description that ethics is “the study of morality and right and wrong”. Sounds simple to some, but when good people have conflicting ethical principles, and those principles collide in a workplace where decisions have to be made on the clock (and in front of a surly group of taxpayers) – and you might have no laws to fall back on for guidance – simple it ain’t.

Ethical practices – and particularly the paths by which those ethical decisions are made – can earn us trust and respect, even from our opponents. And, an ethical life earns you a good night’s sleep. You can live with your decisions, and the cliché is true: You can look at yourself in the mirror without flinching.

In 2010, the Kansas State Library created a year-long program on ethics in libraries. I was very flattered to be invited to participate. The videos and materials are posted at:

http://www.webjunction.org/documents/kansas/Everyday_Ethics_045_An_Overview_by_Pat_Wagner.html

We have several program topics related to practical ethics in workplaces.

What are your favorite resources?