February 22, 2016

Some thoughts of today

Today's leadership leasons for me:

1. Get ride of the blame culture, we are a team..there is no point of blaming one another when there is a mistake.

2.Voting does not require team work, consensus and debate is much better.

3. Give feedback in private but celebrate achivements in public.

4. Effective leadership is not about being loved or popular, it is about making the best decisions for the greater amount of people.

5. You have to balance people and task elements, reach the obejectives but dont tear your team down for the sake of achiving goals. Take care of your people while pursuing the goals.

6. It is not good to hide things from your team, be open and transparent.

7. The leader is responsible for the decision, but it is his//her job to listen the team and based the decision in all the input received.

Leadership Styles

Today we had the leadership activity related to leadership styles, and from the 4 styles (charismatic, laissez-faire, democratic and aristocratic) I got to play the laissez-faire role with my team. This style of leadership is about letting the people work with very little interference from the leader, so I had to give little direction, give the team lots of freedom of choice and action and support the them when they asked.

For me, the role was a bit difficult to play bacuse it forced me to step back and let people do whatever they want and personally, I am the kind of leader that gives direction, looks for agreement and gets involved in the process. So for the first time in my life I had to be quiet, trust people, let them work without much guidance and just see them from outside.

I was scared we would not get anything done, I was afraid no guidance and too much freedom could be a bad thing, but when we finished the activity the result was pretty great, the fact that I was quiet and steping back allowed the team to be more creative, they figured out how to work well together, leadership from Aya emerged and they built a really beautiful castle without me controling the process.

Until today, I thought if laissez faire leadership was not actually a leadership thing since the leader doesnt do that much (if the leader is like me, holding yourself is doing a lot...jejeje); however, now I think that it is a leadership style that can work very well in situations in which people need to be creative, it is like giving freedom to people so they have no constraints or frameworks on which to base their ideas. Today I learn that being quiet can also allow me to see more, I could see they might need colors or to analyse what was going on and how they were doing.

Today I learnt that there is no a perfect way of leading, everything depends on what needs to be done and who is the people you work with, some people might need lots of guidance to do anything, some other need to be left alone, some tasks requires precision, some others creativity and the way the leader behave in each of those situations must be different.

February 14, 2016

The Leadership Paradox

The paradox of leadership if that It is based on serving others, it is not about being a friends or being nice, It is about the idea of putting your ego aside and ask your people: 'what can I do for you?', It is about thinking of how as leaders we can provide our team with the environment and resources to not only do their job but to grow.

An inverted organizational structure is the representation of a service attitude through all the organisation, If each superior level serve its bottom level, the the biggest beneficiary of this service chain is the customer.

But since real life is not like the picture above, what we need to do is create this way of working in our team, being interested a bit more in our people and their needs, create a microcosm where human factors are as importan as the achivement of tasks.

February 10, 2016

Leadership Definition

Leadership is incomplete without the achievement of a goal but is pointless without putting effort on undestanding and building trust with your team, so it is like a coin with two sides: achievement of goals and caring about your people.

Are leaders born or made?

Natureversus Nurture

Some theories of leadership suggest that leaders are born since they possess some inherit qualities, some others that they are made, because many qualities can be learned by training and experience. In what position you are?

Since I am one of those people who thinks that a musician is 20% talent and 80% studies and practice, I go for the idea that a part of the leader composition are his/her inherit characteristics such as passion and drive plus a bigger part that is result of that person's learning experience and training.

I believe as human beings, we always have the opportunity of learning and growing, so our leadership skills can be nurture into our way of being (if that is what you want). There is a phrase we use in Colombia "nadie nace aprendidio" which means noone is born learned, we have our whole life for learning, and if being leaders is what we want, we will have several opportunities for sharpening our skills and become the leader we want to be.

The Leadership Function

Dubrin said that Leadership is the funtion of three variables: the leader, the followers and the situation...what a complicated function!!!...so no matter how good are the characteristics of the leader, the followers and the situation also play an important role that can make the leadership not look so well.

Maybe this is why I cant expect my leadership to be the same under different circunstances and with different people. However, I believe the leader have a high influence the other variables and I think this is when Demming's SOPK gets importance. As leaders, we need psychology to understand that every person is different and that we need to approach them as individuals in our interactions with them, so we can influence people's behaviour with our way of working with them; we need theory of knowledge and be able to learn by testing our theories with different people and different situations; we need knowledge of variation, to understand how special causes in the situation can create problems in people's performance, and do something about it; and we have appreciation for a system, ourselfs, our team and the situation we are working in is the system we must see and think as a whole.

So, yes...leadership is a complicated function, but for me, the leader is the key to make that fucntion work as well as possible.

December 28, 2015

Finally…This is some of the things I learned in the module

These are some of the things are learned during the module:

  • Any successful improvement implementation requires alignment with the company strategy, senior management support, people involvement and capital investment on the change.
  • Lean and Six Sigma are more than just a set of tools, they are ways to pursuing operational excellence and demand a change in the ways problems are approached and things are done in a company.
  • It is much better to treat improvement methodologies as ways of changing the organisational culture (long term view) than just as localised problem solving tools.
  • People is the key for sustaining (maintaining over time) the improvements a company makes and for creating a CI culture.
  • Customer satisfaction goes beyond giving the customers what they tolerate, compliance with the client tolerances is not enough.
  • Even though DMAIC has its origins in Six Sigma, it can be applied as a logic for process improvement and problem solving since it provides a structured framework to follow.
  • Don’t pretend to solve a problem without first understanding it, learn and measure the current process before attempting to change it.
  • Waste, either defined as non-value added activities or variation in a process, need to be reduced or eliminated to have more efficient operations and better quality in products.
  • SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer) helps me understand which the contributors of a process are.
  • First get the process stable and then improve it.
  • It is always important to test your theories, if you think you have a solution, test it before implementing it.
  • Lean and Six Sigma, instead of being rivals, are methodologies that can complement each other.
  • If the strategy of your company is innovation (e.g. apple) maybe six sigma is not right for you.
  • The idea of Six Sigma is process on target with minimum variation. Improving on the basis of that concept gives at the end better process capability.
  • Process improvement is not difficult, finding a solution is not a big deal, what is difficult is the implementation and sustainability of the change associated to that improvement.
  • The belt hierarchy of Six Sigma create an elite of people that can perturb the involvement and engagement of people from lower layers of the organisation structure.
  • Taguchi loss function teaches us that the more a process/product moves away from the target (its best), the more money the company loses.
  • Averages by themselves don’t mean anything, you need to see the spread (variation) of your data and the control limits to see if the process is under control or not.
  • The PDCA starts with study not with plan.

Lean and Six Sigma

More than just a set of tools, Lean, Six Sigma or the combination of both are ways to create cultural change in the organisations that implement them, they represent an opportunity for change in the way everyone at the organisation think and behave, and also an opportunity to be better every day and pursuit operational excellence.

Before I started this module, I thought I like Lean but I don’t like Six Sigma. I had the idea that Six Sigma was just a big list of tools that required a lot of statistical understanding to make sure companies had great quality, I thought it was a matter of quality engineers and not of process engineers like me. Due to my bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering and my job in process improvement areas I have an inclination for speed and flow (Lean Thinking); however, this module made me see the whole picture.

The thing is, the two are approaches are not rivals, they can complement each other. The whole module was about Lean Six Sigma and I realised it until the end, we learned in class and during the PMI course about people involvement, flow charts, one piece flow, streamlining, process capability, voice of the customer, statistical process control, voice of the process, etc., and all of that is a combination of Lean and Six Sigma.

Now, I understand that the gap between process engineers and quality engineers is really reduced, and both of us work for the same goal, to improve processes, have better quality and reduce costs. Now I have a clear view that there is no need for choosing one approach over the other, I can have lean and six sigma, I can understand flow and statistical control, I can have belts and normal operators working together for the same cause.

December 23, 2015

Six Sigma and EFQM

I have been asking myself how all this Six Sigma (SS) module fits with the EFQM idea that to get results you need to work on the enablers. My first answer was obvious, with six sigma you improve processes by reducing variation, so the use of SS directly affects the proccess enabler of the model.

Then I thought we also learned that a good implementation of SS will required people engagement, project alignment with the strategy and good leadership that supports change and empowers people, that shows that SS can touch other EFQM enablers (Leadership, People and Strategy), but what about resources?, well any change initiative requieres resources, people, money, etc. in the case of SS you need to invest resources to increace your process capability and get improve your performance.

Finally, I thought if SS can be part of all of the enablers (directly or indirectly), it can be logical to think that SS will also be part of the results, then I asked myself what results I could get with a good* implementation of SS?, Financial results, client requierement compliance, employee engagement, better product value, less complaints, more training for employees, better process capability. In other words, SS touches 3 of the results of EFQM (Performance, People and Customer), pitifully it does not touches the social result.

I concluded saying SS is not perfect, it can be improved by mixing it with SOPK, Lean or other quality and operations improvement system; however, it can be classified as a way to drive Business Excellence in an organisation, since have the power to affect enablers and results of the EFQM model.

*Good implementation of SS includes avoiding the problems related with the hierarchy of belts.

December 21, 2015

Taguchi Methods

The day we constructed the paper helicopter was long and enjoyable at the same time. I learned that day that we want to create robust products and processes, in other words, we want our products and processes to work consistently (with quality) no matter the noise (factors that affect the product or process). I learned that quality can come from the robust design of process/products and you can test that design by doing experiments; however, since in real life making experiments can be really expensive, we should do minimum experimentation and try to pursue quality in the most economical way (a few experiments, a few levels of control factors).

During the experiment we had to choose our control factors, construct the orthogonal matrix with the eight possibilities of helicopter and construct the helicopters. Something we discuss at my group at some point was that we needed to hold our horses and stick with the factors and levels we had decided before, even if we knew some of the combinations weren’t good. Sticking to the Taguchi process at the end took us to the best combination of factors, messing around with our factors and levels before following the procedure would had made everything messy. So first lesson of that day, follow the procedure.

We took the time each helicopter could fly adding noise (wings up and wings down) and calculated the S/N ratio (which helicopter performed in a more consistent way now that the noise was included), we analysed how each factor affected the result we were getting, we identified the best combination of factors and we calculated how predictable it was to get a performance like the one we got in the experiment again.

I liked the Taguchi method because by applying it, I could understand how to get the best combination of factors that will generate a consistent product performance and how some factors affect a performance more than others. Even though I don’t know much about statistics, It is always good to see that there are structured ways to experiment the combination of variables and get an answer of which is the best.

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