Newsletter – November, 2013

On My Mind

Leaders of organizations are often faced with the challenge of building and managing a project portfolio in conjunction with improvement initiatives to enhance the value provided to customers. Determining which projects to launch can be problematic if (1) there is an informal project selection process, (2) there are inexperienced leaders, or (3) there are immature measurement systems. A formal discovery system can be used to identify project opportunities; evaluate and prioritize the opportunities; and present the project recommendations in a useful way for leadership decision making. A discovery system is a network of discovery teams formed to search for project opportunities in targeted organizational units or in performance areas such as quality, cost, schedule, safety, education, and morale. Discovery teams use quantitative and qualitative investigative tools to search for project opportunities. Potential opportunities are evaluated and prioritized to create a short list of promising opportunities which are then subjected to more rigorous cost/benefit and risk analyses. The word network in the preceding definition is used to suggest that discovery teams can potentially interact with each other as they search for project opportunities in order to benefit from each team’s newly created knowledge. There are different types of projects that can be undertaken to improve an organization from a strategic perspective such as Rapid Action, Standardization, Design, Improvement, and Lean projects. A project is defined here as, “a temporary and rational sequence of organizational activities undertaken to accomplish specified objectives.” A discovery system is a type of knowledge management system in which discovery teams create, capture, integrate, and transfer knowledge related to project opportunities. Happy discovering!

Interesting Stories

The Boston Red Sox—a Major League Baseball team—went from last place in its division in 2012 to World Series Champion in 2013. This was the third championship in the past ten years (2004, 2007, 2013) for the Red Sox and this was an interesting team. They were led by new Manager John Farrell and the team had a diverse array of players including holdovers from last year and several new free agent additions. Many team members started growing a beard during Spring Training and so they looked like a scruffy bunch of players by the end of the season, but they played hard and seemed to be having a lot of fun in the process. David Ortiz, from the Dominican Republic, had an outstanding World Series as a hitter and playing first base. Two of the better Red Sox relief pitchers are from Japan: Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa. It will be interesting to see how the Red Sox do next year. Play ball!

Company News

The Creating Successful Standards public seminar will be held November 6 in Plymouth, MN. I will be presenting on the topic of Hoshin Kanri November 12 at the Performance Excellence Network’s (PEN) Fall Conference in Bloomington, MN.

Intriguing Reads

Caterpillar (CAT) is recognized as one of the best companies in the world and they have provided strong competition for another great company—Komatsu of Japan. There is an insightful new book on Caterpillar by Bouchard and Koch titled, The Caterpillar Way: Lessons in Leadership, Growth, and Shareholder Value. The authors thoroughly describe the CAT management system and the roles Lean and Six Sigma play at CAT.