Newsletter – December, 2013

On My Mind

Leaders at every level of an organization are faced with the difficult task of prioritizing opportunities and issues. There are many techniques that can be used to accomplish the task. I routinely use twelve techniques that I divide into two groups based on the number of items on the list to be prioritized. When there are “10 or more” opportunities or issues, then I use one or more of the following techniques: Vision-Enabling; Must Do; Triage; Affinity & Relations Diagrams; Ranking; Voting; Point Distribution; and Brackets. When there are “less than 10” opportunities or issues, then I use one or more of the following techniques: 2 x 2 Table; Criteria-Based Decision Making (Weighted or Non-Weighted); Cost/Benefit Analysis; and Risk Analysis. It is important to remember that these techniques won’t give you the truth, but they help structure the conversation hopefully leading to consensus on a positive way forward. Also, the effectiveness of these techniques relies on who is in the room and so make sure you take the time to think deeply about who will be participating in the prioritization activities. The reality is that we don’t have enough time or money to do everything. The use of best practice prioritization techniques helps us assure that we are working on what really matters.

Interesting Stories

I was saddened to learn about the death of Nelson Mandela of South Africa. He experienced a long, rich life and was one of the greatest change agents of our time. On another note—Magnus Carlsen of Norway recently defeated Viswanathan Anand of India in the World Chess Championship held in Chennai, India. Carlsen—only 22 years of age—defeated the reigning World Champion Anand three times and the pair drew seven games resulting in a 6.5 to 3.5 score. Two of Carlsen’s victories occurred while he was playing with the black pieces—a difficult feat. One commentator stated that we have entered the “Carlsen Era of Chess” which could last a long time given the relatively young age of the new World Champion. Carlsen will take some time off until January of 2014 when he will resume playing competitively.

Company News

I presented on Accomplishing Strategic Objectives Using Hoshin Kanri on November 12 at the Performance Excellence Network’s (PEN) Fall Conference in Bloomington, MN. This was another great conference sponsored by PEN. The 2014 Public Seminar schedule for Strategic Improvement Systems, LLC will be available on this website around mid-January. There will be at least ten offerings ranging from Analytics to Service Design to Hoshin Kanri.

Intriguing Reads

Leonard Barden writes a concise article on chess that appears in the Financial Times every weekend. It is one of those little things in life that I really enjoy and rarely intentionally miss. He also has a great introductory book on chess titled, An Introduction to Chess Moves and Tactics Simply Explained. Chess has been widely recognized as one of the best games to develop your critical/strategic thinking skills. For those who want to start playing one of the greatest strategy games, this is a great starter book.