Ten police officers and one man with a baseball bat: a Lean story

A few years back when we were working with a UK police force on a Lean transformation project, we put some staff from the IT department in police cruisers with officers for ride-alongs.

In one instance an IT person was able to witness first hand how a communications failure turned a minor neighborhood incident into a major tie-up of police resources.

First some basic info about the command and control system at headquarters. The system handled and recorded incoming information from 999 calls before assessing the situation and dispatching officers to the scene.

In this instance the IT person was in the car when a call come over the radio about 12 youths on a residential street squaring off against each other with sticks and bats. The officer, realizing he’s closest to the scene, asks for more information.

But the dispatcher comes back on and tells him that his system just died and no more information is available.

So the officer sizes up the situation based on the information he has. He’s in a car with some IT guy and he has to decide if he’s going to deal with 12 people swinging bats alone. Well of course he wasn’t go to go into that kind of a situation alone. He’s a police officer, not Batman.

So he calls for backup and goes to a location near the residential area where he will rendezvous with his back up and prepare to engage. In total there are five patrol cars, ten officers, a dog handler, two big dogs of course and a Land Rover.

They’re ready to go in like gangbusters.

And they do. But what they discover is a little different than what the initial report had indicated. Instead of a dozen youths ready to wreck the neighbourhood, they find one drunk guy with a baseball bat yelling at his neighbours from a window in his house.

It sounds like a funny anecdote. But it was really a disaster. Because of the system failure at headquarters, ten officers in five patrol cars were pulled away from other duties. Not to mention the police dogs and their handler.

I say it was a disaster because if those resources were needed anywhere else during that time frame, they would have been unavailable. And given the life and death nature of some police calls, it could have resulted in a very bad outcome at another crime scene.

In the end it was a simple matter of the system being down for five minutes. A quick call to IT and it was fixed. While a solution was eventually put in place to eliminate such outages, it brought home to the police force management just how important their IT department was to the organisation. And it showed the IT person in the car how important their contribution was to keeping the streets safe.

More specifically, the IT department staff saw the importance of ensuring what they do had a clear line of sight to customer outcomes.  The IT department changed their attitude towards their work and made them see their IT job as more than just fixing the force’s technology. In fact, they came to see it was about keeping police officers and the public safe.

They put in a system to link all IT work that included not a strong view as to why the smooth running of the system was key to customer outcomes.

If you would like to have Lloyd Parry work on a Lean solution with your organisation, please get in touch.

Radical-reorganisations

Stopping a Lean change program is a dangerous proposition

Putting a Lean change program in place in an organisation is a bit like a farmer planting seeds and tending to the fields over the summer in anticipation of a great fall harvest. There’s a starting point and an end point. But in between a lot of things have to happen.

And if halfway through the growing season the farmer suddenly decides they don’t want to grow the crop they planted and pull it all up, all the preparations are wasted and there will be nothing to harvest in the autumn.

Of course no farmer in his right mind would rip up his field halfway through the growing season. But unfortunately when it comes to change programs, organisations are notorious for plowing under programs before they’ve had a chance to bare fruit.

I recall working with an organisation during a Lean change transformation when seven out of eight senior managers were dismissed from the company.

That in itself shouldn’t necessarily spell the end of a change process but it usually does.

It generally comes down to egos. The men and women brought in to take over instinctively presumed that the projects championed by their predecessors was part of the reason they they were let go. And so the first order of business was to take things in the opposite direction. To be fair new hires are almost always expected to make changes.  Unfortunately in the haste to make an impact, they often set forth on a campaign of destruction to distance themselves from the previous regime.

It’s the modern equivalent of defacing the statues of the last pharaoh – and just about as thoughtful.

But halting a Lean transformation during implementation can be disastrous on two fronts.

Lean programs are about growing people and if a new management regime halts a program midway through, the achievements that have occurred simply wither on the vine.

It also breaks the social contract  organisations make with the employees during the change. That unwritten contract stipulates that management will look after staff and invest in their future in exchange for the employees investing their careers with management. And if that contract isn’t kept the employees will leave.

Some of them have almost no choice. Because once change agents in an organisation find themselves back in a command and control environment without a change agenda, they leave.

To talk to Lloyd Parry about change for your organisation, please get in touch.

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When a policeman has to use his wife’s cell on the job, its time for a change

When I was working with a UK police force on their Lean transformation, I had an interesting opportunity to speak to their IT department about the importance of IT and how it makes the force more effective.  

What I found in some cases was terrifying and comic in equal doses.

A police officer was interviewed about his police issue mobile phone. He told us that when it broke down it had to go away for two to five weeks. He also noted that at the time of our conversation it had been out for repair four times in five months.

But that’s not the comic or terrifying part.

The officer was asked if he used backup phones. He said he would but they were all out for repair.

So what was his working solution? He used his wife’s phone which was, of course, against departmental regulations. When pressed on this apparent flaunting of protocols, he simply shrugged ‘What would you have me do?’.

So the terrifying and comic part? He was the head of the Rapid Firearms Response Unit. The head of this important part of tactical response policing could have been using his wife’s cellphone during a crisis. Comic and yes, terrifying.

How did it come to be that their communications were in such disarray? Well, the repair process was handled by three different organisations: the IT department, an outsourced repair company with a one-week turnaround service agreement and another company that supplied replacement phones.

The issue, ironically, was communication: none of these departments talked to each other. They were also measured against different targets, there was no context provided to the companies as to the purpose of the service and certainly none taken as to the impact on the customers: the police in the first instance, and most importantly, the public.

This story has a happy ending however. The tale made its way to the Police Commissioner and service for the entire process was brought back in house. Most crucially, the performance indicators were changed from repair times to the standard of no officers being without authorized communications devices.

This story had a long tail in that it set in motion a whole new service strategy from object focussed to customer focused. Things change when you understand and are committed to the customer’s purpose.

To find out how Lloyd Parry can transform your organisation to more effective service parameters, please get in touch.

The wow about the WOW! Awards

Working with Lean over the years, I’ve grown to take special delight in seeing how customer engagement changes, develops and then becomes essential in the growth of an organisation.

Given that, we at Lloyd Parry are happy to have our own Rupert Coles as a judge at this year’s WOW! Awards.

WOW! Is an independent award organisation that rewards great customer service solely through customer compliments. That’s it. No supervisor input.

Whether you’re part of the Lean universe or not, the WOW! Awards are an event every business can look to for examples of how improve the customer contact experience.

The awards are a celebration of the best in customer service and experience  – something that a lot of businesses have lost site of in the age of random cost-cutting and automation.

As an organisation, WOW! created a set of tools to easily facilitate the flow of information from customer to business and then to the employee responsible for the positive customer experience.

I see WOW! and similar organisations as crucial to Lean in that they provide a useful mechanism to not only smooth the feedback process but turn it into positive employee feedback and rewards.

And by championing the finalists for these awards they provide a status in great customer service delivery usually reserved for management success.

The Gala Awards will be held on November 28.

To learn more about the WOW! Organisation and Gala, please click here.

If you’re interested in learning about how LloydParry can put your company into the upper tier of customer-focussed business success, please get in touch.

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The European Lean Educator’s Conference: My Day Two Picks

I’m heading to the  European Lean Educator’s Conference (ELEC) taking place September 16 and 17 in Buckingham. On Tuesday I gave you my run down of sessions for Day 1. Today I’m going to share my Day 2 picks.

To me, conferences such as this one are important for all who attend but especially business people taking in the world of Lean with an eye to bringing it to their companies. They get to talk with fellow attendees, speakers and presenters about the current state of Lean and Agile efforts as well as further applications in the future.

I’ve come up with a list of sessions that I’m looking forward to attending on Day Two, September 14. My Day One picks were in a previous blog, which can be found here. 

Day Two

09:00 – 9:40
Mark Pyne (Ingersoll Rand, Ireland)

Pursuit of Excellence in Shared Services: A Case Study of IRI

Abstract: “Much of today’s thinking and organisational design can be attributed to the work of Frederick Taylor. His obsession for micromanagement sparked the ‘one best way’ mentality of performing work. Organisations, just like science, are now split up into many distinct disciplines. Divide and conquer is assumed to be the best approach. This ‘command and control’ methodology is often supported by automated telephone and workflow management systems.”

I am particularly interested in shared services, as I have worked in the area for some time. I am hoping for something a little more than process flow and simply removing waste.

9:40 – 10:30
Owen Berkeley-Hill (Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India)

Getting Lean back on track

Abstract: “The nature and definition of Lean is always the subject of energetic debate at the many Lean watering holes. Sadly, there is little consensus around what that definition actually is. This presentation argues for a broader interpretation of Lean which could be the basis for a new approach to leadership development.”

Sounds like it might provoke an interesting debate on where Lean is right now and where it needs to develop.

10:50- 11:30
Ameer Robertson(New York City Hospitals, USA)

Deep Lean Learning: How the Legal Service Industry can reinvent itself for long-term sustainability

Abstract: “Through innovative service models, non-lawyers have acquired large segments of the legal service market from legal practitioners. To compete, law firms have turned to limited applications of Lean. But to sustain viability, lawyers must engage in “deeper Lean  learning,” and utilize Lean to its fullest capability. In doing so, law firms will acquire the capacity to proactively adapt to changes in the marketplace and ultimately reinvent the delivery of their services for long-term sustainability.”

Legal Services like any knowledge based work is an excellent area for Lean and Agile thinking, however it’s often made to sound and function like Lean manufacturing –  which takes Lean backwards in these types of environments. I wonder if they came across the same obstacles as I have? I wonder more how they addressed those challenges?

16:30-17:10
Dr Mads Bruun Larsen (University of Southern Denmark)

A model and method for customisation of Simulation Games

Abstract: “Most simulation games played at training sessions use general wordings and a fixed flow and operations. In some cases, this is a serious obstacle to transferring learning from the game to real life. A model and method is presented as a first step toward fast customization for each individual session.”

You can never go wrong with a simulation game in your tool chest  – keeping it on hand to modify, or developing new ones seems to be the life of the Lean Practitioner. Being able to conjure one at a moment’s notice has got me out of many tricky situations. Indeed my own Adaptability Simulation Workshop is a very popular exercise with a few of my more forward thinking clients.

 

So that’s the rundown on how I’ll be spending my time at the ELEC conference this year. Of course the one session I failed to mention was my own at 14.50-15.30 on Day 2, September 14.

Designing organisations that work for Lean and Agile thinking people will demonstrate the importance of organisational design and route-map sequencing to create conducive work-climates for Lean and Agile thinkers.

Please add it to your schedules. I hope to have a good crowd.

If you think I missed an important session, please add it to the comments.

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The European Lean Educator’s Conference: My Day One Picks

When talking to companies about Lean and Agile, I often wish I had a way to have them take a deep dive into the broad universe of thought and opinion on this dynamic way of thinking.

That said, I looked at the schedule for the upcoming European Lean Educator’s Conference (ELEC) taking place September 16 and 17 in Buckingham, UK with an eye to what the business community and my customers can learn from it. 

 

I’ve come up with a list of sessions that I’m looking forward to attending. What follows are my Day One picks. Day Two will follow in the next blog post on Thursday.

Day One

09:15-10.00hrs
Prof. Darrell Mann (Systematic Innovations Ltd)

Counter-Intuitives: Lean, Innovation & Complex Adaptive Systems
Abtract: “Lean for Leaders When we cross the threshold between systems that are complicated and those that are mathematically complex, or when we cross the threshold between the world of Operational Excellence and the world of step-change innovation, many of the Lean truisms turn out to no longer be true.

This presentation will examine some of the counter-intuitive shifts in thinking necessary in order for organisations to successfully survive in a post-’continuous improvement’, innovate-or-die world.

The paper is borne of a seventeen year, 5.5 million case study analysis of what does and does notwork in complex environments, and will explore why there is no such thing as a ‘root cause’, why ‘ready, fire, aim’ is the more appropriate change strategy, how the propensity of butterfly wing flaps to cause distant tornadoes makes the Pareto Principle dangerous, and why some degree of ‘waste’ is critical when our world flips into the mode of a complex adaptive system.

I am particularly interested in organisational adaptability, as I have been involved in this particular field for a number of years. This session’s theme is important not only for practitioners and (increasingly so) chief executives but also start-ups.”

12.00-12.45hrs
Prof. Dr. Christoph Roser (Karlsruhe University of Applied Science, Germany)

The Origins of Lean & Lessons for Today

Abstract: “Lean manufacturing is arguably the best approach to faster, better, and cheaper manufacturing. We all know that Lean originated at Toyota in Japan, from where it spread throughout the world. But Toyota did not imagine their Toyota production system out of thin air. They took many good ideas from others. The Toyota production system, and hence Lean, is based on inspiration from the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan, and others.

The achievement of Toyota is to merge these ideas in a new and unique approach to manufacturing that the world has never seen before. Let’s have a look at some of the many origins of Lean production. But remember, the giants of Lean stood themselves on the shoulders of Giants…”

Much of LLoyd Parry’s work has been with a number of companies in Germany – where there seems to be a much more open attitude to accepting and experimenting with new ideas. Lean and Agile is no exception. The ‘engineering – logic’ aspect of Lean and Agile seems to resonate with German management practices. I really interested to see how they managed with the soft side of Lean and Agile with regards to changing behaviours and cultures.

15.45-16.15hrs
Belinda Waldock (Being Agile)

Agile for Lean People

Belinda helps teams and businesses find and hone their agility to support growth and improvement. She is author of Being Agile in Business, an introduction to agile working for the whole business, a professionally qualified ILM Coach and Mentor in business, and a Computer Science graduate. Working with a diverse array of businesses she supports the development of growth strategies through technology, teams and leadership using agile methods and practices.

There are still serious misconceptions  and misunderstandings within the Lean and Agile Communities, leading to futile discussions about Lean trying to become Agile on the shop floor and Agile trying to scale up using Lean. I have written on this issue in the past and I am sure it’s a subject I’ll return to it again after the conference and inspired by this session.

16.15-17.00hrs
Sir Anthony Seldon (University of Buckingham)

Innovation in Education

Abstract: “Education is just about to enter its fourth revolution in 10,000 years. Delegates must puzzle out what the first three were before hearing about the fourth!”

I’ve often wondered why it has taken so long for academia to make the connection between education and Lean – which is the best known business learning system available to managers today. It will be interesting to see how they apply Lean – to create better, more effective, learning experiences for students that teach them the principles of continuous learning. More importantly I’m also looking forward to how they use Lean to ‘Lean our administration processes’.

In closing day one looks like a cracker. The content across all the sessions looks great and if you can’t find something in the list you like, then by all means go through the agenda and make your own. And if you want to add a few more with your reasons for choosing them, go ahead and add them in the comments below.

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Spotlight on the European Lean Educator Conference 2016

Anyone immersed in Lean culture will be heading to Buckingham in the UK for the third edition of the European Lean Educator’s Conference (ELEC) and for good reason.

Although this is only the third ELEC conference, its updates on teaching, supporting and applying Lean, make it an engaging deep dive into all things Lean in 2016. It’s also a superb opportunity to engage with others in the lean community.

The conference theme is Lean Education Outside of Manufacturing which will range from topics such as lean product design, product innovation and lean in the office to applications from fields such as healthcare and lean in education.

More specifically, the presentations include Innovation in Education, Systems Thinking and Re-thinking Lean, Counter-Intuitives: Lean, Innovation & Complex Adaptive Systems and Agile for Lean People. That noted, there are many others that also intrigue which goes to what a fascinating conference this is going to be.

Lean is currently making forays into many fields and getting a current survey of its penetration in European cultures, business and otherwise, is extremely valuable.

I will be speaking at the conference on Designing Organisations That Work for Lean and Agile Thinking People. The presentation will demonstrate the importance of organisational design and route-map sequencing to create conducive work-climates for Lean and Agile thinkers.

I’m particularly interested in speaking with leaders to find out how they are using the principles of lean to create adaptable organisations.

If you’re planning to attend and would like to connect simply send me a note and we’ll make it happen.

Next week I’ll have my picks for what sessions I think will be of most value. So stay tuned!

To read more about the ELEC conference, please click here. Keep in mind that registration is open until September 5.