Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Design vs Manufacturing

Seth Godin has a great blog piece today about defining quality. He makes a distinction between two types of quality: quality of manufacturing and quality of design. It’s a lot easier to get to quality of manufacturing. Quality of design is much harder to define and achieve. Guess which we do more of?

Leadership is more about quality of design: the experience of using a product, how much you enjoy working at a business, the real learning when taking a class, the satisfaction you get volunteering in your community or the quality of the dining experience at a restaurant. Not that quality of manufacturing is unimportant. It supports quality of design. Quality of manufacturing should be a means to get to quality of design. Good leadership takes both into account but understands which is the priority.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Short-term Change Leads To Long-term Results

I’ve heard it many times: I can’t change. That’s just the way I am!

It’s a simple excuse for not making changes. On the other hand, I’ve also seen people who try to do a complete and very dramatic wholesale change focusing on numerous items. My advice has always been to focus one or two things to change in your life, be it personal or professional. It is the small, cumulative changes that are easier to manage and more likely to be long-term successes.

Going for a large-scale transformation (diet, exercise, sleep, work habits, education goals, spiritual goals, etc.) is often overwhelming and less likely to be successful, long-term change. Humans, like many other creatures, tend to deal better with incremental, focused changes.

Whether you are seeking to end bad habits or start good ones, it seems to be best to pick one or two and work on those. Once you have those more or less under control, then you can move on to the next.

In this TED presentation, Matt Cutts, an engineer at Google, offers a simple approach to making changes in your life, one thing at a time. As he points out, after the 30 days, the change has likely become permanent.

Whether you’re trying to change your diet or your poor communication skills, focus on one item that you change for 30 days. Then, see your progress at the end of period and see how much longer you can keep it up after that. You will likely find that maintaining the change will be fairly easy.

If you want to improve your leadership skills, make it a 6- or 12-month plan. Identify 6 or so key changes you want to make in your life. Start with the most important one and go. The next month, go on to the next one and so on. Hopefully, in one year, you will have made some significant changes. You many not make each change completely, but you will be well on your path of improved leadership. You will have some failures, but you can always start a new calendar any day of the year.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Innovation's Nine Critical Success Factors

Mark Sebell and Jay Terwilliger, managing partners at Creative Realities, Inc., a Boston-based innovation management collaborative, argue that your group needs to have some basic structure in place to innovate productively, in a post at the Harvard Business Review. They cite nine factors. See how your organization rates on these:

1. A compelling case for innovation.
2. An inspiring, shared vision of the future.
3. A fully aligned strategic innovation agenda.
4. Visible senior management involvement.
5. A decision-making model that fosters teamwork in support of passionate champions.
6. A creatively resourced, multi-functional dedicated team
7. Open-minded exploration of the marketplace drivers of innovation.
8. Willingness to take risk and see value in absurdity.
9. A well-defined yet flexible execution process.

Check out the full descriptions in the HBR post. Rate your organization from 1 to 10, with ten being outstanding.