Manage Well: The 3 Questions

Bring a team into high productivity and positive morale with “The 3 Questions”.  Managers must master these.  Imbed them into your psyche.  Repeat them in your sleep.  Make them your meditational mantra.  Get it.

What is the down-line impact of this action?  How often do you have problems in production or sales or finance because of an inadequate exploration of this question?  What will happen in accounting if we promote this new product line at 5% markdown?  What will happen to other product lines?  Can marketing adjust in time for the sales season?  Will production be ready to handle sales volumes?

Put off this question at maximum risk of failure.  Even the simplest action in a sequence of workflow has to pursue an expanded understanding before change.  If we print this at a new size, will the finishing team be able to handle it?  If we promote a new advantage to our product will it meet compliance guidelines?  When we implement this change to our computer program for billing will it cause extra workload at 3am that affects another unrelated cycle?  There is no end to implications of one actions on other team action.  No one can know them all.  But you need to ask.

Who else needs to know?  How familiar is your team with the interaction of what they do with others?  Do you have workers living in a vacuum?  Have you taken time to educate them about interplay with other departments, people, teams, divisions, customers, and vendors?  When you change the usage of a machine, it might be wise to include the manufacturer in the discussion.  Ask often, “Who else needs to know?”

What is your information plan to include them?  When do they need to know?  Do they have access to enhanced information that might help you make a better decision before advancing?

Work with a production team with large dependency on delivery cycles proved out value here.  The delivery team was constantly a day behind.  They were only being informed at the time of pickup.  By moving the information to them at time of beginning of production, a day was cut out of delivery cycle to the customer and orders increased with increased customer satisfaction.  The sales team also needed to know at the same time instead of being informed only after delivery.  This enabled them to engage the customer along the path with pertinent and reliable information.  Who else needs to know?

What is the best use of my time right now?  After you ask the first two questions, answer this one.  Too often we ask this one and answer it only considering what we know and what we are doing.  We need to consider what others know and what they are doing.  A project launch could falter due to conflicting priorities in the organization.  A customer order may not be deliverable as requested due to a supply shortage and should be renegotiated.  After considering the plans and availabilities of others and related resources, we may want to work on an entirely different project or action and time this one in front of us into another day or week.

Summary Simplicity:   These 3 questions are priceless practice for any manager for self decisions and for training team members in their decisions.  After working with a team for a season on these, you will find they become masters of the top manager rule.  What is the top manager rule?  NO SURPRISES.  These questions eliminate the element of surprise and provide a foundation for a self managed team.

Ask them often.

What is the down-line impact of my action?

Who else needs to know?

What is the best use of my time right now?

Be Busy Building Better Business,

Phil

Phil@shepherdok.com

405.388.8037

Presence Communicates Production Priority

Managers and leaders communicate priority by where they spend their time. Production teams make America happen. A walk through a production press room tells the workers they are important and what they do is important. Stopping by the front desk in the morning and looking the receptionist in the eye followed by a specific word of appreciation tells the company that guests are important. Openly discussing decisions and gaining feedback from the team along the way gives them a stake. Presence communicates production priority.

30 years of overseeing production teams 24/7 leaves me with a little insight on helping a shift through their day. Every shift is a day in itself. Each one needs right attention and priority.

Every meeting you attend, every walk down the hallway, every lunch in public communicates your deepest heart. You are being watched. An encouraging word, a kind action, opening a door for someone else, or a playful interchange all communicate compassion and priority.

An ancient proverb tells us to not muzzle the oxen as they tread grain. One visual picture we draw is of an ox pulling along in a field being harvested. He needs to munch a little every once in a while. He needs to gain benefit while working, not just at the end of the season. Your presence and encouragement is one of the daily benefits you can give with little cost and great results. Corporate parties, big meetings and bonuses help. They can never replace personal attention and involvement. Presence communicates production priority every day and communicates concern for the people.

Early In The Day Sets A Tone
A manager starts the day for work teams. A little whistle up the hallway in the morning tells the team it is a bright day. P lesant greetings communicate positive expectation and confidence. It is not just physical presence but emotional engagement that builds a productive team of individuals bound by mission.

Middle Of The Day Stimulates
By mid day in a production crew, sales team, customer service group, or any other set of individuals bound by mission, there have been problems. Opportunity to turn dour has come many times by noon. This is one perfect moment to inspire and prioritized. Where you spend the last minutes before lunch tells the team where to focus.

A purposeful and thoughtful communication to key team members on priority projects can keep problems from dominating. Customer service needs to keep moving while issues are resolved. Down equipment needs attended. Production schedules may need adjusted considering current availability. Sales teams may need a pep talk to overcome any weight of complaints.

End Of The Day Rules Over Tides
By the end of a good day, there have been powerful moments and struggling moments. Tides have pressed against the team attempting to bring them to defeat. They need presence. They need reinforcement that the customer is king and the team is in your heart. You need to let them know you are one their side. Before you go home, visit the oncoming team and give them the same whistling start you gave the first team.

Summary: Presence communicates production priority. Production is the ox of your company. Sales must happen. Production must run seamless. An ancient proverb tells us to not muzzle the ox as he treads the grain. Consider your time and attention and presence as unmuzzling the oxen. Invest in your people. They are the strength of the company.

Be Busy Building Better Business.  Have a Great Day!

Phil

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On Sept 16th at 11:45am join Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center for Fathering, Hon. James Lankford, U.S. House of Representatives, Chuck Bowman, Larry Campbell, Imagenet+ Consulting, R.K. Black, Kimray, Tom Hill, keyevado, Shepherd Consulting, Willow Creek Golf and Country Club and others.

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Fix The Plumbing

Don’t hand your customer toilet paper for a messy problem. Fix the plumbing.

Creative managers create solutions alongside staff. Duct tape and WD40 and vise grips may be all that is needed to do small jobs around the house. That won’t do in a productive and viable business. You need to fix the plumbing. You need to eliminate the repeating problem. You need to take responsibility instead of putting the issue in the customer’s hands. Don’t make them clean it up.

Good service management attends to a few items. There are incidents and service requests, problems and changes. Keep clarity between items. Address appropriately.

Incidents and Service Requests: These two items make up the bulk of customer service.

A service request is what we live to do. A customer asks for a product or service to be delivered. So do it. Do it with excellence and alacrity. Do it with pizzazz and punctuality. Do it. A service request may ask for an altered product or service or a new product or service. That means we have to jump into the area of change and that is another manage well article.

An incident is what we wish would never happen. While delivering a product or service, something is not right. Color is too light. The size is too big. The pizza came with pepperoni instead of black olives. The customer wanted 250 and we delivered 1000. While working with a client, every other email returned an error. My service provider was experiencing incidents. Thankfully they cleared the issue, but not before my customer had to wait extra minutes waiting on reports to be delivered as I had promised. Incidents need to be restored to proper service levels immediately and product or service delivered.

Problems and Changes: Confuse these and your customers will suffer unreasonable delays and constant delivery disruption.

Problems are incidents that won’t go away until a change is installed or a fix applied. A fix is just a fancy name for a change. When the plumbing backed up into my house through the shower drain, it impressed me something was tragically wrong. All the paper towels and mop buckets would not resolve this. When a problems occurs you need to look for root cause of the issue and determine a resolution or change to be made to stop the incidents from coming back. The sewer main had collapsed at the saddle in my back yard blocking all drainage from the house. The city came, sent cameras down the lines, and claimed it was an incident, it was my incident, and they were going home. I don’t think so. A friend and I dug seven foot deep in my back yard until we found the collapsed connection leading to the major collapsed connection. The city came back and repaired at much expense and then paid to restore my house to right order. Their paper towel and toilet paper solution was not going to fix my backhoe and major plumbing problem. Full repair and restoration was needed. The root cause had to be determined and a change made to get us back on track.

Changes move the nature of the service into a different order. Replacing the main saddle in my back yard not only restored right water flow out of the house, it took care of a sinkhole that could have swallowed one of my children. No one knew the sink hole existed until we dug up the yard. There were bigger problems looming that the change repaired. Changes fix things for good. Not necessarily forever, but for good. And they have potential to adjust the nature of the product or service. By handing me a toilet paper solution the city was setting us all up for some major pain.

Kudos for the city. The next time I had a city potential issue, the service manager came out, inspected, found a crack in the line feeding water to my house, repaired it, installed a new meter, and made me a happy man. It was a different experience and one for which I am grateful. Oh, they also reversed charges on my water bill even though the leak appeared to be in my pipe not the city pipe. That is service. They took responsibility for a debatable item and went an extra step. I love my city’s service.
Summary: Get your customer back to service as rapidly as possible. And then look deeper to determine if a problem exists that will cause service to be impacted again. Find the root and fix the plumbing. Work on your shop processes. Look for machine malfunctions. Examine reporting routines. Do whatever it takes to eliminate repeating incidents. Your customer will appreciate. Your business will grow.

Be Busy Building Better Business Have a Great Day!

Phil

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Exceptions Are Not Rules: 3 Safe Guards

The life of a manager would not be complete without that wonderful day where she finds herself stumped as to why a staff member acted in a certain manner inconsistent with policy.  After several months of training a colleague, you find them going a different direction than guided.  It is inevitable.  It will happen.

The next surprise is when they tell you it was  your idea.  What?  My idea?  What incredible bump do you have on your head that caused such a thought?  Have you lost your mind?  Where did you get that idea?

Then you remember.  You remember the question you answered last week in the middle of a major emergency.  A customer needed an exception to your normal policy for a critical project.  You authorized the team to process the job in a different manner.  It was an exception needed and specific to that day and that job and that customer.  Now, it is a rule.  Now, it is embedded in the minds of staff as the way to cut a job short.

Of course, if you take this exception route on a routine basis you will lose all your profits, mix up customer work orders, and generally destroy the business.  One time on a special project is okay with manager discretion.  Any time on normal jobs with a staff discretion is chaos.

Every manager must understand exceptions, communicate them clearly, and contain expanded usage.

Understand Exceptions

The impact of an exception on the minds of team members is big.  They watch you, manager.  They take clues for action from your action.  When you step out of the normal, they believe it is okay to do the same anytime they so choose.  Get it?  Get it!  Guard it.

Understand your own decision.  You cannot simply make an exception without understanding and being able to explain to someone else.

Exceptions are not meant to be rules; however, if you don’t take the next two steps, they will become rules.

Communicate Clearly

Exceptions will cause a problem.  They will.  You have order and rules to prevent problems.  Okay, accept that and be prepared to contain the problem.  Of course, you accommodate for that in your decision.  Explain the problem.  Explain the accommodation.  Explain why this is a onetime decision.  Be prepared for questions and distrust.  Yes, you worked hard to communicate why you would never do what you just did and then you did it.  But, it was an exception, right?  You really did have a reason other than you just wanted to do it?  Right?

Let your leaders and decision makers know this is an exception, why you made it, and how they might follow your logic in their next decision.  Logic?  You had some, right?

Contain Expanded Usage

After an exception, reinforce the rule.  Take time to pull documentation if necessary and explain why this is a onetime decision and why not to do it with any regularity.  Be honest.  Did you do it for political purposes?  Then explain the urgency of the situation and protocol you followed.  Did you do it to prevent  Don’t hide behind, “Because I said so.”  That is weak and lacks open communication to the team.

Summary:  Do these three things when you make an exception and they won’t become a rule.

Be attentive and cautious when making exceptions that they really fulfill your direction.

Always enjoy managing the exceptions and the disciplines.

Be Busy Building Business  Have a Great Day!

Phil

========================================

I need your help. I need you to join me for lunch.  (It is okay if you want to just give to the work also if you can’t come.)

Register now. http://www.championfatherstourney.org

On Sept 16th at 11:45am join Carey Casey, CEO of the National Center for Fathering, Hon. James Lankford, U.S. House of Representatives, Chuck Bowman, Larry Campbell, Imagenet+ Consulting, R.K. Black, Kimray, Tom Hill, keyevado, Shepherd Consulting, Willow Creek Golf and Country Club and others.

Your registration goes directly to works in progress at Tulakes Elementary in North OKC, Epperly Heights Elementary in Del City, East OKC, West OKC, Dad’s University, and Matamoros families. Through the support of a friend, lunch expenses are covered. That means your registration goes directly to the work.

You can join for golf afterwards, if you would like. But, I need you to join me for lunch.

You can sponsor more, but, I need you to join me for lunch.

Register Now: http://www.championfatherstourney.org/

Are you a PMO or a PCO?

Entitlement breeds discontent. There really is no productive way to look at entitlement. Don’t read this if you like entitlement organizations. Don’t read this if you enjoy getting something for existing.

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” Margaret Thatcher

Business, NGO, and government must face the question. Are a PMO or a PCO?

“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” Abraham Lincoln

PMO – Poverty Maintenance Organization

PCO – Positive Change Organization

PMOs proliferate under social thrusts. The easy part of being a charitable organization is asking people to give for compassionate repair and reparation and life needs. Food, clothes, housing, and basics are all needed. People will give to maintain a certain level of poverty in another’s life. Poverty is the mentality that there is never enough resource and my efforts will never be rewarded adequately. Poverty is a codependent focus instead of an interdependent cooperation. Poverty is not an economic condition. Lack of economic resource is a result of poverty mentality and living. Societies and organizations that promote systemic adaptation to low rewards encourage economic, moral, and mental poverty.

PMOs proliferate under corporate mentality. Oops, you thought this was about charities. Any business that purses entitlement mentality of ‘get the minimum done to get paid and get benefits’ is as life force destructive as a charity giving out groceries to people who need growth. Businesses that emphasize fun and frivolity and fairness and equality usually end up with a work force bent on work avoidance and entitlement expectation. Those are all good things. They need to be built alongside productivity and profitability. After all business is about a fair return on investment. Jobs happen when profits happen.

PMO is the way of life of the government. Government consumes more and more of the community resource as laws get added and modified and bureaucracy grows and grows. It is impossible for all the government entities to pay off the exorbitant early retirement programs that are inequitable and inconsistent with business productivity. More and more cities, states, and nations have reached bankrupt points of no return. PMO.

How do you become a PCO when you are a PMO?

Positive change organizations proliferate under reward and recognition. Now, reward and recognition do not mean everyone gets the same dole or the longest tail gets the biggest piece of the pie. In a PCO, reward comes in relation to present contribution not position or power or political expertise.

In parenting theory we call that love and logic. Raising children in a positive environment keys on establishing positive and negative consequences for behavior. Reinforce that environment consistently and a productive citizen is formed. Oh, that is also a great system for correction systems and addiction recovery. Entitlement is an addiction. I used to believe nicotine was the hardest addiction to break. Entitlement is tougher.

So how do you change from PMO to PCO. This little graphic maps the path.

entitlementtoconsequence

Document the state of entitlement. Confront the facts. Identify where behavioral consequences are missing. Quantify the cost to your organization of death by indecision. Decide which battles you are willing to fight. Any reversal of entitlement will be met with violent resistance and revolt. Better to build with encouragement and consequence systems, but PMO happens. So be real and be honest.

Communicate change repetitively to those involved. Give plenty of lead time to the change but not so much that griping and groaning have time to build barriers. That is a fine balance.

Start rewarding productive behaviors before removing entitlement doles. This won’t change anything, but it will establish a new thought pattern in those affected. It might have been so long since they had positive reward for productivity that they have forgotten what dignity feels like. Entitlement strips dignity and inner drive. Dignity based on reality has to be instilled fresh.

Move to consequence and positive reward. You might find this difficult. Your management team may have no idea how to identify positive and productive behavior. They are used to promoting entitlement and systemized to zombie workplace. Dilbert might be their favorite cartoon for a reason. Of course, as the executive leader admit your guilt in leadership. You will have to change, too. The greatest failures of organizations wanting to make this move is that top leadership credits the workforce for being more powerful than the executives and blames them instead of the mirror. Truthfully, it takes combined efforts of management and work team to enter entitlement and to exit entitlement.

Measure Shock and Fear. This will be large. Get ready. Get poised. Backbiting, blaming, and bickering will explode. But it will pass if you hold ground. Keep focus on where you are going, encourage the afflicted, and do not let this stop you. If you stop here, you will find it doubly difficult to work on this in the future. Many companies sell out at this point and leave the issues for the new owner. They may scuttle great managers and executives as sacrifices to the masses. Don’t doubt in the dark what you know in the light. Keep moving forward. Plan to run. Run the plan.

Productive Behavior and Growth. Here is where you land. Here is where you focus. Here is where you want to be. The Positive Change Organization promotes, inspires, and realizes productive behavior and growth. Not everyone can exist in this environment. Yes, you may lose some people you had believed to be key. Not everyone wants to change. Try to salvage them, but don’t sink productivity in the process. New leaders will rise. They’ve been poised for this new environment and potential was shadowed in the old system. Now you can see them.

PMO or PCO? You decide every day with every decision what environment you wish to build.

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Change is Never Straight

Controlled chaos is a normative term in the management of change.  Change is never straight.  Change defies a linear constraint.  Change is messy and change is curved.   Leaders must be curved people.

Mentoring a growth team, we reviewed normal impact of change on the growth leader.  In this model vision leads to planning and implementation leads to problems and pressures leads to perseverance leads to accomplishment and success leads to celebration and rejoicing leads to increased vision.  Or you can choose crisis instead of perseverance which leads to exhaustion and withdrawal can lead to restoration can lead to increased vision.  Or crisis can abort the progress.  There are hundreds of divergent paths that may happen.  Change is messy and curves a lot.

Change is not for straight line people.  They are good at regular performance and processes.  Change bothers them.  A leader must learn to be a curved person.  Change is inevitable and needed. Leaders lead through the curves.

There is one major curve in change you should explore and master.  It is the curve between your starting level of productivity and your landing level of productivity.  In that curve lies all the potential for disaster and triumph.  In that curve many leaders lose sight of vision.  In that curve success is assured and failure is certain.  Master the curve and master change.

Starting Level: Preceding productivity curve is your present level of productivity and accomplishment.  How successful are you?  What are your measurements?  Know them and get them recorded. changecurve

Plan: Now, plan the change that you intend to take your business or other endeavor into the next level of productivity.  Go from 100 widgets a day to 200 widgets a day.  Add a new product line while keeping current production levels on others.  Penetrate a new market.  Implement improvement in service.  Change for growth.

 Launch: Launch the change.  Communicate, take action, and plunge into the change.  Paralysis by analysis is deadly.  There is a moment and point of demarcation.  Take it.  Fall off the mountain.  That’s right fall off the mountain of your current productivity level.

Freefall:  Change causes freefall.  Problems come from change. Teams get confused.  Productivity decreases while people absorb new information.  The right screw becomes the wrong screw.  Questions abound.  Production plummets.  This was in your plan, right?  You made allowance for this, correct?  No?  Whoops.  Fingers get pointed.  Doubt crawls up the ladder to challenge the change rationale.

Adjust:  Light shines.  People push through learning curves.  The services straighten out on the planned track.  There is smiling in the camp instead of groaning.  You knew you would get here, you just wished it had happened on schedule and without the problems.  The changes begin to push productivity above your starting level.

Landing Level:  Why endure the pain of change?  Reach new levels.  Plan diligently.  Execute well.  Adapt strong.  Obtain outcomes.  Receive reward.  Of course, it does not always look so pretty.  You might drag onto the landing level scarred and scattered.

Summary:  This conversation is one I’ve had with hundreds of learning leaders.  Every new leader expects smooth change, gets into the curve, panics, and needs some encouragement.  Have your eyes open when you enter the change curve.  You still might get blindsided, but you will be ready.  Adapt with good and frequent communication and intentional feedback points.   Go ahead and fall off the mountain.  The landing spot is higher than where you stand.

Manage Well – Kill The Vine

“I don’t take requests for people who are not in front of me.  That’s called gossip.”

Every manager must intersect with this issue.  Every manager must stop this issue as soon as it comes.  You cannot let gossip abide in your team.  No greater destructive force exists in the workplace.

What is gossip?  Gossip is a negative leaning comment spoken by one person about another person who is not in the present conversation.  Sorry if you don’t agree, that is my definition and I stick to it.  After leading tens of thousands of constituents, members, and workers, this definition helps limit pain and promote a healthy environment.

What does it sound like?  “Well, have you heard Jay is having trouble at home?”  Innocuous?  Hardly.  This is a loaded, pain giving, detrimental, judgmental statement that has no place in a healthy work environment.  Managers, you need to get this out of your meetings.  You need to get this out of your hallways and back rooms. This is political minded manipulation and leads to the wrong decisions and conclusions.

Where does it come from? Sometimes it has a compassionate root.   We really want to be tender and understanding toward others.  How many times have I said something like this?  Too often.  That is why managers must have a no nonsense approach to prohibiting.  All of us slip into these thoughts.  Humans just do it.  Our nature leans to wanting to include others in our judgments for affirmation of ideas.  But, it hurts others.

Where else does it come from?  Sometimes it is simply poisonous.  Yes, there are many who live to manipulate the thinking of those around them.  Of course you know who they are.  They are attached to the rumor vine in the work place and incipiently receive and feed the monster.  Ever had a good associate maligned by the vine and lose credibility?  It happens.  The most astute executives fall prey to listening to viners and forgetting the source of the slander.  We allow hall talkers to get into our circle and affect our decision making.

How do you stop it?  You can’t.  But you can limit influence on yourself and you can constrain the amount flowing in your teams.  One third shift worker came to me in a shop and complained about having to hear continual negative talk from other workers.  Night shifts get boring.  People don’t have access to all the day information.  Gossip flows.  It was a good time for some intervention.  One by one I met with each night, second, and day shift worker on the team.  One by one, I looked each of them in the eye.  One by one, I gave each of them permission to respond to any company or non-company person and say the following statement when another would start a negative complaint about another team member. “That person is my co-worker.  I like to think well of them.  I’d prefer you did not make negative comments to me.  Why don’t you talk directly to them.”  When a predatory maligner hits that wall a few times, they tend to take the pain to some other group in their life like church or family or the bar down the street.  Gossip loves the path of least resistance.

What if there is truth to it?  So?  Truth is not the issue.  Negative conversation is the issue.  When my children begin to learn some reason (three years old), I instruct each of them this way.  “Don’t tattle on your brother.  If he is doing something dangerous, come tell me.  Otherwise, just talk to him.”  Hopefully, your team is older than three. Of course if a team member is doing drugs on the job or being malicious or not following procedures action needs taken. Team members may have not been able to reach them or feel threatened if they try. Then,  it must be moved up the chain.  Maybe a couple of coworkers can get together with the person (not alone behind the back) and talk it out before running it up the manager pole.

What happens if you don’t address it?  It will eventually undermine the performance of the team.  Negative politics is a painful way to live and inefficient in decision outcomes.  The cumulative effect will strip away at morale.  People will avoid creative thought and innovation.  A dull zombie glaze might be noticed in the team when it is advanced.

Summary:  My hard line stance of not taking requests for another person communicates quite clearly.  When a coworker of Jack comes with the seemingly harmless, “Jack would like to take next Friday off.”  I respond with, “I’d be glad to entertain Jack’s request. Why not have Jack ask me, himself?” and go on with good managing.  Communicate open concern along with privacy.

At the lake, I have an acre in the woods.  Poison ivy likes to vine and pop up in the shade of the trees.  Every Spring, out comes the herbicide and I walk the property and kill every leaf I can find of the stuff. When I started doing this it took an hour and even some digging up of vines.  After three years, it takes a few minutes.  if you stop a vine when the sprout pokes through the ground, you don’t have to deal with a thumb thick vine or an hundred instances at the base of every tree.

The Rule of Synergy: Three Have to Have Accelerators

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” Phil

Engage others in creative and synergistic endeavors.  Purposefully find ways to force team member interplay for power results.  Be sensitive and firm.  This is not a day at the ropes course.  This is in the work place on real tasks that have real risk of failure and real potential for success and reward.

“Ineffective people live day after day with unused potential. They experience synergy only in small, peripheral ways in their lives. But creative experiences can be produced regularly, consistently, almost daily in people’s lives. It requires enormous personal security and openness and a spirit of adventure.” Steven Covey

It takes a LEADER: Good executive leaders understand this rule.  Leadership is required.  Manager thought tends to avoid this risky behavior. Lead.

Personal Security: The workplace should ooze with personal security and powerful self esteem and a sense of individual dignity.  Of course it might not be happening where you lead.  Then you need to work on it.  People need to understand accountability and responsibility and the safety of making mistakes from which we learn.

Accountability means I understand my actions and results impact all those around me and I account that into my decisions.  Others will hold me accountable for what I do.  They will rejoice in tandem, forgive forthright mistakes, and hold me responsible for results both individual and together.

Responsibility means my action will impact me directly.  I get it.  I understand it.  I welcome it.  Good or bad results, I am responsible for my actions.

Personal security can only be reinforced in such a dual environment.  Many lack personal security and are looking for everyone from mom and dad to the government to supervisors to take responsibility for their success or failures.  Those people cannot thrive in synergy at optimum levels.  But they can start where they are, grow, and experience more daily.

Openness: Every team has to find the place of what Jim Collins calls, “brutally confronting the facts.”  It is not negative.  It is a direct and non-personal approach to dealing with the blips, glitches, misstatements, wrong turns, customer complaints, and missed deadlines.  Dancing around the issues because a team member is overly sensitive inhibits synergy.  You have to want synergy.  You have to desire synergy.  You have to yearn for synergy to get past covered conversations into open, intelligent discussion.

Spirit of Adventure:  A community leader speaking at a business leaders’ lunch asked for a show of hands.  “Who loves to do things with uncertain results and a high risk?”  Only one hand among 450 went up.  “Well”,  he said, “that is the definition of adventure.”  Among all of these senior executives, bankers, lawyers, CEOs, and wizened warriors of the workplace, the sense of adventure had died.  For synergy to happen every day, the third ingredient is a spirit of adventure.  Individually and together the team needs to led into a continual spirit of adventure.

On a powerfully synergistic team, a client came with a bothersome technical improbability.  Theoretically, what they were doing should work.  But, it was failing at several levels of production and the supporting vendors had sent them to us for resolution.  After some frustrating attempts, one of the team just would not let it go.  He tested and tried and worked with the other members to come up with a solution.  At first, we discovered how to force it through our production engine, but only with effort.  Then synergy exploded.  A simple solution was implemented that allowed the originating production shop to perform without having to upgrade their equipment or outsource the job to us.  Our team invented themselves synergistically out of a job that was highly profitable.  Openness means honesty.  Sense of personal security means do the right thing for the client.  Spirit of adventure means taking on the improbable and finding a way to do it anyway.

Manage Well – Document – Publish – Train – Measure DPTM

Manage Well : Document- Publish – Train – Measure: DPTM

Capability maturity models for process in management are based on a simple principle.  Document what you expect.  Publish it to others.  Train them.  Follow up with measurement to ensure it is being used and results are being achieved as designed.  Some years before I knew anything about CMM, this was hammered into me by an astute manager and mentor.  This can apply to any area.  Don’t just focus on daily routines.  Think about quarterly reports or employee review handling.   What about an organizational change?  Is it right to use email and quick information on high impact items while painstakingly covering easy routines?  But, we do it, don’t we?

You don’t have to belong to the training department or use games to get this.  Simple and consistent application of these principles will win you fans in your team.

Why It Works:  When you DPTM, you should consider using as many different modes as possible.   Don’t just write it down in an email and expect people to understand and follow.  It won’t happen.

There are seven understood, primary roots of understanding in learning.

Kinetic – Do it.  Touch it.  Get physical with it.  In a production shop, there are many for whom this is the deepest root of understanding.

Emotional – Yes, some people have to get emotional to ‘Get it.’  Emotions have a big vocabulary.  Anger, hatred, frustration, joy, happiness, anxiety, fear, angst, wild hearted abandon, quizzical, consternation, confusion, engaged, light-hearted, enchanted, apoplexy, fixation, consumed, apathetic, mournful.  Some people have to grieve over the last item to receive the next one.  Believe it and allow for it.  Don’t judge team members while they are sorting through emotions.  It is a learning process.  Now, if they camp on negative emotions, you have some issues to resolve.

Intellectual – Wow.  Yes, we all want our team members to study and understand what is happening.  But, it is not required for everyone.

Discussion – Even if the subject itself is not discussed, if there is discussion surrounding the process or procedure, it makes for better understanding.  Even a negative discussion can open up the ability to understand.  Leave this out at a major risk of disconnecting.  I’ve seen  great people leave companies just because this was not handled well.

Music – Ever wonder why that teenager can learn with loud music in the background or why every movie has sound continually?  It helps.  For some, it is necessary.

Auditory – We all need to hear what is happening.

Visual – Get your eyes on it.  Look over the documents.  Attach some graphics.  This does not mean literal learning.  Many visuals do not connect with the words and paper.  They need additional stimulus with color and graphics and maybe even motion.

None of us use only one of these for understanding.  Engage them all and you will cover your team’s needs.  The more modes of communication, the deeper the message tends to embed.

What each means: DPTM

Document: When you document a policy or process or procedure, you write it down.  That can and should include supporting graphics and video and screen captures where appropriate.  Email is not documentation.  Email might be a delivery method for a document, but an email itself should never be considered good documentation.  Documentation is compliance checked, authorized, categorized, organized, stored, and retrievable.  Back pocket documentation is dangerous.

Publish: Once you have agreed upon documentation that represents the policy, process, or procedure, you need a communication system that ensures all upstream and downstream team members involved have been notified.  Give adequate time for review and questions.

Train:  Oh, boy.  This one is skipped too often.  Well, she should have read it, right?  Wrong.  Train with the published documentation in hand or on screen. Verify and ask revealing questions that help you understand if they understand.  Let the person solo the procedure with the trainer observing.  In fact, have the trainer do the process in front of the person before they attempt to solo.  Make sure the documentation is readily available for the trainee to refresh.  Sometimes you can forget a key point or go long periods between using a procedure and need that original training material alongside at 3am.

Get a sign off.  That is not a failsafe.  It does challenge the trainee to pay close attention and communicate if it does not make sense to them.

Measure:  Include verification and communication of measurement criteria for any routine.  This is a good place to make sure the trainee understands what the expected result looks like when the process or procedure is completed or the policy followed.  Then implement a measurement tool on a frequency fit to task.  Everything doesn’t need measured every iteration, but much does and patterns monitored for continuous service improvement.

Manage well.  Apply sensible principles.  Consider impact.  Have fun.