Collaborating with the Critic


I paid my wife one of the highest compliments I can think of today – I told her that she was a great critic!  

I think she understood what I meant, but her raised eyebrow leads me to believe I have some  ‘splainin ” to do.

The short-lived tagline of this blog used to say, “Where values are not aligned, it is there you will find waste.”   My intent was to use a clever take-off from the Value Stream mapping process that allows you to see waste in processes by observing where the flow of products or services and information stop flowing.  Many lean practitioners will tell you that Value Stream mapping is a valuable tool in their continuous improvement toolbox.  It looks at work from the point of view of the customer and asks if the customer is willing to pay for the activity.  If not, then the work is viewed as “Non-value added”  and you should strive to reduce or eliminate the activity.  A focus on process improvement, through the elimination of waste will result in a higher Value-add / Non-value add ratio of work, shorten the overall lead time from order to delivery, and improve the quality and productivity of a process.  This ultimately leads to lower costs and higher value to the customer. 

Experienced lean practitioners will also tell you that having the right culture in place makes a huge difference in how quickly and easily process changes can occur.  Creating the proper culture is a key responsibility of leaders.  As I discussed in a previous post, The Excellence Experience, leaders should first exude, then expect, then recognize and reward desired behaviors in order to build the foundation for an organization seeking to attain Operational Excellence.

So this morning, my wife told me that she didn’t like my tagline.  “It focuses on the negative.  You should never, ever, ever, link your work to a negative.” she said.  After a brief pause, I acknowledged that she was right.   She then didn’t tell me what it should be, rather, she gave me the first part of the tagline, “When values align…” and challenged me to fill in the blank with a positive statement.  After some thought, and picturing the blog’s logo, I realized that culture has a multiplying effect on an organization’s improvement efforts, thus my new and improved tagline, “When values align…value multiplies!”  I like this much better.  What do you think?

If process improvement leads to added value,  I submit that organizational alignment leads to multiplied value.

Critics can provide the best opportunities for improvement.  Moving forward requires friction. Embrace  critics and thank them for challenging your viewpoint and creating a learning opportunity for both of you.  Just be sure to take some time to ‘splain yourself.   Thanks, Lisa!

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