Changing the Rules

All organisations have rules We have rules about expenses and rules about systems access.  There are rules about promotions and rules about mobile phones.  Still more rules about budgets and rules about supplier gifts. Organisations have hundreds of rules.  These rules, explicit or not, define the way our organisations work. The problem with rules If […]

Variation or Standardisation?

Standard work The process guys will tell you that you should standardise and reduce variation. Variation is a bad thing. The customer experience guys will tell you every interaction is different.  No customer is the same. Variation is a good thing. Which camp is right? The case for allowing variation Some situations call for a […]

Management Cardboard

Management control Rather longer ago than I care to admit, I worked for an FMCG company.  I worked in R&D, and developed new frozen food products for a living. There were two things we worried about: The contents – the product that customers pay for, the fish finger or ice cream. The container – the […]

Tool Hire

There are lots of tools out there I don’t mean that in a derogatory way.  I mean process improvement tools: 5S, control charts, swim lanes… those sort of tools. There are also lots of people who know how to use those tools. It is easy to recruit staff who can bring a toolbox stuffed with approaches […]

One Hundred Bad Ideas

Notable failures Even the most successful people have failures: James Dyson built 5,127 prototypes before he perfected one vacuum cleaner. Mozart wrote over 64 symphonies.  How many have you heard? Richard Branson has launched over 400 business ventures, remember Virgin Vodka?  Nope, nor do I. Over 30 years Albert Einstein published ~ 345 scientific papers but his major work […]

Thought Walks

Brainstorming doesn’t always cut it Sometimes you have a problem that requires an imaginative solution. The standard management method for adding a spark of creativity is to brainstorm the problem. But brainstorming doesn’t always work. The ideas can be a little tired, you may not get something really new. Random thoughts There is an argument […]

Not Invented Here

Nothing comes from nothing I sat in a meeting the other day, it was a nightmare… Two guys were trying to extol the benefits of automation to a team of sales managers.  The tension was palpable.  In one corner stood a bunch of consultants trying to explain the latest and greatest thinking in operational improvement.  […]

Human Error

World War 2 During the second world war over 60 million people were killed.  That was roughly 3% of the world-wide population.  It was a hazardous time. Amongst the hardest hit were the bomber crews.  The Eighth Air Force suffered half of all the U.S. Air Force’s casualties.  The British fared as badly.  The chances of surviving the […]

An Extraordinary System

The logistics organisation In Mumbai there is an organisation that delivers meals to office workers. It is called the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association.  That is a bit of a mouthful, they are more commonly known as Dabbawalas (lunch box men).  Think deliveroo and you wouldn’t be too wide of the mark, except that meals […]

Evolution or Revolution?

What’s the best way to improve your business? Where should you put your development time and effort to get the greatest return? There are two lines of thought: #1: Revolution Focus on the big strategic levers and the radical steps.  Making bold moves is the most important thing you can do.  Don’t worry about the […]