Culture is a Current, Not a Wave

Process Triaging is a decision cycle leaders follow to generate purposeful improvement solutions and then select and implement the best of them.

The cycle works when its driven from deep within our leadership philosophy — our culture.  A culture of continuous improvement that is not driven by surface events — by waves.

OceanCurrent

The improvements we find and undertake will shield our enterprises from storms and rough waters.  Triaging is a tactic we apply as rudder adjustments at the helm — minor course corrections.  But the practice of triaging — constantly cycling into the best ideas, keeps us centered in the most productive current.  Something that carries us along in the right direction regardless of the wind and waves.

What reminded me of this was last week’s Process Triage Immersion Workshop Sponsor.  In his opening welcome remarks he announced:

“The executive staff will be taking the improvements you triage today very seriously. After the host’s implementation plan is approved, the selected improvements will be part of our performance review and bonus schedule.”

Think about that.

The triage’s executive sponsor places so much trust and faith in the triaging process, that the CEO and principal staff will hold themselves accountable for improvement proposals nominated and prioritized bottoms-up, by those who live and breath the daily work — before they know what they are!

Here’s a video clip of this triage team ranking their improvement solutions. Notice how the culture created by their executives engages and empowers them.

This company will stay in the right currents.

Their culture is correct and runs deep.

Can Process Triaging Work for Small Teams?

I’ve struggled with how to respond to the many requests for process triage support from entrepreneurs and managers who simply don’t have the budget for our flagship, facilitated workshop (on a napkin here).  The short of it is the process mapping we do in the morning, as a team, creates a powerful end-to-end team identity and awareness that’s key to the triage’s final product. That level of effort takes an outside facilitator, especially if it’s a crisis situation.

Is there a way to triage without the team-created process map?

We think so, if its a very small team of no more than six people who know each other’s work and it’s not a break-fix house-on-fire situation. We’re talking about a generally capable team that welcomes more structure to a deliberate continuous process improvement culture.

With that in mind, I designed a Small Team Process Triage Kit. 

Small Team Process Triage Kit

Small Team Process Triage Kit

The kit contains the information, job aids, and supplies to triage a process without a robust process map.  Similar to our flagship workshop, the host manager presents their Process Capability Goal, then the triage team identifies Points-of-Pain. These pain points are addressed by the team’s nomination of Small Now & Big Now action items and projects, followed by their ranking of the entire set of proposals.  It’s designed to be four-hour team exercise with some pre-work by the host.  The host would still draft and submit their 90+Day Implementation Plan to their sponsor after the exercise.

This kit is only suitable for small teams that know each other’s responsibilities and don’t need more than a sketch of their process — something their manager / host could provide.  It’s not designed for cross-organizational process triaging.

So, if you’re looking for a small team team-builder exercise that delegates and elevates your continuous process improvement efforts — deeper into your team, this kit’s for you.

For now, we’re shipping only a hard copy version that includes a 32 page workbook and the materials necessary to perform the triage, available from our website.

 

Two Things Needed to Optimize your Process Improvements

Leaders of a goal-oriented enterprises must design their organization to change.

While that sounds obvious, designing an organization to deliberately change is a remarkable idea.  It requires one sustain a culture that welcomes and embraces adaptability. How else will we grow from less good to good, and from good to great?

One thing we know from process triaging is cultures that successfully improve processes empower the teams that run them. It’s all about delegate and elevate. Professionals will take risks and overcome fears if they have a sense of control over what’s changing, why it’s changing, and when they need to get involved.

Continuously successful process improvements need winning improvement ideas and a funnel that finds the best of the best of these ideas.

Optimize Ideas & The Funnel that Finds Them

The ProcessTriage Cycle is an effective and proven way to fill a funnel with practical, actionable process improvements. Each idea solves a problem that prevents the process from performing to its goal.  The quality of your improvement proposals reflect the quality of your best team’s thinking. So check the ‘Great Ideas’ box ‘Done!’

Our field tested (over 1000 times)  triaging procedures are a model funnel, capable of processing about 25 improvement proposals per day with a dozen of your process experts — 25 ideas that more than fill up three to six months of improvement effort.

Great ideas + an effective funnel to find them.  That’s process triaging.

Small Team Process Triage Kit now Available

We’re delighted to announce, by popular demand, our Small Team Process Triage Kit .  It’s designed for small organizations and teams who seek a practical and effective team builder exercise that delivers a slate of process improvements to pursue. 

Small Team Process Triage Kit

Small Team Process Triage Kit

The kit includes a self-paced workbook for the host manager or moderator.  It includes the necessary triaging materials including Points-of-Pain and Team Triage Proposal (Toe Tag) Cards.  It requires about 2 hours of preparation by the host moderator (the manager), a three to four-hour team triage meeting, and a few hours of post-triage host work to craft an implementation plan (should the sponsor require it.).  The kit does not include the signature Action>Result-style Process Mapping of our flagship full-day immersion workshop, so you’ll need to provide your own process map sketch.

The exercise reviews all the steps and deliverables of the ProcessTriage® Cycle and includes additional information about The Three Voices of High Performing Teams

DISCLAIMER: The Small Team Process Triage Kit does not not include the Certified Process Triage Facilitator coaching and process analysis baked into our flagship immersion workshop service. It does not include the very popular team-binding process mapping  exercise.  The kit follows our established, robustly filed-tested process triaging method for identifying process points-of-pain and nominating and prioritizing their solutions.

Igniteful Question #2 — The Bridge House, Milford, CT

Maybe this Igniteful Question will become a travelogue?

I had the pleasure of dining at The Bridge House, in Milford, Connecticut last week, the evening before a Vistage talk with John Frank’s key leader group (which went well).  The Bridge House is a gastropub , a “…restaurant with a casual, relaxed atmosphere, similar to the English / Irish Pub, with menu choices of a quality that would be found in the best fine dining restaurants” (snipped off their website), menu here.

True to form, the ignitful question, ‘What would the chef like to serve tonight?’ yielded succulent results.

My ccourteous, attentive server, Nancy, started me off with Salt and Pepper Shrimp. One word — AMAZING!  The salted and peppered shrimp were perched over a bed of sweet and sour cucumbers, artichoke heart, olives — really big ones, with a nice, zippy note of Tobasco.

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There’s the charming Nancy — my smart phone somehow tried to take a movie of it, so its a screen shot.  The entree’ was  a Hudson Valley Duck Breast –goats cheese “farotto”, Brussels sprouts in  garlic jus.  (Yes, I love sprouts!).  The farotto was new to me, and fun, and the duck was surprisingly tender. Two for two.

Nancy at the Bridge Houst Restaurant

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We finished everything off with a Crème brûlée and a coffee.

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Nancy’s smile says it all.

Catapult your EOS Issues Solving Track with Process Triage

One of Process Triage’s core values with our customers and clients is to Make Touches that Make a Difference.  We listen and look for a moment in each triaging engagement to add something of delightful value, above our expected scope of work.

Sometimes a client touches us back. Like the touch of CEO Tory Schwope  of Schwope Brothers Farms and KAT Nurseries.

Tory’s an EOS Operator, meaning he’s adopted the Entrepreneur Operating System (EOS), introduced by Gino Wickman’s book, Traction.  Tory, a visionary, sponsored a triage and tasked his integrator, Jeff King to host it.  I blogged about their bi-lingual triage team here.  (Visionaries and Integrators, the two C-Suite must-have roles are explained in Gino’s and Mark Winter’s book, Rocket Fuel)

To the point, Jeff was responsible for the 90+Day Post-Triage Implementation Plan.  This plan is the signature-ready deliverable the triage host presents the sponsor to request resources for any Big Now project-size efforts and Small Now task-size actions the organization cannot complete.  Jeff’s plan was, frankly, one of the best I’ve ever seen.

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Process Triage Host Jeff King with his triaged process map (Courtesy Schwope Bros. Farms). 

On a parallel narrative, I’m a Vistage International speaker.  Vistage members benefit from guest speakers on about any topic related to running and growing an enterprise.  It’s a privilege and honor to be on the circuit, noting speakers are not allowed to solicit — it’s a pay it forward opportunity with a very modest honorarium.  It’s my practice to chat with the Vistage group’s chairperson to understand where the group is and how I may best tailor my talk on triaging.  I’m looking for an opportunity to make a touch that matters.  One such chair was Will Hindrickson, in the New London, Connecticut area. Will mentioned his entire chief executive group were EOS operators.  So I read up on EOS, read Traction, and suspected there were synergies between Process Triaging and EOS immediately.

Seeking more info on EOS, I asked two Vistage Chair friends in Kansas City, Tony Lewis and Jeff Hutsell what they knew about EOS.  Turns out Tony’s an EOS Operator himself, and said about half a dozen or so of his members were on EOS, namely Tory Schwope.

So I reached out to Tory, and he touched me back.

He knocked me over.

Just — WOW!

He explained How Process Triage Catapults the EOS Issues Solving Track (video clip here).  In EOS pitch-perfect terms, here’s how process triaging supports EOS-minded leaders.

If you’re interested in EOS, Tory’s a case study success. Consider using an EOS Implementer (Tony Lewis asserts using an implementer/coach is the best practice, and their 90 minute overview is without obligation).  I’m a believer because of the quality of Tory and Jeff’s post-Triage follow through.

If you’ve adopted EOS  or are an EOS implementor (coach), and want to add a Moment that Matters touch in the EOS issues solving track, consider hosting our Process Triage Immersion Workshop. I’m best reached by text or email initially. (I’m focused to only answer cell phone calls from those in my contacts list).

Hat Tip, Tory.

 UPDATE / P.S.  1/30/2016

The Process Triage immersion workshop is usually only one-day long and focused on an enterprise’s core driveshaft process.  It generates a prioritized list of solutions to process points-of-pain. These pain points are recurring events or behaviors, as observed by the hand-picked process expert team who live in the trenches of the process– NOT the C-Suite’ers (who sponsor the triage).  It’s the bottoms-up, bought-in list, not a top-down list you have to sell or direct.  These solutions are, in EOS terms, pre-validated, pre-qualified issues with proposed solutions already nominated — in a “Bring me solutions, not problems” approach.  Process triaging therefore drives the Issue Tracking dimension and value of EOS deeper into the organization, towards front line leaders.  The EOS issue tracking method is, itself, a process that welcomes high quality inputs — high quality issues.  That’s why Tory suggested a triage schedule a few weeks ahead of the quarterly pulse.

Not mentioned in Tory’s kind remarks was the process documentation produced by the triage team (as illustrated in Jeff King’s photo above). You can leverage the triage map into your process documentation.

Rosey

Disclaimer:  The EOS Operating System is a copyright of EOS Worldwide.  ProcessTriage LLC has no commercial relationships with EOS Worldwide.
 
 

 

Habits Create Events.

I’m not much on New Year’s Resolutions any more.  Mostly because the passing of a year doesn’t excite me much, as I’m on my 63rd lap around the sun.  I’m grateful and humbled to still be running laps, to be sure.

What I’m left with, then, is a bit banal and boring — and perhaps the essence of creating opportunities that are not boring, but inspiring and enriching.

HappyNewYear2016

So here are what I’m reminding myself about my habits this new year:

Habit #4:  Show up where you’re supposed to.

Woody Allen is credited with saying “80% of success is just showing up.”  Somewhere else he said it was just 70%.

James Caan said “Showing up every day isn’t enough. There are a lot of guys who show up every day who shouldn’t have showed up at all.”  I get his qualifying point — show up where you’re supposed to.

Habit #3: Get back up.  Just one more time than you fall.

That’s trite as well — trite and true.  I’m not saying we keep doing what doesn’t work — that’s stupid, but I am saying, “Never. Give. Up.”

Habit #2: Habits create events. so get your habits right, and expect good, meaningful, joyful events.

This is similar to #1, in that our habits create opportunities and exacerbate failures. Wealth comes from frugality, industry, and integrity, not lotteries.  Habits are the cement in our foundation’s concrete — what hardens us to handle our trials.  And ‘NO’, playing the lottery a lot — a habit, does not increase the odds of ever winning it.

Habit #1: Part of getting your habits right is avoiding a focus on your failures and the associated anxieties and deliberately remembering your successes and the sense of fulfillment and contentment they continue to give.  The former motivates you from fear; the latter motivates you from joy.

Like the joy waking up knowing my blog post needs polishing, to sharpen it.

Happy New Year

 

 

 

An Igniteful Question

My rabbi of almost 30 years, a genuine talmid chacham began a lesson saying, ‘Answers are easy, it is the questions that are hard.’  This speaks to the idea that questions are more elemental and full of potential, and in practice, ignite the imagination and inspire us to challenge our limitations.

For example, I like to reward myself after what I think has been a successful day of triaging an enterprise’s expert team. The work is intellectually intoxicating and fulfilling. The quip, ‘I can’t believe someone pays me to do this!’, attributed to the legendary novelist  John MacDonald, fits my feelings.  My at-a-boy is a nice steak at a recommended steak house. (I do not expense anything above my published per diem rate, to be sure).

So the first question is easy enough; “Where is a great steak house?”  The answer typically offers a choice of two or three.  But once seated and menued, the next question is prescient.  It is ignitful — meaning it may ignite and explosion of superb customer service that sets a seriously succulent steak on your table.  Like this bone-in Porterhouse filet at the Silver Fox in Richardson, Texas this week.  (That is NOT Photoshopped!)

 

Silver Fox Porterhouse Filet

 

I asked my server, “What is the steak your chef would most like to serve tonight?”

She blinked, clearly not knowing. So I commanded her (yes, commanded) to go find out.

A few moments later she returned with a spring in her step and answered, ‘Sir, it’s off the menu. It’s a bone-in Porterhouse filet. How would you like it prepared?”

“Medium, thank you, with a side of grilled (brussel) sprouts.”  (It comes with snap peas and mashed potatoes.)

She marched off to the kitchen, having bagged the elephant, so very, very pleased with herself.

She returned much faster than I expected, and placed the beautifully plated work-of-art before me. The fork leaned over to it in anticipation!

And Wow! — was it delicious. Howl-at-the-moon delicious.

So,  I was a few savory fork-fulls from finishing it off, cleansing my palate between bites with a nice Pinot Noir to re-live the blossom of that first bite, when the chef walked up to my table and — grinning ear to ear, asked, “How do you like your steak?  It’s hard to get this cut in the quality we require, so I thought I’d check.”

“It is wonderful!, I replied, mouth half-full.”  Then we small talked for a moment as he was clearly pleased with the effort.

Afterwards, when the server returned with a concluding cup of coffee, she was beside herself that the chef had visited her table.  And he was so pleased.

So I asked her one more question.

“What IF you asked your chef what he or she wanted to create and serve most during your shift, that would want them to go check with a guest — and then suggest it if it seemed fitting?  What would your relationship with this chef grow into? What would your guests think of your service?”

She offered a very cute fist bump, fittingly returned.

So.

What are your questions that ignite the best from others?

 

A Time for Creating Moments That Matter

A casual examination of successful C-Suite leaders confirms they are highly motivated, exceptionally driven individuals — they have big motors. They are also touchers; they reach out to others.  They strike up conversations. They observe.   They pay attention. They recognize wants and needs and things of value. The most entrepreneurial of them commercialize the solutions to these needs and wants.

Yet, a big motor is not enough.  The leaders that captivate us are inspiring. They’re paying attention on a whole different, higher level.

They create moments that matter. SistineTouch

 

They are accessible to sparks of insight, to creative epiphany — to remarkable inspiration.

They fill an infinitely small moment with infinitely great goodness or profoundly great sadness.

They fill the moment.

As I reflect on this Christmastide Season, one assertion of Christianity is an infinitely great and good God filled a small moment in history, considering the short life of The Nazarene, with an infinite potential for good if one would model one’s life accordingly.

To love our neighbors as ourselves.

To not just avoid the murder another human being, but to avoid even anger.

To not just avoid the illicit sexual relation, but avoid the immodest imagination of it.

To not just avoid stealing, but add to others — the essence of commercial and charitable enterprise.

To find and make and fill moments that matter.

Let’s try that, shall we?

 

 

 

Money Isn’t Everything, It Just Pays for Almost Everything

The ProcessTriagDecision Cycle (here)  for establishing and sustaining a culture of continuous business process improvement  begins with the Executive Voice (explained here) setting the organization’s overall Strategic Objectives.  A web search yields some typical examples, here, here, and here — all with a several categories or dimensions.  

When we coach this step in the decision cycle, we insist the executive include a specific financial target.  More precisely, an ability to sustain some level of financial performance, such as Return on Capital, EBITDA, or Operating Cash, for example. 

But what investing or giving back to our community? What about creating a place where great people can do great work?  Want about an enriching employee experience like free back-rubs or a free cafeteria? What about on-site day care? A green-sensitive work place? Clearly, they’re all wonderful. Just understand these amenities require cash flow to pay for almost all of them.

 

What money cannot buy is decency. Like good manners. Kindness. Self-control. The stuff of integrity and character.  The priceless stuff.

NPV

Money isn’t everything, it just pays for almost everything.

 

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