How to Go to Your Go-To People

We know who our Go-To people are.  They’re the ones who Get It, Want It, and have the Capability* to accomplish what needs to be done, or can figure it out.  They are both an essential resource and, if they’re the only go-to for a skill, a big risk if they’re not available.

How we go to our go-to people matters, as every time we touch our staff it matters and has the potential to move our enterprise forward.

Consider, however, that going to them to get something done may not be the best thing, however convenient and safe it may be.

Since the only job security is continuous profitable market share growth, for commercial entities anyway, we need more go-to people. We build new go-to people by training them.

So why not go to our go-to people to teach instead of do?! 

Teacher Watching Student

Making go-to people teachers and trainers builds deepens our talent pool.  As the ability to grow is gated by our ability to delegate, and delegation hates risk, then remove such risks by training others.

Teach our go-to people to teach.

* known as GWC in the Entrepreneurial Operating System, copyright Geno Wickman in Traction.

Two Things You Don’t Mix Together When Motorcycling — or Business

I’m coming up on my 10-year anniversary, Juneteenth — Emancipation Day.  It was a beautiful, Colorado Rockies morning, just west of Carbondale, down the mountain from Aspen on the glorious Crystal River road (Hwy 133).  I failed to brake soon enough at a hard left turn at the bottom of McClure Pass (see below), and launched a brand-spanking new, rented Harley-Davidson Road King into the aspens and hammered my left shoulder into the roadside wild flowers.

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Blunt force trauma. Fifteen fractures, including six ribs and a clavicle and some chipped vertebrae.  The Glenwood Springs ER administered a Fentanyl epidural (at T8, after I nearly passed out from pain on the MRI table) and sorted me out.  The follow up, typical of shattered ribs, is six weeks on an Oxycontin base with the occasional Percocet chaser after any kind of cough or incentive spirometer therapy — inhale as much as you can, and suck up the pain (pun intended).

Fortunately, I was armored-up, with a rash-proof jacket and spine and elbow pads and a helmet (which was egg-shelled).

The clavicle was fixated with a titanium rod (still there). A year later, three ribs were pinned together with titanium couplings because the fractured ends would not rejoin.  A day or so after that surgery, a journeyman orthopedist yanked out my chest tube with that modest “This might sting a little (wink wink!).” warning.  It felt a lot like the original crash!

All because I did two things explained by a crusty old hog rider I met a few years later at a bar, savoring a Margarita (Top Shelf, rocks, no salt). He wagged his tattoo-knuckled finger at me and admonished, “Two things you don’t mix together on cycle at the same time: An unfamiliar bike with an unfamiliar road. You can squeeze by on either one of them — you know the road but not the bike, or you know the bike and not the road. But never both.”  I was on a rented touring-size bike on a road I’d only dreamed about.

How pitch-perfectly true. Rider error. No excuses.

It occurred to me this morning, while enjoying that same mountain air in Glenwood Springs — where the Roaring Fork River joins the high-country Colorado River downstream from Vail — that the same two principles apply when leading our company on some new venture (adventure?):  We shouldn’t attempt it if we’re unfamiliar with where we’re going (the road) — confidence isn’t enoigh, or the team (the bike) we’re making the journey with.

I see this a lot with the companies we triage. The leader sets the ‘capability goal’ aggressively enough to challenge the business model to go somewhere new and interesting.  Like growing 2 or 3X.  He or she is usually familiar with their team, but may not really know the road; what life at 2 or 3X; really runs. (Hint: Your culture may keep, but about everything else may change.)

This presses the case to on-board executive or technical experts who know the road, and what changes as we scale up.  For one thing, processes start happening.  Once simple, straightforward work gets divided into silos to be more efficient.  These silos create workflow queues that require management — process management.  But that takes supervisor labor (overhead) that costs more cash — but we’re making more cash so maybe it works. Or maybe it doesn’t, and we need to swap capital for labor, or partner and outsource — things to pay attention to.

The problem is that we don’t know what we don’t know as we take our team to a new scale — this new exciting road.  And what we don’t know might nearly kill us.  The most successful leaders I know have relationships in a network of executives who run enterprises the size they seek, such as Vistage International, a peer advisory association. (Disclaimer:  I’m on the Vistage guest speaker circuit).

So, know your team and know the road.

 

p.s.  I personally thank every cyclist I meet who’s wearing a helmet.

 

 

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.

 

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.
 
 

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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What Triagers Like Most About Our Basic Triaging Workshop

The facts will set you free, to borrow a sacred phrase.

When I have time, I compile the results of the most recent Process Triage workshops, our flagship service.  We always ask participants — the triagers, specifically (not the sponsors or hosts) what they thought of the workshop.

One of the five questions is,’What did you like most?”

September 2015 Sample from the most recent 100+ Basic Workshop participants.

September 2015 Sample from the most recent 100+ Basic Workshop participants.

 

Read the entire report here.

Launching a Cross-Organizational Project with a Triage

Our ProcessTriage workshop (on a napkin here) is positioned to sync up a highly siloed team and generate a list of a dozen or two high value process capability improvements in one intense day.  Typically , the sponsor is wanting to fix what’s broken by empowering those who do the work to lead the improvements.

The triage workshop is also an effective kick-off event for finalizing a complex project’s work breakdown structure, where experts from different departments — even companies, must sync up.  The scope of work of requires multiple cycles of a similar project (such as touching multiple locations with the same changes).

We were pleased to lead such a pre-launch triage, hosted by Cisco Systems (CSCO), which included knowledge experts from their customer, T-Mobile (TMUS) and Cisco’s subcontractor, General Datatech (GDT).  T-Mobile subcontracted Cisco to make certain changes in a number of network locations.

30-4 Team Picture (2)

 

 

 

 

The triaging protocol is essentially the same as a break-fix triage.

The triage  team maps a typical project cycle’s (the work of one iteration) work breakdown structure (WBS), as a Project is merely one cycle of a Process — so process mapping is essentially the same as outlining a project WBS.

The  Process Capability Goal for a pre-launch triage focuses on delivering a sustainable level of quality after a few learning curve cycles, and then running additional project iterations on time and on budget.

The Points of Pain are what the team estimates will prevent a successful project launch initially, and inefficiencies to fight off after the learning curve.

The Small Now’s action item-size improvements and Big Now’s project-size improvements are, taken together, the specific deliverables in the project’s risk mitigation strategy.  These Small’s and Big’s are front loaded immediately, especially the action items or projects that must be completed before the first project cycle or iteration.

Hat tip to James Farrell (executive sponsor) and  Tom Tinsley (host) of Cisco Systems.

When to Put Your Partner Hat On

I received a ‘Client in Distress’ call a few weeks ago.  The  triage sponsor calling ‘Mayday!, Mayday!” had been a successful host of a previous triage a year or so ago.

They had contracted with a the top tier telecommunications company to handle some network equipment upgrades and, along with their subcontractor, decreed a ‘freeze all work’ time out period because initial attempts had adversely impacted the telco’s network.

So we triaged some high-rick equipment scenarios with about 20 of the various experts — engineers and field technicians. They nominated and ranked a dozen Small Now’s (action item-size) and Big Now’s (project-size) proposals.  The program mangers (the triage hosts) baked the triage results into decision brief to report out to the telco — their customer.

This conversation with their telco customer was successful, reflecting completed staff work, great solutions, and an action plan to execute immediately.   The customer – supplier relationship is crystal clear in these kind of ‘How we’re going to pick up and wash off the candy we dropped in the dirt.’ encounters.

But what the triage revealed was the customer performed certain tasks in the equipment upgrade process they could not delegate, using equipment databases the supplier could not steward.  In other words, to process of upgrading the network required the customer to remove their customer hat and exchange it for a partner — team member hat.  This necessity was made obvious by the points-of-pain in the triage and the solutions that only the Customer could resolve.

Lesson Learned:  If you subcontract work out to a supplier, but the business process your suppler must manage requires deliverables only you can provide — your subcontracting orientation ends where process execution begins.  At that point, you need and must be a partner.

One of the triage exhibits was the triage / process map with the deliverables the Customer was responsible for, noting the business risks of failure to do so.