The Smartest Businesses Know How to Learn

Leveraging the information already resident in your people and company may be one of the most effective things you can do to decrease waste, increase productivity and even the longevity of your people’s commitment to the organisation.

Is a reluctance to change holding you back?

In most cases, people are busily getting on with what they do in the way they’re most comfortable. And that just happens to be the way they’ve always done things. A natural resistance to change (or uncertainty), coupled with the tendency not to do things until they have to be done (which is often too late), can result in errors and inefficiencies that seem to be built into the system.

Many companies struggle with instituting change, let alone a practiced philosophy of continuous improvement. Yet, as we move at a faster pace and competitive advantages become more and more focused on efficiency, making change on a regular basis and constantly improving is almost essential.

According to Hunter Dean, a Knowledge Management expert and Lean Enterprise consultant at Systemix, the role of business leaders today is as much about providing vision and the traditional aspects of leadership as steering an organisation toward effective knowledge management and leveraging learnings.

Knowledge is power

“Organisations that can truly learn from their experiences, both good and not so good, become very smart, very fast. This gives them confidence and agility which makes them very difficult competition”, Hunter explains.

Knowledge management and actively leveraging learnings are both critical factors at an organisational and project level to competing successfully in today’s market. So how do you approach this in your business?

Information is not enough

Your servers and people are no doubt full of information. But unless this information is retrieved, managed, shared and integrated in an effective manner it cannot translate to knowledge.

When it comes to determining if your information is truly knowledge, consider these few questions:

If your team learnt something of value today, how likely is it that…

  • They will still be using it still in six months?
  • That new recruits or people in other business areas will learn this too?
  • They will still be using and refining this information in 2 years or 5 years?

Knowledge is something that is resident in the company, not just the people or one or two divisions. It’s like the corporate wiki that everyone turns to and learns from.

So the key competency becomes: ‘How do we embed know-how for the long haul?’

Embedding know-how for the long haul

Systemix uses the ‘Know-how Pyramid’, an illustration of how information becomes knowledge that can reduce risk, increase productivity and overall business performance. Developed by a partner organisation, Information Leadership © 2012

Pyramid full size

Working through the pyramid, Systemix move organisations from the informal know-how space to the ‘definitive’ space where knowledge now underpins the fundamental functions of the business. Archicad 22 price

The process to achieve this involves the thorough investigation of either a project team or organisation as it is now in relation to the pyramid. This will reveal critical insights into the areas where knowledge is seeping away and how it can be harnessed more effectively. Then, through collaboration and communication, people can see the insights for themselves and design a new pyramid to work toward.

“Once we have communicated the insights we gain from this process, we focus on training and developing a roadmap to strengthen the method for learnings staying learnt,” says Hunter.

Through tightening business processes and workflows, implementing mechanisms to drive improvement, measuring the right things, making information more available through hard systems and zeroing in on key messages to communicate, an organisation or team can quickly become ‘smarter’ and more effective in a short space of time.

Safety Excellence Partners: Mindful Safety Leadership

In October 2013, Safety Systemix joined forces with three other industry leaders – Generative HSE, Amberwise and OHS Leadership – to establish Safety Excellence Partners (SEP). We are deeply committed to evolving safety management globally, across all industries, organisations and projects to realise the vision of eliminating worker injury; by working with our clients to develop World-Class Safety Leaders and High Performance Safety Cultures.

Closing the gap between good or business as usual and world class safety performance has become a critical business imperative for many industries. Every company, every industry and every country have varying degrees of sophistication in their approach to safety management. Despite the existence of well-established safety management systems, there is more often than not an inconsistent level of safe working behaviours and practices throughout organisations and projects.

Recognising the need to address the human side of safety and to create a work place comprised of a critical mass of individuals who rapidly promote and improve safety performance is the first step. Organisations wanting to advance this type of engagement are commissioning and embedding recognised Safety Culture and Leadership programs to empower their leaders, management, staff and contractors at all levels to participate, contribute and take ownership for the safety of themselves and of others.

SEP’s programs are based on emerging philosophies, principles and state of the art approaches in the OHS field. The need is for Safety Culture and Leadership to powerfully address the human factors in order to win and lead the hearts and minds of staff, workers and contractor personnel at all levels in their organisations. Our clients use the SEP’s approaches of cultural transformation, inspirational leadership, coaching and consulting in concert with existing safety practices, to accelerate the development of leaders, managers and entire employee bases in order to facilitate the next leap in their safety performance.

To enable this next leap, SEP introduces a creative approach to health and safety culture, leadership and management; with a focus on creatively addressing the disparity in beliefs, attitudes and commitment that exists within projects and organisations and creating a genuine and shared mindset for health and safety excellence.  The mindset is about making safety more personal and compelling for everyone. Achieving health and safety excellence requires engaging a wider audience of people to participate in the safety conversation. This challenge is made achievable by launching and embedding a program in which staff and contractors already have a self-interest in and commitment to. Buy cheap Autodesk Inventor Professional 2020 with Discount at SoftSalesUs.Com.

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How Lean can Revolutionise Your Performance

By far the most impact you can have on a project outcome is at the outset, where during the pre-design and design phases, you set down some immovable frameworks inside which your project will evolve.By the time you’re at the pre-construction phase and beyond, it’s highly likely there’ll be a range of inefficiencies built into the project which will result in some kind of resource wastage.

Taiichi Ohno, whose founding role in the development of Toyota subsequently birthed the concept of Lean Manufacturing, identified 7 key types of waste:

1. Defects and mistakes;
2. Overproduction of goods not needed;
3. Inventories waiting the next stage in a process;
4. People waiting for something to happen or materials to be available before they can proceed;
5. Unnecessary processing, doing things which are not required;
6. Too much movement of people; and
7. Transport of goods that are not really required.

The same basic wastes of resources occur just as much in most projects as they do in manufacturing, causing expensive losses of time, money and even morale.

Obviously, the planning work you do at the outset can greatly reduce waste, but how do you manage if the systems in place are already inefficient?

Whether you call it Lean Manufacturing, Lean Construction or simply Lean Enterprise, essentially what you’re talking about is the elimination of inefficiencies and waste with a high-performance culture and a process focus. The result is improved profitability, happier clients, more engaged people and increased sustainability.

Lean Construction boosts performanceOld school vs Lean

Let’s take Lean Construction as an example and compare it to the traditional approach. Construction is notorious for the amount of time wasted as people stand around. That’s because typically, most attention goes into planning projects but very little on design or redesign of procedures. Add to this a strong hierarchical structure, where few people are involved at the top end and communications flow generally one-way from the top down, and it’s easy to see why the traditional approach results in almost every one of Ohno’s key waste areas.

Lean Construction takes a different approach. Firstly, there is a recognition that the grassroots work team have knowledge and ideas that could improve outcomes – sometimes resulting in enormous tangible benefits. Secondly, there is a methodology in place for this knowledge to find its way back to the leaders of the project or organisation. And finally, there is the compounding effect of the two… a more productive, more engaged workforce that delivers a better end result and an organisation that becomes literally ‘wiser’ with each completed project.

When Lean doesn’t work

The concepts of empowerment, communication and collaboration can send chills down the spines of many business leaders. Not because they don’t make sense… but because they seem so nebulous and difficult to manage. Afterall, moving to Lean (in any form) is about making a lasting cultural shift… Something that so many have tried and failed to do.

Perhaps it is helpful to consider what Lean is NOT, in order to understand exactly how it works. Lean is NOT warm and fuzzy. It’s not about ‘team building’ and high fives and staff barbeques. It’s not about cutting back to save money or increase profitability. These can (and often are) outcomes in a Lean organisation, but they’re not the basis. Often, failure to benefit from the Lean approach comes from targeting these outcomes directly and not the fundamental shifts that enable them to occur.

the algebra of high performance

Lean = business intelligence = improved performance

The Lean approach is extremely formulaic and scientific. High-quality implementation involves careful examination and questioning of everything from a strategic level to a detail level, from design to implementation. The goal is to create predictability and reliability at every stage. The outcome of that is a greatly increased likelihood to meet all your objectives including client satisfaction, timeframes and budget.

By harnessing collective intelligence every step of the way, everyone who participates begins to think differently about the work they’re doing together. Claude Levi-Strauss captures the essence of this change in thinking; “The scientific mind does not so much provide the right answers as ask the right questions.” People working in Lean organisations have an increased desire to learn about how to solve problems (and from actually solving problems), which leads to a desire to understand the root causes of problems, which results in a sense of urgency to address root causes of problems. Ultimately, this creates a culture that strives for continuous improvement.

Lean actually provides leaders with information and questions that can fast track organisational and competitive advantage. By unlocking the wisdom inside your organisation, you’re better able to anticipate future obstacles, problem solve quickly and act on new opportunities. Plus, through careful analysis and redesign of the processes in your organisation or project, your business or project can become more efficient, productive and profitable.

High-yield project & business performance solutions

Systemix works with large organisations to increase efficiency, profitability and sustainability with Lean performance concepts and many others. We guide you in identifying and capturing high-yield efficiency and performance improvement opportunities both in a project context (Lean Project Delivery) as well as in the organisational setting (Enterprise Efficiency), using an array of methodologies and techniques.

Working with business leaders to create a Lean culture at a project or organisation level, Systemix addresses the critical factors of both people and process to create significant outcome improvements.