4.24.2018

Can Quality Standards Improve the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Government Operations?

Conventional wisdom says that government is not efficient and not effective – but, we are still unsure what works and what is broken in government, where to find some common sense, and where to start to fix it. So, with that in mind, I'm glad I had the chance to speak with Richard E. Mallory this month about his recently published book, Quality Standards for Highly Effective Government, Second Edition. I asked him a series of questions, and I'm including those along with Richard's very interesting answers here.

What are Quality Standards?
They are professional standards developed and endorsed by the American Society for Quality Government Division as international best practice standards for government. There are three standards that collectively apply to every area of government operations, and provide a framework for excellence. There is a standard for process management, system management (including project management), and for aligned leadership objectives. One or more of these standards align with the responsibility of every supervisor, manager, and executive in every government agency. Each provides a measurable standard, with uniform and objective criteria, that evaluate the design and application of best practice operational practices. The systematic use of quality standards provides the first-ever opportunity for an organizational scorecard, that measures the extent of quality practice in government. 


Why are these standards necessary for highly effective government?
The development of high-performing learning organizations depends on defining and testing a best practice operational structure that is specific to every one of its branches, divisions, and operating units. This can’t easily be done with existing frameworks, which depend on top-down application of uniform organizational practices, such as ISO 9001 or Baldrige. The application of Quality Standards is from the bottom to the top, and requires every supervisor and manager to develop a process map or a system map that defines the critical steps or milestones of value creation within that program area. It applies a cycle of learning that is based on a defined approach and deployment, combined with periodic evaluation and update or improvement. The development of indicators and measures of success cements the practices of learning and improvement. The application of system management at the executive level ensures organizational alignment.

Can’t we do the same thing with organization-wide deployment of Lean Six Sigma? 
No. The problem with most traditional Lean Six Sigma and DMAIC improvement efforts is that they are not sustainable over the long term, and require a continual “push” from leadership. Because their success requires each practitioner to dedicate current effort for longer-term gain, busy organizations often curtail these best practices to resolve short-term crises. If executive recognition ever wavers, or if leadership changes, the commitment to best practice operation also disappears. The use of Quality Standards changes this dynamic, by allowing executives to create a report on the existence and use of quality practices in their organization, so that executives are at last able to “see” where individual managers are maintaining best practice, and where efforts are lapsing. It will also allow organizations to create external reviews, and audit organizations to report on the continuing commitment to quality practices within every government organization. This reporting ensures that Lean and DMAIC practices are established, maintained, and sustained. No longer will the practice of quality be "invisible."

How do we know they work?
Quality Standards have been endorsed by the Government Division of the American Society for Quality as an international best practice standard for Government. A recent white paper of the National Academy of Public Administration on Strengthening Organizational Performance in Government has also endorsed the standards. The Process Management Standard is a part of the Process Management Handbook for the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, and numerous government jurisdictions have found them to be a tool for organizational capacity reviews, both to evaluate current efforts and to offer further suggestions on the means and methods of improvement.

How can we get started?
This book provides the logic and approach behind the standards, and introduces each with its evaluation criteria, and the scoring plan. It is important and foundational, for those who will be using the standards, for those reviewing them, and for leadership who want to understand the benefits and the logic being followed. Each organization using the standards should plan to provide introductory training for all its managers and supervisors, to help them in identifying the key processes and systems that drive organizational results, and to help them define best operational practices for each. The effort should then transition to periodic review of each defined process and system, both to ensure the integrity of the approach, and to evaluate the next steps to its improvement.

What are the changes in the second edition book?
The second edition includes the newest revision to the system management standard, which applies to the work of executive managers, program office managers, and project managers. It completes the organizational framework by challenging those managers to define milestones of value creation relative to the work of their office, with the causes of success in each milestone. In addition, it allows the development of operational metrics and indicators. It is through the integrated definition of key processes and systems that an entire agile framework can be completed. The second edition looks ahead to the role of leadership in developing excellent performance through application of the Aligned Leadership Objectives Standard. 

Do any readers currently work in the public sector? What do you think of Richard's thoughts?  Have you adopted these quality standards in your organization?

3.22.2018

When 45 Business Gurus Share Their Most Important Insights

Last month, a very interesting book entitled The GuruBook: Insights from 45 Pioneering Entrepreneurs and Leaders on Business Strategy and Innovation, compiled by Jonathan Løw, was published. In it, 45 of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and leaders -- such as Salim Ismail (Singularity University), Naveen Jain (Moon Express), Jimmy Maymann (Huffington Post), Otto Scharmer (Theory U), and Blake Mycoskie (TOMS) -- plainly discuss their ideas about innovation, entrepreneurship, and authentic leadership.


I had the chance to speak with Jonathan Løw about this book, and one of the main questions I asked was: "What inspired you to compile the thoughts of these particular entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders?" Here is his complete response:  

The GuruBook is first and foremost about listening. Although I have been a serial entrepreneur and have tried to start a number of businesses, have worked with innovation in both large and small organizations, and have been a leader in several organizations, I do not imagine in any way that I have all the answers in these exciting but also complex areas.



I believe that the ability to listen is one of the most important characteristics for future entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders. This ability to listen, and the curiosity that is inherent in it, may be the factor that gives you an advantage over the competition. Consider, for example, the English mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton, who, like millions of others, saw an apple fall from a tree. The difference was that Newton asked "why."



As a result of my own curiosity and desire to listen more, it was obvious that I should invite the people who, in my eyes, have generated inspiring and pioneering ideas, organizations, and results, to share their thoughts and knowledge with the readers in The GuruBook.



This book’s gurus have been asked to talk/write about what they’re enthusiastic about. That means that you can look forward to becoming more knowledgeable about:



• How to start a business without an idea.



• Why some ideas succeed while others fail.



• How to demystify the task of scaling up a startup as an entrepreneur.



• How you can be enterprising, no matter what phase your organization is in.



• How to create an innovative culture.



• Why simple questions lead to the greatest innovations.



Why businesses and local authorities aren't startups, and what both can learn from each other.



• How to become authentic as a leader.



• Why authentic leadership is a strength.



• Why there’s an entrepreneur in every successful leader.



• Why the ability to listen is all-important whether you’re an entrepreneur or a leader.



The contents of The GuruBook have weight and value because the articles and/or interviews are with people who, for years, have perfected their ability to listen and have consistently become better at understanding their customers, partners, and colleagues.



Through thousands of meetings, sales calls, customer service responses, innovation processes, brainstorms, mail dialogues, LinkedIn discussions, and so on, they have listened and then acted on what they heard. These are the insights that The GuruBook contains.



I fundamentally believe the future belongs to the curious. The future belongs to the entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, and passionate souls who are not only capable of “listening more intently” to the world about them, but who are capable of “ listening more intently” to the world about them but who also have the ability to act on the input they get.



A website for the book -- https://www.thegurubook.org/ -- includes a list of the gurus participating as well as some more background on the book.

2.22.2018

The "Followership Crisis" -- Are You Ready For It?

An important new book hits the market this month entitled New Giants Rising: How Leaders Can Help People and Companies Grow During the Followership Crisis, and it helps us understand that business growth fueled by labor productivity does not rely on leadership as we’ve come to celebrate it, but on our ability to sustain loyalty and commitment to one another -- a following if you will -- inside and outside our workplaces. When we recognize and understand our historical Followership Cycles, we can begin to restore our workplaces to their lost role as a place to meet the demand of all Americans for a better future.

I spoke with the author, Paul D. Fisher, this past week and asked him: “What exactly is the ‘followership crisis’ and how does it affect the workplace?” Here is his full response:

Followership is the social wealth-building process that creates and sustains a rising middle class through labor productivity. We are in a global social and economic growth crisis because of the slow decline of followership since the 1970s. And the support system we usually use to build it -- media, government, education and institutions of all kind -- have proven themselves unable to help us cope.

As much as they’d like to, our companies are failing to address it too. Business growth is stunted by what we think of as the declining commitment and loyalty of our employees and customers. Our attempts to regenerate followership have been reduced to an endless string of employee engagement programs and hollow content marketing and branding efforts that have provided us no competitive advantage.

To gain that competitive advantage, companies must begin dealing effectively with structural deficits in their social architecture – the systematic means they use to develop purpose, pursue quality, and manage accountability with all their stakeholders. History shows us it has always been the role of business to pull us out of the social tailspin created when higher forms of human need transcend lower ones to help people cope inside their more isolated, robotized and disconnected work places.

For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s recent Facebook post about reforming Facebook by first analyzing “questions of history, civics, political philosophy, media, government and technology” is a surely signal he believes Facebook’s social architecture will not survive into the future without significant modification.

And Warren Buffett’s recent comment on health care -- calling it a “tapeworm on the American economy” (a comment he surely doesn’t personally believe) -- is his attempt to start a national conversation in which society will decide if health care is simply an uncontrolled cost of our manufacturing economy or a model for socially negotiated growth that we should all emulate.

The companies of tomorrow will not grow without reallocating some of the costs of their inclusion and engagement PR campaigns to building the social growth architecture they need to survive in this new environment. And business leaders like Zuckerberg and Buffett are showing us that the first step is to analyze our followership DNA.

Here is a video of Paul discussing the concept:
 

What do you think of Paul's perspective? Do you you feel it is important for your organization to focus on "social capital"?