With the introduction of the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s, the world has begun to change at a rapid pace that is not slowing down any time soon.  Each stage of the Industrial Revolution has seen an advancement that has changed human lives in ways we never thought possible.  Most people believe that the Industrial Revolution ended back in the 1800s. Still, in reality, we are living in a stage now. 

AI Stages

During the Emory over 40 lecture, Dr. John B. Banja described the stages of the Industrial Revolution as

  • Manufacturing
  • Automotive
  • IT
  • AI

Dr. Banja went on to describe the different AI stages and their timelines as the following:

  • Narrow AI – happening now
  • General AI – 20 years from now
  • Super AI – 50 years from now

It is interesting to think that we are only in the narrow AI stage.  Of course, many of us thought by 2020, we were going to be like the Jetsons with flying cars. Even though each of us does not have flying cars, we are in a time in which technology is changing our lives daily.

AI and People

As more and more businesses move into the world of using some form of AI, we need to stop and think about how this is going to affect our workforce.  We used to throw things over the fence and not think about upstream and downstream when it comes to processes. We did not stop to think about how changes would affect the process and people performing things steps. We are not looking at the whole picture.   Technology and AI are being introduced globally into all industries and businesses. Depending on the industry and the type of job being performed, technology is taking the Human out of the workforce.  We are losing the human side of things.

Businesses are becoming very LEAN and very stable, but are they too lean and stable?  Are these organizations able to change or become fluid when the market needs them to change?  Are these organizations missing something? Is the business culture becoming damage? What is happening to our employees?  How does this affect our customers?

People are not waste

Putting the human back in technology

When we take a hard look at these types of organizations, we see that people are becoming a waste. The waste is happening right in front of our eyes, and we are missing this critical factor. We are losing the balance between stability and flexibility.  If people become waste, organizations will begin to suffer. W. Edward Deming put it best “If you destroy the people of a company, you do not have much left.”  When using Lean Six Sigma to look at an organization, we do not only need to look at the customer, but we also need to remember to look at the employees of an organization.  If the people within an organization are not happy, this will start to affect an organization’s customers. 

The further technology advances, the more afraid people will become. We will start to see talent underutilized at all levels (from the bottom to the CEO). Employees of an organization will start to feel that they do not matter; they will feel that the technology that was supposed to make things easier, will make things harder. Employees will be unsure where they fit into the new lean organizations.  Are the machines going to take away their jobs?  Will there be a place for humans and technology to existing together?

Putting the human back in technology

Putting the human back in technology

Looking back in history, Henry Ford was able to take the production of the Ford Model T down from days to hours.   With the introduction of this type of manufacturing, Henry Ford took the Human out of manufacturing with the following results:

  • No customization = complete standardization
  • Unskilled workforce with the use of machines

The  Model T was produced in mass quantities, but each Model T was exactly the same.   At that time, Ford was answering the call of the market, but he did not look into the future.  Henry Ford was too lean and ridged to pivot with the changes for the market place.  As the automobile become easier to obtain, other car manufacturers began to see that the consumer wanted more options than want the Model T was providing. These other manufacturers were looking toward the future to find new ways to do things.

Sakichi Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno of Toyota answered the call from the market with quality and customization within automobiles. With the introduction of Lean Manufacturing, the Human was put back into manufacturing.  Quality and customizable cars were introduced and produced at the rate customers wanted.  Within the Lean system, there was a highly skilled human workforce that used machines. The workforce felt empowered to think and create quality products.  Toyota cars were not dull, but they were also very dependable.

Can the Human be put back into technology, just like the way Human was put back into manufacturing? Whabout using the same concept with technology and AI? Lean and AI or technology can be used together.   Lean can put the human back into technology. As we move into advanced stages of AI and technology, humans should feel empowered. There is a place where AI and humans can co-exist.  By leveraging Lean Six Sigma to help with AI, we can do the following:

  1. Ensure processes are stable and standardize
  2. Introduced the right type of AI into the right processes
  3. Use the people with the organization to identify the right areas to use AI
  4. Train the workforce on the new technology
    1. Ensure that AI is being used the right way
    2. Empower people to learn new skills to stay relevant in the new environment
    3. Introduce Continous Improvement within all levels of the organization
    4. Organizations can become fluid and stable
  5. Remove as much waste as possible

With the use of Lean, we will remove the barriers we saw with the Model T.  As we move further into the AI revolution, Lean will help all levels of an organization to see where people and technology can be used together to create organizations that are successful for years to come.

What are your thoughts? Have you thought about humans and AI co-existing?

If you would like to learn more about how humans and AI can co-exist or how to implement AI with CI, let’s talk.

What does a Continuous Improvement Coach or Consultant do?

Over the past few weeks, while networking and connecting with people through #laurens100lunches, I’ve had a few people ask me what does a Continuous Improvement (CI) Coach and Consultant do.  I found that I was giving the same answer and thought I would write about it. There are so many articles about what consultants and coaches do but I didn’t find much content on precisely what I do.

My intent with this article is to provide a small insight into how I help my clients  While there are many of us in this field, I’m sharing with you what I do, and how I approach things. There can be times where coaching and consulting might be a little blurred, but I hope to explain the different approaches I do with my clients.

What is a CI Coach and Consultant?

My elevator speech is:

 I guide business owners and leaders on how to rapidly and efficiently get from point A to point B resulting in real progress and empowerment.

While networking, I do not like to use the terms business processes, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, or Six Sigma when meeting new people. CI is so much more than that.  It is a toolbox of tools that help people and businesses succeed through the use of mindset, culture, and methodologies.  Instead of improving  business processes, CI is about changing and growing.  CI encompasses the business leaders or owners, people in the business, customers or clients, culture, and processes.  Without all these elements, you can not have a successful business.

I partner with them elevate their business, develop a CI Plan, and guide them along the CI path. 

What is the difference between CI consulting and coaching?

The most significant difference in my business between consulting and coaching is the approach and how I guide my clients forward.

 With coaching, I’m coaching my clients through CI and their problems.   I work with my clients to help them elevate their business. We partner together to develop their CI plan. I listen, provide guidance where needed, and then hold them accountable. We develop a CI Plan that is suitable for them and their business. Then, my coaching clients apply what they learn into their business.  With coaching, it is a 6-12-month program, but you do start to see small improvements and successes within the first month. 

With consulting, I’m solving my client’s problems with CI.  I partner with the business owners and leaders to analyze their business and then develop their CI plan. Once the CI Plan is developed, I’m working alongside the leaders or owners with their people. During this time, I provide guidance, leadership, and education.  This allows the owner and leaders to not working in their businesses but on the business. Typically, this approach means faster results!

The majority of my coaching clients are small to medium businesses. The majority of my consulting clients are medium-sized businesses.  When I meet with prospective clients, we work together to determine the best way forward. I like to make sure that the route we take is best for my clients.

Continuous Improvement Coach or Consultant?

 How do I know if I need a CI consultant or coach?

The other question I encounter is, “How do I know if I need CI or if I know someone that needs help?”  It’s not always easy for a business leader or owner to identify if they need help.  Using CI is not always about helping a failing process, product, or business. CI is so much more than that. 

So how do you know if you or someone might need CI? 

These are some of the things I listen for when speaking with people:
  • With current changes and uncertainty in today’s environment, I’m not sure what I need to do next.
  • We need to implement need safety procedures, but this is disrupting our employees and customers. They are unhappy.
  • The way things worked in an office environment is not working for remote work.
  • My business is growing so fast that I can’t keep up.
  • My employees and I are always putting out fires. It feels like we are not able to get work done.
  • I want to take my business to the next level, but I’m unsure how to get there.
  • I know what I’m doing today will not work tomorrow because I want to grow.
  • Our customers are starting to complain. We have tried to fixed things, but we are unsure of what is wrong.
  • My employees are working too hard. They are putting in overtime, and we can not find ways to make things better. My employees are spending too much time at work, and they are getting burnt out. They are not able to spend time with their families.
  • We have tried to implement new technology, but nothing is working the way we want.
  • Our employees do not want to use the new technology.
  • Employees are doing things the old way instead of using the technology.
  • The new technology broke everything. The processes are not working, and we are not sure how to move forward.
  • We can not keep up with customer demands or market changes
  • We are losing customers to our competitors
  • The quality of our product or service is lacking
  • We are spending too much, and we need to cut costs. We thought about cutting employee hours or reducing headcount. But this will affect the quality of our services/products. We are unsure of what to do.

CI can help with all of this, regardless of where you are in your business.

What are the benefits of using a CI consultant or coach?

Benefits can be broken up into hard benefits and soft benefits.  

Hard benefits are:

  • Increased Revenue
  • Reduced costs
  • Reduce the need for capital expenditure
  • Reduce the need to hire additional employees
  • Reduce overtime hours
  • Improving cash flow
  • Faster quote to cash

Soft benefits are:

  • Improved culture and employee morale
  • Improved effectiveness
  • Customer focus – Looking at what the customer wants
  • Leading by fact and alignment
  • Eliminates guessing
  • Measurements or KPIs that are customer focus and helps to define success. 

Final thoughts

As things changing faster than we expected, I believe that we need to continue to find new ways to do things.  These changes we are encountering can be positive.  CI can help take away some of the uncertainty and provide you with the structure and creativity that is needed to navigate anything that comes your way.

 

What are your thoughts?
 Have you experience any of these issues, or are there other issues? 
Do you think Continuous Improvement can help you?
What other benefits can you think about?

 

Let’s set up some time to talk if you think I can help you with Continuous Improvement.

 

Continuous Improvement with uncertainty

 

While thinking about how Continuous Improvement can help my clients during Covid-19, I start thinking about all of the uncertainty and change in the world.  We are entering some different times, even if it feels like Deja Vu at times.  I came to a few realizations over the past few weeks.  These unsettling times are not going away any time soon.  If the Spanish flu taught us anything, it is that we are in for a long ride, even if a vaccine comes out.  We are also experiencing a time of political and social unrest that leads to very high emotions.  We are feeling uncertainty about how to move forward with our lives, careers, and business.  Continuous Improvement can help with uncertainty by guiding you through the change. Instead of throwing caution into the wind, how about dealing with these turbulent times with a little structure, creativity, and kindness for yourself, your family, your career, and your business.  These times do not have to define you!  Continuous Improvement can help define yourself and how you reattract these times.

How does CI help with uncertainty?

You created a plan and then something like Covid-19 hits without any warning.  It feels as if everything that you were planning and forecasting has come to a complete halt.  While things did “stop,” it doesn’t mean you have to stop doing everything.  Instead of worrying about what the future holds, this is the time to reflect, adjust, and pivot.

By using CI, makes it easy to handle this type of situation.  If you go in with an open and positive mindset, you go from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.  Instead of thinking that there is no way forward, you can find a way forward.  CI equips you to handle any type of situation that comes your way.  Remember that it doesn’t matter how you get from point A to Point B; it is more about the journey and the learnings you get from the journey. You will learn how to grow as you move through the journey. 

CI provides you with the tools and the path to help you get to point B.  This is not a one size fits all plan. Instead, it is a guideline that you apply with a toolbox that helps you determine your path.  Think of it as a creative structured way to experiment with the right way to go.

Where do you start?

Even though you may not have had a CI Plan yet, you can set up a plan and implement it at any time.  You can start now!  There is no need to wait for the perfect moment because there is no ideal time to start.  You can learn how to set up a Continuous Improvement Plan here. A few things to keep in mind as you begin working on your CI Plan:

  1. Determine your Point A and Point B
  2. Use data!
  3. Keep it simple and don’t over complicate things
  4. Enjoy your journey
  5. It is ok to fail because this is where you learn

Final Thoughts

Uncertainty does not have to be negative or time of worry.  Instead, think about it as a time for learning and how you and your business can become stronger from it.  CI can provide you with the guidance and tools to get through any uncertainty, no matter how small or big.  Use the time as a way to ensure that you are on the right path and have the correct point B. Sometimes the adjustment and uncertainty are something that was needed to head in the right direction for you, your career, and your business.

What are your thoughts?  Do you see how CI can help you with uncertainty?
If you would like to learn how CI can be beneficial to you, let’s set up some time to talk.

 

 

3 Reasons why you need measurements

Three reasons why you need measurements!

Over the past few weeks, I have written various articles about Continuous Improvement (CI) and using Continuous Improvement with AI and RPA. These articles touch upon how to use CI in your business and with AI.  But one thing that is important to note is that regardless of the size of your business, measurements or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are needed.  It is essential to understand what is going in your business, and the only way to do this is through measurements.  There are three reasons why you need measurements.  My friend Gemma Jones reminds us that we “always try to speak with data. Opinion is like gossip….sometimes it’s true, often it is not.” Without data, we can not speak clearly about the state of our business or tell the right story.

Continuous Improvement Data

Measurements are an essential part of your CI journey regardless if you are on a personal or business journey.  To determine and next steps with your CI Plan, you need to know your Point A (starting point) and then develop your Point B (goal). Measurements are required at both points.   It allows you to determine where you are.  Measures of success are just more than how your business is doing. These measurements will help you to decide on your next steps if you are on the right path and if you are hitting the personal growth you want.  While it might not seem like it, these numbers will reflect how well you are doing.  The numbers represent your story, no matter how well or bad things are.  They will affect your personal growth, and to see real progress and to feel empowered, you need to see the numbers.  Behind these numbers, you will feel an emotional attachment.  If the numbers are positive, it will bring you great joy, but if the numbers are negative, they will bring discomfort.

The reasons why you need measurements 

There are different arguments on the type of measurements that you should use within your business or personal growth. Still, in this article, I want to show why you need measurements.   It is essential to see why these measurements are so important.

To tell your story

If you do not have measurements, you will not have the data to tell the real story.  If you are not speaking with data, we are not able to tell the story to those important people around us.  The data can be simple! Do not make it to complex.

To know where you are!

This may seem like the obvious one, but many of us do not know where we stand.  If you are not collecting data, you will miss some important things:

  • Are you on track toward your goal?
  • Do you need to readjust or pivot?
  • Are your employees truly happy?
  • Are your customers satisfied?
  • What are the costs in your business?
To know your measure of success

How can you measure your success? Or how do you know if you met your goal?  This is why you need to track data for your small and big goals. When you reach your goal, the data will allow you to know if you can celebrate. Remember, you need to celebrate along the way!

Final thoughts

 Collecting measurements should not be a daunting task.  It will be the opposite because the data can helps you to tell your story, to know where you are, and to know your measure of success. As things progress, the data will allow you to see if you are headed in the right direction or if you need to adjust.  Continuous Improvement will enable you to adapt and move forward to your goal.  Collecting the data will allow you to move forward faster, even if you have to take a step(s) back.  Collecting the data is a step forward in Continuous Improvement!

Collecting the data is a step forward

 

 

Are you collecting data? If yes, why? If no, why?

If you would like to about how to collect the data or why it is beneficial to you, let’s set up some time to talk.

 

Implement AI and RPA with Continuous Improvement 

Last week I shared the five issues with implementing AI and RPA too fast. Now that you know what happens when AI or RPA is implemented too quickly, we need to visit the best way to implement it.  The best way to implement AI and RPA is with Continuous Improvement to implement RPA (Robotic Process Automation) or AI (Artificial Intelligence) within your business, you will avoid running into the costly issues that I shared last week.  Developing a well thought out plan will increase your chances of a successful implementation.  Successful implementation will provide better results, better adaptation rates, improved culture, and increase customer satisfaction.  The increase in customer satisfaction and improved culture should drive revenue and cost savings for your business.

Steps to implement AI or RPA with Continuous Improvement

These are steps that I have used within my Continuous Improvement work with my clients and corporations that have led to them being successful.

Step 1 – Determine the problem!

What is the exact problem that you are trying to solve? You want to answer this question before moving forward with any type of implementation.  Remember that technology is a tool and not a solution. Asking the right questions will help you get to the right problem.  Some examples of questions to ask are:

  1. What is wrong with the business?
  2. What are you genuinely trying to fix?
  3. Is it a business problem or a people problem?
  4. Is it a cultural problem?
  5. Is there a problem with the quality?
  6. Is there a problem with cycle time?
  7. Are you my customers unhappy?
  8. Are my employees unhappy?
  9. Are there issues with costs?
  10. Is the business losing revenue?
  11. Is there an issue with the product or service?
  12. How is my business doing compared to my competitors?
  13. Is there any data to back up the business problem?

These types of questions do not ask what business processes need to have AI or RPA. These are just general business questions that will help get to the actual problem that you are solving.  Without understanding the right reason, the technology will be implemented in the wrong way and the wrong part of the business.

Once you determine your problem, develop a business case and problem statement that is clear, concise, and time-bound.  You will want to ensure that you have data to back up what you find through brainstorming sessions.  Data tells the true story!  Without data, you do not have enough to move forward. 

Continuous Improvement Data

 

Important tip – Try to keep things simple here. While it is essential to do this step, do not spend “forever” in this step.  You can get stuck in analysis paralysis and lose the real reason of why you are implementing the technology.

Step 2 – Set up the goal!

With any type of Continuous Improvement plan or Lean Six Sigma project, you need to have a goal to work towards. The goal is based off the business case and problem statement.  It is good practice to determine what will happen to the business after implementation is completed.  This may seem to be a lot of work, but remember that by taking the time to plan first, you will be able to move a lot faster.  The goal should be SMART!

Step 3- Determine how to implement RPA and AI

You are not implementing any technology during this step!

 At this point, you want to determine if you can handle the implementation of RPA and AI in house, hire a consultant (s), or use a drop-in solution.  One word of caution, be careful of drop-in solutions. Drop-in solutions may or may not work for your situation, and you may still need to customize the solution.   You can hold off to make this decision until after Step 4.  If you are unsure what type of solution to use, it will be worth the extra cost to hire a consultant(s) to help with the implementation. Spending money upfront will help you get it right the first time.

Step 3 and Step 4 can be done in parallel and will move things along faster.

Step 4 – Analyze your process(es) and data

Continuous Improvement Standardize

It is best to utilize Lean Six Sigma during this step. LSS is an excellent methodology to use to ensure your business and processes are ready for RPA and AI.

  1. Determine the right processes to start with
    • If you are implementing AI or RPA throughout the entire business or organization, start with the simpler processes first
  2. Analyze the process(es) to ensure that it is free of defects and waste
    • If the process has defects and waste, fix these first with process improvements
      • Utilize LSS DMAIC/PDCA methodology
    • All processes should be stable, standardize, and repeatable before RPA & AI.
      • If you can write procedures that are followed the same way every time, these processes can be automated. Think repetitive and monotonous.
    • Analyze the data of the process to ensure the data is correct and free of errors.
      • Data within the process and process data metrics need to be as clean as possible.
      • Robots usually do not make mistakes, but if the data is wrong, the robot can not fix it.
        • Remember the saying: garbage in, garbage out.

Step 5 – Implement the RPA and AI

Once the process(es) and data are set up and as perfect as they can be, now is the time to start working in the technology.  From Step 3, you have decided on your path on how you are going to implement your RPA and AI solution.  Always start with the simplest first, just like with choosing the simplest processes.  Implement RPA, and then move into AI and machine learning.

Step 6 – Use Change Management and Training to increase adaptation

For any for this to work, Change Management and training need to be included.  The change should be considered favorable for all levels of the business. If you are able to sell technology as a way to make everyone’s work-life better, it will easier to sell to all levels.  This is why it is essential to start to think about Change Management and training from the start.  Step 6 can be done in parallel with Steps 3 – 5. 

  1. Plan your Change Management and Training
    • Determine if you are going to do this in-house or hire a consultant
    • Include HR along this journey!
  2. Determine when and how to deploy
  3. Ensure that everyone is on board and training is done at all levels
    • There will be different types of training depending upon the various levels
      • Front line employees will get detailed training on how to use the process and technology
      • Middle leadership will get in-depth training on what their employees will be doing and how to handle the different situations that may arise
      • Executive leadership will get higher-level training to know what is going on
    • The whole concept is that everyone within the organization will know what is going on and why.
  •  

Step 7 – Determine how to on-going support of the technology will be managed

This step is usually missed with most implementations.  It is important to determine how what, and who will be maintaining the technology. This step rolls into step 8, but I wanted to call this out separately so it is not missed.  If something breaks or needs to be improved, the how what, and who needs to be worked out as part of the Continuous Improvement Plan.

Step 8 – Setup Continuous Improvement with RPA and AI

Continuous Improvement Flexibility

The final step along this journey is to set up a Continuous Improvement Plan with AI and RPA.  As technology changes, market changes, and customer demand remind us that we always need to evolve as time goes on.    Businesses need to learn how to adapt quickly to stay relevant in this ever-changing world.  By setting up a Continuous Improvement plan with RPA and AI, business becomes balanced.

What’s next?

Instead of moving too fast with implementing RPA and AI, it is better to slow down to plan! By slowing down first, this allows you to get it right the first time and move faster after you plan.  Each time I work with a client who wants to use AI or RPA, I apply Continuous Implement.  We start with setting goals, planning, leveraging Lean Six Sigma, and then apply AI or RPA. After everything is in place, we set up a Continuous Improvement Plan.  The plan to ensures that the company is always improving and can pivot as needed for growth, market demands, and customer changes. 

What are your thoughts? What is your experience with implementing AI or RPA within your business?

 

If you would like to learn more about how to apply this to your business, let’s set up a time to talk.

A bad system

What are the issues with implementing AI and RPA too fast?


Digital transformation has been on the horizon for many different size businesses and corporations. Digital Transformation has many different meanings, but AI (Artificial Intelligence) and RPA (Robotic Process Automation) have been on the radar for quite some time.  With Covid-19, digital transformation plans have been accelerated. Initially, digital transformation was a part of business plans to find a way to stay up with customer behavior, technology innovation, and finding faster ways to do things.  The fundamental factors are still a part of the transformation plans. The acceleration is needed to find the right ways to support remote work plans, safety for employees, and implementation of new processes due to new regulations. 

There are increasing demands to keep the customers and employees happy in this new world, but this comes with more cost that will cut into revenue profits.  Many business owners and leaders think that implementing RPA or some type of AI will solve many of their business problems and help with costs.  These types of technologies do produce positive results in the form of cost savings, increasing ROI, better processing or cycle times, and increase revenue. But if you do not take the time to plan correctly, implementing RPA and AI can become costly and time-consuming.  Business owners and leaders find out quickly that they have more complications after the implementation than before they started.

During my past 13 years of experience with any type of technology transformation and Continuous Improvement, if a business does not take time to plan, issues come up with the implementation.  These issues will cause the transformation to take longer than expected, which means it costs more money than expected.

What are the issues?

1. Wrong reasons

AI and RPA projects fail because there is a lack of clarity on the project from the start.  When a business starts implementing these types of projects quickly, the wrong problem is being solved.  The right kind of questions are not asked, which leads to the wrong reasons and project goals.  Without honestly knowing what you are solving for, the project will fail right from the start.

2. Process issues are seen faster

There are different arguments on whether you should fix a process first or throw technology at the problem. I see too many businesses throw technology at the issues, only to watch the process completely break down.  AI and RPA will reveal how bad a process is faster and at more cost. After these failures, the technology is removed, and the projects become failures. When these failures start to happen, businesses begin to lose momentum, and the business leaders lose all faith within the technology. 

Putting the human back into technology

3. Culture and workforce issues

Employees often fear AI and RPA because they are afraid they are going to lose their jobs. People fear what technology will do to do their jobs.   When you combine this with also processes that are broken by the technology, the culture becomes an issue. When your employees are unhappy, this will affect

  • Quality with the services and products
  • Production and cycle times begin to be elongate

Employees will not be on board with any future changes, and the workplace will become hostile.  Business leaders need to remember that when their employees are unhappy, their customers are usually going to be dissatisfied as well. Businesses cannot lose the people side of things if they wish to implement AI and RPA successfully.

4. Dissatisfied customers

Process issues and unhappy employees contribute to dissatisfied customers.  During these ever-changing times, it is vital to ensure customers are as happy as possible and do not feel alienated.   If customers are not satisfied, they start to lose faith, and they take their business to somewhere else. Without customers, a business cannot survive.

5. ROI (Return on Investment) will not be delivered

In 2018, Gartner stated that about ~85% of AI projects would not deliver the impact that CIOs wanted. One of my clients lost $2 M in costs, rework, and revenue with implementing RPA too fast.  One of my prospective clients lost ~$5 M in costs and had cultural issues due to implementing RPA too quickly.  It is important to note these types of cases because it helps to bring the hard reality when AI and RPA should not be applied too fast. These costly mistakes can be avoided by planning.

What’s next?

During these times, everything is changing so fast, but while it may seem moving fast is right the right things to do. But the right move is to move slowly to move fast.  But how do you plan to use AI or RPA right the first time? Each time I work with a client who wants to use AI or RPA, I apply Continuous Implement.  We start with setting goals, planning, leveraging Lean Six Sigma, and then apply AI or RPA. After everything is in place, we set up a Continuous Improvement Plan.  The plan to ensures that the company is always improving and can pivot as needed for growth, market demands, and customer changes. 

What are your thoughts?  Have you experienced this in your business or organization?
If you would like to help solve these issues, let’s set up some time to talk.

 

 

What Continous Improvement  it means to me

 

What Continous Improvement Means to me!

Before I started to research and write this article, I reflected on my last two articles, virtual networking meetings and the events going on in the world. Each one of these has two common themes for me: change and Continuous Improvement (CI).  My original idea for my article was to write about how I use CI in my business.  Instead, I decided to write about what Continous  Improvement means to me.    I think it is essential to share what these mean to me because it will give insight into why I love what I do. 

Background

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

When I first started my journey into the CI world in 2007 at AT&T, I never knew what exciting opportunities would lay ahead for me.  During my first week of training in Lean Six Sigma, I was scared because this was a big change for me.  I didn’t know what to expect, and I was scared.  As continued with my three weeks of training, I started to see that I like Lean Six Sigma and Continuous Improvement. But the most important thing that I learned is that change equals discomfort.  I was uncomfortable because this was the first time, I was indeed outside of my comfort zone. I learned during the first few months of being within my new roles as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt that I loved what I was doing. The fear was not being uncomfortable or change; it was fear of being successful.  Learning what being successful truly meant was nothing new, but this time it was on a different level.  I started to see what my true passion was: I wanted to help other people succeed in business.

Through my first year in CI, it became a mindset that I adapted.  I learned that CI is not just about improvement, but how does change affect our lives personally and in business.  It was understanding where you are today (Point A), setting your goal (Point B), and taking the journey to get there with a plan that is evolving as we go through each step.  Change comes into play when you start to accept that you are not going to be the same person or business at the end journey.  As you go through your journey, you begin to learn and embrace being uncomfortable. By becoming uncomfortable, this where we truly start to learn and change! We need to retrain ourselves to learn that change is not a bad thing.  While it is frightening, change leads to be uncomfortable, then learning, and then remarkable things happening.

 

Continuous Improvement Reality

Through the past 13 years of my CI career and journey, I have had many points of As and Bs.  Each time I get to my point B, I reflect and celebrate success and the journey that got me there.  While I wanted my journey to be a straight line, it is often squiggly line with circles because our point B can change along the way.  As my friend, Karyn Ross often reminds me, “How we get there is as (or more important) than where we are going!” That’s why we should always be present and looking to the future at the same time. You never know what doors of opportunity can open for you and your business along the journey. Sometimes it is ok to take a detour because you never know what you are going to learn.  In times like these, we need to open to the journey and the detours. It’s all about finding what works best for us and not to define our success based on someone else’s.  Your success is going to be different from my success. 

What are my learnings?

Through my CI journey, I have learned many different things, but these are the learnings that stick out to me. The learnings are what have helped me to become successful throughout the years. 

I understand my mission and passion!

Not matter if I was working in corporate America or running my own business, I have decided to stay true to my mission and passion.  I revisit my mission and passion each day to ensure that I stay on track. I define these for myself and live them out each day.

  • My passion: I love to help people succeed.
  • My mission: I guide business owners and leaders on how to rapidly and efficiently get from point A to point B resulting in real progress and empowerment.

You do not need to be perfect!

Success is not perfection! Success for me comes from defining my own Point A and Point B. The journey and reaching point B are my success. My success is my own, and it is something that I define. I do not have to be perfect to achieve it. Once I let go of perfection, I was able to enjoy my journey.

You just need to start!

I used to wait and be scared to start.  Waiting is one of the worst forms of waste. But I still waited because I was worried about what others would think. When I wanted to go back to school for my MBA, I was scared to apply. My husband said, just do it.  When I was afraid of starting my first project as LSBB, my husband said, just do it.  The day I decided to make a career change and join Nielsen, I was scared that I made the wrong decision.  Once again, my husband said, just do it. Don’t wait! 

Do you see a theme here?  My husband has always been the one out of the two of us to start doing things right away when I wait. Well, let me tell you that he is right. I just need to start.  While it took me two years to launch my business, I was slowly doing things behind the scenes to get it started. 

So just start doing things and learn as you go!  Don’t wait for something to happen.  Just start doing so you can make things happen!

It is ok to fail because this is where we learn!

It's ok to fail!

 A lot of times, I was scared to start because I was afraid to fail, or I was scared of success. It depends on how you look at it.  Failure should not be a bad thing because it allows me to be uncomfortable, which then allows me to learn and move forward.  It allows me to change. I get to be the change I want to be in this world.  But anything that CI has taught me that change is good.  Staying in a comfortable zone does not allow me to learn or grow.  Once I learned that it is ok to fail and started learning, I realize that greater things would come being uncomfortable.

It’s not a sprint but a marathon!

I finally realized when I was training for my half marathons that CI really is a journey.  I was never sprinter and truly enjoyed my long runs.  They taught me so much and have taken me on many journeys. This why I love the CI mindset; I’m grateful to have the journeys that get me from point A to point B.  Instead of hurrying up to get to Point B, I’m enjoying the journey with the views.  The statement “stop and smell the roses” indeed does mean something.

CI needs to be practice daily, weekly, yearly!

Continual Improvement is a journey

CI is a mindset that needs to be practiced all of the time, even when I do not feel like doing it.  Staying consistent and doing each step in my CI plan is something I need to do. If I deviate from my CI plan and do not evaluate how things are going, this is where I do not see progress.  I see growth when I do something small each day, each week, and each month. 

Final thoughts

Even though my original intent with this article was to write how I use CI in my business, I hope my thoughts and learnings on what Continous Improvement means to me has some type of impact.  As the world is ever-changing, I know I need to stay focus on my mission and passion. I also need to take my learnings from CI to continue down my journey to help other businesses become successful during these turbulent times. We can help each other out during these times, so each of us can become successful, and the change we want to be in this world.

What are your thoughts on CI, the journey, or failure?

If you would like to chat to see how I can help you and your business, let’s set up some time to connect and learn.

 

To do your best

 

As a business owner or leader, you may know what your starting point (Point A) and goals or endpoint (Point B) are, but you do not know how to get there. Many times, you just go without taking the time to set up any type of plan. Since you do not have a plan, you may be feeling a little lost or unsure. You do not know what your next move should be. The feelings of hopelessness begin to creep in. These feelings become even more significant when things happen that are out of your control. You are maybe feeling this right now because of today’s life-changing events.

The economy and businesses are starting to reopen. Do you know what your next move will be? While you want to do what is best for you and your business, you also realize that there it’s more than this. You are trying to figure out how to serve your customers and employees best. In addition, you want to keep yourself and everyone else safe and healthy. But you also need to figure out a way to increase your sales and revenue.

All of the business worries have a new twist to them today. You are still wondering if your plan from the beginning of the year is still relevant or should you just start over.  Instead of starting over, now may be a good time to reevaluate your starting point (Point A) and your endpoint and goals (Point B).    You may not need to start over but just adjust your plan. Or maybe it might make sense to start over from scratch. Before you make that decision, there are some things that you can do to help you make the right decision and come up with a plan that works for you.

Within my own business, I develop a  Continous Improvement  Plan for myself and business that is best suited for me.  I knew what my point A and Point B were, but I needed to adjust my CI plan for my business. I needed to figure out what was best for myself and my business during these life-changing events.  I need to come back to CI and Ikigai.  By combining both, I was able to define my why, my passion, and my mission.  Once I had these down, it was easy for me to adjust my CI Plan. Instead of feeling hopeless, a CI Plan has helped me to be in control.  A CI plan will help you get to your Point B so you can see real progress and feel empowered.  With my own CI plan, I’m starting to see results by following the plan each day.

It is like when I set out to start training for half marathon with my husband a few years ago.  At this time, never of us have thought about running except for the 10K we completed.  We didn’t have a training plan or a nutritional plan. Together we picked out a half marathon we wanted to run.  But in true Hisey fashion, my husband and I decided to take it one step further.  We decided to complete the Walt Disney World  Star Wars Run Challenge of completing a 10K and half marathon in one weekend.  While many people might think that is crazy, it is something that my husband and I like to do. We want to take on tough challenges and beat them.  So, we set out by setting up a training plan and nutritional plan that would allow us to complete both races without injury.  We completed both races and got our medals.  But we didn’t stop there, and we decided to run two more Disney half marathons that year to in Disneyland Paris and Disneyland in California.  By completing these additional races, we were able to get additional challenge medals.  We continuously improved our running and became better with each run.

 

Creating a Continuous Improvement Plan

 

CI Plan

 

Step 1 – Determine your true point B

Point B is your goal! Take time to visualize where you want to be. Don’t rush this step but also do not get stuck in this step.  Research if you need to, but remember, at this point, you just need a good enough understanding of where you want to be. You can always readjust your goal as you get further into your CI plan.   If your goal is significant, you will break down this goal into shorter manageable goals in Step 3. 

Your goal is your measure of success, and no one else’s. You can use other’s as a guide, but create a goal that is best suited for you and your business.

Measure It

Examples:

  1. Long-term running goal: I want to run a Half-Marathon on October 5, 2020.
  2. Long-term business goal:
    • Increase revenue for my company or organization to $50K by December 31, 2020
    • Increase revenue for my company or organization to $100K by May 31, 2020
    • Increase revenue to $2M for my company or organization by December 2021.

Step 2 – Understand your point A

Before moving forward, you need to understand where you truly stand. Your starting point or point A, and this will determine what steps you need to get to your point B.    Your starting point should just be a good understanding of where you are today.   Just think about drawing a line in the sand; this your starting point.

Examples

  1. Running – Today, June 1, 2020, I have not run a mile.
  2. Business –
    1. I just started my business, and I do not have any previous revenue.
    2. Today, I’m only reaching 50 prospective clients every few months with my current marketing and sales plan. Out of these 50 potential clients, I’m only signing one new client every few months. My current marketing and sales plan/process is loosely defined and not repeatable. This is not allowing me to reach my revenue goals.
    3. Today, my current organization or business is bringing in $1 M in revenue each year. We are projected to increase our revenue to $2 M next year, but we are unable to meet the demand if we continue down our current path.  Our employees are unhappy, and the entire company is always putting out fires.  We need to develop a better way to handle the increase in customer demand and ensure our employees are happy.

 

Step 3 – Define smaller, manageable goals to help you get to Point B.

To reach your point B, you need to set up smaller, manageable goals to get to your bigger goal.  By doing this, you will start to see progress a lot faster.  As you accomplish each smaller goal, take the time to celebrate the small successes.  These small successes empower you to keep going and get to your Point B successfully.

Examples

  1. Running
    • Short term goal 1: Run 1 mile by June 1.
    • Short term goal 2: Run 5 K by July 13.
    • Short term goal 3: Run 10K by August 10.
    • Short term goal 4. Run 9 miles by August 31.
    • Short term goal 5. Run 13 miles by September 28.
  2. Business: Increasing revenue (these numbers can be adjusted to your revenue goals for your business or organization)
    • Short term goal 1: Increase revenue to $20K by September 31, 2020
    • Short term goal 2: Increase revenue to $50K by December 31, 2020
    • Short term goal 3: Increase revenue to $75K by February 28, 2021
  3. Business: Increasing the number of clients (by increasing the number of clients, you should be able to increase your revenue numbers.)
    • Short term goal 1: Add 3 clients to my business by September 31, 2020
    • Short term goal 2: Add 4 clients to my business by December 31, 2020
    • Short term goal 3: Add 6 clients to my business by February 28, 2021
    • Short term goal 4: Add 8 clients to my business by May 31, 2021

Step 4 – Plan to reach your goals

Set up a plan that you can follow each day and week to meet your goals.  You will need to brainstorm what steps you are going to take each day.  There is not one set plan for everyone or business.  The plan should be unique to your business. Remember that each step is essential and not to skip steps to try to get ahead too fast. You need to put in the work each day, week, and year to get to your goals.  Overnight successes do not happen.  Success happens by doing the work each day to get to your goals.

For running this, it would be where you would set up the running and nutrition plan to get you to your goal.  You could use a Couch to Half Marathon plans to get you there.  But do the program that is right for you.

For a business, this is where you set up your business plan. You will set up the processes, marketing and sales plan, content strategy, etc. to get more clients or to reach your revenue goals. The plans to get where you need to go will be unique to your business or organization.

Step 5 – Carry your plan out.  Just start!

You need to start toward your goal.  Often business leaders and owners plan and plan, but they just don’t get started.  Do not waste time; just get started! Even if a step does not work, you are still taking a step forward because you are learning.  You just need to take one Step a time: one run at a time, one meal at a time, one step of the business plan at a time. 

Step 6 – Check to see if everything is ok at the target dates that you defined in Step 3.

Complete this step on a weekly and monthly basis.  You will check to see if you are on your way or if something did not work right. If everything is going well with your plan, then full speed ahead.  If things are not going well, readjust your plan and maybe even your goal. 

Examples

  1. Running
    1. Are you meeting your running goals?
      1. Yes, keep on going with your running and nutrition plan
      2. No, what happened? Did you get injured or you do not have enough energy?
        1. Plan for a rest
        2. Readjust your plan
        3. Make sure you are getting the right amount of nutrition
      3. Business
        1. Are the steps you are taking getting you toward your goal?
          1. Yes, keep on going with your business plan
          2. No, figure out what is not working.
            1. Experiment until you are on the right track.
            2. Just make sure you are giving things the right amount of time to see results.
            3. Do not change to fast!

Step 7 – Keeping doing each step until you reach point B

CI is a daily, weekly, yearly action that you do for improvement.  CI is a continuous cycle until you reach point B.  Little by little, you will reach your business and personal goals.

Step 8 – Success!! You have reached your Point B!

Celebrate your success!! Do not skip celebrating!  You took one step, one day at a time to reach your goal.  By celebrating, you are empowering yourself to see how far you have come. 

Take this time to relax and enjoy your success! 
Do not skip this. 
Let things settle and then move onto Step 9

Step 9 Set up a new CI plan for your next goal

Remember, step 6, where CI is a daily, weekly, yearly action?  The beautiful thing about CI is that you can always have a CI plan to keep on getting better. Don’t stay in the comfortable zone! Get out there and achieve all of the success you want to do!

 

Just like I did with my business and running, I will share with you what you how you can continuously improve your business.  You can start doing things today and work toward your point B. Now is the perfect time to figure out your CI Plan so you can begin to see real progress regardless of what is going on around us.

 

Do you think you can use this CI plan? What are some things that can do today to get from your point A to point B?

If you would like to talk about setting up your CI Plan, let’s set up some time to chat.

Business Goal
 

Do you have an idea of what your business goal is (Point B)?

Do you have a starting point (Point A)?

Are you unsure how to get from Pont A to Point B?

Does the journey seem scary to you?

These are often the questions a business leader or owner asks themselves. As the business leader or owner, you usually do not understand what is holding you back and what is getting in your way to reach your business goals. You become scared and full of emotions because you think you need to be further along.  You are thinking this because it feels like everyone around you is succeeding faster than you. You are in the same place or moving backward.  But what if I told you that moving from Point to Point B is hard, and there Five Causes that are keeping you from moving forward.  You may not be able to see these causes even if they are right in front of you.   Sometimes these causes are intangible, and we may or may not be able to quantify them.

Let’s dive into the causes!

Six Causes for business goal failure

 

1. Perfectionism!

Perfectionism  is a “personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high-performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations.”

Often you are comparing yourself to others, especially if they seem to have everything together.   It feels like they are way ahead of you, and you can’t even figure out your next step or where to start.   What if I told you that everything in business is not perfect and everyone else feels just like you?  Perfectionism keeps us from seeing where people are on their journey.  You cannot compare your beginning to someone’s middle or end.  Everyone is on a journey, and we are all in different stages.

The journey

Instead of hating your journey, you should embrace it.  The journey is not always about the reward or the destination.  My friend Karyn Ross always reminds me that “How we get there is as (or more important) than where we are going!” Enjoy and embrace the journey because you will have more fun if you do.  The results will come if you enjoy what you are doing and put in the work.

2. Chaos!

Often, you will choose chaos or disorder because we do not know any better. You get stuck in the chaos because you don’t know how to get out of it. It is causing you to lose sight of what matters the most and how to get to your goals.  All of the chaos you are creating is not serving your customers. It is driving them away because you have become reactive instead of proactive. The focus should not be making more money for yourself or your business but on how you make your customers happy. By stopping the chaos and listening to our customers’ wants, we learn how to make them happy. Satisfied customers usually mean you are meeting your customer needs, which in turn makes your business money.

No Plan and complex
You need a plan and simplicity to climb the mountain!

3. No Plan! 

You might say you have a plan, but you genuinely do not have a plan or not an efficient plan.  Instead, you are all over the place within your business.  You start to feel confused and overwhelmed. When you are hit with a crisis (just like COVID-19), you are reactive. Without a plan, you are not efficient, and you are not rapid enough to respond.  Instead, you are stuck in chaos and not seeing any progress.  You are trying a whole lot of different things at once instead of taking it one step at a time. You need to have a well thought out Continuous Improvement plans not just for improvements but for times like we are experiencing right now.  These plans allow you to combat the feelings of being overwhelmed and confused. Having a plan will enable you to move out of a place of stagnation and into a place with great opportunity to improve and move forward.  You can start to climb the mountain again to success and prosperity because things are planned out.

4. Complexity! 

You are making things harder than they need to be.  You are trying all of the new “flashy” things (technology, AI, etc.) only to see that they are not working. By adding complexity to any business situation, you are making things worse.   What if I told you that you do not always need all the tools, technology, and gadgets to be successful. Sometimes all you need to do is start with simple processes that work for you.  You do not always need to add complexity to your business to become efficient and successful.

5.  Not truly understanding your purpose and goals! 

Do you genuinely understand why you are in business? What do you want to achieve? What do your customers honestly want?  The answers to these questions help to define the success of your business.    If you are not able to answer these questions, you may be feeling like you honestly do not know what you are doing.  Not having a real purpose and goal with your business well keep you in this state of confusion and will not allow you to develop a concrete plan that fits you and your business. Not knowing what the real purpose is keeping you from truly from authenticity. By genuinely thinking about your goal, it will help you to make sure your Point B is accurate.  

Starting line

6. Not starting!

 Have you thought about starting a new plan, but you are afraid to?  You begin to think about what if you fail or if you take the wrong steps. Instead of thinking about failure, think about how succeeding.  You will not fail or take the wrong steps.  A step is either going to work or not work.  If the step works, you are closer to your goal.  If the step did not work, you are still closer to your goal.  You are closer to your goal because you started taking steps instead of just waiting.  You are much closer to your Point B once you start!

 

Where you able to relate to these reasons? Are you ready to see why you are having such a hard time moving from Point A to Point B? You may not experience all of these reasons, but if you are just experiencing one of them, it’s keeping you from moving forward.  If you can just eliminate one of these reasons, this will help you to start moving forward.  You will get to your Point B so much faster. I have faith that you can move forward and reach your Point B. 

 

What is keeping you from moving forward?

 

If you would like to learn more about these six reasons, let’s set up some time chat.

Continuous Improvement!!

Happy Tip Tuesday❗

 
“Improvement usually means doing something that we have never done before.” – Shigeo Shingo
 
Have you ever felt anxiety at work, within your business or professional career❓
 
Do you want to get somewhere new but don’t know-how❓
 
This new place could be can be a promotion, growing a new business, expanding an existing business, growing a new organization, or just becoming an Influencer in your industry. These examples are considered improvements. But there are times that these improvements can be overwhelming and cause anxiety. There is a way to overcome these feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious by taking steps to get there. 
 
The improvements we are doing is something that we have never done before.

Continuous Improvement  can help us get there—one step at a time. But the most important thing to remember is that we need to start instead of waiting!

Continuous Improvement Steps

Here’s a simple way to start to climb the mountain of Continuous Improvement:
1️⃣Define your goal or problem
2️⃣Plan out your attack. Brainstorm
3️⃣Do your plans of attack
4️⃣Revise – Did you plan work?
✔️ If yes, continue what you are doing.
✔️ If no, relook at your goal or problem. Is your plan getting there? If not, revise it!
5️⃣Revise – Did you plan work?
✔️If yes, continue what you are doing.
✔️If no, relook at your goal or problem. Is your plan getting there? If not, revise it!
6️⃣You reach success!
 
One critical thought is to remember that you need to measure your success for you, your employees, your customers, and your business.
 
How are you going to Improve Continuously❓
 
Let me know your thoughts below.
 

If you want to learn more about how you can Continuously Improve,let’s talk. I can help through the steps through coaching or consulting.