Collaboration & Process Improvement

The Organic Enterprise is about how your organizational structure determines its function – even in a constantly changing environment. Because even a purposeful, focused organization must be able to handle complex and dynamic requirements, there has to be a mechanism for qualifying and prioritizing relevant information.

One of the characteristics of living systems are the inherent controls and queuing systems designed to enhance process capability and adjust to constant variations and changing priorities. Not unlike a Triage system, these processes are essential for effectively sorting, establishing order, and pre-determining priorities. The Organic Enterprise specializes in 4 team-based, collaborative practice areas important for developing an innovative, adaptable, organization – Agile Scrum Teams, Lean, Six Sigma, and Group Decision Support Systems.

Agile Scrum

Problem-solving, cross-functional teams are the building blocks of any organization, but often our organizations are structured in ways that impede the people who can make the biggest difference from being a part of the solution. Often, bureaucracy, management hierarchy, and an over-emphasis on planning emasculate the motivation people might ordinarily have to try and make a difference. Agile Scrum is an approach that can empower teamwork.

Agile Scrum teams are designed to remove these common obstacles by using a constantly adaptable, team-based, iterative framework for developing and managing work product and deliverables. It allows a team to self-manage and deliver measured functionality at defined iterations providing the agility needed to respond to rapidly changing requirements.

The basis of Scrum is the self-organizing team that is able to make decisions about the target deliverable to which it has committed. One key to high-performing teams is the principle of synergy which says that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This means that a well trained team achieves more than its members if they were working individually.

Since Agile Scrum began in the software industry where some estimate about half of the developed program features are never used, the solution was to develop a better process that can be completed in half the time by avoiding waste, or unnecessary work. The goal is to deliver the highest business value features first and avoid producing deliverables that will never be used by the customer.

In most companies, workflow is slowed by issues identified as impediments during the daily meetings or planning and review meetings. “Firedrills” and constant change requests (often from management)  interrupt the flow of work. With Agile Scrum, these impediments are prioritized and systematically removed, further increasing productivity and quality. Well-run Scrums achieve what has come to be known as the “Toyota effect”: four times industry average productivity and twelve times better quality.

Lean/Kanban

Lean techniques often go hand-in-hand with both Agile Scrum and Six Sigma because, as the name implies, Lean advocates straightforward methods for helping teams reduce waste in the work-flow process. Popularized by Toyota in the automobile manufacturing industry, Lean uses simple tools such as process mapping and visual management, cycle time measurement, Kanban systems, Kaizen events, and other methods to give team clear ways to improve their own team’s performance. In the end, though, it’s not as much about the tools as it is the mindset of continuously removing obstacles, reducing waste, and eliminating bottlenecks.

Six Sigma

Complexity and poor quality are often direct results of variation in the information and processes we use on daily basis. By using intelligent techniques to qualify and filter the data, you can make better decisions and direct your efforts toward what really matters.

Six Sigma is a statistically-based problem solving/process improvement methodology best used when there is a complex problem involving multiple input factors making it difficult to know exactly where to begin. Six Sigma uses variation analysis techniques to methodically determine root causes based on the data collected and prioritize the inputs based on highest degree of relevance.

The 5 primary stages of the Six Sigma problem solving method are:

  1. Define: Establishing a measurable gap in an output of a process or system
  2. Measure: Dig deep to begin isolating the “root cause” or where the problem begins
  3. Analyze: Determine the interaction of multiple, hidden causes and inputs. (Separate trivial many from the vital few)
  4. Improve: Implement corrective actions now proven to have the greatest impact on the output.
  5. Control: Maintain a constant feedback process to ensure the causes don’t recur.

Group Decision Support

The January 2010 Conference Board poll revealed that job satisfaction is at the lowest level in 22 years and many of the reasons cited were because bosses rarely solicited or even listened to their people’s ideas or concerns. One of the biggest and easiest ways a manager can effectively engage their team-members is through shared decision making and group decision support systems.

Using surveys, polls, and real-time voting tools, important decisions can be effectively facilitated among an entire group of people allowing new ideas to emerge and allow every voice to be heard. The outcome will be an obvious consensus ensuring that everyone has a part in moving toward the shared goal.

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"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Albert Einstein

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