Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Diversion

HA! Boy did it miss the mark (hat tip: Dave)... as surely anyone will know that I am far from an introvert...

I have to declare that I have completed the MBTI accreditation and do selectively use the instrument in support of some of my consultancy work. I find it quite useful in drawing out some of the differences that people display particularly around communication and mostly with regard to workplace harmony. (Mind you, I make no commercial gains conducting them as I my work is internal).

I take on board the issues raised in Skepdic but I also feel some sympathy for the readers. That being said I might take the liberty of offering my own $0.02. 

The use of the instrument as an absolute or final say in something as important as whether or not someone gets a job is quite abhorrent. I use the dichotomies that the instrument draws out merely as a means to draw out the normal variations in individual preferences and then as a platform to discuss group preferences. 

The main criticism that I personally have heard about MBTI is that people use the instrument as an excuse for the worst examples of behaviour attributed to the Type. Unfortunately, this has been a behaviour that I have witnessed myself. That being said, a well administered MBTI session (i.e. not one online, which lacks the various stages required to be anywhere near useful) should show the participant the ways to realise their strengths and manage their weaknesses, no matter how they are derived.

And how they are derived are hardly that concerning when someone identifies as an Extravert they might be more comfortable in large noisy groups and their weakness might be that sometimes they exclude those who identify as an Introvert... sounds fairly uncontroversial to me

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Great Week

As I started in a recent post, this week is seeing the culmination of some big projects. The next one is an administration support review, which all but finished on Tuesday with a backlog cull.
The manager of the staff had been trapped by the sheer weight of their backlog, which had peaked at approximately 900 items ranging from emails, projects, reading etc.

Now, whilst I conducted it with GTD mindset on the recommendation of Iain. I was brought to back to earth by the comments of my supervisor that I was implementing a 2S instead of a 5S. This was only telling as I had particularly railed against some of the Lean zealots that seem to be popping up around the place.

To be fair, I have nothing against Lean or 5S and in fact think they are quite fine toolsets for the right problem or part thereof. The bit that intrigues me is that it seems to inspire cult-like followers that only ever speak of success except to note that when failure occurs that it was due to a like of higher management support... I don't think I am alone in suggesting that if failure is not publicly spoken about, it is more than a little suspicious.

In fact the Change Management Guide questioning approach was created in hope that some attention might be paid to the people (especially the ones who dared offer resistance or criticism), thus some potential to actually achieve a culture of continuous improvement.

Upon reflection, there were 4S (Shine would've been waste of time as these people were nearly OCD-style clean) used but in itself it was not a Lean intervention. There was far more invested in resolving some of the emotional issues such as stress and disengagement. I find that this merely confirms that the Lean stuff is just a hammer not everything is a nail.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Not the only one

Maybe they meant something like this

Hours in a day

Ever found that you have run out of hours in a day/week/month?

I seem to have that problem at the moment, and I wonder if it is due to the approaching summer?
Or maybe it is the culmination of some projects? Whatever it maybe, I have lost my focus...

On the upside though, this week has been highly successful. Today I submitted the web version of a Change Management Guide for the entire organisation. Some of you who follow me on twitter may have heard a mention or two of it.

As a project goes, this was a hard slog and entirely different to the day to day breadwinning, so to speak. Whilst this was a properly commissioned project, I only ever saw it as a think tank exercise to deliver a resource that left our organisation a little better off than without it.

The product was essentially a Change Management Guide which well and truly surpassed the intimidation point at 10,000+ words and 14 steps to success... Not to mention the language!

Actually, to mention the language is better... My own engineering/project management background combined with a colleague with a business/logistics background coupled with a particular academic interest in Change Management. If it is not obvious, we spoke diametrically opposed dialects which when painfully combined resulted in some indulgent verbosity. 

But why am I happy about this? Well there was a moment in the project where we introduced a second gateway. Like an Index to a Table of Contents, this second gateway offered a set of questions rather than a designed and stepped approach. The real bonus of this is its ability to embrace the power of the cynic, as noted by Dave Snowden as being so vital.

This is where the website (intranet only at this stage, unfortunately) comes into its own... although I still think that there is a need for a low-fi pamphlet for people to hold in their hands... With both of these in place, Change can be about improvement despite the best effort of some folks to make it about the process. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

Into the Pan

Part 3 in reviewing the set of workshops from last week is the one-dayer with the sister organisation of here and here. Now the focus was on repairing the Archetype Creation which had so spectacularly failed on the Monday. 

To open, I showed a couple of animations from the Dilbert site as I knew the organisation were familiar. Then I got them to discuss who their favourite characters were and why. After suggesting to them that the Dilbert comics were not actually written about their organisation and that people around the world can identify with them, the breadcrumbs had been dropped.

Importantly, I also changed the 'story-telling' prompt from 'Tell a story about a day at work' to 'Share your experience in dealing with your primary customer' (understanding that the earlier narrative capture had indicated that this would be fertile ground). In the second stage of emergence, I suggested that the character in front of them worked in their organisation and that they would have to adopt the role of their 'Best Friend', 'Worst Enemy' and 'Innocent Bystander'. I have some thoughts on this but wonder how that sits with other practitioners

Now due to the introduction of an example, I set myself a target for success which was to achieve no Dilbert characters in the Archetypes. I did not set one for the swapping of customers for members of the organisation, do you have any suggestions? In my opinion, this event was a success and once I get the characters finalised I will upload them.

To close on the Archetype creation, I will note that I backed  out of the Values and Themes elements for this workshop. Basically, I was uncomfortable with their use and was seeking to achieve a modicum of success through adjustment of the approach. I will have to invest some more headspace into how to prepare the Values and Themes.

On Sensemaker

I am drafting this in the QANTAS Lounge in Melbourne as I wait for my flight back to Adelaide in an 90mins. 

The reason I am in Melbourne is that I have spent Thursday evening and Friday at the Victorian Police Academy doing the Cognitive Edge Practitioner network catch up and Sensemaker Session which was fantastic to discuss some of the lessons identified from applying the Cognitive Edge Methods with new 'graduates' and also to meet some faces behind the blogs.

The Sensemaker session, I found to be quite straightforward and expect that the real learning points will be in playing with the data. I have in my mind a few applications in mind that I will be seeking to exploit (for want of a better word), the key will be getting funding to pay the licence fees.

A couple of criticisms of the day would be that the demo data had a major flaw which detracted from the logic in the conclusions in the case study. The other would be that the Ritual Dissent was limited in value due to the predominance of inexperience with the methods and software, thus not allowing much in the way of meaningful criticism. This latter criticism is of course the minor factor as it is merely a demonstration of concept.

All in all, a worthwhile event and I will definitely add my case study to the Ning Site, Steve

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Baptism of Fire: The Sequel

As was started in a previous post, the following two workshops took the participants through Model Creation by Social Construction and Ritual Dissent. These activities went significantly better partially because the participants were more comfortable with the understanding where it would lead but also because the activities were broken up with some more familiar activities.

I have since delivered the resultant action plans to the Business Unit Manager, who was not put of by the AVT Creation failure, but instead is willing to take on some assistance to attempt to achieve a self-emergent continuous improvement. At this stage (given the proximity to the end of year), the move forward will be by delegation of the "Simple" tasks to any person and some "complicated" activities to  the appropriate person/s. In the new year, there is a plan to take on some of the "Complex" via a Social Network Stimulation which will assist in the induction process as well as giving credibility to the whole process. Needless to say, there is an opportunity to trot out the immanently released Change Management guide. This guide had a particular selling point of embracing the cynic... I promise I will post on this in the future as it is finalised.

To wrap up on the experience, the spectacular failure of the AVT Creation Workshop will remain more strongly in my mind than any minor successes over the three day, but isn't that the point?

This workshop was succeeded by another with a sister organisation, on which I will post on shortly.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Goodness, you say

Ironic enough for those who work/worked in the DMO... and for those who read the title of my last post