May, 2011

Volume 1, Number 5

In This Issue

·    Time for a Refresh

·    Liven Up Your Meetings With The Hat

·    Change Communications – Know Your Audience

·    Management Tricks

·    Link of the Month

·    How to Eat an Elephant

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Time for a Refresh

Spring is in full bloom – a time of rebirth and renewal.  Also a very good time to look at refreshing your business processes.

Do you have any processes that haven’t been revisited for improvement opportunities in awhile?   How about a Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) or Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) done a year ago and nobody has updated it?  Perhaps you have some control charts that have gone 6-12 months without signaling any special cause variation.  Maybe it’s time to revisit the resolution of your measurement system.  Any areas where you did 5S that have fallen back into bad habits?  Possibly some Visual Management indicators, boards, or reports that are out of date but still posted?

The excellence thought for this month:  How many 5-minute improvements can you find this week?  Many times refreshing a work area involves a handful of simple low-hanging-fruit type changes.   You know that small problem you’ve walked by every day for a year but never addressed?  Now is the time to fix it!

Have an excellent month!


Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

Liven Up Your Meetings With “The Hat”

Next time you find yourself running a meeting or facilitating an event, be sure to download and use “The Hat”.   This free application is a fun way to randomly select individuals or pairs of people to answer questions or participate in an exercise.    Before the event, you simply list the people’s names in the application.  It then mimics drawing names randomly out of a hat – complete with animations and a drum roll.

The software only takes minutes to install and learn.  To download a copy, visit:

Change Communications – Know Your Audience

Leadership 101 tells us that if you are going to drive change you need to be able to communicate a compelling vision for that change.  Change Management 101 tells us that vision alone is not enough – you need to be able to communicate the burning platform for the change as well. 

The best practice in change communications is to tailor your delivery and messages to the audience.  Know your audience and alter your delivery to best hit home with them.  This month we look at a change life-cycle model and follow the tale of Boxcar Bob and Cubicle Charlie on the road to better change communications.  Read the full article here.

Management Tricks

The inbox exercise is a classic technique used by those firms that test your management potential.  You arrive at the facility, are escorted into an office (the mirrors are 2-way – you are being observed) and presented with an in-box of memos (or e-mails) and asked to process them as manager of this mock company.   Do you (a) reply to each memo as you go, or (b) quickly look at all of them prior to replying?   The preferred response is (b) – they want to see

that you first get the context of the ‘big picture’ of what is happening and prioritize your replies.  They also like to sneak a couple memos into the bottom of the stack cancelling or altering actionable messages you see at the top of the stack. 

Another trick is to have an actor come into your office portraying an irate employee who raises their voice and is quite upset.  They are looking to see if you maintain your cool, listen and  “seek first to understand” why the employee is upset versus raising your own voice and losing control.   

Link of the Month

Ever been in a meeting and somebody uses a term or phrase you’re not familiar with?  From ANOM to Zero Defects, the quality improvement field has a lot of acronyms and unique vocabulary. 

So much so that a number of quality glossaries and dictionaries have been published.  This month we feature several free sources for quality glossaries.

The American Society for Quality (ASQ) offers a free on-line glossary at:    

If you prefer a downloadable .doc or .pdf version, Free offers a nice version at:

How To Eat An Elephant

There’s an old joke that serves as a great metaphor for making process improvements.  “How do you eat an elephant?”  Answer:  One bite at a time.   If you are using a method like Six Sigma to improve a process, one of the first things you do is establish the project scope.

If you plan to make your improvement in 8-12 weeks or even 4-6 months, it’s important to pick a piece of the elephant for your scope.  Sometimes I see project charters that are not a piece – they are a circus tent full of elephants! 

Before you take on a “change the industry” or “boil the ocean” type of project, consider your scope.  Six Sigma Green Belt projects, on average, take around 8-12 weeks of part time effort and generate about $50,000 in savings.  I once had a Green Belt come into class and say his project would take 18 months and generate $1.2M in savings.  Great idea – but a bit of a scope issue for something that should only take 8-12 weeks.  Consider taking your “mother ship” of a project and breaking it into a series of smaller-scoped projects.   It will help you avoid a bad case of process indigestion!


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