July - August, 2013

Volume 3, Number 4

In This Issue

·    It’s About Time

·    Climbing the Learning Pyramid

·    A Secret Formula for Process Success

·    Say What?  How Communications Can Fail

·    Link of the Month

·    Adding Customer Value & Reducing Cycle Time

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It’s About Time


How is your month going?  Hopefully all is well in your organization and you are making strides with your Operational Excellence initiatives.  

A recent topic in the news is about making the atomic clock even more precise.  Granted, you are probably not measuring time out to 18 places after the decimal as you rush to your next meeting.  However, the topic touches a couple points in the lives of many of us who improve processes -  high quality measurement systems and the ever-present emphasis on reducing cycle times.

Is there anything in your life where you are frustrated because the process takes too long?  Do you find yourself waiting more than you want to?   If so, employing methods like Lean and Six Sigma can often reduce cycle times significantly. Simple techniques like the value analysis shown in this issue have helped organizations reduce process times by over 50%!

It’s also a good time to think about your measurement systems.   How precise and accurate are they?   Have you ever been “burnt” by having data that you thought was trustworthy but it turned out to be incorrect?   Maybe your process is actually performing better than you think.  Of course it could be worse as well – hard to tell if your measurement system is out of whack.  There’s no time like the present to check it out and verify that you can trust your data.   Time to synchronize our watches and go improve!


Have an excellent month!


Jeff Cole


JCG Management Consulting

Climbing the Learning Pyramid

Have you ever heard that you retain only 20% of what you learn from audio-visual sources?  Did you know that that stems from a study by the NTL Institute for Applied Behavioral Science?  Developed in the early 1960’s at their Bethel, Maine campus, the study concludes that learners retain approximately:

  • 90% of what they learn when they teach someone else or use the information immediately
  • 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned
  • 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion
  • 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration
  • 20% of what they learn from audio-visual
  • 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading
  • 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from lecture


Now you know!

A Secret Formula for Process Success

You and I can develop the best process in the world, but if the humans who have to use that process fail to do so, we’ve wasted our time and money.  That’s the principle behind a basic process improvement formula that’s been around for a while:  Q x A = E

More specifically, Quality x Acceptance = Excellence.   “Quality” in this case is a code-word for “following the recipe” of an OpEx methodology like Six Sigma or Lean.  “Excellence” implies you made your change on-time, on-budget, and met or exceeded your objectives.  The elusive “A” in the formula is perhaps the trickiest.  Acceptance involves getting the people impacted by your process change to stop doing things the old way and start doing them the new and improved way.  Often easier said than done!

Say What?  How Communications Can Fail

Want to make a change fail quickly? It’s pretty simple really – just do a lousy job communicating it.  Poor communication is, unfortunately, a core competency in many organizations today.  Thus, it’s no wonder the odds often feel like they are stacked against us on any change project. 

Many change agents rely on a method called “cascading communications” to ensure their change is properly communicated by the right person to the right audience at the right time and via the best communication medium.  People respond best to a change announcement if they hear it from their direct boss.  Thus, a cascade is like the game of “telephone” we played as a child.  By the time the message gets to its ultimate recipient, it often has significantly changed.   The top three ways a cascade fails?

·         The person kicking off the cascade gives the wrong messages initially. 

·         Subsequent people in the cascade chain go off-message

·         Somewhere in the cascade, a level is skipped

To see a short article on the top ten ways a cascade can fail and how to ensure yours succeeds, click here.

Link of the Month


And now for something completely different…  Are you familiar with Monty Python – the British comedy troupe?  Do you know John Cleese, the tall Python and movie star?

Did you realize that for decades Cleese ran a business on the side making humorous business training videos?  Started in 1972, Video Arts produced a series of videos on a number of op-ex and business topics.  Cleese starred in some and in others he wrote and directed.  He sold the company in the 1990’s, but the videos are classics and remain for sale at several sites.   You can see a variety of the videos and clips on this YouTube link.     

Adding Customer Value & Reducing Cycle Time

According to many authors, only 2 – 10% of a typical American business process is adding customer value.   That makes most of our processes a target-rich environment for improvement.   How can you tell if a particular task in a process is adding value?  As it turns out, there are several rules we can apply to determine what is considered a Customer Value-Add (CVA) task.

A task is considered CVA if it meets these three criteria:

  • The customer requires it or is willing to pay for it
  • It transforms the process output toward something the customer wants
  • It’s done right the first time

There are two other categories as well – Operational Value-Add (OVA) and Non Value-Add (NVA).   


  • OVA tasks are those things we have to do to stay in business, they’re done right the first time, but the customer doesn’t care about them.  


  • NVA tasks are those that are not adding any value and include the seven classic categories of waste:   Excess motion or transportation, Defects, excess inventory, over-producing, over-processing, and waiting. 

Draw a flowchart or list all the steps in your process.  Time each step, and attach either a CVA, OVA, or NVA label to each step based on the criteria above.  What % CVA does your process have?   Anything that is NVA is open to being removed from the process.  OVA tasks may be open to being done different ways that are faster or more efficient.   The result?  Faster processes that better meet customer needs!


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© 2013 The Jeff Cole Group , Ltd.