post-mortem tools

How-to: Project post-mortems

Have you ever noticed your group making the same mistake over and over? (Or perhaps your customers have noticed for you?)

Personally, I hate making mistakes. I think I’ve stunned a few vendors when we dug through a problem and found it was their fault. They were expecting to be yelled at, but I was too relieved at not having made the mistake myself.… Read the rest

phone

Don’t just listen!

For decades, people have talked about listening to the customer. Yet, our systems seem as bad as ever. Are we listening?

I would argue that we’re listening… we’re just not taking the right actions.

Once, I helped to present the results of an employee survey; we mainly left it to them to develop action plans — the best way to instigate change.… Read the rest

workflow or process mapping

Process mapping: a step by step guide

Process (work-flow) mapping lowers errors, increases effectiveness, and enhances communication.  Process mapping sessions may result in sudden revelations such as:

  • “I didn’t know you did it that way, we do it this way!”
  • “But why don’t we do it that way instead?”
  • “No wonder it takes so long / goes wrong so often!”

There are several preconditions for effective process mapping:

  • The process(es) to be mapped must be specifically defined before the meetings start.
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pareto charts

Pareto charts: a quality / diagnostic tool

Pareto analysis is a simple way to figure out the major causes for a problem. Though it’s mostly  used by quality assurance people, pareto analysis is also useful for organizational development, because it is common in manufacturing (so many people are used to it), and because it is a clever system.

Typically, Pareto analysis is used both to kick off problem solving by helping to identify root causes (the basic, underlying issue which is causing the problem, as opposed to the “apparent” issue which may, in itself, be caused by something else – for example, replacing a defective voltage regulator which is allowing batteries to be damaged, rather than simply replacing the batteries).… Read the rest