miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2015

Common mistakes when implementing. Mexican government is no exception.

Today I write about the new controversial regulations to control traffic and drivers that Mexico city´s government is trying to implement. I also describe and link this attempt to control traffic and to change driver´s culture in Mexico, to common mistakes done by companies when trying to implement something; a new process, a new tool, a new software, etc. The lessons Mexican government is teaching, I believe, are, invaluable.  

Recently there's been a lot of controversy in Mexico, due to changes done to the traffic regulations. Among the restrictions are that drivers cannot use their cellphones while driving, drivers mustn't invade the crosswalks, the use of the horn, etc. In reality, many of this restrictions have been there forever, but the controversy is on the fines. Some of them have gone insane (from my point of view) considering that Mexico has a deep corruption problem. Some fines are as high as $117.00 Usd. For those reading from the US or Canada or Asia, take those $117.00 and multiply by 17 and will get an idea what a fine feels like in Mexico.
The main problem the government is trying to solve, is the way mexicans drive. Drivers here do not respect pedestrians nor cyclists. We don`t even respect other drivers and because of the way Mexico City is planned, it becomes a chaos driving here. Mobility is a problem. So the government thought that hardening fines would help to modify our behaviour as drivers. Some people think that this is only a way to collect money from citizens. But as this isn't a political blog, won´t go there. Instead will analyze briefly what mistakes has committed the government when implementing changes and increasing the fines.

Lack of communication

Is true that in successful organizations, communication is a top priority. Successful organizations make sure changes are communicated to all members at all levels. To help to understand why the change is needed and how it will be conducted. In our case, the communication from the government has been simple but not yet effective. Since modifications haven´t been explained in detailed and the reason why hardening regulations is ambiguous. The government says it is to avoid accidents and reduce mortality. How ever they haven´t shared any data so we can really see a before - after difference or improvement.

Lack of Clarity

These recent days, drivers have been extra cautious and people resist to adopt the new regulations. In great part because they do not understand what the government wants to solve by improving this regulations, but also, because most of the new regulations aren´t clear to us; the citizens, nor the police men who are supposed to apply the fines. As Karen Martin often explains, lack of clarity will often bring resistance to change. 

Lack of visual management

One of the most controversial regulations, are the speed regulations. It is supposed to fixed the speed according to the type of avenue. Primary avenues, allow a maximum of 80 kmh, while secondary avenues allow only 50 kmh. Small streets, like those in the neighbourhoods, allow a max. of 35 kmh. The problem is that nobody explains what is a primary avenue or a secondary.
In Mexico City is very common to witness images like this
where cars, trucks and cyclists move together in  dangerous
ways. Wrong culture in the streets.
And unfortunately there aren't enough signs or visual aids in the streets so drivers can see clearly what´s the maximum speed allowed. This is a critical missing tool, since it is very common to drive long distances without a single sign on the maximum speed. Other common place are intersections. There are a lot of intersections without crosswalks, or with no clear identification on the street´s directions.  Visual management in industrial environments usually gives feedback to the worker, to see if he/she is falling behind, if there is enough material, if more material is needed, or where scrap or reworks or defects should be placed and when it becomes necessary to take care of them. I have always thought that streets should clearly give feedback to people. Providing information about speed, places where it is correct to cross, walk or drive. 

Common place in Mexico city. The first light is green and
a few meters later is red. Lack of standardisation and visual
When and where is necessary to stop and promote flow of people. Other major problem are green and/or red lights, since the city doesn´t have a synchronised network to allow flow. Is really common that in the same avenue, one light is red, and one block before is green. This is basic to protect pedestrians, cyclists and drivers. And also necessary to promote mobility (flow).

No Poka yokes

With a chaotic environment like the one I described before, is clear that streets and avenues need better planning.  If we sum the lack of standardisation and visual management, plus the wrong practices and poor culture when driving, we have as a result a city where is really a nightmare driving. That´s why have streets that do not allow law breakage is fundamental. Consider the factors iIhave described before and will clearly see why it doesn´t just work having lines painted on the floor and call it bikeway (see below´s picture). To really protect citizens, a little bit more infrastructure is required; poka yokes that do not allow cars to trespass the limits. Probably in Norway couple of lines painted on the floor work, but definetely do not work here in México. 
Most of the bikeways do not have anything to protect cyclists against
cars invading the lane. 

No going to gemba.

Finally, this example gives the government the opportunity to go out to the streets and see for themselves if the new regulations are actually protecting people from having accidents while promoting flow. Also the opportunity to learn and adapt rules and laws according to the reality, that we, as citizens, are facing. Of course, as many failed implementations, leaders do not take the opportunity to go to the source and validate their proposals. I have seen many leaders (including myself) thinking that proposals, or ideas, or rules implemented would work perfectly on the real world, when in reality they are not. This is in a way, arrogance, because we, sometimes think that our solutions work perfectly and there´s no need to improve or adapt any aspect of our proposal. Lean is powerful, because allow humility inherent in seeing, learning and experimenting to determined if our solution is the best. 

Hopefully our government would take a step out of the office and see for themselves. Most important, hopefully, by watching and learning, would take appropriate countermeasures to allow moving in this city would be more pleasent and safe.

Thanks for reading, I would love to read your thoughts. Please leave a comment below.

lunes, 14 de diciembre de 2015

Humility, lean leadership & Deming.

Last weekend saw the great documentary from NBC about Japanese industry and how Japan was able, after WWII , to overcome obstacles and become one of the most productive nations in the world. The documentary If Japan Can, why can't we introduced in the 80's to Dr. Edwards Deming to US where he was almost unknown. He was one of some who helped the Japanese to rebuild their industry. His ideas and teachings were revolutionary at that time, and they still are. But one thing caught my eye, while I was watching the documentary and notice that even though he is recognized as the man who helped the Japanese to rebuild the industry, he never talks about him. Instead he gives credit to the japanese, who have learned and embrased his methods and teachings. The only time where he refers to himself is at 01:03:19 when he gives credit to the Japanese, stating:

I think that I was the only man in 1950 to believe that the Japanese could invade the market of the world and would, within 4 years. 

This is an exceptional quote. Instead of saying, I was the man who taught them how to analyze their processes and improve. He could have said that, cause he really played a key roll for the worlds Economy working in Japan.  But I believe, that even though, he could be arrogant, he was not. This is an underlying lesson for all people working and believing that there´s always a way to do things better. 
And for those who don´t have an idea who Deming was. Humility, is something we all should learn and practice.

Christmas time: arrogant chats.

This is December, and I have been involved in several diners, parties, to celebrate one more year. Unfortunately, I have been involved on discussions with people who is so eager to talk about themselves and the things they have achieved and done and ... is really exhausting to hear. And my reflection this time, is to be humble at first. I guess one effective way to engage and connect with people is to be humble. Show respect for people. Lean, claims that people is the most important element in improvement. No wonder why Toyota is replacing robots with humans. If you watch this great documentary, you can see Deming talking about Japanese with great respect. He talks about the workforce and the management. Those 2 elements, plus his methods, gave a tremendous competitive advantage and they quickly became a synonym of quality and productivity, and still today, they are really committed to quality and improvements: Think Sony´s quality. 
So, I know that it is important self confidence, and to have the belief in yourself. Specially when you`re leading changes in any organization. But there is a difference between arrogance and self confidence. I wonder how those guys, with big watches, tremendous achievements, glorious results, could engage with front line workers? The ironic part, is that most businesses promote this behaviour. And those guys who scream their achievements, are the ones who get promoted. And it´s really sad, because that creates a tremendous dissatisfaction in the workforce. If you ever get to read this post, please be humble and promote the right behaviour at companies.

Thank´s for reading. I would love to read you`re thoughts. Please leave a comment below.

miércoles, 2 de diciembre de 2015

Recognition: necessary at all levels.

I have recently helped an organization to get a certification, because of its performance and practices regarding Lean and Six Sigma. This certification is provided by the corporate office to certify the level each of its facilities held regarding Lean and Six Sigma. I helped this organization coaching and facilitating most of all. But it was the supervisors effort, motivation and the associates interest which made possible to achieve this recognition. They all made a great effort but one supervisor made an extraordinary effort to encourage his people to, not only practice, but to investigate further and teach others, giving the opportunity for them to give small presentations. Allowing the people to grow and learn. 

Recognition to those who deserve it.  
Dr. Eduard Deming.

I made a public display about the situation described above. The supervisor was overwhelmed, and thanked me, for recognising his efforts. I am not his direct supervisor, but i believe that we should give credit to people, when something extraordinary happens or when something outstanding is encouraged.  During the certification the plant manager conducted the gemba walk and when the certification was over, and the award was given, nobody was even close to it, as the manager took it and never let it go. I notice that all VPs and Directors started sending congratulations for the facility and the manager, but also notice that nobody forwarded those notes to the supervisors or the people who actually performed the job every day.  I understood that as well as front line workers, some managers also need recognition. The problem I see, is when they get recognition, but do not share it with the rest of the team. 
I think that recognition is powerful, because through recognition people find purpose. They feel they are contributing to the team. It was Dr. Deming who said:

If someone can make a contribution to the company he feels important.
This is a great thought. Simple, powerful, and yet sometimes we fail to recognize when people does something big, and deserves to be congratulated.  How many times do we congratulate people at job? What about our own family? What about our wife or parents? Of course, there is a reason why we usually focus on negative things, instead of focusing and promote the good things in life. This is true specially in organizations where culture has been hierarchical and do not promote development of people.  But instead promote growth of managers only. Lean approach, is completely different. Lean is about people and about trust in people. Sometimes we tend to prejudge people, thinking they cannot innovate or do things differently, just because their rol isn´t within management. But Dr. Deming also said:

Innovation comes from people who take joy in their work.
To build joy in every workers job, we need to start practicing respect for people. Respect for people involves people at the top too. But we should´t forget front line workers. Respect people´s opinion, challenge them to think, to learn, to experiment, to grow, to improve. That´s respect for people. Listen to their opinions. Have an open mind to accept that managers aren´t always right, and realizing that workers know more about the job, than we can imagine.
Dr. Deming was a great example of this quote. He worked until the last moment of his life. He died at age of 93 and he was still working. This clearly shows that he had a great joy in what he was doing. So, If we want to turn our companies in sources of innovation, if we want to make a contribution and take pride of our work, we better start recognizing people. Don´t know how? How about start with your children, wife or a friend. Lets start identifying those small things we all do everyday, that really make a difference. Soon, recognition will become a habit.

Thank´s for reading. I would love to read your thoughts. Don´t be shy, and leave a comment down here.