5 Whys

5 Whys” technique for Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

Do you have a recurring problem that keeps on coming back despite repeated actions to address it? This might be an indication that you are treating the symptoms of the problem and not the actual problem itself – you need to determine the root cause of the problem – you must conduct a root cause analysis.

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a systematic process for identifying “root causes” of problems and the appropriate response that effectively deals with it. RCA is based on the basic idea that effective management requires more than merely “putting out fires” through quick fixes for problems that develop, but finding a way to prevent them from occurring again or in the first place. A root cause analysis is a process used to identify the primary source of a problem.

An effective method to get to the bottom of a problem is to use the “5 Whys” that was initially developed as part of TPS (Toyota Production System) that gave birth to what we know today as Lean Six Sigma – discussed in more detail in the article on “Lean Six Sigma – Organisational Development and Change”.

5 Whys is an iterative interrogative (problem solving) technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.

The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause (source) of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?”, five times. Each answer forms the basis of the next question.

Why five time? This derives from an anecdotal observation on the number of iterations needed to resolve the problem.

How to conduct the 5 Why technique:

  1. Write down the specific problem. Writing the issue helps you formalize the problem and describe it completely. It also helps a team focus on the same problem.
  2. Ask Why the problem happens and write the answer down below the problem.
  3. If the answer you just provided doesn’t identify the root cause of the problem that you wrote down in Step 1, ask Why again and write that answer down.
  4. Loop back to step 3 until the team is in agreement that the problem’s root cause is identified. Again, this may take fewer or more times than five Whys.

For example:

5Whys - RCA

In business, only one cause for a problem is not the usual case. Using the 5 Whys in conjunction with the Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa), that helps the exploration process to cover all potential inputs and hence potential causes of problems or defects.

fishbone-diag3

 The 5 Whys method can be used to uncover multiple root causes by repeating the process asking a different sequence of questions each time.

 

Effective Leadership Communication

We have all heard the saying: “Communication is the key to success!”

Leadership coaches and successful leaders all agree that when it comes to communication – A leader can never communicate enough! The communication gurus say that even when there is nothing to communicate, the leader should communicate that there is nothing to communicate…

I have been asked the questions: “ How do you communicate effectively to ensure that everyone in the team are on the same page?” and “How do you ensure that you address and manage people’s expectations?”

To answer this, I’ll start by over simplifying in saying that communication is simply the exchange of information between a sender and a receiver, through a specific medium. In electronic engineering information is transferred from a transmitter to a receiver as an electric signal in a controlled way, ensuring the receiver receives the same information that left the sender – effective communication. That is no different with humans. As a leader communicating to your team, you are distributing information amongst other humans, amongst people – and herein the challenge. People, unlike electronic senders and receivers (which are manufactured to be identical) are different, not one is alike. Hence will the interpretation of the information exchanged through communication  differ as well. The challenge to effective communication is to align the interpretation of the information into a common understanding between the communicator (speaker/sender) and the audience (listener/receiver).

The ways in which you can ensure that you are addressing and managing people’s expectations better, are in understanding the people better. A better understanding of people, paradoxically comes through effective communication – to ask questions and listen more than actually doing the talking (active listening).

Communication is more than just your words – it is also:

  • how you say it – tone of voice, passion, authenticity
  • why you say it – the message’s intention
  • when you say it – time of day or after a specific milestone or prior an event
  • what you say AND what you don’t to say – sometimes what you don’t say gives a clearer picture of what you want to say…
  • your body language – facial expression, gestures and posture communicate a lot of the unsaid word

Communication Empowers

Consuming information leads to knowledge and knowledge is power. Thus communication leads to empowerment.

The ‘One Minute Manager’ refers to empowerment as: “Empowerment is something someone gives you – leadership is what you do to make it work.”

Communication empowers people with knowledge – to be informed and to feel part of something bigger. How the communication is being delivered (leadership) will determine it’s outcome.

What is LeadershipMy definition: “Leadership is the art of leading a group of people or an organisation to execute a common task by providing a vision that they follow willingly through the inspiration received from the leader’s passion, knowledge, methodologies, approach, and ability to influence the interests of all members and stakeholders.”

How can you accomplish this if you cannot effectively communicate the vision in a way that people feel inspired to willingly take action towards achieving it? Effective communication is key…

You can have the best team mission with SMART objectives but if you cannot communicate it to your team, you will struggle to make progress. How well you can communicate your plan (unambiguously) will determine if your team will really mobilise and unite behind you and go the extra mile to make it happen. The ultimate success measure of effective communication is: “your plan becomes the team’s plan” – everybody on the same page!

People are not mind readers – they need clear instructions and clear information to make decisions and conduct their work, especially if the work is delivered within a team where coherence and a mutual output objective are of the essence. Ultimately, it is in your best interest to accept responsibility for getting what you need to succeed in the workplace. As leaders it is in your best interest and your responsibility to ensure that what’s needed to succeed, is effectively communicated to your work teams.

Consider This

You can improve the effectiveness of your communication through paying attention to the following aspects, each discussed in more detail below:

  • Know & Understand your audience
  • Motivational & Confidence building
  • Have a Plan
  • Make sure the communication subject is clear – stick to it
  • Be Direct
  • Be Authentic
  • Enough detail
  • Bi-directional communication is more impactful
  • Common Cause
  • Think before you speak
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Get Assurance – get feedback, assure the message sent is the message received
  • Build Trust
  • Situational leadership – choose the communication style to suite the situation

 

Know & Understand the Audience

Being an effective communicator allows you to address the interests and concerns of your target audience whether it being your team, your customer or client, the stakeholders or an audience listening to your presentation. Knowing and understanding your audience help to ensure that your grab their attention when you communicate and that they feel your are addressing the message to them. To understand your audience better and to structure communication appropriately, you can ask questions like:

  • Who is the audience?
  • Why is that the audience? (sometimes this is obvious but by asking this question, really think about who should be getting this message and why? Why not?)
  • What are we trying to achieve?
  • What are your plans?
  • What are the expectations of me as the leader/presenter and of the people the team members/audience?
  • What will be the desired impact of your message? (Also think about the undesired outcomes and how you can proactively prevent that?)
  • What will be the impact of your plans to the business, the team and to the people personally? – Do not leave people with more questions than before.
  • Why can we productively work together? (Understanding this is key to structuring the message to utilise people’s strengths to bring acceptance and empowerment – a sense of belonging.)
  • How will we know we are doing a great job? (How will this be measured within the audience – everyone needs to understand the metrics.)
  • Are you using a language (terminology and jargon) that the audience can relate to? There is a difference in technology speak and business speak. Align the vocabulary to your target audience – i.e. when addressing business leaders do not use too much technical acronyms and terms, rather focus on outcomes and financial numbers.
  • Do you understand the audience’s needs?
  • How can you, as the leader, meet their needs?
  • How frequently do I need to communicate? (Constant)
  • What method, approach and medium (usually a combination of) will deliver the message best? (Face to face, one to one, round table, town hall, informal stand-up, email, presentation (power-point), graphs, bullet points, etc…)
  • To what level of detail do I need to go into, to describe clearly what I mean? (Post communication, everybody must have the same picture in their minds.)

Motivational and Confidence building

Communication should always be motivational and aim to build confidence within the audience – especially when bad news is being delivered. Ensure that you mention the performance of the team, the success resulting from the efforts. The positive future that awaits and the confidence that you have in the teams abilities to realise that future. Keep repremending content to the point and as short as possible and always follow it up with a positive prospect building trust and confidence.

Have a plan

If you are communicating change or progress, you must come prepared with a plan. Have a relevant understanding of the past, the present and the future. The plan is usually “how” the team will progress from where they have been, using what they have today to build the desired future. Progress against a plan must always be measurable to unsure continuous improvement.

Be clear on what is being communicated

Ensure that everyone is clear of the subject being communicated. Focus on the key message of the communication and present it in a direct and authentic way. Stick to the subject. Ensure that the message comes with the right context and content for the receiver to place it in the right perspective.

Be Direct

I believe in a direct approach – say it as it is. Have the guts to say what is needed. Speak about the hard things that no one talks about but everyone wants to hear. Address the elephant in the room, preferably before you are asked about it.

 Be Authentic

My believe is to always be truthful and authentic in delivering your message, be yourself – people see straight through anything else…

Enough detail

Ensure that you communicate just enough detail to ensure everyone has the same picture in his or her minds after you have communicated. Too much detail and people will loose interest. Too little detail and people will makeup their own inconsistent picture. Remember the story of the group of people that were told that there is a cat in the room next door… the storyteller waited for the picture to start forming and then asked each one of the audience to describe it. As you can imagine various different pictures were presented – a black cat, a ginger cat or is it a tiger?

Always be prepared to go into way more detail than what you expect – your ability to use detailed facts to support your message, especially when asked about it, will determine the credibility of your message.

Bi-directional

Successful communication always has to be two-way. You have to be a good listener as well. Be prepared to have collaboratively discussions – listen intently before you respond. Do not formulate your next response in your head instead of listening to what is being said or asked. Your team will have a wealth of knowledge and insight that might help to enhance the right picture. This means being able to have a meaningful discussion with people, understanding, assisting and facilitating the resolution of their problems, ensuring people know what to do and why they are doing it without you having to tell them how to do it. (See Success – people come first).

Effective communication is the continuous search and commitment to seek for a better understanding. Approach conversations from a learning perspective, an opportunity to get to know more rather than a one directional “tell” perspective.

Common Cause

For the message to hit home it must address a common cause – something that address the benefit of the team but also on an individual level. Either create a common cause in your communication or remind people of the common cause – why it is important to be part of something bigger rather than just you as an individual.

 Think before your speak

Stop and think things through before you act in haste, sending out an ill-considered communication. Think what needs to happen, what are the benefits, risks, what are the desired outcome… Then compile a well-considered and effective communication. Remember this – Once the message is out, you can never really take it back.

Emotional Intelligence

In the blog post on Emotional Intelligence, EQ is defined under five interconnected components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Motivation
  • Empathy
  • Social skills

Use your own EI to assess the situation before your decide on the appropriate way to react and how what needs communicating. In short I say:” Trust your gut feeling.”

Get Assurance

Continuously test the effectiveness of your communication by asking people to relay to you what their interpretation is. Ask this questions at all levels – do not assume that the organisation structure will distribute the intended message to all that needs to hear it – go check for yourself. Get feedback. Get the assurance that people understand what you are communicating and that if people are remembering and acting on what has been communicated. If not – communicate again, again!

Build Trust

You want your communications to be trusted. How do you build trust? By doing what you say you are going to do and build relationships at all levels with integrity and honesty. When you are trusted, your communication is on-boarded more sincerely and you are taken seriously – building rapport.

Situational Communication (and Leadership)

There are many different leadership styles (read more here) as outlined in the list below:

  • Autocratic Leadership
  • Bureaucratic Leadership
  • Charismatic Leadership
  • Democratic/Participative Leadership
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership
  • People-Oriented/Relations-Oriented Leadership
  • Servant Leadership
  • Task-Oriented Leadership
  • Transactional Leadership
  • Transformational Leadership

The “One Minute Manager” summarised leadership into four basic styles:

  • Directing – The leader provides specific instructions and closely supervises the accomplishment. (Communicate mainly by telling people what needs to be done)
  • Coaching – The leader continuous to direct and closely supervise but also explains decisions, solicits suggestions and support progress made. (Communicate a directive or corrective after team collaboration)
  • Supporting – The leader facilitates and supports people’s efforts toward accomplishment and shares responsibility for decision making with them. (Communicate similarly to the Coaching style)
  • Delegating – The leader turns over responsibility for decision making and problem solving to subordinates. (Communicate collaboratively and inclusively)

Usually the leaders default communication style is directly related to the leadership style. An effective leader can adapt his management style and hence his communication style according to the situation, including consideration for the audience and the nature of the message to be communicated.

To Conclude

Remember and think about all the aspects mentioned for consideration, before you communicate. Be flexible and agile in your approach to communication – as a leader you must be able to fluently switch between different leadership and communication styles and mediums to ensure optimum results, in the moment. There is no one glove that fit them all, leadership is not a science – hence the art of leadership. You’ll know when you get it right – do more of those!

Every situation is different and hence can a single communication approach not be seen as superior to the other – there are no equals. I’ll conclude with this saying from the ‘One Minute Manager’: “There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of un-equals.”

 

Also Read:

Management Communication Plan

 

Bimodal Organisations

The continuous push towards business improvement combined with the digital revolution, that has changed the way the customer is engaging with business through the use of technology, have introduced the need for an agility in the delivery of IT services. This speed and agility in IT delivery, for the business to keep abreast of a fast evolving and innovative technology landscape and to gain an competitive advantage are not just required in the development and/or introduction of new technology into the business, but in the way “keep the lights on” IT operations are reliably delivered through stable platforms and processes enabling business growth as well.

IT Bimodal

We can agree that once systems and solutions are adopted and integrated into business operations, the business requirement for IT delivery changes with IT stability, reliability, availability and quality as key enablers to business performance optimisation. There are thus two very distinct and equally important ways or modes of delivering IT services that should seamlessly combine into the overall IT Service Operations contributing to business growth.

Gartner minted in 2016 the concept of IT Bimodal – the practise to manage two separate coherent modes of IT delivery.

Mode 1: Focussed on Stability Mode 2: Focussed on Agility
Traditional Exploratory
Sequential Non-linear
Emphasis on: Safety & Accuracy Emphasis on: Agility and Speed

Each of the delivery modes has their own set of benefits and flaws depending on the business context – ultimately the best of both worlds must be adapted as the new way in which technology delivers into business value. Businesses require agility in change without compromising the stability of operations. Change to this new way and associated new Target Operating Model (TOM) is required.

Bimodal Organisation

This transformation is not just applicable to IT but the entire organisation. IT and “the business” are the two parts of the modern digital business. “The Business” needs to adapt and change their work style (operating model) towards digital as well. This transformation by both IT and “the business”, branded by Gartner as Bimodal, is the transformation towards a new business operating model (a new way of working) embracing a common goal of strategic alignment. Full integration of IT and business are the core of a successful digital organisation competing in the digital era.

The introduction of Agile development methodologies and DevOps, led to a transformation in how technology is being delivered into business operations. IT Service Management (ITSM) and the ITIL framework have matured the operational delivery of IT services, as a business (#ITaaBusiness) or within a business while Lean Six Sigma enables business process optimisation to ultimate quality delivery excellence. But these new “agile” ways of working, today mainly applied within IT, is not enough for the full bimodal transformation. Other aspects involving the overall organisation such as business governance and strategy, management structures and organisational architecture, people (Human Capital Management – HCM), skills, competencies, culture, change management, leadership and performance management as well as the formal management of business and technology innovation and integration, form additional service areas that have to be established or transformed.

How do organisations go about defining this new Bimodal TOM? – In come Bimodal Enablement Consulting Services in short BECS.

BECS – Bimodal Enablement Consulting Services

Gartner’s definition: “An emerging market that leverages a composite set of business and technology consulting services and IP assets to achieve faster more reliable and secure, as well as business aligned, solutions in support of strategic business initiatives.”

To establish a Bimodal enabled TOM, organisations need to architect/design the organisation to be customer centric, focussing on the value adding service delivered to the client/customer – a Service Oriented Organisation (SOO) designed using a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). This set of customer services (external facing) should relay back to a comprehensive and integrated set of supporting and enabling business services (internal facing) that can quickly and effectively enable the business to innovate and rapidly adapt and deliver to changing customer needs and the use of technology within the digital era. This journey of change, that businesses needs to undergo, is exactly what digital transformation is about – not just focused on the technology, processes, quality and customer service, but on the business holistically, starting with the people working within the business and how they add value through the development and use of the right skills and tools, learning an applying it rapidly throughout the business value chain.

A customer centric delivery approach requires the development and adoption of new ways in which work are conducted – new management structures, building and enhancing A-teams (high performing individuals and teams, getting the job done), optimised processes and the right tool sets.

BECS must address the top bimodal drivers or goals, as identified by Gartner research:

  • Deliver greater IT value to the business
  • Shorten the time to deliver solutions
  • Enable digital business strategies
  • Accelerate IT innovation
  • Transform IT talent/culture/operations
  • Increase the interaction between business and IT
  • Embrace leading-edge technologies, tools and/or practices
  • Reduce IT costs (always a favourite)
  • Change the organisation’s culture

Take Action

Are you ready, aligned and actively engaging in the digital world?

Can you accelerate change and enable revenue growth with rock-solid service and business operations?

Are you actively practicing bimodal, continuously adapting to the changing digitally empowered customer demand?

The ultimate test to determine if you are bimodal: Every business process and every enterprise system needs to work without a blip, even as more innovation and disruptors are introduced to make the business more efficient and responsive.

It is time to be a bimodal organisation!

___________Renier Botha specialises in helping organisation to optimise their ability to better integrate technology and change into their main revenue channels – make contact today.

Related post: Success – People First; Performance ImprovementAGILE – What business executives need to know #1; AGILE – What business executives need to know #2; Lean Six Sigma; The Digital Transformation Necessity; Structure Tech for Success

Performance Improvement: Effective & Efficient

Performance is simply the action taken or process followed in doing a task or function.

Performance improvement – the continuous driver to be better, to grow, to achieve great things!

Directly related to business performance is the ability to change the business processes for greater effectiveness and efficiency increasing productivity while terms like specialisation, standardisation comes to mind followed by measurement, data analysis, statistical analysis, root cause analysis and finally process control and quality control and the overriding metric – customer satisfaction.

Remember the saying by Peter Drucker: “What gets measured, gets improved”…

Measuring performance involves the ability to measure the effectiveness of an initiative or action as well as the efficiency in which it is achieved. Similarly performance improvement involves the enhancement of effectiveness while optimising the efficiency.

Effective: Success in delivering a desired or intended result.

Efficient: Achieving maximum productivity through optimal use of resources with minimum waste or expense.

Depending on your business and your situation you must select or develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to calculate the effectiveness and efficiency of your activities – for business this is usually calculated in monetary terms. Once you understand your current performance you can set KPI targets and work on improvement initiatives.

I found this flow on Pinterest that gives a great overview of the processes involved in enhancing effectiveness and efficiency to increase business performance summarised in 5 habits of the mind:

  1. Know where time goes
  2. Focus on outward contribution
  3. Build on Strengths
  4. Concentrate on selected area that produce outstanding results
  5. Make effective decisions

Linking appropriate KPIs to this flow can measure progress and deliver improving results.

Effective_Efficient

Performance Management

Performance (Effectiveness and Efficiency) can be influenced by various different factors – illustrated in the diagram below.

Performance_Improvement - CP.png

In using this diagram, a critical path (Shown in red above) can be drawn to improve performance in a specific area i.e. staff performance.

  1. First performance is defined,
  2. then measured to get a specific result (and understanding the impact it has overall).
  3. Understanding the results to determine which key skills, abilities and competeencies or lack there-of are contributing to the specific performance.
  4. Talent is needed to deliver performance – talent skills, abilities and competencies can be trained or recruited.
  5. Engagement is key – involve, motivate and empower your talent to respond and interact with the business – engagement brings a sense of happiness, which is a great motivator for creativity and performance.
  6. And the cycle repeats in never ending quality improvement loop.

This methodology can be adapted and used for performance improvement in any area of the business value chain.

Remember performance improvement is always reflected in the customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers engage with the business recurrently – hence revenue growth!

Let’s Talk – renierbotha Ltd specialises in the performance improvement of business and IT operations. Are you looking to achieve your goals faster? Create better business value? Build strategies to improve growth? We can help – make contact!

10 Peter Drucker Quotes that challenges Business Leadership thinking

Drucker is one of the best-known and most widely influential thinkers and writers on the subject of management theory and practice. In 1959, Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker,” and later in his life considered knowledge-worker productivity to be the next frontier of management.

  1. What gets measured gets improved.”
  2. “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”
  3. “Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.”
  4. “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”
  5. Results are gained by exploiting opportunities, not by solving problems.”
  6. “So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.”
  7. Meetings are by definition a concession to a deficient organization. For one either meets or one works. One cannot do both at the same time.”
  8. “People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”
  9. Long-range planning does not deal with the future decisions, but with the future of present decisions.”
  10. Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.”

Drucker – management thought leader

His Key Ideas

Drucker is considered the single most important thought leader in the world of management, and several ideas run through most of his writings:

  • Decentralization and simplification.[31] Drucker discounted the command and control model and asserted that companies work best when they are decentralized. According to Drucker, corporations tend to produce too many products, hire employees they don’t need (when a better solution would be outsourcing), and expand into economic sectors that they should avoid.
  • The concept of “knowledge worker” in his 1959 book The Landmarks of Tomorrow.[32] Since then, knowledge-based work has become increasingly important in businesses worldwide.
  • The prediction of the death of the “Blue Collar” worker.[33] The changing face of the US Auto Industry is a testimony to this prediction.
  • The concept of what eventually came to be known as “outsourcing.”[34] He used the example of “front room” and “back room” of each business: A company should be engaged in only the front room activities that are critical to supporting its core business. Back room activities should be handed over to other companies, for whom these tasks are the front room activities.
  • The importance of the nonprofit sector,[35] which he calls the third sector (private sector and the Government sector being the first two). Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) play crucial roles in the economies of countries around the world.
  • A profound skepticism of macroeconomic theory.[36] Drucker contended that economists of all schools fail to explain significant aspects of modern economies.
  • A lament that the sole focus of microeconomics is price, citing its lack of showing what products actually do for us,[37] thereby stimulating commercial interest in discovering how to calculate what products actually do for us; from their price.[38]
  • Respect for the worker. Drucker believed that employees are assets not liabilities. He taught that knowledgeable workers are the essential ingredients of the modern economy, and that a hybrid management model is the sole method of demonstrating an employee’s value to the organization. Central to this philosophy is the view that people are an organization’s most valuable resource, and that a manager’s job is both to prepare people to perform and give them freedom to do so.[39]
  • A belief in what he called “the sickness of government.” Drucker made nonpartisan claims that government is often unable or unwilling to provide new services that people need and/or want, though he believed that this condition is not intrinsic to the form of government. The chapter “The Sickness of Government”[40] in his book The Age of Discontinuity formed the basis of New Public Management,[41] a theory of public administration that dominated the discipline in the 1980s and 1990s.
  • The need for “planned abandonment.” Businesses and governments have a natural human tendency to cling to “yesterday’s successes” rather than seeing when they are no longer useful.[42]
  • A belief that taking action without thinking is the cause of every failure.
  • The need for community. Early in his career, Drucker predicted the “end of economic man” and advocated the creation of a “plant community”[43] where an individual’s social needs could be met. He later acknowledged that the plant community never materialized, and by the 1980s, suggested that volunteering in the nonprofit sector was the key to fostering a healthy society where people found a sense of belonging and civic pride.[44]
  • The need to manage business by balancing a variety of needs and goals, rather than subordinating an institution to a single value.[45][46] This concept of management by objectivesand self-control forms the keynote of his 1954 landmark The Practice of Management.[47]
  • A company’s primary responsibility is to serve its customers. Profit is not the primary goal, but rather an essential condition for the company’s continued existence and sustainability.[48]
  • A belief in the notion that great companies could stand among humankind’s noblest inventions.[49]
  • “Do what you do best and outsource the rest” is a business tagline first “coined and developed”[50] in the 1990s by Drucker.[51] The slogan was primarily used to advocate outsourcing as a viable business strategy. Drucker began explaining the concept of outsourcing as early as 1989 in his Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article entitled “Sell the Mailroom.”[52] In 2009 by way of recognition, Drucker was posthumously inducted into the Outsourcing Hall of Fame for his outstanding work in the field.[53]

From wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Drucker