sábado, 31 de diciembre de 2016

Listen to the Voice of the customer! Please!

I have been luckily exposed over the past years, to concepts such as voice of the customer, critical to quality, customer first and so on. 
All strive to the need and importance of capture what the customer wants, in order to be able to deliver it to retain the customer and build loyalty over time. 
Listening to the voice of the customer is not an easy task. Sometimes we need to traduce the voice of the customer into requirements/characteristics a product or a service must comply. Some other times, we may need to translate those characteristics into specifications for the product or service, that will dictate how the process should perform. And sometimes, finally we also need to define the settings of our process, to ensure the process always performs within specifications, that eventually will meet the characteristics and/or requirements that the customer wants. Being the settings all rules, procedures, instructions, tools that will prevent the process from shifting away from the expected performance. 

This is more less the idea:

The hard part is to translate and capture the voice of the customer to succesfully bring it to your organization and deliver consistently what the customer expects.

There are different methods to capture this, such as surveys, face to face interviews, trends analysis and so on.  This post is not about those techniques, but to outline the importance of correctly capture what the customer wants. 

This came to me as a post, from Christmas. My 2 years old son, wanted a car for Christmas. So, as the tradition in Mexico requires, he and her sister wrote the letters to Santa and left them waiting at our Christmas tree (yes, Waste of Wating is present even in Christmas). So as we were getting close to December 24th, ran to get all the gifts and presents for the holidays, and got a small car, of about 1 feet long, pretty cool. So Imagine that my son would be very, very happy with it. 

To my surprise, my wife took him to visit some friends, and for some reason they ended up going to a Walmart, where my son saw a big massive electrical and expensive car. Those where the kid can actually get in the car and "drive".  Of course he said, "Thats the one I want, the one I asked Santa to bring me for Christmas".  

Of course my wife told me his terrified, since she knew that we already got all the presents. Luckly there was couple of days left and was able to find the right one. 

In the end everything ended up being just right. But this small - huuuge mistake could have brought the holiday down. 

Imagine that instead of my son, that would have been a customer! The expectations and requirements definitely wouldn't´t have been accomplished.  

Has something similar ever happened to you? If so, please share with me, I´d love to read your Christmas or business story. 

And of course, Happy New Year!

domingo, 25 de diciembre de 2016

True Crime meets Lean.

Its holiday, and I really hope you had a great time this Christmas. I hope Santa brought all your gifts and really hope that companies, as well the economy in general will get better for everybody in the world. 
Tonight I want to talk about podcasts. I´m kind of addicted to podcasts. I have been subscribed to Gemba Academy and Mark Graban´s podcasts for a while now. They are really great, so if you haven´t listen to them, I urge you to do it. You will get insights related to Lean and different other topics, such as Customer Service, leadership, continuous improvement and one of the most important, that I have been able to know other authors, speakers and leaders who work everyday to spread the knowledge and principles around Lean, and also to correct the misconceptions around it.  
Podcast: a program (such as a music or news program) that is like
radio  or television show but that is downloaded over the Internet.

Thanks to that and that I read the New Yorker, I came across with Serial. The famous podcast that during its first season, told the story of Adnan Syed, who was charged on the murder of his ex-girlfriend and locked for the last 17 years. The people who know me on a personal level, knows that I am true crime fan. And also a fan of series. So if you haven´t heard it, and you like the topic, listen to it. It is very good and the quality on the production is something that deserves a try. This is relevant because I found, recently a new podcast; Accused.  This podcast, in the tradition of Serial, tells the story of Elizabeth Andes, who´s case remains unsolved. Well at least that is what the journalist Amber Hunt says about this case. Elevator speech is; Elizabeth Andes was murdered, the police charged the boyfriend as the killer, but two different juries found him not guilty and he walked.
Accused: Podcast about the Elizabeth Andes case. A jumping to
conclusions case that has remained unsolved for 37 years.
So, what do this horrible story has to do with Lean? A lot in my opinion. Police was convinced the boyfriend was guilty, they even got a confession, but still, the boyfriend walked away. In the podcast, the Cincinatti Enquirer digs deep to try to know the truth. And what is noticeable is that despite the amount of evidence, the many suspects that weren´t investigated, the Police is still convinced that they charged the right guy, but they say that:

The justice system, just didn't work. 

This is the main reason why the police hasn't investigated further, and why this case is still unsolved and open, even though the police says they had the right guy. Through the episodes, is clear that police didn't like the fact that someone suggests that they may have Accused the wrong guy. Over and over we hear that they got the right guy, they don´t believe anybody else did it. And made me reflect why it is so hard for humans to accept the possibility of making an error. 

Basically  this story, is about jumping to conclusions before making a proper analysis: the result is that the case has remained unsolved for 37 years. Does that sound familiar? Jumping right away to conclusions? Pointing fingers to someone who was later determined to be innocent? This is very similar to business. I realize that we don´t like to be told that we committed a mistake. I believe it is because we have been taught that being wrong is bad. That we should avoid being wrong and that too often being wrong may bring undesired consequences. We are, basically taught to fear making mistakes. Being wrong is in fact, one of the best ways to learn and develop skills such as resilience, discipline and careful observation. PDSA is  based on trying different solutions, and observe the effect those solutions have on a given problem. Learning from each experiment and re-think the approach to the problem, until the issue is either solve or the solution is improved. Toyota kata are a series of routines that allow controlled experiments to be conducted in order to solver a situation or specific problem and, learn from them. So basically, encouraging, in a controlled way, failure and learning about our the plan, what´s preventing from achieving the results, and what to do next. Which I find powerful, because in the end, we are learning more from the situation we try to modify. 
Toyota Kata Process.
Source: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mrother/Materials_to_Download.html

I think that´s why  babies do a lot of disasters. They throw things, paint walls, and basically create a big mess every time they can. Through this experiments, they learn, and absorb knowledge about the world and the situations around them. If this is a natural manner to learn? Why isn´t failure encouraged? Why taught kids that failing is wrong? Of course, nobody wants to fail. However, if we fail in a controlled way, is actually something really good. Just ask Toyota. 

I guess changing our beliefs, and the things we have been taught since kids, isn´t easy. But we must start at some point. And recognizing that we may have made a mistake, is a very good start. And of course, take actions to either confirm our mistake and take a new route, or be sure that we did it right the first time. In both cases great learning can be found. What have we done correctly to achieve the desired result? and of course, What have we done incorrectly and what needs to be done now in order to achieve the desired results? 

Of course, to do this, we require methods and systems that allow experimentation on a continuous basis. But also, experiment without harming our customers. Here is when Lean can help to create those systems. And at the same time, change the way failure and mistakes are perceived.  It may not be easy, but sure can be done. Probably in the case described in Accused, may not be right away, but  I´m confident that new techniques, technologies and methods will help to bring light to the situation soon. In the mean time, Lean thinkers should take lessons learned, reflect, and at the same time hear our podcasts this holidays. 

Hopefully this new year, won´t commit the same mistakes we did last year. I truly hope that this 2017 would be a better year for all!

Merry Christmas and thanks for reading. I would love to read your thoughts about this topic. Please leave a comment and read you next time. 

sábado, 17 de diciembre de 2016

Engagement and the extrinsic motivation in daily job.

Good day. I haven´t been very active lately, due to many things I have been doing this past weeks. But I promised to myself that I will be more active, so I can share experiences and some Lean & Six Sigma templates for free. So if you are interested on using them, you could actually save some time while surfing the net and go straight to that section and download the template. I know that is hard to find the right tool and template to use it for an specific situation. So, If you are interested on this, stay tunned and soon will start uploading interesting tools and templates for you to experiment, have fun and learn.

Now, this week I wanna talk to you about an important topic that seem to be simple. But that actually is not. Many organizations do not know how to maintain engaged, motivated, happy to people in their headcount. Very often, organizations believe that conducting annual surveys on engagement will actually help to understand, and identify the gaps that need to be filled to increase engagement. And too often, that is far from being the solution. Although, an annual survey is a good start, I truly believe engagement happens on a daily basis. Every small activities we do every day, have a massive impact on motivation and engagement.

This comes to the table due to the fact that I heard some days ago, someone talking about attrition or (Labor turnover as it is also known) in the US. Remember that I´m located in Mexico City, but very often, have contact with colleagues in the US. This person, was referring to the low attrition we have in Mexico City and saying that basically in Indianapolis, where he is located, is very hard to maintain a very low Labor Turnover rate. The explanation he was giving is because his facility was located next to other facilites that actually were inside different industries. But mainly because if you looked for a job, you could find it, eventhough the salary would be almost the same. Sometimes workers left because they were offered 50 cents or even 1 more dollar. So basically he was complaining because, according to him, employment was good in the region and If a job didn´t like you, basically could find another without much trouble.

A few stats.

So, first I decided to look a little bit to see if that was right. If the unemployment rates where low in Indiana. Googling found that the department of labor in the US have a very cool table with statistics about divided by states. And you can actually see the actual rate, and the historical high and low. To grasp an idea of the variation on the process.  It is in fact true that there is low un employment in that zone.
Fig 1. Unemployment Rate by state.  Source: Department of Labor US

Fig. 2 Unemployment Rate by state. Actual, max & min.
However, if we look at the histogram we can see clearly that Indiana is no better than the rest of the country, is about the mean. Also the Histogram on employment rate, shows that Indiana performance is around the mean.
Fig. 3 Unemployment rate by State - Histogram
Source: Department of Labor US

Fig. 4 Hire rates US Oct 2016.
Source: Department of Labor US.

The run charts show however that Indiana is getting better compared to previous years. But even though things are getting better in recent years, looks like Indiana is no different to other states.

Fig. 4 Employment - Unemployment Yearly Evolution
Source: Department of Labor US.

Fig. 5 Unemployment Rate Yearly Evolution
Source: Department of Labor Us.
But it is true that as employment rates is getting better and unemployment is getting also lower, that combination might suggest that  this guy has a point. Probably isn´t a problem specific to Indiana, but to the whole country. Remember that I live in Mexico and tried to use data to validate and get a conclusion on this subject. So if this in fact is getting worse or better,  What can this facility do to solve this problem?

A lean approach to this problem.

Engagement is a people´s problem. There is no surprise to find that some people will eventually loose stamina on the long road if they find no motivation, but to get a pay check every month. I have heard that having a job, and getting a paycheck every month should be enough. I have heard that should be enough motivation to get up every morning and go to work. How ever, we know is not that easy. Even though we should be thankful for having a job, it´s almost natural to loose interest, stamina or motivation if we only have extrinsic motivation to do things. 
In this case it is very important to distinguish extrinsic from intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is the kind of reward or recognition a worker gets in the form of gifts, bonuses, awards, etc. A raise is also a motivation of this kind.
So, what´s wrong about it? everybody wants a raise right? While might be good and even necessary and healthy to get raises, bonuses, awards or so, the problem is that the effect don´t last long. The excitement and energy that strives from this kind of awards tends to fade on the long road. The reason is that our brain and mind gets used to it. It adapts to the changes we have in our lifes and soon, will accept this new income or raise as something natural. Something normal. And eventually will go back to the old state of low motivation to perform. That´s how we are designed. It is completely normal and is good for businesses that now we know about it. 

So, what shall we do about it? Accept it and move on? Live with a high attrition rate in our businesses? NO. There is something we can do about it. Daniel Pink, Best selling author of Drive, The surprising truth about what motivates us claims that there are 3 things we can do to drive Intrinsic motivation, the kind of motivation that lasts longer. The first is autonomy. Grant autonomy to our workers. Let them decide what´s the better way to do their work. What ideas can they bring in order to improve? How can they work with management together and improve/solve problems at their jobs? Involving workers in daily problems is a good start. Is even better to involve some of them in solving bigger problems the organization is facing. Two key things must be considered here. First not all the people want´s or believes that needs autonomy Due to the fact that most organizations and managers do not allow people to think and they are just told what to do. Some people may not be used to this kind of freedom. Second, when an employee is showing engagement and is actively participating with ideas, proposals, etc. We should´t kill that initiative, by saying things such as "No, thats a bad idea" or "No we don´t have budget" or even "No, we tried that and didn´t work" and don use the famous "No, that was invented somewhere else and won´t work here". Because, if that employee is motivated, eventually will start thinking that there is no point for proposing improvements if he/she is constantly rejected. If we have budget constraints and the idea requires investment, the right thing to do is to work with the employee to figure other cheaper available options. If the idea may not be the best for customers, don´t just say no. Work with the employee so he/she can realize the idea is more likely to harm the client, and coach him to come with a better new proposal that could be a win - win type solution. 
Second, is mastery. When we do things over and over, eventually we become masters in what we do. One good strategy I followed in the past was to use those masters to teach and coach others, to achieve two things: engagement from the "master" as he is instructing other rookies. And second show appreciation and respect for the "master´s skills" so he could help me to teach less experienced ones. By that, they become some sort of authority in the organization.  Third is purpose. When we know how our work impacts the organization, how our work impacts the client, and how our work is appreciated by our bosses we start to understand and find purpose in what we do. This is a hard one. My experience has shown me that by sincerely talking to employees, getting to know them, understanding their skills and passions, we can better use their talents and assign them challenges on a continuous basis so they could feel appreciated and find purpose beyond their daily responsibilities. It is the managers job to be aware and sometimes simply ask what employees like and dislike about their job. As an example I am very skilled in powerpoint, I can do amazing presentations in PPT. How ever, even though I often have autonomy over my presentations, and I have mastery, for me the purpose of a presentation often adds no value to the organization or even a customer. However mapping processes or creating lean systems is something that I like because I can have autonomy to create and use the tool i find better for the process. I believe I have mastery on doing that and i know that by creating and implementing a lean system will help the organization to improve its efficiency, eventually its costs and will be a contributor to keep the business alive; I have purpose.
“Management’s overall aim should be to create a system in which everybody may take joy in his work.” Dr. W. Edwards Deming

One last thought 

In my mind, that gentleman complaining about labor and unemployment attrition, instead of thinking that´s the way things are, should be thinking a way to engage personnel so they don´t want/have to leave somewhere else. Showing respect for people is the best way to engage them and ensure your labor turnover/attrition is low. If you engage your employees in continuous improvement, eventually they will get addicted to it. They will start thinking better ways to do things and will achieve innovation and improvement momentum. Just be careful. I´m not saying that employees shouldn't be paid well. In fact if you try to engage people, but they aren´t perceiving their salary being enough to cover their basic needs, eventually will leave because their needs aren´t obviously covered. So take care of their needs first (short term) but think ways to engage them (long term) so, no matter if other companies want your talent, employees will find so infatuated with your company that will find it hard to leave. That isn´t easy. But once you get it, is a powerful tactic to become a more efficient, leading company in your market. Remember that having the right engaged people, is one key input for your organization to deliver and exceed what the customer needs.

What is your take on this matter? What is your proposal to diminish attrition on a very competitive environment? Please leave a message, I´d love to read your thoughts.

Thanks for reading by the way. 

sábado, 19 de noviembre de 2016

Oakland A`s, Boston´s Red Sox & Chicago Cubs too???

The first time I heard about Moneyball was in Summer 2013. I was an engineer working at Ford and at that time I was into Stats. Due to the fact that a couple of years earlier got my 6 sigma Black Belt certificate.

From the moment I saw the movie and the controversy that rose from the fact that stats were being used to improve a team´s performance, I was hooked. Made perfect sense to me, use data and evidence to assess a player´s habilities to help an organization.  Therefore shape better team´s roster in order to maximize their potential and achieve goals. 

I later learned that the Boston Red Sox used similar techniques and methods to break the Bambino´s curse, and win 3 World titles in 2004, 2007 and 2013.  A few days ago, as I was driving home, heard that Cubs general manager was the mind behind those 3 world titles for Boston. And that he was the sponsor for the STATS, pioneered by Bill James and applied successfully by Paul DePodesta, first at the time he worked with Billy Beane at Oakland.

Started to Google about Theo Epstein and after reading a little bit on different websites, found myself reading about DePodesta and Bill James. Read about the Bullying they have suffer through their career. Specially because SABERMETRICS are (I believe) little understood, and because some people believe they are meant to replace the experience and knowledge many “Experts” have regarding sports.

Chicago Cubs: Breaking the goat´s curse.

In a sport that many believe curses are true, but at the same time generates a lot of stats, is funny that data analyzed by people like DePodesta, do not receive the same credit. I´ve heard some criticism about the fact that critics say that this method tries to gather a team, only by looking at stats. And that experience from scouts, should not be neglected or denied. 

This kind of behavior is normal and it happens in sports, government, companies, and even in marriage. We have a hard time accepting that we have done something wrong, or that are opportunities in how we are managing things. It is hard to accept that things could be improved. It´s even harder to accept other methodologies or ways of thinking, because we believe that if those methodologies or techniques haven´t been invented here, won´t work since we are different. 
I have experience that behavior in the steel industry and logistics. Some people believe that if you do not have previous experience in this industry, automatically you do not have the right to talk about problems, because you don´t know what is like here. 

Something similar happened here, with DePodesta and Bill James. 

“He is a security guard”

I´ve read in many sites the quote, previously stated here, about the work of Bill James. This attitude just reveals how disrespectful sometimes people is. Just because Bill James was a security guard, doesn´t mean he didn´t have the intelligence to think about new ways to assist coaches and trainers to understand better the game. Today many wearables provide constant data generated by athletes, so they can improve their performance almost real time.
DePodesta, during his time at NY Mets.

This same thinking in Baseball, reigns in Industry when some people hears about Lean. Or when a foreign proposes suggestions or solutions seen in other industries. The mentality of “Not Invented Here” is present, and mines companies abilities to innovate and also acquire professionals from other Industries that could contribute in great ways to solve and get a competitive advantage. 

Fortunately there are a few people who do believe experience is important, but it is much more important people´s ability to learn. I remember clearly that when I was interviewed by the final assembly manager, when I was going through the recruitment process to join Ford in early 2009, he asked me if I was able learn by myself. I answered yes I´m able. I believe that, that was the moment when I got the job at that time. Thanks to god that guy didn´t believe that experience was determinant to perform well. Otherwise probably I wouldn´t have worked for Ford and wouldn´t be writing this, since my previous experience was in the paper Industry.

Have you been disrespected by other colleagues for not being native in one area or industry? Please add a comment below. Would love to read your thought´s and experiences.

martes, 11 de octubre de 2016

Lean stories at Nummi & pride at work.

NUMMI & the joy of Work

Recently I was able to find and old NUMMI episode from This American Life, where describes more less why GM wasn´t able to replicate the operational & cultural practices from its peer Toyota. Well, at least, they didn´t replicate that in a quick manner, but until the 2000´s almost 20 years later after the NUMMI plant opened in Fremont Ca, as part of a joint venture with Toyota. If you haven´t listen to this episode, I suggest that you do it. Clic here to go that episode, but please come back as i Have another suggestion on this topic. 
After re-visiting this fascinating story, I was able to find other “New” podcast on this story. “The Bridge” is a podcast from San Francisco, and it mainly is about interest topics or issues that This City experiences. Some episodes explore the bay one street corner at a time, there´s another about Parkinson´s disease, homeless people and so on. The end of the season 1, talks about a familiar story for the Lean community: NUMMI. But explores the side effect of this plant´s closure. It is called the Life after NUMMI. If you haven´t hear it, i suggest you also do it by clicking here. 

New United Motor Manufacturing, in Freemont CA.

The half hour show talks about what happened after the plant was shutdown. It examines the life of a couple of workers, they tell some stories about the jokes, the people they worked with, the struggles of finding another job. Please remember this car factory closed in 2010 when the recession was at its peak, and finding another job like that, was just almost imposible. 

Although the podcast takes a couple of workers, I believe the represent the feeling and what it was like to work at NUMMI. The show opens describing the 5 year reunion from NUMMI employees. Sara Rogers, She was the tour coordinator at the factory, and worked there for 11 years. In the chapter she described the way she used to conduct the tour, and interact with workers as they assembled cars. At the beginning of the explanation she remembers explaining visitors the key values practiced at the factory: Kaizen, Kanban, Jidoka, Muda, Genchi gembutsu, etc. As she used to drive around the plant she named the people working at the worked stations. She remembers, the tour being about the factory and the people working within the factory, as she explains:

“ Here´s a tire, and here is Bob, working with a tire. Here´s an engine, and here´s Jason working with an engine”.

She used to tell stories about the people, she also says:

“ Those where the folks I worked for, you know I worked for those folks”.

The podcast also explains that during the various slumps car demand had through out the years, NUMMI never lay anyone off. When demand was week, one shift took classes about, safety, sexual harassment, history of Toyota and so on. Rogers remembers teaching about that last topic. And at this point, if you are listening, you can still hear the excitement in her voice, remembering all these concepts, stories and the fact that NUMMI never layoff anyone. Until the plant closed, and 

“And the Dream ended”.

April 1st, 2010 a red Corolla was the last car that came out of the plant. She explains that she wanted to be there until 90. She had no plans to retire, and she wanted to be there forever. 
I feel that there have been very few times where I´ve felt this same way. But I don´t remember feeling like that all the time. Typically in my case, there are times where you feel super motivated at job and there are some others, where you feel more like, you gotta do what you gotta do, is your job, and the motivation is pretty low. What place was NUMMI that a worker felt like working there was worth it doing it forever?

Ok, probably you´re thinking at this point; right her job was conducting tours. Is not the same as being assembling parts together every minute, attached to a work station, in a repetitive job. That´s true, but also, being a tour guide, doesn´t really help to change the world right? So, my thought is related about how good, happy environment it was and how was possible that those people would stay motivated to actually love their jobs. Is not that i don´t like my own job, but as I have explained before, at some point motivation isn´t at its peak. 
So, to me the fact that someone like Rogers still remembers her work with such pride, tells me one simple thing, and is the fact that she felt joy at her work. She had a purpose, which as a consequence, Intrinsic Motivation. It is supposed to exist two kinds of motivations, according to the book Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates Us, written by Daniel H. Pink.
Intrinsic motivation and Extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation are all variables such as wage, benefits, the things we buy and would like to posses that come as a consequence of having a job.  They are powerful, but they only do the trick in the short run. Cause as we know, the brain has a feature to adapt quickly to changes in our lives, so If you have a raise, it´s exciting, motivates you super high, but it only lasts for a short period of time. As the brain gets used to having more money on your wallet and accepts that as the norm. Intrinsic motivation is the kind of motivation that busts us in the long run. It requires autonomy, mastery and purpose to keep that kind of motivation driving our behaviour. Rogers describes how she conducted tours, and looks like she had the three  (motivators) at her job. But, speaking from experience, this is not something you can easily have, or achieve or even look for. Must son us, work because we need to cover basic needs: food, home, health, etc. and if along comes some of the intrinsic factors just discussed before, is a bonus. 
If you hear the podcast as the last Red Corolla was coming out of the line, you could hear people cheering  and clapping with joy. I don´t think that was coincidence, and all those guys, weren't also tour guides. So to get to point, I believe is because the management style and system created that allow people not only cover the basic needs “extrinsic motivation”, but also, the deeper needs “intrinsic motivation” that help a worker stay focus, motivated and with joy in the long run, as he works. 
Dr. Edwards Deming

This makes me remember Dr. Deming who put a great amount of responsibility on managers/management.  Pointing that creating good systems is management´s job, allowing people to take pride and joy at work. I´m convinced a true Lean System can do that. I´m convinced that that´s what TPS did at NUMMI, despite what Labor Notes claims, I know Lean works and can be great for everybody. 

Looks like for all the people who worked at NUMMI, things will never be the same. As Mario Mendes explains later in the podcast:

“It´s ok, It´s not the same. You get greasy and dirty. And is not like NUMMI”.

What also caught my eye, is the fact that Tesla Motors, bought the old building, after NUMMI was  closed,  for a really cheap price. Many of the workers from NUMMI, couldn´t make it to the new company. Which is really sad, as they had the skills, the culture, and the habits to help Tesla be more efficient, and perhaps, save some money on the training. Mendes explains it was really hard to get hired at Tesla as they weren't hiring people over 50. Same thing happen when I worked at Ford. When the Cuautitlan plant reopen, and I was hired back in 2009, most of workers where under 30. I believe it was because of budget, culture, and thinking that younger people would fit better than older people. I will go there on a future post, about the similarities Ford tried with Cuautitlan plant and NUMMI.

What do you think? Do you feel motivated with your the job/system you work in? What changes can we make to keep motivated ourselves in our current jobs? 

Would love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment below. 

viernes, 16 de septiembre de 2016

Tolerating behaviours and creating a Bad culture.

With the recent Scandal under which, the biggest bank in US, Wells Fargo has been for the last days, much has been going on and the bank as well as the CEO have been on the spotlight. More than than 5,300 people have been fired, using the old saying of bad apples.

This makes me think about practices most companies and leaders tolerate, that may not necessary be productive neither wanted. But, before you continue reading this, If you still don´t know what I´m talking about, clic here to get a quick brief summary on the scandal and go back here. 

Wells Fargo CEO, John Stumpf

The story says that employees illegally, and without customers consent, opened millions of accounts in order to achieve the goals and targets set by managers.

The bank, of course, blames the employees who archly did this, without managers and supervisors knowing. Of course this shows the poor leadership practiced in the bank, starting from the CEO: John Stumpf who said:

On average 1 percent [of employees] have not done the right thing and we terminated them. I don’t want them here if they don’t represent the culture of the company
As you can see in the rest of the article from Washington Post, he blames employees, and explains little about the company, the management practices that need to change or completely stopped. The culture of the company might be one, pushing for metrics, forcing employees to do whatever needs to be done to get the quota and then tolerating when those same employees took wrong, illegal decisions.

My first thinking is about the supervisors or managers who saw the emails linked to the ghosts accounts. Email addresses with names of 1234@ or noname@ i believe aren´t hard to notice, so my question is, did managers or executives knew about what was going on and did nothing? Did they encourage this behaviour' or decided to tolerate it?

Wells Fargo CEO said he seeks for perfection and I truly believe that in order to achieve perfection we need to stop tolerating the small things that drive a company´s culture. Why is it ok to tolerate that workers do things just to comply with a "requirement"? Why is it ok to tolerate the thinking that quality is quality´s department responsibility? Why is it ok to tolerate results/metrics manipulation in order to show everything is ok? Why is it ok to tolerate indifference to improvement? Why encourage the thinking of not invented here? Why is it ok to allow meetings to start late? Why is it ok to have meeting that lead to nowhere?

Those small activities in my opinion aren´t small at all. They reveal the true culture of a company, beyond the slogans or quality policies hanging on walls.

One might think that there is no comparison between allowing a meeting to start late and allowing workers to open fake accounts. But maybe, one thing let to another. First you allow a meeting to start late, allow that meeting go nowhere, then you start allowing people to deliver wrong information, late, then you start allowing people to tweak a little the metrics, and so on.

I believe that leaders and managers, need to be aware and correct these behaviours in order to maintain the right culture in the company. To achieve perfection details count. Details are important because reveal the company´s culture, and the kind of leadership that is held across managers and top executives. If executives and managers allow "these small details", we shouldn´t blame workers, but the system the company created that allowed wrong behaviours every day.

Wells Fargo might have forgotten one of the most controversial points from Dr. Deming:

Eliminate numerical quotas for the work force.

In this case, this point from Deming is perfect for Wells Fargo situation. They created this crazy numerical quotas that forced people to do extraordinary things to achieve them, because of the fear to be fired. Workers shouldn´t fear something at work. They should enjoy and find purpose in order to give their best. As Dr. Deming demonstrated long ago.

What are your thoughts regarding this unacceptable Wells Fargo behaviour? Do you think am I being too tough when comparing meetings and opening bank accounts?

miércoles, 27 de julio de 2016

Two bad chilies

Today I write about an incident that happened to a famous foods company in Mexico. La Costeña is a foods company with a history of more than 90 years in Mexico. Famous for being one of the first to market chilies in the early 1920´s. 

In the past days has been on the public eye, not for the quality or the taste of its canned chilies, but because a photograph. A couple of temporary associates took a picture unloading trucks. The trucks contained chilies, and in the picture can be seen two associates, one of them seems to be peeing on the products. The picture isn´t explicit as this guy was giving his back and cannot tell wether he was doing it or not. but his pants where down.

The story is that this picture got to the social media, where it went viral and of course, the company was under scrutiny. Obviously the company fired the two workers, but what is worth  to analyse are the responses his president and CEO gave today to a Radio show in the morning. 
Rafael Celorio, president and CEO of the company, gave an interview this morning where he talked about the pictures and provided his points of view on this matter.
He explained that those workers where temporary. This time of the year, he continued explaining, the company hires temporary workers to unload the extraordinary amount of products the plant receives everyday. 

Celorio said that the recruiting process was really good. That they do hire workers based on recommendations given by permanent workers in the plant. And he continued explaining that during this time of the year, they have to hire many workers, and many of them stay in the plant, and others come back the next year.

What bothers me about this, is the fact that the company blames the workers and plays the old game of two bad apples. In a separate declaration the public affairs manager , said that in the plant work 3000 workers, meaning it was impossible to watch everybody at every moment. To my understanding and view, the company lost a precious opportunity to recognize the opportunities within their recruiting process and the root cause as to why, two temporary workers would do something like that. What could have happened that encourage those associates to behave like that. The easy part is to blame the bad apples. The hard one, is to recognize and find why those bad apples got mixed with the good ones.

Companies that hire temporary workers know in advance that hiring temps, is a risk. How can those companies minimize those risks? How can those companies improve the systems where situations like that, simply cannot happened? 

Where was the supervisor? Too many workers to supervise? Was the plant running understaffed? Those are the kind of questions the company should ask themselves. How the system allowed that to happened? Of course, the system, is what should be reviewed. 

Temporary workers deserve the same respect as permanent. They should be trained, coached and empowered too. It is worth to follow the same process to recruit a temporary worker, compared to a permanent one. Since those workers for a given period of time will impact the company the same as a permanent worker. I´m not saying this wasn´t the case. I criticize how hard it is for companies accept there are opportunities to improve. Especially in public. 

Thank´s for reading, would love to read your thoughts.