1. Why Boeing Focused on Behaviors, Not Tools, When Building Its KM Strategy

    May 24, 2015 by BPIR.com Limited


    Originally posted on APQP blog by Lauren Trees

    APQC recently spoke to Jyoti Patel, knowledge management strategist at Boeing, about how Boeing merged two organizations and developed common processes, knowledge management capabilities, and data system architectures while also designing a knowledge management strategy that emphasizes behaviors over tools.

    APQC: In 2010 Boeing Test Evaluation (BT&E) tasked a team with developing a consistent enterprise strategy for process management, knowledge management, and systems engineering. Why did the organization feel this was important?

    Jyoti: BT&E was a new organization that brought together teams that were previously split between Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Boeing Defense Systems, and its challenge was to integrate these teams into a cohesive, high-performing organization to implement a common approach to testing Boeing Products including airplanes, fighter jets, and rotorcraft. Fourteen core capability organizations were defined, the largest of which was ours: Instrumentation and Data Systems. My team, the technical excellence team, was charged to lead the way for BT&E and the other capabilities to integrate by developing a common language, process architecture, and KM approach. We needed specialists that understood the organization from the inside to be dedicated to this full-time, which sent a message about how important this work is.

    APQC: You began developing a strategy by gathering feedback through nationwide site visits. What was something that surprised the team that employees mentioned over and over?

    Jyoti: We found six high-level themes that were repeated across our sites in some form or another. The two that were the most surprising were (1) the desire for rotational programs within BT&E and (2) big-picture education and visibility. In retrospect, it makes sense that within a large organization like ours, where becoming compartmentalized is a natural state, people are hungry to obtain a systems level perspective. We found this to be especially true of our teams who interface with other teams a lot, and not so true of our smaller independent teams and labs.

    APQC: At Boeing you tried to avoid pitfalls that other KM programs have fallen into, such as focusing too much on tools rather than behaviors. What was the biggest struggle you had to overcome?

    Jyoti: The biggest struggle we had to overcome was shifting the learning culture to match both our current dynamic business environment and the evolving expectations of our incoming employees. Specifically, we knew we had to shift the perception that knowledge sharing, in all of its forms, is secondary to the primary work. We built a multi-channel knowledge strategy at a high level but in order to execute it, we had to meet people where they were and with what they were already doing. Informal knowledge sharing happens all around us, so part of our challenge was shining a light on the existing pockets of goodness and working with teams to enhance the effectiveness of what they were already doing, highlight how it fit into the strategy, and grow their efforts from there.

    APQC: One goal of your KM program is to facilitate knowledge transfer between new hires, future experts, and late-career employees. What approaches are you using for this?

    Jyoti: After identifying the target audiences for our knowledge transfer approaches, we combined the best of the programs that were being used both in the larger Boeing system and within our own groups. Our design build organization had a homegrown, tiered mentoring program for new hires that stood out for two reasons. First, it made new hires eligible to mentor other new hires after a year, which saved the time of our experts and leads while also fostering a teaching mindset in our early-career employees. It also recognized the need to free up the time of our most senior employees to dedicate to mentoring activities instead of strictly working projects. For future experts, we leveraged an existing enterprise approach called Enterprise Engineering Technical Mentoring (EETM) which nurtures the concept of building strategic partnerships based on critical skills between our experts and mid-career employees. Finally, for employees leaving the organization for any reason, especially retirement, we leveraged an enterprise framework called the Knowledge Transfer Toolkit. One of the underlying drivers of our team’s mission was to support the development of knowledge transfer plans for our retiring baby boomers who, in many cases, possess a lifetime of specialized knowledge. Part of our role is to consult and coach exiting employees. We customize and execute the approach based on their particular needs.

    APQC: What are the pros and cons of capturing knowledge through a wiki?

    Jyoti: Our wiki, e-Book, has over 550 pages of content and 955 users; it has been built over 6 years as an entirely grassroots effort. I’ll speak to the cons first. It’s difficult to maintain a navigational structure that works for a diverse range of users, which happens when new groups join. We want to grow the user base to drive more participation, which leads to a higher standard of content. I think striking the balance between the right number of users while maintaining relevance to your core users is key. We have a lot of content consumers, but only a subset of those are content creators/editors, which means that there is a critical mass of users for a wiki to maintain efficacy. Another con is that our engineering population values content approved by experts, so it has been a hurdle for those folks to accept an open source model. Also, it’s slow to build content momentum within an organization where the demographics are so polarized and the level of comfort using a wiki is very inconsistent among employees. This is a long-term resource with long-term gains and had to be approached accordingly.

    One of the main pros is that the wiki represents an ideal of how we should be capturing knowledge. Within our organization, the 70/20/10 rule is well known and espoused, but when the majority of people think about capturing knowledge, they use traditional methods like creating training material for a class or writing an informal document to be distributed locally. The formal training is still widely accepted as the standard despite an awareness that the world today provides better methods for on-demand access to information, and the wiki is a great example of that. Many people in our organization not only recognize this but practice it, and these people form the majority of our active users. The fact that this was a resource created for the people, by the people, without the cost of bringing in the IT organization fosters a big sense of pride for what we have created here (a community of learners connecting not just knowledge, but more importantly, people). Finally, the on-demand attribute is a huge advantage, especially in the fast-paced dynamic world of flight test. People need answers and they need them fast, 24/7, and from anywhere in the world. Our folks don’t have time to dig through servers or training material, and the wiki supports that.

    APQC: Boeing’s KM program makes serving people first a priority. What are the keys to doing that?

    Jyoti: I think that ultimately you have to place relationships and connecting people with one another above all else. People can and will use those relationships and resources for a myriad of reasons, a subset of which might be related to your organization’s core mission. For instance, InSite (Boeing’s social network) has all kinds of interest groups, some of which seem to be outside the scope of what we do. Not all of them provide a tangible ROI, but the power of the community, as well as the massive potential of connecting great ideas with people who can help make them happen, is enough to sustain their existence and promote innovation. I also believe a key to serving people first in KM is: Don’t be afraid to “design tight, run loose”. Our targets and environments are constantly changing. This means our plans, projects, and our own beliefs are all subject to change depending on the latest environmental scan. If you listen to your customers throughout your project lifecycle and use that data and your relationships to co-create a better product, you will surely succeed. For me this translates to a solid operating structure and rhythm that connects the right people to perform course corrections and ensure progress to goals as needed.

  2. A best practice of strategic planning and deployment you can apply in 2015

    December 21, 2014 by BPIR.com Limited


    From left Robby Thommy and Loganathan Murthy from Al Jazeera International Catering LLC with competition judges Dr James Harrington, Professor Tony Bendell and Marc Amblard, Click here for more photos


    In this post we will share with you some lessons from Al Jazeera International Catering (JIC) LLC, winners of the 3rd International Best Practice Competition, 2014.

    The best practice title is “SPEARS Methodology for Employee Empowerment and Inculcating Excellence”.

    So what is SPEARS?

    The SPEARS methodology is a managerial process that encourages “excellence” to be practiced throughout the organisation. It was designed to ensure that all staff are empowered with proper resources and knowledge for effective decision-making.

    SPEARS consists of the following:

    • S – Setting Objectives: for all functional areas and further disseminated through individual objectives for all employees.
    • P – Provide resources: required by the staff (knowledge & tools) to perform to achieve their objectives and goals.
    • E – Empower staff: to think on their feet and raise any concerns within the organization through the Corrective Action Request mechanism.
    • A – Appraise performance: of individuals on a monthly basis through the Individual Objective monitoring system to ensure transparency in performance management.
    • R – Review & Recognize: performances of individuals as per the company policy.
    • S – Share Knowledge: and create various knowledge sharing platforms to motivate creativity in the process.


    An overview of Al Jazeera International Catering’s best practice


    SPEARS has enabled JIC to achieve improvements in financial and non-financial results such as:

    • Increased employee satisfaction to 97% in 2013 from 93% in 2010.
    • Retention rate as high as 97.8%.
    • Overall staff participation levels increased to 95 % in comparison to 40% in 2010.
    • Timely customer complaint resolutions has ensured customer satisfaction levels are maintained at 96% (Overall increase by 10% when compared to 2010).
    • Some of the financial benefits of implementing SPEARS were cost reduction in operation by 10% in 2013 compared to 2010 operational cost.

    Lessons learnt:

    Some general lessons can be learnt from JIC winning the International Best Practice Competition, such as:

    1. Best practices often do not involve a technology investment: finding and applying a best practice doesn’t necessary require a big budget or investing in new high-end equipment. It could be a change in culture or management.
    2. Think out the box: the best practices you are looking for could be in a sector you have not thought about at all. Therefore, think out of the box and search for practices outside your sector. The best practice is “probably” not used by your competitors.
    3. Any organisation can apply best practices: best practices are not limited to large or well-known organisations. Whether your organisation is in manufacturing or services, young or old, or small or large it can learn from best practices and develop a winning best practice to fit its own specific circumstances.

    Full access to the best practice videos, ppts and case study of the International Best Practice Competition for 2012, 2013 and 2014 are provided to members of the BPIR.com.

  3. Hoshin Kanri Helps Toyota Improve for the Long Term

    October 21, 2014 by

    Originally posted by in Lean Leadership Ways

    When the 2008 Lehman Brothers bankruptcy triggered a global recession, Toyota Motor Company lost money. In December of that year, with a photo of Toyota board members bowing in shame, a New York Times headline trumpeted, “Toyota Expects its First Loss in 70 years.” “They’ve caught the same cold that Detroit has caught,” said Christopher J. Richter, senior analyst in Tokyo at Calyon Capital Markets Asia. “Everything is going wrong for Toyota this year.”

    My reaction was anger at the idiocy of some of these articles. How could Toyota be compared to the Detroit automakers who were on the verge of bankruptcy? Why isn’t the focus on the 70 years of profitability and the huge cash reserves Toyota had piled up for a crisis just like this?

    However, I soon discovered Toyota did not share my point of view. They were very unhappy about their loss. It was not because of the loss of a few billion dollars which they could absorb like an annoying mosquito bite. It was because, through serious reflection, they found serious weaknesses.

    In Toyota Under Fire we chronicle how Toyota responded to the worst global recession since the Great Depression. Of course they downsized, but they did it by reducing a temporary workforce designed to absorb inevitable downturns in the business cycle. Management bonuses and overtime were eliminated. Less energy was used. Travel was reduced. But the jobs of long-term team members were protected.

    I visited two of the hardest hit plants—truck plants in Indiana and Texas—and watched as people frenetically worked even though about half the production workers were not needed for production, with sales down about 40% from planned capacity. They were busy because they had gone from two shifts to one shift, maintaining a high production rate, and about half of the people produced cars for four hours, while the other half observed and worked on kaizen, and then they reversed roles.

    The Japanese executive in charge of the Indiana plant calmly explained that they were investing in the future: “Every winter has its end,” he explained to me. And they were preparing. He showed data on the average age of vehicles and how more were being junked then purchased, and they needed to prepare for the expected sales boom—the boom we are now experiencing.

    Back to the first loss of money in 70 years. Toyota did a great job of utilizing and developing their human resources with very low demand, but their reflection still identified a serious problem. There had been signs the truck market was declining in the United States, where gas prices were rising. There were even signs of the recession to come given the inflated housing market. Yet, Toyota in North America had built months of inventory of trucks. When gas prices almost doubled in the U.S. during the summer before the 2008 recession, Toyota was stuck with enough inventory to stop making any large trucks and sport utility vehicles for three months; during this time they did daily training and kaizen on the shop floor. Then the recession hit and the pain continued.

    Toyota could offset a good deal of the downturn, reducing labor costs by about 20% through eliminating the variable workforce (the temporary pool) and overtime. But still 80% of costs were fixed. The board of directors set a target to reduce fixed costs to 70% so that Toyota, famous for its ability to flexibly respond just-in-time, could be ready for the next downturn.

    Turning this goal into action is one of Toyota’s strengths and it is done through the hoshin kanri process. The target of lowering the break-even point required changes in all parts of the enterprise, including product development (e.g., more standard architecture and parts, value engineering), production control (satisfying customers while leveling the schedule, even with high variety), production engineering (developing simple, slim, flexible systems, often with lower capital investment and more manual work), supply chain (collaborating with suppliers to better respond to flexible volumes), and manufacturing (launching new vehicles more quickly, simple automation for material delivery, parts kitting, changing takt while balancing workload more quickly). Thousands of organizations developed plans for achieving higher flexibility and worked through the kaizen process of experimenting and learning.

    By the time Toyota had achieved the lower break-even and billions of dollars in cost reduction, another problem eased up—the yen went from about 80 yen per dollar to about 110 yen per dollar. Since Toyota is committed to keeping jobs in Japan to benefit Japanese society, and maintain their hotbed of innovation in Japan, they benefited greatly, leading in the 2013-14 fiscal year to the most sales and the most profit of any auto company in history.

    With the huge demand of 2014, and the deep cash reserves Toyota maintains, one might expect a massive spending spree—buying companies, buying new automated equipment, buying new plants in low-cost countries. Toyota did none of those things. They continued belt-tightening and Akio Toyoda announced there would be no new plants built. The hoshin kanri goals became: Do more with less. Find ways to utilize existing capacity while improving throughput, thereby producing more autos per square foot.

    Toyota does not want creeping fixed costs to put them in the same bad situation in the next big economic downturn. They will be ready because of intensive and continuous improvement with a purpose.

    Lean Leadership Institute (LLI) offers an innovative way to learn the secrets of lean leadership through an online education model that is itself lean (www.LeanLeadership.guru), and extends that lean education far beyond the course materials. Learn more about LLI’s green belt and yellow belt courses at theIndustryWeek Store. Register at www.ToyotaLean.com for a chance to win one of 24 signed books by Jeffrey K. Liker.

  4. Mindful meetings

    May 5, 2014 by

    Dr A. Pavlov and Dr J. Tobias have suggested that the way to handle work meetings is one where the members of the meeting have an ‘engaged areness’ or ‘mindfulness’ You can read their ten steps for encouraging a ‘mindful space’ below in the Management focus magazine of Cranfield University’s School of Management.

  5. Boiling the ocean: How a manufacturer leveraged the criteria to improve its supply chain

    February 8, 2014 by

    Originally Posted by Dawn Marie Bailey on Blogrige: The Official Baldrige blog.

    How to Boil the Ocean

    In 2012, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (MFC) participated in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program. As part of the program, John Varley and the other Fellows were given homework: identify a significant challenge in their organizations and use the principles of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to achieve significant improvement.

    Varley, vice president for Quality and Mission Success–at the 2012 Baldrige Award recipient that designs, develops, manufactures, and supports advanced combat, missile, rocket, and sensor systems for the U.S. and foreign military–knew that MFC’s most significant area of improvement was the supply chain. Over the past year, the economy had hit the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and its contractors hard, and as spending became tighter, the smaller subcontractors in the industry–those who support the large contractors–were hit the hardest.

    According to Steven Sessions, supplier quality director and deputy, Quality Mission and Success, MFC has a multitier supply chain, with suppliers who have subcontractors and so forth, so there are several tiers of suppliers that support MFC. Sessions says when the economy began to squeeze the lower-level, smaller contractors, the tendency was not to lay off the person who created the parts but the person who was in charge of checking the quality of the parts. MFC has contractual relationships with the first line of its supply chain, but how do you assess the risk with lower-level tiers that farm out parts of their work?

    Sessions said that MFC was already working on strategies to address supply chain issues when his colleague came back from a Baldrige Executive Fellows session with the idea for a project that “was pretty startling to colleagues.” Varley’s project focused on how to improve the entire DOD supply chain.

    “[Such a project] was closer to boiling the ocean,” Sessions says. “We have 2,000+ suppliers, and now we would be taking on a project to help companies that are competitors improve their own organizations.”

    “John’s premise was that we either all improve together or all decline together because we are so integrated,” Sessions says. “It was an interesting insight. We tried to figure out how to use the Malcolm Baldrige [Criteria] model to open up doors to companies that five years ago you would never have thought would open their doors to share processes, tools, and techniques on how to improve the DOD supply chain.”

    Sessions added that years ago, the top DOD suppliers like Lockheed Martin were very distinct entities, but now they often act as partners in some programs, competitors in others, and suppliers in still others.

    Based on the Baldrige Criteria, a strategy called Senior Leadership Engagement and Benchmarking was developed by MFC, and MFC’s senior leaders set out to meet with the senior leaders of the other top DOC contractors, getting their commitment around the strategy that we all go up or down together.

    The sharing-ideas strategy really took off, with more than 18 major DOD suppliers and others standing in line to take part, Sessions says.

    “The Malcolm Baldrige Award has made the whole effort take off to the point now where we’re having to leverage seasoned people with more people in the organization in order to keep up with requests,” Sessions says. “The interesting part is that we started out thinking that we are going to be . . . helping [other DOD contractors] improve, and we’ve been able to do that. But out of it, we gained a lot of insight into areas in which we can improve our journey as well. What started out as boiling the ocean, materialized into a real partnership and relationship with some significant companies that are coming up with ideas on how to improve the supply chain that any one of us by ourselves probably would not have been able to achieve.”

    Sessions says that MFC is working on other strategies to improve the overall DOD supply chain in the long term; for example, staff members are working on how to prevent counterfeit parts from getting into its systems. In close alignment with its customer, MFC is teaming with others in the industry to solve this complex, difficult problem.

    Benchmarking Against the Best

    “The Malcolm Baldrige model is a very structured approach to improving your business,” Sessions says, but MFC didn’t turn to the Baldrige Criteria because it needed a framework for improvement. MFC had already won a host of awards, including awards from the Baldrige-based Sterling Award in Florida and Texas Quality Award.

    MFC decided that we wanted to get a good, solid, independent benchmark of where MFC was relevant to its performance, Session says. As they decided whom and how to benchmark, they brought forward the ”world-class” Baldrige Criteria. “We had several ideas of how to benchmark,” he says. “But we wanted to be benchmarked by the best of the best. Our focus was to [apply for the Baldrige Award and] get a site visit and get the outcome of where we stood and where we could improve some more.”

    Sessions says, “As we began to understand the [Baldrige Criteria], we found that it was very similar to our own vision for improvement that we had been using over the past 10 years. . . . The reason people model themselves around the Malcolm Baldrige model is to get that kind of proven, world-class performance. . . . We’ve seen dramatic achievements across the business because our senior leaders had the right premises to line up with the Malcolm Baldrige model.”

    Frank McManus, senior quality leader, MFC, says that when MFC chose to begin using the Baldrige Criteria, “Our leaders wanted us to get not so much the award but the feedback. Having the site visit, with examiners coming to various facilities [and those examiners] representing many different industries and experiences and getting that kind of view [became a] vantage point of how we’re operating and continuously improving.”

    “The examiners were the carrot,” he added; receiving their feedback was incredibly valuable.

    The Right Metrics and Why the Baldrige Criteria

    Sessions said the MFC business model was structured very similarly to the Baldrige Criteria–very focused on the customer and aligned with leadership and every aspect of the organization. A Strategic Enterprise Leadership Counsel reviews the MFC business model to ensure that it aligns with both customer and business needs.

    Key to the MFC business model is having the right metrics to drive performance that align with customers and are tied to every level of the workforce. Similarly, Session says, the Malcolm Baldrige model focuses on customers, with each operational focus tied into a metric system that is aligned with strategic planning and customer needs.

    “That’s the beauty of [such a model],” says Session. “It’s very easy for our leadership team to see where areas for improvement are needed because of the instrumentation we have from the smallest of teams to 16 sites, and it rolls up from all of those organizations to the top. . . . We are very process focused with data-driven decisions, and our customer is the primary focus area. We know if we get it right for the customer, our business will follow. The Malcolm Baldrige model follows all these same tenets–always focusing on the customer with robust processes and data-driven decisions. It was a natural fit.”

    For other organizations, Sessions says the value of the Baldrige Criteria is the structured framework and focus on the customer. “Sometimes companies get too inwardly focused and end up losing sight of [what the customer really needs]. Comparing yourself with other industries and what’s considered the best of the best brings insights.”

    Sessions said that when MFC started with the Baldrige Criteria, “We literally had to flip all of our metrics upside down.” Its performance had gotten so good that it was focusing on just the 1% of parts that were coming in bad, for example. To complete its application for theMalcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, MFC had to flip its model to show the good parts of its supply chain, and this led to interesting observations.

    “When you start to benchmark yourself, it makes you look at metrics differently,” Sessions says. “The whole organization was pretty astonished when it started to pull together metrics in one place [for its Baldrige Award application]. It makes you look back and forward in how you have been performing on your journey and where it would take you. That’s the value [of writing a Baldrige Award application]–that reflection and insight on where we go next.”