By Scott Burgmeyer
Building culture is one of the most important things leaders do. The key is whether the leader builds the culture on purpose or by accident.
When building a culture of improvement, 6 key steps can get you there:
Using these 6 steps, you can build a culture of improvement.
A thought leader is an individual or organization that is recognized as an authority in a specialization. This typically leads to that individual or organization being sought after to share their knowledge, skills, or abilities.
Why does an organization pursue Thought Leadership? From my perspective, there are three core reasons:
1) Be recognized as an expert and share your expertise.
2) Build a brand – being a thought leader allows your brand to be regarded as a top performer in that classification.
3) Add value to your customer: through #1 and #2, you can provide more value to your customers.
As an organization or individual, what would people say is your Thought Leadership?
By Sarah Blakelock
After meeting with dozens of IQC clients, we learned that working with IQC leads organizations to discover new ways of becoming more efficient and effective.
It is a wonderful tradition to make a resolution and break it in the first week!! If you are like me, I have broken several over the years – exercise more, eat healthier, balance work-life, so many that it is a little embarrassing to write about. I do find it to be exciting this time of year to think back over the year…where we have come from and where we are going next.
In late 2019, the IQC Board of Directors asked if I would be interested in serving in the role of Executive Director of IQC. Honored to be considered, I began digging in. I reflected on being a long-time customer of IQC and I wanted to ensure that we could provide other individuals and organizations the journey of learning and growth I had experienced.
I spent the next few months talking with board members, current clients, past clients, and staff to understand what makes IQC special AND in what areas IQC can improve. Starting in the 4Q of 2019, we identified the strategic direction for IQC and with the full support of the Board of Directors, began a great journey in 2020. Some of the key items we accomplished include:
Despite the pandemic, pivoting to nearly 100% virtual courses and several other major changes - I am immensely proud of what the team has accomplished in one short year.
As I look toward the future – in the near term, we have several new things coming in 2021 – new courses, expanding our website, and connecting with our fellow Iowans in new and unique ways.
We also have several amazing projects going on behind the scenes that I am excited to share with you soon.
I look forward to our opportunity to journey together. Onward to 2021!
It is that time of year when we celebrate and reflect upon various aspects of our life. 2020 may feel different –we see countless reminders of how unique, odd, rare (and many other descriptors) 2020 was. We learned many things this year – going virtual, being bolder by telling your boss – “I think you are on mute,” (or secretly wishing they would stay on mute). This year I have experienced things I never thought I would in my lifetime.
Thinking back on 2020, I want to celebrate a few things:
1. Forced Innovation – all the change brought upon organizations in a short time forced teams to manage innovation and change in a way never seen before. I hope we are able to manage that ability to change in the future paired with more planful timing to execute the change. That would be amazing for organizations to experience.
2. Growing and Nurturing Talent – I have been lucky in 2020 to have had the opportunity to meet, hire, and grow some amazing talent with IQC. When I see what has been accomplished over the last year, what the team is focused on now, and where we are going – I am lucky to have such a great team.
3. Creating New Traditions – working through the changes and with new talent over this year, I reinforced some traditions that I knew before. With #1 & #2 above, I learned that if you provide a direction and vision, give people permission, and get out of the way, they will do amazing things. Yes, this is a teaser for my New Year’s blog reflecting on the innovations and changes we implemented in 2020.
As you finish preparations for your holidays – what are you going to celebrate? Maybe you will start a new tradition, maybe you will continue with the traditions you have carried out for years.
In any case, spend time with those you care about, enjoy the time together, and give thanks for making it through a tough and unique year.
To learn more about the experience that people have had with IQC, I interviewed with dozens of IQC clients. During this process, I learned a lot about what IQC does, and how it impacts organizations. I also discovered a few consistent patterns in the feedback I was receiving. One of those is that people appreciate and find value in IQC’s commitment to understanding their organization’s needs and aligning solutions to meet those needs.
Find out more about this case study here
By Katie Freeman
When creating a brand-new production or assembly process, many things are looked at and studied to create the best capacity possible. Organizations consider what and how much equipment they will need, design jigs and fixtures to help mistake proof the process, define the order of operations, and determine what competencies are needed to perform the work.
Once the process is up and running and consistently producing quality product, it is generally not revisited unless there is a quality issue or a request for changes from the customer. Without an inciting event necessitating an examination of the performance level or capacity of the process, the process can, over time, become stagnant.
But is that a bad thing? Why fix something that isn’t broken, right?
There are many good reasons to occasionally revisit how a process is structured. One of those reasons is something manufacturers everywhere are currently dealing with, a reduction in work force due to COVID-19. Manufacturers find themselves in a position where they need to continue to meet the needs and demands of their customers while not operating with a full staff.
So, what do you do if you no longer have what is considered the ideal number of people to make the production processes continue to run as they always have? You can always throw money at it, buy more machines, put in some robots, or try to ramp up hiring. But there is another possible solution, to re-evaluate the current order of operations to see if there is a way to maintain the same level of production with fewer people.
An organization in Cedar Rapids found themselves facing this exact issue. They have an assembly line that is normally staffed with ten operators to meet the production needs of their customer. However, since the onset of COVID-19, they have been forced to staff the assembly line with only seven operators, which has delivered a huge hit to their part production numbers.
At first, the operations manager thought the solution was to create a specialized fixture or perhaps even purchase some specialized equipment to increase the production level at the presumed bottleneck of the process. However, after spending just a half day observing the line, they noticed a few things:
After the observation time, they made some simple changes in what tasks were assigned to which steps (also known as level loading), how parts were brought to and staggered at the line, and the roles of the people at the start and end of the line. These changes required absolutely no money. They implemented them within an hour and conducted some trial runs. The trial runs showed that these small and simple changes could increase productivity back to the level required by the customer, while maintaining fewer people on the line. An unexpected benefit was when they realized that they can grow capacity in the future by duplicating the new line set up while utilizing ten operators.
This organization reviewed this process because it was necessary in order to meet the demands of the customer. However, the operations manager admitted that he wished they would have reviewed the process years ago because that would have helped them put staffing in other places that needed it more.
The moral of the story is to take the time to review your processes regularly, even if there is no “need” to do so, because you never know what you will find!
Daniel Pink wrote in Drive that what really motivates us is Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. The idea of mastery creates thinking for each of us – WHAT am I good at? What do I WANT to be good at? Am I willing to do the WORK to be a master?
To be the best you, Master Shi Heng Yi (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-079YIasck&feature=youtu.be) says there are 5 hindrances you must remove to accomplish this –
1) Sensual Desire – Following temptation of your senses that stops your forward movement
2) Ill Will – Negative emotion toward an object, situation, or person
3) Heaviness – mental or physical effort that holds you back
4) Unsettled Mind – Not being in the moment or jumping from thing to thing
5) Skeptical Doubt – Indecisive or clouded mind creating sensation of being stuck
As I reflected on these hindrances, I can see (and have seen) how they create a cloud that prevents me from moving forward as effectively as I could. How do you get over these? Master Shi recommends getting caught in the RAIN:
• Recognize which hindrance you are stuck in
• Accept that you are there (and accept how people are – you can’t change THEM)
• Investigate what is keeping you there (ask questions)
• Non-identify – see that you are made up of the mind, body, and emotion and how you will move forward
Stuck? Go out in the Rain!!
By Theresa Heitman, Consultant and Trainer for IQC
The Fishbone Diagram or Cause and Effect Diagram is one of the most powerful tools you can use for identifying possible causes to a problem. It is called a Fishbone Diagram because it looks like the skeleton of a fish.
The structure of this tool helps a problem-solving team systematically think through and organize all the elements that could be contributing to the problem or the effect.
Although this tool can seem a little complex at first, once you have practiced using the Fishbone Diagram and discover how it uncovers possible causes and helps lead you to creating an action plan for eliminating or reducing the problem, it will become one of your favorite “go to” problem solving tools.
To construct this diagram:
1. Draw a horizontal straight line. This is the spine of the fish.
2. Draw a box on the right end of the line. This is the head of the fish. Write the problem or the effect in this box.
3. Draw five angled lines (bones) coming off the horizontal line. These are the bones of the fish. Your diagram should look similar to the drawing below.
4. Label each bone of the fish with a category. Typically, causes of problems are found in the following categories: Environment, Methods, Machines, People, and Materials. These labels are only suggested. The team may name their own categories if desired.
Now it is time to ask the questions. Pick one category and ask, “What about ‘Methods’ is causing the problem/effect?” Draw a line and label it for each cause in that category. As you work systematically through the main categories you will likely identify many causes contributing to the problem. You can further drill down on the causes by adding more “fish” bones. Sometimes the preferred method of identifying causes is brainstorming. When you record one cause per sticky note, you can easily stick the causes on to the category where it occurs.
You may notice that one or two categories tend to have the majority of the causes, which may help you see where it might be best to concentrate your effort.
Next, the team will need to select 5-7 of the most likely causes. Further root cause analysis is performed from here. A data collection plan may be needed to understand the variation and identify the root cause. An interrelationship Digraph is often helpful to identify the causes that are the main drivers.
IQC Members can download a template for a fishbone diagram here.
By Grace Davert
I miss learning in a classroom. As a junior at UC Berkeley, I never imagined that over a quarter of my college career would occur not on a sprawling college campus, but at an IKEA desk in my bedroom. Learning in a classroom provides so many benefits, from networking and making new friends to a distraction-free environment. After six months of virtual school and two months as a remote intern at IQC, though, I have come to find that there are a number of benefits to online learning as well, three of which stand out.
1. New opportunities
As a college student, I am lucky to have access to a massive variety of classes and resources. For most people, this is not the case. Online courses open up educational opportunities to anyone with access to the internet and a desire to learn. Interested in taking a physics class from Harvard? Now you can. Want to learn how to become a better leader in your organization? Take an online class. The new virtual opportunities brought about during the pandemic even allowed me the opportunity to participate in a remote internship at IQC, where I am developing a new and exciting offering (coming your way October 15th)! Virtual learning lets us connect with and learn from people all around the globe like we never have before, giving us a unique chance to broaden our horizons.
2. More Flexibility
Have you ever sat in a room in the eighth hour of an all-day training and found your mind wandering? Maybe you need a snack, maybe you need to stretch your legs, or maybe your brain is simply fried after hours of taking in all that new information. One of the most beneficial aspects of an online class, in my opinion, is the freedom to take a break. In a virtual course, you can hit the pause button, take a five-minute break, and return without having missed anything. If you are an avid note-taker, you can slow playback speeds or pause a video to write down important information. Perhaps you have a dentist appointment on Wednesday, so instead you work on your training on Tuesday. Online learning allows you to learn on your own timeline and at your own pace, ensuring that you never miss out on even the smallest tidbit of information.
3. New Skills
Most of us attended school in a traditional face-to-face setting for some fifteen years. We know how to learn in a typical classroom, we know how to write a report, we know how to discuss what we learned with our colleagues, and we know how to lead an effective in-person meeting. Since the world went virtual in March, though, many of us have had to figure out how to use Zoom and Microsoft Teams and a myriad of new programs. I spent hours teaching my mom, a kindergarten teacher suddenly faced with virtual instruction, how to use breakout rooms, document cameras, and dual monitors after spending hours figuring it out myself. My peers who had tried online learning before the pandemic were miles ahead of the curve. They already knew all the tricks to succeeding in an online environment, from time management in an unstructured environment to the ins and outs of videoconferencing. Aside from the actual content that online courses teach, the latent skills you pick up whilst enrolled in these electronic experiences will serve you well in your career, particularly as basic technical prowess becomes increasingly expected in the workplace.
So yes, I miss the clamor of a lively lecture hall, and yes, I miss walking through the towering redwoods on my way to class here in Northern California. I even miss the collective anxiety of the final minutes of an exam, but I have also learned to appreciate the skills, opportunities, and flexibility that learning in a virtual setting provides, and I encourage you to seek out this growing format and this powerful opportunity to further your own skillset.
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