Book: The Peter Principle

Todays book recommendation is very much a blast from the past. In 1969 Dr Laurence J. Peter wrote down a simple but powerful statement summed up as The Peter Principle.

A funny and witty perspective into what could be called “The vertical promotion fallacy”. I wish it wheren’t so but it seems to hold a lot of truth. Being promoted vertically is not more of what you do today but a whole new ballgame, atleast in part.

Can you really be prepared for such shift? Will you succeed or will you be miserable? Are promotions really the path to happiness or are we just fooling ourselves and end up doing a bad job and hating ourselves for it?

How I made E-mail work for me, and maybe you!

E-mail is a fantastic thing that has been around for quite some years now (long before Internet was a thing). In the begining it revolutionized communication and helped millions to be more productive. You could connect almost instantly around the world and time zones was not a problem anymore for global companies.

The Runaway Inbox

It is a pretty picture isn’t it. But you and I know that it’s not always so. All of the sudden the trickle of e-mails become a flood and an orderly inbox explodes and now you have +200 unread e-mails and the keep coming. Then you start receiving e-mails that say something like “Did you get my last e-mail?”. Now e-mail has gone from something useful to a source of angst and stress.

I, as many of you, get lots of e-mails every day. I use it for work, communication, to keep myself updated with what going on in our plant and the company as a whole. But e-mail is just a tool. There are tricks and practice in using any tool to make it work for you.

This is my way of working and it works well and I hope you can take something from it.

Inbox Zero

The base of my method is something called Inbox Zero where the goal is to adress E-mails immediately and thus never build a backlog in the inbox. However i find this hard to maintain since I am not 100% deskbound. I spend alot of time away from my computer and sometimes it piles up anyways.

My adaption is more like Inbox ToDo. Anything that can be handled directly I do. Informative e-mails that may be needed later are sorted into appropriate folders. I don’t use automated filtered sort so that I am actively deciding what to save and what to discard. Anything still in the inbox represent a task to be done.

Benefits of the Method

Beside giving me focus on what is to be done there are other benefits as well. Many have commented that I am quick to respond and appreciate this. Many questions you get only require a short answer and by responding promptly you let the sender get on with their work without delay. A win for both parts.

I am not always able to respond immediately but I always get to it eventually since it is there waiting in the inbox. This in my opinion is a matter of respect for your colleagues.

This is the short version on a way I have found to be quite effective. I hope you can take something from or maybe find your own way to make it work for you.

Into the Darkness We Walk, Together, Side by Side

A leader can be defined by what he or she does for the company in terms of results and development but another perspective is what they do for the people in their charge. As a leader you have a responsibility to take care of the people serving under you. If you do this you will have a loyal team that do their best to not let you or the company down.

Part of this is to challenge them to grow and develop. To challenge someone you need to make them move out of their comfort zone. You can push them but in my experience it is far more effective to go with them. If they feel you got their back they will surely have yours when the time comes.

A quotation that captures this elegantly is the jewel from Joel Barker. It is simple and yet powerful!

“A leader is someone you’d follow to go somewhere that you wouldn’t go by yourself.”

Joel Barker

Holding Out For A Hero, really?

I hate to disagree with the lovely Bonnie Tyler but this might not be the best way to go about it. It is all to common to see people with great initiative and drive work hard to move the needle but often they burn out from lack of support from the people surrounding them.

We should not build our organisations on the need for these heroes or supermen (and women). The system must be robust and easy to manage so that no one person will make or break it.

Through engagement we build teams that work together to succeed. I think this quote from Peter Drucker sums is up quite nicely.

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”

Peter Drucker

New design for the Books section and more books!

I have finally gotten around to redesigning the books section and I hope you like it and find it usefull. The big changes are that I have added synopsis texts along side my own views and I have added links to where you can buy the books.

The links provided are NOT affiliate links, I just wanted to make it easy for you to get the books if you found them interesting. I love books and I hope you do to.

If you have any suggestions how I could make it even better I’d love to hear in the comments.

Also, I have started adding more books. I haven’t had to much time to spend working on the site but I have been reading as much as I can and will be posting articles on many of them and add them to the books section.

Happy reading!

People Do If They Can

In my work I often come across frustration from coworkers that people are not doing what they are told or what they are expected to do. This can affect the whole team and often lead to others having to pick up the slack. When this happens it is often costly for the team as a whole when relations break down and motivation suffers. From a managerial standpoint the productivity will suffer along with the team breaking down. The cost is not always apparent at the time but slowly but surely it will come. A classic outcome is when you reach the stalemate argument “I’m not going to do that since no one else is doing it.”

A new perspective

Recently I came across the book “Lost at School” by Ross W. Green on a recommendation. It focuses on how children do what is expected of them if they are able to and the book contains a framework called Collaborative Proactive Solutions (CPS) with the purpose of identifying and working to overcome challenges when the child is not living up to expectations. Immediately I saw the parallel to my own situation and work and found it very enlightening. Now, it is not to say we are all children but similarities in behaviors are quite apparent and we are all human after all.

Are we so different?

I started to look differently into every situation where people were not doing the tasks they were expected to do. Now in the workplace the signs for detecting this is a bit different from the school environment but the general idea is the same. In most cases I realized that what was asked was outside their skill set and outside their comfort zone.

Where children may lack the means to express their inability the adults seem to connect their inability to shame and thus not wanting to showcase this. Rather than ask for help and coaching they try to avoid the task and give various reasons why it has not been done. This is not true for everyone but from my observations not uncommon either.

What can we do to help?

If you notice that a task is not being done when there, in your perspective, has been a good opportunity to do so. Rather than scold or get frustrated. Try to find out what the problem is through empathy and unbiased questions. If the conclusion is that there is a lack of a skill or the right conditions look to how you can achieve this together through training, coaching or other methods. Thus removing the problem as soon as possible. This will not solve all similar situations but may be a good starting point.

Good luck!

I Really Don’t Understand the Purpose of 6S

The 5S method has been around a long time. With it’s roots in CANDO from Henry Ford it has matured and become a solid method to bring order and efficiency to the workplace (or home for that matter). It has stuck around this long because it works.

Variations of 5S

I recent years it has become more and more common to see variations, 6S, 7S and yesterday I even saw a 10S chart. I still can’t figure out if the last one was a joke or serious. It is only natural that a method evolves over time but it is important that changes are in tune with its roots.

The sixth S in 6S is Safety and we can all agree that safety is very important. Working in industrial manufacturing it can, in some cases, literally be a matter of life and death. Even if it is not that serious it is still important to be able to return home every day safe and sound.

Now my problem is not with safety but with it not fitting in as a next step. “How do you mean safety don’t fit with 5S?” You might ask yourself. Safety is an integral part of 5S from the start, even if it is not apparent at first glance.

The Structure of 5S

5S in its basic form is a method of steps. Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. Each step build on the previous to create a workplace of order and structure that is easy to maintain.

To set in order it is important to first sort out and remove all tools and materials that you don’t use. If you don’t you waste time and space sorting things that is of no use. When you have set things in order it is much easier to shine the workplace to find and eliminate sources of dirt and grime. And once you have things sorted, organized and clean you can establish this as a standard. Lastly when there is a standard you work with the team to maintain the standards and even improve upon them to sustain what you have accomplished. Well, you get the general idea.

What is Wrong With Safety?

There is nothing wrong with safety, rather the opposite, it is paramount for a successful workplace. Safety is the foundation on which all good teams are built. My problem with safety is that is does not fit as a sixth S.

5S is a method that take years to implement fully from the start. Sure, you get momentum at first and see big improvements but to make it an integral part of your daily operations, to make the team fully committed to sustaining this order, it takes time. Putting safety as the sixth step to implement after you have archived the previous five is too late.

5S is safety!

My take on this is that safety don’t need to be the sixth S since it is and should always be a part of 5S from the start. When you remove the clutter for the workplace you make is safer, when you set thing in order you make it less likely that anyone have an accident. When the place is clean there are no dirt or grime to slip on. And if you can maintain the standard you are in fact support keeping the workplace safe.

In every step of 5S you have the opportunity to implement safety. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) need order and structure to be easy to use and be accessible when it is needed. It is all connected.

In my opinion 6S does not bring anything to the table that 5S don’t already do. I think it is important to keep your guiding principles simple and you methods focused for the greatest effect. Don’t fix what is not broken!

A new year and a new theme!

It’s quite embarresing to have your new years post show up in the same shortlist of recent posts as the last new years post. The short of it is that this year did not turn our the way anyone expected. Sure there has been time to study and write but the stress of what is happening in the world has not let me find peace to do so.

Beside this aweful pandemic I have had to adapt to a life without my father. I have welcomed my niece to this up-side-down world. I have worked my ass of at work and still barely keept my head above the waterline.

I am so ready to for a new year and a new start. I will not make promises on how many posts I will make or anything like that. What I will promise is a year that is focused on me, both my mental and physical health. I have danced to close the cliff once more and I don’t like it.

To mark a new begining I have also added a new theme to the website. It feels a little more cosy than the last one and hopefully it will be more enjoyable to write and read here now.

So, to all… a Happy New Year! I hope you have a wonderful year in good health and that you excel in what ever you take on this year.

Why do I feel like the only one?

Lately I have been thining alot about engagement. In a discussion at work it became obvious that I was one of the few who really cared at all about the company vision and goals. Why is that?

Now to set the stage. I am fortunate to work as a teamleader for what I would describe as a above average team. They are excellent at the core tasks and they do what is required of them when it comes to communication and documentation. They always try to set the best conditions for the next shift and the customer is always in focus. What more can one ask?

Well, from my perspective I have every reason to be proud and coming to work is always enjoyable. On the other hand, one thing that inspires me is knowing I work for one of the best companies in our field. A company with lofty environmental goals and a strive to push research and development. When I see our products on the streets or on TV it always put a smile on my face. Why do I feel like the only one?

I try, I really do, to share my view and try to make others see our company with my eyes but I don’t always succeed. I would wish for them to find the same inspiration as I do in what we do. Maybe they are getting there but I just have a head start. It’s hard to know for sure.

It got me thinking, am I being disrespectful to them? Is it really my place to push my view on others even if it is done with the best of intentions? Should I just let it be and keep on with work as usual? It is really hard, when you have found something good you want to share it with others. I will need to think some more on this…

A new year!

After a hiatus of focused university studies combined with full time work. I am back to working on my own development in the area of lean and thus this site.

Today I have added a few phrases connected to measuring throughput in an operation. There is of course more to come and I hope to write a few articles in the coming weeks to dig deeper into some juicy subject.

Hope you are all doing well, see you around!