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TLS Continuum Part 17: I Can See Forever

Back in the early 70’s there was both a hit song titled I Can See Forever and a best selling book about GM titled On a Clear Day you can see General Motors. The point of the analogy can be rooted in Deming’s 6th point of quality. In this point he emphasized the need to institute training. Until recently I misunderstood what his intent was.

Consider this scenario. We have a high potential, high performing manager who enters what is referred to as job rotation. He or she remains in a position for a couple of years and then is rotated into another area of the organization for another couple of years and then repeats the process until the organization believes they have achieved a well rounded background. But there is a fallacy to this plan of action.

While this maybe good for the employee and the organization it does not prepare the individual to understand the total organization. Deming charged us with getting managers to understand the total organization. They need to obtain the ability to understand the flow through the entire organization. Not the flow through a specific department but for the total operation. What is the strategy to get there?

We need first and primarily institute the education Deming talked about. We need to ensure that the manager education we provide allows the high potential, high performance executive to understand the total organization. They must begin with the understanding of exactly what business we are in. They need to understand the organization values and mission. Once that basic understanding is in place the next step is gain an education into the flow of processes and materials from the front door to the rear door. This means the manager must understand the entire process flow. It means they need to understand the process flow of the stakeholders and how that process flow affects their organization and ultimately your organization. They then need to understand the process flow in the other direction. It is critical they understand the material and process flow to the end user- our customers. It might even be beneficial for you to understand the process flow from your customer to their customer.

Our improvement efforts hit obstacles because we do not understand this entire process flow. Without this understanding it is impossible for us to coach the organization human capital because we do not understand their full responsibilities. If you have an asset who is not performing to the needs of the organization how do you coach them towards gaining the requisite skills if you do not know them yourself? The managerial response that this is not my job misses the primary point of the reason why an organization exists. Dr. Tony Alessandra states that the purpose of an organization is to acquire and maintain customers. If we do not educate ourselves to the process flow we may achieve the first part of the statement but the later will be harder to reach.

Strategies to I Can See Forever

  1. Process map out the process from beginning to end
  2. Understand how one internal process feeds the next one
  3. Understand how the external processes feed the first internal process
  4. Understand how the internal process feeds the customer’s internal processes
  5. Understand the interdependence of one department to another

Let’s start the conversation. How are you educating your organization or even more important educating your selves as to how the process flows through the organization? What do you not understand about your organization’s business? Email me at [email protected] regarding your education process.


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