Tag Archive: process

Process Mapping? I’d rather be Napping.

So I’ve heard a lot of people say they are so fascinated by what I do in the process improvement world, and how great they think it is , but how “it’s not for them”.  Using my coaching skills, I usually say something like, “Oh yeah?  Tell me about why it isn’t for you”.

Here are some of the responses I get:images

“Snore.  Processes are super boring. My company is really intuitive, and we just know exactly what to do and we fix it.” – my super annoying friend

“Processes, who needs it? I already know my team is garbage and as soon as I can replace them, things will turn around”. – a client who later realized her team was great because process mapping revealed a culture issue

“Ugh.  Sounds bureaucratic. I’m an entrepreneur.  There is nothing corporate about he way I run my business, and to be honest we don’t need it.” – my sister-in-law

PROCESS MAPPING3 Signs You Need Process Mapping STAT!

  1. Something is wrong and you “think” know exactly how to fix it.  How do you know what’s wrong?  What leads you to believe that?  What is the expected outcome if you make the change? You might be right. Intuition is super important.  Why not validate those gut feelings with some evidence in a process map? It’s a great way to get buy in from your stakeholders and employees!
  2. You “think” your employees are the problem. They suck.  While this is the first place many people look for solutions, it’s usually something else.  Why do you think they suck?  What tells you that? What could be inhibiting them? Have you asked them? Research shows that if you take great people and put them in a bad process, the process will win every time. Process mapping sometimes uncovers secrets that are hiding within a bad process.
  3. You “think” process is too rigorous.  Well, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be.  The right people, the right style, and the right moment can take you from being a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants entrepreneur to a being a strategic one.  Why not set the stage so you can pass the tasks that aren’t worth your time (or you aren’t great at) to someone who can actually add value (so you can go and be amazing). Process mapping identifies those tasks and lets you properly divide them up.

If you’re not a “process person,” or even if you are but don’t have a lot of time, we can help you. We are expert at coming in, talking with you and your team, and uncovering the hidden opportunities to improve your business.

Even better – why not build process improvement and process mapping capacity on your team? We offer public workshops that are fun, interactive, and relevant. Check them out by clicking here, and contact us if you want to know more.

#whiteboardworskhops #theyredifferent

Until Next Time,

Nicole

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Whiteboard Workshop: Introduction to Process Mapping

pmProcess Mapping is awesome and fun and helpful and easy and so amazing, right?

No? If you disagree, you’re not alone. We did a quick Twitter poll and asked people what their thoughts are about Process Mapping. Here are some of the replies:

  • Process mapping? More like process napping! (Click to Tweet!)
  • Process mapping is critical, in that if you don’t do it, you can save the rain forest, your time, and your sanity.
  • Who needs sleeping pills when you could participate in a process mapping session?
  • Process mapping is the paleo of the workplace. (Click to Tweet!)
  • AT FIRST GLANCE THEY ARE SO INTIMIDATING AND COMPLICATED (this one was complete with caps)

So yeah. We get it. There are a LOT of people who don’t like process maps.

At least they think they don’t – they just haven’t met us yet.

But I “Need” to Do Process Mapping

Despite how people may feel about process mapping, they still need to use them. Either they have to design them on their own, or read some that have been designed by someone else. Some people know the “why” behind process mapping but still haven’t quite mastered it, and others have no idea what they are doing or why, only that “they have to do this for audit purposes.”

The truth is that process maps are necessary and critical in so many situations:

  • Training new people,
  • Documenting processes for audits,
  • Understanding the flow of information in an organization,
  • Having a picture of how customers are impacted by business processes,
  • Identifying areas to improve,
  • Identifying areas that are excelling (and should be modelled), and
  • Imagining a future state organizational structure.

So if you, or someone you know needs to do any of these things (or is responsible for others who are), then our latest workshop is for you. Read on.

1Whiteboard Workshop: Introduction to Process Mapping

If you have been reading our blogs for a while, then you know we love to make processes better, and we loathe things that are over-complicated. It follows then, that we don’t do process mapping (or training, for that matter), like most organizations do.

Our latest workshop, Introduction to Process Mapping, was first delivered on May 26th, and was a great success. Some testimonials:

  • I have done process mapping in the past, but it has been a long time since I’ve been able to utilize those skills. I was so happy to attend and receive a great refresher. Thank you!
  • There was a wide variety of different folks with different backgrounds, and you did great to keep all levels engaged and interested.
  • This course came at the perfect time! Something I really liked was the actual process mapping we did as individuals – it helped me demonstrate what I learned from the course.
  • I loved your banter – so funny and yet still professional. (This was our favourite, because we think we are very funny.)

We have two more dates set this fall. Both are Thursdays, and both will be in downtown Toronto (location TBD based on the group).

People who attend this course will be able to

  1. Understand the basics of process mapping theory and activities,
  2. Articulate the value of process consistency and when it can be “too much” (too rigorous),
  3. Demonstrate the ability to facilitate and develop a process map, and use appropriate levels, tools, and concepts (incl basics of Visio), and
  4. Analyze process maps to identify improvement opportunities.

You should come. You really should. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER. And if you have any questions, shoot us a note or Tweet us @whiteboardcons #ILOVEPM.

See you soon,

Ruth.

 

 

Should you follow the pack or go rogue?

I’ve been thinking lately about our human tendency to follow the pack and my newfound tendency of “going rogue.” I’m a trusting person and easily influenceable. If you tell me this is the BEST HAND CREAM EVER, I will buy it.  If you tell me you tried a new workout and it was THE HARDEST WORKOUT EVER, I will go and try it tomorrow.  Ask me to smell this milk because it is the MOST EXPIRED MILK EVER, I will get my nose right in there.

So it’s a newfound habit for me to say, “That’s awesome that it is working for you.  Right now I’m doing this, and it is really working for me too. Yay us!”

But Everyone Says So!

People (and probably some science reports too) say that we MUST eat breakfast; doing so helps us consume fewer calories later in the day and maintain a healthy weight and may even improve our concentration and productivity. They also say we shouldn’t weigh ourselves every day because it could case us to become over fixated on what may be natural fluctuations rather than indications of weight gain or loss.

“They” say we shouldn’t look at our phones first thing in the morning – it can distract us from our morning routine and can decrease our productivity by focusing on external priorities rather than our own.

And we mustn’t work out every day, because our bodies won’t have adequate time to recover and we won’t get results.  

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Don’t get me wrong, I realize there are studies and science  that may back these statements up with statistical significance.  But here’s the thing: all of the “pack ideas” I talked about above don’t work for me.

When I eat breakfast, I’m starving all day and (after testing this theory out by tracking and monitoring the data) I consume more calories than are necessary for me to maintain my weight. So do I keep doing it because everyone else is telling me that is the right thing?

Similarly, weighing myself every day keeps me on top of fluctuations that could otherwise be more dramatic after a week.

And I LOVE working out.  Provided I balance my workouts, it is my stress relief and my time that makes me happy. So why should I be unhappy, provided I am being safe and taking care of my body, when my way works for me?

And finally, if I don’t check my phone before bed AND first thing – guaranteed I will miss a meeting, or miss a cancellation of a meeting and make an unnecessary trip.

Now statistically speaking these “rules” might be great for the majority of people, and the majority of people will see better results following these rules.  But, as we know, there is a great deal of human variation.  I am a sparkly unicorn and I am different.  These rules do not work for me.

The thing is, it’s easy to follow the pack.  It’s part of our human nature.

…social conformity is based on mechanisms that comply with reinforcement learning and is reinforced by the neural error-monitoring activity which signals what is probably the most fundamental social mistake – that of being too different from others

Read more: http://news.softpedia.com/news/039-Follow-the-Crowd-039-Tendency-Finally-Explained-102066.shtml#ixzz4ASKrOwCW

Follow The Pack? Or, Go Rogue!

Maybe your competition uses a certain process improvement methodology (like Lean or Six Sigma), or a particular sales tool, or social media strategy and you want to implement it to keep up with the trends. But what if it just doesn’t work for YOU (and your team, and customers, and stakeholders)?
keep-calm-and-go-rogue

  1.  Does it feel natural to do what the pack is doing?  Sure, good habits take time and consistency, but if the process is so difficult that you can’t get the habit to stick, maybe it isn’t the right strategy for you.
  2.  Have you experienced errors, defects, or problems using the pack’s idea? If you notice missed deadlines, faulty products, decreased employee engagement, or increased customer complaints – maybe you need to re-examine your plan.
  3.  Have you tried and tested any other options? If you haven’t tested and tried out alternatives, how do you know that this is the best for you?  How can you make a decision with out data – numbers or experience? Reflect on the past – was there a time that you were doing really well?  What were you doing?  Should you align with the pack, or “go rogue”.

Let us know how you follow the pack or go rogue @whiteboardcons #gorogue or #followthepack!

Until Next Time,

Nicole

The Risk of Being Too Comfortable

Last weekend I found myself listening to Stuart MacLean‘s “Vinyl Cafe” on CBC Radio. I was driving north for a few hours, and prefer to listen to a talk show or podcast so my brain stays active and I stay awake – always a good thing when driving solo. If you have never heard a Vinyl Cafe podcast or listened to Mr. MacLean tell a story about the fictional Dave and his wife Morley, then you are missing out on a good piece of Canadiana and the opportunity to enjoy a full belly laugh.

The podcast I listened to was called “Summer,” and was the story of how Dave and Morley rented a cottage in the Laurentian Mountains (north of Montreal). Instead of paying for the rental, they agreed to do some work around the cottage, including removing a wall and tearing up the lawn. Sadly, they stayed in the wrong cottage and disaster ensued. It turns out this cottage owner liked things to remain the same in all ways, and his cottage hadn’t changed in over 50 years. Of course Mr. MacLean tells the story much better than I can – suffice it to say, the moral of the story is that change can result in good things, but you should try to avoid being surprised by it.

During the telling of the story, Mr. MacLean used the phrase “The Cathedral of Constancy” in reference to Jean-Francois’ cottage. He said that although nothing had changed in 50 years, we mustn’t assume that it is in disrepair. Oh no – it is well maintained, neat and clean. “It’s been kept up perfectly,” he says, “but not updated.”

That got me to thinking – isn’t this avoidance of change the way we often get into trouble?

Our computer gives us a notice that we have an update to do, and we don’t do it because it’s a pain. We keep clicking “remind me later” and suddenly a quick update becomes a huge deal when we finally get around to it. Or worse, it crashes.

We refuse to get a new phone until the old one breaks, bypassing several new models and operating systems, and then realize the differences are so enormous from our old phone that we have to learn a completely new way of communicating.

We keep things the same in our organization, relying on efficient processes that work just fine, thank you very much. We don’t modernize or innovate – because we don’t see the need – and then someday we realize that the business world has passed us by, and we have a whole lot of catching up to do. Never mind the principle of staying “ahead of the game,” we aren’t even keeping up with “the game!”

“But Ruth,” I can hear you thinking, “aren’t you always saying that consistency and repeatability are good things? That they ensure efficiency and effectiveness?”

Well, yes. Yes I do say those things, and I believe them. And I also believe that there is a danger in becoming complacent in that efficiency; that the desire to avoid change, stay comfortable, and rely on what we know may cause us to miss out on things that are even better.

It is just as important to maintain vigilance on efficient processes as it is to completely shake up the whole system and innovate. (Click here to tweet that statement.) The trick is to do both at the same time, and to ensure that changes to the processes are properly planned, communicated, and implemented.

Is your organization a “Cathedral of Constancy?” Or are you and your team on the lookout for opportunities to modernize and improve? How do you balance consistency with innovation?

Leave us your thoughts in the comments below – we’d love to hear them!

Until next time,

Ruth.

PS – you can find the podcast called “Summer” in iTunes. It first aired on May 6, 2016, and the story of Dave and Morley begins a few minutes into the recording.

Happy Birthday to Us!

bday

On March 28th Whiteboard turns 4 years old. 4 years! This is a big deal – according to Start Up Canada, only 70% of the more than 100,000 new small businesses that open each year actually last to year 2, and only 51% to year five. These are pretty daunting stats, and we are really thrilled to still be here, loving what we do.

What’s our secret?

Besides persistence and patience you mean? Well, the other day Nicole and I were talking about how our business has changed and grown in its short four-year existence. We started out as a company focused purely on process improvement consulting, determined to help businesses become more effective and efficient using our own methodology, The Whiteboard Way©.

We soon discovered that people didn’t just hold up their hands and say, “Oh pick us! We need process improvement!” No, in fact a lot of people don’t even know what the term means or why they should care about it. So we found ourselves trying to explain our business to people, most of whom nodded politely or stared like a deer in the headlights.

We found our work shifting to training and facilitation, knowing that what people REALLY need is a culture shift that will encourage innovation, inspire creativity, and allow people to try, fail, and try again. It is only by developing culture that organizations can attempt a massive (or moderate) change and hope to be successful. As the saying goes:

We started focusing on proving training on things that are most likely to help organizations be successful at implementing change. Things like:

  • Learning how (and when) to have rewarding conversations with people at work. Yes – conversations. It’s not as simple as you might think, and our coaching course helps people-managers build their skills in this area. It’s probably our most popular course.
  • Understanding the difference between leading and managing, and why that’s important in building an effective team.
  • Becoming self-aware and realizing how that can lead to truly effective communication.
  • Knowing how to set goals and understanding why measurements are important (hint: people like to know when they’re winning).
  • Helping teams understand the flow of work through an organization, and how gaps in process can cause frustration and inefficiency.

So now we don’t do process improvement? We teach?

Uh, no.

Don’t misunderstand me. We “do” process improvement. It happens to be one of the most amazing tools there is to help organizations improve business results. It’s just not the only tool.

We now describe ourselves as Change Management consultants who help uncover hidden opportunities to improve business results. And we do that by seeking to understand our clients, our course participants, our partners, and – always – ourselves.

  • Through our coaching program, we seek to understand you – the person – and help you get to the root of whatever barriers are in your way.
  • Through our process improvement work, we seek to understand the organization, and uncover hidden opportunities to improve business results.
  • Through our psychometric assessments (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) we help you seek to understand yourself and the people around you.
  • Through our speaking, training, and facilitation, we seek to understand our participants, and by so doing we ensure our workshops are dynamic, fun, relevant, and valuable.

And for our 5th year?

Not only have we added new services to our repertoire, but this year we are also excited to be exploring a new associate model which will allow us to expand the Whiteboard brand to other cities! This is going to be awesome, so stay tuned for more on that later in the year.

Thank you to all our clients, partners, and supporters who make it continually fun to do what we do. We couldn’t – and wouldn’t – do it without you!

Until next time,

Ruth.

 

The Process of Managing Change

This week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Lisa Chicules, a brand and strategy expert, for her radio show “Chat With Chicules” on the Voice America Radio Network. Lisa is a real expert and leader in her field, unearthing the brand potential for organizations of all shapes and sizes. One of my favourite quotes of hers is “uncover the right insight and don’t stop until it’s brilliant.” She may not know it, but with thoughts like that, she’s not only a brand expert, but also a process thinker!

Needless to say I was both honoured and excited to be on her show. It was a first for me – talking isn’t a problem, but having a big shiny microphone in front of you is a whole different ballgame. We had a blast, and I really enjoyed our topic: The Process of Managing Change. (You can listen to it by clicking here.)

Because everything is a process, right?

Right. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we believe a process is a process is a process, whether you are making a martini, filling out your tax forms, or implementing a major new project or change initiative in the office.

And yet, as Lisa pointed out, so many organizations struggle with the process side of change. They focus on the “Big Shiny Goal” and forget about all the little things that go in to making that goal successful. “Why is that?” Lisa wondered.

Well, frankly, it’s because the Big Shiny Goal is more fun. It’s sexier, it’s what gets noticed, and it’s where a lot of Senior Leaders spend their time and energy. Then when they’ve developed this latest and greatest thing, they pass on their idea to someone else, say “Make It So,” and then move on – you guessed it – to the next Big Shiny Goal.

The problem is that “Make It So” doesn’t even begin to convey all the information required by an implementation team to make the Big Shiny Goal a reality. As it turns out, there’s quite a bit of context required in order to support the process (yes, process) of managing the implementation (or change) effectively.

John P. Kotter, business guru and best-selling author, developed a model that shows the 8 Steps of effective Change Management. Thankfully, I’m only going to focus on the first one because in my humble opinion, it’s the most important.

Kotter

The first step in our process is to create a sense of urgency. In other words, provide the context that is SO STRONG, that people will understand the reason for the change and why it has to happen right now. They may not love it, but they’ll get it.

For instance: let’s say you have to move your office to a new location. There are two ways you can announce this to the team:

  • The usual way: “Hey everyone, in three months we will be moving to a new office location on the other side of town. Now before you get excited, let me tell you how amazing this new building is – first of all, it’s all floor to ceiling windows, so it will be really bright and you’ll all have a window seat. Secondly it has a fully equipped kitchen, a Starbucks in the lobby, and gym membership is included. And finally, the elevators are all brand new so you won’t have to wait for ages like you do in this ancient old building. Ha ha ha. Isn’t this great?

What they hear: “Hey everyone, in three months we will be moving to a new office location on the other side of town. That’s right, an extra 30 minutes commute for you, and a completely different location from your wife. You may even have to get a second car. And you know your kid’s daycare that’s right across the street now? You probably won’t be able to pick them up by the 6pm cutoff any more. Oh and one more thing, there is no public transit, and it’s $6/day to park.”

You see, people don’t hear benefits right after a change announcement. They are overwhelmed by the impacts on their personal lives, and they they start to think – what the heck are they doing this for? This is awful!

Now let’s try to re-frame using the “hot problem / cool solution” concept, in which we state a problem that EVERYONE wants to avoid, and then provide the solution. This creates a sense of urgency that people can buy in to.

  • The better way: “Hey everyone, we have a fairly urgent issue to deal with, and I want to share it with you and tell you what we’ve come up with. As you know, budgets are being cut, and we’ve had to come up with $1.2 million in cost savings over the next three years. As you can imagine, there are a few ways to do this and we’ve been trying to figure out the way that will have the least impact on this team. In order to keep this team and its operations whole, we are going to have to move to a different office on the other side of town. I know this is going to have an impact on some of you, and I want to discuss it with each of you personally and see if we can come up with a solution.

Only then is it ok to start talking about benefits.

The second step in our process involves setting metrics so that people know if they are winning. Stephen Covey’s The Four Disciplines of Execution talks about the need to have a scorecard that is displayed in a public place so that everyone knows if they are meeting their goals. It sounds simple, yet so many organizations miss this piece and fail to set their goals in a measurable way at the beginning of the change or strategic implementation.

What are your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)? Note the word KEY. If you have more than 5-7 KPIs in your organization, then they are not the key metrics. Do you have a big spreadsheet with 20+ measures that are tracked regularly and reported to a large group?

Yes? Well that’s too many.

Many operational areas must track dozens of measures. That’s normal. But don’t call them Key Performance Indicators and share them with the whole organization – it’s not relevant, eyes gloss over, and the important story is lost.

Business analytics is all about telling the story, helping people understand what they are measuring, whether they are winning (on track), and if not, what some possible root causes may be. It is imperative that these metrics are set out at the beginning of any implementation.

Finally, the third process step I discussed with Lisa was effective communication. If you have ever participated in an employee engagement survey, then you know that communication is almost always in the top 3 things to improve. Why is that? Why can we never get it right?

communicate

I believe that too many of us communicate with others in the way that WE like to be communicated to. That is – I like eMails, so I send eMails to everyone and think I’ve done an awesome job communicating.

The problem is, many people don’t read those emails, so I haven’t communicated with them at all.

But that’s their fault, right? Shouldn’t they have just read the emails?

Yes. And by saying so, I’d be right. I’d also be really ineffective.

The great leader considers the people to whom he/she must communicate – all their differences in language style, medium preference, and even cultural concerns – and adjusts their communication accordingly. It might mean an email to some, a phone call to others, and even a quick face-to-face with a few others. It may seem like a waste of time, but it really isn’t.

Easy peasy, right?

Well maybe not. This is an awful lot to think about, even though it’s only three steps. And yet these things are absolutely essential in implementing a successful change. Miss out on any one of these things, and the best project plan in the world will not save you.

Remember:

  1. Set up the right metrics at the outset.
  2. Use Change Management theory to ensure you have set the context.
  3. Communicate to be effective, not just right.

If you’d like to listen to the radio broadcast I did with Lisa on this topic, click here and it will take you right to the recording. You can also download it from iTunes as a podcast if you search “Chat with Chicules” and look for the episode on The Process of Managing Change.

Until next time,

Ruth.

Sometimes the Flavour of the Month is Chocolate. And It’s Good.

flavour2

If you work for anyone other than yourself, you have probably lived this phrase in some way:

“Ugh – this new initiative is nothing other than the new flavour of the month. It’ll never stick and next year they’ll roll out something else.”

Sound familiar? These words have probably assaulted your ears (or crossed your lips), when the organization is trying with best intentions to make a change or an improvement. The person who is responsible for the change is excited about the initiative, and is frustrated beyond believe with this blasé response from the team.

So why do people say it?

First, a little Change Management theory for you – we know from Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross‘ work that people experience grief in an emotional roller coaster. When Kubler-Ross pioneered the concept of the 5 Stages of Grief, people became aware that grief impacts us all the same way and yet differently too.

In other words, we all go through the stages of Grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance), but we may go through them differently. Some may linger in one stage or another, and some may fly through a stage so quickly as to appear to bypass it. The way in which we go through these stages is greatly impacted by our personal resilience, the amount of stress we are dealing with at the moment, and our experiences with grief in the past.

The same is true with change. In fact, Kubler-Ross’ model has been adapted to create the Change Curve, used by Change Management experts, teachers, and coaches. There are several different variations of the curve itself, and we like this one the best:

change curve

You can see the similarity to the 5 Stages of Grief – in this model we have Denial, Anger, Exploration, and Acceptance.

Imagine then, an employee who is not only experiencing change at work, but also at home (spouse has been demoted, child has moved out, parent is ill). This employee, we’ll call him Rob, has been a good worker and has been around for about 15 years. You are Rob’s manager, and very excited about a new program to create a more efficient process for doing the work of Rob and the entire team. When you meet to discuss it, Rob breaks open the “Flavour of the Month” remark, and the team snickers.

This is because Rob has been around for a couple of business cycles. He’s seen change implemented, re-implemented, de-implemented, and implemented again. He’s tired and his resilience is low – he feels that change is a pendulum, and that people should just make up their damn minds and stick with something.

Well, here’s the thing…

The United States’ National Bureau of Economic Research states that since 1945 the average business cycle has been just less than six years. That length of time may also be impacted by your industry, budget issues, technology advancement, and general business trends.

So in other words, every few years the business world changes. And in order to be relevant in that world, an organization must change with it. The change the organization is implementing is probably the right thing, for right now. In a few years it may no longer be the right thing. So yeah. It might well be the flavour of the month, and there’s nothing wrong with that (unless an organization is making change for change’s sake – and that’s a whole different discussion.)

The trick is to implement the “new flavour” carefully, using change management best practices from the outset and communicating the “why and why now” message in the most effective way for the team.

If that’s all done correctly, then the answer to Rob is as easy as, “Yes Rob, it IS the flavour of the month. It’s chocolate. And it’s good.”

Until next time,

Ruth.

 

How to use process tools for anything. Even moving!

Moving is a Process.

Think of your last move. You and your spouse/partner giggling hysterically while you pack boxes.  Flirtatiously throwing bubble wrap at one another while you pack? Then after a smooth experience with your moving company, arriving at your new home, giddy with excitement, settling into at least 10 glasses of champagne next to a cozy fire.

If you just snorted or guffawed- you aren’t alone.

What does a living hell look like?download

The first thing I did when we bought our new house was open a bottle of wine (it wasn’t going to open itself was it?).  Then, being the process geek I am, I began to map the current state of moving that I had experienced in the past. I won’t bore you with the VISIO document. But it sort of went something like this:

Step 1. Buy House

Step 2. Start Packing random stuff.

Step 3. Stop packing for a while because have run out of Cardboard Boxes (so has nearby grocery store).

Step 4. Unpack most of things packed in Step 2 because I needed them.

Step 5.  Nearly murder partner/spouse because they have to date packed nothing.

Step 6.  Pack frantically and angrily for a number of days.

Step 7.  Stop packing.  Realize move is still 3 months away.

Step 8. Unpack 90% of Step 6 items while looking for yoga mat that have not used in 3 years but need for “Girls Yoga/Brunch” on Sunday.

Step 9.  Realized have not booked movers.  Panic.  Call first movers that appear on The Google after searching “Movers Toronto”.

Step 10. Begin frantically packing again. Rip 7 boxes because I overpack them and everything falls through the bottom.

Step 11. Stop packing because it is Les Mills Release week and I have to go to every gym class ever.

Step 12. Begin frantically packing.

Step 13. Cancel girls indoor rock climbing date because “I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THE #&$^#% MY ROCK CLIMBING SHOES ARE.

Step 14-18.  Slight wine induced blur of packing, crying, fighting with spouse irrationally, and scramble packing.

Step 19. ARRIVE AT NEW HOUSE!! Look lovingly at spouse/partner and sip champagne for about 13 seconds.  Immediately proceed to next step.

Step 20. Unpack frantically trying to get house ready for guests.

Step 21. Repack 70% of items as realize new house does not have closet space.

Step 22. Frantically look for that black top for girls wine night. WHERE THE &#&^#^#^#^ is that TOP?????

Step 23. 6 months later feel settled and have shit together.

So pain. So pain.

So this time, older, wiser, armed with process tools out the wazoo I vowed that this time my move would be better.  So first I focused on what I felt were the key pain points  (or for us process geeks, two Lean Wastes) for me during this process:

lean

  • not being able to find one blasted thing before or after the move, causing packing and unpacking again (OVERPROCESSING)
  • running out of  boxes/ripping boxes due to overpacking and having dead time where I wasn’t doing anything. (INVENTORY/WAITING)

The first thing I did being the consultant I am – I outsourced.  I rented reusable, stackable boxes that come with little labels  from (no kickbacks or anything for me, I just found these guys awesome and fast). No running out of boxes. Check!

The next thing I did, was made some space in my garage, and I used huge post-it notes to label each major room in the house (Kitchen, Living Room, Master Bedroom, Master Bathroom etc.)

Next I started packing things that 100% would not be required (i.e. Summer clothes, clothes that no longer fit me yet I am very hopeful that one day I will look like I did when I was 22, shoes that I paid alot of money for however never wear because I work from home in workout wear 98% of the time).

I packed one to two boxes a day.  Every day I brought them down to the garage, put them beneath the room they were assigned to, and labelled the box K1 = Kitchen box 1.  I then quickly wrote on the post it note on the wall, K1= dehydrator, stand mixer, and baking supplies. This way – when I nonsensically needed to make jerky in a hurry or bake homemade bread for the first time before we moved, it would be simple to find which box it was in.

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams.

 

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Fast Forward 3 months later this was me on moving day.  Ha. It was great.  The easiest move ever. Check me out with my feet up on moving day!

And then when we arrived at the new house and got ourselves settledd my husband turned to me and said – “Sweetheart, do you know which box the Apple tv is in?”. I gleefully pulled out the post-it notes I had collected from the garage, and promptly announced: “LR11!!” with a huge boastful/gloaty smile.  He replied: “Gosh you are an amazing woman!”.  We quickly connected to the internet (that I had arranged installation for weeks in advance)and were cozily catching up on our favourite documentary. *

We laughed and giggled, clinked our champagne glasses together, and smiled.  Life was good. **

Notes:

*I forgot to to order internet installation. So we didn’t have internet for about 3 days.  I’m the worst.

 

**Actually, I collected the post it notes from the garage and randomly jammed them into an ottoman as the movers were putting it into the truck.  I didn’t find the post-it notes until 3 days later.  When husband asked for them and I couldn’t find them he may have replied something along the lines of:  “You are a total bozo.”

Moral being – there is ALWAYS room for more process improvement – in ANY process.  Just imagine using this in a more formal way at the office and you can only imagine the reduction in stress, overtime, and rework!

Tell us about your favourite day-to-day process improvements especially moving @Whiteboardcons #movingisaprocess!

Until next time,

Nicole

Happy Birthday to Us!

3

That’s right, as of March 28th Whiteboard Consulting is 3 years old!

Both Nicole and I are breathing a sigh of relief that we made it out of the Terrible Two’s, which, though not truly “terrible,” did provide us with our fair share of lessons.

Three Things We Learned in Our Third Year

  1. We thought we would be doing all Process Improvement, all the time. We were wrong. Instead, we have been doing more and more training and facilitation as the months have gone by. Why is this? Two reasons: first, most organizations don’t know that they need process improvement. They don’t come to us, hat in hand, and say, “Please Ruth & Nicole, will you fix our processes?” Instead, they express concern over a symptom, or ask for information on how to improve a specific aspect of their business. This almost always leads to some kind of facilitated work and/or training, and sometimes also to true process improvement work. The second reason is that, without intending to boast, we are excellent trainers, and word gets around.
  2. Network. All the Time. In the first half of 2014 we were extremely busy, and spent little to no time networking and generating new business. It seemed natural for the work to come to us, so imagine our surprise when the pipeline dried up in late summer and it took several months to get it moving again.
  3. Do what you love. We love to train and write. Our courses for both the general public and our private sector clients, as well as the courses we teach for the Government of Ontario, are received with wonderful feedback, and our blogs are being picked up by the Huffington Post more and more frequently. (Look for them in Forbes soon if all goes well.) We really enjoy process improvement work, and when teaching and writing are thrown in, we are very happy campers.

In Our Fourth Year We Are…

  • the Queens of networking and business development, taking Whiteboard into a year of growth.
  • following Sean Covey’s Four Disciplines of Execution and taking a page out of our own book too – this means we are focused on the activities that act as lead measures and will drive our ultimate goal of revenue generation. We have weekly accountability meetings and have laser-focus on the activities we need to achieve to be successful.
  • finding ways to say yes. If clients ask us to do work that conflicts with something else in the schedule, we figure out a way to make it happen. If that means Nicole does one event and I do another, so be it. Hard for us to let go of each other’s apron strings, but that’s what it means when you’re a toddler instead of a two-year-old.
  • training. A lot. Our next two public courses are:
    1. Lean Six Sigma for Service Delivery, a 3-day course in May in Toronto. (Click here)
    2. Performance Measurement 101, a 2-day course in April and May in Toronto. (Click here)

Thank you for your engagement, your comments, your “Likes,” “Shares,” “Favourites,” and “Retweets.”  We look forward to even more of those in the coming year!

Until next week,

Ruth.

How much is this task worth? Efficient Time Management Using Data.

*Update: Remember that blog where I said Ruth and I were going to stay accountable for doing the blog.  This is me doing the blog.  Late.  To note, Ruth didn’t say “That’s OK!”.  She said something to the effect of, “So when will you be posting the blog”. Super effective from an accountability perspective. Thus, why I am posting this blog on Tuesday. *

What’s happening over at Whiteboard?  Lot’s of things.  We’re meeting up with clients old  and new, and are super excited about all of the great process work, leadership work, and culture development we get to do with our clients this year.

So this new year has everyone setting goals, emptying their email inboxes, finding new and better ways of doing things. We are all bombarded with so many tasks to do , how do we actually know which ones are the RIGHT ones to be spending time on?

The steps below outline a process that you can use to identify your tasks, identify what they are worth, analyze the data, and then start booking your calendar in such a way that you can maximize the work you do to benefit you and your organization.

Step 1: Brainstorm all of your activities.IMG_0463

What are the primary activities you do in your business; emails, phone calls, actual “work”, social media, presentations, workshops?  Write them all down (or use excel if you are of that ilk.)

Step 2: Assign value to each of them.

This can get tricky, the key is to make your best guess.  Some items might not have a dollar attachment to them, and others you might need to do a little work for. I’ll take you through some of my examples:

Networking events: Last year I went to 27 networking events, and through those events (so far), We have approximately $10,000 worth of business.

1:1 Meetings: Last year I did approximately 100 1:1 meetings, and they yielded about $5,000 in revenue.

Get the point? It’s not a science, but you should start to see some patterns.

Step 3: Analyze the data

So you might start to see some patterns, like the 27 hours you spend on Social Media each week haven’t yet yielded you a client.  That doesn’t mean you should stop doing social media, it is an important part of your business – rather, you could probably spend 10 hours and get the same benefit, and donate some additional time to Networking events, which seem to contribute to your sales pipeline.

Step 4: Book your Calendar!

Now, book your calendar with the activities that generate VALUE, and slot in the time to take care of all of those day-to-day tasks and emails that may not add direct value, but are a necessary evil!

Have a great, productive, efficient, and VALUABLE week!

Until Next Time,

Nicole

P.S. Like my doodle? Check out Carolyn Ellis at Brilliance Mastery! She taught Ruth and I how to doodle and we’re hooked.  Be prepared for many doodles to come!

 

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