Had a busy but rewarding week last week. Two clients with vastly different businesses, but very similar needs. This week focused mostly on visual management systems and two very different mindsets.

In Phoenix, we’re working on capturing goals in a platform called Betterworks. After a lot of wrestling, we defined seven broad corporate objectives. The cool thing about Betterworks is that now all the senior managers can login, see the corporate objectives and set their own goals to support them, and each successive level can cascade their goals from that executive level. The leaders can then clarify and refine them in back-and-forth discussion often called “catchball,” all done online so even remote teams can do this easily.

In New England, we are building a tiered visual management system that’s a little more like those you read about in lean books. A few months ago, we started with refining information kiosks at the team/workcell level, emphasizing the information needed by the team. That quickly exposed a need to track certain measures at the supervisors level, and the managers’ level. We spent a couple of days defining the different tiers in the company and who needed to huddle where and when, standardizing through the entire company. This turned out to be a radical departure from their previous way of doing this – and in a good way. This week, we reworked the tier 4 information board and got it aligned with their balanced scorecard. We went from this:

To this:

…in a little less than 3 hours. There’s still tons of work to do to refine the way they present the metrics they want to track and rework the tier 3 and tier 2 boards to align better, but theirs getting closer to that full line of sight from the value creating level down to the executive level of the company. Pretty exciting to be able to help them put these together and be able to clearly see gaps they can focus on.

If you’re struggling a little with getting the right leader behaviors, this focus on the measurement system can really help. If you think you need some help, send me a note and let’s talk.

Miles to Go

Last night, on the red-eye flying from Los Angeles to Columbus after 2 very good working days in Phoenix, I crossed the threshold to Diamond frequent flyer status with Delta.  I’ve been here before, several years ago, but that was when I was flying to Australia a few times a year.  The miles add up pretty quickly on those long-haul flights!

This year though, I only made one international trip, so this meant a lot of trips within the US.  I’ve been fortunate to have strong client relationships in Phoenix and in Massachusetts with a couple of trips out west every month, and monthly trips to help my client back east.

I love to travel, but I don’t necessarily like being away from home and family.  It pays the bills and makes me feel pretty good about helping out, so I’m sure I’ll continue.

This method of humble consulting I’ve adopted is very satisfying.  I spend a couple of days each month with my clients, who are really more like friends.  The agenda we agree to is based on what the client needs at that time and flexes easily as that need shifts or as we discover other opportunities.  There is a significant “seat-of-the-pants” factor which isn’t for everyone (meaning both clients and consultants.) I happen to really enjoy it.  It is often very challenging.

I’m also fortunate to have additional interested people that I hope to build into clients who want to make difference for their workplace.  I’d be happy to discuss this approach with anyone.  Maybe we’ll end up with a relationship that satisfies both our needs.  Closer to home might be better, but I do like these frequent flyer perks, so “where” matters much less than “what” and “why”.

Cheers for now.  David