Back to the Future


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Emma Langman explores the usefulness of some of the Quality tools that have been around since the 50s for gathering requirements, tackling repeat problems, or innovating more efficiently as a team. Filmed at

Emma Langman is the Manager of HR and Performance at Kuwait Energy, and lives in Kuwait City. She is a Fellow of the RSA and was, until moving countries from the UK, a visiting fellow at the University of Bristol in both the Faculty of Engineering and the Graduate School of Education, as well as the Change Magician at her own company, Progression Partnership.

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Back to the Future

  1. 1. Back  to  the  Future:  What  Old  Thinkers  can  teach   us  about  making  Innova;on  Succeed  Today   Dr.  Emma  Langman,  Manager  of  HR  &  Performance   Thursday  6th  March,  2014   1  
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  4. 4. Dedica;on   In  loving  memory  of  my  mentor  and  friend   2   Nigel  Clements  
  5. 5. Focus   Just  3  ques:ons   3   1.  What  are  our  21st  Century  Problems?   2.  What  are  the  lessons  from  history?   3.  How  can  we  apply  those  ideas  today?  
  6. 6. What  are  our  21st  Century  Problems?   4  
  7. 7. What  are  our  21st  Century  Problems?   Some  thoughts   5   •  Precipitous  >   •  Lack  of  <   •  Ignorance  of  ≈   •  Denial  of  p  =  x  +  z(x)   •  Insufficient  analysis  of  Y5  
  8. 8. What  are  the  lessons  from  history?   [some  examples]   6  
  9. 9. What  are  the  lessons  from  history?   There  are  many  –  3  examples  of  great  teachers  from  the  50s  (and  beyond):   7   1.  Deming  –  System  of  Profound  Knowledge   2.  Ackoff  –  Idealized  Design   3.  Ishiwaka  –  The  7  Tools  
  10. 10. Who  affects  Performance  most?   What  if  it  is  what,  not  who?   8  
  11. 11. Deming’s  System  of  Profound  Knowledge     Bad  name  –  fantas:c  concept   9   SoPK   Varia:on   Psychology   Learning   System  
  12. 12. How  can  we  Innovate  best?   An  “old  thinker”  leads  the  way   10   Russell  Ackoff  
  13. 13. Are  you  siUng  comfortably?       Then  I  shall  begin…   11   •  Once  upon  a  :me  –  in  1951   •  Bell  Labs,  New  Jersey   •  Peter  Myers  “said  that  no  one  would  know  the  difference”   •  He  was  a  big  man,  extroverted,  and  voluble.  He  could  not  get  near  someone   without  punching,  pinching,  pushing,  hugging,  or  pounding  them  on  the  back.     •  He  was  obviously  very  upset.  He  was  a  pasty  gray  and  bent  over  as  he  slowly   shuffled  down  the  aisle  without  a  word  to  anyone.  He  mounted  the  plamorm,   stood  behind  the  podium,  put  his  elbows  on  it,  and  held  his  head  in  his  two   hands,  looking  down.   •  “Gentlemen,  the  telephone  system  of  the  United  States  was  destroyed  last   night.”    
  14. 14. S;ll  Comfy?     Then  I  shall  con:nue.   12   •  “I’ve  made  a  list  of  those  contribu:ons  to  the  development  of  telephonic   communica:ons  that  I  believe  have  earned  us  this  reputa:on.  Before  I  share  my   list  with  you,  I’d  like  your  opinions.  What  do  you  think  are  the  most  important   contribu:ons  we  have  ever  made  to  this  development?”   •  The  dial     –  introduced  in  the  1930s   •  Mul:plexing     –  between  the  two  world  wars   •  The  coaxial  cable  that  connected  the  United  States  and  Great  Britain     -­‐  1882   •  “Doesn’t  it  strike  you  as  odd,”  he  said,  “that  the  three  most  important   contribu:ons  this  laboratory  has  ever  made  to  telephonic  communica:ons  were   made  before  any  of  you  were  born?  What  have  you  been  doing?”    
  15. 15. Not  quite  as  Comfy?     Is  this  telephone  story  ringing  true?   13   •  “You  have  been  improving  the  parts  of  the  system  taken  separately,  but  you   have  not  significantly  improved  the  system  as  a  whole”   •  “The  deficiency,”  he  said,  “is  not  yours  but  mine.  We’ve  had  the  wrong   research-­‐and-­‐development  strategy.  We’ve  been  focusing  on  improving  parts  of   the  system  rather  than  focusing  on  the  system  as  a  whole.  As  a  result,  we  have   been  improving  the  parts,  but  not  the  whole.  We  have  got  to  restart  by  focusing   on  designing  the  whole  and  then  designing  parts  that  fit  it  rather  than  vice   versa”   •  “Therefore,  gentlemen,  we  are  going  to  begin  by  designing  the  system  with   which  we  would  replace  the  exis:ng  system  right  now  if  we  were  free  to  replace   it  with  whatever  system  we  wanted,  subject  to  only  two  not-­‐very-­‐restric:ve   constraints”  
  16. 16. On  the  edge  of  your  seat?     What  are  the  two  constraints?   14   •  “First,”  he  con:nued,  “let  me  explain  why  we  will  focus  on  what  we  want  right   now,  not  out  five  or  ten  years.  Why?  Because  we  know  that  where  we  say  today   we  would  like  to  be  five  years  from  now  is  not  where  we  will  want  to  be  when   we  get  there.  Things  will  happen  between  now  and  then  that  will  affect  our   goals  and  objec:ves.  By  focusing  on  what  we  want  right  now,  we  can  eliminate   that  poten:al  source  of  error.”   •  “Second,  why  remove  prac:cally  all  constraints?  Because  if  we  don’t  know   what  we  would  do  now  if  we  could  do  whatever  we  wanted,  how  can  we   know  what  to  do  when  we  can’t  do  everything  we  want?  If  we  knew  what  we   would  do  with  virtually  no  constraints,  we  could  modify  it,  if  necessary,  to   become  feasible  and  adapt  it  to  changing  internal  and  external  condi:ons  as   :me  goes  on.”  
  17. 17. Curious  to  know  how  it  works?   This  is  what  they  did   15   •  The  vice  president  then  said,  “This  group  is  too  large  to  operate  as  a  single  group.   Therefore,  I  am  going  to  divide  you  into  six  subgroups  of  about  six  each,  each  with   responsibility  for  a  subsystem.  Each  group  will  select  a  representa:ve  to  meet  with   other  representa:ves  at  least  once  a  week  to  discuss  interac;ons.  Let  me  explain.   •  “Each  group  will  be  able  to  design  whatever  it  wants  as  long  as  it  does  not  affect  any   other  group’s  design.  If  what  a  group  wants  to  do  does  affect  one  or  more  other   groups’  designs,  it  must  get  their  agreement  before  it  can  be  included  in  their   design.  I  can  tell  you  in  advance,”  he  said,  “that  the  groups  will  do  livle  that  does  not   affect  other  groups.  At  the  end  of  the  year,”  he  said,  “I  want  to  see  one  completely   integrated  system  design,  not  six  subsystem  designs.  I  don’t  even  want  to  know   what  the  individual  teams  came  up  with.  Is  that  clear?”  he  asked.   •  He  created  a  “long  lines”  (inter-­‐city  communica:on)  team,  a  “short  lines”  (within   city  communica:on)  team,  a  switching  sta:ons  team,  two  other  teams,  and  finally   the  telephone  set  team,  on  which  I  found  myself  with  my  friend  Peter  Meyers.  
  18. 18. And  they  all  lived  Happily  Ever  A]er….     [have  we  learnt?]   16   •  Every  call  I  receive  is  intended  for  me  —  no  wrong  numbers.   •  I  want  to  know  who  is  calling  before  I  answer  the  phone  so  I  need  not  answer  it  if   I  don’t  want  to  speak  to  the  caller.   •  A  phone  I  can  use  with  no  hands.   •  A  phone  that  comes  with  me  wherever  I  am,  not  one  I  have  to  go  to  in  a  fixed   locaAon.   •  We  con:nued  to  add  to  this  list  for  several  weeks,  ending  with  just  more  than   ninety  proper:es  we  wanted  a  phone  to  have.  These  proper:es  became  very   complicated  near  the  end.  For  example,  we  wanted  to  be  able  to  talk   simultaneously  to  groups  in  mul:ple  loca:ons,  see  all  of  them,  and  be  able  to   transmit  documents  or  charts  instantaneously.  
  19. 19. Footnote   For  those  who  want  the  full  story   17   •  They  went  on,  “We  went  back  and  built  a  push-­‐buvon  telephone  and  tested  it  on  a   very  large  number  of  people.  It  turns  out  to  take  about  twelve  seconds  less  to  put  in   seven  digits  by  pushing  buvons  than  turning  a  dial,  and  addi:onal  :me  is  saved  by   not  occupying  a  line  un:l  awer  the  number  is  put  in  and  the  receiver  is  picked  up.   The  combined  saving  in  :me  is  worth  millions  to  AT&T,”  they  said,  “so  we  have   started  a  project  to  develop  that  telephone.  We  have  given  it  a  code  name  that  is   being  kept  secret  for  now.”  They  looked  around  the  room  to  be  sure  no  one  was   listening  and  then  told  us,  “Touch  tone.”   •  Before  the  year  was  over,  the  groups  had  established  the  technological  feasibility  of   each  of  our  many  design  features.  The  group  of  design  teams  con:nued  to  work   awer  I  was  no  longer  a  par:cipant,  and  they  an:cipated  every  change  in  the   telephone  system,  except  two,  that  has  appeared  since  then.  Among  these  are   touch-­‐tone  phones,  consumer  ownership  of  phones,  call  wai;ng,  call  forwarding,   voice  mail,  caller  ID,  conference  calls,  speaker  phones,  speed  dialing  of  numbers  in   memory,  and  mobile  phones.  They  did  not  an:cipate  photography  by  the  phone  or   an  Internet  connec:on.  
  20. 20. Idealized  Design     In  a  nutshell   18   Idealized  design  is  a  way  of  thinking  about   change  that  is  decepAvely  simple  to  state:  In   solving  problems  of  virtually  any  kind,  the  way  to   get  the  best  outcome  is  to  imagine  what  the  ideal   soluAon  would  be  and  then  work  backward  to   where  you  are  today.       This  ensures  that  you  do  not  erect  imaginary   obstacles  before  you  even  know  what  the  ideal  is.  
  21. 21. Remember     2  rules   19   1.  What  we  want  right  now   2.  Prac:cally  no  constraints  
  22. 22. What  tools  can  we  use  every  day?   Japanese  thinkers  have  been  thinking  about  this  for  over  60  years   20   Dr  Kaoru  Ishikawa  
  23. 23. Ishikawa’s  List  of  7  Tools   “Everyone  should  know  these”   21   1.  Pareto  analysis:  which  are  the  20%  that  cause  the  80%   2.  Cause  and  effect  diagrams:  what  are  the  root  causes?   3.  Stra;fica;on:  how  is  the  data  aggregated?   4.  Check  sheets:  how  owen  does  this  happen?   5.  Histograms:  what  do  overall  paverns  look  like?   6.  Scaeer  charts:  what  are  the  poten:al  rela:onships   between  factors?   7.  Process  control  charts:  what  is  special,  common  –  and   what  can  we  do  about  it?  
  24. 24. Something  Fishy     Cause  and  effect  analysis  (also  useful  for  design)   22  
  25. 25. Watch  out  for  Bears!   What  is  special  and  common  cause  varia:on?   23  
  26. 26. Control  Chart   A  simple  tool  for  helping  to  spot  special  and  common  cause  varia:on   24  
  27. 27. How  can  we  apply  those  ideas  today?   [some  thoughts]   25  
  28. 28. What  our  role  be  if  it  was  working  from  a  Quality  perspec;ve?   Some  thoughts  to  take  away   26   Process  improvement   End-­‐to-­‐end  change  across  a  system   Involving  teams  and  different  departments   Focus  on  the  whole  -­‐  not  the  parts   Less  fear  and  blame   Daring  to  dream  –  Idealized  Design  
  29. 29. How  can  we  apply  those  ideas  today?   3  sugges:ons   27   •  Expand  the  boundaries  of  our  thinking/behaving   about  our  ‘team’  and  role   •  Understand  varia;on  and  use  the  quality  tools   where  appropriate   •  Dare  to  dream  –  and  use  idealized  design  and   divergent  thinking  
  30. 30. Conclusion   “there  is  nothing  new  under  the  sun,  great  leaps  can  be   made  by  revisi;ng  older  ideas  with  fresh  eyes”   28   Old  Ideas   Innova:on  
  31. 31. 29  
  32. 32. Watch the video with slide synchronization on! -quality-lessons