Friday, 24 February 2017

Using RACI

I’m a big believer in accountability. I also believe that, in teams, responsibility and authority go hand in hand. If you’re responsible for a task or project, then you should have the authority to make things happen. You are going to be held accountable for the results. 

RACI stands for who is Responsible, who is Accountable, who should Consult and who should Inform. According to Wikipedia, here’s how the individual roles are defined: 

Responsible represents the people who are doing the work. Now I understand not everyone working on a project is hands on, so I’m assuming this is focused on the hands on, in the trenches work to be done. I’d also like to think that being responsible doesn’t absolve you from being held accountable for completing the work. 

Accountability in this context means the person who ultimately will be labeled a success or failure based upon the outcome of the project. It might be the project manager or the person who championed the project in the first place. They also may or may not be doing some of the hands on work. 

Consult (or Counsel) are the subject matter expertswhose expertise is needed to complete the project. Depending upon the project scope, they might have a regular role within the project team or maybe they are consulted if a specific problem occurs. I could also see this role not being confined to internal resources. Maybe the SME is an external consultant or contractor.

Inform includes the person(s) who are sponsoring the project. Every project has a sponsor that helps the team obtain resources and buy-in. The sponsors must be kept in the loop about the project status. Often this can be done with written reports and occasional one-on-one meetings, but it’s a critical piece of the project. 

RACI intrigued me because I wonder how many teams actually spend time discussing roles as part of a project plan. I don’t recall ever being on a team where we had a deliberate conversation about this. And I wonder if teams spent more time on this aspect, if it would help the group reach their goals faster and with fewer setbacks. Each person knows their role, can operate effectively, and conflict is reduced. 

Business professionals can benefit from project management tools in their daily interactions. Acronyms like RACI can add a level of clarity to the project…and to the outcome. Maybe it’s time for business pros to start reading project management blogs and keeping a PM book on the bookshelf. It could come in handy. 

Thursday, 23 February 2017


So what some of the key points to an effective Gemba walk?

Show Respect  

  • Ask good questions, not demeaning one's, - the people at the process are the experts
  • Build a mutual trust relationship (get to know your people)
  • Sincere communication (listening skills)
  • Leadership accountability for developing people
What are some (not all inclusive list) questions you should ask before, during, and after a Gemba Walk?


  • What is the purpose for this walk?
  • Location?
  • Who is attending the walk?
  • Are there preconceived notions driving our thoughts?
  • PPE requirements
  • Safety Standards


  • Let the process owners or team know why you are there
  • Are there standards (quality etc)?
  • What is the process flow?- can you see it from start to finish?
  • Do we see a push versus a pull?
  • What is takt/cycle for the process?
  • Differentiation between assumptions/opinions versus facts
  • Is the process meeting internal/external customer expectations?
  • Identifying 8 forms of waste?
  • Are you seeing through the process (people are behaving differently because you are there).
  • Go-See, Ask Why, Show Respect
  • Be noticed - noticing, but not judging 


  • Document findings
  • Discuss improvement areas for the Gemba Walk process
  • Develop plan
  • Confirm plan with process owners
  • Support


  • How "value-add" was the Gemba walk to the company? (KPI relationship)
  • Did we develop people?
  • Did we engage with people?
  • Did we provide resources for problem solving?
  • What is the strategy for the next one?

Things to avoid

  • Harsh criticism
  • Selling, telling or convincing
  • Creating a hostile environment
  • Giving answers without questions first
  • Intimidating presence
  • Blaming the person first, instead of looking at the process
  • Root blame versus Root cause (defensive questions)
So to summarize, Gemba Walks are a essential part of a culture that focuses on developing people.   It is the responsibility of all leadership to be the servant leader and remove barriers and provide resources for true problem solving to take place.    Problems that are framed correctly are half solved, so finding the truth is crucial in completing the PDCA kanri cycle.   If you take the time you will often find that where you think discrepancy lives, there is a vacancy instead when you discover the power of the Gemba.  Utilize the extraordinary power of your people, they are one of the most important assets of your organization. 
Until next time, 



Decision Tree

Why make a decision tree?

Decisions, decisions—we all have to make them. When a business makes the wrong decision it can be a costly mistake resulting in financial loss, poor use of resources, and negative impact on a company’s image. Thankfully, a decision tree diagram can help. While it’s not a crystal ball, it can provide some valuable insight that can steer you in the right direction. One of the biggest benefits of a decision tree is that it can take emotions out of the equation.

Decision tree diagrams are often used by businesses to plan a strategy, analyze research, and come to conclusions. Lenders and banks use decision trees to calculate the riskiness of loans and investment opportunities. They are also a popular choice for infographics, often appearing in magazines or shared on social media. The point is that decision trees can be used to evaluate just about any question or concern and visualize possible outcomes.

Anatomy of a decision tree

One of the nice things about a Decision Tree Diagram is that there aren’t a lot of elements. The key elements are called nodes, and appear as a square or circle with branches (lines) connecting them until a result is reached. Squares represent decisions, while circles are for uncertain outcomes.

Nodes have a minimum of two branches extending from them. On each line write a possible solution and connect it to the next node. Continue to do this until you reach the end of possibilities and then draw a triangle, signifying the outcome.

Once you’ve got the basic layout of a decision tree complete, you can add values to each line to garner more intelligence. Here’s how to do it:

1. Look at each line and add an amount to each.

2. To analyze your options numerically, add an estimate for the probability of each outcome. Note: When adding percentages all the lines from a single node need to equal 100, if you’re using fractions they need to add up to 1.

3. Assign a possible amount to each triangle at the end of the branches.

4. Calculate the results by multiplying the result by the percentage probability for each end branch in that outcome and subtract the cost of that course of action. You’ll end up with an estimate of what that particular outcome could yield.

Here’s an example:

decision tree example

Note: If you have a large tree with many branches, calculate the numbers for each square or circle and record the results to get the value of that decision. Start on the right side of the tree and work towards the left

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Favourite tools

Do you have a favorite soup? Do you like a Lean Gumbo? Or do you prefer a Six Sigma Stew? The strength of your efforts depends upon what goes in the bowl. Why limit yourself? Let the situation serve up the soup. Use all your options – Lean and Six Sigma – to achieve your goals and ensure your success.


Lean Focuses on

  • Reducing waste
  • Maximizing flow
  • Removing steps that don’t add value for the customer
  • Using a holistic approach that builds a culture

Six Sigma

  • DMAIC – A five-step process improvement method (DefineMeasureAnalyzeImproveControl)
  • Project Charter – A one-page document that lays out the process problemgoalscope, timeline and basic outline of an improvement project
  • Data Collection Plan – A guide to what data will be collected, by whom, how and when
  • Basic Statistics – Measures of the average, median, range and standard deviation of any data set
  • Histogram – A Graph that provides a snapshot of a data set displaying the spread, shape, average and range of the data
  • Pareto Chart – A cascading Bar Chart that displays the sources of process issues from the biggest source to the smallest
  • Measurement Systems Analysis – A way to test the accuracy, repeatability, reproducibility and precision of data collection
  • Hypothesis Testing – A way to provide statistical rigor to theories about the root causes of process issues
  • Design of Experiments – Controlled tests to assess the effectiveness of different ways to run a process with the goal of picking the best conditions, materials and methods
  • Statistical Process Control – Monitoring a process to ensure that it consistently meets customer requirements
  • Control Chart – A powerful time plot used in statistical process control signals the presence of special cause variation in a process

Six Sigma focuses on

  • Reducing variation
  • Validating hypotheses with statistics
  • Using the Martial Arts analogy to indicate knowledge level
  • Using a 5-step method to complete improvement projects

It doesn’t matter where the tool comes from – what matters is solving the problem!

Lean + Six Sigma Common Benefits

Stronger Customer Focus

  • “Live in a constant state of awesomeness!” – Kimberly Fleming

Engaged Workforce

  • “Customers will never love a company unless employees love it first.” – Simon Sinek

Problems Solved at the Root

  • “Why is it that we never have enough time to do it right the first time, but we always have enough time to do it over?” – Jack Bergman

Error Reduction

  • “The only real mistake is one from which you learn nothing.” – Henry Ford

Increased Capacity

  • “The future depends on what we do in the present.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Greater Efficiency

  • “Efficiency is doing better what is already being done.”– Peter Drucker

Minimized Costs

  • “Creativity before cash!” – Mike Osterling

Maximized Profits

  • “Profit in business comes from repeat customers. Customers that boast about your product or service and bring friends with them.” – W. Edwards Deming

Operational Excellence

  • “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Lean and Six Sigma are two great toolkits and together they provide all the support you need to delight customers, reduce costs and build strong teams. Embrace the power of “Yes, and” instead of “Either or” – life is richer with options!

Monday, 6 February 2017


An Enterprise Process Architecture Model provides a high-level, structured overview of an organisation’s set of business processes. It enables you also to identify candidate processes subject to business process change.

When initiating such a business process change project consider creating a Scope Diagram to analyse how a business process-in-scope interacts with its environment. 

The main purpose of a scope diagram is to define and agree on the boundaries of a process. It is also an ideal tool for enhancing the communication to the stakeholders. 

As a business process practitioner, you can choose between different types of scope diagrams. An overview.

IDEF0 Diagram

An IDEF0 model represents how process activities interrelate, how resources are used by an activity, and what the result or output of each activity is. The model consists of simple box and arrow graphics and associated text supporting the graphics.

The essence of an IDEF0 model is that it allows you to to focus on how the process interfaces with its environment. An IDEF0 model describes four types of interfaces:

  • Inputs from people or other processes
  • Outputs to people or other processes
  • Interactions with sources that control the process
  • Interactions with mechanisms that enable the process


IGOE Diagram

A variation of IDEF0, is the IGOE diagram. The acronym IGOE stands for Input-Guides-Outputs-Enablers

The model is used to define the scope of a process including the types of problems one might face in the analysis of the process-in-scope. Besides the relationships between the process-in-scope, upstream or downstream processes, relevant documents, stakeholders etc this diagram focuses also on issues like:

  • input problems
  • output problems
  • problems with controls
  • problems with enablers

This framework could be used for capturing and documenting the IGOE’s of what an organisation does.

  • Input - information, materials, people
  • Guide - policies, strategies, regulations, law
  • Enablers - systems, equipments, tools, assets
  • Output - results, deliverables, products, information, people


SIPOC Diagram

A popular scoping technique with (Lean) Six Sigma practitioners is the SIPOC diagram. It represents a high-level view of a process. It shows the SuppliersInputsProcessOutputs and Customers.

  • Customers receive or use the outputs of a process; customers are not just buyers of a product or service, but are also recipients or users of the outputs produced at every step in the process. They are regarded as stakeholders.
  • Inputs are the key requirements needed for the process to work and represent what suppliers provide.
  • Suppliers are those who provide inputs; they are also stakeholders.
  • Outputs are the results of process steps and can be used as basis of discussions with customers to identify their requirements.

SIPOC diagrams are useful for focusing a discussion and helping project team members agree upon a common language and understanding of a process for continuous process improvement. In Six Sigma, SIPOC is often used during the “define” phase of the DMAIC improvement steps.


Business Interaction Model

The purpose of a Business Interaction Model (BIM) is to provide a helicopter view of the business interactions between identified actors that play a role in the business domain-in-scope.

A common development approach is as follows:

  • identify actors within the business domain-in-scope
  • identify customers and their interactions
  • identify suppliers and their interactions
  • identify relevant competitorsregulators and external parties as required

Like a Rummler-Brache Relationship Map this diagram provides a convenient way to graphically establish boundaries on the processes to be considered for further examination. 



The common characteristics of the presented scope diagrams are that they all try to get a better understanding of the business process-in-scope and enhance the communication to the stakeholders.

Undoubtedly it is a very useful but underestimated modelling technique among business process practitioners. Indeed, ideally, ‘scoping’ should be done first before embarking on extensive process mapping initiatives.

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