Friday, May 18, 2012
Revisiting continuous improvement in knowledge work
What constitutes continuous improvement in knowledge work?
- Continually root out all waste
Strive to make tacit knowledge explicit
- What wastes your time?
- What wastes your talents and capabilities?
- What is being redone that could be automated or templated?
- Delve into why you do what you do. Is it all necessary and efficient?
- Who else has solved this problem? Must you resolve it?
- What do you do that creates no value (in the eyes of the customer)?
- What processes are in place only because of inertia? What can be eliminated?
- How can errors be eliminated (take them one at a time, error by error)? How can errors or defects be identified as early as possible?
- What don't we know about what we are doing? How can we better understand it?
Establish measurable goals
- Are you making dumb mistakes? Specify work as simple checklists.
- What can be automated?
- What can be streamlined with standard parts like templates, boilerplate and copy and paste?
- Can you use the Pareto principle to make the easy 80% effortless while freeing time for the more challenging 20%
Specify how team members should communicate
- How can your process and goals become measureable?
- How can your process become more visual?
- How much measurement do you need to reduce uncertainty to make informed decisions?
Use the scientific method to solve problems quickly
- What can be communicated through shared resources such as databases and knowledge bases?
- How can you effectively communicate (i.e., share information) with others without interrupting them (answers on demand)?
- Who needs to know what? Who does not need to know what (so don't bother her)?
- What facts are needed to resolve common questions?
- What are your most common errors or situations that arise? Can they be pre-solved once rather than re-solved every time they occur?
- What is an error and what is a style preference? Who resolves style preferences?
Recognize that your processes are always a work in progress
- Have you defined the problem?
- What evidence defines the problem?
- What evidence would indicate that the problem has been solved?
- What evidence shows that your changes are improvements?
- Has your candidate solution solved the problem? If not, try another.
Improve knowledge and skills
- Do you realize that your job is not to do your job, but to do your job better?
Have leaders blaze the trail
- What have you learned?
- What do you need to learn?
- How can you learn it?
- Does management emphasize continuous improvement frequently and over a long time span?
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continuous improvement, knowedge work