Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Spy: A Secret of Process Mapping, Leading Lawyers, or Leading Pregnant Women

Spy: noun
2. a person who keeps close and secret watch on the actions and words of another or others.
3. a person who seeks to obtain confidential information about the activities, plans, methods, etc., of an organization or person, especially one who is employed for this purpose by a competitor: an industrial spy. 

verb (used without object)
5. to observe secretively or furtively with hostile intent (often followed by on or upon ).
7. to be on the lookout; keep watch.
8. to search for or examine something closely or carefully.

In the competitive business setting, some managers and leaders watch their competitors VERY closely.  They use benchmarks of their competitors to assess their own progress.  They develop products along the same line and at the same time as their competitors.  These leaders "spy" on their competitors.  Then there are leaders that watch other industries.  Those are the successful ones.  (Please go read "Blue Ocean Strategy" if you are in business, want to be in business, or are failing at business).  These leaders spy on other industries as definitions 2, 7, and 8.

A process mapping story that made its way around business schools all over recounts a British hospital that had a severe need for a change.  It had high mortality rates and communication between team members in surgery was poor. 

The solution? Staff doctors visited and viewed the Ferrari pit crew.  After all, the pit crew can change all 4 tires and fuel the car in 7 seconds. 
The Ferrari pit crew got to see a video tape of the hospital's surgery handover.  The review brought drastic suggestions and subsequently, changes.  Efficient changes.  Life-saving changes.  Now the handover is quick, everyone has a specific purpose, and the choreography is precise. For the story go here.
Here's a story that hasn't gotten around to ANY business schools: I'm chairing the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association's (KCMBA) Business Litigation Committee.  We're really attempting to ramp up participation, membership, and offer valuable things to our members this year.  One of the problems is getting a lot of good feedback.  Typically attorneys  are so loaded down it's hard to get them to really take the time to provide valuable feedback.
Enter a group of pregnant woman and new mothers.  Saundra, my wife, is pregnant with twins.  We went to the Greater Metropolitan Kansas City Mothers of Twins Club (GMKCMOTC) so Saundra and I can find others that are in similar situations as we are. 
At the meeting, the leaders wanted to get a start on planning the year's events.  The women got paper and pens and shared why they are a part of the group and what they expect from membership.  A group of touchy, feely mothers came up with a year's plan through a ten minute exercise.
Well, so did the KCMBA Business Litigation Committee . . . Each attorney got a note pad and wrote those exact answers to their membership in the business litigation committee.  Now we know what they will participate in and what they value.  Our offerings will be precise and valued. 
Get your eyes out of your industry and watch another.  When you bring it to your industry, it'll be creative and innovative.  And chances are it'll be successful.
"I spy with my little eye . . ."

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