About Wayne McKinnon
As a foot note in history, Wayne once worked as a member of the team that assembled the particle detectors used in nuclear physics to discover the first evidence of quarks.
Wayne no longer works with the building blocks of the universe; instead he works with the building blocks of organizations. Unlike the tiny quark, the results that Wayne achieves for his clients are visible and have an extended lifetime.More
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Category Archives: Moving to Work of Higher Value
What can business learn from Fernando Alonzo’s F1 crash?
Formula one racing used to be largely a make-it-up-as-you-go effort. Back in the day, Colin Chapman, head of Lotus cars was famous for his ability to “add lightness.” In both his automotive designs, and for the design of his race cars he was said to design a race car frame, and then start removing structural tubes until the frame broke and then put the last one they removed back in. That would be the best that could be done in terms of strength and lightweight.
I’m not really sure if this was how it was done but to be sure, engineering has come a long way since the 1960s and 1970s.
Contrast that with what we can see in the video footage from Fernando Alonzo’s crash at the Australian grand prix race in 2016. Through continual refinement of racetrack design, car design, race rules, and pit stop activities, not much is left to chance.
Of particular note:
-The sliver of run-off room positioned at just the right location to allow the trajectory of the car to slow before coming to a stop. This chute covered with sand was not there by accident.
-The destruction of the race car around the driver in order to dissipate energy while leaving the cockpit in tact to protect the driver
-The padding above the driver’s shoulders, strategically positions not only to limit head movement, but also to contain the driver’s arms so that in a rollover, the drivers arms are contained, preventing the reflex action of trying to reach the arms out to catch the fall.
-If all of that is not enough, just watch the speed of the pit stop mid way through the video.
Watch the video, and then jump to the bottom of this post and see if you can add any lessons to my list below:
How can we learn from this?
In the business world, it certainly seems that the pace of change has quickened. Many business teams attempt to educate the business units that they serve that they need to leave lead-time for responding to requests. They also build processes that do not allow for exceptions. Why not take lessons from formula one and instead learn to expect exceptions and plan for them?
- Alonzo’s crash was an exception and rather than simply relying on prevention of the incident, steps were taken to think things through in advance and prepare a response (run-off room and protective devices.)
- In addition, we can see the efficiency of the process of responding to the white car’s request for fuel. Because they had assembled all of the processes, supplies and equipment into an efficient pit stop service, the team was able to quickly take advantage of an opportunity that suddenly appeared during the race.
- The pit crew did not insist on advanced notice and long lead times for fuel.
As an aside, note that in order to monitor race car ride-heights,
- rather than build in some high-tech solution, these race cars just use a simple piece of plywood strapped to the bottom of the car. After the race, officials can inspect this piece of wood for scuff marks to determine if the team had broken the rules by lowering its suspension too much during the race.
Advancement and moving to work of higher value does not always require high-tech solutions but it does require forethought, process design, and a continual improvement approach to ensuring that the desired results are achieved.
Scroll down and leave a reply if you'd like to share other ideas that occurred to you while watching this video.
Moving to work of higher value is more than simply a noble idea. In my opinion, for the team that you manage, or for you as an individual, it is an absolute necessity.
I believe, in fact, that moving to work of higher value is the absolute key to your entire organization’s survival. Things change, and what was once in demand will eventually die out. What once required workers soon becomes automated. The demand drops as specialized skills and scarce resources become commodities, or become altogether obsolete.
Obvious examples from the past include elevator operators in buildings and welders on assembly lines, both no longer needed when their jobs were automated (the welders), or simply no longer in demand, perhaps simplified to the point that the customer can easily perform the task themselves (operating elevators and depositing money in bank machines). In the case of the welders, robots automatically performed the work with more precision and consistency. The task of the elevator operator has been simplified enough through technology to the point that specialized skills are no longer needed to guide the elevator to the desired floor. The same thing is happening to geologists, technologist, doctors, and lawyers as well as general laborers and even brews masters, and ironically, technologists.
Which is the better way to deal with adversity, believing that next time will be easier or harder?
New Years Resolution – How Bad Do You Really Want It?
It’s that time of year again and as in the past, my first article of the year deals with new years resolutions.
For some people losing weight is their new years resolution, and they attempt that primarily through goal setting, and goals and primarily expected to be achieved by vocalizing it, sharing it and, hoping.
Hoping is not going to get you there, whether it is fitness, or career aspirations.
My wife and I were talking last night about life and what got us to where we are, as well as the things that have held us back. When I boil it all down to the essence, any change or lack of change seems to be anchored in beliefs, and beliefs can only be altered through exposure to other ways. In my case, from a very early age I sought out people who were older and wiser for advice. My dad was in the military and around the kitchen table I always heard how people on “Civvy Street” made more money. I set off in life to find this place called Civvy Street and talk to some of the civilians who lived there to learn from them the lessons to their success, and along the way I learned not only their lessons, but also become comfortable integrating into various social and economic circles that were different from mine, hopefully taking the best lessons from each world while question beliefs both old and new.
I like this word integration. Integration of immigrants into society is a good example of how over the generations, the fabric of North America has changed as people have mingled and shared their beliefs. European immigrants after the world wars brought with them a strong work ethic, many having left their homes with nothing but a desire to provide a better life for their children. Meanwhile U.S. industrialists and entrepreneurs held an “anything is possible” outlook. When children from the two families get together as society integrates, with the combined exposure to strong work ethic and anything is possible, incredible things can happen. Unfortunately other beliefs may limit success in some areas, for example, if a person who had to do without, raised their children to believe that if someone offers you food you always take it, the children will likely struggle with weight as adults.
Career success works the same way. I worry that many young adults entering the work force may have been shielded from hardship or hard work, stayed within a single social or economic circle, and as a result may not be well equipped. Perhaps it is a belief that a person’s value is only in the time and effort they expend, rather than what they achieve. Maybe they believe something different and lack the work ethic to live the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed in their parent’s home. When my daughter was twelve she wanted something badly, and we wouldn't give it to her. After trying various ways to influence us, finally in frustration she blurted out “I know that you have the money, just give it to me!” We took that as a sign. We instantly re-evaluated the expectations that we were setting and she quickly learned that she could have anything that she wanted, but she had to be the one to earn it, she couldn't come to us. Today as an adult she has a very strong work ethic and is doing well in her career.
So, back to new years resolutions and what it is that you want, and how your belief system can help or hinder you in achieving your goals.
Weight loss example – You will struggle if you believe:
• There will be a shortage of food so you better stock up while you can or otherwise be forever hungry
• You can hoard food in your stomach for use later
• I haven't tried one of those and may never have a chance again
• Good food shouldn’t go to waste so I had better eat it all now
• Its just a small piece, my body won’t even notice the difference.
• Two weeks effort and I’ll be where I want to be again.
In my case my belief system was very different when it came to food and fitness. I was extremely goal oriented as well as actually struggled to gain weight. I trace this to my belief as a kid that eating was an activity that got in the way of the physical activities and other things that I wanted to spend my time on. Couple this with my goal oriented behaviours and you see before you a person who never had to work at being fit, was not overweight, skips meals, yet plows through a bowl of popcorn as if an empty bowl was a goal worth achieving. Fortunately it was just popcorn and not chocolate layer cake.
I also learned in my teens that two weeks in the gym would make me buff for the summer, and if I started to sag, another two weeks and I’d be fit again (kind of the equivalent of a crash diet but with gaining weight through muscle instead). As an active teenager with lots of fresh testosterone, that actually worked, but now I’m old and I’ve had to change those beliefs. If you want to achieve your goals, and more importantly, sustain the desired outcome, you may have to change your beliefs as well.
Here is the approach that created for myself and that I used to get back in shape. It also works very well for business goals and work ethic as well:
Step 1. Just show up.
Sure it takes s more that showing up, but before you can accomplish anything you have to at least show up. That means getting into routines, and routine take a while to become routine. I subscribe to the idea that you can adapt to a new routine in 30 days, so, for 30 days, at least force yourself to show up. Organize your schedule, prepare the day before, do whatever it takes to remove the obstacles to showing up. I wanted to cycle. Over the winter I chose to attend a spin class but kept missing it, so I learned to pack my gym bag the night before. If I did miss it, at least I would still get to the gym and wonder around for a while pretending to work out. Within thirty days I was showing up on time regularly. Step 1 is just show up.
Step 2. Don't leave
If you are as badly out of shape as I was, a spin class is hard. After the ten-minute warm-up I was physically done. Since I felt that I could not keep up for the rest of the class and my body was already exhausted, I’d leave. Don't leave. Instead of believing that I had to follow the instructor (especially when they were singling me out and trying to motivate me to do more) I would just put my head down, ignore everyone and just pedal until the end. The older ones understood, but my approach infuriated some young instructors.
No matter, my belief was that if I worked too hard initially, my brain would convince me to leave, and I believed that I had to do whatever it took to stay until the end. I believed that if I kept doing this each day, I would get stronger and be able to participate longer than the day before. I did not believe that I was there to make the instructor happy, or that this was a quick fix.
Step 3. Divide the work
Now that you are showing up consistently, AND not leaving, it is time to take it to the next level. For me this was after approximately 60 days. (Hey, it took years to put on the weight and to lose heart and muscle fitness, you don't think it is going to come back in one-week do you?)
I have been told by medical experts that it isn't so much that you can't compete at the same level when you get older, its just that it takes longer to recover. In my spin class example, I would always work hard at the beginning, but then once exhausted, just put my head down and tell myself not to leave, but as my fitness improved I was able to join back in and work hard again for the last part of the hour. While the longest part of the hour for me was the recovery part in the middle, eventually that became shorter and the two periods of high effort at the beginning and end would increase in duration. I believe it is the high effort at the beginning that eventually allowed me to participate longer, not simply the time with my head down keeping my legs moving, but I needed that part with my head down in order to train my brain to overcome the urges to leave and eventually the endurance to pain or boredom.
Step 4. Drive hard all the way
Eventually my workout became a solid hour sprint, and then with a new goal of riding on a cycle tour 700kms one way and another 700kms back the next day, I started doing two hour-long classes back to back, and eventually three before the roads cleared of snow and I could put in some real road miles.
During every step. Ask yourself how bad do you want it?
A friend of mine who was aware of my goal to do this big cycle tour commented to me after I had completed it, “Congratulations on the ride, that must have been the hardest thing you have ever done!” Actually no it wasn’t. There were a few challenges along the way with not eating right on day one and becoming dehydrated on day two, but those were easily overcome with a rest stop and some fluids. In reality my 6-hour ride felt like about an hour or two. I now realize that during my physical training I was also doing a significant amount of mental training. You can't just white-knuckle it, that would have been hard. You have to train your body and your brain and perhaps modify your beliefs.
From the book “How Bad Do You Want IT” one of the stories that Author Matt Fitzgerald tells is of six-time Ironman winner Mark Allen who describes endurance racing as “ a test of you as a person on top of a test of you as an athlete.” He describes how Allen lost Ironman six times as a result of mental self-sabotage before he allowed his struggles to change him and he began to win. To paraphrase Fitzgerald, the author also makes the point that no tools (coping skills) learned from sport psychologists (and I would suggest any psychologists,) can match the power of lived experiences in developing coping skills. It is when you have these tools, AND experience a crisis that you change your coping style and perhaps your belief systems.
You can apply your new beliefs to anything from being able to walk past a plate of brownies (I believe that will cost me a week in the gym), to tackling that huge report that you have to write for your boss (I no longer believe that I should leave it until the last minute since I don't really work as well under pressure as I once believed).
What is your new years resolution?
What do you need to believe in order to achieve your goals in the New Year? One of my beliefs that I established very early in life was that if others could do something, so can I. All I had to do was figure out how. If someone told me I would never be able to do something, my internal voice responded with “just watch me!” My internal voice repeated that phrase to me so often as I was growing up that it became my natural response. I have no idea where or when those words popped into my head but I am glad that they did. At one point in my life however I recall that voice changing. I was shocked when in response to some critic telling me something was not possible, I heard the words “you are probably right.” What an unproductive period of time that led to! Instead, with the words “just watch me” I believe that I am an excellent problem solver, can achieve anything that I set my mind to so either hop on board or get out of my way. Meanwhile, author Matt Fitzgerald believes that “MORE is the only answer to the question “how bad do you want it?”
Getting recognition at work is not a goal, it is a by-product of putting in the effort to accomplish things. Just as losing weight or making money are simply by-products of your goals. Achieving those goals requires endurance, and once you have built up both your skills and your endurance pushed forward by strong beliefs, what once seemed like work now feels almost effortless.
I believe that I can do anything, just watch me. You can too. What will you believe this year?
Many people don't realize that you don't have to be a twitter user in order to read tweets. Instead you can simply go to a person's twitter home page and read the content.
I've included some of my recent ones below, and here is the link if you want to read more. www.twitter.com/m2hv I've created a nice short twitter name @M2HV Wayne McKinnon
M2HV is also a shorter to type web address for the "Moving To Work of Higher Value" blog
Lets stop designing services that rely on heroics efforts. Phone booths are getting harder to find
Steve Jobs would never have approved the system update that made the iPhone worse. From what I gather he was a stickler for detail and perfection.
Not long after his passing, a new “hipper” version of the iPhone operating system delivered pastel colours to our screens. Here is one example of the unintended affects of that change.
A previous release added the “past" feature to the screen so that the user could copy a phone number from any other app, and insert it here to place a call.
Where did that feature go?
I only happen to know because I used the phone when that feature was first released. How many new iPhone owners have no idea that this now hidden feature even exists?
The lesson here is to know your customers and what they value.
While there are plenty of manufacturers of shiny objects, apple has typically appealed to people who value ease of use, otherwise they would not have won over so many Microsoft customers. If Apple abdicates this position, who will step up to take their place?
Are you clear about what your customers value most?
Not being paid what you are worth? Maybe the output that you generate is no longer as valuable...
Today’s topic is about the value of your contribution to the organization. Some companies find that the results of jobs they paid handsomely for can now be obtained much more easily, or perhaps may no longer even be required. (Camera film and photofinishing come to mind). A master technician skilled at making photographic film is just not worth very much when the demand for their services is so low in a digital world, or if the service they provide has become so simple that it can be easily automated.
Likewise a manager of a thriving operation is much more valuable to that organization than they are to an organization that has set its sights much lower.
It is less about what a person with a title is paid, and much more about the need for that person with that title in the first place. Need is based on desired outcomes, not on vacancies in a company org. chart.
While the phrase “Don’t you know who I am” may illustrate the likelihood that you can produce a specific set of result based on past performance, it says little about how much those results are worth.
This topic seems to be a perfect fit today for two reasons:
1) It fits neatly in between part I and part II of my other topics that I am publishing this week
2) It is the anniversary of Steve Job's death, and a good reminder of the thinking that he brought to the technology world.
Pay particular attention to what he says about technology as a starting point, rather than business results that people do need. Also note his view of where specific technologies fit within the bigger picture.
These are valuable lessons for internal I.T. folks to grasp.
Not being paid what you are worth? Maybe it isn’t about you…
In one of my first jobs out of school, the engineering company that I worked for lost some valuable long-standing contract. After busting our butts all year, putting in heroic efforts and looking forward to our first raise, my junior colleagues and I did not receive the increase that we were promised.
In response, my colleague Pat announced that he was not working any harder until they paid him more. In fact, he did very little work at all, even the type of work he had previously done at his old salary.
I wondered out loud to Pat, what about the level of work that you are already being paid for? Should you not at least be delivering to that pre-agreed level?
Pat was eventually asked to leave. He had reneged on his agreement.
The company had also reneged on their agreement, and I chose to leave the company shortly after. I continued to put in my full share of effort until my final day. Word came all the way down from the company president to my director, to offer Wayne what it takes to keep him. My response was that it was too late and they would be wasting their money because I would probably still leave.
A company running on hard times is a different creature as compared to a job whose output is less valuable than it once was. Saving a company that is going through a temporary downturn by financing the company’s survival on the backs of hard working employees who deserve more is simply unfortunate but sometimes necessary. Our contractually agreed to raises were being used to subsidize the company’s marketing efforts.
The companies who have done this well reward the workers who are sharing the risk with a share in the future profits. The companies who simply take advantage of their employees lose their star performers while retaining the deadwood.
The problem with many projects is that the measures of success are often simply "on time-on budget."
Safety and rework often fall outside of that scope, and are accounted for out of other budgets rather than the project's budget.
There is no incentive to do the work in a more effective or efficient manner. In fact, there are often disincentives
I get paid to solve these kind of problems, but that brings up another problem:
The motivation and interest in having these problems solved is nobody's problem. Why should V.P.1 care about V.P. 2's budget or resources, particularly when the leader of the two V.P.s is nowhere to be found, disinterested, or conveniently blinded by half truths?
That is the reality for many organizations
I frequently state that people don’t need technology, they need the results that technology provides. Here is a great example where the value of the efforts of esighteyewear engineers is difficult to measure, but you'll know it when you see it.