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Stop Thinking Out Of The Box, It’s Time To Go High Def

Stop Thinking Out Of The Box, It’s Time To Go High Def

Whenever I hear someone say “think outside the box”, I start to wonder why there is a box in the first place. Personally, I don’t think inside the box, I don’t think outside the box, I don’t even know where the box is!

We constrain our self when we box ourselves in. When we do this, we fail to see solutions outside of the status quo. If you have boxed yourself in… simply get rid of the box. For me, Lean Six Sigma helps to remove the box.

Think of watching a movie in high definition (HD), can you recall what an image looked like prior to HD television? Similarly, looking at the world through the lens of a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt or Master Black Belt provides us a high-resolution and clear image of a problem.

    Lean Six Sigma is a skill that will not only improve our metacognitive capacity, but a skill that will improve our earning capacity as well. Some of the most successful businesses in the world use this as well. This one skill set will not only transform the way you think, but it will also make you extremely marketable to top organizations looking for change agents and problem solvers.

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    What is Lean Six Sigma?

    Lean Six Sigma is an unconventional problem-solving approach that forces you to literally think outside the box. Some of the most successful people to walk this planet have used it. Jack Welch used it to transform General Electric and powerful companies such a Toyota and Amazon use it and similar approaches every day to radically improve their organization.

      Lean Six Sigma is a customer focused and data-driven problem-solving method with the goal of improving quality, cost, and speed. It uses the DMAIC problem-solving methodology, where you:

      • Define the problem
      • Measure the baseline
      • Analyze the process and find the root-cause of the problem
      • Improve the process and implement best solutions
      • Control the process and sustain the gains

      Lean Six Sigma not only allows us the ability to solve a problem, but it educates us on what a problem is. A problem is essentially a gap between how we view reality and what reality actually is. It is a framework for understanding our paradigm and our mental models within the world we live in.

      Now that you have a basic understanding of what it is and why you should learn it, let’s take a look at my top 4 tools and techniques within Lean Six Sigma.

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      Learning to See by Mapping Out Your Process

      The first thing we must understand is that we must see the process and stop operating blind. You can learn to see by mapping out your process.

      By mapping out the process from point to point, we find it easier to uncover waste. Furthermore, by mapping out a process we start to see an accurate picture with a higher resolution.

      5-Why

        Are you ready for a technique you mastered at the age of five, yet you forgot how to use? Simply (and annoyingly!) ask “Why?” over and over again.

        The 5-Why technique is an extremely powerful and valuable tool allowing us the ability to peel away the layers of symptoms to get to the core of the problem.

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        Remove Waste

          Waste in a process is whatever the customer defines it as. Once the customer defines his or her value, we must then prioritize our value-added activities.

          First, immediately eliminate all non-value added activities that do not serve a purpose. Second, look at reducing the amount of non-value added required activities. These are things that add no value, yet are required by law or regulatory guidance.

          One simple way to do this is to ask, “Why are we doing this?” and “Do we still need to do this?” Third, optimize those value-added activities, which are the things that are already working.

          Pareto Principle

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            Using the 80/20 rule (based on the Pareto Principle), we can identify the 20% of actions causing 80% of the problem. Or looking at it from a different angle, we can identify the 20% of actions bringing in 80% of the profit. Named after Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto Principle uses a Pareto chart, which is simply a visual aid for identifying “pain” or “opportunity” areas.

            Seeing Beyond the Problem

            Lastly, I recommend Blooms Taxonomy of Learning to determine if you are actually seeing a problem in HD. This is a good tool to use to make sure you are using your metacognitive skills and not simply regurgitating information.

              Here are some questions to ask yourself:

              • Can you define or describe the problem?
              • Do you comprehend the meaning of the problem?
              • Can you apply the information you have?
              • Are you able to break down objects into similar parts and analyze those parts?
              • Can you rearrange or assemble ideas into a new whole?
              • Are you able to evaluate and judge information based on evidence?
              • Can you solve the problem, create something new, and describe your thought process to someone with no understanding of the problem?

              I hope all these techniques I introduce to you can help you start to see a problem in HD and get rid of the box that stops you from coming up creative solutions.

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              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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              Last Updated on November 14, 2018

              Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out

              Have You Fallen Into the ‘Busy’ Trap? Here’s Your Way Out

              Do you find yourself constantly feeling busy? Or, maybe you feel like you have too much on your plate? Perhaps you have a to-do list with no end in sight, or many responsibilities to juggle on a daily basis at work. When you get home, you have household responsibilities to take care of, too, and it just seems like you never have much time for a breather.

              Being busy is good, it’s better than not having anything to do and letting time slip away. But, what many people don’t realize is, being busy doesn’t always mean you’re being productive. The more time you take to complete something does not equal to more success. Many people end up falling into this trap as they pack their day with tasks and errands that may sometimes produce little outcome or output for the effort that they’ve put in.

              For example, let’s say that your washing machine at home broke down and you need to fix it. Instead of calling the handyman to come, your husband decides he’s going to fix the machine. He ends up spending half a day figuring out the machine, and does eventually fix it. He did however have to make a trip to the tool shop to buy some extra tools and parts for the machine. Now, if you had called the handy man, it would probably have taken the handyman much less time, and he would have all the necessary tools and parts already, because that is his job. So in this instance, was your husband’s time and effort worth it? Oh, and because he took half the day fixing the machine, you now had to take over his duties of dropping the kids off at soccer and swim practice.

              We Need Not Be That Busy

              I hope you would agree, that it would have been ideal to delegate this task to the handyman. That would have saved you time and effort, so that you and your husband could focus on doing other things that were more important to you, like being there for your kids or spending time with each other. This is just one example of how we often impose busyness on ourselves without us even realizing it.

              But, I’m going to show you just how you can gain quality time from external sources. Whatever big goals or ambitions that you may have, it’s normal for them to involve a lot more of your time than you first expect. I’m talking about things like starting a new business, changing careers, perhaps even moving to a new city. New challenges often involve things that are outside of our experience and expertise, so covering all the bases ourselves is sometimes not feasible as it takes too much time to learn and do everything.

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              You Are Just One Person

              At the end of the day, you are just one person, and you have a limited amount of time. So, you have to do things that are meaningful to you. While an overall goal may be meaningful, not all of the milestones needed to get there may be meaningful. Because we all have our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, not every task will be enjoyable or all fun & games. Some simply require pure willpower and discipline to grind through. And that is where delegation comes in.

              What is Delegation?

              You may hear this term a lot in the business or corporate world; it’s an effective way for managers to distribute (or sometimes avoid!) work. But, that’s not what I’m referring to. Instead, delegation means leveraging time from an outside source to give you opportunities to increase your quality time. By outside source, we simply mean that it’s not your own time that you’re spending.

              What Should You Delegate?

              To delegate effectively, it has to be done with deliberate intention. So the aim of delegation is to create more quality time for yourself. There are 3 types of tasks that you should generally delegate, called the Delegation Triangle.

              The first are tasks you don’t enjoy doing. These are things that you know how to do, but don’t enjoy. Second, are tasks you shouldn’t do. These are things you know how to do and may even enjoy, but may not be the best use of your time. Third, are tasks you can’t do. These are things that need doing, but you don’t have the skills or expertise to follow through with them at this moment.

              Have a look through your daily tasks and responsibilities, and see if you can fit them under these 3 categories.

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              Pitfalls of Delegation

              Using the Delegation Triangle, you can decide which tasks are worth delegating. In theory, it might look easy to sort actions at first glance; but often, it’s actually harder than you think! 

              One such example, is diverting time on tasks you shouldn’t do. Let’s go back to the washing machine example. Your husband decides to fix it on his own instead of simply getting an expert to fix it. Why? Because it’s probably a challenge he enjoys, and it’s an accomplishment that would bring him satisfaction. However, if the value of the task is too low, you really ought to delegate it to others.

              Sometimes, when you have a larger goal in mind, you might have to sacrifice some actions in return for making progress. Always think about the bigger picture! One thing that can help you avoid this pitfall is to keep your deadlines in mind whenever you set milestones for a project or task.

              Deadlines are a commitment to yourself, and every bit of time is precious. So if an activity you’re focusing on is taking time away from progress towards your goal, it may be time to let go of it for now. You can always decide to pick it up again later.

              Then there’s the other extreme of delegation. And that’s when you start delegating everything you dislike doing to external sources.Sometimes it’s tempting to abuse delegation and get carried away outsourcing everything on your “don’t like doing” list.

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              Some people are too picky on what they’re going to do. But sometimes, if you don’t like doing so but you’re the only one who can do it, you still need to finish the job. At the end of the day, it does take your own hard work and effort to achieve the success you want.

              So if you find that you’re constantly running into this problem of over delegating, then it may be time to re-evaluate your motivation, or reason for doing whatever it is that you’re doing.

              Ask yourself, “Is this task contributing towards a meaningful objective that I want to achieve?” and “what kind of progress do I make each time I carry out the task myself?” If the task is both meaningful and creates progress, then the next step is to ask yourself questions that can help you create actions.

              What obstacles are causing you to avoid this task? Is it because of low confidence in your ability? Do you think someone else can do a better job? Is it your level of focus? Or is there an alternative action you can take that can produce the same results?

              Take Action Now

              Take a look at your current tasks or to-do’s that you have planned this week. Which tasks are possible candidates that fall under the Delegation Triangle? Are there any that fall under the pitfalls mentioned above? Which tasks can you immediately identify that should be delegated out right now?

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              I hope this exercise helps declutter your tasks and responsibilities a little and allows you to see how much more time you can be saving for more important things. But, this is not the end of delegation. After you’ve sorted out the tasks that can be delegated, the next step is to determine who it should be delegated to. Besides people like your co workers, or spouse/family members, did you know that there is a whole delegating industry out there?

              If you’re keen to learn more about this delegating industry, and find out how you can decide who’s the best fit to do your delegated tasks, subscribe to our newsletter today. We will help you discover many more skills that will boost your productivity by leaps and bounds!

              Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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