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Last Updated on November 12, 2017

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.

              More by this author

              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

              9 Game Changing Tips on How to Write Goals (and Reach Them!) Creative Brain Test: 10 Best Ways To Test Your Creative Intelligence How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills for a Sharper Mind

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              Last Updated on September 17, 2018

              How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

              How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

              Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

              Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

              All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

              Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

              How bad really is multitasking?

              It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

              Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

              This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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              We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

              So what to do about it?

              Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

              Now, forget about how to multitask!

              Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

              1. Get enough rest

              When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

              This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

              When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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              2. Plan your day

              When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

              When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

              Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

              3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

              I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

              I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

              Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

              4. When at your desk, do work

              We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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              Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

              5. Learn to say no

              Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

              Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

              By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

              6. Turn off notifications on your computer

              For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

              Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

              7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

              Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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              You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

              The bottom line

              Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

              Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

              Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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