Category Archives: Quality

Do you have “Plan Continuation Bias”?

Video Presentation

Symptoms

You have probably been in the situation, maybe it was you or perhaps it was your boss or a relative.

Something happens, something unexpected or at least unplanned.  Your project was moving along; your evening out was scheduled and paid for; you were driving to your destination; the business was OK.

Then something happened that you did not expect: a change in the project reveals that you are going to be over-budget or miss the deadline; on the evening you were going to go out, you are tired, maybe starting a cold, it’s raining; you have a flat tyre, a major client cancels their order. What do you do?

Many of us will naturally suffer the consequences of “Plan Continuation” or “Sunken Costs” biases. This means that they will prefer the status quo to the need to revise everything:

  • You have already invested so much in this project; it would be a waste not to continue
  • You paid for the tickets, your friends are waiting; you will go on this evening out even if it kills you
  • You abandon your car with the flat tyre for another day and grab a taxi
  • I’m sure that business will pick up again soon

You don’t take a few minutes to think what is reasonable considering the changed context, you keep on going as planned – even though things are obviously different and you should stop wasting more time and money, you should call your friends and cancel, whatever it takes.

Corrective Measures

There is an engineering principle, perhaps largely forgotten today that encourages to have regular cycles of formal reviews throughout the development, each with a systematic risk and benefit analysis and a formal decision to stop or continue the project. By forcing the review into the cycle, you avoid the personal bias trap and are asked formally to justify why you should continue.

In today’s world, change is the norm. Someone is about to invent something that will make your work obsolete or old-fashioned, clients change their mind at the worst moment, pandemics challenge your team management methodologies.

By focusing on risk management (and service continuity), you should be continuously questioning what could go wrong, what might happen and build yourself some room, some changing room.

Evolutive Change Management

Work needs to focus more on context and outcomes, rather than on plans, KPIs and attendance records.

Focusing your transformation effort on the plan and the final result is deterministic and frequently leads to failure.   The first serious obstacle stops progression and we return to what we know,

Stop

Think.

Every day.

Start where you are today, determine the next step to take to reach your “true North”.  Remember that every change is a risk; if you don’t manage it, it has a high probability of becoming a problem.

Feedback: corrective or criticism?

Feedback is there to help you and not to hurt you.  And yet, many people seem offended when points out problems.

https://www.custominsight.com/images/feedback.jpg

Feedback as criticism

I recently asked a question on Twitter and (perhaps I could have phrased it better) and got attacked in response.

A minor celebrity put up a post in which was mentioned “table d’haute”; I replied with the statement “‘table d’hôte’ surely?”.  The response I received was that it was unacceptable for me to correct a person with Parkinson’s disease.  I received further comments from his followers attacking me for being mean and petty, congratulating him on his “superior way of putting people back in their box”, asking me what pleasure I derived from pointlessly correcting people, etc.  One person sent me the following message:

“Is the buzz you get from correcting someone better or worse than the guilt of highlighting someone’s struggle for no good reason? If yes, then continue down your current path, but my God it sounds dark and lonely.”

The original person, the one who had originally confused the two homophones in a language that was not his, is a man whom I respect and I really expected a reply something like “oops, yes, of course”, instead of publicly complained about my lack of EQ for attacking a man with Parkinson’s.

Feedback as risk management

I am currently reading the brilliant book “No Rules Rules” by Reed Hastings, CEO and founder of Netflix, and Erin Meyer, whose book “The Culture Map” is a must-read for anyone working internationally.

Reed Hastings promotes candid feedback at every level within his organisation.  He believes that being told what worked well or badly is of great benefit to the organisation:

“A feedback loop is one of the most effective tools for improving performance. We learn faster and accomplish more when we make giving and receiving feedback a continuous part of how we collaborate. Feedback helps us to avoid misunderstandings, creates a climate of co-accountability, and reduces the need for hierarchy and rules.”

Years ago, I had developed the design for an international accounting software, calculating taxes as needed for any sale, including the rules for sales tax, VAT, GST and PST, and others.  I presented it to the team and asked them to rip holes in it and tell me why the system was not ideal, what would not work, what were the mistakes.  The team hesitated and thought that I was fishing for compliments until I insisted that as long as the concepts were only ideas on paper, it was easy to correct.  Later, it will become very onerous if it doesn’t work.

Feedback as critique

There are two classes of feedback:

  1. Comforting feedback tells you what a great person you are, gives you a warm feeling for a few moments, but are largely useless.
  2. Constructive feedback tells you what you need to check, correct, improve, change.  It may be hard to hear, but the correct response to any feedback perceived as “negative” should be to look into what was misunderstood or construed, what lessons are to be learned, and how you can improve.

Of course, one’s ego frequently stands between hearing the feedback and understand it’s benefits.  This rapidly becomes a problem in which people do not dare point out to their managers or others where things are going wrong and need correction, or even report risks to their hierarchy.

Design a Culture for Innovation

World Quality Day 2020Online, interactive workshop

There is no future without innovation.  If you believe that your business will remain the way it is/was in the best of times, you are ready to be replaced by Artificial Intelligence, by robotics.  You will rapidly drown in routine and maintenance.  Young, dynamic people will not see you as a place they want to join, bored staff will not really want to stay, clients will upgrade to your competition.

The future lies in your ability to change, improve, invent, innovate.

An innovative culture will attract the best people in your business, improve staff and customer retention, and your leadership position will attract more.  But, can you design a culture?  Do you understand the implications of culture on innovation, quality and customer retention?  In this workshop, I will help you identify the need, the objective, and the way forward.

I can provide you with support and guidance on how to do that through my workshop on designing a culture for innovation.  This is not a webinar; it is a workshop to help you design a culture for innovation.  You will be expected to participate, answer questions, make suggestions, and, ultimately, start building your improvement plan.  This is aimed at being practical, based on what is happening in your work environment and cultural issues.  However, don’t worry, everything is completely anonymous.  (Even those participating in the workshop will not be able to relate your statements to you unless you allow it.)

The purpose of the workshop is to get you to start considering what needs changing in your environment, and how you can get it initiated or finalized.

Design a Culture for Innovation

Designing Quality

Designing Quality into your Learning Experience

In December 2019, I held a webinar on e-learning and quality, in the context of the “Learning Design Summit”.  According to the organiser, my talk had one of the highest percentages of positive feedback, giving it a little green “award” on the feedback page.  You can see the (recorded) talk on my Youtube page hereunder.

The full version of the talk, including extended introduction and Q&A at the end, can be found at https://youtu.be/6ihDUCY8-m0 and the “slides” used in the presentation (including links to the source material) is available at https://prezi.com/view/TxgE7tNcI7HxEdNEhQCM/.