Today I am going to cry a little – oh no, change of mind – I rather offer some comfort. These days I started to play around with a security gadget, familiarized myself with the subject matter and today I had the first questions. I found a forum to discuss this new technology. Nice fit, so I quickly placed a question in the forum. Continue reading “Plenty of time is an underestimated power on the Internet”
At Fujitsu, a Lean Management methodology called Sense&Respond® is widely used for service delivery in many areas to achieve improvements in IT operations. Some time ago I was interested in this methodology, then it became fascinating and about 2.5 years ago the idea came up to use it in my area, i.e. for presales consultants.
We are a team of Presales consultants for End User Services, which means that we are many times on the road in different projects to advise customers, to explore the business value of Workplace, to develop solutions together, to submit offers or to solve problems.
Applying Lean Management encountered two typical answers. First, “Lean is old and obsolete, why don’t you do something agile?” or second, “Lean is for production, not for consulting.
If you agree with me, I might be able to stimulate you to read (and imitate) the following keywords:
- In the key area “Blueprints” we have increased twice as much productivity
- We have our training 100% under control, which is a real advantage in view of the current rapid developments in the Workplace area.
- Overtime and travel times (approx. 30% of the time) are far lower than the market average, and
- We actually know our value as advisers to the client, which means we know what to deal with and which is trash.
The problem was indeed all lean management methodologies and testimonials revolve around products or services. Usually an ongoing manufacturing process in which the entire team has a common task. For us, only the “consulting” approach is similar, the current “business value creation” products are very different. It was therefore quite a journey to apply Lean Methodologies to our consultants. I would like to tell you about this trip in the following article, but an important warning first.
A mindset like Lean unfolds its value, in such a way that team members themselves raise potential for improvement and one responds to it together, hence the name of the method Sense&Respond: Recognize something and react appropriately to it.
If you check out our methods, please take them as an example. It could be that they are useless for your area (but of course they can be sensational). Tools and methods are a construction kit that has to be adapted. Methods must not be a meaningless extra work, rather they must have a value.
Lean Management is a journey with errors and insights, I cannot switch it on by a switch or delegate it to a quality team. So you are warned.
My team is spread all over Germany, that actually worked quite well in the past, but the spatial distribution is not exactly conducive for the introduction of Lean Sense&Respond. For the first steps like defining the mission it took us a long time and the first problem Solving Sessons lasted forever. In fact, small sub-groups are responsible for speeding up the process, preparing and coordinating a measure for the most part. The preparing steps may seem like fulfilling a duty, but they create a sound shared understanding.
The most noticeable breakthrough for me was Quality Function Deployment (QFD). We asked our internal and external customers what they really wanted from us and why. So what do you want from a presales team, not what do you want from the services we help to sell. We already knew many of the points we found, but the QFD has put them in the right priority, also points have come out that serve for our further development. For example, customers prefer to have their costs reflected 1:1 on their cost center structures. The disadvantage, however, is that such a procedure changes the given price sheets. But this suggestion is absolutely vailde, because only so costs can be avoided really effectively. From the QFD we have created a set of orientation rules and consulting know-how, which allow us to estimate procedures well and also contain some No-Gos.
We have restructured our weekly virtual team meeting, this is now facilitated in turn and successes, such as concerns (Concerns) structured. Follow-up activities are derived from concerns that address the team or the organization. This can be a problem solving session, for example. The most important thing that has emerged is mutual responsibility.
When we started Sense&Respond I drowned in Concerns that were assigned to me. On the one hand because we are the first presales team at Fujitsu, i.e. our neighbours in the organisation didn’t know about it, on the other hand because we didn’t fully understand the mandate which Lean gives to each one of us and haven’t yet accepted the responsibility for it.
I have to admit that I was always uncertain during the whole journey to our own quality improvement toolbox. Many of the methods and procedures we invented turned out to be useless in version 1.0 after a few months. They started to smell like bureaucracy, were annoying or information graves. We have sharpened our methods for the third time in the last 2.5 years. Some of them were actually only polished up because they had forgotten over time that this method is valuable and others were completely rebuilt or thrown overboard. In general, one can say whenever we create a new methodology or approach: It typically takes a year or a redesign to get everyone’s fun going.
After months of experience with Sense&Respond, the main result is a team that works closely together to address shortcomings, improve quality and promote efficiency. Even if this has always been a very stressful time for an organisation and its clients. My team already was a great team, but now we have a deep understanding of our added values and shortcomings. We promote the added values, help each other with our imperfections, and that much more naturally than before.
I started this blog post as the beginning of a small series, because I am sure that lean methodologies will have a long future with us in the team and can also inspire other consulting teams. I will be happy to tell you more details here, but I will also be happy to talk to you at any time.
So today I want to get a little edgy about two events. The other day I read in a whitepaper about the new generation and their IT requirements, the term “Digital Immigrant” which the ” Generation X” doesn’t really understand everything about IT. For this group of people, the whitepaper had some warm words at hand.
I spoke to the business partner who proudly presented me with this work and told him: “You realize that you are insulting the current generation of IT managers? Because many of them grew up from Generation X and also with IT.
It was similar but completely different when I was approached by a young lady who said that it must have been very difficult for me to become acquainted with modern means of communication such as e-mail [sic] in my senior years. For her, that’s a piece of cake e-mail, Instagram, Facebook, everything: in the end she’s “Digital Native”.
When she found out that I got my first e-mail address with the enrollment, that at that time there was already chat, internet and the WWW. She was also surprised that we had to submit digital homework exercises in computer science. In the further discussion it turned out that she has very little knowledge about IT besides being able to install and use apps.
I think using apps is a knowledge that even the most backward digital immigrant – if he only wants to – can catch up in a few days, because apps are designed for intuitive operation.
There are certainly “digital late entrants” or even “digital ignorers” in Generation X, but in the vast majority of cases this generation has been using IT for a very long time. Just like there are still “digital dummies” today that have no idea of what they are doing other than consuming.
I think the first Digital Natives are people like Tim Berners-Lee or Grace Hopper. I also think it would be nice if as many people as possible were interested in the backgrounds “What is the WWW?”, “How does a network work?”, “How does an app work?” or “How does the technology behind Facebook work? That helps a lot in the modern world to be able to form a solid opinion. This may also be part of the educational canon for Digital Democrats.
Requirements for IT systems for the Digital Natives generation are always requirements for better usability, consistency or interaction. Mostly exactly what all IT users want. Stop putting labels on people of any generation! We humans don’t fit sorted to labels. Thank you!
I’d rather fix things than throw them away and re-order them. But getting an 80-ies Simon (Senso) running again is a real highlight.