Secret to Enabling a Paradigm Shift

Do you have a paradigm? Yes, of course; we all do. Paradigms are what we use as a frame of reference for whatever we do. Paradigms are our boundaries that tell us what to do in order to be successful within those boundaries. Here are some examples of how paradigms can limit success:

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” – Harry M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

As you can see, paradigms can be huge inhibitors to success. To enable continuous improvement in our organizations, we need people to shift their paradigms. This can be done by engaging people to work together to see/feel the impact of improvements. Let me show you what I mean.

Let’s say you want your organization to decrease waste. First, put together a team that will lead the change on your behalf. Then invite the team to a Kaizen event and set the stage for the paradigm shift by encouraging people to get to know each other; really get to know each other. By building mutual respect among team members, you are enabling people to shift their paradigms (i.e., those with mutual respect for each other are more open to listening to and accepting new ideas from others).

Another important aspect to enabling paradigm shifts is to engage people to see and feel where improvements are needed. For example, during Kaizen events, people are asked to go out into the workplace to find examples of waste in each of the eight waste categories (defects, overproduction, waiting, non-utilized talent, transportation, inventory, motion, and extra-processing). This exercise alone is an eye-opener for many and their excitement in seeing the wastes firsthand ignites their enthusiasm for  eliminating the wastes. In addition, having groups “see” the wastes by developing value stream maps of the processes solidifies their resolve to improve the situation.

Do you see how we got people to change their paradigm? By teaching about wastes and Lean (in this instance) and allowing people to apply their knowledge by physically searching for each of the eight wastes in their workplace, they experience the waste. Then they look at the wastes in the overall process using value stream maps, all the while interacting and building mutual respect for other team members. There is no better feeling than seeing the shift in thinking from “We’ve always done it this way and it can’t be done differently” to “Wow, look at all the things we can improve to make the process even better.”

With the biggest hurdle now overcome (paradigm shift), all you need to do is maintain the momentum for continuous improvement in your organization.

Gaining Support for Records Management Programs

Mary explains that the way to gain support for a records management program is to actively engage management and staff so that they can experience the benefits, not just hear the words. By appealing to emotions, you will be on the path to obtaining “buy-in” for your records management program.

This podcast is also available as an article: Gaining Support for Records Management Programs


Clarity, Collaboration and Creativity

Mary explains what benefits she brings to the table when she is working with her clients.  These include clarity, collaboration and creativity.




Efficiency: There is Only One Best Way

It occurs to me that many people are bound by habit to repeat inefficient behaviours. Inefficient behaviours are those that require us to use more time and more steps to accomplish tasks. Sometimes we don’t even realize how inefficient we are until a faster way is demonstrated to us. Let me give you an example by talking about storing and retrieving a two-liter milk carton from the refrigerator.

In our house, we store our milk on the inside door of the fridge. Our fridge opens to the right. When I place the milk in the fridge, I place it so that the spout is facing the left side of the door when the door is open. This way, when I open the fridge, retrieving the milk carton is a simple process. Here’s how I retrieve the milk carton:

  • Using my right hand, I pick up the carton on its right side.
  • Holding the carton in my right hand, I use my left hand to open the spout.
  • Using my right hand, I pour the milk.
  • Using my left hand, I close the spout.
  • With the milk still in my right hand, I replace the carton to its position on the door with the spout once again facing the left side of the open door.

As you can see, this is a five-step process: pick up, open, pour, close, replace; and both hands are utilized efficiently. But here’s what some members of my family (who shall remain nameless) do instead.

They place the milk on the refrigerator door with the spout facing right, front or to the back of the fridge. Now here’s why this is inefficient. When I now use my right hand to pick up the milk container (remember that I’m right-handed, and for the record, so is every other individual in my family), I have to turn the carton to position the spout to pour. Not only that, I have to use two hands to maneuver the carton into the correct position. The maneuvering takes an extra two turns of the carton.

While this example may seem miniscule and the problem proportionally insignificant, you can see that there really is only one way to place the milk carton for most efficient retrieval and use by right-handed people in this particular refrigerator. So it is with anything we do at work or at home. Next time you reach for that stapler on your desk, consider how many turns of your chair or placements from hand-to-hand you have to do to retrieve and then replace the stapler. Now compound this one task with every task that you do at work or at home and you’ll see how inefficiencies, no matter how
insignificant, eat at our time. It all comes down to habit.

Commit now to change your inefficient habits. Start with only one task – determine how you can make the task more efficient and then practice with the new method for three months before moving on to another task. In the end, not only will you be more efficient, but you will gain time and decrease your stress. And in the words of Pablo Picasso, “action is the foundational key to all success.” Become successful by becoming efficient.


Identifying Processes for Improvement

In this podcast, Mary discusses how to determine if a process needs improvement. She also offers six steps on how to tell the difference between needs and requirements and breaks down customer requirement into four groups: “nice to haves,” “must haves,” “frustrators,” and “delighters.” By knowing your customers’ requirements, the organization can plan appropriate products and services.


Use Mapping to Identify Priority Improvements

Determining what process needs fixing and which one to start with is often challenging for organizations. Mary discusses how developing a sub-process map can help organizations identify their process improvement priorities.

Strategies for Multi-Generational Companies

Although rarely thought about, the need for strategies in multi-generational organizations is very important. With four different generations now comprising work forces, these generations all bring strengths and weaknesses that will impact the modern work environment. Four strategies are offered to overcome barriers. These include communicating about the different generations, asking people what they prefer, providing options, and encouraging diversity.


Future Forward with Records Management

Four steps are discussed to help implement a “future forward” records management program. They are management support, diagnosis, action plan, and implementation. Mary also suggests that organizations can save money by converting from paper to electronic storage of their documents.