In 2002 I first read about Edward Deming and the quality revolution. I started a mini-website at my job (almost a blog) on this called “Quality is Zero” or something similar based on Joseph Juran’s idea that the cost of quality is zero. I did not understand much about it but thought it made a lot of sense. That was my introduction to continous improvement, statistical analysis, toyoto production system, The Goal novel and its Theory of Constraints stuff from Goldratt and Lean Thinking. Over the years I learned about all of them and started adding various tools in my kit.
Working in DFC I came across the Business Excellece team. They do a great job of teaching a governmental service organisation in the welfare sector to work on business principles especially around quality and project management. All my previous learning started triggering and I started to use them. A short project called the Business Improvement Challenge provided me more opportunity to use it. But I actually never got to use it fully in my real work.
In Families SA, doing the project management stuff I realised the value of using Agile techniques pioneered in the software world. They learned it from Deming and the quality revolution. Once I read The Toyota Kata, it all connected back to me. Agile is Deming for the non-manufacturing world but based on the improvements done by Toyota in a project management framework. It just made sense to use it that way.
My work over the years has always been a starter/fixer kind of work. I join new projects or enter into the current ones which are in a crisis mode. I have done that all my life. Over the years I have learnt by making many mistakes how to get these things going. My interest in technology start-ups and my two failed ventures notwithstanding that is what I have done. Kind of a intrapreneur.
The lean startup movement actually fits very well with all of this and I intend to use the tools in this area in my work with the social sector.
The good thing I am seeing is that I am actually meeting people now who respect business frameworks, principles and somebody like me to get the job done. That is making the entire difference in my ability to use my skill sets.
Steve Jobs in this 2005 commencent speech mentioned how you have to do things now that makes sense for you but you can only connect back to them in hindsight and it will all make sense. That is exactly what I am seeing now. A decade of learning built around what I found interesting and important is all starting to make sense now.