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How can leaders create a GSD world?

How can leaders create a GSD world?

I've always been a person that appreciates strategy and making "stuff" happen. When I first started down the road of my Industrial Engineering degree, there were a few sayings or observations that really resonated with me related to execution and they have stuck with me over my 20+ years in business. They are:

  • Structure Process Outcome
  • Better the imperfect answer in time than the perfect answer too late
  • Plan Do Study Act

The third one is actually a process that was developed by one of the fathers of total quality management and Industrial Engineering Edward Deming. There was a lot about Deming that aligns with my basic approach to life including his ability to recognize the importance of strategy but also the need for process improvement coupled with the impact on the human factors. His original process was published as Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) and was later modified to Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) because Deming felt that "Check" implied inspection rather than "Study" which implied analysis. Over the years, PDSA has been the cornerstone of my approach to execution. In fact…it has become so ingrained in how I naturally approach things that I don’t think I even consciously know it anymore.

I believe that PDSA is very important to us as people, parents and leaders that I think it is worth taking a moment to review Deming’s definition of each phase.

I guess as I thought about PDSA this week, it could be best summed up as “Inspect what you Expect”. As a person….as a parent…as a leader we need to be vigilant to this cycle to ensure the change, the improvement and the execution happen in all aspects of our lives. If something is important to us to accomplish no amount of “Hoping” it will just happen ever results in the desired outcome. Over the past few weeks there have been several examples where I have seen the benefit and the detriment of those that have employed PDSA and those where sheer “Hope” came into play. It’s not like the people who initiated the efforts didn't Plan (or launch), it’s that they didn't Do, Study or Act in a timely fashion. They kinda just figured it would get done and were shocked when the deadline came up that the outcomes were not there.

I have come to the conclusion that by more people implementing PDSA it could
lead to a GSD (Get “Stuff” Done) world. I also thought about an article I read recently from HBR Blogs by Doug Sundheim “Closing the Chasm Between Strategy and Execution”. (https://hbr.org/2013/08/closing-the-chasm-between-strategy-and-ex ) While I truly believe that PDSA is the key to execution, the chasm between consultants, leadership or even parent’s strategies and execution can be HUGE if there is no buy in or belief from those that are ultimately responsible for (or we are reliant on) for execution. My favorite lines in the article were, “The clean and elegant logic of strategy gets dirty in the real world. Agendas compete. Priorities clash. Decisions stall. Communication breaks down. Timelines get blown. It's never a question of if these problems will happen; it's a question of when and to what degree.” That is where I feel the beauty of PDSA comes into play so you can catch, discuss, analyze and adjust as you go along to make it more probable that strategy will be implemented successfully. I also believe strategy can be “small s” not just “BIG S”. It is a process or cycle that endures no matter what you are trying to accomplish.

Leadership questions of the week for YOU: ”Can you think of initiatives or examples recently where you used PDSA and probably didn't even realize you were doing it?” “Can you think of an example where either you (or someone else you knew) did NOT use PDSA or the initiative did not turn out as planned?” “Do you have another approach (or steps) that you have used over the years that are like PDSA?” “Why do you think so many people employ the hope, blame and victim strategy rather than PDSA?” “What advice do you have for those people on how they could get started?” “What was your top 3 take a ways from the article or favorite lines/parts?”

So how can leaders create a GSD world? Get back to basics and Plan...Do...Study...Act!

Thanks for reading and remember...YOU make a difference!

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