From Push to Pull, Lesson 3: Performance Development Plans

Managing is improving – Toyota Kata

This time of the year, I guess a lot of companies are working on performance development plans. We are. As a base, we have the company’s vision and strategic goals, along with the employee and leadership model. The leadership model reflects the company’s Lean values, something very important to me. So far so good.

The Observation

First it happened only once, and I didn’t give it too much attention. But then it happened again, and it started to puzzle me: business owners trying to push new products with poor quality live. Since we at that time already had a quality concern in production it didn’t make sense, but it caused argumentation and frustration.

Root Cause Analysis

Later I learned that delivering new products at certain dates were personal goals for some of my colleagues. I’m sure the purpose was to launch attractive, quality products to our customers at a higher pace, but somehow that goal didn’t drive the right behaviour. ¬†Hitting the date became more important than ensuring customer value.

Work on the System, not in the System

Some years back, when I headed the PMO, a wise coach repeatedly advised me to work on and not in the system. Since then I keep reminding me this, almost every morning entering my office, like a mantra.

Reviewing my own goals, I question whether they will really make me strive to improve the system. The trick I see is balancing different perspectives. Thinking too small, there is the obvious risk of sub-optimising, while thinking too big easily gets overwhelming. Narrowing too much makes people feel excluded, embracing too large and it’s hard to make a difference. Being too fluffy you may lose direction, being too crisp you may lose innovation.

Since everyone is inspired and motivated by different goals, I’ve found the best (and very Scandinavian :)) way is to define our development plans together.

From Push to Pull

If we all have shared goals that encourage system improvement it will help move away from a push culture, while individual short-term-delivery-goals may instead nourish one.

Therefore, it’s also important to make goals transparent, so the evil ones can be revealed!




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