Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

The pandemic has made organizations aware of the need for a new C-suite leader, the CHO, or chief health officer. This has been driven by recognizing the importance of employee health for engagement, productivity, and risk management, along with lowering healthcare insurance costs. At the same time, more employees report mental and physical health challenges.

To keep employees safe, and productivity and morale up, organizations realize that simply offering yoga and other wellness programs through employee assistance programs won’t cut it. This awareness helped create a top executive whose sole focus is on optimizing employee health, both physical and mental, for the sake of company bottom lines.

Thus, say hello to the chief health officer, the new C-suite leader who is both captain and curator of an organization’s health policies, and deals with the employees’ health on all levels.

Susan Robertson’s picture

By: Susan Robertson

A debate you frequently hear in business circles is whether working online or in-person is more creative. The short answer? Both. Or neither. It’s solely dependent on how the meeting is structured and managed.

When it comes to creativity, a recent study found that online interactions result in less creativity than face-to-face. The reason: When online, people mostly stare at the screen rather than letting their eyes wander around, which sparks more divergent thought. But the flaw with this study was that the conditions that actually result in creative thinking were not set; not in the online nor the in-person experiments. So, even though the in-person interactions were slightly more creative, neither were very creative at all in the absolute.

Effective creative thinking requires adherence to specific guidelines. If done casually, without guidelines, it won’t be effective, regardless of online or in-person.

Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By: Donald J. Wheeler

Walter Shewhart made a distinction between common causes and assignable causes based on the effects they have upon the process outcomes. While Shewhart’s distinction predated the arrival of chaos theory by 40 years, chaos theory provides a way to understand what Shewhart was talking about.

Assignable causes

W. Edwards Deming described assignable causes as special causes. He then would say that the special causes are “not part of the system.” Thus, he considered a special cause as a temporary cause—fleeting and ephemeral. Shewhart saw things differently. He sometimes wrote of assignable causes as temporary, but at other times he had a different model in mind. For example, Shewhart defined “a state of statistical control” to exist when “the chance fluctuations in a phenomenon are produced by a constant system of a large number of chance causes in which no cause produces a predominating effect.” Here Shewhart clearly implies that when a chance cause begins to have a dominant effect it becomes an assignable cause.

Gleb Tsipursky’s picture

By: Gleb Tsipursky

Elon Musk recently demanded that all Tesla staff return to the office full-time, according to an email sent to executive staff and leaked on social media. Musk said those who don’t want to come to office should “pretend to work somewhere else,” insinuating that those who work from home aren’t actually working.

This authoritarian, top-down approach rooted in mistrust and false assumptions goes against best practices. It speaks to an illusion of control that will undermine employee productivity, engagement, innovation, retention, and recruitment at Tesla.

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

Quality-related data collection is useful, but statistics can also deliver misleading and even dysfunctional results when incomplete. This is often the case when information is collected only from surviving people or products, extremely satisfied or dissatisfied customers, or propagators of bad news about relatively rare incidents. This is simply an extension of the basic principle that a sample should reflect the entire population rather than just a portion—especially a portion that might self-select for the indicated reasons.

Survivor bias

Survivor bias occurs when samples include only people or items that survive harmful conditions. When World War I started in 1914, the soldiers of most armies wore cloth or leather caps that provided almost no protection against shrapnel and small arms fire. The French, for example, replaced their world-famous kepi with the equally recognizable Adrian helmet only in 1915. The British followed suit and introduced the Brodie, later called “Tin Kelly,” helmet. Even the famous German spiked helmet was made of leather and not steel, to be replaced by the Stahlhelm a year into the war.

Kate Zabriskie’s picture

By: Kate Zabriskie

‘They’re here, but they’re not here. My staff isn’t committed, and it’s obvious to me and our customers. We’re in trouble.”

“To say that initiative is lacking is an understatement. My staff doesn’t think beyond the basics. If they hit a wall, they stop. The idea of looking for a window never crosses their minds. Frustrating!”

“Maybe it’s them. Maybe it’s me. Our team just goes through the motions. I wish there were a magic formula to get people focused and motivated.”

Although there isn’t an instant solution for increasing enthusiasm, focus, and initiative, there are steps any leader can take to orchestrate success.

Step one: Communicate the direction

It’s hard for people to reach a destination if they don’t know what it is. Whether you call it mission, purpose, or something else, employees need to have a solid understanding of the organization’s why, the team’s why, and their why. Leaders who promote engagement regularly connect day-to-day tasks and expectations with the bigger picture.

Multiple Authors
By: Faustino Gomez, Sepp Hochreiter

With ongoing global shortages of all kinds of goods, from cars to lumber to cooking oil, both consumers and companies are struggling. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, along with renewed Covid outbreaks in China, are two things that are likely to make things worse before they get better.

Amy Kim’s picture

By: Amy Kim

As companies continue to adjust to the wave of employees returning to the office, one thing is certain: The pre-pandemic working world is no more. Although remote employee productivity has been proven in terms of output—albeit subjective and loosely defined—many companies are gradually increasing their “in office” requirements.

Hybrid work options are also becoming more commonplace. As a result, the need to connect and engage with employees as a hybrid workforce is increasingly top of mind. Effective asynchronous communication is critical to elevate and sustain an organization’s productivity. One tertiary concern is in-person vs. virtual meetings. Of course, there are differing schools of thought on the benefits of each one.

Challenges of virtual meetings

Virtual meetings have been around for decades—largely in the form of video meetings for one-to-few attendees, and webinars or live streams for one-to-many meetings.

When the world went remote in March 2020, virtual meetings became a mode of survival. They were a mechanism to stay connected. Tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet were deployed not just for productivity but also for business survival.

Jane Cavalier’s picture

By: Jane Cavalier

We live in an upside-down world where the old rules no longer apply. Many call it a VUCA world—volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Mass consumerism is being challenged by a new consumption paradigm. People are driven by a new essentialism where things matter less, and relationships, experiences, and self-being dominate all. In this new world, workers are restless, customers fickle, investors skittish, and the public has an appetite to cancel.

In order to rally customers—and employees—to stand behind a company and its path during all the ups and downs, leaders must draw upon emotions because rationality will not carry the day. They have one tool at their disposal to do this delicate work: the brand.

Although often associated with marketing, brands are actually cultural icons that carry symbolic meaning. In just a nanosecond, they evoke common, immediate meaning and emotions across all people. Think BMW, John Deere, Chanel, Apple, and American Express. In a world where everything is uncertain, brands can be trusted to stand true.

Donald J. Wheeler’s picture

By: Donald J. Wheeler

Many different approaches to process improvement are on offer today. An appreciation of the way each approach works is crucial to selecting one that will be effective. Here we look at the problem of production and consider how the different improvement approaches deal with this problem.

The problem of production

For the purposes of the following discussion, a cause-and-effect relationship will exist when changes in the value of a cause result in changes in the value of a product characteristic. Here we will define the effect of a cause to be the variance created in the product stream as the cause varies through its natural range of values. Of course, when the cause is constrained so that it cannot vary, then it will no longer create any variation in the stream of product values.

Any specific product characteristic will be the result of dozens, if not hundreds, of cause-and-effect relationships. These causes can be divided into two groups: those causes that we know well enough to name, and those causes that operate without our knowledge and that therefore remain unknown to us. Before we start production, the effects of all of these causes may well be unknown, resulting in a picture like figure 1.

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