Content By Jim Benson

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By: Jim Benson

If I have been on a decades-long drive to make work more flexible, Alton Brown has been on a similar one in the kitchen. There is no shortage of rants on his various shows about “unitaskers”... things in your kitchen that can only do one thing and therefore are only useful in a few, often unlikely, contexts.

Alton Brown takes a dim view of unitaskers and lax workplace safety. In agile and lean, and in good business in general, we seek to mimic this flexibility by getting people to experience different projects, job types, and perspectives. This helps us deal with frustrating situations by having many people in the organization who can respond quickly to variation or opportunity.

Having said that, in the great pendulum-swing that is human excitement, we have gone so far the other way that we want everyone to be a generalist and shy away from being purposeful about who is going to do what.

And, in general, it’s helpful to know what we are doing.

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By: Jim Benson

We need to hold people accountable. I invite you to just look at that sentence for a minute. I hear it in every organization we work with. Every. Single. Time.

Look at the sentence. Now, consider for a moment, why you would say it. Go on.

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By: Jim Benson

A few years ago, I received a call from a very frustrated vice president of development in the Midwest. He sent his staff to get trained in Scrum. He thought he was sending his team off to learn how to develop software. Instead, they came back scrumbroken.

The team spun in circles arguing about their stand-up meetings, trying to wrap their heads around the arcane notion of Fibonacci-based pseudo-planning, how best to set fire to their documentation, and so on.

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By: Jim Benson

It’s no wonder people are scared of process. When we have a large project or goal, we assume that the process to complete that work must be equally large. That is daunting. We’d rather just do it.

When we have taken the time to build a process for a large project, we’ve all witnessed what a large process gives us: bureaucracy. Sluggish systems of overactive checks, but rarely any active balances.

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By: Jim Benson

‘What if there’s a task in my options column that just never moves?”

This question comes up in almost every class we teach.

And we ask, “What if that happens?”

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By: Jim Benson

I love to cook. When I make good food and share it with others, they will take a bite and look as excited to eat it as I was to create it. They might not understand the subtleties that went into it, but they understand the product. Satisfied eater, satisfied chef.

When we do something and are happy with it, we get excited. We want to show it to others. We are proud of what we’ve done and want to see the world interact with it.

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By: Jim Benson

Let’s take a second to emphasize who is important in the following quotes, all by W. Edwards Deming:If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.” “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”Drive fear from the workplace.

Well, by golly, it’s people.

Deming again:A company could put a top man at every position and be swallowed by a competitor with people only half as good, but who are working together.”

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By: Jim Benson

Human beings are good at placing roadblocks to success and building plans that can’t be followed. We tend to fall back on our “common sense” or “snap judgement” which often makes us feel like our cavalier decisions were actually thought out. Yet, time and again, we find ourselves in deadline crunches, worried about upset customers, or angry with others because we didn’t get what we want or got it too late.

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By: Jim Benson

Tonianne DeMaria and I run the Personal Kanban, Modus Institute, and Modus Cooperandi Corp-o-plex pretty much duo-handed. There’s a lot of work. The rules of Personal Kanban apply to us, too. We are constantly experimenting with new ways to visualize our work and limit our work-in-process (WIP).

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By: Jim Benson

People are always asking us for help with ways to prioritize. Almost everyone believes prioritization to be an action in and of itself. They ask, “What mechanisms do you use to prioritize?” However, we find most often that prioritization issues, like trust issues, are a symptom of deeper problems.

This video discusses what some of those root causes are and how we at Modus Cooperandi approach them.