Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Answering No The Right Way

When making decisions, you need to decide on what's right. If it's the right decision, it's the easy decision.

Before shutting down the manufacturing line for the holidays, multiple last minute production requests were being filled. The team who has worked super hard this past year made one request- Can we leave early Tima?

After a demanding quarter (including my Master's coursework) all I wanted to do was walk out early, myself.

So I flowed the request upstream to my manager. And for the first time the answer wasn't 'No'. At least- not directly.

The facility runs 24/7 with four different shifts supporting the goals. So the 'No' I received was in regards to fairness. The other shifts didn't get to leave early so why should we. There were exceptions that could have been argued but the bottom line was to be the model for the organization.

"The best inheritance you can leave your kids Is to be a good example." ~ Barry Spilchuk

Often times we lose touch with our brand and what's right because we do what others do. We forget to set the standard- the right standard, that is.

If you stand at the top of the mountain and look over the entire organization, it becomes easier to make decisions consistently. And at the end of it all, people start to appreciate the fairness.

So yeah we had longer breaks the last day and our productivity was probably a record low. But the remarkable part of it all was the team bonding that too place because of it.

"Let them just hang out. And chat," my manager told me. After giving him a funny look, he continued. "let them talk to each other, that's more important than the goals itself you know."

And indeed it was. One of the team members had brought extra decks of UNO cards and people were playing during their breaks. There were individuals playing and joking that have never said a word to each other in the past. The energy was high and the holiday spirit filled the air. People brought pizzas, cookies, and pumpkin bread and it felt like one family reunion.

So although we couldn't call it quits early, the hours spent on campus made it the best day of the year through demonstration of Trust and Respect by all the team members.

Happy Holidays and remember to do what's right. Someone will look back and be grateful for it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's the Holidays

So the holiday season is this amazing span of 6 weeks from thanksgiving to new year- with Chanukah (Hannukah), Christmas, and Kwanzaa in between.

We're on shopping crazies, sugar cookie binges, and broken records of Christmas songs.

The aroma of Peppermint Mocha lattes fills the room of any cafe you walk into.

We're kind. We're sweet and we slack off. Then January 2nd hits! We're determined to make our resolutions and be on full throttle all over again.

Shouldn't everything be in moderation? Every year I push myself hard from January to Novemeber because I know Decemeber will bring that awesome 10 day work/school break. But why can't i work in a break each month to not be run down when the end comes?

Now I'm not saying this is a resolution of any sort because I have been working on Life balance solutions for quite some time (more to come). But in general, let's ensure we take some of our post-holiday energy and it store it for a rainy day

Make every moment count- don't get me wrong on that.
With my appendectomy two weeks ago, I missed my one 2012 resolution- which was to sky dive.

So maybe in June- when I've used hopefully half of my energy, I'll go and jump out of a plane to gain the necessary adrenaline to recharge. Anyone with me?

In closing-
Be kind all the time. Smile all the time. Not just during this "holly jolly" season. But at the same time-relax.

"The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does." ~Napoleon Hill

There's 365 days ahead of you to use up that energy.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gitty Over Green

While studying innovation, I had to research two products that were considered sustainable. The characteristics I looked for when searching for sustainable products were good quality, durability, acceptable cost and reduced environment impacts. In class, we learned that the product is sustainable when it’s “developed for today’s needs without compromising the ability of the future.”

The first product is FilterPave1. The material is a new type of porous pavement made from 100% post consumers’ glass and the major environmental benefit is that it reduces storm water runoff. Each year, storm water runoff is water that flows into lakes, streams and other gardens filled with the atmosphere’s containments of the Ozone layer. It is good quality since its flexible and architecturally aesthetic and the composition of the material can account for light-heavy loads, which make it durable. Since little maintenance is required because it doesn’t need resealing, crack filling, it makes up for some of the cost incurred up front. The FilterPave makes up for approximately 95% materials that are typically landfilled.

The second product is gDiaper2, a partially re-usable diaper with an insert that can be flushed down the sewer system where it belongs. It turns out that each year 20 billion diapers are disposed in the US landfills3. The inside gRefills are 100% disposable which is great for the environment. Some of the wet gRefills can be decomposed and used for agricultural composites. The material on the inside is durable and made from cellulose rayon & fluffed wood pulp which is a non-toxic water absorber. The cloth lining on the outside is a combination of polyester, hemp and cotton. As it may be slightly more expensive than traditional diapers, the outside cloth that can be re-used is a plus for most consumers and the ability to decompose in the sewage system is a major benefit to our environment.

References

1. FilterPave: http://www.prestogeo.com/downloads/NPBeqP8MZqS4SucY7mqnFJv9tDaTwigCjAtz87OoPI70lU7N8n/FilterPave%20Overview.pdf
2. gDiapers: http://www.gdiapers.com/environmentally-friendly-diapers/gdiapering
3. TriplePundt.com: #4 is gDiapers: http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/02/5-green-products-to-watch-in-2011-2012/

Friday, December 7, 2012

To Commit or Not To

Anyone can make commitments. But few meet the commitments consistently. I had my appendix removed on Monday 03Dec and said I'd be back to work Friday. Thursday night I was tossing and turning from the pain. 10pm. 11pm. 1am. The clock kept ticking and I hadn't gotten any shut eye before my 4:30am alarm would go off. On three different occasions, I grabbed my phone to notify my manager that I'd be late. Finally I decided to do it and when I opened my email to send him a note, I noticed one about an issue we were working on. Without hesitation, I put my phone down and had intentions to be there at my normal scheduled time which was 530. 

Planning to stay off my feet for the day, I spent the first 5hrs of my shift pacing across the manufacturing floor ensuring the teams were all aligned to the goals that needed to be met. Every so often someone would stop me and ask if I was okay or If I needed to sit down and I kept going.

I was also asked multiple times why I went into work today and I said: I needed to be here. (something about being a couch potatoe watching NetFlix not being my thing either)

I had committed to be there and with the issues that we were facing I felt obligated to be there.

Commitment is a big word. It takes a lot of positive impacts to earn respect and to be deemed reliable. And it takes only one to destroy that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Five Crucial Rules To Brainstorming


Brainstorming is considered one of the tools of prototyping and innovation however it needs to be done carefully. Earlier in the semester, I posted a blog about  key elements that Tom Kelley found to be part of a perfect brainstorm such as sharpening the focus to remember what you’re trying to achieve, write things down because you are mentally able to return to that thought once you see it again and create playful rules. (Check out http://leadershipssuccess.blogspot.com/2012/10/six-elements-of-perfect-brainstorm.html)  On that note, there are five rules of brainstorming that were discussed in the recent lecture that I will breakdown.

http://programsuccess.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/effective-brainstorming-with-the-project-team/

First, you need to “defer judgment” and set aside a time for constructive criticism later in the game. During a brainstorming session it is important to acknowledge everyone’s ideas and respectful to keep the ideas flowing. By putting down an idea, it can kill the motivation buzz and limit the amount of ideas you receive. 

Second, know how to “build upon the idea of others” and learn not to hold on to personal ownership. When a team member suggests a new idea or solution, it can trigger other ideas you had in mind that you may not have been able to convey. In a recent facilitator course I took, we had to right down at least 10 (I think) uses for a paperclip in a span of 8 minutes or so. It felt like time flew by. Then the instructor said to share your inputs with the person next to you and come up with an additional 5 in two minutes. Surprisingly enough, we came up with more than double that because each use gave us another idea for what the paperclip can be used for.

The third rule of brainstorming is to keep one conversation going at a time. As the concept of “build and jump” where you gradually move from one concept to another is helpful to expanding the session, ensure that everyone is aligned to where the conversation is going and keeping one. It can be distracting and momentum can be lost as you break up in smaller groups. 

With that, the fourth rule is to stay focused on the topic. By getting off course, you can find yourself analyzing too much on other ideas that may be non-value added to your overall solution. 

Finally, the fifth rule that connects with the first is to encourage wild ideas. It’s amazing when you remove all barriers (especially cost) when trying  to come up with solution. The intent is find the solution and later we can bring it back to reality with what we have practically to design a new service or product. 

For example, on the manufacturing floor, my area leader keeps suggesting that all area leaders get roller blades to be able to respond more quickly to issues and be everywhere at once. As roller blades are not cleanroom safe and not a practical solution, I asked her to tell me why she was suggesting that and how can bring that idea to a more practical resolution. She then came up with a way for her team to keep tabs on her and ensured there were multiple copies of the contact numbers, out of control procedures and escalation flow handy at each process. Although she was still responding to the problem at the same walking rate, the communication to and from her, was done more effectively.

Adding A Fun Twist To Your Goal


In Tom Kelley’s Art of Innovation, he discusses on how important it is for companies to go from “zero to sixty” in order to break free from the competition and stay on top. Every year, Silicon Valley venture capitalists put on a race for designing the next best innovation and the proceeds for the cause go to a charity which funds safe rides after a night out with drinking involved. After reading the chapter, my recommendation coincides with his – put a fun twist to your goal.

Quality is everything. As a technical manufacturing supervisor for Medtronic, you cannot skimp out on Quality no matter how dire the situation is with meeting commitments. However, meeting your customer commitments on-time is a requirement that falls just under Quality. As a leader ensuring compliance is met day-in and day out, I’ve learned that you need to be creative to achieve the goal on-time. For example, I’ve challenged the team members to recruit as many people as possible or to maximize the capacity for certain equipment in order to meet a goal by a certain time. This drives them to come up with new ways of letting the product flow through the line without missing a step and impacting Quality. From what I read in Tom Kelley’s book, competition can turn up the speed on some innovative ideas. 

By making something interesting, it can be a driving factor to getting things done. Sometimes you need to change things up in order to be innovative within a given time. Personally, with multiple assignments due for both of my classes on top of work, I have learned to challenge myself and have incentives waiting on the opposite end. If I complete an assignment at least three days in advance, I will be able to spend an extra hour or two doing something where I don’t need to worry about studying such as spending extra time at the gym or tweeting. Try to turn everything you do into a game, without forgetting the goal in mind and the consequences of not achieving certain tasks. It’ll be more fun, drive competition and may be that extra nudge you’ve been needing all along.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pick The Right State of Mind

Day in and day out, we make decisions on what to communicate and what to not. In some cases we don’t know the consequences of words until it’s too late. Recently, I was introduced to the concepts of the Wise Mind, Emotional Mind and Reasonable Mind. It's not the answer to everything but it helped me understand the logic behind my after-thought process for certain situations.

By recognizing which state of mind you are in, (either during or after) it can help you make better decisions or actively listen to your environment rather than jumping into a danger zone.

"Sometimes though, what we think is the right decision turns out to be the right one because it makes us realize we were wrong; which in turn causes us to change our minds, making the right decision the wrong decision, and the wrong decision the right one" ~JDQ





I've been contemplating a lot about my next move. It's easier to move the pawns because it's simple and can get the job done. But at some point, you have to kick up your offense or else there won't be enough pawns left to protect the King and Queen. 

This blog is a short one but ultimately I realized that sometimes the decision you need to make was there all along but the fuzziness and the noise (http://leadershipssuccess.blogspot.com/2012/07/it-just-noise.html) inhibits you from making it at that moment. 

So go with your original gut feeling. From reading Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, he discusses that most decisions and realizations happen within a blink of an eye. So why over analyze? Whether at work, at home or at the gym, try to stay within the Wise Mind and don't let emotions take over. Use them as weapons or shields, but not as anchors. 



Friday, November 23, 2012

Cross Pollinating: How And Why


The In the Art of Innovation, Tom Kelley discusses how a company can increase cross-pollination in the workplace. The following is a summary of these seven tips:

1.     Subscribe & Surf: have magazine subscriptions either in person or online; By going through other ideas, you can learn and it opens your mind for further innovation ideas.
2.     Play director: Cut your world or environment into different sections and watch it from a different lens. With another perspective it heightens your senses to actions and ideas that you don’t normally pick up on.
3.     Hold an Open House: Showcase what you do; Display a few prototyping ideas and get people networking and talking in a room about what the company does
4.     Inspire advocates: bring in others with different views as the constructive criticism an help resolve barriers or flourish ideas to an entirely different level.
5.     Hire outsiders: outside influence can introduce new ideas and invigorate the company
6.     Change hats: aka Role Playing; Step into someone else’s shoes to understand what they go through or how they will experience a new product or service
7.     Cross train: ensure that each team member can do a set of activities; this creates flexibility and also helps drive an open mind to different processes or activities.

By not cross pollinating in any one of the elements above, it can set up a company and or product for failure. There are three examples that Kelley points as to why cross pollination is critical for survival.

First is DuPont’s Kevlar which was originally set up for new material for radial tires to replace steel. It wasn't until the military and other security forces used the light-weight material to protect against bullets, that it was picked up for use on tires. Second example is Zelco’s “itty bitty book light.” The demand for the product didn’t pick up until a rap artist was seen on MTV wearing it around his neck. The company took a new approach for marketing and what the product could be used for. Third and final example is that of Hush Puppies who was struggling to make sales in the 1950s. It wasn’t until the company that actual manufacturers the shoes, Wolverine Worldwide, stepped in to support a new branding effort for the products. The sales have increased and been stable ever since and Hush Puppies is a trust name for casual and comfortable shoes. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Implanting the Right Impression

I used to think first impressions were everything. I would meet someone and give them a week, a day or even an hour to create a name for themselves. Then I realized that people grow, and second chances can be new beginnings.

As a leader, I'm driven to evaluate individuals day in and day out. I have become pretty decent at figuring out what kind of contribution he or she will make, in a matter minutes. But then, things change. Their environment changes and their world comes crashing down on them.

When that happens, we as their supervisor have two choices of words when approaching him or her:

1) perform better or get out
2) something's distracting you, what can we do to make this right.

I've learned in a short period of time that the latter can make or break someone's career.

When you stop and recognize that your team are a set of humans, you realize that there are more important things happening at that given moment than the goal they were working on.
Okay- you're rolling your eyes. As a leader within a medical device industry I learned you can't stop if someone isn't feeling well, or else our pacemakers won't get out the door. But when we recognize the human element, the goal shifts into someone else's hands and it's okay.

It doesn't make you weaker or less of a leader to identify the human in your team. However, you need to recognize when enough is enough. How long do you use the human element? Well, for starters, there will be a point you recognize this individual isn't improving and other performance measures need to be taken.

Ultimately, when we tap into our human element and listen to what's not being said, you are able to more effectively performance manage your team.

First impressions can easily cause us to write someone off without truly looking at the bigger picture. Next time you go manage someone's newly negative performance, stop and ask: what changed? Second chances are warranted. So rather than creating and referring to that first impression, find the right impression this individual is trying to make.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Paper Or Plastic?



The three definitions all include environmental, economic and social concerns. The first was from the Brundtland Report stating how sustainable development meets today’s needs without compromising the ability of the future. The Global Institute of sustainability says how Sustainable Development considers “environmental, economical, and social systems.” The third is similar by saying how it’s “economic prosperity, environmental quality and social justice” by John Elkington.

Paper vs. Plastic: From the table below, the verdict is that plastic is better because it’s less harm to the environment and lighter. But if you had to choose, the ultimate winner is to have re-usable cloth bags that you can bring with you each time you go grocery shopping.

PROS
CONS
PLASTIC
Light Weight, Made Energy Efficiently, less air and water pollution
non-biodegradable, not commonly recycled, takes more to do the same task (bagging groceries)
PAPER
degradable (in certain environments), because it's heavier it can do the job with less (bagging groceries)
can destroy the eco-system when the wood comes from unsustainable forests, the pulping process can lead to air and water pollution from all of the chemicals, heavier in weight which creates more transportation costs

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Fuels Me Most

Medtronic’s Vice President of Research & Technology, Becky Bergman, visited the Tempe Campus on Friday and gave an hour lecture to the SWEnet* chapter on “Strategic Road-map For Technical Women To Excel in the Executive Field.” One of the lists she had created in her presentation was a slide titled “What Fuels Me The Most” and stated how she needed to stick to those principles in order to feel accomplished and happy at the end of the work day. That thought was challenging to say the least. We all say we know what motivates us and what gets us out of bed (umm – annoying alarm clock getting us up to earn a paycheck) but do we really know? And are we really living up to those motivating fuels? I think not.

Along with that question, it helped me align to a question I was posed with a few weeks back – what my values are and how are they ranked. All this time I thought work was everything to me. Excelling to be the next Becky Bergman by the time I’m 30, with my free time consisting of a harsh workout at LA Fitness. But when I was asked to rank my values- work was number 6 on a scale of 1-10! Astonishing to say the least. So as I personally answer what fuels me, I now recognize how they link to my core values.

Healthy Family
Family is and has always been everything to me. I know of no one else really. My core family consists of my mommy, my four brothers, one nephew, three nieces, our desert turtle and three best friends. And I realized this past year (better late than never) that when one of those amazing people aren't at their best, I am not at my best; although I don’t admit it right away. Therefore, a healthy family fuels me because if their feeling well both physically and emotionally then I am confident they’ll continue to be there for me to fall back on.

Confident Self
This was harder said than done – honestly, you don’t hear that phrase often. Being confident is about knowing what the next move is and not only knowing it by owning it. It also means I am reliable to my family and peers and will be looked upon because I can deliver. (Key Competency of Trust “Get Results) Whether I’m wearing my three inch heels or flats, standing with my head up straight only means that I can conquer the world and do it standing by my values. When I wake up in the morning with the cliche thought in my mind of “I can do this” it really does get me out of bed and that positive attitude only creates a snowball effect of greater things to come. So remember to cherish yourself and put the confidence back in yourself to drive only the best results!

Motivating Team
Nothing sparks success more within your organization like a motivating team. As a technical supervisor, one of my key tasks day in and day out is to ensure my team is motivated and empowered to take on the world. I never thought I’d have thirty (yes 30!) direct reports before I was 26 but I’ve grown so much by asking them the right questions and pushing them to take on their passion. Honestly, when their motivated to close the next big project or solve the lurking problem, a successful rush runs through me that I cannot even describe. Along with that annoying alarm clock at 4:30AM, knowing that there is a team waiting to see their smiley, caffeinated supervisor, I cannot second guess hitting that alarm clock more than twice ;)

So the next time your alarm clock goes off at 4:30AM or you badge out of your company’s alarm clock at 5:50PM, think about what you accomplished and how it made you feel. Think about how closely it was linked to the gasoline of your life. 

*Medtronic Tempe Campus recently kicked off a SWEnet chapter, at which I am currently serving on the committee as Chairperson for On-Boarding.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Benefits & Flaws of Industrial Design


The profession of Industrial Design focuses on the creation of new products. There are several benefits of this practice, but what industrial designers do has also led to a host of problems. Explain two benefits and two problems with examples.


Industrial design is about industrial manufacturing products. At the start of product development process, there is ambiguity around what the product may be about. Therefore, research is undergone in order to understand the problem to know which solution will best address the problems and customer needs of the market. Characteristics of an industrially designed product include its aesthetics. Function is critical but how beautiful the product is designed is important in today’s world. With that, the user interface design is a major output to ensure the relationship between the user and the product is easy to maximize the usage of the product. There are a few benefits that are brought up in class such as how industrially designed products aid in continuous improvement efforts, improve the lives of people everyday, humanizing technology and usability. The last two are the ones I will focus on this paper.

Humanizing technology relates to not what the product can do or how it does it, rather what it can do for a particular user-me. The intent of the technology is to be able to link directly with the human touch, in a flawless manner. A great example of this is the Apple iPad. Last year, I won the iPad in a company raffle and had no idea what I was going to use it for. My brothers all wanted to take it from me stating how they’re going to do work on it, read, play games, keep track of their appointments and keep up with their social networks. I didn’t give in as I wanted to cherish my prize. So I picked it up and started using it as a tool for easy access to my social networks while listening to my iTunes playlist. Then one day, I came across an easy blogging app and between that and the note pad function, it became easy for me to get back into writing. The touch keys made it easy to type with one or two hands and it’s weight didn’t make me have any sore hands. In between my breaks, I was able to watch my favorite shows on Netflix or find the latest foreign film. When my brother asked for it again, I was attached and he was surprised at my answer for what I use it for with a response “that’s it?” I guess I’m a pretty good example of an overserved consumer.

Usability is defined as how a product does a specific job. Products may have the design and capabilities to live up to its function, as the example of the hammer in class can be used to put support nails into a new painting on the wall. However, if you’re using nails 50 mils in diameter and 1 inch in length, you may not want to use a large hammer designed for creating the framing of a new house. Another example is how there adult size and child size cuffs for testing blood pressure in the medical industry. There was a time I was admitted into the ER and when the nurse took my blood pressure, she had this confused look on her face. After asking me a few questions, the readings displayed didn’t match how I was feeling. (Note: I was about 22 going in for abdominal pain, not heart issues.) She stood there and then had a smile on her face as a light bulb turned on above her head. She walked out of the room and came back with a bright colored cuff and wrapped it around my arm. She laughed when reading the display stating “now that’s better.” Not feeling well, I was trying to make out the difference of what she did. She held up both cuffs up in the air and that is when I realized one was the adult size cuff (the first one) and the brightly colored one was the child one.

Some of the problems stated in class about industrial design are profit without value products, objective fetishization, conspicuous consumption and elitism and exclusively. As the last two relate to each other in some extent, I will focus on these two and provides examples of these issues. Conspicuous consumption are attract consumers who are always looking for the next best thing to show off to their peers. They waste time and money such as much as they consume. Most of the time these type of consumers purchase these particular items to exemplify their status in the nation. Celebrities are a great example of conspicuous consumers where they have so much money they don’t know what to do with- no wonder the paparazzi follow them! The example I’m going to share is the short fling of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. The engagement ring presented to the superficial actress was a 20 carat diamond worth $2 million; which was a discounted price from what I was told. Every woman loves diamonds, but honestly that’s too much. I don’t know if I’d be able to handle a 2 carat diamond when I get engaged.

For elitism and exclusive purchasing, the relates more to individual groups purchasing key sets of products that will ultimately move the entire market in that direction eliminating the option of low cost alternatives. With everyone being obsessed with the best health and fad diets, the examples I think of here are items purchased at Trader Joe’s or like organic health markets. The items are run on average 60% higher cost compared to your local Fry’s Marketplace store and most of the time if you actually read the label, what you get at Fry’s is healthier!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Six Elements of A "Perfect Brainstorm"

Kelley describes seven secrets to the perfect brainstorm in the Art of Innovation. First, Sharpen the focus is a key idea in keeping the mind on the prize. He describes that you need a clear descriptive problem statement because if you don’t know what you’re trying to solve “any road will get you there” and you’ll be at a loss. Also, focus on the customer needs rather than internal organization gains.
Second is to create playful rules. You want an encouraging and open environment that fosters the ideation process. Criticism is allowed but positively and constructively. Take the time in the beginning to write out the rules either collectively with the team or before the team gets there.
Thirdly, number your ideas. Although this may sound simple enough, there are two main benefits of doing so. The first is to create a goal for the team to obtain a certain number of ideas for motivation and the second is to keep track of your ideas. It’s easier to be able to go from one idea to another if they’re numbered.
It is important to not lose the motivation buzz in during a brainstorm session and the author’s fourth thing to keep in  mind is a concept called “Build and Jump.” Build is essentially building upon an idea that comes up rather than moving directly into the next category. For example, if someone suggests certain padding at a door entrance to prevent slipping, you may want to ask for other ideas to prevent slipping or how could the slipping occur in order to prevent it. Jump is completely opposite where you switch to a new part of the problem statement or return to an idea that has already been discussed.
The fifth concept of “Space Remembers” is about writing all the ideas down so that the team can see what they’ve come up with already and it also spurs other ideas. Also, as a facilitator, you can take a mental note of which ones to go back to and when you do, our spatial memory allows us to help re-create the feeling that created the idea in the first place.
The sixth thing sums up the idea of stretching the mind before and during brainstorming sessions either through icebreakers (depending on the team) or taking field trips prior to the session.
Finally, the seventh idea is to “Get Physical” talks about three things to help the idea process but two that I liked the most. One is to bring materials to build up the ideas on the spot in order to sense and feel it and the second is to use your body in order to act out how someone will react or behave to a concept or product.

Vijay Kumar's Four Principles of Design Innovation


1.       Kumar discussed four principles of design innovation and below is a brief description of each with an example.
a.       “Build innovations around people’s experiences” Normally, innovation is due to new technology or market space that industries want to tap into however it is important to connect to what people already know and are comfortable with. For example, there are different human senses such as physical, cognitive, cultural and social that needs to be related when designing a new product/system. For physical interactions, it’s how the products connects to the users from either touch or feel of it. Cultural connections is recognizing the diverse world the product is launched into and being able to adapt to these differences. People connect with the world through social networks (either in person or virtually). When Ford was going to re-launch the Fiesta model in the US, it gave out 100 cars to different people across the nation and asked them to utilize the online social networks to discuss their experience. This was a way for the word to spread about the Fiesta in an exponential way.  (http://hbr.org/2011/07/whats-your-social-media-strategy/ar/1)
b.      “Innovations as Systems.” Companies develop a new product and think blindly just thinking of that one product and how it’ll function in the market. Systems are usually not created where the product exists between. The system elements can include (definitely not limited to) the service, the brand, the experience, and the networking. By innovating a system, the user feels that there are no voids in the product experience. Netflix is a good example of this because it took one simple service of streaming movies/tv shows and created convenient avenues to do so. First, if you have a membership to Netflix you can stream moves from your phone, computer and most commonly your tv at home (through blueray, dvd or xbox system for example.) Second, there are Facebook and Twitter pages to like/follow in order to know the circle of Netflix users and network the product virtually. And finally, customer service is helpful by phone or on the website and this is important for any questions or concerns relating to the service. The brand is the creation of convenience by being able to watch almost anything you want instantly.
c.       “Cultivating an innovative culture within an organization.” Innovation needs to come from the top, as we’ve learned in various readings. The strategies need to accept and foster an environment of innovation and employees at all levels need to understand why or how innovation plays a part in their company. Innovation can be risky and intimidating for most and by encouraging those to step outside the box and create new ideas for systems and products, enables a company to excel with the market and be agile. Case studies reference Intel for innovation as they set time aside specifically for innovation, according to some of my previous engineering management courses. There are three basic behaviors that the senior leadership demonstrate at Intel that cultivates a culture for innovation. The first is setting challenges with goals and strategies and not tactical approaches to achieving those goals. For example, when wanting to create the faster transistor in the world, the senior leader just set the direction but didn’t say how it was going to be done. This enabled the teams to approach the solution however they wanted to get a solution. Second, is to allow the teams to create prototypes and not just develop ideas on paper. Essentially you need to build and test it and play with it to feel the product and how it’ll work. And third, is to not micro-manage and rather champion projects and serve as a resource to remove barriers/bottlenecks. (http://www.fastcompany.com/44499/how-intel-puts-innovation-inside)
d.      “Adapt  rigorous design processes & structured methods.” Create a structured process to innovate and force ideation (i.e. IDEO every day work.) The idea is to move away from ad-hoc processes for innovation starting from the problem and rather use techniques that standardized processes for new products/systems. Johnson & Johnson is known for their structured innovation that essentially “channel and regulate the ideation process.” The process is basically having a template for innovation based on recognizing a set of patterns to “recognize and replicate patterns” in order to build/create your product. http://www.processexcellencenetwork.com/organizational-strategies-for-innovation-continuou/podcasts/structured-innovation-how-johnson-johnson-makes-it/

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just Stop- Take A Minute or Two

Just stop. Give yourself at least 30 minutes and stop. Where are you right now? Is this where you're supposed to be? What's the important thing to you? Is that what you're putting your efforts on?

In today's fast pace world, we lose sight of what we should be working or should be investing time in. We get caught up in activities that seem like a good idea but don't necessarily fit in the big picture. As a leader, I need to know when to stop and reflect. A good activity is to write all of your activities out. Then you ask yourself- is this a goal or a task? Most of the time they're tasks and ones we shouldn't be working on.

It's important to stop and reflect in order to ensure we're heading in the right direction. "values never change, you might just have different goals along the way." we need to remember what it is we're after and ensure it links to our true values. What makes you a great leader? Person? Sister? Mother? Father? Brother? Friend? Student? What is your brand?

Just stop- sometimes for five minutes to breath and you'll realize within a blink of an eye to continue or to drop it. Stopping now will get you closer to your goal.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"For Your Improvement"


For Your Improvement
Michael M. Lombardo Rober W. Eichinger

The intent is to help leaders (or individual contributors) with improving key  behaviors that may be affecting their performance. Each section is broken down by “unskilled, skilled, overused skill” with referenced behaviors to improve the unskilled and overused skill. Then on the next page they guide you on what is needed to improve in this behavior (“The Map”) and some suggested support remedies. Quotes are in every section as well as suggested reading.

My Strategy to reading FYI:

Start from behavior number one. If it doesn't apply, move to 2. If it applies, mark the referenced numbers with sticky notes for improving unskilled or the overused skills. Then ready behavior number one and make notes as necessary. Then move to the sticky notes that you have marked off. This way you can start improving your weaknesses without having to have gone through the entire book. If one of the behaviors you marked with a sticky note doesn't apply, remove the sticky note and go to the next section. Remember, take what applies and leave the rest. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

More to Patience Than Patience Itself

"patience is made a condition of success and prosperity"

There's more to patience than just waiting- it's understanding the unknown. They say patience is a virtue and it is, all because it helps you stop and take a step back.

In an organizational setting, being patient is key when setting a strategic objective and waiting for the employees to align. True success in keeping up with the competitive global market, relies on making and sustaining massive culture changes. Of course, it does not happen overnight. For example, you set a plan and why the plan is good for the organization to pursue and then wait for the team to get properly equipped, in order to adapt to the changes. The human element is the hardest in making huge strives of strategic change however, it's all timing in learning when to do what.

Outside of work- it can be even more difficult because emotions can get involved but the same principles exist. First and above all- you need Trust. (also in an organizational setting) When you set a vision, you need to know why that was set and what the agenda is. And when you have two people on opposite sides of the spectrum, that agenda can be in completely different languages.

Being patient in this situation is knowing and accepting there's something you don't know. The timing isn't right to communicate certain elements as long as it doesn't impact the trust.

Willy Wonka's Veruca Salt was known for her "but I want it now!" line, being the spoiled brat that she grew up to be . What distinguishes adults and children is that adults or parents know certain facts that affect decisions to be made. Children just see something they want and whine until they get it not knowing the consequences.

This concept applies in any setting- when a decision is being made, at what level are you making the decision? How deep in the system have you dove into to help set an action? Patience exists here both as the decider and the person with the request. The most difficult part is transparency without jeopardizing the timing.

Although I will keep this brief, the intent is to not only be patient but to know enough of the situation to keep you open-minded to what the future may or may not bring.

Being impatient can destroy relationships and in succeeding organizational goals. Look at the entire system and recognize there's a hidden element. So just breath and look for the risks when dealing with a project or the benefit of the doubt, with anyone else.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Everyone is a Teenager Inside

"Is this the life that you lead or the life that’s led for you?
Will you take the road that's been laid out before you?"

Who am I? That's easy- I'm a Technical Supervisor for Medtronic- one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturers.

Why the funny look? Oh, the fact that I forgot how I'm a third year Master's student at ASU for Systems Engineering.

You're shaking your head at me- is that not who I am?

Wait- let me look in the mirror. Hey beautiful! I know who you are- you like driving around town without a purpose, drinking espresso shots at your favorite local coffee shop, strength training and swimming on your time off and leading! Best part of my day is when I can be the leader that I had always aspired to be.

Well, who else am I? I guess I'm not always a leader... I'm just a little girl on most days. Created a path for my density but got the drawings approved by other influences. But it's still my path, ultimately. *dazed looked down at the ground*

Who am I kidding? It's everyone's path- Stakeholders including family and friends and co-workers. Why you ask? Because that's how it is. That’s how it’s always been.

You ask, if I could change anything about my life- what would it be? I wouldn't change a thing- I would just try to find more patience.

As a Palestinian-American, I've struggled to keep a balanced life. I am so fortunate of the upbringing my mother gave me. Teaching me the beautiful ways of Islam and rituals of Palestinians- respecting your mother, and all woman, cherishing kids and the less fortunate-respecting elders and being nice to everyone, even strangers-especially strangers. Doesn't sound hard on the outside until the element of union comes up- marriage. Making two souls one, to be a complete Muslim.
Again- not hard. Yeah, right.

I never believed in love- I still don't. I believe in an accumulation of emotions and feelings that start with Trust, and include understanding, respect, loyalty, security and happiness. People call it love- I call it a fairy tale. I guess I never stopped to think why I didn't go after love- until someone recently asked me.

I made excuses- well I don't date. That's it- I can’t because of my culture & religious belief- so I won't. But that someone told me it’s just bull. Besides- the man I envision as my companion wouldn't pass security. He'd have to be laid back, simple, smart, funny, exotic, childish, caring, and knows when to let me lead. I'm dreaming right?

I never let myself open up to what the world was trying to give me. I closed off myself and put 100% focus on my academic and career aspirations. That's a guarantee. I'll never stop learning and never stop growing so I figured I don't need a significant other to keep me afloat. Or at least not now. I had control over who I was at work and at school, but I kept a set mind on that, not realizing the world I was truly missing and the internal battles I was fighting with myself.

But who am I? I never quite answered that and that's probably why I never opened my heart or mind to a companion.

With balancing the two worlds that I live between, I get lost as who I'm supposed to be when. I want to be a leader. Set a path and go for it. Set a course of action and execute. I want to stand tall over my friends and family with confidence and security, knowing that they trust my judgment and are proud of me.

And I want to be myself during it all- funny, whiny, analytical, easy going, corny, caring... So when am I that? Standing in front of a whiteboard - I feel alive. And I still can't quite figure out why. There I am- with a marker drawing diagrams- visually communicating or solving linear programming formulations. So exciting! It's such a thrill to stand in front of an audience or by myself and just write it all out! Why?!Couldn't tell you but I'm sure it's linked to who I truly am.

You can't love somebody until you become somebody and that somebody needs to be the one who you accept as you.

Everyone is stuck between who they truly are and who the world sees them as. We get caught up in our career and the qualities and qualifications that help us retain that job- and we start becoming that person. And when we love our career, we start loving our life, thinking it’s who we are. Sometimes it is but sometimes if you leave work and are immediately seen as a different entity than there's an issue. Of course you wear one hat at work and one at home- but they should at least be the same hat, maybe different colors.

I am writing this because I'm stuck. Everyone is a teenager inside- my favorite past time is jumping around my room lip-sinking to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun! But I can't always do that and it becomes an issue when you attempt to detach your leadership self, from your true inner self. It can be devastating to some extent when you put things aside as if they're not there.

Lesson learned? I'm looking for one. For starters- I need to figure out why I get such a thrill from writing on the whiteboard and maybe I’ll be able to find out who I am in the process. What makes you excited and do you know why? Or do you think know why?

Ask yourself- are you happy or content? If content- is it because you're deceiving yourself? If happy- is it because you know who you are and you're satisfied with that person.

Remember- you come first, just know which you.

"Believe me...True Leaders not made for glamour...Most of the time they earn it after they die "glamour that is" even if they get any before die, without self-found strength they won't enjoy it! I know you have it in you to work through the mazes of the mind to find some amazing Tima class strength :-)"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Time is everything

"By (the Token of) Time (through the ages),
Verily Man is in loss,
Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds,
and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth,
and of Patience and Constancy."

Time is everything.

Sometimes we have all of it in the world to go around. Finishing your degree, traveling to the arctic, settling down... And sometimes we're limited where we have less than 24 hours to find 57 conforming products and ship them to our customer. But what is it about time that make people impatient? It can go really slowly if some things know you're not ready for it.

Let's stop and look at the date: 23SEP12. Okay- where did the scorching hot months of AZ go? Where did my summer go? Is it already midterm season at ASU? But what needs to happen now? What deadlines are critical to our future and the success of our organization? Organizing my closet by style and color after donating to goodwill? No. Skydiving off a perfectly good plane over the deserts of AZ? No. Finding a dress for my cousins wedding? No. Finishing my book on what I've learned in leadership? No. Getting engaged to the man I found myself most compatible with? No, not even that.

In today's world we need to recognize the goals and when they need to be met. Our actions need to continue to be value added to those goals or else we're not being productive. Everything has its time indeed but it takes people with great expertise to recognize when to complete an action and when to say: this can wait. Leaders and individual contributors struggle because they think they have to do it all. Well, they do. You can't get out of it but it's about when you do (and sometimes how) that makes you feel accomplished and less overwhelmed at the end of the day. Professor in industrial engineering operations research department asked me yesterday 'wow how do you manage your time' after stating I was a technical supervisor at Medtronic completing my masters. My answer "I don't." we laughed and my answer should have finished with "I don't. I manage my goals."

For example, I completed my graduate path of study last fall. Put in a few courses and set the date of May 2013 to graduate. This past May, I looked at what was left for my thesis and was surprised to see how close I was to completing it and defending it in November. But then actions and deadlines and goals happened at work and around the family. And for the first time in my life, I was okay with saying no, my thesis can wait until May. These other items were too critical and had goals that needed to be met.

The purpose of this blog is for you to stop and see what you're working on. Where is your time being spent? My manager always asks me- what are you working on? And I gave him tasks. It took me about 14 months or more, of him asking that question for me to answer with goals.

My answer used to be- write this document, talk to this person, guide on this project, check the status of this product.... Yeah- task oriented.
Where now (on most days) it's- support the campus document closure goal, achieve talent development objectives, improve application of DMAIC, support supply of production goals - strategically oriented, right? That's all it took for me to start seeing what it was I was actually working on and whether or not it mattered.

So why am I writing this today? Because I lost my strategic glasses last week. Was caught up in the moment and thought something had to happen now. Defied my instincts and went with other forces around me to make a decison. No goals were impacted during this time. All of my customers had pacemakers to implant for their patients and I am still hovering around an A and a B for my classes. What happened? I may have lost a good friend for starters and worst of all- may be in jeopardy of doubting myself in the future.

Knowing what has to happen now versus later is critical to your success. You can easily get burnt out focusing on everything at once. There's a time and place for everything and knowing when to utilize that time will make or break you. And remember- this applies to work, school and most of all family & friends. Don't lose time over things you think have to happen. And above all- Don't lose the most important objectives you truly live for.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Getting the Right Answer By Asking the Right Question



["On no soul does God place a burden greater than he can bear"
So, in human terms, this is a lesson for us when we find ourselves in any position of leadership, that we expect the best from those we delegate tasks to, with two conditions: We do not expect more than we know they are capable of delivering, and we give them the material resources and the training needed to get the job done.]
On Saturday, I followed up on an action I had assigned my three area leaders. I was not happy. Following our quick discussion, I received an email from my manager on how critical thehealth of our manufacturing organization was and how important this action was.He knew we’re struggling and wanted to re-emphasize the point that we need tofix it.

At first, I wasfrustrated in what they delivered. I asked myself multiple questions judging and analyzing their quality of work and skillset that they used. And then ithit me- I didn’t provide the resources to them in order for them to think andact the way I want them to. This was a hit on my leadership. I had a follow updiscussion which was more of a reflection on myself. I guess I don’t likejournaling or talking to myself but always have the urge for someone to listento me. I reflected on my actions and my behavior. What could I have done differently? Why is this assignment so critical for our organization? On whatspectrum are you carrying out this assignment? It came down to Strategic,Tactical, and Operational-No surprise. I was acting as the Borg Queen, to saythe least- the Mother Hen. I assigned them the assignment as a Tactical one,gave them Tactical skills to reference and expected them to give me a Strategicanswer. I was wrong.

The follow updiscussion included sharing knowledge of where we need to be in three monthsand how we need to act in the next few weeks leading into that. I was steppingup and admitted what I could have done differently and shared my vision for my value stream. It all starts with asking the right questions and not trying toanswer or resolve every issue that pops up. It also came down to not wanting tohold on to things- even the goals. In order for my team to be successful, theyneeded to see where we were going and I have not been doing such a great job ofthat.  The event was a critical one thathelped me open eyes into a new realm that I’ve been needing. I have been caughtup in my own world; a world that has affected by performance and ability tolead. Personal, family events led me into a downward spiral of negativefeelings, leaving me to with a guard up at all times. I was stuck holding on towhat I knew and it turns out that I knew nothing.

I learned that not onlydo I need to share what I know but I need to open the floor up to those aroundme. Ultimately, they have the answer and know what the right and best thing todo is. I was just holding them back. So next time I decide to delegate anassignment, I need to equip the team with the overall strategic vision. Afterall, the only way to get to a strategic solution, is if you start at the top ofthe mountain.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

1% Re-occurrence Rate But 100% Focus. Why?


What are we putting our efforts towards? Kevin McManus makesa really strong case that “we live in a special cause world”. When an eventoccurs, we spend so much energy wondering why that event happened and how wecan fix it. Why aren’t we looking at trends? This is how we get off course fromour true goals and objectives for our organization. Maybe we need a system totell us whether or not we need to pursue energy and resources on a special causeevent. http://www.iienet2.org/IEMagazine/Details.aspx?id=31808 

Empathetic Leasership

"Some fates are worse than death"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WtQqKrbmKc&sns=em great

Leadership lesson on being empathetic and what it can mean for your mission, strategies. And alignment of teams.

"I feel that you have to be with your employees through all their difficulties, that you have to be interested in them personally..." herb kelleher, chairman, southwest airlines.

In reading the Intent chapter in Speed of Trust, I was able to reflect that I may think I'm doing the right thing but I'm not. My intentions are sometimes wrong and that can be deadly as a leader or any individual contributed but especially a leader. As a young supervisor, some have the perception that I'm this college know it all and the perception is becoming a reality. I answer questions and provide solutions as I know everything. But I don't. The knowledge worker knows their process best. So to ensure I am giving off the right vibe that I want someone to succeed and develop through process improvement (for example) I need to start putting the ownership back in their hands.

Intention is everything and it starts with putting yourself in their shoes. Then ensuring that whatever actions taken will be in everyone's best interested.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Staying Afloat

Today I had a rough day of strength training and then challenged myself to a Pilates video I found on Netflix. I couldn't move for hours and my back was more than sore. I kept with my productiveness by taking my mom to her doctor appointment then treating her to a manicure pedicure and then dinner. She thanked me and I said - might as well take advantage of this moment while I'm still single. I got home and the pool was calling my name. Not only did I do laps back and forth but wanted to try some of the Pilates' moves in the pool. I then tried balancing myself to get to float a certain way when it hit me - when you do too much, you'll sink. The key to focusing and success is finishing what you started or doing value added tasks that link you to a goal, so you feel accomplished. Not only did I try just floating on top of the water, but I wanted to try leg exercises and extend my arms but I couldn't for the life of me stay on top of the water.
When looking back over the years, I had a tendency to be overconfident. Thinking I could conquer the world. "Overachiever," they would murmur under their breath and now I'll be lucky to achieve at least one of my goals. I'm taking a minute to write this as a lesson that when we stop to exercise, our mind clears up to the craziness of work and school and family. But it provides clarity to realize the important things and ask ourselves "am I doing the right the thing? Am I happy? Do I feel satisfied and successful today?" So I am just re-iterating the fact that exercise is good for the mind as it is for the body. For me, it helps me leave my body to reflect on some of my inner weaknesses while building on the muscular strengths.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Devotion = Satisfaction

If you can sit back and reflect at the end of the day what it was that satisfied your needs, how often would the answer include fulfilling someone else's needs? Being an industrial engineer, quality used to mean being statistically within control but that isn't good enough when you're in the medical industry. Quality now means delivering the best functioning ICDs, pacemakers or any other medical device for our patients. 

When the human element is added into the equation, it changes the perspective at which you function and execute to your day to day activities. I've matured in the last two years by being more self-less and asking questions like "what's best for you." And then doing whatever it took to get as close to their desires as possible. The most rewarding part is how even though I may not have full-filled his or her need, the gesture and efforts put into trying is sometimes just as good. 

Last week one of my direct reports forgot to fill in her time card. The old/immature me would've grumbled about how it's a simple task and they should've done it. But that day I had more information. I knew something major and more critical things were floating through her mind. So I spent the extra minute and filled it out for her so she would receive a whole paycheck the following week.

Lesson learned: Instead of gripping on why something wasn't done, I stop and observe the situation. Could this person be going through something outside of work that is more pressing than a simple task? What's the impact that this task wasn't done and should I be worried that she missed it? Is it a trending delinquent item? If the answer is no, than move on. 

Devotion to me is ensuring Quality is met. Being committed is not only to achieve the Quality I defined above but being accountable and personally affected if it isn't met.

So at the end of the day if i feel satisfied, it can only mean I was committed to meeting my Quality mission for our patients. I am fortunate to have had my eyes open to understanding what the bigger picture looks like and the overall impact to being satisfied or dissatisfied at the end of the day. I am still learning and growing but feel as if i'm on an upward slope. 

The best part of my day today was reviewing my team members success and recognizing them for their accomplishments. I had a smile on my face when I reviewed goals met by my direct reports - because I can feel their devotion and commitment to Quality and that's what satisfaction has become to me.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tima's library

Books I've found beneficial. Recommendations welcome!

Speed of Trust
The Goal
Outliers
Leadership and Self Deception
Good to Great
The Servant Leader 
Reality Based Leadership 
Viral Change
Blink 
Creating Breakthrough Innovations   
The Loudest Duck
7 Habits of Highly Effective People 




Dave Goldberg's Recommendations
@deg511: Check out Language and the Pursuit of Happiness, The Four Agreements, and Instant Happy.

@Lyons_Timothy: @ferakat87 I would also highly recommend "The Oz Principles" - getting results through organizational accountability.

@Lyons_Timothy: @ferakat87 "tribal leadership" , stage 4 , great book on building leadership skills

"Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. But I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey — reminds us to cherish every moment because they'll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived." capt Picard


“Reality provides us with facts so romantic that imagination itself could add nothing to them.”
― Jules Verne
“It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason.”
― Jules Verne

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Broken Escalator


Some team members say they're stuck. Most of the time it's because they don't see the goal; the end result. If one action doesn't work, by knowing your goal, you can easily figure out a different step to take.

Take this simple example:

You decide to treat yourself to a weekend in Vegas. There are only two ways driving from Phoenix: Through Wickenburg, and Flagstaff. You plan to take the Wickenburg route until you hear about massive road blocks due to construction.

If you didn't see the goal (Get to Vegas) you'd cancel your trip.

By saying, we're going to Vegas this weekend. HOW else can we do this? Someone suggests Flagstaff. Someone suggests Southwest Airlines.... Regardless, you don't cancel your trip and miss your goal because of road blocks. You find another way.

Don't stop because your escalator broke. Seriously, man.

It's Just Noise

Sometimes you need to ignore the signs. They could just be noise to the direction you're really supposed to go in. It dawned on me how sometimes we try to piece together all the signs that seem to fall into our laps. But in actuality they can sweep you off your feet in a negative way.

 I remember the time I was in a stand up one on one with my manager to provide a project update. We were discussing the barriers I thought I had (different story) when suddenly a Post-It flip chart sheet started peeling off the wall. I stopped mid-sentence to try to catch it and he said 'no.' Confused I turned back to him, slowly eyeing the paper when he continued "wow- it's really bothering you that you can't fix it" and then it fell completely to the ground. "it's just noise. It has nothing to do with our conversation or anything else I can think of yet you had the urge to fix it." it's just noise- I try to remind myself of that moment and statement constantly.

 Everyday we get caught up in so many activities that aren't related to our end goal. They end up being the tasks that drain us. Frustration. Exhaustion. Dissatisfaction. Feelings that arise from not being accomplished. And I was taught that we lose that feeling of accomplishment when we don't finish the plans or projects that we start. To keep this short, noise can be deadly. It can fool us and quickly pull us off the tracks. 

So remember, don't go and try to save every poster that starts to peel off the wall. Put that time and energy in the next value added item on your list to reach your goal.