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All work is not equal - Using Runner Repeaters and Strangers for better outcomes!

A podcast version of this post is available at
Hello friends. I am Anshuman Tiwari, and this is my podcast on Quality and Operational Excellence. I call it the The Operational Excellence Advantage and am hoping to bring you views on how we all can use operational excellence as a competitive advantage at work. I will share my views and occasionally invite others from the industry to share lessons you can use. Your feedback is essential and always welcome.
Today I want to share a key concept in Operational Excellence that is often missed out in the rush of getting things done and fighting a fire a day. I have often said that Operational Excellence is a balance of theory and practice. Most of us are consumed by the practice and do not take the time to stop and ask ourselves – what is the theory behind this? Is there a better theory I can use? What are others doing about this issue?
The concept I wanted to share today is called - Runners. …
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Five Questions to Review your Year and make 2020 Awesome!

This post is also available as a Podcast at
Okay so the deluge of new year wishes would have now subsided a bit. Before we forget we are in a new year – here are my best wishes for the new year for you all.
Another year is ending and if you are like most others you have let it pass by. Now, I don’t want to spoil your new year joy but am hoping to point you to review your last year with some critical questions. I have done this over the last several years and found such questioning useful and wanted to share in the hope that the questions will help you as well.
Asking questions Why do we need to ask questions of ourselves? Well, primarily because we don’t like or let others ask them of us. Questions help any progress possible. The first step is always a question. Often unanswered, at least initially. We need questions. We may not have the answers always, but we need questions. No progress is possible without a good question.
Did I make an impact? This is …

Thinking! Why do over 75% RPA and Digital programs fail?

My best wishes to all of you on the auspicious occasion of Dusshera today. Thank you also for your over 200 likes for my video blog last week on OpEx metrics. Many of you sent feedback and I am grateful for the same.
My topic today is something that I have been asked. Why do over 75% RPA and Digital programs fail? Or do not give the return we expected. Of course there is no one answer to this. Much of what you face today could be a result of technical choices you made. I however, am convinced that the answer in in History and Psychology of similar initiatives in your organization.
Look within. Did earlier initiatives such as ISO 9001, Continuous Improvement, Kaizen, Six Sigma, Lean, ERP etc succeed in your organization? If they did, then chances are RPA and Digital will work too. If they didn’t, then please introspect.
Winning is a habit and it needs an ecosystem of leadership, people, process, and systems. None of these alone can help you win. It is a chemical combination of these i…

Secret Sauce for lasting Change

In the last few weeks I have shared my views on how Technology is helping Operations get better. Much of this is large and complicated Change. Today’s post is about one key aspect of making all that Change happen - Managing people to deliver Change. Anyone who has tried to implement anything new will know that anything worth doing is also hard. It does not work most of the time, it takes longer than planned, and it is more costly than estimated. But it does not have to be. In my over 20 years in process excellence I have learnt a few things and top of the list is – you don’t get anything done alone. You need a team and people make up a team. Not robots. Not yet. People have emotions and the least we can do is to try and understand them. I have also learnt that for me to be a leader I have to give people a reason to work for me. And fear and chaos is not a reason. It is a threat. It can work in short term but usually leaves everyone scarred and damaged. I have had some success with managi…

Found your dream job? Now what?

Okay then, you found the job you were looking for. Now what? Among the coaching and guidance calls I get the most common ones (after seeking a job change) are the ones on how to settle in at a new organization. While many of us focus intensely on finding a new job I do not see the same process orientation and focus after landing the job you wanted (or didn’t want but accepted anyways).  I have often wondered why I get such requests for guidance. As always, answers are complicated. It could be because I am willing to talk/help. It could be because people notice that I have changed a few (not many) jobs and might be able to help. Whatever may be the motivation of people reaching out to me, I have tried to help. And in the process, I found a pattern in my answers. In this note today, I wanted to share this pattern. The tips are neither ground breaking nor ‘you read it here first’ type. But they have worked. Worked for me and about 25 other professionals who I have shared these tips with. As…

Everybody loves Lean...for the wrong reasons!

Everybody loves Lean. I mean the Lean thinking and management methods variety here.

I have interviewed over 200 quality professionals in the last year or so and end up asking what do they prefer - Lean or Six Sigma. My original intention was to initiate a discussion and not to arrive at a conclusion. However, as I kept asking the same question I found a vast majority (over 80%) of candidates saying they loved Lean. While this is fine, as we all have preferences, I followed up the question with a WHY. This is where rubber meets the road.
Over 75% of the candidates who said they loved Lean had something like this to say:  It doesn’t need data (not a lot of it)Management gets itIt’s faster (and easier)Now all these sound valid reasons. And they are just that – sound valid.
Lean doesn’t need data: Yes it doesn’t need data if you just want your theories pushed without analysis, it doesn’t need data if you want quick fix solutions only, it doesn’t need data if you are lazy, it d…

So what is Lean Six Sigma?

I am often asked this question as I teach a class or explain improvement ideas to business leaders. Of course as a certified MBB I should know this well and it should be easy to explain.  Many of you may have learnt from experience that this is not easy to explain at all. To explain the similarities and differences between Lean and Six Sigma and they say they can work together pretty well can be complicated. It is like teaching a child how to cycle – look ahead that’s the key; pedal steadily, that’s critical. How is a kid supposed to know what the difference is between key and critical? They get confused – do you want me to look ahead or just pedal, be clear, is the retort many have. Grownups are no different. And this is not because they don’t get it, it is because we don’t explain it well. Here is a summary of how I tackle this question. Hoping it helps you do the same.