Friday, May 27, 2011

It's not what you know; It's what you do

Do you know how many times I hear "We already know that" when I am discussing the topic of improving new product delivery? I hear this in almost conversation I have on productivity. A considerable gap typically exists between what we know and what we do, and in the semiconductor new product development space the disparity is glaring. The harsh reality is that if productivity knowledge is not being applied, then you don't really know it. Without the application wisdom of successfully putting an improvement concept into operation, a claim of knowing is nothing but smoke.

Throughout our career we have been presented with techniques, tools, strategies and methodologies that are recognized as a means to improve the way our organization executes on new products. We are all loaded with improvement knowledge, however the odds are that most never get around to implementing and validating those that seem to carry a positive benefit. This calculated procrastination is replayed for weeks, months and years while still claiming that we know how to do this. Implementing and making a change that provides the desired results is the hard part. It's time to put the empty justifications for inaction behind and move forward.

Honestly there will never be a "good time" to kick-off productivity improvement activities. That ideal point in time where everything is just right will always be safely off at some point in the future; securely substantiated with a list of reasons for inaction today. The lack of knowledge in the application of techniques that enable positive changes coupled with a fear of failure is the real barrier here.
Everything that holds back progress is pure FUDD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt and Disinformation).

The following section is the complete list of the "false" reasons that promote inaction. These are the self-imposed barriers to implementing what we know about improving execution. Use these to check your motives. Once you understand your own barriers you can begin the process to migrate from a book smart knower to a successful implementer of change.

There will never be enough time unless you make it. This is only a convenient excuse, nothing more. Make time in future plans to enable the time to work on what you know will improve capabilities. Any improvement effort must be a sanctioned project with plans, resources and traceability. Never assume a behind the scenes and spare time effort will be successful; such assumptions lead to failure and further justify inaction.

People do not want change, however they do want things to be different. Change is something imposed upon them, whereas enthusiasm mounts when they can be a part of making things different in a way that will benefit them. Involve people and solutions grow, exclude people and the barriers grow.

This one never ceases to amaze me. "It's not in my budget" is simply an easy way to avoid the hard work to apply what you know will create a positive change. All problems have a cost; embrace that reality and turn the solution into a positive investment. If you can't define a problem cost, then it's not a real issue, is it?

Not my Area or Problem
Essentially this reason is exploited to justify the source of a problem rests somewhere else. This is really simple - If something is impacting your ability to efficiently add greater value to new product development then it is your area, and definitely your problem.

Check your motives. Are decisions based on comfort or reality? Yes, just like anyone else you can be a barrier in applying steps that are certain to improve productivity. Recognize that possibility and move forward. Get honest with yourself!

When you can change your response on productivity approaches from "I already know that" to "I have already done that", real progress has occurred. Anything other than implementation is pure FUDD! I know that, others know that and you probably know that. The choice is to either keep looking over your shoulder, or take a shot at making a difference. It's not what you know; it's what you do.