Friday, June 26, 2009

The Second 30 Day Plan - The 5 Why's

I am officially done 4 weeks as Nu Horizons President and CEO today.

I had a 90 day plan when I started. The first 30 days were "Listen and Learn". I found it very hard to sit back and not take action (and I admit, I did take action on a few things). The plan was to learn. The industry, although similar to my previous experience, was different. And even if the industry was identical, there would be clear cultural differences between any two companies that I needed to learn.

So what is the second 30 day plan? The 5 Why's. We need to drill into why we do everything. The 5 Why's program is a formal method at solving problems and determining is the "old" way is still the right way.

I modify the 5 Why program by asking the "how question" at the end. I find that asking why too often can entrench rather than open up thinking. Ask How and people will come up with the answer.

When I ask the How question, I often like to ask for a big change as that creates different thinking. If we ask how can ship 5% more shipments per hour, the answer will come back, we will work a bit harder and more diligently and speed up the line a bit. If we ask, how can we ship double, it forces us to completely change our thinking and be more creative.

And of course, even though we move into the second 30 days, I still plan to listen and learn a lot still. For example, I only know 75 of my 750 staff by name (I counted on an org chart). So lots more to do.

Notice that my 30 day plans are actually 4 weeks so I manage to get them done in 28 days. Another trick or perhaps I only fool myself.

6 Comments:

At 3:48 PM, Anonymous Christian Bangert said...

Great approach to put the Why questions in a very early stage of being in a new position, because the longer you're there, fewer things will come on the list of being challenged.

 
At 5:36 PM, Anonymous John Boudreau said...

Great post Jim. I've linked to your blog on my blog. I've found that as my company grows I need to dig more deaply in the details of what's going on. I'm finding I'm spending more and more of my time probing and asking questions to help solve problems.

 
At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Glenda said...

I'm still asking the 5 Why's as you taught me. I find that sometimes "asking" isn't the way. Going ahead without permission, the way I think it should be, is a way of getting everyone else to ask the "why" question.

 
At 8:26 AM, Anonymous Martin O'Neill said...

I really like the listening campaign and the thought process of asking Why's and How's. Harvard Business Press put out a great white paper a few years ago on the "First 100 Days" in a new position http://tinyurl.com/lbzs2p that really adds to your points.

 
At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Ant Ritter said...

What was the 3rd 30 day plan?

 
At 8:32 AM, Blogger ali anani said...

I thank you for the great expanation of the five whys tool. I have recently published a presentation on slideshare that tackles the shortcoming of five whys and called for its extension to eight whys. I gave reasoning for this extension. The link is:
http://www.slideshare.net/hudali15/extend-the-five-whys-to-eight-whys-why

 

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