MBOE recap: There’s an app for that

For Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence cohort this year, paper is so 2011.

MBOE took the leap to become a paper-free program this year with each student of the 2012-13 cohort receiving an iPad. Students can now access all materials on the iPad using iTunes University, type in notes, and then access them anytime without flipping through pages within a huge binder.

ipad apple
All MBOE students in the new cohort receive iPads with all course materials loaded. (Image courtesy Apple)

A big thanks to Randy Spears and Jacob Bane in Fisher’s Information Technology Services, who helped make it happen and were on hand to walk students through the various applications and modules on orientation day this week.

Orientation takes place not only for our students but for coaches. As they were briefed in a separate room, eventually everyone got together to get acquainted.  Bill Constantino senior partner at the W3 Group, introduced students the concept of Toyota Kata, a method that Toyota uses to innovate their products with built-in quality. He talked about change and what it takes human beings to change by posing this question: Why do humans have the ability to develop new neural synapses? That’s because humans have the ability to learn new things. Why is it then change is so hard? That’s because the uncertainty that lies between a current condition and target condition is not addressed in a way that facilitates change, Constantino said. So how do you address it? The answer is deliberate practice and asking the right questions over and over with a coach helping to do that. Some helpful questions to ask:

  • What is the current state?
  • What is the target condition?
  • What idea will you implement?
  • What do you expect to happen?
  • What did you learn?

The more people consistently follow this process, he said, change will become second nature.

With the work of MBOE also comes some play. We hosted an evening reception after orientation for students to relax and mingle with each other. Many students spent time with their coaches to get an understanding of the process, a great benefit the program offers by giving up-close access to major operational excellence experts.

With orientation finished, students began their year-long quest with the first official day.

Peg Pennington, Executive Director of COE, introduced the concept of systems thinking and exploring all possible root causes of any problem. The key to coming up with the right countermeasures/solutions to any problem is:

  1. Define the  problem
  2. Understand the root causes of the problem

According to Peg, there are various tools available for root cause analysis, most of which are limited in some way. A cause map helps to deep dive into all possible reasons that led to the problem and also helps link to the corporate that is impacted because of the problem. Peg drove the point home interactively using various fun exercises.

In the afternoon, Gary Butler reinforced the learning on cause mapping by walking the students through analyzing the reasons behind the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle that killed seven astronauts in 1986. He also stressed upon defining metric and defining them S.M.A.R.T.ly (Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Actionable, Relevant/Reliable and Timely).


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