12 Tools for the Ultimate Management System

During my first 25+ years of working with various organizations and leadership team members, I've noticed that most struggle with the concept of a management systems or processes that make up a system. A mentor of mine once stated "No one wants to build a house. But everyone sure as hell shows up when its time to paint it." I thought that was not only really funny but also similar to building and maintaining management systems.

But what the heck is a management system anyway? Think of an individual process as a single gear on a clock. The entire clock is the system. If one or more gears (processes) are defective, the overall performance of the clock is likely compromised. Every gear matters.

Step 1 - Engagement. When I work with teams on management system development (i.e. various 3rd-party certifications) or process improvement (i.e. lean or Six Sigma projects), eyes tend to glaze over. But as soon as I put a colorful spreadsheet up on the screen, the engagement factor goes through the roof! In fact, there seems to be a direct correlation between the former naysayers and their immediate involvement in the discussion once a tangible tool is presented. "Well... what I would do is create a formula at the bottom of each job function so that the average competency score turns red once we fall below a minimum number of qualified workers." says the Engineering Manager. Five minutes earlier that same manager had a clear look of "This is all b.s.!" on his face. I know. I get it. I feel your pain. Yet the voice inside my mind is screaming "Ahhh HA! I got you on the hook buddy and you don't even know it."

"A person hears only what they understand." - Johann Wolfgang VonGoeth

Step 2 - Ownership. Bottom line... change is hard. Creating new habits is hard. Trying to wrap your head around quality practices and principles is about as fun as doing taxes or updating your Will. But playing with tools such as charts, graphs and spreadsheets is fun. Right?! Creating and maintaining simple, visually appealing tools that are a visual representation of your company's health or your process scorecard, is more likely to gain traction than generic principles or requirements documented in international standards. Am I right?

Step 3 - Maintenance. Instead of talking in concepts, try putting these 12 tools in front of your leadership team. Consider each tool simply a placeholder. You probably have most of these tools in one shape or another. Simply replace the tools that are shown in this video with your tools. Your management system architecture MUST BE YOUR OWN in order to create value and real, long-term improvement.

If I can help in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out via LinkedIn IM, my various socials @jimthompson2001 or jim.thompson@concentricglobal.co.

Good luck Fellow Architects!