Monthly Archives: January 2016

7 Things Lean Is NOT

7 Things Lean Is NOT

Many of us are familiar with what Lean is—a business optimization model. It purports to help develop products faster, reduce waste, and improve efficiency across the board. This process is often misunderstood, though. Lean can work for you, but in ways that many businesses may not expect. To get a better idea of what Lean is, let’s review seven things that Lean is not:pablo (1)

1. A Waste Reduction Model

Yes, Lean can eliminate waste, but no, Lean is not a waste reduction model. Lean prioritizes organizational harmony first, with reduced waste as a byproduct of this process. Don’t count on it to produce the same effect as a dedicated waste management appraisal.

2. Lacking Data

Like any process evaluation, Data powers Lean. Data is the information that allows businesses to customize broad processes and apply them to their unique situations. Lean depends on this data during each part of its implementation.

3. Easy

Easy and simple aren’t the same thing. Though Lean might be a straightforward optimization model, there may be pain points you uncover along the way. Don’t be afraid of these emerging problems—meaningful change is rarely a painless process.

4. Not Compatible with Six Sigma

Lean and Six Sigma are two competing ideologies that share many of the same steps. They’re so similar that a third model known as “Lean Six Sigma” has been developed, offering the best of both worlds. Make no mistake, though—the processes of each methodology are different. Integrated approaches like Lean Six Sigma rarely offer the same benefits that either approach would provide on its own.

5. A Substitute for Poor Management

Optimizing your business doesn’t excuse poor management decisions. Lean relies on a coordinated system of progressive decision-making. This includes staying up to date with technology, investing in necessary business infrastructure, and doing what’s necessary to be a leader in your industry. Marginally higher efficiency is no replacement for these managerial controls.

6. Possible without Controlled Processes

Think of Lean as the missing piece of your treasure map that reveals the hidden gold. Great when the rest of your map is in place, but useless on its own. To see any demonstrable improvements from Lean, your business processes must be structured and controlled. From there, you can use Lean to determine where the areas most in need of improvements are.

7. Independent of Your Workforce

Both Lean consultants and your own workforce are necessary for Lean to succeed. Greater efficiency relies on a comprehensive effort from all employees. Implementing Lean means taking stock of your workforce and developing their skills alongside your efficiency initiatives.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Contrasting Innovation vs. Continuous Improvement for Business Efficiency

Contrasting Innovation vs. Continuous Improvement for Business Efficiency

It’s the question on the minds of every business intelligence executive and process optimizer out there—when should businesses prioritize innovation over improvement? They’re both necessary for a successful business, but many professionals out there are unclear about the differences between the two, and the value that each can bring to an organization.

Improvements are reactionary. They’re about optimization, streamlining, and making sure your business processes don’t lag behind your competitors. Think of improvements as learning the rules of the game, and figuring out the best way to win.

Innovation isn’t improvement. Innovation isn’t about playing by the rules, it’s about changing the rules. This involves breaking out of the industry standards and practices that others take for granted and creating something that competitors can’t match.

Slow and Steady or Leaping Ahead?

Let’s look at an example contrasting continuous improvement with innovation.

In the early 1900s, the modern record player was making waves in the music world. This concept quickly advanced with improvements in electronic transistors, vinyl record transcription, and high-fidelity sound systems. By the mid-60s, turntables and record players were well-established musical technology. Perhaps modern CDs owe their existence to the framework created by turntables and the decades of technological improvements, they underwent.

Now, flash forward 40 years to the year 2001, when Steve Jobs first released the iPod. This technology (alongside the unveiling of the Apple Store) disrupted the commercial music market. The innovative technology behind the iPod was a huge leap from the old methods of compact disc recording. The iPod (and .mp3 players) didn’t set out to create the smallest CDs or the most efficient method of vinyl playback—their goal was to innovate, and they succeeded. Now, iPods are a household name.

The examples are endless—Cloud storage over physical data storage. Electronic health records replacing paper charts. Legal e-discovery management tools, optical character recognition software, and native production tools instead of inefficient and laborious manual document review.

These cases highlight the value of innovation—and a drawback of continuous improvements. The inherent problem with improvement is that it’s not a linear process. Eventually, a point of diminishing return will be reached, offering only marginal improvements while requiring the same input. Innovation is harder count on, but offers those “game-changing” enhancements that can make or break   a business. Both may be necessary, but businesses seeking a competitive edge must imagine how they can think outside of the box rather than the best way to fit in to the box.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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How to Build a Winner’s Strategy

How to Build a Winner’s Strategy

Everyone wants to do great things, but few do. Why? Most people are either afraid to think big, believe they do not have what it takes, or do not want to commit to putting in the kind of effort required to accomplish anything truly great.

Nothing great happens without intense effort. Plans are a good starting point, but it is the energy you put behind them that make them fail or succeed; anybody willing to put in the energy and effort can accomplish great things but people who feel like life is giving them a dirty hand usually resist everything they have to do. They look for ways to cut corners and lead a small and limited life.

According to Larry Weidel, to achieve big things, you have to be willing to lay it all on the line, and drive yourself to exhaustion over a goal. When you push yourself, you grow faster. You learn how to get more done. You learn how to make yourself more valuable. You pick up ideas and experience you can use the rest of your life.

Set a Big Activity Goal

You don’t win by going for great. You win when you go for the greatest. That’s why the first and most important step in achieving big goals is, well, being bold enough to set BIG goals.

How to Build a Winners' Strategy

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Unfortunately, we often set small goals, which are killers because they prevent us from connecting with our at most ability and drive to excel. We easily get disheartened and feel we are not able or wroth to achieve a simplest goal. However, when you decide to go for something big, it inspires you to rise up and do more than you think is possible.

The key to achieving big goals is to set them frequently — daily, weekly, monthly — and to make them achievable. Each goal you achieve will give you the confidence you need to tackle the next goal tomorrow, next week, or next month, that is how you make fast progress. So find the courage to go for the big goal today! It will create excitement and anticipation. It will bring focus, clarity, and intensity to your efforts.

The Rule of Three

If you want to win, play the odds, and not let failure frustrate you into giving up or playing small. You do this by refusing to do “just enough.” You overdo by generating three times the opportunities you need. Weidel likes to use a baseball metaphor to explain the rule of three. The greatest hitters, people like Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, or Lou Gehrig, only got a hit roughly one out of three times they went up to the plate. That means they failed 2 out of 3 times, but are still considered the best at what they do. Similarly, when you’re trying to accomplish anything great, two out of three times it will likely go wrong. So have at least three rock-solid possibilities for every positive outcome you’re trying to achieve. This way, you’re giving yourself the best shot at succeeding by making sure the odds are in your favor. This brings to our mind that old saying are all written out of one’s own experience TRY & TRY TILL YOU SUCCEED.

Train to Failure

To achieve extraordinary goals, you need to grow. And the best way to grow is to borrow a concept from weightlifting: “train to failure” — push yourself until you have nothing left to give. You can’t grow your capacity if you don’t use up all that you have. And if you never test yourself, you’ll never improve. Winners live by the words of Airstream founder Wally Byam: “It was impossible, so it took a little longer to accomplish.” And they know that pressure is their friend: If you want to give yourself the best possible chance of becoming great, you need to put yourself in situations that seem impossible. Eventually, you’ll grow through them. By training to fail, you will psychologically learn to accept failure and you’ll set yourself on the path to build the strength and patience you’ll need in the long term.

Do the Things Others Aren’t Willing to Do

Everyone wants the glory, no one wants to do the grunt work. But if you want to accomplish something big, you need to make yourself do it anyway. Why? Grunt work leads to greatness. Even in pursuit of the very easiest goals, there will always be tedious things that must be done to succeed. Winners know that doing what you have to do will allow you to do what you want to do. In the process, you will earn a little more experience, skill, and toughness than those who took the easier path. Of course, you should not spend all of your time doing grunt work.

Once you’ve learned what you need to know, you need to find a well-wisher to turn that grunt work over to them for their successful growth. But every new big goal comes with a new set of grunt work. Even the extremely successful person spends time every day on grunt work, because they are always at the beginning of something, knowing they have to put in the required grunt time if they want to succeed.

The MacGyver Principle

Putting in a nutshell The “MacGyver” principle is based on understanding that it’s not what you have that matters, it’s what you do with what you have, matters.

This post was contributed by Jai Santosh, HR Team Lead

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Why Conflict Resolution is Essential for Procedural Change

Why Conflict Resolution is Essential for Procedural Change

Businesses are built on ideas. New ideas drive innovation and growth, yet they aren’t always met with open arms. Innovation is often a double-edged sword—with great change comes conflict.

Disrupting the Norm

Have you ever had a great idea you were sure would enact meaningful change, improve efficiency, or contribute to a more effective workplace environment? And when you brought that idea to management, did you find that your idea was accepted at face value and implemented straight away, or met with pushback and told that it would “evaluated at a later point”? Worse yet, your idea may have sparked controversy and even created conflict within your organization. This is a serious concern for any business—conflict is a known killer of communication and potential improvement. To prepare yourself for this eventuality, conflict resolution skills must be honed and applied in helpful ways.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict is unavoidable in business, particularly for businesses undergoing significant procedural overhauls. While most of us like to imagine that we work in innovative industries open to change and progressive ideas, the unfortunate truth is new initiatives don’t always align with the interests of those in charge.

Why Conflict Resolution is Essential for Procedural Change

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When foundational ideas are challenged, administrators immediately prioritize the cost of implementation over the value it can bring to the table. It’s always easier to maintain the status quo over committing to change. This mindset creates continual challenges for new ideas that face dismissal at every stage of the evaluation cycle.

This combination of financial barriers and ingrained rigidity makes conflict resolution a difficult task. However, there are several principles to remember when conflicts appear in your organization:

  • Open-Mindedness: Ideas can get rejected before they’re ever explored due to a lack of administrative approval. This may lead to some great ideas being shot down before they ever reach the right ears—those looking to avoid conflict should keep an open mind when discussing ideas and work towards fostering this mindset in others.
  • Emotional Control: Conflict will inevitably arise when the proposal is subjected to scrutiny. Conflicts are frequently blown out of proportion when people let their emotions take over and take criticisms personally. Keep a cool head during conflicts and focus on the issues rather than letting personal feelings dictate your actions.
  • Communication and Respect: Communication during conflicts is key. While many conflicts are based on ideological differences, many more arise out of misunderstandings or misinterpretation of facts. Try to accommodate other viewpoints during conflicts, try to understand opposing perspectives, and above all, be respectful to everyone involved.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Two Sides of the Coin: The Inseparability of Process and Big Data

Two Sides of the Coin: The Inseparability of Process and Big Data

“Big data” is a buzzword in the online world. From an online pundit’s perspective, big data is the key to marketing success, business optimization, and overall project efficiency.

Is it that simple, though?

Two Sides of the Coin: The Inseparability of Process and Big Data

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Unfortunately, data alone cannot provide the meaningful insights to enact organizational change. Data is just one side of the coin. The other the process by which the data is created or acquired. People do not want to see a magic trick; they want to see how it is done.

This transparency is a logical step towards better overall information governance—knowing only the outcome does not provide the competitive insight that the process reveals. Process visibility is increasing in all markets, from customer service to sales to technological development. Industries are learning that the “journey” is just as important as the outcome, and big data is no exception.

Process Analysis of Big Data

Examining the comprehensive process of big data management involves three aspects:

  • Data Quality: Accurate and useful data is necessary to make improvements in any organization. Regardless of what type of data is collected, a system for data quality assurance must be implemented. Trustworthy and actionable data is the cornerstone of effective decision-making.
  • Data Extraction: Data is rarely confined to a single location. Big data aggregation involves collecting information from widespread and diverse sources, and is a more complex process than many people realize. This is where big data and process become intertwined—the variety of ways data is transformed and applied in databases can influence how it’s analyzed. Documenting these extraction methods is necessary to gain a comprehensive picture of how businesses arrive at meaningful results.
  • Data Analysis: After collection, data must be put through analytic algorithms that provide insight into where processes can be improved. Process documentation is essential here, as analytic sorting usually relies on mathematical formulas and suffers from an inherent lack of transparency. Knowing the process by which this data is assessed and how it is applied is an inseparable part of building trust in the data assessment process.

Successful outcomes rely on your ability to describe, define, and adjust your processes. Data is great—but it is not enough on its own. Including the process by which the data is found provides insight that translates to better business transparency, process visibility, and decision-making.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Five Biggest Data Breaches of 2015

Five Biggest Data Breaches of 2015

While 2015 was a noteworthy year for advances in technology and data security, the evolution of cybercrime wasn’t far behind. Several significant data breaches occurred in 2015, affecting everyone from healthcare recipients to unfaithful spouses to government employees. Here are five of the biggest and nastiest data losses that occurred last year:

1) Premera

One of the largest healthcare network breaches ever seen, the Premera breach is unique because it was discovered on the same day as the breach of another major healthcare service provider—Anthem. IT professionals claim that both attacks were performed similarly, with both breaches likely caused by the same group. The Premera breach resulted loss of financial information, medical claims information, social security numbers, and email addresses of 11 million customers.

2) U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Beginning with a breach that began in March 2014, (and only noticed in April 2015), the U.S. government suffered one of the largest breaches of government data in the country’s history. Data lost included social security numbers, addresses, and dates of birth on over 22 million current and former employees, including the fingerprints of nearly 5 million people. Officials pointed to a lack of comprehensive IT inventory as one of the causes of this information loss.

3) IRS

Unfortunately, the Office of Personnel Management breach wasn’t the last word on U.S. government data loss. The Internal Revenue Service also suffered a breach in 2015 that revealed confidential tax records of over 330,000 individuals. To make matters worse, the thieves used the stolen tax data to scam millions of dollars in fraudulent refunds from the government agency.

Five Biggest Data Breaches of 2015

The IRS was on the wrong end of a large data breach in 2015

4) Ashley Madison

The much-publicized breach of the extramarital dating site Ashley Madison made headlines in 2015, both for the irony of unfaithful users of the affair-promoting platform having their identities exposed, and for the massive fallout that came shortly after. Over 37 million customer records were made public, exposing numerous affair-seeking individuals and even leading to two possible suicides.

5) Anthem

Discovered on the same day as the Premera breach, the Anthem healthcare network breach revealed privileged information on over 80 million people—affecting nearly 1 in 4 Americans. Like Premera, the breach went undetected for nearly a year before the leak was noticed. The data lost between both Anthem and Premara constitutes the largest theft of digital medical records ever recorded.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Improving Engagement with Smart Data and Co-operation

Improving Engagement with Smart Data and Co-operation

Increased patient engagement has always been a goal for the healthcare field. Patient involvement leads to better informed decision-making, reduced perceived burden of care, and better overall health outcomes. While strategies to improve engagement are constantly evolving, data advancement and an improved patient/provider relationship are poised to become essential drivers of healthcare engagement strategies.

Emerging Tech Engagement

These days, a multi-pronged approach to patient engagement is necessary, including provider outreach, patient participation, and use of advancing medical technology to monitor and collect information.

Improving Engagement with Smart Data and Co-operation

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Patient-generated data is growing in the healthcare field. Wellness applications, exercise trackers, and even continuous blood glucose monitoring systems allow patients to actively generate and provide health data. Couple this with the emergence of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) that let patients view and monitor their own records from any location, and it’s clear that technology is allowing patients to take a more active role in their health status than ever before. And with Stage 2 meaningful use requiring a minimum of 5 percent of patients to view, download, and transmit their own health data, it’s clear that the push towards better patient engagement is well underway.

Co-operative Healthcare

While data and technology facilitate more opportunities for patient engagement, the process is relatively new. Many patients still view themselves as passive recipients of medical services rather than active participants in coordinated care. Thompson H. Boyd, MD at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia noted the importance of physician support in joining the efforts of patient and provider. “Getting the physicians involved—to tell the patients, ‘we want you to do this,’ is a critical early step. We’re trying to reduce the barriers to getting patients enrolled.”

The push to improve co-operation between patient and physician is at the heart of better engagement. Patients must develop personal connections with their healthcare providers and feel engaged in their own care. This communication helps patients feel heard and allows them to contribute to their own goals of improved health outcomes. Patricia Hyle of Healthwise, a company that develops health information and provides decision support tools for health centers, agreed that better patient integration is necessary for quality healthcare. “A patient has to be considered an active and equal part of that care team […] not just a passive person that we push information out to.”

Only time will tell how advancing healthcare technology will contribute to patient engagement, but regardless of how smart data changes the healthcare formula, patients and providers must work together every step of the way.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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How Creativity Disrupts Business Process Management

How Creativity Disrupts Business Process Management

Business Process Management (BPM) is a strategy of optimizing workflow for better efficiency and resource management. While this concept is an important part of making sure a business can achieve its goals, it has limitations in its scope of effectiveness. BPM works best with processes that are structured and follow set patterns; processes performed the same way over and over are ideal candidates for optimization.

However, business processes aren’t always that simple. Many business functions are complex, variable, and require user input to direct their course. These are unstructured business processes. Unpredictable business processes follow no predetermined design like their rote counterparts, but are still a necessary part of the overall business infrastructure. They seem inefficient from a business optimization standpoint, but creativity and innovation rely on this adaptable work.

Optimizing Unpredictability

Though unstructured work is necessary for successful innovation, BPM can’t be used to enhance these processes. BPM is an evaluative framework that requires predictability of project goals. Optimization is impossible when your workflow is subject to change. BPM is based on planned outcomes, and by nature can’t apply to unstructured processes.

How Creativity Disrupts Business Process Management

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But giving up on unstructured processes isn’t an option either. While the routine, structured tasks that form the core of a business model are important, they rarely drive significant change. Innovation requires this creative energy to flow freely—optimized or not. While solutions to this issue may be different for each unique business, there are several common trends to remember:

  • Flexibility: Adapting to the unexpected requires a competent and flexible workforce. Businesses should prioritize this adaptability when working with unfocused project goals. Flexibility helps prevent inefficiency losses that come with trying to apply structured benchmarks to an unstructured project.
  • Discipline: Unfocused work means more is left to chance—putting more responsibility on your workforce. Team members trying to optimize unstructured projects must manage their time efficiently and stay on top of goals to account for the unpredictable nature of the work.
  • Freedom: Businesses often get caught up trying to apply too much structure to unfocused work. Creativity and inspiration need space to grow on their own. Trying to optimize what can’t be controlled stifles the creative process and guarantees that neither better efficiency nor creative insight will be found.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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