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TOCICO International Conference - PROGRAM

SPEAKERS (Bios/Abstracts)

July 16-19, 2017
Melia Hotel in Berlin, Germany.


Afredo Mycue - Director of Business Transformation and Rapid Process Improvement at Texas Workforce Commission


Step 1: What to Change?
We must change the way we capture differences in perspective and diverging convictions. Disagreement is often surrounded by a fog. In the course of a disagreement, or argument, the fog prevents us from putting past issues in perspective and often causes us to dismiss legitimate interests of the other party. It is often difficult to separate emotion and personalities from the true objective problem. Recent strife, anecdotal situations, and metaphors populate our memory. These recollections are not necessarily true fact and experience, but stakeholders often perceive them as reality.

This phenomenon, overall lack of clarity and reluctance to engage, limits the application of our thinking tools just when they are most needed. In a manner analogous to the 5 Focusing Steps, if we apply thinking tools, especially the evaporating cloud, to dilemmas which are not core conflicts, then we may waste effort and miss critical opportunities to improve the organization. The change we need is to adopt a way to remove this fog so that we can effectively deploy our thinking tools to evaporate core conflicts and pave a path toward a future reality the entire team desires.

Step 2: What to Change to?
We need to consider a new technique to add to our repertoire of conflict resolution tools and techniques: consider progressive resolution. Progressive Resolution aims to progressively and visually reveal where true disagreement exists in complex, distressed organizations. The technique is to plot instances of real or perceived disagreement on a spectrum. The spectrum is defined by the level of agreement each party has on a particular instance. For example, if there is considerable disagreement about the instance, then it is plotted in the middle of the spectrum. The spectrum also denotes which party is the strongest advocate for the example, and whether or not the other party agrees with that advocacy. Consider this basic illustration of the spectrum:

Here is an illustrative example: Consider an “Automations” department in an important government program. The team’s purpose is to manage existing IT systems and communicate effectively with the IT department to charter projects and system enhancements. The challenge they face is that the line between IT and program has become blurred.
This tool enables you to graphically portray points of agreement and disagreement over a logical and intuitive spectrum. It is a Cartesian graph of consensus and dispute. The ensuing plots of instances of agreement and disagreement begin to paint a picture of where there is true disagreement and where there is perceived disagreement. With both parties in the room, cases can be tested by both groups. In such forums, you might hear the comment: “Well, we in IT don’t have a problem with you all doing that task, we just need to know about it.” Once true disagreement is captured in the center (salmon-colored) part of the spectrum, we can isolate the conflict and create an evaporating cloud to break it.
Here are two more examples, one extremely simple, and another extremely complicated. But both illustrate how the Progressive Resolution concept can be successfully applied to isolate true conflict, while simultaneously identifying legitimate interests. In the first situation a parent is having an impassioned discussion with a child. The discussion revolves around nutrition and preferences. The parent feels strongly that the child should eat nutritious food rich in vitamins and the child would like to eat what tastes good. The child feels adamant that he or she should like the food they eat! Where do the parent and child truly disagree and what are each side’s reasonable “legitimate interests”? Let’s plot the conflict:
As we consider the plot we realize that we do have disagreement, but we begin to see that there are many nutritious and delicious options that both sides agree one. An injection might include building a win-win menu that is both healthy and tasty.
The origins of progressive resolution are to be found in the diplomatic techniques used by the US State Department, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, to educate US Military officers detailed to serve in the US Security Assistance Command in embassies around the world. The effort reflected here is to take those foundations and visually apply them to organizations striving to improve and apply Theories of Constraint to their processes. As demonstrated in the examples, Progressive Resolution is a concept that can be applied in any area where there is conflict and disagreement, from the battlefield to the boardroom to government.

Step 3: How to Cause the Change?
In keeping with Eli Goldratt’s conviction that we spend so much time and effort on positional bargaining and compromise, we must peel away assumptions and perceived differences in order to expose legitimate interests and needs. Progressive Resolution helps accomplish this in a visual, enterprise way. True disagreement is often found only in a few instances and, once isolated, can be effectively captured and evaporated through the use of a conflict cloud. Or the disagreement can be eliminated with injections and the use of a prerequisite tree.

Progressive Resolution is a good name for this tool because it helps you to map existing disagreement so you can resolve the difference, and then progress as a team. However, the name, Progressive Resolution, can be viewed as a bit of a misnomer in the sense that it does not aim to achieve agreement or consensus, but rather to graphically display the disagreement. On the other hand, the concept does progressively advance the entire enterprise team toward a resolution by finding true disagreement and revealing core conflict. At this point, other TOC tools such as Evaporating Conflict Cloud can be used to break dilemmas, dispel assumptions, and, via injections, build consensus and viable solutions. Why not give Progressive Resolution a try the next time you and your teams are faced with a conundrum?

During the first month I started improving government full time in 2012, my executive director flew with me to meet Kristen Cox in her new Governor’s Office of Management and Budget in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I thought then, as I have for many years, that introducing TOC into government operations would result in decisive improvements in service delivery and efficiency.  But that mindset was too limited in scope.  True, TOC-based continuous improvement has had great results; but it has also accomplished something much more lasting and magnificent:  a better management paradigm.  It has created a way for managers and directors in government to effectively conquer the bewildering and multifarious demands made on their teams and achieve focus to meet citizen demands. 

The message I intend to share at TOCICO in Berlin:  Over the last seven years I have witnessed the implementation of 41 TOC-based improvement projects first hand and, through my communications with peers, seen the results of over 100 other TOC-based improvements in dozens of other government agencies.  What has emerged is not just a mandate to use TOC to improve government, but to use TOC to run government. 

TOC has enabled dozens of managers and directors to become more effective leaders and public servants.  This case study abstract tells their story: 

Step 1: What to Change?

A.     The widespread conviction in government is that we need to focus on activity (instead of productivity of services).  We must change the way government measures its ability to provide ever-improving service and increasing value per dollar.  Every week or month managers need to know what items of value their teams produced and how much it cost the taxpayer to produce it (a measure of quality throughput over operational expenses, QT/OE). 

B.     All too prevalent “McGregor X” mentality of government leaders.  Enable government leaders to see the inherent good in the people who work for them and have given so much of their lives to serve in government.  Enable citizens to see the inherent good in their government and the people who do the work of government. Earn the respect and appreciation of our citizens. 

C.     A fear of measurement.  Instead of believing metrics will be a stick to punish government teams, we need to embrace measurement as a way to get operational bio-feedback.  As Eli Goldratt wrote in The Haystack Syndrome, “Show me how you measure me, and I’ll tell you how I’ll behave.”   

D.    The culture of allowing any and all choopchicks to multitask government and distract them from value creation.

E.     Shaky confidence in government teams.  Let’s put TOC tools in managers’ hands.  We must inspire a confidence that “every conflict can be resolved.” Instead of tolerating a conviction that government is always under-resourced, provide managers the TOC based tools to break constraints, dilemmas, and catch-22s.   Help government leaders transition from human pincushions to confident value-creators. 

Step 2: What to Change to? 

We need to develop the following tools and concepts and offer every governmental manager a TOC-based path to pursue POOGI.  These tools are 1) throughput operating strategy 2) capacity model 3) a visual standard operating procedure 4) a dashboard measuring production, quality, time, customer satisfaction, and cost.  Strategic Compasses -- Throughput Operating Strategies (TOS), like those designed by Robert and Kevin Fox, at every level in government (office, department, division, and agency)

a.     A TOS, or Strategic Compass, is a physical manifestation of the 5 Focusing Steps in government.  It identifies the goal of the organization and portrays a simple vision of “what good looks like.”  The TOS is a satellite view of the organization as it takes inputs through its processes to produce quality throughput.  It is the “north star” of the organization reflecting team consensus on the value the organization creates.  This single document is also referred to as a “logic map” in the social sciences. 

b.     The TOS depicts the main constraint of the organization and the flow of value (products or services) through that decisive point.  Generally, there are one or two processes that simply cannot keep pace with the rest of the organization or customer demand and therefore constricts the flow of value through the organization.  Improvement teams must identify these bottlenecks to maximize the flow of value through these points by ensuring other processes in the value-chain subordinate themselves to the constraints which determine the overall productivity of the system.  Below is an example of a TOS created by a Human Resources team in a ReEngine assessment session.  The strategy clearly depicts the goal of the organization. 

Journey Board.  The Journey Board is a workflow capacity model.  This model depicts how the team will achieve its performance objectives over a given time period. A workflow capacity model allocates manpower and resources to accomplish all the essential tasks of the organization.  It is an imagined system that, in our mind’s eye, is operating effectively and efficiently to accomplish all organizational objectives.  This workflow model is a visual portrayal of the teamwork and time necessary to accomplish the intended value for customers. 

This workflow capacity model ties individual performance with team productivity.  The role of the individual is defined in terms of team expectations; in turn, the performance of the team is defined as the cumulative effort of the individual efforts.   Managers can compare actual employee performance with this rubric as they apply judgment and leadership.  This type of model-building can be applied to virtually any type of work to determine the completion rate and optimum amount of on-hand work. In the ideal state the Journey Board demonstrates what the organization is capable of when it is in a positive, goal-achieving stride.  Government team-members can look at the Journey Board and say, THAT is what we can work together to accomplish. 

2.     Visual standard operating procedures (visual SOP’s).  Government is complex.  If steps are not captured in a standard procedure the frictions and frustrations of rules, policies, precedents and conflicting stakeholder guidance, can quickly bring the gears of government to a halt.  If institutional knowledge and wisdom resides exclusively in senior staff there will be a brain-drain when they depart.  It is important to recognize that not all process improvement techniques are as effective in government as they are on manufacturing assembly lines. 

3.     A dashboard measuring production, quality, time, customer satisfaction, team development, and cost enables managers to steer their organizations and make data-driven decisions on a daily basis. 

4.     TOC POOGI wherewithal –The objective is to provide managers TOC thinking tools, TOC mindsets, and other proven continuous improvement techniques. Step 3: How to Cause the Change?  

A critical aspect of this change-implementation is the introduction of the new bottom-line for government or quality throughput over operational expenses (QT/OE, developed by Eli Goldratt and Robert Fox, and discussed in The Race (Croton on the Hudson, NY: North River Press, 1986).  This financial and production accounting tool has great utility in government.  It has enabled government to measure its ability to provide ever-improving service and increasing value per dollar.  This will give government the ability to tie value to cost.  Educating every manager on QT/OE and reporting it, quarter after quarter, in their dashboard will provide foundation for this change.  It is important to recognize that this paradigm creates an ecosystem where graft, waste, and abuse cannot exist.  Consequently, this paradigm is especially important in developing nations where every ingot of government resources needs to be efficiently and effectively leveraged.  In summary, if every manager at every level of government is outfitted with a TOS, capacity model, visual SOP, a dashboard with QT/OE, and basic understanding of the theory of constraints we enable our governments to meet the needs of the nations they serve.  Managers will be able to anticipate problems and make data-driven decisions.  Their limited attention will be focused on the most important constraints. They will be able to resolve the dilemmas facing government and use strategy and tactics tools to make the engines of government even more effective and efficient. 

Alfredo Mycue is the Director of Business Transformation and Rapid Process Improvement at Texas Workforce Commission. He is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and Airborne Ranger. He served in Germany, Egypt, Korea, Iraq, and in 8 States. During his tour of duty he served in a variety of positions including, Stryker Infantry Battalion Commander in Baghdad, Iraq, US Embassy’s Advisor to Korean Army, and Assistant Professor at United States Military Academy at West Point where he educated Cadets in history, ethics, and the military profession.

Alfredo is a graduate of West Point, the Command and General Staff College, holds a Master in Diplomatic History from Tulane University, and a Master in Public Leadership from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He has the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential, is certified as a Theory of Constraint’s Jonah, and is a Certified Six Sigma Black-Belt (CSSBB) in efficiency and quality.

Alfredo recently worked at the Department of Housing from 2009 to 2012 where he was the Manager of Community Affairs. He helped administer over $400M in grant funds across 8 major Federal and State programs. He also developed and implemented a strategy for continuous improvement for 5 major programs at TDHCA. For example, as a direct result of these team improvement efforts, HUD-backed loans dropped from an average of 138 days to 59 days. This has included providing project management and Lean Six Sigma expertise to the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act stakeholders, empowering them to achieve quality weatherization while meeting their production goals set by Department of Energy.

As the Director of Business Transformation, Alfredo leads and coordinates government improvement efforts at Texas Workforce Commission. He has trained 88 practitioners in the Theory of Constraints, Lean tools, and Six Sigma methodologies. Those practitioners, under the mentorship of Alfredo, lead rapid process improvement projects to attain government services production goals, while improving quality and customer experience. We gain capacity without additional resources. Results, such as reducing application processing time from 194 days to 31 days and reducing the cost per application from $3.51 to $1.47, repeatedly demonstrate the power and operational cost savings that these improvement techniques can have on government systems and processes. Alfredo is proud to be a process improvement practitioner in Texas and at the forefront of TWC’s government improvement efforts.