Mr. Miyagi in unknown territory – The Next Move

Mr. Miyagi, after his disappointment with Allan, came back to his home, and went through his day to day work. He was still thinking about the office he saw. He was thinking how different that office was. It was a truly new experience for him. Mr. Miyagi thought to himself, “Implementing lean manufacturing in that environment would have been an interesting challenge”

 Time passed, it was 2.30 pm. His doorbell rang. Mrs. Miyagi, opened the door and spoke to the visitor, and came back to Mr. Miyagi and told him that there is a visitor called Allan to meet him.  Mr. Miyagi wasn’t surprised. He slowly walked to the door and asked, “How are you Allan?”, “you are about six hours late” he added with a smile. Allan said he is very sorry about what happened early in the day. And he explained that he was with one of his former customer, who is very much unhappy about the service his firm was offering. Meeting was scheduled to be finished by 10 am, but it went on till 12 in the noon. “Last thing I want to do was to walk out from that meeting” added Allan. Come inside, invited Mr. Miyagi. Both sat on a sofa and started talking about what happened in the morning and what is going on in the business in general.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Miyagi came with a nice pot of tea and kept it on the table and disappeared. Mr. Miyagi helped Allan with making his tea and made himself a cup, and had a sip. Mr. Miyagi explained Allan how different his office was. Allan smiled and said “We embrace the open culture. We do not care what our people do in or out of our organization, if the work is done”. “OK” said Mr. Miyagi and asked “Allan, how do you define work? And how do you know it is done?” Allan was stuck for a moment. And he replied “Mr. Miyagi, well we have a detailed project plan with a manager responsible for the entire project and every member is assigned specific tasks from that project plan. That is how we basically work”. OK Allan, you replied how you delegate work, but how do you measure the work is done? asked Mr. Miyagi. “Well, when the project is gone live, that is when the project completed, we have completed each task. It is simple” Allan replied. “OK, then how do you get problems after the completion of project? Has some one not done their job correct?” asked Mr. Miyagi. Allan replied after thinking little “Yes, we have found in some cases people have not done their job correct. But that is not the major issue. Sometimes, or if I may call it, most of the times, customer disappointment is something to do with we do not match to their expectations. We have gone through all the routines we should follow in a project. But still we have all these problems. If the customer is not happy, we are in trouble, although we have delivered all what we agreed. This is how our industry works, I guess”

With this explanation, very important thing hit Mr. Miyagi. With his vast experience, he recalled similar scenarios from various industries and how they overcame the issues. It was somewhat clear to him that there is a problem in the main process itself. Process of understanding what customer wants and converting it to the language their firm understand, and creating the solution and converting it back to the customer’s language, all familiar to Mr. Miyagi. He is a consultant himself, he knows what can go wrong in the process and has good experience in correcting them. Although Mr. Miyagi cannot even wright a piece of program for himself, he knows writing the program is only a small part of the process. He knew and felt there is something wrong in the full process. With all these in mind, he asked Allan “How about the quality of your software? I mean is it working well? You know I do not understand this technical stuff. I just want to know how you test the quality of your end product. If I may bring an analogy, when I was working for a manufacturer making electrical items, they used to check the quality of the product from the designing stage. They evaluated the design of the product and then they checked the raw material, and then they routinely checked the product after every stage of manufacturing and then they used to check the finish product as well. How do you do this in your case?” Mr. Miyagi tried to understand whether there is a problem with the core product Allan’s firm is making, which is the software they develop.

“Well, we do follow somewhat similar process. Our architects design the solution after looking into the customer’s requirement”. “Architects?”, Mr. Miyagi asked with curiously. Allan smiled and said “Yes, Architects. Well they do not build or design buildings in our case. But they do design our solutions”, Allan paused for a moment and started all over again. “Well after creating the design, our specialist from each area takes over and them and their respective teams will do the coding. They will do a testing themselves and we have some separate set of people to test the system. They also do testing before releasing the product for last stages. And even after all the integration is done, we do another full testing to check whether the solution is working as we intend it to be. To be honest, we comply at least 90% of the times with the original requirement specs. With some of the corrections, we might comply up to 97%. This is a very good figure, considering our industry.” Although Mr. Miyagi could not understand everything Allan was explaining, one thing was clear from Allan’s explanations. Allan’s firm delivers value to their customer from their perspective. So he asked “Well, still your customers are not happy, aren’t they?”. Allan said “Yes, sadly, that is the problem”.

Mr. Miyagi wants to end the conversation for the day. “Well we will discuss this further in next week. When can we meet?” asked Mr. Miyagi. Well we will meet next Tuesday, sharp 9.30 am said Allan. Mr. Miyagi agreed. He with a fatherly smile said, “You better be there by 9.30”. Discussion took almost an hour and Allan left after thanking Mr. Miyagi. Mr. Miyagi was still thinking, with all his expertise he felt little confused and he felt this is not going to be easy. With today’s discussion between Mr. Miyagi and Allan, there is much more light on the issues they face. Now things are slightly clearer than it was earlier.

What did you understood with this discussion? Please leave your thoughts as the comments to this post. If you liked the story so far, please press the “LIKE” button below.

Read Part 3 Of This Story

Mr. Miyagi in unknown territory

Mr. Miyagi, was going through his normal work just like any other day, until he got a call from an unknown person, who introduced himself as Allan. Allan went on to explain how he got the contact number of Mr.Miyagi and how many recommended the service offered by him. So to Mr.Miyagi, it was clear, Allan is a client interested in lean. So he asked, “Mr.Allan, how I may help you?”. First please call me Allan, no Mr. is required. Then I am interested in implementing lean manufacturing principles in my workplace, replied Allan. Well, OK. Said Mr. Miyagi. Can I know little more about your organization, he added.

Well, we do programing for our clients. Our software helps to improve their efficiencies. We currently have 32 people working for us altogether, including me. I am the owner and the CEO of the company, said Allan without a pause in between. OK, how can I help you, asked Mr. Miyagi. After a little pose, Allan replied. Well, we have few issues. With the recent growth of our organization, we are struggling meeting our deadlines. We are frequently getting complaints about the performances of our products. And we are losing some money too. We need your help to come out of these issues.

Mr. Miyagi is not a techie, so he had his share of concerns when it came to working with a high tech company like Mr. Allan’s. So Mr. Miyagi asked “Allan, I am not a technical person. I am not sure how I may help you?” that is exactly what I want, replied Allan with enthusiasm. We got few of most renowned consultants to help us here. And we hired some of the most talented project managers in the industry. But we couldn’t come out of the problem. When I was speaking to one of my friends, he recommended you. Apparently he was in similar situation and you have helped him out of his issue. Who was your friend asked Mr. Miyagi with some enthusiasm. My friend is Dave, running the paint shop near your place, replied Allan. OK, said Mr. Miyagi. His mind went through the pleasant memories and challenges he faced in that implementation. Mr. Miyagi thought to himself, “let’s give it a try. I should be able to manage it”, and said “OK, Allan, I will have a look. When can I come to meet you?” Tomorrow, replied Allan immediately. Mr. Miyagi agreed to pay a visit the other day, and made few notes in his notebook. And he collected some of the information on the web. He studied how software companies work and compared it with the information he gathered on Allan’s software firm.

As agreed, Next day, 10 am, Mr. Miyagi was in office to meet Allan. The office looked funny at the first glance. Most of the people who seem to be working in the office, did not wear formal stuff. They wear T-shirts, shorts or anything they can grab. Mr. Miyagi was struggling to find the way to reception, and found later that there is no reception. But with one very helpful young guy, he found Allan’s desk, but couldn’t find Allan. “He will be little late and will be here in 10 minutes”, said a girl emerged from the clutter. “Thanks” Said Mr. Miyagi and he went on to observe the office.

It was clearly a different experience. The desks were not boring like in a traditional office. All the desks had something of interest for that person, like a photographs, ornaments, flowers, plenty of soda cans and so on. Everyone was taking to each other freely. Some had their headphones on. Some can be seen playing computer games. Mr. Miyagi imagined trying to implement one of the basics of lean, 5S, here in this office. He couldn’t stand that thought and started smiling. In addition, unlike most of the places Mr. Miyagi was working, he couldn’t find immediate signs of problem like huge piles of WIP, mountains of rejected products and so on. So he was challenged by what he saw. By very nature, Mr. Miyagi loved the challenge.

Time passed by, now the time is 10.25. Still there is no sign of Allan. Mr. Miyagi was little upset, thought about calling Allan on his mobile number. But at the end decided to go. He walked out of the building stopped a cab and he is on his way back.

While he was travelling, Mr. Miyagi was thinking about what he saw, and trying to relate that to the problems the company faced. He wandered, “is every software company like this? If so why only these guys face problems while others don’t?”

What do you think? Why Allan’s organization is facing these issues? Do you think there is something wrong in this culture? Or do you see any other root cause? Please leave your thoughts as a comment below. In addition, if you like the story so far, please let the world know by clicking on the “LIKE” button below. Story will continue soon..

Read Part 2 Of This Story