Be Purple

Focus, focus, focus. Measure, measure, measure. We draw organizational boxes, control volumes, and measure ins and outs. Cost, quality, delivery.

Control volumes? Open a Ziploc bag and pour water in it. The bag is the control volume and the water is the organizational ooze. Feel free to swim around in the bag, but don’t slip through it because you’ll cross an interface. You’ll get counted.

Organizational control volumes are important. They define our teams and how we optimize (within the control volumes).  We optimize locally. But there’s more than one bag in our organizations.

The red team designs new products. They wear red shirts, red pants, and red hats. They do red things. We measure them on product function. The blue team makes products. They wear blue and do blue things. We measure them on product cost. Both are highly optimized within their bags, yet the system is suboptimal. Nothing crosses the interface – no information, no knowledge, no nothing. All we have is red and blue. What we need is purple.

We need people with enough courage to look up one level, put on a blue shirt and red pants, and optimize at the system level. We need people with enough credibility to swap their red hat for blue and pass information across the interface. We need trusted people to put on a purple jumpsuit and take responsibility for the interface.

Purple behavior cuts across the fabric of our metrics and control volumes, which makes it difficult and lonely. But, thankfully some are willing to be purple. And why do they do it?  Because they know customers see only one color – purple.

One Response to “Be Purple”

  • Mike…
    I know from where you speak. I’ve played the parts of different disciplines within different engineering and manufacturing organizations. The two most prominent…design and production. The Red and the Blue. And in my daily role now, although I report as the Blue, my shoes and shirt are blue, and my pants and hat is red. Stand back and have a look…I appear to be purple. I’m a manufacturing professional who spends most of his day hanging out with the cats over in design. I take and feed them blue cookies, and they provide the red coffee. It’s not only easy, it’s fun.

    The end result is value for the customer. The purple team will proudly show off to their customer the inner processes that allow the recipient to enjoy the price, the delivery, and the quality. The “PDQ satisfactions.” The Red learns about blue things, and the Blue is more understanding of Red things. This is SO important in a productive environment.

Leave a Reply

Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner