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What is the point of lean?

Business is business right? The Goal (Goldratt) is to make money, it’s very true, because if a business does not make money, then it cannot survive. This is where lots of organisations have actually missed the point of lean (and or six sigma in fact). 

Many of these organisations see lean as a way to make more money, which is actually an abuse of the tools and methodologies. Lean, in itself, was actually developed to reduce the time between customer order and being paid by the customer, not to increase profit. The tools can have the effect of increasing profit, definitely, and of course there is nothing wrong with that in itself. The problem comes when lean ends up abusing the business, paring it down beyond the bone and negatively affecting the business itself and the people in it.

The latest incarnation of lean is starting to really focus on people, unfortunately, this has not yet hit ‘mainstream’ lean facilitators or big consultancies. I have observed that lean in so many organisations I have worked in, is seen primarily as a cost saving effort, rather than a cultural effort. My view is that this relates to most modern business being much more short term focussed than those who take the cultural aspect as the key driver. Take a look at Simon Sinek’s book ‘The Infinite Game’ if you want a deeper understanding of the thinking here.

All that said, business is business and The Goal is certainly to make money, but I think there is a need to find a balance and for business not to be solely financially driven, we must also consider our people and show them the respect they deserve. Organisations are about people, they are about much more than making money, every business actually has a purpose (besides The Goal), the money is the fuel to achieve the purpose, not the other way around.

Thriving, not just surviving

Cancer is not always the end.

It’s hard, it’s awful, it hurts, it’s scary, it can make you lose all hope.

When I was diagnosed, I literally felt that I had no future. When I look back, I had no hope, mentally, I had just about given up and in my mind, all doors were closed.

Happily, this was just not the case.

I am 8 years passed diagnosis, I have now gone 3 years without any ‘cancer check ups’. I have spent the last few years, rebuilding my life, I have an amazing wife, an absolutely awesome little girl (with another on the way and due soon!). I have a great job and maybe more importantly than all that, I am now a keen runner despite my constant pain (post surgery pain never resolved).

I run a lot, I deal with the chronic pain caused by surgery, the running actually helps with this, combine all that with my work, which is in business improvement, I keep myself busy. Soyou see, I’m not actually a cancer survivor, I am a cancer thriver! Cancer actually changed the direction of my life, it made me really aware of the tenuous grip we have on life and made me realise I needed to really go for everything I want.

If you are dealing with cancer right now, please please do not give up, none of us know the future, you can take control, maybe to a greater or lesser degree than me, but you can control your life, do not be a victim.

Adam.

Run run run run run!!

I run. I run early in the morning. I run 5 days a week. I think I’m an addict now.

This was my view while running this morning. I clear my mind, I run at peace, I don’t chastise myself for my slow plod, I know I’m doing it the right way. I focus my mind outwardly so as to not focus on the pain. Life is too short to focus on pain, I have found that if I focus on my surroundings and admire the animals that I see, not only do I not notice the pain as much but the miles pass easily. I recently had a beautiful barn owl fly silently just over my head and ahead of me, it was amazing. Had I been focussing on the pain, I probably would not have even noticed.

 

I’ve been training for the 2020 Race to the Stones for some time now, so I’m going to start blogging about my experience of it here, all the ups and downs, the doubts and the joy. I might add some podcasts / videos as well, let’s see how that goes. At the very least, this will be here and serve as a reminder of my work.

I’m a cancer survivor, cholangiocarcinoma, which, at time of diagnosis in 2012, was quite a rare cancer with only a 30% survival rate. So I’m very glad to still be here, plodding around the countryside at the age of 51.

To me, all the above says, keep fighting, look for the joy, enjoy the journey.

 

I love to run, I’m not fast, but I run!

For over ten years I have been running, it’s my way of staying healthy both physically and mentally.

I run to give myself some time to be thankful and appreciate the world, it is truly my moment of freedom. Often times this feels like I imagine meditation to feel, other times it is a social event when I run with people either I know and like or run as part of a group such as ParkRun. 

In the last few years I have lost 3 stone 10 pounds (about 23.5 kilos) mostly through running and being a little more mindful of what I eat, I have tried diets but I never seem to get on with them. I still weigh more than I should (just over 100kg), but its going in the right direction, and more to the point, I have found how to love running.

I had a coach some time ago, a guy called Tony Pound (from Track Bang Wallop in Oxford) who I found via werun.com, I asked him to coach me on my running technique, which he did an excellent job of doing. From there, I went on to running in minimalist shoes (Vibrams) and getting a footpad (Stryd) to help me analyse my outputs in more detail.

Over the years since I started running, I have now run 9 half marathons, The London Marathon, a full Tough Mudder, and this year I am taking on The Race to the Stones over 2 days, which is 2 back to back ultra marathons totalling 100km (62 miles).

 

To help me achieve my objective of completing The Race to the Stones, I read a book called 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald and later bought his Ultra training plan. The methodology essentially means that 80% of my running focus is on low power zones output (zone 2, just above walking pace!), which at first felt incredibly difficult. I have been following this plan for nearly 4 months now and I am fitter and a better runner than I ever have been, as long as you look at my metrics based upon my objective. Based upon the data, I am slower than I used to be, but I am far more comfortable running further, which is the aim of course! I expect that if I wanted to run faster, I could, but I have stuck as close to the plan as I can, there are always days of course where it is just impossible. Those days, I just ignore, chalk it up to ‘life’ and move on, I don’t get hung up over it.

The first and last!

Below are the first and last posts of my blog that I used to diarise my experience of cancer, not knowing to start with, if I was going to survive.

You can see the rest of my posts here

If you have just been diagnosed, it might give you a good insight into what may lay ahead, I had no idea, so if this helps someone, that’s great.

If you have been diagnosed, have a read and reach out to me, happy to talk more and point you in the direction of great resources.

 

Adam

Quite something

Its quite something….

 

A few years ago, I was dying of cancer.

 

I went through all that, came out the other side, have a successful job, a wonderful wife and an absolutely gorgeous little girl. 

 

 

Do you know what? I’m still here, but I am still affected by cancer. Not the physical, actually having the disease (I hope!), but the mental scars are still playing on the mind, there is still physical pain, but the worst part is the mental scars. Weird, just now I considered suicide, for the first time in many years, just for a moment, and not seriously, but it was just, let’s take these pills then I won’t have to worry about cancer! Of course, I didn’t, but it surprised me, caught me off guard, this is not normal for me, sure, I’ve had my moments when I’ve been down but this was not that, this was just a very casual, screw it, let’s go.

Diagnosis

Hi, so just a little catch up, seeing as I’ve just decided to start this blog now.

For the past year I have had pain in lower right section of my abdomen. I initially went to A+E thinking I had appendicitis but was sent away after some tests showed I didn’t. I then went to my gp who told me I had a grumbling appendix, this I believed and consequently just ignored the pain.

After marrying my beautiful wife Emily on the 7th of January 2012 we registered at our new doctors after moving in together. I went and saw him and he sent me for an ultrasound scan.
On my wife’s birthday, February 10th, a doctor from my old gp surgery rang me up because the hospital had sent the results to them and said I have a lesion on my liver which may be cancer, not a great present for my poor wife.
I have BUPA cover from my employer which i am very grateful for so decided to go private to investigate this whilst the gp arranged follow up through the NHS.
Very soon after this I went to see a liver specialist in the Chaucer hospital in Canterbury, who promptly arranged a ct scan. The ct scan itself was fine but it was at this point that I was going to find out that my veins were difficult to get cannulas into, over the next 3 days there were 7 attempts to get my veins for just one ct scan and an MRI scan!
When myself and my wife went back for the results of the ct scan, the consultant said he was 90% certain this was a hemangioma, basically a large blood blister on the liver but that he was to send me for an MRI scan because of the 10% uncertainty.
MRI scan done, I went back for the results and when he called me in he said “oh is your wife not with you?” this immediately made me suspect the worst. Emily couldn’t be with me as she was working and we were 90% certain all was ok! So the consultant then went on to explain that he was not happy with the MRI results and was going to refer me to a surgeon in London. All of this took a little over a week!
The following week, after having been put on half pay by my employer, forcing me to return to work, even though I was in severe pain, we went to see the surgeon in London at kings college hospital. After some initial discussion he asked me what I knew so far, I told him not a lot! He then told us that I have primary liver cancer. This knocked me sideways. I was in shock and so was my poor darling wife. He then went on to explain that because the tumor is inside my liver, there is too much risk in doing a biopsy for fear of spreading the cancer but that a liver resection would be needed. Basically the man was telling me that he was going to cut out half of my liver and that I had a 30% chance of 5 year survival.

Driving home was traumatic!

I told my employer the diagnosis and, to be fair, they have basically told me not to worry about money now as this changes everything.

I then had to go and have a PET scan at st.Thomas’s hospital, this again was fine apart from the vein issue! I looked at the images on the cd they gave me and decided that actually I didnt have cancer 🙂

I then got a phone call confirming my operation for Sunday 18th of march 2012 and admission on the 17th. I am currently in kings college hospital private ward, nervous as hell lol but grateful for my wonderful wife and that the operation can be done.
I have just spoken to a doctor who has told me that the operation will last 6-8 hours and that I am not going to know much about the next few days. Suits me! I will update this again as I go along.

Love to all my family and most of all to my amazing wife.

Adam.