Posted by: Knightbird | July 9, 2013

Bounce: The Art of Turning Tough Times Into Triumph


I came across this book by Keith McFarland and decided to pick it up. The book is in story format as told by Mike Maloney, a division manager for a company in the throes of decline. On occasion I find a book that intrigues me so much I end up reading it in a couple of sittings. This story is short so that didn’t take too long. Lean Management is one of the sub themes in the book, and is not covered in any significant detail. The story is instead one of engaging your employees in the mission (not a board directed mission statement, but more of a military mission-one immediate and tangible) of your company.

Mike learns some lessons from a soldier he works out with at a local gym, and the takeaways were compelling. As any cultural lean practitioner will recognize, lean starts with respect. However, the way the message of respect was given impressed me.

The first lesson is to embrace the bounce, thus the title of the book. The bounce is the recovery that follows a period of disintegration in an organization. If you have an engaged, learning staff, and management encourages these behaviors, disintegration is followed by reflection, thinking and a period of reintegration. I will let you read the book for the other 5 principles the author discusses.

I did particularly like a few short mental attitudes encourage by Mike under the tutelage of the soldier. “See reality clearly” is something few businesses do. I have lived through this. Executives will see what they want to see, and it’s not always reality. During my lean implementation at Chugachmiut, we talked about recognizing problems as treasures, and the knowledge about defects as important information to know. As has been said, No problem is problem. The second mental advice is to “Treat causes, not symptoms.” In other words, use the 5 why’s and conduct a root cause analysis. The third piece of advice is that “We Control, not They Control.” Too often we blame others for the circumstances we find ourselves in. I see this all the time in the Alaska Tribal Health System. The problems they experience are caused by a lack of funding. By accepting control, and using the tools of lean, the problems become under their control. The fourth piece of advice is to “Hold Hands in Public.” Or in other words, stick together.

Despite being a lean coach, mentor and teacher, I find that the learning never stops. Because of the many different ways Executives think, and the experiences they have had, it takes many different ways of teaching to get points across. I have to be nimble, observant and willing to change my teaching approach. Bounce helped me to some of that.

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