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Learning Style - Part 6 of 7
Part 1  Part 2    Part 3   Part 4   Par 5   Part 6   Part 7

The Engineer has a PHD in the third law of Thermodynam­ics. The Marketing manager skydives for a hobby. The Production Planner started as an assembler. The purchasing lady is concerned about partnerships and long-term relationships. These people are all going to work together to better serve customer needs, cut time to market in half, and make designs more buildable. How?

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Leadership Styles

The Leadership Behavior Inventory from Excel measures leadership styles by assessing individual approaches to leadership tasks.

Once the concepts of learning styles and leadership styles are known and understood, individuals can supplement their knowledge of their own and others' styles by compar­ing scores on the assessments and seeking peer confirma­tion concerning learning and leadership style opinions and observations.

Concurrent Product Development

Markets and competition are demanding an ever changing array of customer pleasing products. Companies in in­creasing numbers are turning to Concurrent Product De­velopment as the vehicle for meeting this challenge. Concurrent Product Development integrates all of the requirements, design, manufacturing and support efforts involved in developing a product. The cross functional, Concurrent Product Development Team, supported by analytical methods and shared databases, is the vehicle for achieving this integration.

Since Concurrent Product Development Teams are being entrusted with the company's ability to compete in the future, these teams usually start with a sense of high purpose. Where these teams and Concurrent Development programs tend to stumble is in being able to integrate people with diverse backgrounds and lifetimes of func­tional experience into a balanced cross-functional team.

The changes the teams need to learn are the following:

• Technical: Each team member must acquire and learn to use core customer/market, product and pro­cess design knowledge.
• Cross-functional: The team members need to learn and understand the challenges and problems faced by each of the functions involved.
• Process: The team must learn to consider themselves as a product development process and think in a process context. This means shedding the functional orientation where functions were responsible for a part of a product development, but there was no sense of everyone being responsible for a successful new product.

Teaching and incorporating learning styles into the team dynamic can help the team learn these new skills. Leader­ship styles can help the teams achieve a sense of mutual accountability.

Using learning styles can help in the choice of team members or outside resources to be used to lead the team to acquire the required skill learning. In our prior example, the engineer PHD from Engineering was eminently profi­cient in problem solving techniques. To teach these tech­niques to the remainder of the team, however, requires knowledge and understanding of fellow team members' learning styles. This knowledge of team learning styles can be used to design and deliver technical education that leverages similar learning styles for reinforcement and leverages different learning styles for insights.

Learning to think as a process and shed functional orien­tation means building a mutual responsibility for achiev­ing the team purpose. To build this mutual accountability is to ask every Concurrent Product Development team member to be a leader. Building this accountability in­volves engaging all four of the leadership styles shown in Figure One as follows:

• Type One leader seeks alignment between personal and group values. The type one leader relies heavily on consensus and support in decision making. Appropri­ately, this leadership style is extremely important as the team starts, since personal and group alignment establishes a functional balance among team mem­bers.

• Type Two leader seeks alignment between people and procedures. Theory and data are primarily relied upon for decision making. This style helps the team get down to work, establish clear product vision and objectives, think problems through and make fact-based decisions.

• Type Three leader seeks alignment between goals and output. Results are the prime basis for decision making. This is the leadership style that drives us to metrics and performance measures. We want the team to measure where we are versus promised output— where we are between commitments and progress.

• Type Four leader seeks alignment between what is and what might be. This leader primarily makes decisions based on intuition. This leadership style provides the inspiration to attack the problem after next. We need this leadership style to have the team view this product development in the light of a com­plete product line.

The team is capable of accepting mutual and individual accountability once the alignments required by all four of the leadership styles are understood and satisfied and each team member understands the decision making mode of fellow members.

Part 1  Part 2    Part 3   Part 4   Par 5   Part 6   Part 7

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