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  • Chris Armstrong

    Just spoke recently with one of the folks that has adopted the Tatham Method. He swears by it and says it is the only method he has found in his career that truly can get to the “root cause” in “root cause analysis”. Intriguing thought.

    Can “boot camp” help me and my organization break down the endless analysis cycle and really get to the “root cause” of my pain??

    • Yes. Boot Camp can change your thinking to break the cycle of analysis. One leader left Boot Camp and immediately applied the method to his own workflow and way of dealing with customer complaints in order to stop them versus developing new ways to handle them. This was a first step on his journey and was initiated before even leaving the session.

  • John Munce

    Great point about getting to root cause. You don’t need to put it in quotation marks because it’s the heart of the problem solving in Boot Camp. One team was convinced that the reason the stores weren’t cleaned properly was that the contract was wrong. After some work, they found the real problem was that the store manager and the janitor didn’t have any way to communicate: they were never there at the same time. Instead of fancy technology and contract renegotiations and checkers-checking-the-checkers, they created a form left on the corner of the managers desk every night and every morning. Problem solved.

  • We have a process improvement methodology in our business but it is losing steam because people are not buying in. How exactly will your approach and Boot Camp help avoid this type of scenario. Any examples would be much appreciated.

    • To add to Doug’s comment, Boot Camp also helps with people buying in to the change efforts because the session allows them to feel what their company can be like. It’s not a vision on paper or words leaders promise them. The experience shows them how their day-to-day work life can change and it’s exciting. We have seen participants willingly work themselves out of a job looking forward to a new one that is part of this vision.

      The work that follows for the Boot Camp participants gives them a new set of eyes to see the world with – it’s irreversible and sustains the efforts. It breaks down process work into common, easy to apply terms and techniques that becomes the way everyone operates, not just a few internal consultants. It’s an approach more about changing the mindset of the people than the mechanics of the methodology.

    • Fenton Carey

      Anthony, I had the pleasure of taking the boot camp in 1993 when I worked directly for the Secretary of Energy and created an office of space in the department. To get Energy and NASA to work closer together, the NASA Administrator asked that I work directly for him too. The Secretary agreed, and the Administrator included me in all of his efforts to reinvent NASA and make it a quality organization. The boot camp was one of them.

      In short, the boot camp was the best training I have ever had. Unfortunately, most of the NASA senior executives just did not get it. It was like trying to herd cats. And, in government, there are few incentives to get employees to work together and change, especially between agencies. So, the Administrator had an uphill battle. The training exposed the cause of many key organizational issues and gave a simple systematic way to address cultural and process issues. But the keys to success are his strong leadership, commitment to change, and accountability. As the saying goes, if the people don’t change, then you may have to change the people.

      Visioning and planning are tough, but they are easy compared to implementation! The boot camp provided the tools to do this!

  • Doug Powell

    The real difference maker at our company has been the scientific nature of the method itself. Once the problem is broken down to its root causes, you are able to build a foundational proposal based on proof rather than opinion. Having overseen and been a part of nearly 30 efforts at my company, I can tell you that the results and resulting proposals are very difficult to oppose. Root cause, once it’s found and explained, simply rings true. The solutions are not complex, helping people to want to get behind them. The experimentation built into the method allows plenty of room for opinions which become experiments in knowledge rather than the start of disagreement. You are able to involve antagonists that draws them into the process and turns their opposition to support.

  • Mark Ferrows

    I agree completely with Fenton. Without the proper leadership all efforts go out the window. My internal consultants are six sigma trained and are basically the glue holding everything together. I fear this is not going to be sustainable. We are at the point where nothing can get implemented, and my internal consultants spend more time navigating through poor leadership instead of helping discover key defects that directly impact our customers. If I already have a six sigma program in place can boot camp help facilitate this? Will it help with leadership issues?

  • Greg Davidson

    I have taken what I learned from Michael Tatham when I was at NASA with me to private industry, and the rules apply universally. The most important aspect of the boot camp methodology is that it focuses your efforts to craft a solution on the source of the problem or impediment. Six Sigma efforts invariably drift towards a diagnosis that your problems are caused by the absence of a documented process, when in fact problems are often caused by well-documented processes that are inconsistent with other processes, are never fully executed because they are inadequately resourced, or that require energy to be expended on tasks that don’t bring commensurate value to your enterprise. Boot camp is the best way I know to focus the attention of a team on what really matters, to create a share vision of our collective objectives. And then the practical tools and approach to experimentation help you chart an efficient and effective path to a higher level of performance.

    • Marilyn

      I have been reading this blog with interest. I have been using the Tatham methodology since 1998 at two companies, one over 2000 employees and one just over 500 employees.

      At the first company, one division’s leadership team bought in and we were able to reduce the staff from 1000 employees to just over 700 employees, through attrition. At the same time we increase our volume of work by 30%. This was over a two year period. We did this by utilizing the Tatham methodology to review all of our processes, remove the rework, and find the root cause of problems.

      Where we ran into problems was when a process started and/or ended in another business area (like IT). It was difficult to get them to the table to discuss issues or implement solutions. Much of what we did implement is still in use today.

      At the second company we have had even greater success. I have been here 5 years now, and not only is it fully supported by senior management, but it is part of all of our strategic plans. Every division, identifies a couple of “key initiatives” each year and results are part of the incentive program. These are facilitated by the business leaders and our dedicated Process Masters. In addition at the team level, further issues are identified and worked on by the managers and their teams, with Tatham Process Managers as coaches.

      No area in the company is off limits. All Management “must” attend a Boot Camp soon after being hired, (we run about 4 per year).

      I think the key is to have good Leadership support and start slow. Our whole Leadership team went to the Boot Camp for Executives (Our CEO had been before). The first year we picked 3 projects to work on which were high volume, and very visible processes.
      We also introduced measurement..the right kind! We often collect lots of data but not useful information. Boot Camp shows you what data you need to use!

      Over the five years our culture has changed. Everyone works at improving processes. This year we have 14 key intiatives and 25 smaller ones.

      I am also trained in Six Sigma however I find the data collection strategies with Six Sigma are often onerous and not always necessary.

      What I really like about Tatham’s methodology is that is is simple to understand and use. Boot Camp is a great tool to help everyone see the possibilities and to engage them into action.


  • Keith

    I was pleased to serve as a Boot Camp Facilitator during my tenure at Bank of America in the 90’s. I recall like it was yesterday how Michael asked us questions that firmly yet in a non-threatening way challenged our thinking around process. The value add from that experience was not just a methodology and tool kit that dramatically improved process performance but an entire knew way of looking at work itself.

    As important and impactful as that experience was since then I have consistently applied, I will call them, The Truths about Process to my work at Maritz as a consultant to automotive dealerships and know in my work at CCBCC.

    I have come to understand that organizations have the same set of business problems and 80% of those problems are the same. The remaining 20 % of problems are attributable to the unique attributes of their industry.

    I have come to understand that all organizations, regardless of size, across all industries, public or private, don’t know what they don’t know. What they don’t know is – The Truth about Process – and how the Tatham organization can enable them to minimize those problems by:

    1. Improving the performance and output for their core processes…
    2. Lower the cost of doing business…
    3. Increase revenue…
    4. Improve employee engagement…

  • Scott McKellar

    As a past participant and facilitator of the Tatham Boot Camp, I can honestly say that the effectiveness of the Tatham Systematic Method is something you have to see to believe.

    Seemingly impossible problems that you will never overcome are quickly reduced to their basic building blocks and the root cause identified and resolved. Ongoing monitoring of the “health” of the process is established with meaningful and relevant metrics which allow the process manager to maintain quality and efficiency while satisfying the clients’ needs.

    Of all the management and leadership training I have taken over the years, Boot Camp has given me insights into business which have stuck with me and that I have been able to draw on long after my last project was completed.

  • Mirasol

    The boot camp experience was a real eye opener. The technique of recreating the problem was something new. In dealing with any issues, we oftentimes jump into fixing it. The question remains are we really fixing the root cause of the problem?
    This method was simple and easy to follow.

  • Dick

    The boot camp is time well spent, compressing many learnings into a short period of time. This experiencial learning is one of the most powerful you will experience around process, finding the root cause, focusing on the customer, the importance of communication, and many others. It re-enforces the need for a disciplined, consitent process. My subsequent experience using the Tatham method in several corporate roles was very positive. Problems and problem areas can be attacked and solved much faster and frequently with solutions requiring much lower capital investment than other process methodologies I have used such as Six Sigma, Lean, and Hammer. The three day time investment for boot camp seems long at face value but you experience it,the value proposition is much greater than you would expect.

  • Melissa Sparks

    Who doesn’t love a checklist? One of the most rewarding and exciting times in my career included participating in and leading Tatham Boot Camps. The method works and is brilliantly simplistic. Boot Camp allows participants to experience failure in a simulation, react, correct, and solve for the root cause. The concepts and techniques discovered in boot camp stay with you well beyond the 2 day experience or the the weeks you spend immediately afterwards solving your first customer issue.

    I may not currently be leading boot camps, but I am absolutely asking what our customer issues are, leveraging process dissection to pinpoint where in the process the customer issue is occuring, and solving for root causes.

    It only takes one successful implementation to be convinced of the method’s effectiveness. The method requires resources and focus, but can solve what leadership may see as an insurmountable problem extremely efficiently.

  • Renae Pekas

    Words can’t even begin to describe this journey that a boot camp participant embarks upon. What I can say is that this is one experience and opportunity of both personal and professional growth of a lifetime. I am grateful to have been given this opportunity; I have been forever changed by this experience, for the better and utilize techniques from this training daily both at work and at home.

    Think about this…only the best and brightest want to get better, right? Individuals attending boot camp are generally exceptional individuals. Each of person brings unique talents, expertise and experiences. By sharing your talents, trusting one another, leveraging data & resources available and listening to your customers, you will be inspired and have a solid foundation to become even better (while having some fun along the way)!

  • Christine Milsom

    The Tatham methodology is used within our organisation as a catalyst for change. The methodology itself is simple yet effective. We invest in our people, and the two day bootcamp experience gives them a new lens and our own people are the innovators!

    The leadership changes that occur in pull are critical to the success of the business, the change in mindset and focus of our leaders is brilliant to see. The team lead uses data to lead the team rather than reacting to an event and managing the situation. In one of the Boot Camps I facilitated recently, the team lead’s intuitive response was to react to a situation and get involved, but he then recognised his behaviours and was able to step back and let his data tell him that the situation was actually under control and there was no need to intervene…it was fantastic!

    The difficulty I have faced as a coach, is convincing others that sometimes you have to go slow to go fast. When there are issues occurring within your business it seems far easier to continue fire fighting, but stepping away and following the Tatham checklist will ultimately transform your business. Trust me; you have to see it to believe it!

    …The best part of it all is the root causes are often so simple!

  • Lorrie

    I found the Tatham Group’s Boot Camp to be a well run and efficient way to live and learn proven, practical business improvement concepts without using trial and error in your own business. As an over-achiever and senior leader, you think you can figure things out, get the team to “do things right” — make the system work. You may be horrified that you can’t. But by the end of the boot camp you WILL be amazed at what you can and will accomplish with Tatham Groups’ simplified customer-focused processes.

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  • Ken Steward

    Tatham will teach you how to empower your own people to challenge,question,renew and repair your processes in your company. I ran an extremely successful ,extremely profitable and highly visible apparel company and after going to Tatham’s Boot Camp,we took every financial measurement to record levels only because we challenged every employee to challenge every process, empowered them and let them go do it. We focused all our companies efforts on the customer, worked with the customer to fix ,renew or repair our mutual processes together and the results were staggering.

  • Patrick O’Brien

    Strong recommendation for the merit and results of The Tatham Group and Boot Camp. At Rockwell Collins we leveraged its powerful effect as a component of our enterprise approach.