Monday, September 16, 2019

Top Four Reasons Organizations Fail at Kaizen

An essential element in Lean thinking is Kaizen.  Kaizen is the Japanese word for continuous improvement or change for the better.  As no process can ever be declared perfect, there is always room for improvement.  Kaizen involves building on gains by continuing experimentation and innovation.

For businesses, the concept works to improve the performance of managers and employees, the interaction within a team, and the pursuit of better productivity. Since inception, Kaizen has been proven to help various organizations and has been long lauded as a success. However, certain conditions are needed in the corporate culture for this strategy to take effect in an organization. 

Here are four top reasons why organizations fail when implementing the concept of Kaizen.

Equates to Improved KPIs 
The over emphasis on the effect of Kaizen on KPIs would often overshadow the fact that improvements take time and are often incremental, and not revolutionary. Many cases, management write this strategy off as a failure when they do not see immediate results. Without a genuine desire to improve, the concept can not thrive within an organization. While it is crucial to tying Kaizen to KPIs, management has to understand that Kaizen is not magic, it is in fact like a snowball rolling down a gentle slope, gathering momentum and size as it comes down.

Missing Training
Kaizen will never work if people do not implement its full suite of tools and concepts, with sufficient training given to take advantage of them. All the tools, especially the 5-why analysis and the mindset that everything can be improved, is an essential part. Remember to always provide the training people need so you can not only help them become more engaged, but also improve the chances of a successful kaizen.

Lack of Management Support
The importance of support cannot be over emphasized: it is essential that management isn’t just fully on board, but essential that they want to fully embrace the long-term commitment of kaizen to the organization. They need to pass on their enthusiasm and demonstrate that even they are continually looking for new and better ways of doing things.

It’s Not Continuous
My sensei once told me: “Tim-san, improvement cannot be sustained, improvement should be non-stop”. Continuous improvement should be continuous. Never consider yourself to be finished. There will always be something new that you can learn or a skill that you can improve. There is an area for improvement in all businesses, no matter how successful they are. Improvement has no limits, and can be continued on an infinite level.

Kaizen is all about making things better in the long run, and improving your KPIs and processes gradually. It is a strategy that needs to be implemented now, for the future. However, before implementing this concept to any organization, one must evaluate and understand the organizational structure and processes, to implement Kaizen or any management strategies effectively. As I always say, there are no cookie-cutter solutions that can solve all problems.

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Friday, September 13, 2019

Lean Quote: There is Always Room for Improvement

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"The largest room in the world is the room for improvement." — Author Unknown

This quote is quite appropriate given Toyota's depcition on their business improvement system as a house. 

I believe we can always find improvement in what we do.  For many it may not be easy to identify and eliminate wast because they haven't learned how.  These ten principles may help:

1.  Throw out all of your fixed ideas about how to do things.
2.  Think of how the new method will work - not how it won't.
3.  Don't accept excuses.  Totally deny the status quo.
4.  Don't seek perfection.  A 50 percent implementation rate is fine as long as it's done on the spot.
5.  Correct mistakes the moment they're found.
6.  Don't spend a lot of money on improvements.
7.  Problems give you a chance to use your brain.
8.  Ask "why?" at least five times until you find the root cause.
9.  Ten people's ideas are better than one person's.
10. Improvement knows no limit.

These principles will help you find waste.  The best way to learn them is to practice them.  And if your countermeasure doesn't improve the situation then just try another one.  Mistakes are a necessary part of the learning process in Lean.  A "can do" attitude makes a big difference when making improvment. Remember there is always room for improvement.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Guest Post: 7 Leadership Qualities of a Project Manager

Being a leader could be tough but with the right qualities and instinct of when to apply them, you’ll find leadership very easy. The success of every project depends on the management of the project. The management of every project depends on the leadership skills of the project manager. Behind every successful project are days and nights of effort of the project manager and his team members.

The project manager's ability to coordinate the members, no matter the number determines the work ethics and interest of the members of the team. More than work, the project manager must communicate his visions and plans to the members in order to encourage them to take the job as their project. How can you achieve this? Here are 7 qualities a project leader must have, in order to achieve the best.

1. Competence
An incompetent person cannot lead a team. For a person to emerge as a project manager, he must be competent. Competence is measured by the experience, the successful track record and the expertise of the person. No loafer or idler can be a good leader. For a project manager to be competent, he must be driven by some personal ideas that can be infused into others to drive a good project.

As a project manager, you must be committed to improving your knowledge and skills. You must always have an idea about the next step to take. Expertise is built by taking professional courses and attending job-related conferences. A competent leader will build competent members.  Also, a capable project manager must have several wins that can be pointed to as his achievement. Your actions should encourage, enable, inspire and challenge your team members.

2. Team Management
A project manager should be able to manage people of different characters and dispositions. You must understand both the operational and strategic perspectives of the project and the business at hand.

Team management skill includes the ability to resolve conflicts, proper communication, evaluation of members, the delegation of tasks, and the promotion of teamwork. You should have a good reward system in place to encourage the team.

No success can be recorded when the teamwork in place is not effective. Unity should be the watchword. The team-building skills of a leader ensure balance. The deficiency of a team member should be complemented by the proficiency of another. A proper team built guarantees good project work.

3. Communication
At every point, the mind, plans, and goals of a project manager must be communicated effectively to the team members. Communication is a key attribute of every project manager. It is very essential to the success of every project.

Through good communication, a project manager helps the members to understand the reason for a project and the vision behind his actions. He must master the art of communication; when to communicate and the medium to use to ensure effective communication. A project manager should develop multi-channel means of communication which will promote timely reception and delivery of information. A proactive communicating system ensures proper communication among team members.

4. Integrity
Integrity is the soul of every business. A project manager must always walk his talk. An honest leader is a successful leader. As a project manager, your honesty will enable your team members to trust your leadership. This will help them to carry out work delegated to them without complaining.

A project manager must display integrity in both action and words.  Creating a good standard of ethical behavior will reinforce the belief of the team in the project. If you re driven by self-interest as a leader, you won’t have a good team to work with. Leadership based on honesty represents behavior consistency and dedication to duty.

5. Enthusiasm 
Enthusiastic project managers are optimistic and positive. A project manager must possess positive vibes. Your optimism will enhance the positivity of the team. You cannot carry a negative mindset and expect wonderful project completion.

Enthusiasm must be backed up with positivity, commitment, persistence and consistency with project and project plan.

6. Delegation
As a project manager, you cannot do it all. You must possess the attribute of delegating duties to members of your team. A good project manager recognizes the ability of each member and delegates work based on this.

You must recognize how capable a member is and his area of expertise.  Knowing this will enable you to assign and delegate duties effectively. Effective delegation requires appropriate skill set. Your capacity to delegate work will enhance your ability to solve problems by identifying quickly, what ought to be done.

7. Creativity
You cannot achieve a lot without a touch of creativity. To make your work unique, you must be creative.  You should improvise and create when things are not working according to plan.
A project manager needs to think outside the box at every time. Such creativity is used to create a feedback and evaluation plan for the team. Team members are more effective when the project manager promotes an inclusive plan for the benefit of all. This creative skill will reinforce the team members to bring new ideas on how to execute difficult tasks.

A project leader must be strong and command the respect of the team members. You must have all these qualities and know when to use them. These qualities are not necessarily inherent but you must build them into your system to get more wins and achievement on your record as a project manager. 

About the Author: Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at dissertation writing servicesbest assignment writing service. She is interested in education technologies, professional writer service and is always ready to support informative speaking at essay writing servicesdissertation writing serviceseasy essay. Follow her on Twitter.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Lean Tips Edition #143 (2356-2370)

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.

Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:

Lean Tip #2356 - Be Enthusiastic
Your people will reflect the tone and demeanor that you display. If you are positive, energetic, and enthusiastic, then they will also adopt your demeanor. Don’t accept ongoing negativity. Help people to see the positive in the situation. Explain repeatedly why you are asking them to change some facet of their work, and then be patient.

Lean Tip #2357 - Offer Frequent Encouragement
I have been told repeatedly over the years that, “No news is good news.” In other words, the only time a person’s manager may speak to them is when they have messed up. Don’t let this be said of you. Try to catch people doing the right things, and then recognize and express appreciation for their efforts. When people don’t meet your expectations, take the time to encourage them and tell them that you know that they will do better next time. Help them with any deficiencies they may have and celebrate their efforts when they succeed.

Lean Tip #2358 - Help People to See Their Opportunity
Those who are consumed with negativity don’t often see their own opportunities.  Take the time to identify opportunities that are available to the people who work for you and find or create occasions to share them.  Helping people to understand that they have control over how they feel, how they see the situation, and their actions and reactions, can help them to be responsible for what they create for themselves.

Lean Tip #2359 - Hold People Accountable
If people are dragging their feet or are not embracing the required change, then you need to call them on their behavior. Hold the conversation to reinforce the importance of the needed change, be clear about your expectations, and then do all you can to help them succeed. Don’t let it be said of you that you didn’t provide them with what they needed to be successful. If they refuse to change, then that decision is theirs and not yours. Respectfully help them to see and take responsibility for their actions and attitude in the current situation.

Lean Tip #2360 - Identify The Needs Of The Individual
I think it is safe to assume that most people come to work looking to perform adequately and not intentionally mess something up. When things don’t go as planned, or you don’t get the results that you expected, take that as an opportunity to identify what that person needs to do to be more effective. Doing so reinforces to the individual that you really are committed to their success and development in light of all the new tasks that may be required of them.

Lean Tip #2361 – Facilitate Process-Centric Thinking.
Process-centric thinking does not have to be overly complex. Sometimes, all it takes is a thoughtful examination to uncover significant areas for improvement. Rather than tolerating mistakes and repeat errors, facilitate process-centric thinking to continually improve, correct, and overcome execution difficulties.

Lean Tip #2362 – Educate Your Workplace.
Like any other business strategy, ongoing education of the workplace is critical in establishing awareness, developing skills, and institutionalizing the needed mindset and behaviors to bring about effective change. It is no different with Continuous Improvement. Expect and overcome resistance to change with ongoing training, reinforcement of expected behaviors, and recognition of those who are learning and doing.

Lean Tip #2363 – Ensure a Penalty-free Exchange of Ideas. 
In many organizations, expressing one's opinion on how to do things better may not necessarily be a welcomed activity. Management can feel threatened or pressured to act resulting in immediate resistances. And, those expressing ideas may be viewed as complainers or trouble makers. In such an environment, it doesn't take long for the potential risks of making a suggestion to stifle enthusiasm and participation in improvement oriented thinking. Ensuring a penalty-free exchange of ideas is beneficial to both the giver and the receiver of new ideas and approaches and will ensure a safe two way exchange of thoughts and ideas.

Lean Tip #2364 – Think Kaizen and Cross the Chasm.
Many people advocate Kaizen oriented thinking and behavior where continual small, incremental improvements provide tremendous benefits in performance and end results achieved over time. Others advocate a Crossing the Chasm mind set where drastic change is introduced completely replacing inefficient execution rather than slightly improving upon it. In a continuous improvement culture, there is room for both approaches. And often, after achieving the mega change that is made possible when Crossing the Chasm improvement initiatives are implemented, a Kaizen mind set is required to refine, sustain, and continually improve upon such change.

Lean Tip #2365 – Establish an Enduring Culture.
For continuous improvement to work, there must be a relentless focus on and commitment to getting things right. Adaptability and an action oriented leadership team are inherent components of a continuous improvement culture. Resistance to change exists in all organizations to a degree and it must be recognized for what it is, an impediment to improvement.

Lean Tip #2366 - Get Organizational Buy-in for Kaizen
Make sure your organization understands the importance of the Kaizen event to your business’s bottom line. Gaining buy-in is crucial to the success of your kaizen initiatives. If your organization’s leaders are committed to sustaining a culture of continuous improvement, they will set the tone for the rest of the company.

Further, it’s important that your employees have the support that they need from leadership in order to implement improvements. Otherwise, the team will be operating on a series of isolated efforts.

Lean Tip #2367 - Empower Your Employees With Kaizen
Employees who are closest to the problems on your shop floor are the best-equipped to solve them. They are your greatest assets in your kaizen efforts, so give them the support they need to implement improvements. Developing your team’s abilities through training and support should be as much a part of your continuous improvement program as making improvements to manufacturing processes.

Additionally, engaging team members to identify problems and suggest improvements in their work areas encourages a sense of ownership over their work, which can improve overall motivation, morale, and productivity.

Lean Tip #2368 - Create Your Own Kaizen Guidelines
While there are many resources available to guide you through your kaizen efforts, it’s important to personally understand your company’s kaizen journey. Reflecting on your kaizen efforts after improvements have been implemented is an important part of the continuous improvement cycle.

As you reflect on your efforts, develop your own kaizen guidelines. Start by creating guidelines based on your own experiences improving the workplace. Keep in mind that these guidelines should be for your colleagues, your successors, and yourself to understand the problems you have overcome. These guidelines will ultimately help you as you approach your next challenge.

Lean Tip #2369 - Standardize Your Kaizen Improvement
In order for improvements to last, they must be standardized and repeatable. Standardizing work is crucial to kaizen because it creates a baseline for improvement. When you make improvements to a process, it’s essential to document the new standard work in order to sustain the improvements and create a new baseline. Standard work also reduces variability in processes and promotes discipline, which is essential for continuous improvement efforts to take root.

Lean Tip #2370 - Enforce Kaizen Improvements
It’s easy for employees to regress to their old ways. Enforcing the changes you’ve made to your processes is important for the improvements you’ve made to last, and it’s key to sustaining continuous improvement in the long term.

Documenting improvements, making sure standard work is up-to-date, and training employees on new procedures can help sustain the progress you’ve made in your continuous improvement efforts.

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Friday, September 6, 2019

Lean Quote: Knowledge Workers - Work With Their Heads, Not Their Hands

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"A man is not paid for having a head and hands, but for using them." — Elbert Hubbard

Coined by management expert Peter Drucker in 1959, the term knowledge workers refers to people whose main capital is to think for a living. They work with their heads, not their hands, to plan, analyze, organize, test, program, distribute, search, market, or otherwise generally contribute to the transformation of information in the knowledge economy.

Drucker asserted quite prophetically before his death in 2005 that increasing the productivity of knowledge workers was the most important contribution managers needed to make in the 21st century.

That leads to the million-dollar question: How do you manage them? How do you manage highly paid, independent thinkers who like to control the process of their own work and don't like to be managed, and who own their organization's means of innovating, developing, and producing?

The same way as everyone else. You treat them as valued human beings.

This obviously will require strong leadership. The good news is that to lead the smartest people in the building, you don't need to be smarter than them.

If you find yourself managing the smartest people in the room, remember this: The universal human need of every knowledge worker is not unlike that of the rest of us. It's to perform meaningful work, be respected, collaborate in a tight-knit community of excellence and shared values, and ultimately make an impact for good in the world. And the biggest aspiration for their leaders is a matter of the heart: to make their people better workers and better human beings.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Guest Post: The Common Traits of Highly Successful Team Leaders

Successful team leadership is not an easy skill to put into practice, and indeed many managers to not display the hallmarks of individuals who will thrive in such a position. What, therefore, are the characteristics of inspirational leaders?

They look to lead their team members to individual success
Truly inspirational and effective leaders understand that one of the most important aspects of their job is to oversee the personal and career growth of their team members. The practice of stunting growth for self-preservation reasons does not enter the mind of a real leader.

“One argument that can be made against bringing along team members to personal success is that you ultimately lose them, but that is the completely wrong way of looking at things. Not only do successful leaders understand that a motivated, qualified and encouraged employee will be a thousand times more productive and valuable to the team, but the model by which you do that can be repeated when the time comes for that employee to move on to something greater,” says Sheridan Watkins, an HR manager at LastMinuteWriting and Writinity.

Which means they train their staff
Not only does training your staff lead to better-qualified employees, it shows that you value them and are willing to invest in them. and ultimately this will lead employees to greater opportunities of promotion and individual success, which successful team leaders want.

They care
Cynics may say that managers only care because a team member with problems is a less productive team member. Perhaps successful leaders are not altruistic in their concern, but forging relationships is a vital aspect of motivating teams and inspiring them to success. Caring is human nature, so what if it also happens to help team performance. The end result is one and the same: a happier employee.

They create an open and inspirational environment
The environment created by successful team leaders is one in which ever member of the group feels valued, and can be honest about their concerns. Input is valued from every individual, and issues of rank are considered irrelevant when opinions are taken. Team members listen as well as speak, and everyone works towards the same goal. This is as true of a sports team as it is with a business team.

They share credit and take the blame
One of the biggest gripes of disgruntled employees is that their managers do not pat them on the back at the right time, yet are quick to point the finger. Real leaders give credit (when it is due) and always take responsibility, especially in situations when other teams and senior managers are involved. Hard conversations take place privately. This is all about winning and maintaining respect, which good leaders are able to do.

They delegate, and for the right reasons
Successful team leaders are successful delegators, but that is because they understand that team members need to feel valued, and the best way of doing that is to give them the tasks that really matter. Many managers may fail to delegate because they feel a) they will do a better job themselves or b) it will be too time-consuming to delegate the task but then oversee it (which is especially true if the task is given to a team member who has never completed that task before).

“Delegation is not just about being more efficient, although this of course is one of the main benefits. Delegating is also about empowering other individuals to take on activities which give them a feeling of self-worth and achievement. And that means the process of delegating may occur not because it is the most efficient way of doing it, but because it is the way that most improves individuals and fosters the greatest team ethos. It can sometimes be seen as a sacrifice that exists for the greater good, and good leaders recognize this,” argues Stanley Ramos, a journalist at DraftBeyond and ResearchPapersUK.

But they still lead from the front
The best leaders do not need to be involved in everything that is going on all the time because they have successfully forged a team that is able to work without the need for micromanagement. However, they still lead, meaning that they are there to guide in the right direction, advise when the time is right, and face up to the tough moments.

They listen
One final point. Good leaders are often the best listeners. Ultimately, they may decide to forge their own course, but only after they have really listened to the input of team members and weighed up all the options.

About the Author: 
Professional writer, management expert and recruiter Ashley Halsey can be found contributing her business insights at Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays, where she has established her reputation as an erudite and intelligent observer of management trends.

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