Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Busy Does Not Equal Productive

Just because you are busy does NOT mean you are productive. This animation explains some of the major differences between busy behavior and productive behavior.

Here are the 6 Major Differences Between Busy People and Productive People:

Busy People have many priorities.
Productive People have very few priorities.  Their mission is clearly defined and they put their energy on the few items that will bring them the biggest results.
Yes Vs. No
Busy People say Yes quickly.
Productive People say Yes slowly.  They don’t commit to anything that steers them away from their mission and goals.
Handling of Actions
Busy People focus on actions and checking things off of their To-Do list.
Productive People focus on clarity before action and have very few things on their To-Do list.
Multi-Task vs Focus
Busy People are always multi-tasking.
Productive People don’t multi-task but focus on one course until completion.
Email Management
Busy People respond quickly to emails.
Productive People don’t allow emails to determine their priorities.  They don’t allow other people to manage their day and are not distracted by the incoming email alerts.
A Question they Ask Themselves
Busy People ask, “What else can I add?”

Productive People ask, “What else can I remove?”  At the beginning of the day, they determine what needs to be their most important tasks of the day, in line with their goals.  Then, throughout the day, they take time to review their priorities and eliminate or delegate anything that doesn’t align with their vision.
Switch your focus from being busy to being productive, so that you can accomplish more, see tangible results, and have time for fun.
Don’t Aim for Busy, Aim For Productive

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Monday, October 16, 2017

7 Lessons We Can Learn From Geese To Succeed

Living in New England you become accustom to seeing the migration of Geese.  As the leaves start turning colors the Geese head south for the winter.  Geese are fascinating creatures and we can learn many lessons from them. Below are 7 things we can learn:

1. Sharing a common goal: As each goose flaps its wings it creates “uplift”, an aerodynamics orientation that reduces air friction, for the birds that follow. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock achieves a 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

The lesson we can learn here is that people who share a common direction and goal can get where they are going quicker and with less effort because they benefit from the momentum of the group moving around them. Make sure your team and company is aligned towards a common goal.

 2. Increasing visibility: Flying in a V-formation increases the visibility as every goose can see what’s happening in front of them.

The lesson here is to make our organizations visible in both org-chart directions. Having top-down visibility enables leaders to stay connected with the edges of the organization to make better informed decisions. Bottom-up visibility enables employees to see the bigger picture, engages them, and empowers them to better align themselves with the organizational objectives.

3. Having humility to seek help: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the friction of flying alone. It then quickly adjusts its mistake and moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

The lesson we can learn here is to be humble to admit the challenges we face and to seek help as soon as we get stuck. This humility will enable you, your team, and your company to move faster and achieve more.

4. Empowering others to lead: When the lead goose in the front gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and allows another goose to take the leadership position.

The lesson here is to empower others to also lead. Micro-managing and keeping tight control will burn you out. It will also disengage and demotivate others around you. People have unique skills, capabilities, and gifts to offer. Give them autonomy, trust and a chance to shine, and you will be surprised with the outcomes.

5. Always recognizing great work: The geese honk to recognize each other and encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

The lesson here to make sure we praise people and give them the recognition they deserve. Lack of recognition is one of the main reasons employees are unsatisfied at work and quit. It’s very common for people’s efforts to go unnoticed by their peers in a busy and fast-moving work environment. However, remembering to constantly provide recognition and encouragement is vital and keeps teams motivated to achieve their goals.

6. Offering support in challenging times: When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

The lesson here is to stand by each other in difficult times. It’s easy to always be part of winning teams, but when things get difficult and people are facing challenges, that’s when your teammates need you the most.

7. Staying committed to core values and purpose: The geese migration routes never vary. They use the same route year after year. Even when the flock members change, the young learn the route from their parents. In the spring they will go back to the spot where they were born.

The lesson to learn here is to stay true to our core values and purpose. Strategies, tactics, and products may change in order for an organization to remain agile, but great companies always stick to their core purpose and values, and preserve them with vigor.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Lean Quote: Don’t be Afraid to be a Bold Leader

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.

"No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it." — Andrew Carnegie

Good leaders are trailblazers, making a path for others to follow. Great leaders, however, inspire their people to reach higher, dream bigger, and achieve greater. Perhaps the most important leadership skill you can develop is the ability to provide inspiration to your team. If you inspire them to reach for the stars, they just might bring you back the moon.

Bold leadership isn’t reserved for the chosen few, and it certainly isn’t limited to popular culture’s definition of big, brash, loud leadership. Bold leadership is about the everyday behaviors we use to build trust, focusing on the needs of others, leading with confident humility, and vulnerably engaging with our people in authentic and genuine ways.

Bold leadership is not what you think. BOLD leadership is:

Building trust – if employees don’t trust you, why would they follow you?

Others focused – leadership isn’t about a leader, it’s about empowering the people around you.

Leading with humility – it’s a common misconception that leaders are infallible but the most successful people in leadership positions show they’re human.

Daring to be vulnerable – authenticity brings people to you. No one wants to follow a robot, they want a real person who connects with them and understands what they’re doing/who they are.

I think this is an awesome acronym to live and lead by, it covers all of the main points of a great leader. Don’t be afraid to be a bold leader.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Guest Post: What is Lean Canvas Methodology and Why Is It Important?

When you think of a successful startup or even a successful multi-million-dollar company, you probably think of the well-laid out plan that must be in place behind it, right?

From the business’s marketing strategy to their target audience to their finances, and so much more.

Details, on details, on details.

Well, this might not actually be the case anymore…

The new trend in the business industry is lean canvas methodology.

What is lean canvas methodology?

Typically, business plans take weeks of preparation – days of meeting with distributors, days of brainstorming and hours of typing it up. These elaborate plans detailed the path that each business thought was surefire for success…

So, insert the methodology of a lean canvas…

The methodology of a lean canvas is to approach a business with a bit of creativity and almost some experimentation. The idea behind a lean canvas is that it offers enough flexibility so that it can be adjusted based on customer feedback.

To break it down:

Instead of having a business plan in hand where you have projected what you expect to happen with your business, you simply become a mirror – remaining open to the actual outcomes and reflecting the feedback of customers onto the canvas.

While it might sound a bit taboo at first, it can better prepare and equip you for the bumps of each business that will come along the way…

Why is lean canvas methodology important?

Lean canvas methodology holds importance in all aspects of a business – from securing investors to satisfying customers and ultimately to the overall success of the business.

Securing Investors

The bottom line is that in general, investors and just humans in general, have an incredibly – and embarrassingly – short attention span. Investors don’t want to spend their time sorting through pages and pages of a business plan just to investigate if your ideas are worth their time and money…

However, the lean canvas methodology can provide them all the answers they need right up front – keeping them happy and getting you investors.

Satisfied Customers

Are satisfied customers not the overall goal of every business?

Without customers spending money on your product or service, you wouldn’t have a business or a paycheck…

So, does it not make sense to focus most of your time, efforts, and money on making them happy?

The lean canvas business model focuses on being like a mirror – simply reflecting the feedback provided by customers. This ensures they are happy and gives you easy insight as to what you should or could be doing.

Overall success

Ultimately, the lean canvas is an actionable plan that focuses primarily on problems, solutions, key metrics, and competitive advantages. These aspects combined help determine a better and more effective route for the business to go in – maintaining customers as their main focus.

Everybody likes to keep things simple – we are a people of simplicity and ease.

So, why not keep it simple with your business model, too?

Rather than spending weeks and months on what you think might happen and trying to make your business fail-proof without any real knowledge of the future…

Focus on listening to your clients and adopting a lean canvas model to ensure that you maintain a competitive advantage.

Would you be open to applying the lean canvas methodology to your business? Let us know why or why not in the comments. 

About the Author: Annabelle Short is a financial consultant and writer at Content Blossom. She splits her time between London and Los Angeles. Annabelle has worked with many companies providing guidance and advice on finance related topics. Moreover, Annabelle has experience in leading and managing different project teams. Annabelle is a mother of two, and in her free time she likes to sew and make crafts.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Lean Tips Edition #115 (1726 -1740)

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 #1726 – Management is Responsible for Removing Barriers
Sometimes employees encounter barriers when implementing changes.

Barriers can be with other employees, other departments, inadequate training, lacking equipment or supply needs.

Sometimes management also needs to deal with resistant or difficult employees.

It is management’s responsibility to ensure that employees can implement change without obstacles and resistance.

It is unfortunate but there are times when employees simply can’t accept a change. In these rare cases employees simply need to move on in order to successfully implement a needed change. These are difficult but necessary decisions.

Lean Tip #1727 - Acknowledge and Celebrate Progress Along the Way.
Reinforcement is key to building and maintaining momentum. The relapse syndrome is powerful. Psychologists tell us the time takes to develop a new habit depends on how engrained the old one is. Thus, it is almost always easier to move back into our comfort zones than move forward into the unknown unless we are highly motivated to do whatever it takes to overcome that resistance.

Reinforcement and celebration are powerful motivators that can drive momentum. By staying focused on reaching the goal with everyone on board, helps people overcome resistance. Help people learn from mistakes and breakdowns, but stay focused on recognizing achievements.

Lean Tip #1728 - Focus on Building Trust.
There have been many statements about how you have to repeat something over and over in order for it to stick. There’s something that comes before repetition. If you do not have trust, it doesn’t matter how often you repeat something. When you are leading change, focus on building trust it’s the most essential element of leading successful change.

Lean Tip #1729 - Build Relationships Between Your Employees.
As your team starts to cooperate more, examine the way they work together and take steps to improve communication, cooperation and trust amongst the team. If there are any conflicts, try to resolve them amicably. Listen to both sides of the argument and act as a mediator. One way to do this is to brainstorm solutions, which helps to empower your employees and may lead to new solutions to the problem.

Lean Tip #1730 - Foster Teamwork.
Once you have established relations with and between your employees, it’s time to help them work together effectively. Encourage your team to share information, both amongst themselves and within the wider organization. Also, try to communicate more with your team. This goes beyond simply holding meetings, and includes things like being open to suggestions and concerns, asking about each team member’s work and offering assistance where necessary, and doing everything you can to communicate clearly and honestly with your team.

Lean Tip #1731 – Make the Goals Measurable
Knowing the business goals of your product is a prerequisite for selecting the right KPIs. But it is not enough. To effectively apply the indicators, analyze the resulting data, and take the right actions, the goals must be measurable. The challenge is to establish measurable goals that are also realistic, particularly for brand-new and young products. The next tips helps you address this challenge.

Lean Tip #1732 – Avoid Vanity Metrics
Stay clear of vanity metrics, measures that make your product look good but don’t add value. Take the number of downloads for an app as an example. While a fair amount of people might download the product, this tells you little about how successful it is. Instead of measuring downloads, you should choose a relevant and helpful metric, such as daily active usage or referral rate.

Lean Tip #1733 – Don’t Measure everything that can be Measured
Don’t measure everything that can be measured and don’t blindly trust an analytics tool to collect the right data. Instead, use the business goals to choose a small amount of metrics that truly help you understand how your product performs. Otherwise you take the risk of wasting time and effort analyzing data that creates little or no insights. In the worst case, you action irrelevant data and make the wrong decisions.

Lean Tip #1734 – Employ Lagging and Leading Indicators
Lagging indicators, such as revenue, profit, and cost, are backward-focused and tell you about the outcome of past actions. Leading indicators help you understand how likely it is that your product will meet a goal in the future. Take product quality as an example. If the code is becoming increasingly complex, then adding new features will become more expensive and require more time. Meeting profit targets and delivery dates will therefore become harder. Using backward and forward-focused indicators allows you to tell you if you have met the business goals and helps you anticipate if the product is likely to meet the goals in the future.

Lean Tip #1735 – Look beyond Financial and Customer Indicators
Financial indicators, such as revenue and profit, and customer metrics, including engagement and referral rate, are the two most common indicator types in my experience. While these metrics are undoubtedly important, they are not sufficient. Say your product is meeting its revenue and profit goals and that customer engagement and referral rate are high. This suggests that your product is doing well and that there is no reason to worry. But if at the same time, the team motivation is low or if the code quality is deteriorating, then you should be concerned: These indicators suggest that achieving product success will be much harder in the future. You should therefore look beyond financial and customer indicators and complement them with the relevant product, process, and people indicators.

Lean Tip #1736 – Don’t Automatically Blame the Tool.
It’s not the hammer’s fault if the person swinging it uses the wrong end. It just won’t work well. Most tools are decent enough, they’re just used incorrectly. Rushing to change a tool because things aren’t working well may be a mistake.

Lean Tip #1737 – Hold a Daily, 10-minute Company Meeting
While meetings are generally considered a necessity, they can carry on to the point where they eat away at the work day. Rather shorter, more efficient meetings that cover the basics in 10 minutes flat are preferred.

Daily huddles serve as a firehose of information that keeps everyone in the loop, including a roundup of our key performance indicators, the celebration of accomplishments, and the identification of opportunities to improve.

Not only is it a good way to keep all employees up to speed on any new developments within the company, keeping meetings short and sweet forces a streamlined meeting process, and reduces time wasted.

Lean Tip #1738 – Figure Out How the Work Gets Done.
We have lots of assumptions about how work gets done that don’t mirror exactly what happens. After all, during the day-to-day grind, we don’t think about how we do the work, we often just do it. Ask an outside observer to record the steps of the process in a way that he/she could repeat it themselves if they had to, without assistance.

Lean Tip #1739 – Remove Inefficiencies and Waste.
Once you know what the workflow of your process looks like, take a second look at any step in the process that doesn’t directly create value for the customer. Manage, improve, and smooth your process flow to eliminate non-valued-added activity (e.g., wasted time, wasted movement, wasted inventory due to overproduction, customer delays, waiting for approvals, delays due to batching of work, unnecessary steps, duplication of effort, and errors and rework).

Lean Tip #1740 – Make the Smallest Effective Change
You want to make a change that will solve the problem, but try to make business process changes as minimal as possible. The more changes you make, the more time you will lose in retraining and transitioning from the old process to the new process.

The more changes you introduce, the greater the uncertainty about the effect of those changes. Making precise, targeted changes to your process reduces the risk that unintended consequences can make you worse off than you were before.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Lean Quote: Work Less, and You'll Tend to Work Better

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.

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." — C. Northcote Parkinson

Is it possible that too much time at your desk is actually making you less engaged with your work?  It has become a well-documented fact that at a certain point, continuing to work begins to hurt our productivity. We are not, as it turns out, endlessly productive. Our brains need rest to operate at their highest capacity—and our minds reward us when we take time off to do so.

One such article in The Atlantic cites this phenomenon, telling us that "working long hours often leads to productivity-killing distractions. Such is an instance of the saying known as Parkinson’s law, which states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Work less, and you’ll tend to work better."

So is that it? Should we just tell teammates and employees to cut it off at forty hours and just expect a better performance? Probably not. Employee engagement goes well beyond just the amount of time that somebody spends at the office. Instead, it's about the quality of the hours that are spent here: how much someone believes in their work, and just as importantly, how much someone believes in their manager.

Time and time again, we've seen engagement boosted by well thought-out employee benefits. Going beyond the traditional "great snacks and beanbag chairs" fare, we've tracked down some of the most popular benefits that go back to that true focus on quality hours—not just long hours. When employees feel that their employer is investing in their life outside of the nine-to-five grind, it gives them the chance to truly take ownership of their work.

Whatever the benefits you may choose to dole out within your organization, one thing is clear: when you invest in your employees, it gives them the chance to really engage with their work and gives them the space to truly have a balanced life. And that's when everyone wins.

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Northeast Lean Conference 2017 - Integration of Tools & Culture - Recap

GBMP hosted another wonderful Lean Conference in the Northeast. A great time to network with many passionate Lean practitioners.  This year's conference was about integration of tools and culture in Lean transformation. Successful Lean transformation requires a deep understanding of the technical side of Lean supported by a culture that favors human development and broad employee engagement.

But which comes first: culture or tools...?

Here are some take-aways from the conference:

Brian Wellinghoff, Director of the L3 Journey at Barry-Wehmiller, kicked off the conference by igniting trust through improvement. Barry-Wehmiller, discovered that the purely numerical approach used by many companies implementing Lean principles was not sufficient and recognized that people are the experts. It is leadership's responsibility to encourage, empower and equip them to make the changes that positively impact their work.

Everyone wants to do better. Trust them. Leaders are everywhere. Find them. People achieve good things, big and small, every day. Celebrate them. Some people wish things were different. Listen to them. Everybody matters. Show them.

Paul Akers, President & Founder of Fastcap, shared his personal Lean Journey. Paul credits the astounding business growth to a fun, dynamic culture in which each employee puts into practice at least one two-second improvement per day.  He developed the culture by hiring the right people, relentlessly teaching and reinforcing the eight wastes in a daily morning meeting and empowering people to experiment and fail. And he has only one ground rule—keep Lean simple. 

Kim Hollon, President & CEO of Signature Healthcare, described the challenges that Signature has faced to create a culture of safety, and reflect on the leader’s role in the transformation. Highly reliable systems are a necessary but not nearly sufficient requirement for perfect patient safety.   Without an embedded culture of safety, systems can quickly become mere edifices, hiding traditional practices and behaviors.   The siloed, hierarchical structure of traditional hospitals place providers in stressful positions where it’s hard to confirm safety -- particularly in the critical handoffs between functions. A culture of transparency and open communication encourages behaviors that support the new systems. 

Karl Wadensten, President of Vibco, ended the conference with a discussion on what he call "re-entry to work." You've been inspired and re-energized and you heard lots of great ideas to make the Lean initiative where you work more successful. But how do you make sure the conference experience doesn’t end once you return home and put away the suitcase. Karl shared his ideas to share your new knowledge and outline a plan of action.

The conference was a wonderful experience.  Great opportunity to network and learn from other Lean practitioners. I highly recommend this conference because the value is unsurmounted. 

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