Monday, August 29, 2016

Recognition: Top 300 Leadership Blogs


A Lean Journey Blog has been recognized as one of the Top 300 Leadership blogs from Feedspot

"I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top Leadership blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!"- Anuj Agarwal Founder, Feedspot

Feedspot is a RSS consolidation website, and they recently released the top blogs to follow in Leadership. Feedspot has acknowledged A Lean Journey Blog as one of the top 300 (#222) Leadership Blogs for Executives, Managers, and CEOs!  I am honored and humbled to be included in this list, and felt it was worth sharing with my followers / readers.

"Leadership can't be claimed like luggage at the airport.  Leadership can't be inherited, even though you may inherit a leadership position.  There are no manufacturing plants that fabricate leadership.  And leadership can't be given as a gift - even if you've been blessed with an abundance of leadership skills to share with someone else.  Leadership must be EARNED by mastering a defined set of skills and by working with others to achieve common goals." ~ David Cottrell

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Lean Quote: Top 10 Quotes From Walt Disney

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.

I am still on vacation with my family at one of the greatest places on earth for children.  I will be back next week.  Until then, I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight my top 10 quotes by Walt Disney.

Top 10 Walt Disney Quotes

1. "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."

2. "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."

3. "When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably."

4. "It's kind of fun to do the impossible."

5. "I can never stand still. I must explore and experiment. I am never satisfied with my work. I resent the limitations of my own imagination."

6. "Of all the things I've done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them toward a certain goal."

7. "Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children."

8. "Get a good idea, and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it's done, and done right."

9. "People often ask me if I know the secret of success and if I could tell others how to make their dreams come true. My answer is, you do it by working."

10. "If you can dream it, you can do it."

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reprise: Respect for People,Importance of Work-Life Balance, and Taking Time Off

Despite our best intentions to live balanced lives, the modern world demands that we are almost always connected and productive, and this can drain us emotionally, spiritually, and physically. With our hectic lifestyle, we often underestimate the power of relaxation. Most of us have a massive to-do list each day, and we feel we can't afford to slow our pace or we'll quickly fall behind. However, we fail to acknowledge the ways that relaxation can increase our stamina, clear our thoughts, and allow us to get much more accomplished with less effort.

Employees need work–life balance.  It is important for employees to take care of themselves. That means paying attention to all needs, physical, mental, psychological and spiritual.

The more balanced people can be in all these areas, the more creativity and fresh perspective they have to bring to their work. If employees are depleted of energy, then they do not perform a peak levels. Vacation time-off is one key to maintaining this balance. Taking time off can be very positive for the employees and everyone they interact with at work.

If you respect your people you will reward them for their time and effort with a good work-life balance. Giving workers plenty of personal time is very important. This can, in turn, lead to increasing the quality of the work the employees perform. The reason for this is because, first of all, it shows the employees that the company respects their time and, in turn, the employee will respect the company's time by doing their best. Another reason for this is that employees do get burned out, and do need to take mental breaks from working too long.

A more satisfied employee with proper work-life balance has more to give on a daily basis. Most people that have a sense of balance in their lives, between the personal and professional, adapt well to change. It seems that those employees that have other interests, beyond the workplace, deal with change much better than those who are “married” to their jobs. Encourage your staff to have other, meaningful life experiences. Support your employees' getting a real life, hobby, pastime or other interests. Convince them that you understand and encourage a strong work-life balance. Your staff will appreciate your concern and position on this subject. Whether or not they verbalize their need for balance (or even consciously understand that it exists), your staff will appreciate your interest in their total—not just workplace—well-being.

I must say I have enjoyed my time off these last few weeks.  I can’t say it has been completely restful since we have been very busy however the change of pace and time with the family has been invigorating. Next week it is back to normal routine again.


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Monday, August 22, 2016

Lessons on Leadership from The Rio 2016 Olympics


Like millions of others from around the globe I have been glued to the TV watching the Olympics. Once again the eyes of the world are on its best and brightest athletes as they attempt to push the human body to new limits, and remind us that our best human qualities — determination, perseverance, innovation, sacrifice, and camaraderie – know no bounds.


As much as the Olympics represent the pinnacle of the sporting world, they are also the source of a number of inspiring stories that showcase both the human spirit and what we can accomplish when we strive to be our best.

To that end, I’d like to share some important lessons for leaders on how to guide their organization to succeed and thrive, regardless of the challenges that stand before them.

Lesson 1: Olympians know no goal is impossible with the right mindset. If you want to succeed, don’t lose sight of your goals. Stay unwaveringly motivated. Your focus determines your results. Focus on the right things.

Lesson 2: When Olympians suffer an inevitable setback, they don’t let themselves succumb to doubts. You can’t compete at the highest levels without inner-confidence. And when you do get a taste of success, don’t rest on your laurels. You have to pivot, hone in on the strengths that have carried you so far, and overcome adversity with perseverance.

Lesson 3: There’s no substitute for surrounding yourself with the best possible team. With the right players, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish. Don’t compromise on talent, and hold yourself to the lofty expectations people will place on you.

Lesson 4: Olympians break through excuses. Many businesses will face immense challenges on the road to success. They will also be presented with opportunities to overcome these challenges. Don’t squander your potential with self-imposed limitations. Don’t make excuses for why you cannot engage more fully. Capitalizing on your chances is a matter of being dedicated and sacrificing for the greater good of the business.

Lesson 5: Olympians never stop learning from mistakes. In business you need to measure everything so you can analyze how to be more effective, more productive, and more profitable in the future. What gets measured gets improved. You never settle for good. You always strive to be great. It’s an attitude of constant improvement.

Lesson 6: Olympians give 100% commitment to their goals. You have to give 100% commitment to what it is you want to achieve. Without a doubt those that are competing have committed themselves 100%. They don’t expect it to be easy and are ready and willing to do what it takes.

To achieve success businesses and leaders within them need to take a long term view. The reality is there is no shortcut to success. These lessons above show how we should approach our leadership and guiding the people we lead towards achieving our shared goals.


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Friday, August 19, 2016

Lean Quote: All Our Dreams Can Come True, If We Have The Courage To Pursue Them

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.
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." — Walt Disney

When things are difficult, unknown, and perhaps unattainable we may turn the other direction. We must find the inner strength to overcome these perceived barriers. History has proven time after time that the power of a thought is the beginning for actions that will alter the future positively. Understanding this, and having the courage to keep going even in the face of all obstacles, allows us to accomplish anything we want.Recognizing these truths about courage will assist you in overcoming any challenge that you face:

1. Courage Begins with an Inward Battle - Courage isn't an absense of fear. It's doing what you are afraid to do. It's having the power to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new terrritory.

2. Courage Is Making Things Right, Not Just Smoothing Them Over - Courage deals with principle, not perception. It's knowing when to stand up and having the conviction to do so.

3. Courage in a Leader Inspires Commitment from Followers - A show of courage by any person encourages others. But a show of courage by a leader ispires. It makes people want to follow them.

4. Your Life Expands in Proportion to Your Courage - Fear limits a leader. But courage has the opposite effect. Courage not only gives you a good beginnig, but it also provides a better future.

Courage means trusting yourself to overcome your fears and doing what you are afraid to do. Courage increases conviction and inspires others to confront their fears. 

Walt Disney embodied his quote by dreaming big and being courageous despite the challenges and skeptics. Without his courage to dream and execute we would not have the institution that has become Disney. 


It takes courage to begin the journey towards our dreams and courage to see them through.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Reprise: Walt Disney, The Lean Thinker


I'll be on vacation for the next few weeks.  We are visiting Disney World so I thought I's share so posts to commemorate the trip.  

One of the most successful people that we all know and love is none other than Walt Disney. Walt Disney is the famous voice and creator of Mickey Mouse and the founder of Disneyland. The Father of Mickey Mouse was a Lean Thinker before Lean became well known.

Here are five valuable lessons of competition, the impossible, bias for action, curiosity, and improvement that demonstrate Disney was a Lean Thinker

Competition is Good
“I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.”

Competition makes you stronger, it makes you better, it keeps you on your toes. Never shrink away from competition; never fail to see the value of competition. Your competitors can provide you with more value than your friends. Learn from the competition, and you will grow.

It’s critical that you embrace competition as well as adversity, Walt Disney said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Do the Impossible
“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Life is too short to spend it doing the possible. Learn to pursue the impossible, pursue what others say can’t be done, pursue what has never been done before, pursue your dreams, and turn them into a reality.

You must believe in the beauty of your dreams. Walt said, “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” If you’re going to believe, you might as well believe all the way.

Action Always Trumps Inaction
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

I always say that “well done” is better than “well said,” so quit talking and start doing! Quit planning and start practicing; a plan is good, a good plan is even better, but if that plan doesn't get put into action it’s as useless as a four fingered glove. Learn to get into action, start today, whatever you've been postponing …just do it. If you wait for the perfect time, you’ll never accomplish anything.

Curiosity Brings New Solutions
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

I don’t believe in shortcuts because they take too long.

But if there ever was a shortcut, it’s asking for advice from people who are further down the path to you. Find others who do what you want to do, and seek support from them. Let their past mistakes and failures guide you towards your dream.

If the thought of reaching out scares you, remember that they are a lot like you. At some stage, they've also asked for help on what to do next. Don’t be afraid. Be nice and show them respect. It works.

Get Better Daily
Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.”

Every day you should become a little better than you were the day before. If you can become one percent better daily, you can recreate your life every 100 days. Learn to get better daily; look for ways to improve, to be kinder, more intelligent, and more helpful.

Disney’s work continues to inspire us and his world-famous cartoons live on. But some of Disney’s best lessons are about how he approached life with an endless dose of curiosity and determination to entertain and awaken the child within us.



Wouldn't you say these are the mark of a Lean leader? Do you think Walt Disney demonstrated such?

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Lean Tips Edition #99 (Tips #1486 - 1500)

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 #1486 – Reduce Downtime by Focusing on the Constraint
Every manufacturing process has a constraint, which is the fulcrum (i.e., point of leverage) for the entire process. Measure downtime at the constraint and improve the constraint to ensure that resources are focused where they will have the strongest impact on throughput and profitability.

Lean Tip #1487 - Select Metrics to Drive Desired Behaviors
Metrics that are emphasized and shared are very powerful drivers of behavior. Treat downtime as a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) and continually reinforce its importance. People love an opportunity to win, so set SMART targets (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Specific) and reward success, even if it's by simple recognition.

Lean Tip #1488 - Make Down Time Visual
Provide clear visuals to indicate when the line is down, and escalate those visuals if the line remains down for an extended period of time. Train team members to react quickly, and provide multiple levels of escalation response (e.g., operator, supervisor, manager). The goal is to prevent small issues from becoming large incidents.

Lean Tip #1489 – Engage Employees in Improvement Initiatives
Engaging employees is important for both short-term and long-term success of initiatives. A powerful technique for engaging employees is creating a shared vision of the future “improved” state of the company – and clearly outlining how it will benefit employees. This will create a strong, broad-ranging motivation to succeed. Another powerful technique is recognizing and rewarding desired behavior. In the context of TPM, this may include providing a monthly rotating trophy for the Best 5S Area or awarding gift certificates each month for the Biggest Kaizen Improvement.

Lean Tip #1490 – Provide Active Leadership
Providing active leadership is one of the primary responsibilities of senior management (up to and including the Plant Manager). It means regularly demonstrating the importance of Lean activities through words and actions. Active leadership combats the natural tendency of employees to drift back into old patterns of behavior and old ways of working. It continually feeds new energy into the initiative, which over time is absorbed by employees in the form of new engrained behaviors.

Lean Tip #1491 - Leaders Lead by Example.
Leaders need to show, not just tell. If you want your employees to be punctual, make sure you’re there on time -- or even early. If professionalism is a priority, make sure you’re dressed for success, and treat everyone you interact with (both in-person and online) with courtesy. Set the tone and your employees will follow it.

Lean Tip #1492 - A little Humility Goes a Long Way.
There’s a difference between a leader and a boss. While both are in charge, a leader shares the spotlight and is comfortable crediting others. While it might seem counterintuitive, being humble takes more confidence than basking in glory. Your employees will appreciate it, and your clients will, too.

Lean Tip #1493 – Leaders Communicate Effectively.
Effective communication is imperative, both in the office and in life. Great leaders make sure they are heard and understood, but they also know the importance of listening. Communication is a two-way street, and making the most of it will have your company zooming forward instead of pumping the breaks.

Lean Tip #1494 - Keep Meetings Productive.
As the saying goes, time is money. So, of course, you should want to limit tangents and other time wasters during meetings. If you trust your team to do their job, there should be no need for micromanaging, and meetings can run swiftly.

Lean Tip #1495 – Leaders Know Their Limits.
Even the kindest, most caring leader has limits. Set your boundaries and stick to them. Knowing what you will not tolerate can save everyone in the office a lot of frustration, and keeping boundaries clear means there’s no confusion.

Lean Tip #1496- Find a Mentor.
No man is an island, as they say. The best leaders out there know when they need help, and they know where to turn to in order to get it. Nobody can know everything, so finding someone you trust for advice when things get tough can make all of the difference.

Lean Tip #1497 – Leaders Learn From the Past.
To once again quote an adage, those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. History, recent and otherwise, is filled with examples of successful business models and spectacular business failures. Think about what the people you admire do well, and consider what went wrong for those who end their careers mired in scandal or disgrace. Lessons can be found everywhere.

Lean Tip #1498 – Leaders Never Stop Improving.
Great leaders -- indeed, great people -- are constantly learning and always trying to improve themselves. There’s always something that you can work on or a new skill to master. Be sure to keep your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.

Lean Tip #1499 – Leaders Recognize Their Staff
If you don’t appreciate your staff, they will leave. The U.S. Department of Labor says that the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they “don’t feel appreciated.” Most people receive very little workplace recognition in a given year so it’s vital that you recognize and reward your employees for their efforts at work.

Lean Tip #1500 – Challenge People to Think
The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement.  They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.   These types of leaders excel in keeping their people on their toes, never allowing them to get comfortable and enabling them with the tools to grow.


If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things.  If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.

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