Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK - Taking a Leap of Faith


Today we celebrate and recognize the life and achievement of Martin Luther King Jr. MLK as they say was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. His quote below has always struck me as paramount to change.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase."

Making a change requires a leap of faith. Taking that leap of faith is risky, and people will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe – and perhaps more importantly, feel – that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction.  Making a change takes lots of leaps of faith.

Leaders may make bold and often unpopular decisions. Effective leaders require courage - to stand up for what is right, for what they believe in, and to take the necessary risks to be innovative and creative.

You can’t move forward if you don’t grow and you can’t grow if you never leave your comfort zone. When possible, challenge employees to grow. Help them prepare by providing them a safe environment to learn from the mistakes that they are bound to make.

Moving beyond our comfort zones is how we can best learn and grow. The challenge is to resist our normal human instinct to seek comfort rather that discomfort. The key is to continually push beyond the comfort zone and drive continuous improvement to develop and strengthen your Lean thinking.

It takes courage to be a change agent, to rise up and lead the way when others are filled with fear. It takes courage to walk in a different direction when others walk along a contrasting path. Most important, it takes courage to drive persistence to overcome resistance…to find comfort outside your comfort zone when the promise of reward is ambiguous.

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.

The courage of true leadership is revealed while still standing in the midst of controversy and challenging circumstances. It is relatively easy and requires little effort to stay in your comfort zone or to do what is convenient. Courage is not required to stay comfortable. Leaders need essential people skills to get people to work together smoothly even if some compromise may be needed. However, it also takes courage to make a stand on what you believe to be right.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exemplified what being a true leader of change is all about. His actions made him one of the great leaders of the 20th century, Time Magazine's "Man Of The Year" in 1963 and a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1964.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Lean Quote: Fear is Only as Deep as the Mind Allows

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.

"Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.— Japanese Proverb

Fear is the number one issue that paralyzes someone when it comes to change. Fear is absolutely normal emotion. Even the best experience fear from time to time. The key is to not let fear hold you back and prevent you from taking action and go after what you want in life. Getting through fear is a skill that anyone can learn.

Here are three helpful facts to keep in mind when overcoming fear:

1. Fears are common. Everyone experiences fear at some time or another. Your fear indicates that you’re stretching yourself, which is a good thing. Do not judge yourself harshly if you are afraid. Don’t shrink from your fears or wallow in them, confront the situations and people you fear. Use the adrenaline they produce to motivate you to action. When you exercise control over fears, you are exercising one of your greatest personal powers … the power to choose.

2. Fears are often unfounded. We typically believe that the object of our fear can do more harm to us than it actually can. Former United States President Franklin Roosevelt’s famous words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” accurately describes most situations. Examine the source of your fear and consider the worst that could happen if it became a reality. Then, plan how you will minimize the risk and potential damage.

3. Fears are thoughts. You have tremendous power to control your thoughts. Replace fearful thinking with positive thinking. Saturate your mind with your dreams, goals, and values. Remember that confronting fear is a sign of progress and a valuable learning experience. Every time you overcome a fear, you strengthen your ability to overcome future fears. 

It's important to overcome these paralyzing fears so that you can move forward with your life and reach your goals. 



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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

8 Criteria for Achievement


Many people are effective at setting goals but not as many people are effective at accomplishing their goals. It’s important to set goals, but the step that many may miss is the ability to develop the detailed plan needed to achieve the goal. Goals, whether personal or professional, need to be written, harmonious, yours, specific, measurable, attainable, realistically high, and time bound.

Many of us spend a considerable amount of time and effort planning a vacation. We will figure out exactly where we want to go and what type of things we want to do while we are there. We’ll make reservations, schedule appointments, and prepare a list of all of the appropriate things we need to pack. This planning is usually very detailed, somewhat tedious, and time consuming. But, because we want the trip to be hassle free we will plan these occasional trips right down to the very last detail.

When you think about your life, your daily journey, how well do you plan and organize it? Your life’s journey is the MOST important trip you will ever take. Why is it that we spend so little time planning our lives? Many of us have little or no idea where we are going!
It’s important that as you dream about the things you want in life that you set up some criteria to make sure that those dreams come to fruition.

Your goals will provide direction and motivation, and serve as tools for measuring your results. For maximum effectiveness and accomplishment, make sure your goals meet the criteria of WHYSMART. These goal-setting guidelines will help you stay on target as you continually work on the accomplishment of your goals.

Your goals must be:

WRITTEN
Put your goals in writing to help ensure that they are clear and specific. As the W represents in WHYSMART, writing down your goals forces you to clarify your thoughts. Written goals have permanence that promotes accurate, sustained action.

Do you want to dramatically increase the likelihood of meeting your goals? One of the simplest yet most powerful actions you can take is to write them down. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of everyday life that it then becomes all too easy to forget about your goals. I think the saying is, “When you are up to your rear-end in alligators, it’s easy to forget that your original intention was to drain the swamp.”

Put your goals down on paper. Keep them where you will see them every day. Doing this will prevent you from saying around this time next year, “Oh yeah, I remember those …”

HARMONIOUS
Harmonize your goals with your personal vision and purpose in addition to your other goals, so that all elements of your plan are complementary and mutually reinforcing. Unaligned goals pull you in different directions, hampering productivity and creating tensions.

YOURS
You will be most motivated to achieve goals that reflect your important personal desires and values. Resist the urge to conform to the expectations of others. If your goals are not your own, you can’t own them. Be aware of what motivates you and tailor your goals to fit your personality.

SPECIFIC
Vague goals cause confusion and frustration. In order to provide clear direction and strong motivation, make your goals specific. Stating your goals positively will help create the mental picture of you doing what you want to do.

MEASURABLE
Measurable goals provide benchmarks for gauging progress and evaluating performance. Attain annual sales of 4 million dollars is a measurable goal; developing a goal of increased sales is vague and not at all measurable. Go out to dinner once a week with my spouse is measurable goal; however, spend more time with my spouse is not. Goals that are not measurable lack direction, value for motivation, and celebration. If they are not measurable, it is impossible to know when and if you have achieved them.

ATTAINABLE
Attainable goals spark excitement and action. Goals that are beyond reach produce frustration and discouragement. Attainable goals should also provide a challenge so the rewards remain worth the effort.

REALISTICALLY HIGH AND RESULTS ORIENTED
Challenging goals stimulate creativity and commitment. Goals that are set too low result in underachievement and apathy. Be clear about the end result your goal is designed to accomplish and focus on results, not just the necessary activity.

TIME BOUND
Dates for accomplishment are critical for planning, decision making, operational coordination, and evaluation. Goals that do not specify target dates have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle of business and life. “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” – Diana Scharf Hunt

If you do not set “achievement dates” for your goals you’ll get caught in the trap of “someday.” As in, “Someday, I’ll do that.”

Take a look at your calendar. You will find: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. What you will not find is Someday. So not only does someday never come, it doesn’t exist!

WHYSMART is an excellent criterion to make sure that you are maximizing the goal setting process to your professional and personal advantage. Make sure that all of your goals, tangible and intangible as well as short or long-term, are evaluated against WHYSMART, and you will see a distinct difference in your ability to accomplish anything you desire.

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Guest Post: How to Set New Year’s Resolutions for a Company that Work

Today I am pleased to share a guest post by long time friend and lean thinker Ankit Patel. Ankit talks about the importance of setting goals (resolutions) but believes many fail because the are missing a key ingredient. He says we need to address the psychological part of change to be successful. 


A resolution (goal) without a plan is just a dream.  A resolution without a plan that addresses human psychology is throwing a Hail Mary and praying.  Lean or the Toyota Production System has produced several ways to create a plan around company goals.  Tools like Hoshin Kanri, Business Canvas Model, Minimum Viable Products, etc.  What’s missing is how you address the psychology of change.  How many New Year’s resolutions or goals have you failed to meet in the past?  If you’re like me it’s way more than I’d like to say out loud. 

Let’s say you have an annual goal to lose weight.  What happens with organization goals is similar to what happens with your weight goal.  You go to the gym for the first 6 weeks, you eat clean, you get enough sleep and then life happens.  You have a sick child, you have a stressful project, you go on vacation, or you have a friend’s birthday party.   Slowly your focus shifts and then all of the sudden you’re eating terrible food, not going to the gym, and all of your bad habits creep in.  In fact even if you’re successful at losing weight chances are you are going to put it back on.  Almost 65% of people return to their pre-dieting weight within three years, according to Gary Foster, Ph.D., clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania.  So what does this have to do with company goals?  It’s not different for your organization.  The reason most people put the weight back on or they don’t achieve their goals in the first place is that changing behaviors and habits is hard. 

It takes a significant amount of time and energy to change the habits you have ingrained.  Without a plan to address the psychological need of a person or group of people you set yourself up for failure with hitting a goal. 

There is a multistep approach to setting goals that are in line with human psychology and we’ll talk about the first two parts of a six part process.

The first step is a “Where are you now map” and the second step is “Draw Your Future.”  The where are you now map can be a paragraph description, a process map, a value steam map, or any other mapping tool.  The main point of this is to get it out there visually so everyone can see and agree to the current state.  What this does is align everyone to what the current situation is and what the opportunities might be.  In this step you want to address how the system got to the point it is now and why things are being done a certain way.  Applying this to our weight loss example we might show a picture of our starting weight and a set of photos without a shirt on.  We would also take inventory of all the “bad“ habits we currently have.  One of my bad habits is that I like to have beer while watching any sports game.  I do this because I like to drink socially with my friends. 

The second step is to draw a future state.  This can be a future state map, a description, or something visual that shows how the future would look if we changed and achieved our goals.  This creates an anchor point as a group and a frame that we are all aligned to and are focused on achieving.  In this part of the exercise you will also want to come up with plans on how you deal with the current issues you are facing.  If I am drinking beer every time I watch spots maybe I should try to switch to light beer or maybe sparkling water or another drink.  Maybe I avoid spending time with friends that will drink as much.  Maybe I don’t watch as many games with friends.  All of these are possibilities that I incorporate into my future state picture to help me achieve my goal.  Having thought of a plan like this ahead of time helps you be prepared to handle the stress of change. 

The critical part of the current state and future state maps is the plan of action around areas of change.  If you can address that upfront it will make the job of changing and achieving your goals easier.  If you are interested in the four other steps for change I host a webinar Systematic Framework for Finally Achieving Predictable, Safe Growth without Increasing Expenses. Here you’ll learn the psychology for change that increases your chances of a change implementation being done right. 

About the Author: 
Ankit Patel is a managing partner at The Lean Way Consulting.  One of his favorite accomplishments came when he helped Teknetex, a technology professionals recruitment firm, be named to the “Inc. 500” list of the fastest growing companies in America.

Clients praise Ankit for his stabilizing influence during times of conflict and his balanced, calm leadership through all phases of Lean Transformations and other company change.

He holds a Master of Science degree in Positive Organizational Development from Case Western Reserve University, as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Georgia Tech. He lives with his wife in metro Atlanta, GA.




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Friday, January 6, 2017

Lean Quote: Applied Knowledge is Power

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.

"Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it … establish your priorities, and go to work.— H.L. Hunt

Goals are essential for establishing direction, defining actions, and measuring progress. As you travel on the most important journey of all – your journey through time – goals will give your life direction and control and lead you to success. Many people refuse to take responsibility, perhaps because of fear or laziness. They relinquish their freedom of choice and depend on others to tell them what to think and do. They don’t develop plans, and they don’t set goals.

By setting goals, you are determining that you have chosen to take responsibility for managing your team and your life. You conscious commitment to personal development puts you among the small percentage of individuals who intentionally pursue personal growth and success. Your life will be more rewarding because you have chosen to design it according to your personal values and aspirations.

The adage “knowledge is power” is only half true. Knowledge is simply potential power. It only becomes power when it is expressed in terms of definite action. Applied knowledge is power. Your plans and goals are essential for success, but they’re of little value until you convert them into actions.


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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Six Components of the Goal Setting Process


Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality. Successful people determine where they are going and develop specific plans to get there. Because they are well prepared, they travel their life journey with vitality and confidence.

The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You'll also quickly spot the distractions that can, so easily, lead you astray.

Focus on the six core components of goal setting to create an effective roadmap:

Listing your dreams. First, every purposeful journey aims for a destination. Where do you want to go with your life? What do you want to accomplish? What are your overall objectives? What are your dreams? Listing your dreams allows you to develop a master list of things you want to do and become—as well as things you want to achieve and attain.

Conducting personal self-evaluations. You can go wherever you choose on your life’s journey, but you can only start from one place. You can only start from where you are today. Before you embark on your journey, determine your starting point in areas that are critical for your success.

Developing goal categories. Once a springboard is created to clarify your dreams and you’ve identified your current starting point, the next step requires developing the categories of your life that you’d like to change and improve in order to realize your dreams. Goal categories provide an important step between your dreams and your goals, and they help you translate your general ideas and thoughts into action.

Creating goal statements. Goal categories are then translated into specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time trackable goal statements that are solely yours (S.M.A.R.T.). In my experience the more focused and specific the better. Goal statements help you determine the specific solutions and action steps necessary to make the desired outcome a reality.

Developing specific action steps. The next step is to identify the actions you need to take in order to achieve your goals. Creating specific action steps will provide the daily, weekly, and monthly activity necessary to make your goals a reality.

Prioritizing of your goals and action steps. Finally, you might find some of your goals and actions build on one another, and you might find that the resources you need for the accomplishment of one directly conflict with another. Making a conscious decision through a prioritization process which goals or action steps are the most important. It is also a necessary step. The prioritization process will never stop, as you will need to continually evaluate what is important to your success now.

Understanding and becoming proficient in all six steps of goal accomplishment will help you achieve the success you deserve and for which you are striving. Goal achievement is an art form and this development process will assist you in creating masterpieces in your life!

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Lean Roundup #91 - December, 2016



A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of December, 2016.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

Leadership Development for Business Impact – Bob Emiliani recommends two approaches to leadership development: One that is proven to have substantial actual business impact, and one that has great potential for actual business impact.

Continually Improving Using a Focus on Delighting Customers – John Hunter says the successful application of quality (customer focused continual improvement) naturally integrates and iterates your efforts so that internal process improvement and innovation grows with customer integration.

Leadership Salad – Ronnie Daughtry explains implementing tools alone won’t change culture but there are 10 leadership behaviors that can.

The Lure of Rapid Lean Transformation – Mark Rosenthal finds organizations who want lean results, but they want someone else to do the work to make it that way, however, the problem is you can’t outsource your own thinking.

Reflection - the Breakfast of Champions – Pascal Dennis says reflection is the countermeasure to hubris, overweening pride & arrogance, that destroyer of people and organization.

A Change of Pace – Kevin Meyer advocates slowing down and observing, otherwise you might think you’ve arrived but not know where you’ve been or the interesting things you’ve passed.

How Children Can Help Us Become Better Lean Leaders – Jon Miller explains why learning how to learn is as important as learning the subject matter, especially for lean leadership.

5 Supply Chain Management Habits that Will Land You on the Naughty List - Alexa Cheater says if you haven’t broken these ineffective supply chain management habits, you’re likely to find nothing but a lump of coal in your stocking come Christmas.

Problem Solving and the Worlds of Reflection & Experience – Pascal Dennis says the pattern -- experience - reflection - experience is central to practical problem solving and to Lean as a whole.

Effort is Grossly Underrated – Jamie Flinchbaugh believes we should aspire to work smarter and harder.

Unpacking the Components of Hard Work to Design Better Work Conditions – John Hunter, in response to Jamie Flinchbaugh’s post, thinks you can reduce many of the parts of hard work by creating a better system of work in the organization.

How NOT to Implement a New Business Process - Mikaela Boone shares some things NOT to do when you’re beginning to roll out your new process.

Countering Confirmation Bias – John Hunters explains why we need to learn and then adjust our thinking and our management systems to work well given our understanding of how our beliefs suffer from systemic weaknesses, such as confirmation bias.

Ask Art: Why Is Something As Simple As Lean So Difficult to Do? – Art Byrne says although the lean principles themselves are pretty simple, without the correct leadership it is perhaps one of the hardest changes for any business to make.


Can You Improve Your Processes Next Year? – Alexandra Levit explores 10 questions business leaders must ask before taking action.


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