Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lean Tips Edition #94 (1411-1425)

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 #1411 – Make Suggestions Public
If you have a locked box for suggestions, please take it down. They are a symbol of a failed system from the past and they represent much that is wrong with American suggestion systems. Why locked? To hide participation, to hide ideas, to submit in secrecy, to not share ideas, … Make your Idea System public so participate or lack thereof is visible to all.

Lean Tip #1412 - Focus on Singles not Home Runs
Encourage small ideas that can be implemented quickly by the employee versus large changes that require external resources such as engineering, IT and facilities. While some of these types are inevitable, they need to be balanced with many more that can be completed within the unit.

Lean Tip #1413 - Encourage All Ideas
Don’t limit the number of suggestions by putting too many constraints. Let your employees know that you’re interested in any suggestions that they think will help the organization. As the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling said… “The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.”

Lean Tip #1414 - Show Active Interest in Employee Suggestions
Most employees wouldn’t continue to submit suggestions if their manager didn’t show interest in the suggestions. Showing active interest in their suggestions can encourage your employees to submit more suggestions that can benefit your organization.

Lean Tip #1415 - Share More, Not Less.
Even in a small company, silos emerge. A policy of more sharing will help everyone stay in touch with what others are doing, and create a collective expectation. Keeping everyone pointed in the same direction is hard; sharing more about what’s going on, how you’re doing things, reasoning behind decisions, etc. will help.

Lean Tip #1416 - 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 #1417 - Process isn’t a Bad Word.
Lean can certainly get too heavy-handed and top down in its implementation, but without good processes in place your transformation will sputter along instead of hum smoothly. Good processes and a way of continuously improving them serves as a constant, in an environment of frantic change.

Lean Tip #1418 – Leverage Leadership to Create Change
In most organizations, employees follow leadership’s example. To create change, executives, directors, and managers must be the champions of knowledge sharing, transparency, and worker engagement. Dedicated personnel may give advice and direction, such as internal communications managers. But senior execs, department directors, and team managers need to back them up. This has to be a collaborative effort.

Lean Tip #1419 - Encourage Risk-Taking
Give your employees the freedom to experiment, learn from their mistakes, and succeed. Encourage them to take risks and think outside-of-the-box. Supporting your employees for taking risks further encourages them to be creative.

Lean Tip #1420 - Don’t Be Afraid of Mistakes
Mistakes help you learn what works and what doesn’t. Let your employees know that it’s totally okay to make a mistake. For many employees, the fear of making a mistake stops them from sharing their ideas or even thinking up great ideas. Letting your employees know that mistakes are okay, encourages them to share the great ideas they may have.
Sure, there will be mistakes. But some of those mistakes will turn into great innovations.

Lean Tip #1421 - Think of How To Do It, Not Why It Cannot Be Done.
The pessimist will create all kinds of reasons that something can't be done. The optimistic, forward thinker, on the other hand, knows that "if the why is strong enough, the how will come."

Focus on the outcome. Then, come up with all the ways that the outcome could possibly be accomplished.

Lean Tip #1422 - Do Not Seek Perfection.
Do it right away even if for only 50% of the target. If we all waited for perfection, we'd still be reading by candlelight and riding horses to work. Once you get to a certain point (whether it's 50% or 80%, or another number that makes sense), then run with it. In other words, take action. Then, adjust as you go along.

Lean Tip #1423 - Ask "Why?" Five Times and Seek Root Causes.
The question "why?" is extremely powerful. If a person has a strong enough "why", he or she can accomplish anything. The question "why?" can serve to either strengthen our conviction about something, or help us to discover that it really wasn't as important as we thought it was. At a minimum, it helps us to get to the root of the issue.

Each time you ask "why?", you reveal a new layer. You go deeper, and deeper. Then, after four or five answers, you'll get to the real one. Try it!

Lean Tip #1424 - Do Not Just Spend Money for Kaizen, Use Your Wisdom.
It is not enough to simply buy a tape set to learn skills, or to merely attend a workshop or seminar. These are wonderful (and essential, in my opinion) first steps, but action is key. Learn, yes. But then take action based on what you have learned.

Lean Tip #1425 - Seek The Wisdom Of Ten People Rather Than The Knowledge
Of One.
Much has been written about the power of group thinking. Whether it involves seeking one or two other people's opinions, holding a meeting with others, or more formal brainstorming or mastermind groups, there is power in numbers.

If you want to find out how to be successful at something, as someone who has already done it. Better yet, gather several people who have already done it. With libraries, the internet, and other resources available today, we have more opportunities than ever to gather the wisdom of others.

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Lean Roundup #83 – April, 2016

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

Indefinite Postponement – Bruce Hamilton shares the top ten reasons he hears for why so many postpone Lean implementation indefinitely.

Why don't we solve problems like we eat pizza? – Tracey Richardson explains problem solving should be done by the slice and not solving world hunger.

Using Takt Time to Compute Labor Cost – Mark Rosenthal talks about takt time, cycle time, and labor costs and their uses.

What you Need To Know About Your Lean & Agile Manufacturing Efforts – Mike P discusses the complementary approaches of Lean and Agile and their strategic advantage when combined.

To Learn Corporate Strategy, Study the Military Masters – Pascal Dennis shares words of wisdom from military leaders that we can learn from.

Problem Statement…Got One? – Matt Wrye explains five components to a well written problem statement.

Are We Happy With Mediocrity? – Gregg Stocker discusses a shift in thinking toward the idea that mediocrity is unacceptable and that the organization must change this.

How to Change Minds – Jon Miller talks about how effective continuous improvement leader persuade change.

Systems Thinking: Feedback Loops – John Hunter says to get different results the management system must change.

The GTAA Effect: 5 Secrets For Improving Employee Engagement – Marci Reynolds says the of the most important competencies of any leader of people, is their ability to influence and improve employee satisfaction and engagement.

A3 Report: Mastering the Elevator Pitch – Pete Abilla talks about the power of the A3 report for advocating your project.

11 Ways You Can Get Ideas to Flow From Staff – Duke Rohe shares 11 ways to get your employees to share their ideas.

#KaizenLive: Asking, Not Telling… Not Just About Solutions, But About Problems – Mark Graban shares great lessons from “Kaizen Live!” class and workshop at Franciscan St. Francis Health.
Lean Success and Lean Failure – Bob Emiliani shares his thoughts on Lean implementation successes and Lean transformation failures.

Kaizen Means You Care – Dan Markovitz says that when we do kaizens, we make work easier, it is a way of showing leaders care.

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Friday, April 29, 2016

Lean Quote: Don’t Wait, Start Now

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.

"Don't wait. The time will never be just right.— Napoleon Hill

I am often asked when the best time to start your Lean Journey is. Well, the short answer is now.  There is never a convenient or inconvenient time for change.

Sometime, I hear “we are not ready for lean”. This is a rather circular argument, because effectively what the management is saying is that business processes are too bad and therefore it can’t implement improvement. Of course this means that the business will never improve! I have never seen a business where the processes where too bad to start improving.

Many organizations are waiting for the optimum time to change.  Unfortunately, tomorrow never comes.  If you allow it you will always find another distraction.  There is never a better time to start than now.  We really must invest every day in our future since you can't get back lost time.

Don’t spend your time trying to wait till things are perfect. Perfection is elusive. It is more important to get started. And it's better to get something done imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Book Review: Lean Culture Change – Using a Daily Management System

There are many books that explain the why, the what, the when and the where. These are all very important. However without the how - the needed execution to achieve - high performance will not take place. Lean Culture Change does an amazing job all tying all the tools together to deploy and practice a lean management system.

Steven Leuschel, Lean healthcare practitioner pens book, Lean Culture Change Using a Daily Management System. This new book reveals decades of organizational transformation knowledge deeply rooted in the Toyota Production System and Toyota's culture. He covers the importance of daily huddles to develop respect for all employees, problem solving to stop firefighting, utilizing a balanced scorecard to drive performance improvement, strategy deployment to ensure all stakeholders are aligned to one purpose, how to improve the system vice sub-optimization, a safety system to ensure patient safety is priority, and how to sustain for the long haul.

The book is packed with principles, practices, and tools at a tactical level. It is a helpful resource for you to know the countermeasures to problems many organizations have in implementing Lean management.

Lean Culture Change is designed to be a training manual for team leaders and Senior Leaders who wish to study and adapt the Transformation Curve. This hands-on field book contains over 200 pages, 100 images/examples, and 6 case studies.

The target audience for this book is healthcare professionals looking to implement Lean however I believe all industry management can learn from this book. I would recommend Lean Culture Change to leaders looking to coach cultural transformation and continuous improvement.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Review: The Dark Matter and Dark Energy of Lean Thinking

Lean Thinking promises much, but delivers at best a thirty percent success rate. Author Bob Brown, a certified Lean Thinking leader, attacks this problem the same way astrophysicists understand the workings of the universe. Assuming there is a reason for the abysmal results of change management, especially with Lean Thinking initiatives, he postulated Lean Thinking dark matter and dark energy, identifies what it is, and provides concrete solutions for every organization. The Dark Matter and Dark Energy of Lean Thinking identifies flaws in Lean Thinking and provides a new way of implementing Lean, especially to knowledge workers.

The tools of Lean work fine, it is the people side that contains hidden strengths and weaknesses. Bob Brown explores Lean beyond the classic seven wastes to create a balanced understanding of Toyota's two pillars of success; continuous improvement and respect for people.

He introduces the new Lean "Seven Assets". They are:
  1. Teamwork
  2. Leadership
  3. Communication
  4. Problem solving
  5. Engagement
  6. Reward
  7. Knowledge
The key is to identify how each asset is operating in an organization and continually enhance it. The reader will be able to create a balanced approach to continuous improvement and achieve much better results when focusing on the people side of Lean.

This book is about people. It is designed for people who want satisfied employees and seek better ways to enhance employee impact. It focuses people development and people interactions.

Brown’s book it a very quick read at under 2 hours. It’s strength is in the thought provoking approach to people factors of change. This is deeper dive into the psyche of employees and how if over looked will lead us astray.

Note: The author provided a copy of this book for review.

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Friday, April 22, 2016

Lean Quote: Learning Requires Knowledge and Practice

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.

"Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.— Lao Tzu

Human beings can definitely learn by hearing, reading, watching, seeing, and analyzing…but when it comes to getting results you simply cannot learn better than to learn by doing. 

There is really only one way to learn how to do something and that is to do it. If you want to learn to throw a football, drive a car, build a mousetrap, design a building, cook a stir-fry, or be a management consultant, you must have a go at doing it. Throughout history, youths have been apprenticed to masters in order to learn a trade. We understand that learning a skill means eventually trying your hand at the skill. When there is no real harm in simply trying we allow novices to "give it a shot."

One of the places where real life learning takes place is in the workplace, "on the job." The reason for this seems simple enough. Humans are natural learners. They learn from everything they do. When they watch television, they learn about the day's events. When they take a trip, they learn about how to get where they are going and what it is like to be there. This constant learning also takes place as one works. If you want an employee to learn his job, then, it stands to reason that the best way is to simply let him do his job. Motivation is not a problem in such situations since employees know that if they don't learn to do their job well, they won't keep it for long.

If you do something often enough, you get better at it -- simple and obvious. When people really care about what they are doing, they may even learn how to do their jobs better than anyone had hoped. They themselves wonder how to improve their own performance. They innovate.

Learning requires two elements to be truly successful overtime:

Practice: After completing a learning experience, create opportunities to apply what you learned as soon as possible and many times to refine your ability.

Experiment: Take a risk and try something new, even if you aren’t all that comfortable. We can learn as much, sometimes more, from our mistakes than from getting it right the first time.

We must, as best as we can, teach employees to do things, rather than having them be told about what others have done. Learning is the accumulation of experience and thinking about new situations. We must encourage explanation, exploration, generalization, and knowledge accumulation.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

5 Low Cost Ways to Develop Your Team

One of the most important qualities of a good leader is the ability and desire to develop their employees. Taking an active role in the development of your team demonstrates confidence and concern for the future of the organization.

In order to get the most from your employees, you need to invest time and resources in their development. Annual performance reviews simply aren’t enough. Make a point to sit down with each employee regularly and provide them with specific feedback and areas of improvement.

Here are 5 inexpensive ways to offer development to a team:

1. Read a book together. There is an unlimited supply of highly rated books available to help you succeed. Find some good ones, read and digest them as a team. Many companies have their own libraries and training that are available for the asking. Start your collection today.

2. Conduct “lunch and learn” sessions. Chances are good that everyone on your team has something to offer that can make the team better. Bring in your lunch or buy lunch for the team. Take turns sharing with each other something you already know or are learning over lunch.  Ask employees to come prepared to talk about a topic ahead of time.

3. Network and visit other businesses. Allow the team to visit other businesses in the area, either individually or as a group. Sometimes the quickest ways to promote change is to introduce leaders to other environments. It is a great way to develop new ideas and improve upon what you are doing as you see what others are doing firsthand. Be sure everyone goes expecting to bring something back to the team they have learned. Local groups that share your interest in a particular topic, offer a great forum to learn and share information for little or no cost.

4. Use online resources. Technology allows for some great online training. Gather the team around a computer and learn without leaving the office. Find a great webinar or blog post that you feel would help develop employees and encourage them to spend some time out of their day to watch and participate in the webinar or read the blog.

5. Hold in-house classes. In-house training is an excellent way to provide training to a large portion of the workforce without a hefty price tag. Use the experts you already have. If one of your employees excels at topic or subject you are learning, have them present to the rest of your team. Your internal experts could also serve as coaches and mentors.

An organization’s goals are achieved through its employees, the company’s most valuable asset. Employees need ongoing training to ensure that they are learning new and best practices while contributing to the success of the company. Best-in-class organizations place high value on the development of their people.

You don’t need a huge training budget to make substantial changes in your organization. Though it can be argued that the more you invest, the more return on your investment you are likely to see. Consider these methods to stretch your training dollars.

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