Friday, June 14, 2019

Lean Quote: 10 Leadership Lessons from My Father

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.

"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong." — Charles Wadsworth

We are shaped by the people around us and our societies are a reflection of the individuals who are part of it. Our fathers are the first leaders in our life. Looking back, I realize now it is not an easy job to be a dad just like it is a tough job to be a leader. I learned a great deal from my Dad about leadership principles.

Today in honor of my hero, I’ll share ten of those leadership lessons:

“Leaders are not defined by positions.” One of the things that I learned from my father was that the power to make a difference lies within all. We can all make a difference and must do our bit. We all need to work for the right change.

“Be a person of integrity.” My dad taught me that once we lose our character we can never ever earn it back. Our honor and self-respect rest on our integrity. He taught me that whatever I do in life trust and transparency is important. Integrity of means we tell the truth. This also means being open and giving feedback to one another. This fosters true collaboration.   

“Leaders never give up.” No matter whatever the odds, one should never back down or give up on one’s passion and values. We need to continuously strive towards our goal. We need to remember tough time do not last forever.

“Leaders help others learn to do what they didn’t think they could do” My dad was the first mentor that I had, it’s because of his support and inspiration that I could do so many new things in life and work. He was a great coach who helped me realize my potential. 

“Develop others” Every leader can only give the best his people can produce. Focus on developing people who are interested to learn and help them develop themselves. Mentor or Coach those people who in turn can help others. If we develop people around, we also grow. Leadership is about developing people to enable them to reach their potential.

“Respect People” It’s important to learn to respect others especially elders before we can demand respect from others. I learned from him that one gets back what he or she gives to others in terms of behavior. Always treat people with respect at all times.

“Don’t be afraid to fail.” My father was the one who encouraged me to take part in a wide range of sporting and co-curricular activities. This gave me the experience of situation and people, lessons on success and failure. He never reprimanded me for failing. He taught me it’s not a crime to fail but not learning from failure is a crime.  

“Be dependable and build confidence.“ Capability and Knowledge breed confidence. Incompetence and ignorance breed insecurity and conflict. Be genuine to people. Our credibility is key our success.   

“Create an identity for yourself outside of work.” I learned from him that one needs to make contribution beyond work. What I do for a living and what I do are the key to happiness. Any sports or any hobby can do wonders in our life. I had great fun in playing a lot of outdoor sports with my dad. I learned a community or family that plays together stays together.

“Nothing can substitute persistence and determination.” “Every dog has its day” for someone to reach his destination or goal he must stick to the aim. If you go to the gym you can’t transform yourself in a short span. You need to stick to your training and make an enormous sacrifice to reach your target. The same is true for work and life.

Dads are not around all the time with us, but they make a profound impact with the little time they get to spend with their children. Life is more about our contribution to help people around us. There are people, who watch things happening, and there are people who wonder what’s happening and then there are people who make things happen. The ones who talk less and do more, are the ones who are leaders.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Lean Tips Edition #140 (#2311-#2325)

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 #2311 - Let Everyone See What Everyone is Doing
It's hard to lend a hand to your teammates when you don't know what they're doing or where they're overrun with work. Unfortunately, office workers tend to keep track of their own work in email or spreadsheets—places where it can't be seen by their manager or teammates.

With each person's information locked away in their own personal silos, no one has visibility into anyone else's needs.

Fortunately, this problem can be fixed by keeping each person's work information—what they're working on, how much of their bandwidth is being consumed with each assignment, and what they have coming up—in a public space where the whole team can see it.

A whiteboard or a shared Google spreadsheet, for example, are a good way to start doing this.

Lean Tip #2312 - Be Present and Attentive
Teamwork is impossible when people think you don't care about them.

Rather than being that person who tears around the office, constantly absorbed in the next meeting, the next quarter, the next campaign, blind to the human beings in your midst, be that team member who takes time to give their full attention to each conversation.

When team members see you listening to them, they will be more likely to buy into your teamwork-building efforts. As old-fashioned as it may sound, teamwork is the result of a group of people who care enough about each other to work together.

Lean Tip #2313 - Recognize Team Member Accomplishments Consistently
When team members are praised for outstanding performance, they're more likely to stretch themselves in the future to reach their own goals or to help a team member in need.

But be careful with praise and rewards: if they are administered with even a hint of favoritism and arbitrariness, they could engender resentment and skepticism in your team and undermine your efforts to build teamwork.

The only way to effectively give praise and rewards in a way that builds teamwork is to do it i a deliberate, transparent, structured way. Criteria should be clear and indisputable to everyone involved.

Lean Tip #2314 - Communicate Priorities Clearly
When priorities aren't clearly communicated to the whole team, they can feel arbitrary—even when they aren't. So let your team know exactly how you will decide what gets worked on. Publish this information so everyone can refer back to it when necessary and share these priorities with stakeholders.

Lean Tip #2315 - Focus on Creating Business Value
In the course of trying to perform well in the business world, teams can get a little distracted. They can start to think that they exist to outperform the team next door. They can get tricked into thinking they exist to pull off their next promotion or to get public recognition from the CEO.

These ideas are inevitable, but they need to be constantly trimmed to keep teams from getting off track.

Teams that focus on creating value for their company—and clearly demonstrating that value to the company—will always go right. Interestingly, these teams tend to be the ones that also get the recognition, job security, and praise everyone pines for.

So why does your team exist? Plainly put, your team exists to create value for your business.

Lean Tip #2316 - Give The Power To Make Decisions
What's one of the easiest ways to make team members lose faith in teamwork? By restricting their autonomy to make decisions that allow them to accomplish their tasks.

When it comes to decision-making, you often rely on the knowledge of your team members. This is why collaboration is becoming an essential ingredient for success. Collaborative leadership is about skillful management of relationships. This management should enable team members to succeed individually while also accomplishing a shared objective. Giving your team the power to make decisions serves as great motivation for effective teamwork and to bring about radical change.

Lean Tip #2317 - Promote Efficient Team Meetings
According to a survey conducted by Microsoft Office, professionals waste up to 3.8 hours a week on unproductive meetings. No matter what you call them—status updates or team gatherings—these meetings are a waste of time if there is no value in them. Although it's perhaps not reasonable to have teamwork without meetings, making sure these meetings are productive is a step towards effective teamwork in the workplace.

To get the most out of your team meetings, try a meeting checklist. It's an easy tool that helps you plan for upcoming status meetings by providing a list of criteria to reflect on. Through proper preparation, you can save time and turn those dreaded team meetings into success stories. After all, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

Lean Tip #2318 - Create Conditions Where Trust Wins
Teamwork frequently brings with it an atmosphere of trepidation rather than trust. Often, employees are scared to share their ideas, fearing that they’ll be misunderstood or criticized.

Leaders can create an atmosphere of psychological safety to promote trust and encourage team members to openly share ideas and perspectives. One way to do this is by opening your workplace up to feedback. Enact a system of regular, structured feedback in which you go around and ask everyone on the team to share something. Appreciate and listen to the feedback, whether it’s positive or negative. This will gradually increase the feeling of trust throughout the team.

Lean Tips #2319 – Foster a Collaborative Environment
Your team requires both an open company culture as well as a physical space that encourages collaboration and creativity. These are the elements of an environment that fosters discussion, idea-sharing and brainstorming among team members. Remind your employees that there are no stupid ideas. Establish trust and make sure they feel comfortable sharing ideas without judgment. In other words, provide the space to brainstorm in a way that embraces your team’s diversity, encourages teamwork and is open and non-judgmental.

Lean Tips #2320 - Make Everyone Feel Important
Most managers know that giving an employee direct responsibilities and making them accountable for a particular project’s success is a great way to motivate individual achievement.  This, however, also works for teams.  Every person on the team should be just as involved as every other member.  This can be accomplished through providing all project information, deadlines, and goals to each individual team member.  Make each of them feel as if the success of the project is dependent on them and every employee will give it their all.

Lean Tip #2321 – Learn How to Coach Your People.
The greatest and strongest leaders know they’re only as good as the teams around them, so they put tremendous emphasis on coaching and supporting their people, helping them grow. It’s important to give each person the attention and feedback that will motivate them to make meaningful contributions.

Lean Tip #2322 – Be Passionate, Enthusiastic, and Positive
As a leader, one of your main responsibilities is to make sure your team reaches their goals. This is really hard to do, though, if there’s a negative energy in your workplace.

You can influence your environment by being passionate, enthusiastic, and positive about your work. Be excited about what you’re doing and the impact your business is having on the world.

Try to conquer problems and setbacks with a positive outlook. Deal with issues with passion. This attitude will spread throughout your team and be inspiring to them.

Lean Tip #2323 – Live through Empathy
Kindness begets kindness.

It's holding the door for someone, making a new pot of coffee, and letting someone into your lane. Putting others ahead of yourself is the practice of courageous leadership. Promote charitable giving and an ethical consciousness in your culture, and your business will have value beyond monetary, for both your customers and your colleagues.

Understand your team too, and treat everyone as an individual. Whether you’re rewarding or reprimanding someone, it’s the role of a leader to know someone well enough to take an approach that best suits the individual. This will help you help them get the most out of work and be the best they can be.

Lean Tip #2324 – Be Constantly Learning
Leadership is movement. You’re going somewhere– or, at least, you’re supposed to be. But if you’re not consistently learning and growing, not only are you going to stay where you’re at, but it’s going to be very difficult to convince others to continue to improve their performance as well when they have something they need to work on.

Learning gives us the ability to improve our productivity and efficiency, see things in a new way that can lead to creative solutions to problems, and maximize results. Whether it’s a regular reading schedule, podcasts, conferences, or something else, make sure you’re constantly upping your own game so that you can not only lead better but keep up with the changes in your space.

Lean Tip #2325 – Practice What You Preach
The things you say are important, but what you do stands out even more. In other words, if you want to be a better leader, implement the qualities you want your team members to have in your own life.

Your employees will see what you do day to day. So be sure you walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.

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Monday, June 10, 2019

10 Ways to Promote Teamwork

Good teamwork helps to build morale in the workplace, which makes workers more productive and ultimately improves profits. For organizations that have excellent teamwork, problem-solving is easier – since people with different skills and knowledge will work together to produce a creative solution.

If you want your employees to work together and produce great results, here are some tips to improve teamwork within your organization.

1) Focus on the big picture
Explain the long-range plans of the company and reinforce them regularly. People often become so focused on today's problems and routine duties that they lose sight of the big picture. When some members of the team concentrate on putting out fires, others can dedicate more time to reviewing processes to eliminate future problems.

2) Define roles
Outline the responsibilities of everyone on the team. This is crucial to the team's success. Understanding each other's duties and deadlines helps people work collaboratively. Encourage the team to define the division of labor themselves. They'll take on more responsibility if they are in control and someone may even offer a previously untapped talent.

3) Set goals
Team members need to develop individual and group goals. Urge them to set achievable and measurable short-term goals, as well as long term ones. With team-driven goals and a team-developed code of ethics, the group will begin to self-manage. Peer pressure and individual pride will help curb absenteeism, lateness and poor performance.

4) Share information
The rumor mill is a drain on productivity and morale. Earn your team's respect and trust with openess and honesty. During times of change, reveal as much as you can and promise to update them as soon as you can.

5) Establish trust
Be trustworthy and dependable. Honor your word. If you're the boss and you promise a day off with pay if the sales team meets their target, follow through on it. If you're a team member and offer to obtain information for a colleague, make it a priority. Treat all members of the team consistently and fairly and don't play favorites.

6) Listen
Be open to the team's ideas, presented in a formal suggestion program or in a brainstorming session. Thoroughly consider all suggestions and respond to the individual or entire team, whichever is more appropriate. Many companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants without first asking employees for their suggestions on productivity improvements, service enhancements or new product lines.

7) Provide encouragement
Challenge each team member to participate and contribute. Urge them to take additional training if necessary and to step outside their comfort zones to develop their own unique talents. Change people's responsibilities often. Acknowledge each individual's strengths and offer positive reinforcement.

8) Praise the team
Celebrate achievements together. Reward the team, not an individual. Every group will have a star that excels at everything. Recognize this privately and through the performance review process but to foster teamwork, eliminate any opportunity for professional jealousy. Always speak positively about your team. Showcase their talent and recognize their dedication, efforts and successes publicly.

9) Be enthusiastic
Enthusiasm is contagious. Be positive, upbeat and hopeful. Always expect great things from your team and they'll do their best not to disappoint you. Focus on what's going right even if, at times, everything seems to be going wrong.

10) Delegate
Explain what needs to be done and how to do it, then let go. Better yet, describe the problem or the desired end result and let the team develop the action plan together. Trust the individuals and the team as a whole to complete their assigned tasks correctly and on time. If you've set a project review meeting for next Tuesday, resist the temptation to ask for an update today. Trust the team to meet the deadline.

Teamwork isn’t something that we can forcefully impose upon our workers. Instead, good teamwork will naturally occur when there is a healthy workplace culture, where employees are treated as individuals and open communication is celebrated.

Put these tips to the test and you’ll see improved teamwork, boosted morale, and better cooperation. This will lead to increased productivity from employees, increasing the overall success of your company.

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Lean Quote: Enhance Learning by Doing

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.

"You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over." — Richard Branson

One way to enhance learning is by doing. If you want to learn how to drive, you have to drive. 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.

Learning by doing, also known as experiential learning, happens when you use hands-on learning to engage in an ongoing cycle of action and reflection, deepening your understanding of concepts and mastering practical skills. As you take part in meaningful activities—instead of simply watching them—and then later evaluating what you have learned, learning is far more meaningful, memorable, and long-lasting. Leaders/coaches assist in this process by facilitating appropriate experiences through which you can learn, and by leading discussions that reflect on those experiences.

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.

Since mistakes are often quite jarring to someone who cares about what they are doing, people naturally work hard to avoid them. No one likes to fail. It is basic to human nature to try to do better and this means attempting to explain one's failures well enough so that they can be remedied. This self-correcting behavior can only take place when one has been made aware of one's mistakes and when one cares enough to improve. If an employee understands and believes that an error has been made, he will work hard to correct it, and will want to be trained to do better, if proper rewards are in place for a job well done.

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. The best way to learn about continuous improvement is to simply try to make things better and learn from our mistakes.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Lean Leader’s Role, A Shift in Mindset

Lean thinking is fundamentally transforming the way organizations operate. The Lean principles of continuous improvement, respect for people, and a relentless focus on delivering customer value are making teams and organizations rethink the practices that might have guided them for decades. A new, transformative approach to working requires a transformation in leadership, as well. For Lean to be truly effective, it needs effective Lean management — to champion Lean principles, offer guidance, and ensure that Lean is being used to optimize the entire organizational system for value delivery.

Practicing Lean management principles requires a shift in mindset: from that of a supervisor, to that of a teacher and coach. Lean leaders must lead gently, by example, ensuring that Lean principles are being applied with the right goal in mind: To sustainably maximize the delivery of value to the customer.

The lean leader is more of a teacher than a manager. If you are determined to make the methodology work in your organization, you need to encourage your team to continuously improve both their hard and soft skills.

In the same way that no two Lean transformations are exactly the same, no two applications of Lean management principles is exactly the same. Lean management is not a set of defined methods, tools, or practices. It would be more accurately defined as a management philosophy, a long-term approach that systematically seeks to improve processes and products through incremental changes.

Effectively practicing Lean management, then, requires leaders to play a fundamentally different role. The role of a Lean leader is that of a coach. Coaches align their teams around a common goal — a why that should guide every decision, big to small. They arm their teams with the tools for success, and encourage them to make smart decisions that will allow for sustainable, competitive growth. When it’s game time, they provide guidance and leadership as needed — but mostly, they rely on the skills, knowledge, and experience of their team to do what is necessary to achieve the team goal.

To make the lean leadership model work, you have to put heavy emphasis on culture. Among the most important elements of which must be trust and transparency. Whether you are in a formal leadership role, or not, be sure to lead by example and live by what you preach.

As a guiding figure, you need to recognize that the team, which is directly working on your product or service can provide some of the best ideas for improvement. Be sure to encourage each person to share any ideas they might have.

Lean leadership is necessary for making the most of the Lean methodology. It is more of a coaching role than of a managing one. The primary function of such a person is to raise new leaders and help their team embrace a culture of continuous improvement. A true lean leader is value-driven and puts the needs of the customer in the first place.

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Monday, June 3, 2019

Lean Starts with Long-Term Thinking

Lean isn’t just something you do, it’s something you become. The quest to become Lean is never-ending simply because there are always new ways to become even more Lean, even more streamlined, even more efficient. Beyond that…Lean isn’t easy. There are great benefits to be derived from organizations that take even just the first step towards focused improvement, but it will require dedication and investment of time and money.

There is no lean “roadmap” or cookbook that tells you exactly how to apply Lean – it will be different for every situation and organization – but the most successful Lean implementations will apply key principles, if not incorporate them into most major business decisions. 

“Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.”

This principle is perhaps the hardest one to apply, as it will generally come with a giant culture/mindset change. It’s also the hardest one to approach. Most companies and organizations don’t have a long-term philosophy because they are simply trying to survive in the current moment.

A long-term philosophy acts as a guiding light for your organization and culture and, with strict adherence and a deep respect of the philosophy, can drive the company focus indefinitely. If based on deep, meaningful values, your company’s long-term philosophy cannot be easily undone and will serve as the compass for all major company decisions, projects and goals. And, if lived and practiced by your leaders, it can shape employee behavior and increase motivation and productivity. We all crave doing work that matters and are constantly in search of why. Why do we do what we do? Why does it matter? Why should we care? Taking the time to determine your company’s long-term philosophy is the first step in providing that sense of purpose and answering those whys for your employees and customers.

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Friday, May 31, 2019

Lean Quote: Be a Visionary 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.

"A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see." — Leroy Eimes

Effective leaders are known for being “visionaries”. They are comfortable exploring the unknown, thinking of what the future will become rather than being content with things they see now or be troubled about things in the past.

Visionary leaders are the builders of a new dawn, working with imagination, insight, and boldness. They present a challenge that calls forth the best in people and brings them together around a shared sense of purpose. They work with the power of intentionality and alignment with a higher purpose. Their eyes are on the horizon, not just on the near at hand. 

The best visionary leaders move energy to a higher level by offering a clear vision of what is possible. They inspire people to be better than they already are and help them identify with what Lincoln called “the angels of their better nature.”  This was the power of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. The creative power of lighted, inspired words can sound a certain inner note that people recognize and respond to.  This then creates dramatic social change.

Visionary leaders have a knack for inspiring others to action in order to create a better future and solve problems in new ways. Their leadership style creates excitement, positive momentum and longevity in an organization. People enjoy working for visionary leaders who truly want them to reach their full potential and find meaning in their work.

Cultivate your characteristics of being a visionary leader. It will help you to become an excellent leader and it will also inspire your team to work towards success.

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