Monday, September 26, 2016

Respect for People is More than Being Nice

As a child our parents teach us to be nice to people. Treat people with respect. "Respect for People" is one of two key element in Lean thinking we have learned from Toyota. I have learned from my own personal Lean journey that many organizations fall short in this area.  It generally is not from a lack of trying but from fully understanding respect for people.  It is more than being nice.

Respect for people can be defined by the following 6 elements:

Don't Trouble Your Customer
Your customer is anyone who consumes your work or decisions
Relentlessly analyze and change to stop troubling customers
- Don't force people to do wasteful work
- Don't give them defects
- Don't make them wait
- Don't impose wishful thinking on them
- Don't overload them

Develop People and Then Build Products
- Managers act as teachers, no directors
- Mentor people closely, for years, in engineering and problem solving
- Teach people to analyze root causes and make problems visible; then they discover how to improve

Managers "Walk the Talk"
- Managers understand and act on the goal of "eliminating waste" and continuous improvement in there own actions and decisions - and employees see this

Teams and Individuals Evolve Their Own Practices and Improvements
- Management challenges people to change and may ask what to improve
- Empower the worker
- Workers learn problem solving and reflection skills
- Workers decide how to improve

Develop Teams
- Team work, not group work is part of culture
- Everybody is part of a team

Build Partners
- Form long relationships based on trust
- Help partners improve and stay profitable

From this definition or understanding of respect for people you can see it is much more encompassing.  There are a number of ways to show respect for people in your organization. A good place to start is with learning.  Knowledge and the proper application makes continuous improvement possible. Just be sure to practice respect for people in all your continuous improvement efforts.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Lean Quote: Reducing the Batch Is Advantageous

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.

"If we reduce batch sizes by half, we also reduce by half the time it will take to process a batch. That means we reduce queue and wait by half as well. Reduce those by half, and we reduce by about half the total time parts spend in the plant. Reduce the time parts spend in the plant and our total lead time condenses. And with faster turn-around on orders, customers get their orders faster.— Eliyahu M. Goldratt, The Goal

In the book Lean Thinking, James Womack and Daniel Jones recount a story of stuffing newsletters into envelopes with the assistance of one of the author’s two young children. Every envelope had to be addressed, stamped, filled with a letter, and sealed. The daughters, age six and nine, knew how they should go about completing the project: “Daddy, first you should fold all of the newsletters. Then you should attach the seal. Then you should put on the stamps.” Their father wanted to do it the counter-intuitive way: complete each envelope one at a time. They told him “that wouldn’t be efficient!” So he and his daughters each took half the envelopes and competed to see who would finish first.

The father won the race, and not just because he is an adult.

Check out Gemba Academy’s "one piece flow" square off against "mass production” video.

When we work with small batch sizes, each batch makes it through the full life cycle quicker than a larger batch does. We get better at doing things we do very often, so when we reduce batch size, we make each step in the process significantly more efficient. 

There are very good reasons why batch size is important. Some of these benefits are:

1) Improves Quality (reduces defects). Making 1 piece at a time prevents a pile of scrap when issues are caught on a single piece versus a batch.
2) Reduces Inventory. WIP (work in process) inventory is reduced when manufacturing one piece at a time.
3) Improves Safety. Less inventory means less clutter and safer work environments. It takes less effort to move 1 piece than big batches.
4) Increases flexibility. Less inventory, rework, and scrap make short cycle times possible providing more opportunity to react to customer demands.
5) Requires less space. With less inventory more space is available for value added activities.
6) Increases productivity. Most of the 7 wastes found in typical batch and queue processes are eliminated or reduced with single piece flow.

Reducing the batch size in manufacturing is therefore a desirable goal: it improves the speed of response to the customer, whilst improving the ratio of value-added to non value-added work. A silent productivity killer, batching is an extremely difficult mindset to overcome and, as a result, numerous Lean initiatives have been destroyed by it.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lean by Doing: Accelerating Continuous Improvement

We’re only a few short weeks away from GBMP’s 12th Annual Northeast Lean Conference. This year’s conference in Worcester, MA October 4 – 5, 2016 emphasizes the tacit nature of implementing Lean, the importance of tying together the technical and social sides of Lean, the significance of management’s involvement and the ability of organizations to sustain the gains.

This conference features exceptional keynote and breakout presentations, expert panels, peer-to-peer discussions, hands-on simulations, interactive learning and sharing, and unlimited networking opportunities.

The keynotes include Art Byrne, John Shook, Eric Dickson & Steven Spear. I have only met one on this list (worked for same company, you’ll have to guess who) so I am looking forward to their message.

It is one of the best conference I go to.  It is very well organized and wonderful event for learning and sharing knowledge.  You can find my reviews from other years here. If you can attend you’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Lean Tips Edition #100 (1501-1515)

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 #1501 - Display Your Sincere Commitment to Company, Team, and Personal Goals.
Management spends valuable time creating goals and objectives. At times, employees resist buying into these objectives, sometimes vocally. Leaders develop commitment to achieving goals. By displaying in word and action that you have committed to management and personal goals, you are showing your peers that you are a leader.

Lean Tip #1502- Become a Source of Positive Energy and Motivation at Work.
Energy and enthusiasm are highly contagious. Leaders show emotion, passion, energy, and enthusiasm for everything they do at the workplace. Others usually need no further encouragement. Co-workers typically jump on the leader’s train heading toward higher performance.

Lean Tip #1503 - Problem Solve; Avoid Procrastination
Successful leaders tackle issues head-on and know how to discover the heart of the matter at hand.    They don’t procrastinate and thus become incredibly proficient at problem solving; they learn from and don’t avoid uncomfortable circumstances (they welcome them).

Getting ahead in life is about doing the things that most people don’t like doing.

Lean Tip #1504 - Properly Allocate and Deploy Talent
Successful leaders know their talent pool and how to use it.  They are experts at activating the capabilities of their colleagues and knowing when to deploy their unique skill sets given the circumstances at hand.

Lean Tip #1505 - Be a Great Teacher
Many employees in the workplace will tell you that their leaders have stopped being teachers.   Successful leaders never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves.  They use teaching to keep their colleagues well-informed and knowledgeable through statistics, trends, and other newsworthy items.

Successful leaders take the time to mentor their colleagues and make the investment to sponsor those who have proven they are able and eager to advance.

Lean Tip #1506 - Hold a Daily, Quick Company Meeting
While meetings are generally considered a necessity, they can carry on to the point where they eat away at the work day. Shorter, more efficient meetings, which cover the basics in 10 minutes flat can be beneficial.

A Daily Huddle is a quick 10-minute meeting to gather as a company. The meeting serves as a firehose of information that keeps everyone in the loop, including a roundup of our key performance indicators, the celebration of accomplishments, and the identification of opportunities to improve.

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

Lean Tip #1507 - Stick with the Established Process
If you have a project that is already underway, trying to speed things up can result in cutting corners. Stick with the process that is established. If we try to cut corners to speed up the process, something gets missed, which must be fixed later and costs time and money. Things go more smoothly if we stick to the process we started with.

But, if you’re changing a process, do so deliberately, not just on a whim or because you’re behind schedule. Processes can be changed, but they should be changed intentionally and with communication to the full team after the potential change has been approved.

Lean Tip #1508 - Embrace Feedback
Your employees have opinions. Encourage the entire company to embrace feedback, both positive and negative by creating an outlet for it. It’s a good idea to designate a general hub in the building for staff to communicate and make suggestions about the company. Many choose to do this through a specific website centered around human resource issues, serving as a one-stop-shop for work-related issues and updates. You could also use a bulletin board in a central part of the office as a place to share ideas.

Lean Tip #1509 - Keep Employees Involved.
Good employees are hard to find; yet they are an important element in your business. Check to see if they are getting what they need and make them part of the team. Help them understand the importance of their role in your business and how their job impacts the business as a whole. Review your relationship with your employees and find ways to keep your relationship happy and avoid costly attrition.

Lean Tip #1510 - Assess the Performance of Your Business.
Setting clear standards for your business allows you to determine the effectiveness and efficiency of your strategies. If you haven’t done so in the past year, start determining how much you are making per hour of work, how effective your advertising is, and some other measurements of where your business has been. Set some benchmarks and periodically assess how your business is doing. You need to know what you consider an improvement before you can start to improve on it.

Lean Tip #1511 - Involve and Work Through People for Improvement
Avoid being prescriptive with each step of your approach, rather opting to use a facilitated approach to get support and buy in from the teams involved. Always be open to a team using a different approach though still aligned to the overall objectives. Forcing things down people’s throats doesn’t really work well. Good facilitation should allow for a team to reach a pre-conceived conclusion on their own accord. On the same vein, allow the teams to decide what tasks and actions are to be done and offer to help rather than allocate tasks directly to the different people.

Lean Tip #1512 - Encourage Ideas From Anyone
Ideas should come from anyone and no ideas should be turned away. Make everyone aware of the criteria for setting priorities and what the targets are for the Improvement initiative. Assign responsibilities or sponsors who should stimulate the generation of ideas in their areas of influence.  There should always be a surplus of ideas waiting for implementation. Any ideas that are rejected or put on hold should be fed back to the originator, explaining the rationale for the decision.

Lean Tip #1513 - What Gets Measured Gets Managed.
Put in place a good monitoring system to track the number of ideas generated over time, the level participation of people at any one time and cumulatively during the process, the rate of implementation and the benefits. Tracking and showing a direct correlation between efforts and benefits is the best way to sustain improvement. Use agreed targets and KPI’s as your check.

Lean Tip #1514 - Keep Everyone Informed of Progress and Results.
The success of a good Improvement program depends on good feedback and communication surrounding progress. Reports on Progress can take many forms, as long as relevant and timely information is communicated. It’s also important to publicly celebrate any success coming out of the program. Lastly, where new records have been set and old Improvement Targets “smashed”, set new targets and make them known.

Lean Tip #1515 - Establish an Enduring Culture.

For continuous improvement to work, there must be a relentless focus on and commitment to getting things right. Adaptability and an action oriented leadership team are inherent components of a continuous improvement culture. Resistance to change exists in all organizations to a degree and it must be recognized for what it is, an impediment to improvement.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Lean Quote: Small Improvements Daily Equates to a Colossal Advantage

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.

"Small improvements are believable and therefore are achievable.— Anthony Robbins

Continuous improvement is about small changes on a daily basis to make your job easier.  Small step-by-step improvements are more effective over time than occasional kaizen bursts, and have a significantly greater impact on the organization culture - creating an environment of involvement and improvement.

One of the most counter intuitive facts about small ideas is that they can actually provide a business with more sustainable competitive advantages than big ideas. The bigger the ideas, the more likely competitors will copy or counter them. If new ideas affect the company's products or services, they're directly visible and often widely advertised.  And even if they involve behind-the-scenes improvements--say, to a major system or process--they're often copied just as quickly. That's because big, internal initiatives typically require outside sources, such as suppliers, contractors, and consultants, who sell their products and services to other companies, too.  Small ideas, on the other hand, are much less likely to migrate to competitors--and even if they do, they're often too specific to be useful.  Because most small ideas remain proprietary, large numbers of them can accumulate into a big, competitive advantage that is sustainable. That edge often means the difference between success and failure.

The smallest ideas are likely to be the easiest to adopt and implement. Making one small change is both rewarding to the person making the change and if communicated to others can lead to a widespread adoption of the improvement and the possibility that someone will improve on what has already been improved. There's no telling what might occur if this were the everyday habit of all team members.

Small victories tap into motivation. Achievement is fueled by making small amounts of progress, such as accomplishing a task or solving a problem. Help employees break projects, goals, and work assignments into small victories. Help them jump into an achievement cycle. 

In a Lean enterprise a strategy of making small, incremental improvements every day, rather than trying to find a monumental improvement once or twice a year equates to a colossal competitive advantage over time and competitors cannot copy these compounded small improvements.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Coaching Do’s and Don’ts for Developing People

Coaching is a critical platform for successful organizational change and learning initiatives. Organizations in the midst of today's changes need coaching to effectively communicate and facilitate where the organization is and where it is headed.

A coach's role is role equip people with the tools, knowledge, and opportunity they need to develop themselves. Development is not an event. It is an ongoing process.

Coaching isn't an occasional conversation; it's a continuous process.

Coaching isn't something you do to people, it's something you do with people.

Coaching isn't about fixing problem behaviors, it's about cultivating capabilities.

Coaching isn't a one-way relationship in which you have all the answers; it's a partnership in which both people share responsibility.

Coaching doesn't need to take a great deal of your time.

While there are many techniques and tools for coaching, it is useful to have an overall approach that unifies what you are doing.  Adopt a systematic approach to coaching with the help of these strategies:

Forge a partnership: Build a trust and understanding.  Trust allows people to know that you are interested in them.  Understanding enables you to be most helpful.

Inspire communication: Build insight and motivation so that people are committed to change and focus their energy on goals that matter to them and to the organization.

Grow skills: Help identify effective ways to learn new knowledge and to grow and develop skills and capabilities.

Promote persistence: Support people in their development even when they get discouraged or diverted.

Shape the environment: Build organizational support to reward learning and remove barriers.

Coaches, even those with the best intentions, consistently make common mistakes.  Being aware of these mistakes will help you catch yourself before you make them and give you a chance to redirect your efforts.

Explaining or talking instead of listening.  Set your mind on exploring, not fixing.  Let go of your desire to help, motivate, or change people, and instead try to understand them.  Assume that no two people are exactly alike in their values, goals, motives, and experiences.

Advising before understanding.  Suspend your agenda.  Focus on listening and concentrate on learning more about people's goals and what matters to them.

Problem solving.  Help people solve their own problems instead of solving them yourself.  It's like the saying about a fish and fishing: it's more powerful to teach people something than to give them something.

Repeating your views when you meet resistance.  Seek to see the world through the eyes of the people you are coaching.  Ask questions to help them clarify their own thinking.  For your coaching to have an impact, people need to believe that you understand them.

Coaching is about working with people to show them new possibilities and assist them in taking actions previously not obvious to them. Coaching is the capability to alter or shift the structures of interpretation, the context, the ground of being within which people normally operate. It is the means by which people development becomes a process of continuous learning integrated with people's daily work lives.   In this sense, introducing coaching competencies into an organization is a very powerful strategy for modifying or creating a culture which is more adaptable to change and growth.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Set-up Reduction is a Simple Yet Powerful Process

Reducing machine down time is the main goal of set-up reduction. However, reducing set-up times will boost your company’s capacity, increase your manufacturing flexibility, and help increase overall output.

The five basic steps to reduce changeover / set-up time are as follows:

     1. Observe and record the current method (videotaping is 

     2. Identify internal and potentially external elements
             a. “Internal” set-up operations are operations that can 

                 only be carried out when the machine has stopped.
             b. “External” set-up operations are operations that can 

                 be carried out while the machine is running.
     3. Convert internal activities into external ones, where 

     4. Streamline all steps using standard waste elimination 

     5. Standardize setup – the right way, the same way – every 


There are a number of ways to convert internal set-up to external set-up and streamline these steps. The following is a list of potential improvement ideas:

     1. Duality – means having two of something
     2. Minimum interchange – combine multiple fixtures into one 

     3. Fixed direction – tool / part exchange one way
     4. Standardization – no adjustment – like making all nuts 

         and bolts same size for one wrench
     5. Locators – guides, keyways, pins, etc.
     6. Minimum interference – prevent barriers
     7. Minimum distance – reduce distance thereby reducing 

     8. Minimum material handling – rollers, turn tables, gravity 

         feed devices for materials
     9. Quick disconnections – quick release connecting devices
    10. Poka yoke – mistake proofing methods like color coding 

          and go-no go device
    11. Multiple fixtures – similar to duality
    12. Handles – make it easier to access or move
    13. “Locomotive” connections – move multiple part with one 

         adjustment (via rods, chains, sprockets for example)
    14. Tapers – positioning guides
    15. Templates – simplify the set-up
    16. Rulers – simplify the adjustment
    17. Multiple workers – work together to reduce the set-up by 

          splitting up the steps

Set-up reduction is a simple yet powerful process. By looking at the process with an open mind and observing the process to really see what is happening improvement can be made.

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