Monday, February 18, 2019

Leadership Lessons on Presidents's Day

Happy Presidents Day!

With most national holidays, you have a pretty good idea of what to reflect on. On Memorial Day, we honor the veterans who have protected our nation. On the Fourth of July we celebrate our country’s independence. And on Labor Day we contemplate the social and economic achievements of American workers.

Presidents’ Day itself was created as a way to combine the celebrations of Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays. They are the two presidents that Americans of all backgrounds admire and respect; both led us successfully through unique and overwhelming challenges. Hence, their approach can help modern leaders in any organization.

George Washington was more than just an inspiring battlefield commander. His leadership, his vision, and courage united a war-torn country and set the United States on the path to greatness. Washington was an effective, inspiring, and visionary leader whose historic contributions to the nation were rooted in his character. Throughout difficult times he remained steadfastly honest and ethical, making him a role model for leaders everywhere. And, since his time, not one president has admitted to chopping down a cherry tree.

Abraham Lincoln is considered by many to be the greatest president in the history of the United States. Lincoln’s brilliant leadership rose from obscurity to the presidency, triumphing over three gifted rivals with greater national reputations. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his more accomplished competitors were dismayed and angry. Surprisingly, Lincoln invited all three to join his cabinet in prominent roles. Goodwin demonstrates that Lincoln’s success was founded in a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged rivals. He possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires. It was this capacity for empathy that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.

While we live in a different age, the prominent leadership characteristics displayed by these two  Presidents are still important characteristics that make define leaders of today. Leaders are not born, leaders are made. Being a leader is also not an assigned position – It’s taking action. It’s accepting responsibility. It’s moving people towards a goal.  We can all learn from the traits and abilities of these leaders, and look to apply them to our own leadership identity.

Both Washington and Lincoln brought out the best in their teams with a visionary and participative leadership style, and that’s as good a way as any to think about Presidents’ Day.

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Friday, February 15, 2019

Lean Quote: Don't watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going!

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 watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going." — Sam Levenson

Life is about change, which can be good or bad, and trying to adapt yourself to the circumstances in your current situation while working towards your desired goal can be tough. For those of you who have experienced hardships in their journey, I would tell them do not give up on your dreams. Perseverance allows you to attain your goals no matter your circumstances!

Don’t stop
Now here is the important point, nothing works the first time. When you try something new it would probably won’t work, and the turning point comes when you hear new ideas and you become so eager to be successful, in quest of which you would run out and try out the ideas. But what if they don’t work? The same happened to me too, but I decided that I won’t stop trying until I get it right. The key to success of my life is to have a good idea and stable goal, which motivates one to try new things in order to achieve these desired goals.

Keep going and try something new
So even if we going to try something new, there are only two things that are going to happen: either you are going to succeed or you are going to fail. If you succeed then you do more of it and if you fail then you learn from it. So you cannot lose by taking action, you can only loose without taking action. Every time you lose one thing is for sure, you are one step closer to winning the next time. The only difference between successful and non-successful people is the ones who give up. Motivate yourself for the ability to take a loss. Get up the next day, dust yourself off and KEEP GOING, and this is the trait of a fighter who is ready to face it all.

Embrace your losses!
Here is a thing: You should never quit, never fall back, even if you continue to fail it shouldn’t matter to you, as long you have the will to get up again and fight back. There is a famous saying to this: if you hang around the barber shop, sooner or later you are going to get a haircut, so hold on until you will catch your break. The point is every person has the training and talent to succeed but do you have the guts to fail?

Time is the one thing that everybody on this planet has in common.  The clock keeps moving, regardless.  So do what it does and keep going.  If you are struggling, keep going, if things are great, keep going, the clock will never stop and neither should you.

As time waits for none, so shouldn’t you!

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Guest Post: Adopting the Nemawashi Mindset

It’s a common occurrence in business: a manager is gearing up for a major project or is ready to propose a change in policy. They’ve spent months working on the proposal, conducting research, and gathering information to make it successful. But when the proposal is presented in a meeting there is a clash of opinions, changes are rejected, and progress is seriously hindered. In order for policy changes or projects to succeed, a consensus among team members must be met, and this can be done with nemawashi.

A literal translation of nemawashi is “going around the roots,” referring to the transplant process of a plant or tree.  Extra effort is taken by introducing to dirt from the new location to the tree and digging around the roots to move the tree. Transplanting a tree takes time and preparation to ensure survival in the new environment. Nemawashi is an important part of not only the Toyota Production System but it is also deeply embedded into the culture of Japan.

The same concept can be translated as transplanting ideas to minds for nurturing a successful proposal. In business, nemawashi is the first step in the decision-making process and works to develop a foundation of consensus before implementing changes to a process or project. Through small and informal meetings, managers gather feedback, suggestions, and opinions and can use this to present a successful proposal. The free exchange of ideas promotes continuous improvement and like other Lean tools, relies on involvement from workers on all levels. When a manager presents his proposal to others in a meeting after using the nemawashi mindset, everyone is on the same page and has a better understanding of the proposal, and by this time changes have been already made based on employee feedback. The project can be carried out smoothly and successfully.

How to Apply the Nemawashi Philosophy

Nemawashi is more ambiguous than some of the other Lean tools; there is no exact framework to follow or steps that must be completed. Each nemawashi process will be different than the last, and over time you will see how you can effectively practice nemawashi in your own facility.
However you decide to go about it, the process typically begins with managers and supervisors sharing information. For instance, if you are going to propose a change to part of the manufacturing process, you would send out information about the condition of the process, why the current process is wasteful, possible countermeasures, and any other relevant information to all employees involved in the process.

After employees get a chance to review the info, the manager will begin to meet with them for a conversation. This can either be done one-on-one or in small groups, but it is important to give the workers an opportunity to share their opinion. Leaders will need to take the time to listen and show that their suggestions are taken under consideration. From there, the proposal can be refined or even tossed depending on the consensus, a new document with the revised project proposal is create, and a formal meeting is scheduled to present the proposal. By this time, support has already been gathered and any kinks in the plan have been smoothed out. Employees have an understanding of the proposal and will be able to effectively help implement any changes.

Leaders and managers who take the extra time and effort to listen and learn to employees, the nemawashi mindset truly allows changes to be carried out with all parties consenting of decisions. The success of a project usually relies on support from everyone involved, and nemawashi builds that consensus behind the scenes, before any changes are even made.   

About the Author: Jesse Allred is a blog writer for Creative Safety Supply leaders in visual safety and Lean manufacturing resources. She enjoys sharing information and advice for facilities to achieve efficiency while keeping employees safe.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

Boost Productivity with Smarter Workplace Safety Workshop

At the beginning of this year I attended a Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) Workshop on Boost Productivity with Smarter Workplace Safety.  The workshop was conducted by CONNSTEP that is a Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) partner that I have worked with many times over the past twenty years.  The training session was led by Matin Karbassioon, CONNSTEP Lean Consultant, and Nick Wallick, Lean Analyst for CT Training and Consulting Institute.

The approach proposed during this workshop is to utilize lean principles and practices currently in use in many manufacturing companies and then incorporate health and safety and sustainability aspects into these standard lean tools.  An example is the Value Stream Mapping tool which is used to define both information and material flow, to identify value-add and non-value-add steps (waste), and opportunities for improvement.  The workshop proposed addition of safety and environmental considerations as part of this process which could be an effective approach if implemented properly and supported by leadership.  An example of a standard product manufacturing view is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 Standard VSM Map

The VSM is used to identify opportunities to move from a current state to some improved future state.  The workshop proposes to add safety improvements to this analysis as illustrated below in Figure 2.

Figure 2- VSM with Safety Opportunities

Following this progression in thinking, we can also use the lean tools to analyze current natural resource usages and identify opportunities for improvement.  Figures 3 - 5 illustrate how this approach could be incorporated into the “standard” lean process.

Figure 3 - VSM with EHS Info Added

Figure 4 - VSM with Material Usage Example

Figure 5- VSM Overview with EHS Info

The process mapping approach was discussed in more detail and additional information can be obtained by review of the workshop presentation that is provided as a separate document.

Discussion of this approach included identifying links to safety related to the “8 wastes” of the lean process: Defects, Overproductions, Waiting, Non-utilized people, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, and Excess Processing.  I’ve summarized some of these relationships in the table below to illustrate the idea.
Waste Type
Links to Safety
1.     Defect prevention requires less work and involves fewer injury exposures than defect discovery and repair
2.     High levels of defects may also signal poor housekeeping and/or lighting which may create other safety issues such as distraction and eye strain
1.     Overproduction indicates that workers may be working faster than needed by the next process, which can increase the risk of a repetitive strain injury.
2.     Making more than is needed may also result in clutter and poor housekeeping and increased number of accidents. (balanced workload based on customer demand rate reduces these risks and decreases the likelihood of increased work in process inventory)
1.     Delays and time wasted due to poor material and information flow can impact employee motivation and increase the risk of falls and overexertion as workers rush to catch up.
Non-utilized People
1.     Risk of complacency and loss of focus when performing monotonous tasks.
1.     Excessive product movement increases exposure to material handling and industrial truck injuries.
Excess Inventory
1.     Excess work in process between operations (due to large lot production or processes with long cycle times) impedes movement, increases the risk of trip hazards, distractions, blind spots for pedestrians and fork lifts, as well as manual handling injuries.
2.     Excess raw material inventory will result in temporary (often unsafe) storage locations creating obstacles to safe movement of employees
1.     Unnecessary motions such as reaching over the head for a tool or searching for one, instead of having it within normal reaching distance, at the point of use, are both wasteful and hazardous.
Excess Processing
1.     Inefficient work flow and extra processing steps such as avoidable reaching, twisting and material handling tasks increase overexertion risks.
2.     Process steps that absolutely add no value to the product of service being provided may help increase EHS risks

Finally, the 5S process was discussed as one of the best means of creating and maintaining conditions favorable to a safe and healthy workplace.  This process has five steps or levels although there is a school of thought that suggests adding a 6th S for “Safety” but careful adherence to the 5S process will result in safety improvements.  The 5S steps are:
Sort – identify and remove clutter
Set (in order) – identify locations for frequently used items and ensure they are kept in their place
Shine – clean and inspect everything inside and out (inspection provides opportunities for improvement)
Standardize – Create rules to maintain the first 3s’s
Sustain – Adherence to the rules and proper training of all workers

National studies show a strong correlation between high incident rates and lean implementations where strong safety programs were not present.

How do you incorporate safety into your lean efforts?

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Friday, February 8, 2019

Lean Quote: Action → Inspiration → Motivation

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.

"We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action." — Frank Tibolt

Most people only commit to action if they feel a certain level of motivation. And they only feel motivation when they feel an emotional inspiration.

The following is how most people approach completing goals.

They wait for inspiration. Then they act — they go to the gym, clean the entire house to surprise their partner when they get home, they start writing chapter 1 of their novel.

And yet, despite these surges of inspiration that happen every day…

Gyms are rarely frequented.

Houses remain cluttered messes.

That book is still a (mostly) empty Word document on the computer.

That’s because this strategy doesn’t work.

Emotional Inspiration → Motivation → Desirable Action

It’s a catch-22 of sorts. But the thing about the motivation chain is that it’s not only a three-part chain, but an endless loop:

Inspiration → Motivation → Action → Inspiration → Motivation → Action → Etc.

Action comes first, not last.

Action → Inspiration → Motivation

Don’t wait until you “feel inspired.”

Action creates inspiration. Action creates luck, creativity, and motivation.

Rather than waiting to feel inspired and motivated, you just need to start doing the work. Seems too simple right? Well, when you start putting in a little bit of daily work, it creates a compounding effect. You’ll begin to feel inspired, ideas will flow and you start building momentum. When you start doing, the rest starts to fall into place. The pathway to realizing your goals and dreams is non-linear and requires you to put in a lot of effort.

Taking action and applying a new idea to your life will inspire you more than anything someone else could say.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

How to Change the World: 10 Lessons From Seal Training for Life and Business

This is an inspiring and powerful 20-minute commencement speech by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University-wide Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014.

Admiral McRaven’s commencement speech is perhaps one of the best commencement speeches I have ever heard. It is on point and offers some fantastic life and business lessons.

Below are excerpts from his amazing speech.

10 Life Lessons from Basic SEAL Training

1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
“You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.”

3. If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
“SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.”

4. If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
“Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.”

“For failing the uniform inspection, the student [in Basic SEAL training] had to run, fully clothed into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a ‘sugar cookie.’ You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day — cold, wet and sandy.”

“There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. . . Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.”

5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
“Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events — long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics — something designed to test your mettle. Every event had standards — times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list, and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to a ‘circus.’ A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.”

“Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.”

6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
“There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.”

8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
“At the darkest moment of the mission is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.”

9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
“If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.”

10. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.
“In SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell. If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”
“Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often. But if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today.”

“It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.”

“Changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.”

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