Friday, February 5, 2016

Lean Quote: It's Not What The Vision Is, It's What The Vision Does

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.

"It's not what the vision is, it's what the vision does.— Robert Fritz

Leadership must articulate a vision and goals describing what they believe want to accomplish. They must provide a clear charge to all layers of management and process improvement team members to work towards this vision, making sure that everyone understands the vision. Leaders work with others to set specific goals and a manageable scope for each action. Focus on defining the attributes needed for success and empower the team to develop efficient and effective approaches to accomplish them.

Casting the vision is not enough.  Starting out is always the most difficult part, but do not let the vision fall flat.  Revisit, reinvent, and restrategize until the flow becomes natural. Create and align company goals with the vision, and align individual and team goals with company goals.

Let your employees know how they will benefit from embracing the vision. Explain and reinforce the financial rewards when the goals of the vision have been achieved, such as bonuses, recognition, and career development. Share the vision frequently through staff meetings, outings, newsletters, emails, posters and employee campaigns. Develop visuals, such as tables, charts and photos, which highlight milestone accomplishments of the vision.

Companies must determine ahead of time what the vision and direction will be. A proper strategy must assign clear responsibilities and show what resources are to be committed. Metrics and timelines must be defined. Management must decide what core elements are to be deployed and the order of deployment.




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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Six Ways to Make Continuous Learning Part of Your Daily Routine


Learning is the key to success—some would even say survival—in today’s organizations. Knowledge should be continuously enriched through both internal and external learning. For this to happen, it is necessary to support and energize organization, people, knowledge, and technology for learning. A learning organization values the role that learning can play in developing organizational effectiveness.

A constant quest for learning provides the means to always be moving forward, to conquer new frontiers and achieve new and exciting goals. Make a point to learn something new every day. Learning new things brings more exciting experiences your way. It allows you to meet other people who can bring further knowledge or learning opportunities. 

Learning needs to become part of your daily routine. You are most likely to succeed if you consistently pursue a learning activity each day. Even five minutes a day can make a tremendous difference.

So how do you make learning continuously part of job? Here are six ways to get started today:

1. Pursue ways to develop and apply specific skills. The most effective way to develop your skills it to make it part of your daily routine. Each day, identify where you can practice new skills and behaviors. Compile a list of people who can support your development. Observe people who are skilled in the areas you are trying to improve.

2. Get the most out of readings and seminars. When you are reading or are attending a seminar, take notes. Search for one insight or application in everything you read. Decide what you will do differently.

3. Involve others in your development efforts. Effective development rarely happens in isolation. Instead, successful learning occurs through a continuous process of feedback and support. Learn from people outside of work and realize that no single person will fill all your needs. Use resources available through professional associations, Web sites, blogs, and so forth.

4. View mistakes as learning opportunities. Mistakes are a problem if you repeat them or don't learn from them. When you make a mistake, ask yourself what you can learn from it.

5. Stay informed about industry practices. Industry practices and standards change so you need to keep up-to-date on developments. Visit other companies and talk with their employees. Attend industry or professional meetings, conferences, seminars, webinars, and other educational events. Join a group of professionals who get together to discuss issues of common interest.

6. Seek out and learn from others who are different from you. Getting input and advice from a wide range of people will provide you with new ideas. Develop a habit of identifying what you can learn from each person you meet. Realize that to keep learning, you need to put yourself into unfamiliar situations. Network with others to learn needed information. 

Everything can contribute to our experience of learning. But as you may realize, learning is incomplete if we don't listen to the voices of those whose background and experiences are different from our own. Part of our learning continuously is opening our minds and hearts to those who propose a different way.

A good manager is acutely aware of what they know and why they know it, as well as what they don't know. They understand the difference between opinions, hunches, and objective facts. A good manager knows that their job is to fill in these gaps in knowledge, not to defend them. Good managers don't ruin their credibility by over-stating their knowledge.


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Monday, February 1, 2016

Lean Roundup #80 – January, 2016



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

A Goal to Explore Out of the Box – Kevin Meyer says we set a goal to do something different, one that stretches us outside our comfort zone.

How I Stopped Making New Year’s Resolutions – Jon Miller shares his way to stay more focused making resolutions redundant.

Forget the New Year’s Resolution... – Jamie Flinchbaugh talks about avoid resolutions by setting real goals and acting on them.

Sustaining New Year's Resolutions - Any different than sustaining Lean? – Tracey Richardson says that sustaining a New Year’s Resolution is just like sustaining Lean.

Success is the Enemy of Future Success - Reprise – Pascal Dennis explains why we need relentless self-examination to avoid status quo.

Can You Handle Disruption? – Pete Abilla says disruption, much like change, can be a good thing so embrace it.

Saving Money vs Making Money – Glenn Whitfield describes why Lean should really be about increasing value instead of eliminating waste.

The Most Important Lean Tool – Matt Wrye explains that observation is the most important tool and everyone can do it.

People Do What Gets Reviewed – Terry Howell says management must have a cadence of going to the gemba to review, audit, and coach their team if they want to encourage improvement.

Lean & Wakefulness – Pascal Dennis says that wakefulness is at the heart of Lean business system.

Another Use for Duct Tape – Bruce Hamilton shares a lesson about developing thinkers where leadership must allow employees to solve their own problems instead of giving them all the answers.

The Only Genuine Knowledge Is That of Actual Experience – Steve Kane shares 5 ways to get the most out of your training.

Gemba Walks: Do You Walk the Walk? – Pete Abilia says to get the most out of Gemba Walks you’ll need both planning and follow-up.

Where Do Hospitals Get the Idea that Lean is Only About Cost Reduction? – Mark Graban explains why Lean is not about cost cutting and why that is an ineffective strategy.

Toyota Kata PodCast – Habits for Continuous Learning and Improvement – Hakan Forss discusses Toyota Kata for creating habits for continuous learning and improvement.

Lean’s Midlife Crisis – Bob Emiliani talks about leader’s narrow focus on cost cutting and slow adoption of respect for people when claiming to implement Lean.

What Went Wrong? – Bob Emiliani review his thoughts on the miscalculations of Lean adoption.

Let's Stop Being Hypocrites: Work is Work – Dan Markovitz talks about Lean in the office environment.


No Shortcuts: Creating a Lean Environment the Right Way – Michael Balle discusses why there is no shortcut to Lean implementation, it takes learning.

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Lean Quote: Continuous Improvement is About Problem Solving

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 no problem is recognized, there is no recognition of the need for improvement.— Masaaki Imai

The success of a company can depend to a large extent on the ability of its staff to solve problems effectively, both in their day-to-day work and through innovation. We are all faced with problems to solve in our workday. We are often not in control of the issues we face at work or home. Problems just present themselves. And chances are the issues you're facing aren't so cut and dry. Having the right attitude can make the difference between success and failure.

The starting point for improvement is to recognize the need. Kaizen emphasizes problem awareness and identification. Once problems are identified, the problems must be solved consequently. Kaizen is a problem solving process which requires the use of various problem solving tools. In Kaizen, the mindset of “no problem” or “no opportunity” must be carefully avoided.

Opportunities for improvement exist in all aspects of every industry, and can be identified by every person in any business. With the right culture of continuous improvement, problems, and technology, conscious identification of opportunities for improvement can transform a company into a more efficient, high-quality business.

Possessing good problem solving skills does not make people automatically use them to the benefit of the organization. They need encouragement, support and guidance in applying them to the organization’s problems.




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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

5 Reasons 5S is a Good Place to Start Your Lean Journey

www.kaizenworld.com

Many consultants will advise clients that 5S is a good place to start when starting your Lean journey.  This is for good reason.  5S is a process and method for creating and maintaining an organized, clean, and high performance workplace.  It enables anyone to distinguish between normal and abnormal conditions at a glance.  5S can be the foundation for continuous improvement, zero defects, cost reductions and a more productive work space.  The 5S methodology is a systematic way to improve the workplace, processes and products through employee involvement.

Embarking on your Lean journey with implementing 5S is beneficial for several reasons:

1. Organized and safe work place. With some simple training, supplies, time and a little bit of elbow grease, you can carve out a very well organized area in your workplace.  People are less likely to get injured in an organized environment.

2. Provides structure and discipline. Successful implementation of 5S requires that processes be defined and process ownership assigned. This begins to create basic process team structures with assigned responsibility and accountability for process conditions and performance.

3. Creates visibility. It allows you to see problems more easily. If you have a good 5S condition, problems can be seen easily.  When process conditions start to become standardized, leading to the surfacing of abnormal conditions, which in turn can lead to problem solving, learning, and developing corrective and preventive actions.

4. Improves morale. People enjoy working in an organized environment.  Yes, there are those out there who really don’t mind working in a dirty, filthy place, but studies have shown that morale is higher in companies with a higher level of 5S.

5. Continuous improvement. 5S begins to stimulate employee contributions and ideas for improvement. It is important for firms that begin their improvement journey with 5S to nurture the employee contributions which can flow out from 5S activity.

5S is a prerequisite for most other Lean tools.  Well-implemented, 5S can open up entry points into flow and pull, equipment reliability, standardized work, and value analysis. We know that Standard Work is a baseline for all improvements, but if the workplace is unorganized and the necessary items needed to do the job are not easy to locate, how can Standard Work be followed?  Without Standard Work, you really don’t have a chance to improve the process and 5S is a critical prerequisite.


So by starting with something as simple as sorting through your items, setting them in a designated space, shining them up, you can achieve higher levels of Safety, Quality, Problem Solving and Morale.  Not to mention, you won’t really be able to proceed further in legitimately implementing Lean practices.  Don’t you think that it’s worth it to rank 5S as a high priority for your workplace?  Just make sure you are aware of the commitment level you need to Standardize the practice and Sustain it, otherwise all you are doing is “cleaning up” once in a while.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

6 Key Requirements for “Lean” Team Leaders


Lean success requires a change in mindset and behavior among leadership, and then gradually throughout the organization. So it follows that success in Lean implies a change in what leaders reinforce—a change in leadership behaviors and practices. Change begins when leaders start acting differently. It’s that simple (but not that easy).

What are the qualities of a good team leader in a Lean environment? This is one of the most contemplated questions when undergoing a Lean thinking transformation since leadership is critical to its very success. In my opinion there are at least 6 key requirements for a team leader in a Lean company:

1. Willingness and Desire to Lead
A person need not possess all of the following characteristics when they first get the job.  They only need to have the desire and willingness to learn and develop the other skills.  The leader must want to motivate and inspire people to achieve great things.  

2. Job Knowledge
Leaders should be knowledgeable about the materials, machines,     tools and   production steps in their area.  Must know the process and correct way each operation should be performed.  This requirement is often missing from leaders outside Toyota, with the implied assumption that general management skills can overcome a lack of in-depth job knowledge.

3. Job Responsibilities
A leader must know his/her role.  Leaders must understand the policies and procedures and be able to communicate them to their team members and ensure that they are followed.

4. Continuous Improvement Ability
A leader must constantly analyze the work looking for ways to improve the process.  The major part of a leader’s role is to encourage his/her people to develop continuous improvement in thinking and action.  It is more important to have many small daily improvements than to have few major improvements.

5. Leadership Ability
A leader must be able to “translate” the overall company objectives into specific activities that their team must perform in order to be successful.  They develop the game plan and assist the team in how to carry it out.  They must provide support, training and coaching to ensure success. 

6. Teaching Ability
Primary duty is to teach others.  If skill and knowledge is not passed on to others, the organization will not grow and prosper.

While there are people who seem to be naturally endowed with more leadership abilities than others, I believe that people can learn to become leaders by concentrating on improving these particular leadership skills. The only element that cannot be taught is the desire to be a leader.


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Friday, January 22, 2016

Lean Quote: Thought and Action

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.

"Life is measured by thought and action, not by time.— J. Lubbock

Lean success requires a change in mindset and behavior among leadership, and then gradually throughout the organization. So it follows that success in Lean implies a change in what leaders reinforce—a change in leadership behaviors and practices. Change begins when leaders start acting differently. It’s that simple (but not that easy).

Improvement requires a bias for action. Just like the Nike tagline, you should go ahead and just do it. Deploying Lean means you're following a PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle and that it's okay to fail. Whether you succeed or fail, you're following through on Lean.

For leaders, action is one of the most important traits they can embody.  Taking action means getting things done.  It means seizing the initiative.  It conveys momentum, and energy, and creating something new, something that didn’t exist before.  And this excites followers and others who understand that going towards something is always better than sitting around staring at the wall.

Good leadership is not reflected in the leader’s actions alone, it is reflected in the impact and effect of those actions on the team. A leader should adapt to the environment and what the team needs today without losing sight of what will be needed tomorrow and always preparing for that moment when he or she will no longer be there. Guaranteeing the growth and sustainability of the team and the individuals that comprise it beyond the leader’s time is the ultimate trait of a great leader. In fact, the true success of a leader can not be measured without considering these results long term.



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