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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lean Roundup #10 – March, 2010

Selected highlights from the Lean Blog Community from the month of March, 2010. 

7 Tips to Build Good (Lean) Behavior – Jeff Hajek shares 7 ways to create positive lean behaviors on any team. 

Don't Write Work Instructions! Bryan at TWI uses a 5W1H (5 why's and 1 how) analysis to question writing work instructions. 

Top 14 Ways to Reduce Changeovers – Mike Wroblewski discusses 14 ways that you can reduce equipment changeovers in your process. 

Returning to America - More Stories – Kevin Meyer highlights an article on the reasons why companies are bringing manufacturing back to the US 

Time Observations - 10 Common Mistakes – Mark Hamel talks about 10 mistakes to avoid when taking time observations. 

Turning a New Leaf – Alex Maldonado explains 8 key personal behaviors to consider changing or improving on in the form of the acronym DOWNTIME. 

Counter Measures: Bringing Balance to the Process – JC Gatlin explains 8 steps in creating counter measures for problems to address the root cause. 

Rate of Improvement – Lee Fried talks about how the rate of improvement increases as the culture changes. 

Making the Invisible VisibleMichael Sinocchi shares Carlos Venegas', a reader, thoughts on the tactics used and difficulties faced when mapping electronic value streams. 

Lean Leaders, Circa 2020 – Michael Lombard makes some predictions of what Lean Leaders will be like in 10 years in a fun way. 

Top Ten Reasons You Should Be Doing S&OP – John Westerveld gives 10 reasons that your organization should do Sales and Operations Planning. 

Developing Great People – Paul Cary shares several best practices as a guide to developing employees that are more committed, engaged and motivated. 

Naysayers vs Just Negative – Kevin Meyer talks about the difference, albeit sometimes a fine line, between being a naysayer and simply being negative.   

Is Change Management the Missing Link? – Gregg Stocker writes about the importance of change management to be success with strategic initiatives. 

Diagnosing Current Reality as 1 2 3 – Jamie Flinchbaugh shares 3 steps to diagnosing your current reality which must include direct observation. 

How Checklists Help Me With My Podcasts – Mark Graban explains the importance of using checklists with an actual current example. 

The Myth of  Productivity Cost Savings – Glenn Whitfield explores some myths of productivity from the March Madness Tournament's so called unproductive wages. 

Hurry Up and Wait- Are You Motivating Your Employees Incorrectly? – Ankit Patel looks a company's employee performance measures and questions if they serve the purpose. 

The Willie Sutton Rule of Lean – Bill Waddell explains the importance of good sound information on your costs if you want to reduce your costs, ie. "go where the money is." 

Why Do We Spend So Much Time Putting Out Fires? – Dan Markovitz talks about leader standard work as means to prevent fire fighting mentality. 

What is a Bottleneck? - Dragan Bosnjak explains what a bottleneck is and how to recognize it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Expert Advice for Getting Things Done

While I was writing the post "3 steps to get things done" an interesting feed came through on productivity tips to add more time to your work day.  The article was published on the American Express Open Forum and entitled" 80 Ways to Steal Valuable Minutes for Your Work Day."  The author is Glen Stansberry, a web developer, writer and small business owner. He co-founded the popular blog network LifeRemix in 2007 and currently writes at LifeDev on empowering creative people.

Glen asked some of the top small business, productivity bloggers, and consultants to share some of their best tips on how they add more time to their days.  I thought I would share some I found particularly noteworthy.

Liz Strauss, Successful Blog

"Establish an early morning no interruption time. Use the first hour or two of work to work on things that require focus. You'll get more done. Email, phone calls, and interruptions have a way of expanding to fit the time we allow them."

Jonathan Fields, JonathanFields.com

"Batch & Focus - Multitasking kills time. Again, sounds counter-intuitive. But, every time you switch your attention, there's a cognitive ramp up time. It can range from a few seconds to a few minutes. So, if you constantly cycle between checking email, IM, twitter, texts, voicemail, calendars, blackberries, apps, scores, stock quotes, news, current projects and more, then respond to each, the time you lose to incessant ramp-up becomes substantial. Instead, minimize time lost to nonstop cognitive ramping by batching your time and focusing on individual categories of tasks with intense, yet discrete bursts of attention."  

"Call - We've become so accustomed to doing everything digitally, trading flurries of emails, IMs and texts, we sometimes forget that we can get the same thing done in a fraction of the time with one or two quick phone calls."

Dominic Basulto, Endless Innovation

"Use Evernote as a digital organizer - Finally get rid of all the scraps of paper, sticky notes and newspaper clippings that find their way into your bag, wallet or pocket. Using Evernote, you can snap photos of anything, take voice notes, clip text from the Web and then sort all of this content either online or using a mobile device. All of this multimedia content then has a home within Evernote, where you can easily search for content when you need it."  

Becky McCray, Small Biz Survival

"Use checklists. Make and use checklists of daily tasks. This saves you time in two ways: you will work more efficiently with a checklist in front of you, and you will spend less time trying to remember what still needs to be done. You can read more of my explanation of a social media marketing checklist here."

Rich Brooks, Flyte Blog

"Write up tomorrow's to-do's before I leave the office today. I find that if I have a clean lined paper (physical or digital) of the most important to-dos for the next day, I can hit the ground running when I get into work the next day."

Glen Stansberry, Wise Bread

Develop a routine to your day and stick with it. Routines give us a feeling of control over our day and help put us on "autopilot", keeping us from worrying about the little details of the day.

Start tracking your time with RescueTime. It really is an eye-opening experience. RescueTime will show you exactly where you're spending your time and how much. It shows you trends that you probably hadn't considered, like when you're most likely to visit Facebook. Knowing when you're vulnerable to distractions is incredibly valuable to your productivity.

All these tips may not work for you but I am sure you will find some advice in this article valuable.  Many of the resources from these industry leaders were new to me and you may find their sites helpful like I have. 

If someone was to ask you your secrets to productivity what would your share? Share your thoughts here or on this AME Linkedin Discussion Group.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, March 26, 2010

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.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

"In motivating people, you've got to engage their minds and their hearts. It is good business to have an employee feel part of the entire effort . . . ; I motivate people, I hope, by example—and perhaps by excitement, by having provocative ideas to make others feel involved."  — Rupert Murdoch

Motivating employees toward a common goals is an important strategic advantage in any organization.  People are the engine of the organization and positive motivation is the fuel to drive the car of excellence.  To improve your effectiveness in motivating your team avoid these top 5 motivational myths.   Instead, try the following 10 quick ways to motivate your employees:

1. Praise the employee for a job well done--or even partially well done.
2. If an employee is bored, involve that individual in a discussion about ways to create a more satisfying career path, including promotions based on concrete outcomes.
3. State your clear expectations for task accomplishment.
4. Ensure that the job description involves a variety of tasks.
5. Ensure that the employee sees that what she’s doing impacts the whole process or task that others will also be part of.
6. Make sure that the employee feels that what he/she is doing is meaningful.
7. Provide feedback along the way, pointing out both positive and negative aspects.
8. Allow for an appropriate amount of autonomy for the employee based on previous and anticipated accomplishment.
9. Increase the depth and breadth of what the employee is currently doing.
10.Provide the employee with adequate opportunity to succeed.

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3 Steps to Get Things Done

In today's busy world, many people have difficulty managing their time and getting everything done. Some people are very busy, but they never manage to achieve the things they really want.  So the question is "How can you improve your time management to increase your productivity?" 

While doing some research online about time management techniques I came across this ClarityMap.

This time management process follows these 3 simple steps to get things done.

1. Create a list of actions.  Write down all the things you want to get done for the day. Everything from writing, creating content, or planning your next project to answering your email and balancing your checkbook.
2. Assign each action a time.  Pick a specific time to each task or group of tasks. Anything from 15 minutes to 2 hours. Chunks of 30 minutes or less work best.
3. Do the action! Select a task, start a timer (like an egg time), and focus on nothing but accomplishing that task. This means you don't answer the phone, you don't get up for a drink, you don't log onto computer - none of that. You remain focused on the task-at-hand!
Derek Franklin is the creator of this ClarityMap and The Action Machine, a visual time management software based on the above steps.  The goal behind The Action Machine is simple: To give you a way to visually structure your day in a way that you feel absolutely compelled to take action and get things done, once and for all!
This ClarityMap offers 16 ways to take more action on your tasks.  They include declutter techniques, use of checklists, and ways to avoid procrastination and distractions.  Take an action item and plan time to review these methods.
Derek offers this poster for free:
If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.  For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our facebook fan page.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Five Reasons to be Honest with Your Employees

A recent interview by The New York Times with Kip Tindell, chief executive of the Container Store, highlighted several leadership lessons.  "Don't keep secrets from your staff" was one of foundational principles Tindell shared.


Good leadership is all about communication, and the best leaders are completely transparent with their staff, says Container Store CEO Kip Tindell. Tindell shares his private boardroom presentations with all his company's employees, from top to bottom. "There's never a reason, we believe, to keep the information from an employee," he says. "I know that occasionally some of that information falls into the wrong hands, but that's a small price to pay."


I believe that with knowledge comes power and the more information we share the quicker with can improve.  Creating a culture of openness and free-flowing information can be a competitive advantage.  Here are five reasons you should embrace transparency:


1. People assume the worst when they don't hear from leaders. Silence from the executive office causes a lot of fear and resentment, which certainly doesn't contribute to a productive culture. Maybe the news is bad, but maybe it's not as bad as they are imagining. And even if it is, once they know the truth they can plan and act accordingly.


2. Transparency helps employees connect to the why. When employees are working in a vacuum, they can't see the financial "big picture," and decisions leaders make may seem ill-advised or unfair or simply inexplicable. Transparency connects them to the why—and that understanding propels them to act. You can ask people to change their work habits and established processes all day long. But if they don't know why they're being asked to change, they won't change—at least not for long.


3. Transparency allows for consistent messaging across the organization. When you commit to transparency, people don't have to get their (speculative, distorted) news through the company grapevine. They hear what's really going on, in a controlled and consistent way, from their managers. This, in turn, creates organizational consistency. When everyone is hearing the same messages from their leaders, everyone is motivated to respond in similar ways. And this consistency trickles down to the customers, who get the same basic experience regardless of who they're dealing with.


4. Transparency leads to faster, more efficient execution. When times are tough, execution is everything. And the ticket to good execution is good alignment: All sectors of an organization must understand exactly what's required so they act in a coordinated and collaborative fashion. Transparency is what facilitates that kind of alignment. It's all about a shared sense of urgency.


5. Transparency facilitates the best possible solutions. In transparent cultures, leaders encourage employees to solve problems themselves. And because those employees are the people closest to a problem, and because they must live with the outcome, they almost always design the most effective, efficient solution.  And, of course, they'll also have instant buy-in.


Do your employees really know what's going on with your company?  Be honest with your employees they can handle the truth.  Remember, sharing information with employees is good for a couple of reasons: one, it's the right thing to do, and two, it's good for business. 


As we have learned from Lean Thinking, this too can not be a flavor of the month.  Being open and honest with your employees requires long term commitment if your want your organization to continuously improve.


If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts. For those Facebook fans join A Lean Journey on our
facebook fan page.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, March 19, 2010

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.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

"Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static "snapshots". It is a set of general principles- distilled over the course of the twentieth century, spanning fields as diverse as the physical and social sciences, engineering, and management. ...During the last thirty years, these tools have been applied to understand a wide range of corporate, urban, regional, economic, political, ecological, and even psychological systems. And systems thinking is a sensibility- for the subtle interconnectedness that gives living systems their unique character." - Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline

I chose this quote because Quality Digest Magazine asked to reprint my post on systems thinking to avoid pitfalls in lean management. Quality Digest is the largest source for Quality-related articles and news in the U.S., covering metrology, quality management, standards, compliance, and more. 

Review this newly updated Quality Digest article titled "11 Pointers Toward Systems Thinking in Lean Management

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Podcast on Gotta Go Lean Blog

I recently had the opportunity to do a podcast with Jeff Hajek.  Jeff Hajek is a Lean consultant, award-winning author of Whaddaya Mean I Gotta Be Lean, and the founder of Velaction Continuous Improvement.  Jeff also publishes the blog Gotta Go Lean.

The Gotta Go Lean Blog focuses on Lean at the front line--helping managers and employees work together to make Lean more productive for the company, and jobs more satisfying for employees. And committed, engaged, satisfied employees are good for business.

Jeff asked me to do a podcast with him regarding frontline leadership at the supervisor level.  Below is a brief introduction to this subject from Jeff:
Because Lean requires a great deal of autonomy from frontline employees, it also requires frontline Lean leadership with a unique skill set. Supervisors in a Lean company have to be able to do it all. They must be coaches, mentors, trainers, and still deliver results. It’s a fine line to walk. Too directive, and they stifle creativity. To ‘hands off’ and their teams don’t get better. We dive into the details about what we think Lean supervisors need to do to be successful when their company is focused on continuous improvement.
To listen to my interview along with Jeff click here.  The podcast is about 21 minutes in length.  I hope you enjoy and I thank Jeff for the opportunity to share with others.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Times is Money, Use it to Your Advantage

One of the central elements in Lean is the reduction in lead time.  Bruce Hamilton, president of the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership, calls this the time between paying and getting paid.

George Stalk and Thomas Hout, both of The Boston Consulting Group, wrote, Competing Against Time: How Time-Based Competition Is Reshaping the Global Economy in 1990.  This book was one of the first to identify the importance of time as a competitive advantage.

Based on their research, they outline four rules of responsiveness that the value-delivery systems of corporations are subject to:

The .05 to 5 Rule
Most products and many services are actually receiving value for only 0.05 to 5 percent of the time they are in the value-delivery systems of their companies.

The 3/3 Rule
The waiting time has 3 components, which are the time lost while waiting for:
- Completion of the batch a particular product or service is part of
- Completion of
the batch ahead of the batch a particular product or service is part of
- Management to get around to making and executing the decision to send the batch on to the next step of the value added process

The ¼-2-20 Rule
For every quartering of the time interval required to provide a service or product, the productivity of labor and of working capital can often double, resulting is as much as a 20% reduction in costs.

The 3 x 2 Rule
Companies that cut the time consumption of their value-delivery systems experience growth rates of 3 times the industry average and 2 times the profit margins.

Companies and their management must understand these how these rules of response apply to their business and use this to their advantage.  Reducing the cycle time of the value-delivery process can result in the following benefits:
            1)     First to market for new products
      2)     Increased market share becoming closer to customer
3)     Price premiums for reduced delivery times
4)     Increased productivity from increased capacity and lower cost

The golden rule of time based competitiveness is to never delay a customer value adding step by a non-value adding step.  Process mapping the value-delivery process is recommended to eliminate and reduce non-value added steps.

If you enjoy this post you may want to connect with me on Linkedin or follow me on Twitter.  You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, March 12, 2010

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.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

"Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, 'Make me feel important.' Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life."

-- Mary Kay Ash 1918-2001, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics

A company is really defined by its people. It doesn't take long to pick up on the culuture within a business. The job of management in a lean environment is to help people realize their potential within the business.  Whether in sales or any other function of the business engaging and empowers all employees is critical to success.  Look at how to empower your innovators in the post titled the rudolph factor and the eighth waste Rudolphs are those bright, empowered, innovative people of your business.  Since they aren't wearing signs one key is learning how to recognize them and their vaue.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Organizing for Dummies

I recently came across an interesting book called Organizing for Dummies by Eileen Roth and Elizabeth Miles.  This is not a manufacturing or office book but rather a book about tidying up and clearing clutter in your house.  Nevertheless, there is some practical advice for anyone.  The authors offer several simple acronyms to help you get organized and stay organized.

When you are deciding what to keep and what to pitch use the WASTE way of questioning:

W Worthwhile? Do you truly like the item? Think of cost of storage vs. cost of replacement.
A Again? Will you use it, really? Think probability?
S Somewhere else? Can it be borrowed or found somewhere else if you need it?
T Toss? Will the world end if you get rid of it? Think consequences.
E Entire? Do you need the whole thing or just part of it?

When deciding where things should go put everything in its PLACE:

PPurge: Get rid of it, look at the WASTE questions above.
LLike with like: Create a center for things, can variety be reduced?.
AAccess: Create a spot that is easy to get to your things.
CContain: Use containers to create space and keep things together.
EEvaluate: Does this organizational layout work? 

Many of us should learn REMOVE in our office to create successful work area:
RReduce distractions from your desktop.
EEveryday use items stay on top of your desk.
MMove items to the preferred side, like the right side if you're right-handed.
OOrganize together, keep similar items grouped together.
VView your time, keep a clock on your desk.
EEmpty the center so you have a clean workspace.

These simple acronyms follow the standard 5S thinking in Lean manufacturing that we are familiar with.   How do you use 5S in your work at the office or at home?  Can you REMOVE WASTE at your PLACE?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What does it take to be a Lean Manager?

During a recent plant visit I questioned the management style of the operations team.  You could say it was a traditional style of management of sort.  Unfortunately, they thought they could manage from the office.  This passive style left a lack of visibility on the shop floor and no sense of the condition at the Gemba.

It occurred to me that while transitioning from a traditional push factory to a leaner factory that some of the management was not changing.  Did they know how to change or even what management in a lean environment means?
Lean leadership is a fundamental element to creating and sustaining Lean Thinking in any organization.  To manage in a lean environment you must change your state of mind equal to that of the organization’s cultural transformation.  To change our mindset Mike Rother says we must focus on these 3 factors:

        1) Method - Specify the desired behavior pattern
        2) Practice - People repeatedly apply the method
        3) Coaching - Guide people in learning the method
“With practice, training, and above all method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent thane we were before.” – Alfred Binet.

The Toyota Production System’s core management principles are articulated around the twin pillars of Continuous Improvement (relentless elimination of waste) and Respect for People (engagement in long term relationships based on continuous improvement and mutual trust).

In my experience I have learned that the single most important element for success in Lean is the human element.   First and foremost Lean managers have the critical role of motivating and engaging all people to work together toward a common goal. Management must define and explain what that goal is, share a path to achieve it, motivate people to take the journey with them, and assist them by removing obstacles.

I believe in the saying “people are the most important asset”, and, for that reason, management must have a shop-floor focus. Lean managers are taught that all value-added activities start on the shop floor; therefore the job of managers is to support the team members. Production team members will only appreciate management on the shop floor when they can see that they are out there to help them do their jobs, not as part of a command structure, bent on telling them what to do.

“Respect for People” is about building mutual trust and human development.  Lean managers must take responsibility for other people reaching the objectives they set.  They seek to develop and engage individuals through their contribution to team performance.

The Lean manager must be a problem solver, an essential skill in continuous improvement.  It is not necessarily about making decisions but more about encouraging and empowering your workforce to solve problems.  Lean managers embrace experimentation through scientific method of PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act).

Lean managers understand that not all countermeasures will be successful. This is part of Kaizen and they make failure acceptable in a way that encourages employees to continue resolving the problem with a new countermeasure.

Lean managers must be customer focused. They need to ensure that all team members and all departments realize their dual role: they are at once the customers of the previous operation and the suppliers to the next operation downstream.

The challenge of Lean managers is to lead as if they have no power.  In other words, shape the organization not through the power of will or dictate, but rather through example, through coaching and through understanding and helping others to achieve their goals.

Lean Leaders essentially have three basic responsibilities:
      1) Support operations
      2) Promote the system
      3) Lead change

The only place I know to do these is at the source or the Gemba where the actual work takes place.

Lean management is an art one should perfect with time and with the understanding about lean manufacturing. Lean leaders will be the most important asset to any organization in its lean journey.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, March 5, 2010

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.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution. - Bertrand Russell

A problem well stated is a problem half solved. - Charles F. Kettering

A well-stated problem statement speeds a robust corrective action process. It helps identify potential root causes and eliminate bias and noise.  Accurate problem statements save time and effort by focusing the team on root cause identification.  Continuous improvement happens when root causes are found and permanently eliminated.  Learn more about the first step in this process by review this post on defining the problem statement.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Three Simple Questions All Managers Should Ask Everywhere

A Lean implementation can not be sustained without Lean management. Our management system must change as our production system changes in Lean to maintain the integrity of technical changes over time. A Lean management system comprises of the practices and tools used to monitor, measure, and sustain the operation of Lean production operations. Lean management practices identify where actual performance fails to meet expected performance; assigns and follows up improvement activities to bring actual in line with the expected, or to raise the level of performance. The four principal elements of Lean management are standard work for leaders, visual controls, a daily accountability process, and leadership discipline.

Management must go to the Gemba to practice Lean management. Gemba is roughly translated from the Japanese as the real place. The idea of the Gemba is simple: go to the place, look at the process, and talk with the people. Gemba walking teaches us to see in new ways what we have failed to see before. So what do you look for and how do you see it? All management should learn to ask these three simple questions:

       1) What is the process?

       2) How can you tell it is working?

       3) What are you doing to improve it (if it is working)?

Nothing sustains itself, certainly not Lean manufacturing or Lean management. So, establish and stick to a routine including regular visits to the Gemba, check the status of visual controls, follow-up on daily accountability assignments, and ask the three simple questions everywhere. Lean management is, as much as anything, a way of thinking.