Monday, May 31, 2010

Lean Roundup #12 – May, 2010

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

Supply Chain Management Misunderstood & Misapplied – Greg Stocker explains supply chain management and why it is important to understand the total cost.

The Secret to Successfully Running a Lean Office: Daily Management – Jeff Hajek talks about a proactive, systematic approach to balancing work load in an office.

Don't Do 5s – Jamie Flinchbuagh shares some thoughts why starting your lean journey with 5S doesn't work for all.  Jon Miller had a follow-up reflecting on Never Start with 5s.

It's about Time Not Inventory – Bill Waddell talks about inventory and turns and how they are not really a measure of how Lean an organization is (following John Deere).

What is the Pacemaker? - Dragan Bosnjak defines the pacemaker of a process.

10 Ways that Kaizen Develops Better Leaders – Paul Cary lists 10 ways in which a Kaizen develops better organization leaders.

Right Method, Wrong Culture – Mark Graban explains the phrase "Data should create light, not heat" in context to lean implementation.

Leaning Forward – Paul Levy shares the experience of rehabilitating a space using lean principles to create a new work environment.

Human Intelligence and Machine Stupidity Supply Chains are about Effectiveness Not Only Efficiency – Trevor Miles talks about our ERP systems being tools and we should really learn to think about our systems.

Winning Poker Hand of Corporate Metrics – Mike Wroblewski says we should spend the majority of our time on Delivery, Quality, Safety plus Morale and spend less time on Cost.

What Follows "Yes, but...?"  - Mark Rosenthal explains we all have unforeseen problems but what we do next determines the fate of our improvement.

Partnering with your Staff on Problem Solving – Alex Maldonado shares some thought on increasing lines of communication with those who do the work.

CEO Tips to Finding the Truth – Tripp Babbit explains the best way to find the truth is go out to the source and interact with the people there.

Customer Experience, Kano, Basics, and Shiny Objects – Pete Abilla uses the Kano Model to show us, in an easy way, the relationship of features to customer delight – and it's not an either/or.

What Can We Learn From Active Resisters? – Evan Durant shares what he has learned form active resister as a lesson for all.

Lean is Not Just About Waste – Kevin Meyer explains that there is more to creating value for your customers than just eliminating waste.

The Post-Value Stream Analysis Hangover – Mark Hamel shares some symptoms that occur after a VSM and how to deal with them.

Can I Stop Inspecting? – Matt Wrye talks about the definition of value add and why eliminating inspection can really help reduce the waste in your process, but only if you eliminate it for the right reasons.

Stealing MonkeysBryan at TWI talks about empowerment and a phrase he learned from a shop floor "don't steal their monkey".

Do you have a Daily Management System, or Just Parts? – Connor Shea describes the necessary elements or loops of a Daily Management Systesm.

How to Set Span of Control for Leaders – Jon Miller gives 5 steps to think about when deciding how to set the span of control for leaders.

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, May 28, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, May 28th, 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.

"Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark." — Henri Frederic Amiel, Swiss Philospher from 1800's

Passion is the driving force that enables people to attain far more than they ever imagined. Commitment means you will go all the way for what you believe in. Passion and commitment go hand in hand. Make sure your job is something you love to do and be excited about coming to work. Remember to have a positive attitude because of the saying “Good attitude, good results; bad attitude, bad results.”

Enthusiam; intensity about a subject; willingness to engage others on their terms with repect to the threats and possibilities; deep knowledge about the subject; examples from one's own experience - all of these are marks of passion.  These are attributes that can be studied, learned, and acquired over time.  They grow from believing that there must be a better way for your organization to survive and prosper in a competitive world.

Passion is not style. There are a lot of different styles -- charismatic, quiet, confident. But it all comes down to this motivating sense of commitment to what you do. Vince Lombardi said “the difference between success and failure is energy … fired with enthusiasm.”

Passion is everything. Without passion there is no drive to succeed. It is the fuel of the will, and everything you do as a leader must express your passion. Passion is contagious and is easily shared. Passion will bridge moments of weakness, and will drive you past your failures while reaching for your goals. Passion radiates from you and is easily detected by others.

A leader without passion isn’t a leader. He’s a paper pusher. Or a taskmaster. Passion drives a lot, and you can inspire so much in others through your own passion and enthusiasm. That doesn’t mean you have to be constantly cheery, it means you’ve got to believe in what you’re doing and what your company is doing.

Inspired by listening to Bruce Hamilton of GBMP and Karl Wadensten of VIBCO at EASTEC this week who speak of and epitomize passion.

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, May 25, 2010

Lean Improvement the FastCap Way

In Lean we strive for a culture in which everyone in the company makes small improvements to their work environment everyday.  Many organizations start with large activities with titles like Kaizen or improvement events.  This is necessary in the beginning to create the conditions for change.  You need to teach people how and why to improve.  The Kaizened area then serves as a powerful example for the rest of the organization to learn from.  But as we strive for "True North" we want to create an environment where continuous improvement occurs regularly as part of the work.  Now, there is an example of this from FastCap.



FastCap produces a vast array of woodworking products and tools to accommodate the professional cabinet maker and woodworker needs. FastCap was founded in 1997 by Paul Akers, 20-year veteran in cabinet-making/ woodworking industry. One day, while Paul was building some cabinets, he got an idea for a self-adhesive screw cap cover and the Fastcap was born.

I learned of FastCap from bloggers Ron Pereira and Jon Miller about 6 months ago.  In fact Gemba Consulting helped FastCap start their Lean transformation around 2002. You can hear from Paul himself on how they started their Lean journey from a talk at the Northwest Business Club (video: Part 1 & Part 2) earlier this year.

This video serves as a great example of how powerful an engaged and empowered workforce can be.  It is really only possible from the involved leadership and coaching at the Gemba.  By reinforcing improvement at the source daily you are changing behaviors and establishing an environment where this kind of improvement is expected.  If you do this well then it is common place to solve problems as they occur and find ways to improve your work.  I hope this serves as an example for all.  Share this with the leaders of your organization to start a change in thinking about improvement today.

If you enjoy this blog 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, May 23, 2010

First Year Hansei

One year ago today I started A Lean Journey and I thought some hansei was in order. Hansei is Japanese for "self-reflection".  It is the practice of continuous improvement that consists of looking back and thinking about how a process can be improved.  Without hansei you stop learning.

It is important to go back and revisit the beginning.  I had been following a number of bloggers like Mike Wroblewski, Jon Miller, Ron Pereira, Mark Graban, Joe Ely, Kevin Meyer and Bill Waddell, Jamie Flinchbaugh, and Lee Fried before I started.  These authors really inspired me to try a blog of my own.  There seemed to be a number of sites from proven Lean consultants or primarily on healthcare topics and I thought I could contribute from a manufacturing perspective.

I entered this endeavor more than a little na├»ve.  I can honestly say I had no knowledge of blogging, social media, web page design, html code, or anything else essential to blogging.  In the beginning there was no plan just a willingness to make it happen.  Writing is not something that comes easy for me.  It may or may not be obvious but I have to work at it.  This was a real phobia to overcome.  Seriously, how do you blog if writing is a weakness.  Like most lessons in life, with practice and hard work comes improvement.

Quickly, I realized I needed a plan.  It was one of those why aren't you using Lean Thinking moments.  So I set a relatively easy goal for the first year.  Increase the number of repeat visitors each month.  You may say, why this goal?  Well, it was really a build something from nothing kind of thinking.

What I didn't realize was the tremendous learning experience this year would be.  First, you learn more when you write about Lean so that others can understand what you are talking about you.  Second, I have met so many great Lean Thinkers this year.  That dialogue and interaction has created a whole new learning environment that I was not previously fully utilizing.  Third, learning about blogging, creating online content, and various social media platforms has been a great asset.  This has allowed me to work with AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence) on utilizing social media at the national and local levels to support learning and best practice sharing.  Fourth, I really enjoy blogging.  I am glad that I got the courage to try this without knowing how or what to expect.

A number of people have been very supportive in this past year and I would be remiss if I did not acknowledging them.  For those, I previously mentioned thanks for inspiration and support.  In no particular order, John Hunter, Brian Buck, Jeff Hajek, Karen Wilhelm, Pete Abilla, Ankit Patel, JC Gatlin, Evan Durant, Liz Guthridge, Dan Markovitz, Mark Hamel, Jim Baran, Tony Manos, Jason Semovoski, Jeff Hoffstetter, Jon Wetzel, and Dragan Bosnjak were helpful over my first year.  A couple other notable mentions for support is Andy Novotny, AME Northeast Region Director; Scott Schiave, AME Marketing and Communications Director; and Kate Shane, graphic designer.  I would also like to thank my wife Jennifer, children, and my mother and father for moral support when I took on more than I could handle at times.

Even in this short year I have seen a number of blogs come and go.  I mark this first year as successful.  I accomplished something new and received rewards of friendship that I did not expect.


Now going forward I know I have a lot more to learn.  You likely will see more of the same from me in the second year.  I will be reaching out to more Lean thinkers in the community to dialogue and share ideas.  I will highlight this in the coming year.

As we learn in Lean we need to add value to the customer.  I want this blog to add value to the readers and the Lean community at large.  Feedback is always welcomed and appreciated.  Share your ideas on topics or ask questions you want answered.  Leave comment below or email directly.

If you enjoy this blog 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, May 21, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, May 21, 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.

“Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.” - African proverb

This quote really gets to the essence of root cause analysis.  Where do you focus your attention; on the slippery floor or what caused the floor to get slippery in the first place. 


Root cause analysis is a problem solving methodology based on the belief that problems are best solved by attempting to correct or eliminate root causes, as opposed to merely addressing the immediately obvious symptoms. By directing corrective measures at root causes, it is hoped that the likelihood of problem recurrence will be minimized. However, it is recognized that complete prevention of recurrence by a single intervention is not always possible. Thus, root cause analysis is often considered to be an iterative process, and is frequently viewed as a tool of continuous improvement.

Mark Graban of a leanblog.org has created a photolog called BeMoreCareful.com.  This is a collection of workplace signs and posters that don't quite get to the root cause. The site intended to show pictures of workplace signs that say things like:

Caution! 
Warning!
Be Careful!
LOOK OUT!
Don’t Forget!

These signs usually have an exclamation point and often say “Please.” Signs and warnings are about the weakest form of “error proofing,” if you can even call it that. Some find it easier to just slap up a sign, thinking the problem is solved, instead of looking for a more systemic fix.  Lean thinking recognizes that people are human and that human error is inevitable.  Instead of posting a sign Lean focuses on the process so that it’s more difficult for people to make mistakes or forget things.


Here is an example of such a sign:


Before printing, check the printer for signs! Chances are, you’ve already hit “Print” before walking over to see this caution. Is there a deeper root cause to the “28lb Type 2 error”?  See more examples at BeMoreCareful.com.


Disclosure:  I am a contributor on the photolog BeMoreCareful.com.


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, May 18, 2010

Kanban for Personal Management

About a month ago I came across a great concept called the Personal Kanban that I wanted to share.  Taiichi Ohno created the first kanban to communicate with workers how much work needed to get done and how much got done.  Kanban is a Japanese term meaning "sign" or "signboard".  A kanban does three main things:

1. Shows us the work we have in progress
2. Shows us all the work we haven't gotten to yet
3. Shows us how efficiently we work

Personal Kanban is a personal productivity tool based on these principles to create a simple way to visualize and control your work. There are only two real rules with Personal Kanban:

1. Visualize your work 
2. Limit your work-in-progress



Personal Kanban is the idea of Jim Benson, owner of Modus Cooperandi, a consultancy that helps businesses achieve business goals through collaborative means. Jim also blogs at Evolving Web on Lean, Agile Management, and Social Media principles.

Limiting your work in progress is important since the human brain simply does not respond well to the stress of juggling multiple priorities.


We feel like if we have “free time” we have “capacity” and therefore can fit more work in. We are not unlike a freeway.

A freeway can operate from 0 to 100 percent capacity. But when a freeway’s capacity gets over about 65%, it starts to slow down. When it reaches 100% capacity – it stops.

So capacity is a horrible measure of throughput. Multitasking is a horrible way to manage your synapses. If your brain is a highway and you are filling yourself with work, after a time you start to slow down.

Your rush hour gets longer and longer. You find yourself struggling to get out simple tasks.

Simply because you think you can handle more work-in-progress does not make it so.

You can build your first Personal Kanban in 4 simple steps.

1) Establish Your Value Stream
 The flow of work from the moment you start to when it is finished. The most simple value stream possible is Backlog (work waiting to be done), Doing (work being done), and Done (yes, that's right, work that's done). 

2)  Two: Establish Your Backlog
All that stuff you need to do that you haven't done – that's your backlog.  Everything you need to do, start writing it down onto Post-its. Big tasks, small tasks, get them all down.

3) Establish Your WIP Limit
The amount of work you can handle at one time.  Part of what makes kanban work is finding the sweet spot, where we are doing the optimal amount of work at the optimal speed.

4) Begin to Pull
Begin working – pull completed work from one stage of the value stream and into the next.

There is a short presentation to help you get started.

Personal Kanban is easily adaptable and scalable to fit anyone's needs.  There a number of great examples and tools on the website to support you on future improvements to your Personal Kanban.  For those iPhone users there is even an app for Personal Kanban called iKan.

In the next few weeks I hope to transform my previous Visual Task Board to a Personal Kanban of my own.  I would like to hear if anyone has experience with a Personal Kanban they would like to share.


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, May 16, 2010

Inefficiency Through Default Meeting Times

This past week there has been a lot of discussion about the 45 minute 45 minute meeting from TimeBridge.  TimeBridge, an online scheduling site, has set their default meeting time to 45 minutes instead of 60 minutes.  They suggest these "5 Rules of the 45 Minute Meeting" to help you get started:

Plan ahead: Develop a clear purpose and agenda with estimated minutes for each item. Deliver an agenda far ahead of the meeting so participants can prepare and participate. Let others contribute to the agenda.
Cull the attendee list: If attendees do not have actions or direct oversight they don't need to attend the meeting. The bigger the meeting the more likely the time-suck. Send meeting notes to those who need to know about the meeting but don't need to be there.
Stay tuned in: Phones off, laptops closed (except for the note-taker).
Manage the clock: Call out, reign-in or punish the meeting jokesters, complainers and timewasters. Make sure you're not allowing the first agenda item to consume the entire meeting.
Give ownership: Assign owners to all bullets or action items. Make sure to summarize the actions at the end of the meeting.

My question is why stop there.  Why not try the 22 minute meeting.

I came across the 22 minute meeting from Scott Berkun a couple of months ago.  The idea is the concept of Nicole Steinbok, where she presented the idea at Seattle Ignite 9.

Here's the poster from her talk:



Here is a summation of the steps as characterized by Scott Berkun:

  1. Schedule a 22 minute meeting - Who decided meetings should be 30 or 60 minutes? What data is this based on? None. 30 and 60 minute meetings leave no time to get between meetings, and assumes, on average, people need an hour to sort things out. Certainly not all meetings can be run in 22 minutes, but many can, so we'd all be better off if the default time were small, not large.
  2. Have a goal based agenda – Having an agenda at all would be a plus in most meetings. Writing it on the whiteboard, earns double pluses, since then everyone has a constant reminder of what the meeting is supposed to achieve.
  3. Send required readings 3 days beforehand – The burden is on the organizer to make this small enough that people actually do it. Never ever allow a meeting to be "lets all read the documents together and penalize anyone diligent enough to do their homework".
  4. Start on time – How often does this happen? Almost never. Part of the problem is Outlook and all schedule programs don't have space between meetings. By 2pm there is a day's worth of meeting time debt. 22 minutes ensures plenty of travel/buffer time between meetings.
  5. Stand up – Reminds everyone the goal isn't to elaborate or be supplemental  Make your point, make your requests, or keep quiet. If there is a disagreement, say so, but handle resolving it outside of the meeting.
  6. No laptops, but presenters and note takes. If you're promised 22 minutes, and it's all good stuff, you don't need a secondary thing to be doing while you pretend to be listening. One person taking notes, and one person presenting if necessary.
  7. No phones, no exceptions – see above.
  8. Focus! Note off topic comments. If you have an agenda, someone has to police it and this burden is on whoever called the meeting. Tangents are ok, provided they are short. The meeting organizer has to table tangents and arguments that go too far from the agenda.
  9. Send notes ASAP – With 22 minutes, there should be time, post meeting, for the organizer to send out notes and action items before the next meeting begins.
You can also view Nicole's video from the Seattle Ignite show for an explanation in her own words.



Nicole started a facebook group to promote sharing of like minded individuals on preventing inefficient meetings.

I even came across a piece of software called LessMeeting that promises more productivity.  LessMeeting makes it extremely easy to follow meeting best practices for planning, execution and follow-up of meetings. In addition, LessMeeting provides key analytics that measure meeting productivity and efficiency across your organization.


What is really important about all this is the need to challenge status quo and make the necessary improvement to make our meetings as productive as possible.  I previously wrote a post entitled In Search of Lost Time where I shared several tips to help you save time and money by running effective meetings. I am constantly reminded of the phrase "You, me, now, at the source."  Our meetings really need to follow this axiom so we create value for our customers.

Many organizations suffer from meeting-itis: poorly-run and inefficient meetings that go on too long, happen too often and include more attendees than need to be there.  Keeping meetings brief, small, and productive isn't easy. Fast Company suggests trying unconventional techniques to make it work:



Share the ways in which you make your meetings effective.  Let's start a revolution in traditional corporate cultures where we find better ways to do things.

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, May 14, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, May 14, 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.

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."
- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, 1749-1832, German Poet, Dramatist, Novelist

This quote is really about the tipping point between analysis paralysis and just do it.  The tipping point is when an idea, trend, behavior, product, or message creates enough critical mass crossing a threshold where change becomes unstoppable. It is this epidemic of change that many seek to make their Lean journey sustainable.  In the post The Tipping Point of Lean Culture the three rules (or agents of change) by Malcolm Gladwell are explained in terms of creating a Lean culture.  These elements are essential in all transformations.

Many organizations are waiting for the optimum time to change.  Unfortunately, tomorrow never comes.  If you allow it you will always find another distraction.  There is never a better time to start than now.  We really must invest everyday in our future since you can't get back lost time.

To make this transformation possible the workforce must have the ability and expectation that they can make changes for the better.  This requires committed leadership to act now and remove all obstacles and excuses prohibiting change.



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, May 11, 2010

The Lean Farmer: Desirable Attributes of a Lean Coach



Leadership is regularly discussed whenever the subject is organizational change.  Lean conversions and leading the ongoing lean operation require determined leaders and effective leadership. Successful leaders behave in a particular way with certain desirable attributes.

This leadership role has many names.  Whether you call them a sensei, champion, coach, or leader; the role is no less critical for the organization to be successful.  I am not one that pays much attention to titles but for this post I chose Coach because it is so fitting.  A Coach is an individual involved in the direction, instruction and training of the operations of a team or of individual.

The following characteristics are desirable for a good Lean Coach: 

  1. Active-learner open to new ideas
  2. Natural problem-solving skills
  3. Basics technical skills (comfortable with spreadsheets, graphs, data, etc.)
  4. Keen Observer
  5. Hands-on
  6. Passionate about improving processes
  7. Leadership skills
  8. Strong interpersonal skills
  9. Excellent communicator (writing & speaking)
  10. Systems thinkers (able to understand process flows, etc.)
These characteristics alone don't make a Lean Coach.  The Lean Coach must have technical knowledge in the lean tools and tacit knowledge from experience.  Nobody is born knowing these principles and how to implement them.  Everyone has to learn them through practice, trial and error, and coaching.  Success is not based on who you are but rather on what you do. Behaviors can be learned and unlearned. 

Being a teacher is the most important aspect for a Lean Coach.  They are not the ones to come in and do it for you.  They are the ones to show you how to do it with confidence so that you will be able to do it for yourself.  A Lean Coach must be relentless in teaching and expecting learning through actual practice.

The best analogy of a Lean Coach that I have heard is related to agriculture. The Lean Coach is a farmer not a hunter.  Farmers take the long view, and win in the long term.  Hunters take the short view, get early gains but ultimately die out.  Farmers are shepherds.

What characteristics of a Lean Coach do you find desirable in your experience?


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.

Monday, May 10, 2010

5 Questions Answered by Tim McMahon

Kevin Meyer and Bill Waddell from the blog Evolving Excellence have a series called 5 Questions.  This is where you can learn more information on some of the lean manufacturing and business transformation thought leaders.  The 5 questions are:

1. Who are you, what organization are you with, and what are some of your current lean-oriented activities?

2. How, when, and why did you get introduced to lean and what fueled and continues to fuel the passion?

3. In your opinion what is the most powerful aspect of lean?

4. In your opinion what is the most misunderstood or unrecognized aspect of lean?

5. In your opinion what is the biggest opportunity for lean in today's world?  How can that be accomplished?

Yours truly answers these questions so you can learn more about the man behind A Lean Journey.

1.  Who are you, what organization are you with, and what are your current lean-oriented activities?

I am the Founder and Contributor of A Lean Journey Blog. This site is dedicated to sharing lessons and experiences along the Lean Journey in the Quest for True North. The blog also serves as the source for learning and reflection which are critical elements in Lean Thinking.

Since I believe you should practice what you preach, my day job is a Lean practitioner with more than 10 years of Lean manufacturing experience.  I currently lead continuous improvement efforts for OFS, a high tech manufacturer fiber optic cables and assemblies for several plants in the Northeast.  Currently a major focus is teaching problem solving skills, lean countermeasures, and how to see opportunities for improvement by actively learning, thinking and engaging our workforce.


I have also been supporting the AME Northeast Region Board of Directors as the Social Media Lead. This role is to identify how to best leverage social media tools for increasing networking within AME's Northeast Region. Social media tools include LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare, YouTube, Facebook, etc. I contribute with others on AME's Social Media Council to build AMEConnect, a members-only online networking site, and build presence and content on Facebook and Twitter channels.

You can learn more about me on LinkedIn - Tim McMahon, follow me on Twitter - @TimALeanJourney, or be a fan on A Lean Journey Page.


To see my answers to the remaining questions head over to 5 Questions-Meet Tim McMahon on Evolving Excellence.


You can also visit the About Me section of A Lean Journey Blog to learn more.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Lean Quote of the Day, May 7, 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.

“Kanban is like the milkman. Mom didn’t give the milkman a schedule. Mom didn’t use MRP. She simply put the empties on the front steps and the milkman replenished them. That is the essence of a pull system” – Ernie Smith, Lean Event Facilitator in the Lean Enterprise Forum at the University of Tennessee

While many organizations utilize kanban systems for pull production they still rely on ERP/MRP  for purposes of planning.  How do you know if your ERP system is working for you

Check these 10 warning signs to see if your ERP system is killing your business.


1. The ERP system can’t integrate mission-critical business data.
2. Changes to the system are costly and time-consuming.
3. Your disaster-recovery plan involves tapes.
4. Beefy PCs or “fat clients” are needed to run the system.
5. Maintenance fees are high.
6. You can’t access the data easily if you are traveling.
7. Upgrades are disruptive to the business.
8. Trading partners can’t easily interact with the system.
9. New employees need time to learn the system.
10. Globalization is too difficult.

Now, if you are unsure of the issues that a poorly run ERP system can cause then I suggest you revisit CIO.com's brief and semi-chronological history of 10 famous ERP disasters, dustups and disappointments as a warning.

I believe that ERP and Lean are compatible and beneficial if done correctly. The problem is we often let the ERP solution run our business instead of making the software suit our business needs.


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.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Removing Resistance to Change

This is a guest post by Tony Manos a 5S champion at 5S Supply. Tony is a business advisor with Profero, Inc., Inc., where he provides professional consulting services, implementation, coaching and training to a wide variety of organizations, large and small, private and public, in many industries focusing on Lean Enterprise and Lean Healthcare. He is also the co-author of the book "Lean Kaizen: A Simplified Approach to Process Improvement", author of many articles on Lean and its allied subjects and presents at many conferences each year. Tony contributes to the 5S Supply Blog and you can follow on twitter at @5SSupply.


While contemplating the 5th S, "Sustain" of 5S I was thinking about resistance from people that seems to be prevalent when trying to implement a solid 5S system. We all know about change management and how important it is to have management's commitment for a program like this.

I think we need to take it even a step further, down to the individual's level. Let's discover why there is resistance and see what we can do to eliminate or reduce it. Then it dawned on me that I could use one of the tools from my days as a quality manager to help look at the forces involved with a change like this called Force Field Analysis.

The purpose of using Force Field Analysis

From the Memory Jogger II it says "To identify the forces and factors in place that support or work against the solution of an issue or problem so that the positives can be reinforced and/or the negatives can be eliminated or reduced." I think this is a great application of this tool to help people understand what they may be facing with their 5S program.


Click here for a free Force Field Analysis Form.

How to use Force Field Analysis

Draw a large "T" on a piece of paper or flip chart with the left column for "Driving Forces" and the right column for "Forces Against Change". Write the proposal in the middle at the top. For example, we can say "Having all our employees actively engaged in our 5S system." Now with your team, brainstorm ideas or reasons why people would be for the change or against the change. Have the team come to consensus on the intensity of the force based on a scale of 1-5 (1=low, 5= high). You can total the numbers at the bottom of the column and see if you have net support or resistance. It is critical at this point that you have the team brainstorm ideas that will either help support the forces for or mitigate the forces against. You can write these next to the item in the column. Finally, using these ideas put together a plan to implement these items.

It is important to follow-up with this to make sure you are on target. Check your results. Is your 5S implementation getting better? Do you have less resistance to change? Consider capturing "Lessons Learned" so you can improve the process for other Lean initiatives.

Wrap-up

Change management and leading change are deep and rich subjects that go far beyond what I could write in a blog. This is just one tool that could help us get more people onboard and to help us create a world-class 5S organization. Test it out, try it yourself and see what happens. I hope this helps. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Guest Post on 5S Supply Blog

Today I have a guest post on the 5S Supply Blog entitled Sustaining with Layered Audits.  The Layered Audit approach is especially effective in sustaining process improvements and institutionalizing key process steps because all levels of the organization participate. Layered Audits are tied directly into the fifth S – Sustain – and they are the means used in Lean Improvement Systems to avoid “backsliding” into old habits, creating sustainable culture change.  To learn more continue reading the article at 5S Supply Blog by clicking here.


5S Supply Blog is written by Tony Manos a 5S champion at 5S Supply. Tony is a business advisor with Profero, Inc., Inc., where he provides professional consulting services.  You can also follow Tony on twitter at @5SSupply.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Leadership: The Power of Influence

Leadership is about power.  A leader needs to lead and is only a leader with followers.  Getting people to follow you in a direction they are going anyway is not leading.  The challenge is to get people to follow in a direction they might not otherwise go.  Leaders must have a sense of direction, often referred to as vision.  They must share this vision and get others to buy into it and actively help achieve it.  If they can do this we call that power.

French and Raven, who authored "The Bases for Social Power" in 1959, are commonly cited in management texts for defining a model for how to influence people.  Here are the five significant categories of power:

Legitimate – The power of an individual because of the relative position and duties of the holder of the position within an organization. Legitimate power is formal authority delegated to the holder of the position.

Coercive – Power from the application of negative influences. It includes the ability to demote or to withhold other rewards. The desire for valued rewards or the fear of having them withheld that ensures the obedience of those under power. Coercive power tends to be the most obvious but least effective form of power as it builds resentment and resistance from the people who experience it.

Reward – The power to control some type of reward and offer it contingent upon being followed.   This could be a tangible reward like money or an intangible reward like praise. This power is obvious but also ineffective if abused. People who abuse reward power can become pushy or became reprimanded for being too forthcoming or 'moving things too quickly'.

Charismatic – When you have charisma, people simply want to follow you.  There is some sort of animal magnetism that exudes a force that moves people to do as you request.  A person may be admired because of specific personal trait, and this admiration creates the opportunity for interpersonal influence.

Expert – An individual's power deriving from the skills or expertise of the person and the organization's needs for those skills and expertise. Unlike the others, this type of power is usually highly specific and limited to the particular area in which the expert is trained and qualified.

As can be seen each of the powers is created by the followers belief, if the follower does not hold the requisite belief than then the leader is not able to influence them.

      - Legitimate power needs follower to believe leader has right to instruct them.
      - Coercive power needs follower to believe leader will punish them.
      - Reward power needs follower to believe leader will reward them.
      - Charismatic power needs follower to believe leader has desirable qualities.
      - Expert power needs follower to believe leader is an expert.

Whether the follower's beliefs are correct is irrelevant, the beliefs alone will determine the type of power, a leader has over the follower.

A good leader is apt to use all of these sources of power at one time or another.  I once heard a leader's use of influence is like singing.  If one only belts out one note there's no song. But if you have many notes, the song sounds like real music.

Leaders know how to lead, and leading means using power effectively.  Effective leaders learn over time how and when to use all of these sources of power.

What sources of power do you use?  Which sources do you find the most effective?


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.