Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 Posts for 2010 on A Lean Journey

As 2010 goes into the history books I want to take a moment to reflect on this past year. Nearly 41,000 people have visted the site this year.  I posted 185 articles on the site in 2010.  It has truly been a very positive full calendar year.  Here is a collection of the Top 10 posts for 2010 by views:

10. Stop Multi-tasking Before You Can't Anymore! - posted October 5, explains why the more you multi-task the worse you get at it.

9. Ineffeciency Through Default Meeting Times - posted May 16, has a number of pointers on how to make your meetings more effective including the 22 minute meeting.

8. Lean Round-up - Toyota Recall - posted February 9, who can forget the vast array of articles written about the infamous Toyota recall.

7. The Characteristics of a Lean Enterprise - posted July 25, explains 15 characteristics that comprise the defintion of a Lean Enterprise.

6. Why is Lean Office more difficult than Lean Production? - post August 26, this post is a repost of an explanation by Bruce Hamilton, aka. Mr. Toast, on why Lean is harder in the office.

5. Lean Gone Lego - There must be a better way - posted October 18, highlighted an Australian video demonstrating the traditional and Lean work examples with Lego characters.

4. The "Hot Stove" Rule of Discipline - posted January 26 explained how to discipline using the analogy of a hot stove and the importance of immediacy, advance warning, consistency, and impartiality.

3. Kanban for Personal Management - posted May 18, highlighted my first introduction into the use of kanban system for personal management.

2. 10 Things to Avoid During a Kaizen - posted December 6 was about pitfalls to avoid during a kaizen event.

1. Personal Kanban Kaizen - posted August 29 on the improvements made to my own kanban system of managing tasks and activities.


Do you have any favorites not on this list that you would like to share?  Leave a comment.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Annual Management Improvement Carnival: 2010 - Got Boondoggle?

In my final review for the Annual Management Improvement Carnival I will be highlighting Got Boondoggle?  Previously I reviewed Jamie Flinchbaugh, Gemba Tales, and Gotta Go Lean blogs.  Got Boondoggle? is written by Mike Wroblewski, former daily Lean practitioner and now consultant at Gemba Consulting.


Mike's blog is one the first Lean blogs I started following and was really the inspiration for me to start my own site.  I have a great respect for Mike for sharing his Lean experiences and knowledge with so many people.  He has been blogging steadily since 2005 so if you haven't read some of his original work I highly suggest you take some time to do so.  I have useda another of the examples Mike has shared in my own organization.

This past October I had the opportunity to meet Mike in person at the Northeast Shingo Prize Conference.  He did a great presentation on Kaizen events.  He shared the idea for the Got Milk presentation which I recently used to teach Lean.

Here are some of my favorite posts from Mike this year:

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

Management Magical Mystery Tour – Mike Wroblewski talks about the wasted opportunity of executive level plant visits.

Cats and Dogs in Manufacturing – Mike Wroblewski shares Ohno's advice on outsourcing those typically small volume, hard to make, mainly less profitable parts.

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.

Tear Down This Wall – Mike Wroblewski talks about the divide that still exists in many organizations between management and shop floor.

Managing Mura - Mike Wroblewski writes about mura not from the uneveness of the demand but that which is self inflicted.

Mike writes about simple Lean concepts in a uniquely elegant way.  He is very creative in his posts which makes each concept stick in your mind.  I am always learning something new from Mike and for this reason I keep coming back to his blog to learn from his experiences.

I'd like to thank John Hunter for the opportunity to participate in this years Annual Management Improvement Carnival.  John regularly hosts a management improvement carnival with the best of the best posts.  This was the inspiration for the Lean Roundup posted monthly on A Lean Journey.

I have shared some of my favorite posts from my favorite bloggers this week.  Now I would like to hear some of your favorite posts.  Share them here.

Continue to checkout the reviews of the other great bloggers to be reviewed in this carnival.


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Annual Management Improvement Carnival: 2010 - Gotta Go Lean

This is the third of four posts reviewing blogs for the Annual Management Improvement Carnival.  The two previous reviews covered Jamie Flinchbaugh and Gemba Tales.  Today, I will highlight the Gotta Go Lean Blog by Jeff Hajek.  Last year I also reviewed Jeff's Blog for the carnival.


I first met Jeff online after coming across his resources online.  Jeff has compiled a comprehensive Lean dictionary called The Continuous Improvement Companion which he consistently updates with new terms.  If you are looking to learn more on Lean this is a good place to start. 

Jeff and I started a steady dialogue at the beginiing og this year.  That lead to a podcast on frontline leadership and a Featured Lean Thinker post.  In the last few months Jeff and I have been doing a live webinar show where we talk about Lean concepts using everyday examples like making coffee or buying milk.

The reason I enjoy Jeff's posts and most likely the reason we work well together is we think alike.  Out of all the bloggers I follow I think Jeff's style and approach is most similiar to mine.  To give you an example I am going to highlight a couple of my favorite post from Jeff here:

9 Tips to Make Your Kaizen Process More Effective – Jeff Hajek shares tips on making your next kaizen event more effective.

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

Lean Leadership Soft Skills – Jeff Hajek lists some of the greatest challenges—and opportunities—for many Lean leaders.

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.

How to Overcome 24 Common Lean Excuses – Jeff Hajek talks about various reasons people resist change and how to overcome them.

Find a Factory Whisperer – Jeff Hajek shares 7 ways to find a mentor, someone who really understands the behavior of a production system.

The 18 Principles of Lean Leadership – Jeff Hajek shares 18 principles to guide you when leading in a Lean environment.

As you can see from this list Jeff, being the service provider that he is, is always offering practical advise that everyone can use in their organization.  I continue to learn a great deal from Jeff's posts and know you will too.


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Annual Management Improvement Carnival: 2010 - Gemba Tales

Continuing the review of blogs as part of the Annual Management Improvement Carnival, today I want to highlight Gemba Tales.  


Gemba Tales is the work of Shingo Prize Winning author Mark Hamel.  Mark won the prize this past year for his book Kaizen Event Fieldbook.  This book book goes beyond just Kaizens to link the technical aspects of kaizen to lean philosophy.  A good resource for anyone working on Lean transformation. 

Mark and I have developed a great relationship this past year.  He lives a few miles away so we occassionally go out to lunch to converse about Lean and blogging.  I really enjoy Mark's posts because I find them very relatable.  I wonder if he is watching me sometimes the way he seems to write about issues I am facing.  This provides great insight.  Here is a sampling of several of my favorite posts from this past year:

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

Standard Work is a Verb – Mark Hamel explains the importance of reviewing and revising standard work as part of continuous improvement not just kaizen events.

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

Kaizen and Chemistry – Mark Hamel shares some advice on what to do when a kaizen team has poor chemistry.

Telling “How” Removes Responsibility - Mark Hamel explains why employees take more responsibility for the solution when you explain the "why" not the "how".

Lean and Six Sigma - You Can't Serve Two Masters – Mark Hamel says since you can't serve two masters you should define one based on the principles of operational excellence.

With Mark's easy to understand writing style everyone can learn a better way to do improvement.  Do you have any favorite posts I didnt' mention?

You can also connect with Mark on Twitter or LinkedIn.



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Monday, December 27, 2010

Annual Management Improvement Carnival: 2010 - Jamie Flinchbaugh

As another year draws to a close we find it is time for the Annual Management Improvement Carnival hosted by John Hunter.  John, the author of Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog, has been highlighted management improvement posts since 2006.  Last year I reviewed the blogs Lean Reflections, The Lean Way, and Gotta Go Lean

This year I will highlight 4 of my favorite blogs: Jamie Flinchbaugh, Gemba Tales, Gotta Go Lean, and Got Boondoggle?  Over the next 4 days I will review each blog starting today with Jamie Flinchbaugh.


I met Jamie online last year after reading his The Hitchhiker's Guide To Lean: Lessons from the Road and starting a blog of my own.  In November I had the opportunity to meet Jamie in person after much dialogue online.  Jamie was the keynote speaker at CONNSTEP's Manufacturing and Business Conference where I also spoke.  He has a number of great Lean ventures but one I have contributed to is The Lean Library which is a powerful resource.

Jamie is a very thought provoking writer that really makes you challenge what you know about Lean.  Here are a few of my favorite posts from this past year:

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

Don't Do 5s – Jamie Flinchbuagh shares some thoughts why starting your lean journey with 5S doesn't work for all.

Organizational Design Solves Lean Challenges – Jamie Flinchbaugh pens a great article on how organizational design can be used to solve problems or enhance lean methods.

Forget SMART Goals-Do you have DUMB Goals? – Jamie Flinchbuagh explains some mistakes to avoid when formulating goals so they don't become dumb goals.

When to Coach the Process, and When to Coach the Solution – Jamie Flinchbaugh examines when to coach someone on the process or method, or coach them on the solution.

This is Not a Tree – Jamie Flinchbaugh reminds us that data is a representation of reality that must be analyzed and challenged. 

I hope you enjoy these posts and they make you question your current reality.  Think.  Ask why?  What are you favorite posts from Jamie?  Share them here.

Jamie was kind enough to review my site as part of the annual management improvement carnival last week.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lean Tips Edition #7

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.



Click this link for A Lean Journey's Facebook Page Notes Feed.

Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:


Lean Tip #91 - Milk runs can reduce the waste of transport, improve fast, flexible flow, and reduce lead times.

Like in a plant the idea behind the milk run is that a vehicle travels frequently around a set route starting and ending at the plant, and visiting several suppliers en route. At each supplier a small batch of parts is collected in a particular time window.

Lean Tip #92 - There are three sources of unstable Lean supply chain resulting in more inventory.

In simple terms, there are three enemies of a stable Lean supply chain:

1. Inventory and delays that worsen any 'swing' of amplification. The longer the response time to a change, the worse the swing upstream.

2. Unreliability or uncertainty - Any kind of uncertainty needs to be covered with inventory. Unreliable processes cause unreliable delivery and ultimately uncertainty.

3. Hand-offs or decision points - Every hand-off or tier in the system bears the danger of distorting the demand signal.

These all result in more buffers or inventory to cover the supply chain.

Lean Tip #93 - Build a strong supply chain by conducting joint improvement activities.

A collaborative supplier relationship model is essential for supporting a Lean supply chain. Conduct joint improvement acitivities with the following emphasis:

1. Exchange best practices with suppliers.

2. Initiate kaizen projects at supplier's facilities.

3. Set-up supplier study or work groups.

Lean Tip #94 - Strengthen your supply chain by sharing information.

Within your supply chain share information intensively but selectively. Focus on these principles:

1. Set specific times, places, and agendas for productive meetings.

2. Use rigid formats for sharing information.

3. Insist on accurate data collection.

4. Share information in a structured fashion.

Remember sharing information is all about shared learning.

Lean Tip #95 - Develop a suppliers' technical capabilities to strengthen your supply chain.

It is important to understand and develop your suppliers' technical capabilities. Start with the following elements:

1. Build the suppliers' problem-solving skills.

2. Educate them in Lean thinking and teach them to see waste.

3. Develop a common lexicon.

4. Hone core suppliers' innovation capabilities.

If your suppliers are not technically proficient your supply chain will be your weak link.

Lean Tip #96 - Don't forget to manage your suppliers within your supply chain.

Managing your supply chain is really about managing your suppliers. Here are couple things you can do to make this effective:

1. Send monthly report cards to core suppliers.

2. Provide immediate and constant feedback.

3. Get senior managers involved in solving problems.

4. Turn supplier rivalry into opportunity.

5. Source each component from two or three vendors.

Direct and timely communication with your suppliers is essential collaboration.

Lean Tip #97 - Support your suppliers by creating compatible production philosophies and systems.

For a supplier and vendor to want to together long term there must be a win-win proposition. Create compatible production philosophies and methods. This can be done by:

1. Set up joint ventures with existing suppliers to transfer knowledge and maintain control.

2. Understand how your suppliers work.

3. Learn about suppliers' businesses.

4. Go see how your suppliers work.

5. Respect suppliers' capabilities.

6. Commit to co-prosperity.

Lean Tip #98 - An effective measurement system is one of the most powerful tools for change.

Measurement should:

•Provide short-term indicators of problems - and no problems.
•Be part of a feedback or capability of the process or people.
•Focus on improving performance.
•Be capable of being acted upon.

Lean Tip # 99 - A good measurement system has four keys for sucess - first is Context.

First key of a successful measurement system is Context. Effective measurement can only occur in a positive, supportive context. This is the culture that surrounds the measurement - informational or punishment, process not person. The attitude of the boss. An unfavorable measure is an opportunity not a threat. We want to surface issues, not suppress them.

Lean Tip #100 - A good measurement sytem has four keys for success - Focus is second.

The second key for a successful measurement system is Focus. Measure the right thing. Be aware of measuring too much. Derive many of the measures from participative policy deployment, not sucked out of the air.

Lean Tip #101 - A good measurement system has four keys for success - Third is Integration.

The third key for a successful measurement system is Integration. There must be an integrated system for measurement. Maybe a balanced scorecard or policy deployment, although better in a Lean context would create flow, maintain flow, and organize flow. In any case measures need to be aligned, balanced, and adaptive.

Lean Tip #102 - A good measurement system has four keys for success - Fourth is Interactivity.

The fourth key for a successful measurement system is Interactivity. Measures need to be acted on in real time. Two-way interaction. Actually setting up the measures is only a small part - how they are used and reviewd is at least as important. Perhaps a daily meeting around the communications board. This is social process, not a technical process.

Lean Tip #103 - You must be focused when you decide which project to pick.

People always ask where to start. Which project should be pick to work on?

You must be focused:

•Focus on the Porcess
•Focus on the Product or Service
•Focus on Cost Savings
•Focus on Problems
•Focus on Internal processes
•Focus on supplier processes

Lean Tip #104 - Question each review, approval and status report to make sure they will make the project better.

Question each review, approval and status report to make sure they will make the project better. Consider the following:

•List the interim and final deliverables that need review and approval.
•Who will provide the review?
•Who will provide the approval?
•What is the reason for the review?
•What is the deliverable of the the review?

Lean Tip #105 - Simple strategies for evaluating possible solutions

Try these strategies when evaluating possible solutions:

Be creative with generating solutions.
Look for combinations of solutions to optimize outcome.
Generate the evaluation criteria BEFORE discussions.
Use data to review strengths and weaknesses of each option.
Consistently evaluate the potential options against the criteria.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Got Milk? Got Lean! Presentation

Jeff Hajek, author of Gotta Go Lean Blog and The Continuous Improvement Companion, and I recently shared our expertise in a brand new format. By combining a radio-show format with a webinar platform, and you get a brand new tool for learning about Lean.

In our second live show, we discuss Lean with another everyday example so anyone can learn the improvement methodology. The majority of households have one thing in common. They have milk in the fridge. But you may not realize that even the simple act of stocking this staple item puts a number of Lean concepts to work.

Stay tuned for a recording of this webinar to come shortly.  In the mean time you can review our first webinar show on Learning Lean Through Making Coffee.  Plan on joining us for our next webinar show after the New Year.


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Team Selection: Best and Brightest or Not

I came across this comic the other day and paused.  It is really about a stereotype of continuous improvement teams that I don't agree with. 


While it shouldn't matter who we pick from organization for an improvement team or initiative in the begining it does.  During the early stages of a transformation the selection of the team members is important for the success of your initiatives.

Here are a couple of things to consider when picking team members:
  • Balance of "hard" and "soft" skills
  • Best experience possible
  • Coverage of the knowledge areas needed
  • Willingness to join
  • Availability
  • Leadership and/or Management skills
  • Maturity to take responsibility
  • Follows through on commitments
  • Good listening skills
  • Willing to actively participate
  • Can give and take feedback
  • Can communicate clearly
You may not directly benefit from every improvement but that's not the point. We aren't tying to optimize individual performance. That continues the silo mentality.  An improvement in a part of the value stream is an improvement to the whole process.

Personally, I would send the best and brightest to support the improvement activity.  It is a question of where you spend your time.  How much time do you spend trying to convert the bottom 20%?  In my experience spending time with the top 20% is more beneficial.  The top 20% can have an infectious way of getting the middle 60% to come along with you on the journey.  You probably can't convert all the bottom 20% for various reasons.  But if you can get the majority of you organization working on improvements then your teams will be more effective.

What do you think of this comic and depiction of improvement teams?  Who would you lend to a new improvement intiative?


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Monday, December 20, 2010

How to Hit Your Goals

Last week I had several posts on performance measurement systems since this is the time of year when many organization are planning for the next calendar.  While this isn't necessarily the Lean way it provides a good opportunity to talk about these subjects.  This annual organization goal setting process is usually followed closely by the annual individual review and goal setting process.

Today, I want to share a ClarityMap to help you hit your goals.  A clarity map is visual guide to help give you the insight needed to make good choices. 



Click here for a pdf version of this map.

While there a lot of valuable information on this map I quite like this:

Action Creates Clarity - At first the details to achieve a goal may be fuzzy but as you take small actions toward the goal it comes more into focus.

This ClarityMap is the work of Derek Franklin who was gracious enough to allow me to share it with all of you.

Derek is also the creator of the 3 Steps to Get Things Done 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!

I shared the 3 Steps to Get Things Done ClarityMap this past March.


I post both of these documents next to my goals so I can use these tools to effectively focus on what is important when I get lost.  Maybe it can help you, too.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Lean Quote: Measurement Gets

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.


"What gets measured gets done, what gets done well gets rewarded, and what gets rewarded gets repeated." - Unknown

There are number of variation of this quote attributable to several notable authors.  It is often recalled in some discussion of performance metrics or motivation.  This is no different but I believe there is a truth to this statement.

Metrics matter! What gets measured gets changed and what gets rewarded gets done. If you don't measure it, you can't change it and if you don't reward change it will not happen.

Some say performance measures are a waste.  I don't agree.  They should be minimized and improved for effectiveness but not skipped entirely.  Regular measurement and reporting keeps you focused — because you use that information to make decisions to improve your results.  Metrics create an environment of accountability throughout the organization.  An organization that closely tracks performance metrics creates a culture where goal achievement is the norm and where there is no room for mediocrity.

Performance metircs also provide a way to convey corporate goals to the organization in a tangible form and get buy-in at all levels.  It also sets an example that the company management is holding itself accountable for success.

It is important to remember performance metrics are one measurement technique in your arsenal. They can be a quick and useful tool to let you diagnose strengths and weaknesses in your process, make strategic decisions, and ensure you are heading in the right direction. Don’t forget: the real value is in the discussion of results with your team, not the numbers themselves.

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.” – Albert Einstein



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Thursday, December 16, 2010

7 Deadly Sins of Lean Performance Measurement

Michael Hammer wrote a great piece a couple years ago on the 7 sins of performance measurement and how to avoid them.  I thought I would review the list in terms of a Lean measurement system.

Vanity: Using measures that make a particular organization look good.  Measures that are aimed at making the manager look good like a partial lead-time improvement, not end-to-end.

Provincialism: Organizational Boundaries - This happens often with localized process improvement efforts.  Measuring within department boundaries not the value stream.

Narcissism: Measuring things from the company’s point of view rather than the customers’.  Measuring from your point of view like delivery performance against promised date not customer's request date.

Laziness: Not placing enough thought into a company’s stage in the industry, strategy and objectives when deciding on what is important to measure. Assuming one knows what is important to measure like cost when delivery performance is more important to the customer or not going to the Gemba.

Pettiness: Measuring only a small component of what is important.  Measuring only a small part like ontime delivery, but the order is not in full.

Inanity: Measurement itself produces consequences by way of employee behavior.  Measuring  without thought of these consequences like prioritizing OEE.  OEE improves but schedule attainment decreases and batch sizes increase.

Frivolity: Not being serious about measurement itself.  Not being serious about improvement such as we can't stop the line to look at problems.

Are you committing even ONE of the seven deadly sins of Performance Measures?

Because if you are, you are wasting money at a minimum, and in the worse case, you are threatening the survival of your organization.  Avoid these 7 deadly sins in your performance measurement system if you want to achieve success.




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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Checking Out Measures

In continuation with performance measures I want to talk a little about how to review your measures.  Any discussion on Lean measurement should begin by recognizing that measurement is waste. It should be limited and minimized. It has been said "You can't fatten a calf by weighing it." At the same time, you must recognize that an effective measurement system is one of the most powerful tools for change, and for Lean transformation, that exists. 

A good method to check out your measures is to consider Kipling's Six Honest Serving Men or the Five Why's and One How.

Measure: a self-explanatory title

Purpose: why is it being measured?  To which business objective does this measure relate?

Target: what is to be achieved, and by when?

Formula: the formula or ration used.

Frequency: how often should the measure be taken, and reviewed?

Who measures?  Who is responsible for collection and reporting?

Source of data: wher does it come from?

Who acts?  Who is responsible for taking actions?

What to do? What action should be taken?

Limits: What are the control limits within which no action is required?


Since we would like to have the minimum set of measures to evaluate our performance as possible using this approach is vital.  If the measure is ineffective or ineffecient then we can expect more waste in our system then necessary.


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Monday, December 13, 2010

Measuring System Performance

With the end of the year approaching organizations are working on coming up with next years plan.  Hopefully Lean organizations are using Hoshin Kanri or policy deployment to shape their future.  Nonetheless, next years objectives will certainly include performance measures.  I am going to highlight some thoughts on good measurement systems in this weeks Daily Tips on A Lean Journey's Facebook Page.  In the mean time I will start the week with a look at how to define performance measures.

It is useful to start with question "what is a performance measure?" 

Andy Neely of London Business School proposed these definitions of performance measurement, a performance measure and a performance measurement system:

Performance measurement can be defined as the process of quantifying the efficiency and effectiveness of action.”

“A performance measure can be defined as a metric used to quantify the efficiency and/or effectiveness of action.”

“A performance measurement system can be defined as the set of metrics used to quantify both the efficiency and effectiveness of actions.”

An effective measurement system is one of the most powerful tools for change.  The measurement should:

- Provide short-term indicators of problems - and no problems.
- Be part of a feedback or capability of the process or people.
- Focus on improving performance.
- Be capable of being acted upon.

Having identified what is meant by performance measurement, the next post will cover how to check out your performance measures for effectiveness.



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Friday, December 10, 2010

Lean Quote: Leaders Communicate

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.


"The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate." — Joseph Priestley

 
Every form of multimedia is at our doorstep and they are all fighting for our attention.  We are inundated by ellectronic media like email, text, notifications, and others.  More than ever, we cannot live and prosper without information.  Not in business, not in our private lives.

Reliable, fast, and complete information has never been as important for success as it is today.  Yet, there is a new headache to deal with: excess information by email or cell phone.  The leader must now be more selective, and restrict the exchange of information to what is important.  We can't allow the loss of precious time reading and forwarding unecessary messages.  Everyone needs information to work as a team striving to achieve common goals and to share responsibilities.

A breakdown in communication can result in:
  • Rumor mills due to unreliable information
  • Wrong information due to interpretation, distraction, and incomplete information
  • Conflicting priorities among peers and departments

There must be an open exchange of ideas among peers and between managers and their reports.  In this process all people must be treated as equals and fresh ideas encouraged, whoever they come from.  Information must reach all levels and involve everyone to achieve common goals.

Among all forms of communication, nothing equals a face-to-face exchange.  There is no substitute for body language; the tone, facial expressions, and gestures that accompany language cannot be expressed in writing or even over the phone.

It is important to stress that even the best of all new technology must remain subordinated to the needs of the business.
  
 
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Visual Work Instruction For Saving Money at Home

Here is a map of home improvement tips and the associated savings in an easy to understand visual.  This can serve as a good example of the effectiveness of visuals for those office or factory processes you have.

Click for a larger version of "Budgeting: A Visual Guide to How Small Cutbacks Lead to Great Savings"

Budgeting-How Small Cutbacks Lead to Great Savings
Created by Infographic World
Personal Finances from Quicken

It is important to note five principles of effective visuals that I use:

1. Simple - Visuals should be concise and functional
2. Organized and compatible - Visuals should have a logical sequence and focus attention
3. Legible and readable - Visuals shoudl be readable to everyone
4. Appropriate graphics - Select graphic elements that enhance communication
5. Consistent - Information should be presented in a consistent and accurate manner

The infographic is a good example of the use of these five principles.  Do you use these elements in your visuals?  Why not?



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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lean Tips Edition #6

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.


Click this link for A Lean Journey's Facebook Page Notes Feed.

Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:

Lean Tip #76 - When creating a cell consider the location of support teams.
Locate design and engineering areas close to manufacturing.  Place production control in the middle of the plant floor.  Make them share common break areas.  Foster communication and visibility by sharing information on visual displays and have common meeting areas.

Lean Tip #77 - There is much to be said for combining operations rather than specialization in a series.
Think about the checkout line at a grocery store.  Would you rather progress through a series of checkouts, each one specializing: the first on fruit and vegetables, the second on drinks, the third on dairy, etc.  Shopping would be a pain.

Lean Tip #78 - Batching causes time lost while waiting of three components.
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

Lean Tip #79 - Use problem cards as an SOP for troubleshooting.
Problem (Trouble shooting) cards are "what if" cards to cope with relatively rare but important contingencies.  What to do if the chuck breaks, for example.  Most air force pilots are used  to the idea of these cards in an emergency in order to avoid potentially disastrous mistakes in a time of crisis.

Lean Tip #80 - A test card can help you with your tasks.
Test cards include a small number of questions on the task - true or false, or multiple choice - used for standard ops where:

•Tasks are done infrequently
•A new operator requires confirmation
•There is a job rotation amongst the team.

Lean Tip #81 - Single Point Lessons can be used as a reminder of a training aid.
A single point lesson is sheet of paper focused on a single lesson that can be covered in 5 minutes of less.  It is often used in TPM (Total Productive Maintenance).   The purpose is to reinforce ares where difficulties have been experienced in quality, safety, downtime, etc.  It can be used as a reminder or a training aid.

Lean Tip #82 - A RACI chart is a good practice for SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures).
RACI denotes who is R = responsible, A = accountable, C = needs to be consulted, I = needs to be informed.  For example:

                           Supervisor    Operator     Facilitator  Area Manager

Prepare SOP              C                 C                   R               A             

Write SOP                  C                 R                   I                A

Approve SOP             R                 I                   C                A

Audit SOP                R & A             I                   I                 A



The RACI charts also has a wide application outside SOPs like use on A3.

Lean Tip #83 - Standards are not to be used for a 'Gotcha' moment.
Standards should not be used to catch people but to enable them.  This is  like a tennis or golf lesson.  You don't hide your weaknesses from the coach, your bring them out because you want to improve.  This is the essential spirit that needs to be fostered with standards.

Lean Tip #84 - When reducing changeovers consider categorizing adjustments into three.
Adjustment is an important consideration that can consume much time.  Moreover, adjustment is the root of many quality problems.  List all adjustments on paper, then categorize into three items.  First, adjustments that should not be made.  Second, adjustments that have a limited number of standard settings.  And third, adjustments that truly need adjustment.  Start by attacking the first category.

Lean Tip #85 - Variation in changeover time is almost as important as the changeover time itself.
 If a changeover has large variation, then good scheduling practice is made difficult.  Therefore, track the major elements of changeover and determine which stages have greatest variation.  Then tackle variation as a separate exercise.

Lean Tip #86 - Successful changeover comprises of four key elements.
There are four elements to successful changeover.  Attitude, including workplace culture and receptiveness to change.  Resources, including time, money, personnel, training, tools.  Awareness,  including the contribution of changeover to flow, flexibility, inventory, capacity and awareness of different  possibilities achieving quick changeover.  Direction, including leadership and vision. priority and ranking, (and presumably impact on the value stream).

Lean Tip #87 - Address the four areas of changeover for real improvement.
In all changeovers there are four areas to address:

1. 'On line activities' - by internal and external task reallocation, or by designs that allow the sequence to be altered - for example simultaneous rather than sequential steps

2. Adjustment - by reducing trial and error by for example indicators and shims, or by design which allows 'snap-on' adjustment

3. Variety - by standardization and standard operations or by design which reduces the possibilities of variation - poka yokes

4. Effort - by work simplification and preparation or by design which incorporates simplification - for example fixing multiple hoses by one fixture.

Lean Tip #88 - For Lean supply to work there must be a few or even single suppliers per part.
The idea is to work with a few good, trusted suppliers who supply a wide range of parts.  An objective is to remove the long tail of the supplier Pareto curve by 10% whereby perhaps 10% of the parts are supplied by 80% of the suppliers.  Generally, collaborative long-term supplier partnerships make sense for 'A' and possibly 'B' parts, less so for commodity items.

Lean Tip #89 - There are essentially two basic and opposing models of how to relate to suppliers.
The two models: the cost-driven adversarial model and the long term collaborative model.  The former is the traditional model where you aim to negotiate hard, get the best unit cost.  And if next year another supplier offers you a better price, you switch.  The Lean model is very different.  Here the relationship is built on trust, and long-term commitment.

Lean Tip #90 - A Lean supplier partnership features 4 key elements.
The features of a Lean supplier partnership are:

1.  Long-term collaborative relationships: where trust and commitment, as well as respect of the right of mutual existence are the prime directive.

2.  Dual sourcing: each component will have few, but at least two sources.

3.  Joint improvement activities: there is a strong collaboration with suppliers on operational improvement.

4.  Operations and logistics: Level production schedules are used to avoid spikes in the supply chain.
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