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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Daily Lean Tips Edition #19

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.

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

Lean Tip #271 – Determine the pacemaker point of your process.

A pacemaker is any process along the value stream that sets the pace for the entire stream. It should not be confused with a bottleneck process, which unintentionally constrains downstream process due to a lack of capacity. The challenge is to decide where the pacemaker should be located.

Lean Tip #272 – Milk runs can increase the velocity of your supply chain.

A milk run is a multiple-stop transportation route. The same vehicle will pick up at multiple stops or deliver to multiple stops. The milk run is an excellent tool to manage transportation costs while reducing lot sizes and increasing delivering frequency.

Lean Tip #273 – The 8 Guiding Principles of a Lean Fulfillment Stream.

1. Eliminate all the waste in the fulfillment stream so that only value remains.
2. Make customer consumption visible to all members of the fulfillment stream.
3. Reduce lead time.
4. Create level flow.
5. Use pull systems.
6. Increase velocity and reduce variation.
7. Collaborate and use process discipline.
8. Focus on total cost of fulfillment.

Lean Tip #274 – Reduce shipping and receiving costs by focusing precise planning.

The biggest costs in shipping and receiving are equipment and people. Excessive amounts of waste (in the form of waiting, inactivity, and unused inventory) are created when trailers full of materials and finished goods come and go or sit idle without precise planning. Identifying waste in shipping, receiving, and yard-management activities require an understanding of the flow of materials and movement of people.

Lean Tip #275 – Reduce inspection processes to create uninterrupted flow of materials.

Material (and information) should flow uninterrupted from suppliers to customers in a Lean fulfillment stream. Shipping and receiving inspections are non-value added processes and should be eliminated. To do this will require quality-at-the-source and poka yoke (or mistake proofing).

Lean Tip #276 - Make sure you're focusing on things with strong connections to overall objectives.

One of the biggest metrics mistakes is random selection. The best metrics start with the big picture. Identify the overall objective of your company or initiative. State it quantitatively. It should answer the question: "We'll know this is successful when we see _____ happen."

Lean Tip #277 - Select strongly connected success measures that allow you to control outcomes.

Metrics at the lowest layer of an initiative or organization have the highest actionability. A focus on the most actionable metrics is essential for 'moving the needle' of big‐picture metrics. When you identify a problem or opportunity that needs to be addressed, this is the symptom that you will explore for root cause analysis. Start with the observable problem or opportunity, not with possible solutions.

Lean Tip # 278 - Your metrics should be right-sized to your strategy.

Too many metrics create chaos and unnecessary work. Too few metrics will not provide enough measurement to ensure you’re your strategies are supported. Your metrics should provide insights into the progress your agency is making.

Lean Tip #279 - Metrics should be clear and not open to interpretation.

Organizations should figure out the story the metrics are supposed to tell and then stick with that outline. The metrics should describe the extent to which your organization is performing its mission. Metrics should explain your intentions and objectives.

Lean Tip #280 – Start with external metrics that assess your overall performance.

Metrics generally fall into two categories:

Performance Metrics are high-level measures what you are doing; that is, they assess your overall performance in the areas you are measuring. They are external in nature and are most closely tied to outputs, customer requirements, and business needs for the process.

Diagnostic Metrics are measures that ascertain why a process is not performing up to expectations. They tend to be internally focused and are usually associated with internal process steps and inputs received from suppliers.

A common mistake is to start first with your diagnostic measures - measuring yourself internally, rather than beginning with an external focus, namely your customer.

Lean Tip #281 - Expect the best and your employees will rise to that level.

How do you do this? You do it with the words you use. Are you expressing positive expectations, or are you using words (kind of, sort of, we’ll try, we have to, we haven’t done that before, and that will never work) that communicate negative expectations? What does your body language say about you? Does it say, “I’m ready to take on any challenge, and I expect you can also;” or does your body language say “Please don’t give me another problem. I can’t handle it.”

Lean Tip #282 - Take time to show sincere interest in your employees as people.

Understand what your employees are passionate about in their lives. What are their special passions? What are their personal needs? What brings them joy or pain? What are their short-range and long-range goals? Once you understand the answers to these questions, you can move them to a new level of motivation, because you cared enough to ask the questions and show interest in their success. Once you understand your employee’s needs and goals, they will take more interest in understanding and achieving your goals.

Lean Tip #283 – Walk the Talk, they are watching and learning.

Our employees model our behavior. If we are confident about a major change in the organization, our employees will follow our behavior. If we come in late and leave early, guess what will happen? Remember, even when you don’t think someone is watching…they are always watching. Set the example for others to follow.

Lean Tip #284 - Provide Meaningful and Challenging Work to Motivate.

When people feel that the work they are doing is meaningful - makes a difference in some way - and provides them with challenges that stretch them (but also mesh with their ability to achieve them) they become internally motivated. In other words they don't need anyone standing around coercing them into higher levels of performance.

Even the most mundane of work can be motivating if the leader helps the team member put into context the value their work brings either to the consumer or to the organization.

Lean Tip #285 - Design People's Roles So They Can Use Their Strengths

Assigning people to specific tasks and duties that play to their strengths is one of the best employee motivation techniques. Research has shown, more than anything, people who are able to make use of their strengths on a regular basis while at work are more likely to work in teams that perform at higher levels.

When people are playing to their strengths on a regular basis - they feel effective, focused and fulfilled ... a win for them and for their organization. The person becomes more internally motivated ... feeling upbeat and enthused by what they are doing ... and will feel inspired to continue more.

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