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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Daily Lean Tips Edition #23

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 #331 - Don’t sweat the small stuff.

One of the biggest bad habits is procrastinating on the little things that will take next to no-time, but put off for exactly that reason. Think in “chunks:” group all of those little one-off to-dos together and bang them out one after another. You’ll have a lot of items to cross off your to-do list when you’re done.

Lean Tip #332 – Create Daily Goals to Improve Your Productivity.

Without a clear focus, it’s too easy to succumb to distractions. Set targets for each day in advance. Decide what you’ll do; then do it.

Lean Tip #333- Make a continuum by planning for the next day.

At the end of your workday, identify the first task you’ll work on the next day, and set out the materials in advance. The next day begin working on that task immediately.

Lean Tip #334 - Optimize your productivity processes.

Identify the processes you use most often, and write them down step-by-step. Refactor them on paper for greater efficiency. Then implement and test your improved processes. Sometimes we just can’t see what’s right in front of us until we examine it under a microscope.

Lean Tip #335 – Find happiness in your job.

To be productive, you have to be happy doing what you are doing. If your job is to stressful, boss is giving you a hard time or you are not happy, quit. Yes, quit that job and find one you really can enjoy. This will boost your creativity, productivity and joy.

Lean Tip #336 – Be open to new ways of doing things.

One potential land mine of a prosperous operation is to repeat anything that proves successful. It's hard to argue against that, but an inadvertent leader will put far too much stock in sticking with what always works. By contrast, thoughtful leadership acknowledges success but also recognizes there are always ways to do things better.

Lean Tip #337 - Show genuine appreciation.

Leaders with an eye to the future hand out praise but augment it with real rewards: promotions, raises, bonuses, and other tangible tokens of appreciation. That motivates your people, not only to apply themselves with enthusiasm but to stick around your company longer than they might otherwise.

Lean Tip #338 - Know that leadership skills come from learning.

Far too may business executives believe leadership skills stem from some sort of wondrous epiphany or other such flash of insight. Sure, great ideas can come to any of us, but being a bona fide leader also means study. Read books on effective leadership, attend seminars, and pick the brains of colleagues to see what works for them. It can be a long education, but one with rewards that multiply with the more knowledge you have under your belt.

Lean Tip #339 - Involve employees who actually do the work in the mapping.

Employees who do the actual work are in the best position to know the detailed steps in each process. They are also most familiar with the common roadblocks and bottlenecks and the key contacts in the organization to get things done. Involve your employees up front by inviting them to join process-mapping teams. Keep managers and supervisors out of the process-mapping sessions, as they have a tendency to dominate the sessions with their own “expertise”.

Lean Tip #340 - Identify a Process Owner for each process.

For each process, specify one Process Owner. Identifying one person who is responsible for the process end to end is critical to ensuring process efficiency. Where processes flow through departments, as all major processes do, the Process Owner will need to have sufficient authority and credibility to make decisions spanning these departments. There is no more effective way that I know to dismantle quickly and effectively the silo walls that get built separating departments.

Lean Tip #341 - Use standardized mapping conventions.

What you want is for anyone in the organization to be able to pick up a process map and understand instantly what it is they are seeing. Standardize on mapping conventions and formatting of the maps. Mapping symbols, flow direction, page layout, fonts, titling and so on, should be the same from one map to another. Keep the number of flow chart symbols to a minimum. You should need no more than six to keep the maps easy to read.

Lean Tip #342 - Use mapping as a basis for further improvement.

The primary objective of mapping business processes is to form a common understanding from which process improvements can be achieved. Once your teams have completed mapping their key processes, turn them into continuous improvement teams. Not only do the documented maps serve as the agreed baseline for ongoing process improvement, they also make for excellent induction and training resources. Now sit back and watch your business soar.

Lean Tip #343 – Validate your process map.

Perform a walkthrough using the actual process. Managers, engineers, and supervisors often create flowcharts to document processes performed by associates. As much as we all think we know our businesses, the truth is no one know their job function like the person actually performing it. For complex or inter-departmental flowcharts, it's best to validate the flowchart by walking through it with the people that perform the job.

Lean Tip #344 – Use the Yellow Sticky Method to Map the Process.

A typical way to collaborate on a flowchart is to map out the processes on a white board. This is OK, but can be messy and time consuming as you erase and re-draw to fine-tune the process flow diagram. The easy way to do this is with the Yellow Sticky Method. (The "Yellow Sticky Method" is just a phrase coined to describe doing the flowchart on Post It notes.) Using this method, you draw the flowchart shape and write each process step on a Post It note. Then stick it on the whiteboard. Now it is much simpler to move process flow steps around as you re-arrange and fine tune the flowchart!

Lean Tip #345 – Make flow charts with a pencil and paper.

Before you sit down to draw your flowchart on a PC, map out your flowchart. In a sense this is a re-iteration of the Yellow Sticky Method tip. But if you choose not to use that method, at least go back to basics and write it out with a pencil and paper.

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent tips here, a lot of very useful advice no matter what your job or industry. I especially like the 'knowing leadership through learning' point because I truly believe no matter what you are doing, continuous learning and improvement are the keys to success.