Friday, July 29, 2011

Lean Quote: Appreciation - It's Free and Worth a Fortune

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.

"Appreciate everything your associates do for the business. Nothing else can quite substitute for a few well-chosen, well-timed, sincere words of praise. They're absolutely free and worth a fortune." — Sam Walton


Many organizations say that their most valuable resource is their people; but they struggle to recognize the. Business success has never occurred without people and yet people are often treated as an asset of lesser class than the equipment. Put another way, no company can exist without it’s people. Today’s workplace relies on employee thinking, commitment and engagement for success; employees who are celebrated and regularly thanked for their contributions, consistently contribute more, out-perform others and are more loyal. Besides being the right thing to do personally, it’s also great for business.

Consider these three ways to thank and celebrate your employees:

1. Take the time to talk to, and get to know, your employees. The most significant way to thank your employees is to get to know them. Take them to lunch or schedule time to ask about their values, hobbies, and interests. Understand your employees. Use what you now know about them to build a customized skills-improvement performance plan. Spend time with, and become interested in, each of your employees.

2. Ask employees what they think. The best way to feel appreciated is to be included – to feel that your perspectives matter. In a Lean environment, we need input from all of our employees to be successful. Including employees in company issues, challenges, and opportunities empowers them, engages them, and connects them to strategy and vision of the company.

3. Say thank you, and mean it. Most managers actually do thank employees who do great work. Employees work for more than money. They work for the praise and acknowledgement of their managers. A sincere thank you, said at the time of a specific event that warrants the applause, is one of the most effective ways to appreciate employees. Remember the phrase, “What gets rewarded, gets repeated.” Start to say “thank you” or “I appreciate what you do” when it is deserved and it will inspire the behaviors to continue. Make it personal and sincere. Catch employees doing great things and respond. It empowers them, appreciates them, and celebrates their performance.

Appreciating and thanking your employees isn’t hard or costly. So take the time to make a difference in your employee’s life. You will be pleasantly rewarded by them making a difference in yours.



Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Personal Continuous Improvement - A Lesson in Feedback

If you want to continuously improve your skills you need to close the learning loop with feedback.  James Ottaway, a passionate software developer for ThoughtWorks, has a strong desire to continuously improve his skills.  In the following video he shares his personal continuous improvement process and experience.



This is a good lesson for all those who coach employees in the Gemba.  I think it is good to be able to give and receive feedback.  Remember the two important aspects of feedback is strengthen confidence and improve effectiveness.  Be curious, continuously improve, and look for support are key lessons to apply in anything you do.

Feedback?



Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Daily Lean Tips Edition #17

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 #241 – Leaders must teach by example to transform a culture.

To get people across an organization to systematically work on improvement every day requires teaching the skills behind the solution. And for that to happen, their leaders and mangers also need to practice and learn those skills.

Lean Tip #242 – Developing people means going beyond challenging people.

Developing people means challenging people. But just issuing challenges isn’t enough. It would be disrespectful to not also teach a systematic, common means of developing solutions and meeting those challenges.

Lean Tip #243 – The purpose of coaching is an interaction not an audit.

The learner should know when the coach is coming and what he/she will ask. They can prepare the information in advance of the coaching cycle. The purpose is not to control or get people to do what they say. There should be a genuine interest in both parties in what you are trying to achieve, what you are learning, and what will be the next experiment.

Lean Tip #244 – Once you have a target condition don’t think too far ahead.

One you have a target condition, relax and focus on the next step. Put your emphasis on the next step, because what you learn there may influence the step after that. You’ll only see the full path in hindsight. And you’re probably not going to be taking the most direct route to the target condition either.

Lean Tip #245 – A Target is not the same as a Target Condition.

A target is an outcome, while a target condition is a description of a process operating in a way, in a pattern, that we predict will result in the desired outcome. A target condition enables teamwork. It’s not so much my idea vs your idea. It’s more about what we need to work on to get there.

Lean Tip #246 - Mapping your processes will help you understand the actual condition.

To gain control over your processes, you must understand the “three actuals”:

- The actual place or location in which a process occurs
- The actual employees working in that location
- The actual process in that location

Mapping the processes will help you understand all three actuals.

Lean Tip #247 – When creating a value stream map take a tour from end-to-end of the flow with out prejudice.

Conduct a quick tour of the value stream to view end-to-end material and information flows, making sure that you have identified all the component flows. Remember to record exactly what you see without making any judgments. Don’t waste time debating the merits of an activity or its proper sequence; just record what is happening.

Lean Tip #248 – Use quick-changeover methods to reduce your set-up costs and batch sizes.

By reducing changeover times, you company will be able to run smaller batch sizes and free up production capacity. If being able to offer a mix of products and services is important, then quick changeover will reduce the number of operations you need to run every day, week, or month.

Lean Tip #249 – Use error-proofing techniques to ensure that no product defects are being passed on to downstream operations.

The goal of error proofing is to create an error-free production environment. A Lean enterprise strives for quality at the source. This means that any defects that occur during one operation in a manufacturing or business process should never be passed on to the next operation. This ensures that your customers will receive only defect-free product or services.

Lean Tip #250 – Zero defects is an achievable goal!

Many organizations have attained this level of error proofing, One of the largest barriers to achieving it is the belief that it can’t be done. By changing this belief among your employees, you can make zero defects a reality in your organization.

Lean Tip #251 – Effective problem solving requires good understanding of the problem and the current situation.

The first step in problem solving is to be certain you have a good understanding of the current situation. To ensure your solutions get to the root cause, you must understand the process where the problem initially occurred. When starting to diagnose a problem, don’t rely on verbal reports to provide the details. Go to the work area, observe the situation, solicit help from the people in the area, and collect hard evidence for yourself. Gathering the facts first hand will help you gain a better understanding of the problem which, in turn, will allow you to better focus your solutions.

Lean Tip #252 – Source inspection and mistake proofing are needed to achieve zero defects.

To achieve zero defects, both source inspection and mistake proofing are needed. Remember that, although it is necessary to have efficient inspection operations, they are of little value to the process. Even the most efficient inspection operations are merely efficient forms of waste.

Lean Tip #253 – Empower operators to stop the production line whenever a defect is detected.

Wherever practical, empower operators to stop the production line whenever a defect is detected. This creates a sense of urgency that focuses employees’ energy on prevention of the defect’s recurrence. It also creates the need for the effective source inspections and self-inspections.

Lean Tip #254 – Don’t let and error-proofing device sit idle.

This happens all too often when people override sensors, disconnect them, or ignore them. If your employees are tempted to disconnect an error-proofing device, then install an error-proofing device for the error-proofing device. It is likely that the device needs some improvement to make it effective.

Lean Tip #255 – Always use data as the basis for making adjustments in your processes.

Always use data as the basis for making adjustments in your processes. Using subjective opinion or intuition to make adjustments can result in errors – and eventually defects. Data also ensures that the adjustment was effective or not.


Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lean is the Means to be Green

Last week I had the pleasure of writing an article for Enna's newsletter. Enna is a developer and manufacturer of innovative, action-oriented training / workshop training packages developed for internally led process improvement initiatives. If you don't subscribe to their newsletter you can read it below.


Many manufacturers know the benefits of lean manufacturing: higher productivity, better quality, reduced cycle time, plus enhanced employee engagement. Lean is excellent at marshaling different groups and individuals into a high performing team focused on rooting out waste.

A Lean organization is commonly characterized by the elimination of the following seven wastes (Ohno’s wastes):

  • Waste of overproduction (waste from faster than necessary pace);
  • Waste of waiting;
  • Waste of transport (conveyance);
  • Waste from inappropriate processing;
  • Waste due to unnecessary inventory (excess inventory);
  • Waste due to unnecessary motion; and
  • Waste due to defects.

In recent years many companies have established a fundamental goal to minimize the environmental impact while maintaining high quality and service for all business processes and products. This is commonly referred to as sustainability or green manufacturing. According to the Department of Commerce, “Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products that use processes that minimize negative environmental impacts, conserve energy and natural resources, are safe for employees, communities, and consumers and are economically sound.”

As most manufacturers are starting to realize, the quest to become green takes them right back to Lean. Applying ‘Lean Principles’ – a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste through continuous improvement - is one of the key ways to enhance environmental performance.

Lean and sustainability are conceptually similar. Both seek to maximize the efficiency of a system. This is accomplished through waste and time minimization. The difference lies in where this system (or process) boundary is drawn and how, and in how waste is defined. Lean sees waste as non-value added to the customer; green sees waste as extraction and consequential disposal of resources at rates or in forms beyond that which nature can absorb.

When companies expand the definition of waste to include not only product and process waste, but also the business consequences of unsustainable practices, Ohno’s list of wastes takes a different form:

  • Waste of natural resources
  • Waste of human potential
  • Waste due to emissions
  • Waste from byproducts (reuse potential)
  • Terminal waste, waste from by-products that have not further usefulness
  • Energy waste
  • Waste of the unneeded (e.g., packaging)

When the definition of waste is expanded and when it’s understood that the consequences of corporate decisions extend past the company parking lot, Lean can indeed be green. Less waste is good for the environment — and the company’s bottom line — and reducing waste in both products and processes is what Lean is all about. So it makes perfect sense that in order to achieve higher levels of environmental performance, your organization must first adopt the principles and practices of lean manufacturing.

Lean manufacturing practices, which are at the very core of sustainability, save time and money — an absolutely necessity in today’s competitive global marketplace. While the pursuit of Green and Lean is not a destination but a journey it is clear that organizations that stretch themselves to build a culture around the values of Sustainability, Excellence, and Equity will ultimately have a big advantage those who do not. Isn’t the ultimate definition of “sustainable manufacturing” to be able to compete and not only survive, but thrive?

Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Top Ten Reasons to Like A Lean Journey Facebook Page



I have had a Facebook fan page since May of 2010 and the number of fans continues to grow each month. In a sort of self-fulfilling plug, I thought I would talk about the value of A Lean Journey Facebook Page. Here are the top 10 reasons to be a fan of this page:

10. There are over 500 million active Facebook users and over 50% of the user’s login every day. This means you are already likely where all the information is.

9. Facebook is a great place to distribute information including events, photographs, videos, articles, and of course blog posts.

8. Facebook makes it very easy to share information with your network that you find valuable furthering the discussion.

7. The use of question, polls, and discussion sections in Facebook make it a great place to interact with like-minded thinkers.

6. I frequently posts articles of interest regarding Lean, productivity, management, and continuous improvement. This helps contribute to our need for continuous learning.

5. All my Slide Share presentations are linked to the Facebook page for easy access. As new presentations are updated like that of webinars that Jeff Hajek and I do you can stay informed.

4. If you’re not on Twitter (or if you are) and you still want to stay part of the conversation you can access all the tweets on the Facebook page.

3. In a new series I post the Photo of the Week which is meant to highlight a Lean principle or share a best practice. When it comes to learning a picture is worth a 1000 words.

2. All the blog posts feeds are picked up in Facebook so you can be aware of new posts are they occur.

And the #1 reason

1. Every week day I post a series called Daily Lean Tips. It consists of a thought followed by some brief explanation. The point of the tip is to stimulate some thinking around the topic. This has become a very popular series on Facebook.

So if you are not a fan of A Lean Journey Facebook Page yet then you are certainly missing out on lots of great content. Get connected today.



Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lean Quote: It's About The Journey and Sometimes It Starts With Failure

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.

"Success is not just the crowning moment, the spiking of the ball in the end zone or the raising of the flag on the summit. It is the whole process of reaching for a goal and, sometimes, it begins with failure." — Erik Weihenmayer; blind climber, motivational speaker, author

Ever hear of Erik Weihenmyer? Despite losing his vision at the age of 13, Erik Weihenmayer has become one of the celebrated and accomplished athletes in the world. On May 25, 2001, Erik reached the top of Everest and stood at 29,035 feet. He was the first blind person to summit Everest. At the age of 34, Erik became one of less than 100 individuals to climb all of the Seven Summits - the highest peaks on each of the seven continents. He completed this incredible accomplishment on September 5, 2002 when he stood on top of Mt. Kosciusko in Australia. Pretty amazing, don’t you think? We know for a fact that Erik “saw” the goal in his mind and in his heart – we know this because he is blind!

Erik is an example of not accepting failure or letting his challenges get the best of him. Failure is not shameful. On the contrary, it is part of the learning process.  It helps us discover things we couldn’t discover otherwise. For instance, we set a goal and we take steps to achieve the goal. If we reach the goal, we’ve succeeded. If we stopped taking the steps we needed to take to achieve the goal then we failed because we’re quitters, something to be ashamed of. If we take all of the necessary steps and still don’t achieve the goal then we failed because we couldn’t make it happen, and we feel ashamed. Most successes will be preceded by a series attempts that didn’t quite produce the results we were hoping for.

Here are some other examples of people who stayed the course and never gave up:



If we allow ourselves to become discouraged during the learning process we may give up right before we reach our goal. Anytime we learn from our efforts we are in the process of succeeding. Each lesson brings us closer to our intended result.




Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lean, What's in a Name From Those Who Label It

The Willington Companies is a local company that I interact with in our Lean Network. They are a family owned business in Connecticut using Lean manufacturing to stay competitive and grow their business. The Willington Companies have been a great example of Lean manufacturing in the last few years. They recently published a video from the employees at the company that  I feel really defines Lean very well.  




Do you think the Willington Companies get the true meaning of Lean?


Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guest Post: What Could Be Easier? The 4 Step Deming Cycle

Today's guest post is brought to you by my friend and fellow blogger Christian Paulsen. Christian helps companies optimize performance. He is a Lean – TPM facilitator and adds value to organizations by driving continuous process improvements and bottom line cost savings. Christian is a Consultant who brings 20 years of manufacturing leadership experience and Lean Manufacturing expertise. He authors Lean Leadership and is a regular contributor to the Consumer Goods blog.


Plan - Do - Check - Act

That's not asking a lot, is it? You have just implemented a big change that should save your company a lot of time and money. A little follow-up to make sure everything is going as planned is common sense. What could be easier than to check to see how it's going, right?

Then why is it that so many leaders get caught in the Silly Cycle?


We have all been there. It seems that there are more and more demands placed on manufacturing plants every day. The same is true for other work places. Not only are today's leaders expected to do more with less. They are also expected to do it better, faster, and cheaper than last year. Sound familiar? It's no wonder that it's difficult to find time to properly plan and even harder to follow through on everything that crosses a leader's desk. But if you don't plan and you don't follow-up, all you do is Do, Do, and Do.

This really is not a new problem. While I believe that these are particularly tough times, leaders have always been challenged to do it better, faster, and cheaper.

In fact, the Plan - Do - Check - Act cycle goes back to the 1930's when Walter Shewhart developed PDCA. Dr. Edwards Deming made it famous with his work in the 1950's. While the PDCA is often called the Deming Cycle, he referred to it as the Shewhart cycle.

While it isn't easy to find the time, following the PDCA cycle will yield better results and sustained improvements. The basic steps are:

Plan: Define, measure, and analyze. Define the scope of the project. Assess the current state. Measure and benchmark so you know where you are starting. Analyze the root causes and consider your options.
Do: Implement your plan. Over communicate. Start with a pilot or test area. That way you can learn lessons from the implementation on a small-scale. No matter how easy your idea sounds, there will probably be some unexpected issues.
Check: Follow up on the results. See if the plan is being implemented as you expected. Get feedback to see how the plan can be improved.
Act: Standardize your improvements. Plan for Continuous Improvement. Build systems so that the improvements can be sustained.

Taking the time to plan, check, and act will pay dividends. You have already seen where skipping those steps takes you. You don't have time to solve everything today. Pick one and start there. What issues are you dealing with today that warrant a PDCA?



Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Guest Post: How Does Your Hospital Give Excellent Service?

For today's guest post I am happy to have my friend Brian Buck talk about Lean in Healthcare. Brian is an internal Lean consultant at a hospital in Washington State. He blogs at http://improvewithme.com and can be found on Twitter as http://twitter.com/brianbuck.


A frequent driver for Lean in hospitals is to improve clinical outcomes to make diagnoses and treatments safer and more predictable which drives down costs for all stakeholders. For hospitals to be competitive, they must also improve their service as well. Providing great medical care is not enough if the service is poor or inconsistent.

I recently spoke with an executive at the Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit who captured the typical patient experience fairly well. She said “Going to a hospital is like visiting a foreign country for patients and their families. Everybody speaks a different language. They can’t find their way around. They do not know anybody. The only thing that is recognizable is eating and going to the bathroom. With the food, we usually offer two choices that they would never pick on their own and then dictate what time they are to eat it. For the bathroom, we do not allow them to lock the door when they use it.”

There are some outstanding people who work in hospitals that provide great service and display a genuine care for the patients. The problem is this level of service is not consistent. A culture needs to be in place to ensure everybody in the hospital has an awareness of what the customer is experiencing so they can help them. Capacity needs to be created to ensure people are not overburdened which can negatively impact service.

A couple of years ago, a family member went to a local hospital and had service that was unacceptable to him. He frequently encountered nurses who either did not answer basic questions or took a very long time to respond. Doctors did not appear to talk to each other because of inconsistent messaging about the plan of care. Some people said he would be discharged on one day while others said it would be on a different day. He was already scared due to the medical condition, but the lack of service completely frustrated him and his wife. When he left after four days, his medical condition was taken care of but the service he received made him vow to never return there again.

Hospitals that pursue improvement to both clinical excellence and service excellence will attract more patients and retain those that need to return for other services. These kinds of improvements are critical for hospitals to survive.



Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Lean Quote: Root Causes Should Make Solutions Clear

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.


This weeks Lean Quote is brought to you by my friend and fellow blogger Christian Paulsen. Christian helps companies optimize performance. He is a Lean – TPM facilitator and adds value to organizations by driving continuous process improvements and bottom line cost savings. Christian is a Consultant who brings 20 years of manufacturing leadership experience and Lean Manufacturing expertise. He authors Lean Leadership and is a regular contributor to the Consumer Goods blog.

"Determination of root causes should provide a clear and obvious understanding of the necessary solutions." — Jeffrey Liker and David Meier, The Toyota Way Field book

Proper analysis of an issue’s root causes could be the most crucial part of the problem solving process.

While this seems like an obvious statement, leaders and their teams fail to dig deep enough to find the root cause all too often. Others fail to follow-up on the countermeasures. These failures have consequences:

  • Failure to identify root causes can lead to superficial solutions or Band-Aides that don’t work very long.  
  • Erroneous root causes lead to ineffective ideas that don’t impact the issue at hand. 
Failure to follow-up on your countermeasures can lead to several issues as well. The countermeasures may not be working as intended or there could be unintended negative consequences. You could also be missing out on an opportunity to further improve your process if you don’t follow through in the spirit of Deming’s PDCA.

Finding the true root causes of an issue allows your team to identify true countermeasures that are in their control and are positively effective. Teams that are capable of identifying the true root causes of and issue are normally able to identify effective countermeasures for that issue.



Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Guest Post: It’s Better Than Stuffing Your Ears With Wax

I am pleased to present a guest post by Daniel Markovitz. Dan is president of TimeBack Management, a consulting firm specializing in the application of lean concepts to individual and group work.

He is a faculty member at the Lean Enterprise Institute and teaches at the Stanford University Continuing Studies Program. He also teaches a class on A3 thinking at the Ohio State University’s Fisher School of Business.

He is the author of the forthcoming book, A Factory of One, to be published by Productivity Press in late 2011.

You can reach him at dan@timebackmanagement.com or via Twitter @timeback.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

According to Greek legend, Odysseus plugged his sailors’ ears with wax and tied himself to the mast of his ship so that he could listen to the song of the Sirens. Sometimes I think we need a similarly drastic approach to email (and attention) management. However, given that you’d have a hard time explaining to the HR department and OSHA why you’re asking your staff to shove beeswax in their ears, I thought you’d appreciate what I’ve done.

Within the lean community, Tim McMahon, Jon Miller, and I have been publicly exploring ways in which we can use a kanban to help us make our knowledge work visible and better manage its flow. (Jon’s posts are here, Tim’s are here, and mine are here.) Recently, I deployed my kanban as armor against the dreaded incursion of reflexive email use. Tim and I have both preached long and loud about the evils of squandering your day processing email. But I, at least, sometimes have feet of clay, and end up spending more time in my inbox than is healthy.

The question is, could I make a visual cue to keep me from grazing at the email trough? This is what I came up with:


In this picture of my kanban, all of my work-related tasks are written on pink post-it notes. Nothing special there.

However, you’ll notice three yellow post-it notes in the “To Do” section of the kanban. These are my “email production” signals. There are only three of them, meaning that I can only go into my email inbox to read or write new messages three times during the day. There are no time constraints: I can use these kanban cards anytime during the day, and I can spend as much time as is reasonable processing mail. But I only get three cracks at it.

Although it may seem like a waste of motion, when I’m ready to go into mail, I move a post-it into the “Doing” column, and when I’m done, I move it into the “Done” column. That reduces the number of email kanban cards in the “To Do” section, which is a powerful visual signal about the limits I’m placing on email use.

This technique has been very effective in keeping me focused on key tasks and projects. It’s also easier than tying myself to a mast or putting wax in my colleagues’ ears.



Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Guest Post: Lean Sales and Marketing – Not without a new Toolset!

Joe Dager, owner of Business901 specializes in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. Joe has owned and operated companies involved in retail, manufacturing and professional services that include several turnarounds and growth companies. He has authored the books The Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA.


Think of all the changes and improvements in the manufacturing world in the last 20 years. We manufacture off floors cleaner than many tables that we eat off. You open a box, turn a key, or press a button and it works. Even the batteries are included! Most products manuals and operating instructions are never used. In fact, we seldom include them anymore. Our machines are so smart that they are completely intuitive to work for the entire population. Products have come a long way! More specifically quality has been an amazing success story and manufacturers have led the way.



What about sales and marketing? Is your sales and marketing that much better? Has it advanced at the same rate of improvement that your manufacturing has? Why not?

What are some of the improvement methods? In the marketplace, this is some of the good “marketing” ideas:

  1. A recent blog headline summed said, Use Value-Added Sales to Boost Your Profit Margin. The blog post recommended extended warranties or guarantees, free shipping, consulting and more. I don’t know where value –added came into this. They are all delayed costs in my mind. I can go on but I felt the advice was like telling someone not to pay cash but put on your credit card. That way you don't have to pay for it, NOW!
  2. Accelerate innovation and broaden our product line. We add more features and more products but seldom does that add or equate to more benefits that a customer wants. 
  3. Create better websites, SEO, Social Media and send out more e-mails. There are so many things that we can do on the web that you need a marketing technologist, nice word for a geek to keep up. Many manufacturers are still struggling using the internet and more specifically social media in any other way besides a more sophisticated and sometime animated tool to deliver the old same marketing material, just in a little greener way. 

So I go back to my original question, do you think sales and marketing has improved at the same rate as manufacturing? If not, why not?

Most of us start our quality processes through the tool set of the methodology. I know that everyone likes to talk about Lean Culture and that tools are secondary and they are. But how many of us did not start there? The reason that sales and marketing has never become “Lean” is that they lack the proper tool set. I know the traditionalist Lean people will roll over with the comments forthcoming but bear with me.

With few exceptions, every time Lean is introduced to sales and marketing, it was through Value Stream Mapping with the sole purpose of removing waste in the process. Salespeople had every right to scream and ignore the conversation because all they were ever told to do was gather data. Than they were told what that data meant and as a result what they should stop doing. This resulted in neither an increase in sales nor an increase in value added time with the customer.

The toolset that is available is the one that has evolved from the Lean Software World of Agile and the world of Design Thinking. These worlds developed entirely from a different Lean format than the one found in U.S. manufacturing which is based on removing non-value added activities and waste. Lean Sales and Marketing needs to be based on customer value and PDCA (from a knowledge building platform). The funny thing is that both worlds of thought still reference the Toyota Production System and Lean Thinking by Womack and Jones as their basic guides.

The reason, I believe that these worlds are still so disconnected is how they think about customer value. Customer value cannot be an internal control point. It must be determined at the point of consumption. Only customer’s (customer defined as the user of the product) determine value and the non-customer when addressing markets. The funny thing is that Agile and Design Thinkers understand that value is not derived till the product is put into use and their efforts are not realized till that point. It puts an entirely different slant on looking at Lean and looking at the customer. Look at how the tools of Lean need to be presented to Sales and Marketing:

  1. Don’t think Value Stream Mapping think Journey Mapping
  2. Don’t think Future State think Concept Development
  3. Don’t think Build and Deliver think Prototype and Test
  4. Don’t think Product Benefits think Value in Use

If you want to bring sales and marketing into a continuous improvement mindset, change the tool set.


Related Posts:


Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest Post: Second Try at My Personal Kanban

Today I am pleased to share a guest post from my friend Matt Wrye who blogs at Beyond Lean. With Matt's 10+ years of lean implementation and problem solving experience, he is able to draw on his successes and failures to tackle new challenges by presenting fresh perspectives and results-driven solutions. Through his exposure to multiple business operation facets in divergent industries that include aluminum, electronics, auto, HVAC, and consumer goods, he is able to provide real-life lean solutions to everyday business challenges.
.
His cornerstone belief is that all levels of the business unit should be educated on lean thinking and principles. To this point, Matt diligently challenges his own lean knowledge while working with all business levels ranging from human resources, accounting and the manufacturing floor to senior managers, executives and presidents. By adhering to this continuous learning philosophy, Matt is able to focus his lean efforts to provide continuous improvement.

Matt has a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in Industrial Engineering. Among his other accomplishments, he is a certified Shainin Red X Journeyman and is certified in Statistical analysis and Kepner-Tregoe problem solving methodology. He is proud to have played a large and significant role in starting the Smith County Lean Consortium in Tyler, TX.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A
s I look for ways to improve, I am inspired by other lean thinkers and bloggers. I see what they are trying and look to how that might work for me. I try and experiment with things in order to make my job easier and to feel more in control and organized. 

I decided to start a series that will be based on what I have tried in order to make my work better. It may be small or large things and most likely it was an inspiration I got from someone else. I hope that by passing along what I have learned that it may inspire others the way others have inspired me.

About three months ago, I posted a blog about my first attempt at a personal kanban. It was not successful at all. With some encouragement from fellow blogger Tim McMahon, I reflected more on why it didn't work and then learned more about how to apply personal kanban. "Personal Kanban" by Jim Benson and Tonianne Barry was a helpful resource for me.

At the end of my previous post, I talked about digitizing my kanban board. I almost fell prey to a common error.....looking for a technology solution when a process has not even been established. I was tempted by the dark side, but resisted. A digital format may be what I need in the future but first I must establish a process that works.

The second try at a personal kanban board has been very successful. Here is a picture of my board. It isn't very clear, but I think it will help with the discussion.



My value stream is Ready (my queue of work), Doing (what I am working on), Pen (items I have worked on but waiting for input), and Done. I have set my max for Doing and Pen at 3 items. I move items for Ready to Doing after I have moved all items from Doing to Done or Pen. This prevents one thing from sitting in the Doing column for a long time because I move the other two items and avoid the third.

Down in the bottom right-hand corner I have a color key. The color of the Post-It notes is related to a specific area of work.

Also, I have blog posts that I do weekly. It doesn't matter what day the posts are written but I would like to write 3 a week. It would get monotonous if I used Post-Its for writing three blog posts every week. Instead of using Post-Its, I put up three check boxes. I put a check after in th box after I finish a blog post. The section below it is a place I can put an idea for a blog post. When I want to write a post, I can grab one of the ideas from that section.
The board has helped me keep track of my work and made it visual to my boss all that I have going on. It has helped my boss understand where I am spending most of my time.

One of the keys is to choose the correct work chunk to put on a Post-It. Too small of a item is a quick to-do. An example of something too small would be to send an email or make a call. Too big of a chunk and nothing will ever move. XYZ Project would be too big. There is a middle ground. Breaking the XYZ Project into smaller chunks has helped me. Create charter for project. Study the current state of the process. Update action item list. These are examples of the middle ground that I have found.

I hope this helps others looking at trying a personal kanban. It isn't easy, but when it works it feels good and keeps the work flowing. Now I get to go check a box for blog posts!



Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vacation Brings A Collection of Exceptional Guest Posts

Over the next several days I will be on vacation taking some much needed time with my family.  Every year for the last 14 years we head to New Hampshire for several days to take in the NASCAR race.  It is a great time for sun, fun, camping, and high speed action.

I have been fortunate to arrange a great cast of guest bloggers while I am taking some time off.  Here is a quick preview of what is in store for you next week:

On Tuesday, Matt Wrye from Beyond Lean shares the next improvement of his personal kanban system.  This time he adds in weekly repetitive tasks into his board. 

Then on Wednesday, Joe Dager from Business901 talks about how the Lean tools used in manufacturing need to be presented in a different way when applying Lean thinking in sales and marketing. 

Thursday, Dan Markovitz from TimeBack Management shares a personal kanban system with a unique countermeasure for dealing with email throughout the day.  His solution aims to keep him as productive as possible.

On Friday, Christian Paulsen from Lean Leadership provides the Friday Lean Quote covering the important topic of root cause analysis.

On Monday, Brian Buck from Improve With Me writes about excellence in healthcare with the patients experience as the means to judge the quality of service.

Then on Tuesday, Christian Paulsen is back to elaborate on Deming's Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle from the root cause analysis discussion.

I will be back soon but not before learning a little about quick changeover from the NASCAR pit crews like that from this post last year - Lean in the Fast Lane.



“The winner ain't the one with the fastest car its the one who refuses to lose” - Dale Earnhardt, #3  - Lean Quote, June 25, 2010: Desire


Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lean Quote: Curiosity is More Valuable Than Skill

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.

"Our number-one value isn't in any of the skills we have. It's that we're essentially curious." — Jim Coudal

One of the most important benefits of being a curious person is that you will become very open-minded towards new ideas, interests and adventures. Being curious helps you to approach challenging tasks or problematic situations in a positive, curious way rather than steadily visualizing the associated fears towards a task.

By being curious, you will be:

  • More open minded
  • Increasing your awareness of the world around you
  • Enhancing your chances of new experiences
  • Learning new things
  • Building your confidence
  • Improving your job performance

So how can you be more curious?  The following 5 tips are a good place to start:

Question relentlessly. A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions: What is that? Why is it made that way? When was it made? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? What, why, when, who, where, and how are the best friends of curious people. Questions keep your mind engaged.

Keep an open mind. Be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind.
This is essential if you are to have a curious mind.

Don’t take things as granted. If you just accept the world as it is without trying to dig deeper, you will certainly lose curiosity. Never take things as granted. Try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you.

Read books, blogs, etc. Reading new things is another way to feed your curiosity and develop it. Reading is a great way to continue learning as much as you can. 
You might like to focus on just one thing but you should be open to as many different topics and things as possible when it comes to reading. This can help you build your curiosity even further. 

Be enthusiastic! Enthusiasm will allow you to be by far more interested in a certain topic than without it. You can become enthusiastic by associating fun and joy with the tasks you have to perform, rather than expecting them to be a waste of time or irrelevant for you. 




Stay connect to A Lean Journey on our Facebook page or LinkedIn group.
Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on Linkedin
You can also subscribe to this feed or email to stay updated on all posts.