Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lean Roundup #27 – August, 2011

A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of August, 2011.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

How do you approach an idea? – Jeff Hajek talks about the difference between a bad idea and thinking something is a bad idea and the importance of not missing opportunities.

Create Urgency Without Foul Play – Liz Guthridge explains 3 actions to make messages about urgency stick in your organization.

 3 Things You Can Do When Your Manager Doesn't Support Continuous Improvement – Ron Pereira shares 3 insights to continue down the Lean journey when your boss doesn't support Lean.

Strategy or Slogan? – Joe Ely shares two examples that illustrate the benefits of a clear strategy.

Mura and Muri-So Critical, So Forgotten – David Kasprzak explains the importance of eliminating Mura and Muri from the Gemba not just Muda.

Supplier Integrity – Matt Wrye shares an example of respect for people that illustrates the need for supplier integrity which is more about partnering than competition.

Cycle Time Reduction: Use Little's Law – Pete Abilla explains why production efficiency decreases with a significant surge of orders and how to improve it.

The Best or Nothing – Mark Hamel explains the balance between seeking perfection and a bias for action when doing kaizen and how to make it all work.

5 Reasons for 5s – Chris Paulsen explains the benefits of doing 5S in your plant or workplace.

Stop Placing Blame and Understand the Why – Matt Wrye reminds us it isn't important who creates the issue but it is important to understand why the issue occurred.

What are Mental Models? – Al Norval explains mental models, or the lenses we use to see reality, a reality that can be distorted by our thinking.

4 Ways to Eliminate "That's Not My Job" Thinking – Mike Wroblewski explains why and how to eliminate the negative thinking of "that's not my job."

6 Leadership Habits for Effective Tiered Meetings – Mark Hamel provides some tips to make your tiered meetings effective and engaging.

What is RFTOT? – Dragan Bosnjak explains what Right the First Time on Time metric means and why it is important.

Mapping Performance Metrics: A Guide – Pete Abilla explains a process to map your performance metrics so that they are actionable, make sense, and bring meaning to the everyday efforts of the employee.

Dear "Lean Six Sigma" Crowd - Lean is about Quality, too – Mark Graban debunks a common misconception that Six Sigma is about quality and Lean is not.

Resistance to Change – Pete Abilla lists common resistances to change and provides effective countermeasures.

No Wiggle Room – Bruce Hamilton explains what happens when we use words that have wiggle room like excess and how they limit our ideal true north thinking.



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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Lean Desk, Evolution of Continuous Improvement

Recently, I wrote about the importance of the stand-up desk for health and ergonomics.  Have you changed the way you think about a conventional office yet? If you are still contemplating this or you need some ideas to get you started then I have a video for you. Paul Akers takes you on his lean journey to creating a lean work place and a super lean office.





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Monday, August 29, 2011

Benchmarking: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

When organizations want to improve their performance, they often benchmark. Benchmarking is the process of comparing one's business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and/or best practices from other industries. The discussion of whether benchmarking is good or bad is an old one.

Benchmarking can be an effective means to learn new skills and to develop your organization. However, it should be a process of continual improvement. Once you have implemented changes, you should benchmark your business again to see the results. This will tell you what is working, and where you can still improve.

The process of benchmarking can benefit your organization:

An holistic approach: It is both qualitative and quantitative, ensuring more accuracy in developing a whole picture of your business.

Opens minds to new opportunities: While the results can make for uncomfortable reading, the process usually raises new challenges for businesses.

Leads directly to an action plan: Rather than simply highlight problem areas, it undertakes a strong review of turnover and profitability.

Improving productivity: Businesses following improvement action plans can expect gains in cost, cycle time, productivity, and quality.

Some feel that benchmarking can limit the true potential of an organization by focusing on how well their competitors are doing. Somewhere I heard the comment that "if you benchmark against your best competitors, your best product will look like your best competitor's crap.” Your competition won’t stand still and you shouldn’t either. Maybe there’s a case then for benchmarking organizations from other industries and not your competition.

The worst mistake is to simply adopt a best practice without first identifying the problem you are trying to solve. Tools and best practices must be applied in response to a specific, defined problem, not just because it seems like a good idea. Instead as we do in Lean you should learn about waste and value. Then analyze your processes to reduce waste and improve value to your customers. Learning from others can be very powerful, but you must learn to apply the right tools and ideas for your particular situation. The problems of your competition or that of other companies you benchmark may not necessarily be the same as yours.

Benchmarking is not a perfect process but done properly and consistently it can be the start of improving your business and creating a more optimal learning environment. Avoid using it as a means to judge your competition at the expense of creating customer value or solving someone else’s problems.

What are your views on the benefits or drawbacks of benchmarking?



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Friday, August 26, 2011

Lean Quote: You Can't Recycle Wasted Time

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.

"One thing you can't recycle is wasted time." — From Taiichi Ohno

If you search the internet you will undoubtedly find many tips on time management. So many of us do not know how to properly manage our time. If you ask a group of people to define “time management”, they will probably talk about getting it all done, crossing items off of a list, and being productive. However, the best time management tips do not involve cramming more and more into your day. The most valuable time management tips available will actually involve learning to focus your time on those activities that are meaningful to you.

To help you to increase your productivity each and every day, both on and off the job, here are three easy tips to help you to stop wasting time.

Plan Your Day
Set aside time at the end of each day for daily planning. A time for you to take control of your most important asset, the next twenty-four hours. Create a "to do" list with all the things you "have to" do and, more importantly, all the things you "want to" do. A “to do” list organizes your thinking and planning onto one form in the least amount of time with the maximum amount of efficiency.

Evaluate Time Wasters
Time wasters come from the people around you as well as from within yourself. Some time wasters are unavoidable, but can be reduced. Identify the most frequent sources of time wasters in your day. Whatever you discover to be a time waster you must take steps to deal with.

Find ways to do things faster.
Look for ways you can get more done within your day. Plan your trips and errands so you don’t backtrack and can combine as many tasks as possible into one trip. Use time management tools like a simple calendar, a day planner, a dry erase board, or even adding reminders on your computer or cell phone.

I hope that these tips will help you find ways to more productive and stop wasting your time.


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Thursday, August 25, 2011

10 Random Tips to Help Supercharge You on Your Lean Journey Webinar


I guess you could say that Jeff Hajek and I are in the business of 
advice to some degree.  So it's not surprising our next webinar 
will provide you with some advice to help you kick up you Lean 
Thinking another notch. 



















10 Random Tips to Help 
Supercharge You on Your 
Lean Journey
Join us for a Webinar on September 13
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/970675734
Tim McMahon and Jeff Hajek will be connecting on September 13 at 9:00 A.M. 
PDT to talk about some methods they have unearthed over the years that put 
some zip into their improvement efforts. It has the makings of a rather broad 
set of ideas, so tune in to see if you can pick up a nugget or two. And as 
always, if you can’t make it, you'll be able to watch a recording afterwards. Of 
course, they'd prefer having you there live so you can ask them questions.

They will present for half an hour, and then stick around for up to 30 more 
minutes to answer any questions you might have.
Title:
10 Random Tips to Help Supercharge You on Your Lean Journey
Date:
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Time:
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM PDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information 
about joining the Webinar.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Epic Lean Kitchen

My buddy Paul Akers at FastCap shares another great example of applying Lean thinking and techniques to make our life easier. This time he takes us into the kitchen at FastCap where the use of visual controls and standard work are examined.  I wonder if any of you will take any of these ideas and implement them in your home.



Does your kitchen at work look like this?  Why not?
Keep learning.



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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Top 10 Rules of Time Management

Time management truly is critical to becoming productive, doing everything you want to, and achieving ultimate success.  

"Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time."  - Jim Rohn

Therefore it is imperative we learn to manage the finite amount of time we do have to make the most of it.  I have learned to use the following ten time management guidelines successfully to get things done:

1. Know how you currently spend your time. The simplest way to do this is to keep a log of what you do each day for a period time. While this may initially feel like a time waster, it is a necessary planning step. Just like you can't budget your money without knowing where you're currently spending it, you can't budget your time without knowing where it's going either. By keeping a log you'll become more aware of stress times and down times, and will be better equipped to plan your time.

2. Identify your "prime time." Your "prime time" is your most productive time.  For many people that time tends to be in the morning while others find it take a while to get going. By scheduling your most important tasks for the times you're at your best, you'll be able to get them done faster and more effectively.

3. Do tomorrow's planning tonight. Being prepared for the coming day will enable you to get more work done, and be more effective at what you do. As you wind down at the end of the day use this time to create a simple, prioritized to-do list, so you'll be better able to focus on what needs to be done the next day.

4. Continually ask yourself "Why am I doing what I'm doing right now?" If you cannot answer this question, you are not being as productive as you could be. Make sure that you are doing something for a specific reason, and simply not wasting your valuable time spinning your wheels.

5. Handle each piece of paper or e-mail once. When you have completed a task, either file it away or pass it on to someone else. When doing tasks and making decisions, make the decision and then stick to it. Do not put off making a decision, and don't make vague, wishy-washy decisions. Being more decisive will free you up to move on to other tasks, making you more productive.

6. Plan your work, then work your plan. It is important that you always follow through with what you intend to do, otherwise you are making your plan irrelevant and negating the value of the planning time.

7. Delete whenever possible. It is important that you frequently revisit your plan and task list. Always cross off the tasks and projects you have completed, and eliminate or delegate those that are no longer important.

8. Delegate wisely. When you delegate a task to another person, make sure the person you are delegating it to has clear instructions on how to complete the task, has enough resources for the task, and has the authority to make any decisions that might affect the outcome of the task.

9. Identify your high-payoff items. Make sure that you concentrate on the right tasks, which will generate results for you and your company.  Stephen Covey suggests first addressing tasks that are both Important and Urgent.  Effective time management is not about being busy, but about getting results.

10. Work from a prioritized action list. You need to determine what your work priorities are, both short term and long term. I suggest using a standard method like the Formula for Success  to prioritize your action list for the greatest success.

What time management techniques have you found effective to increase your productivity?  Share them below in the comment section for others to learn more.


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Monday, August 22, 2011

Time is Golden: 7 Rules of Time Management


Time is one of the most important commodities that we have. But we are often bombarded with more tasks than we can keep up with.  This can result in our most important things being shifted to second place just out of necessity.  In order to counter act this you must fully understand time. 

While doing some research online I came across these golden rules of time management.

1. Time is fleeting. Think about it...the moment you started reading this is gone, never to be regained. It seems we get so caught up in petty circumstances that we forget what we set out to do, and before you know it, the day is gone!
2. Time is valuable. You always have time to make money; but you can never have enough money to make time!
3. Time is unforgiving. The amazing thing about your time; even through no fault of your own, even "wasted" time will never stand still.
4. Time is money. You must be constantly asking yourself, "Am I doing the most productive thing I can be doing right now?" Watch out for those "wasted" moments we were talking about earlier.
5. Time is always changing. We all must constantly renew our minds, and let the past be just that...the past! It can't help you now, aside from the learning experience, don't dwell on it.
6. Time is the ultimate judge. We have all heard "time will tell!" Well, there is some truth to that, as the future has a way of finding any flaw in the plan. Pre-planning will save massive amounts of your precious commodity called time.
7. Time is in your control. We can all be more in control of our day and how we spend it. Today should have been planned out yesterday, and tomorrow should be thought about today.

Time can't be saved.  It can only be spent! We spend it at the exact rate of one minute per minute. We can’t spend more or less no matter how hard we try. We can’t spend more than 5 minutes in five minutes with a friend, and we can’t spend less than 5 minutes in five minutes being angry in traffic. Our rate of spending is fixed. All we can control is where we choose to invest…

In the next post I will cover some techniques to improve your effectiveness of time management.



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Friday, August 19, 2011

Lean Quote: Respecting Each Other

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.

"Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it." — Bill Bradley

Most of us already know the importance of respecting each other. Yet it’s also true that we all, at some time or another, may have been less than respectful to people with whom we work. Most often, these expressions are not intentional. Even so, it’s important that we all be able to recognize these kinds of situations so that we can take steps to avoid them whenever possible and to respond to them in an appropriate manner when they occur.

You can promote RESPECT in your workplace by following this acronym:
   
Recognize the inherent worth of all with whom you work.
Eliminate derogatory words and phrases from your vocabulary.
Speak with people – not at them – or about them.
Practice empathy. Walk awhile in others’ shoes.
Earn the respect of colleagues and co-workers through your behaviors.
Consider your impact on others before speaking and acting.
Treat everyone with dignity and courtesy.

We are all unique individuals, with our own gifts, skills, concerns, and perspectives. This uniqueness is part of what makes us who we are as a person, although, in the workplace it can also be what set us apart from our co-workers. So the question becomes how we can find common ground given all our unique gifts, skills, concerns, and perspectives. At the core, respect has to do with establishing and maintaining effective working relationships.


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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pascal Dennis is his Own Words on The Remedy

In yesterday's post I reviewed Pascal Dennis' Shingo Prize winning book The Remedy. I thought that it would be appropriate to hear directly from Pascal about his thoughts on The Remedy. In this video Pascal explains the premise of The Remedy, what big company disease is, the remedy to big company disease, and why to focus outside the factory.  I hope you enjoy. 





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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: The Remedy by Pascal Dennis

The Remedy: Bringing Lean Thinking Out of the Factory to Transform the Entire OrganizationI recently finished reading The Remedy – Bringing Lean Thinking out of the Factory to Transform the Entire Organization and wanted to share my review. The story, a sequel to Pascal Dennis’s business novel, Andy & Me, depicts the adventures of Lean-thinking protagonist Tom Papas and his mentor, Andy Saito, a retired, reclusive Toyota executive. The Remedy follows senior leaders Tom Papas and Rachel Armstrong, a new character, at a desperate automotive company as they try revolutionizing the operations at the company. Tom is charged to implement a Lean management system across an entire platform, the Chloe, a breakthrough "green" car. The future of the company is at stake. Although some in upper management are dubious, Tom converts much of the organization to Lean thinking, and he saves the day by eliminating waste. Tom and Rachel, supported by Andy regain the trust and respect of the customer.

Author Pascal Dennis is a lean business learner and practitioner who has written four books on the subject of lean business practices. In The Remedy, he shows how lean business practices can be expanded from manufacturing to all the other areas of your business-including design, engineering, sales, and marketing and all processes in between-and how doing so builds a more efficient organization at every level.

In the book Pascal talks about the short comings of traditional businesses in what he calls the “Big Company Disease”. This is characterized by silos, invisible problems, confused thinking, unclear work standards and visual management, and lack of learning. He introduces mental models which are the glasses we all wear to filter reality. In the end Pascal provides “the Remedy to Big Company Disease” simply as ‘see a problem, solve a problem, share what you’ve learned.” And the leader’s role in an organization is to ensure people are seeing, solving, and sharing – across the organization.

This business fable which many will find relatable to their own journey makes for easy reading. Each chapter ends with study questions to reinforce learning and stimulate thinking. The cartoon-like illustrations add so much to the book and bring the learning points out so the concepts are easy to grasp. The illustrations also provide easy reference points to find the supporting paragraphs to many key principles. They help solidify the concepts far better than any text book version of lean.

This book provides excellent reference to the benefits and pitfalls associated with moving Lean out of the manufacturing environment. It will be meaningful to anyone on a lean journey in business today to help illustrate that simple lean thinking principles apply everywhere in an organization

Highly recommended for early adopters and those who consider Lean to be an all encompassing business system. It is an excellent and practical book that should be part of your reference library.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Pascal Dennis has been awarded his fourth Shingo Prize Award for Research and Professional Publication for The Remedy. With this kind of distinction he must be doing something right.

    




























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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Daily Lean Tips Edition #18

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 #256 – Make sure everyone agrees on the problem statement.

When trying to identify the root cause of a problem it is important to make sure everyone agrees on the problem statement. Include as much information as possible on the “what,” “when,” and “how much” of the problem. Use data to specify the problem. The correct problem statement can save time identifying the root cause.

Lean Tip #257 – Ensure data collection consistent and accurate to avoid costly mistakes on projects.

Managers, leaders, and/or team members can do their part to help data collectors do their job well by simply showing an interest in the project. Ask the collector how the project is working out. Show your support – tell the data collector it is important to collect the information. Above all – act on the data as quickly as possible.

Lean Tip #258 – When setting a target for change it is important to remove barriers.

When choosing a target for change, remember that simply pushing the positive factors for change can have the opposite effect. It is often more helpful to remove barriers. This tends to break the “change bottleneck” rather than just pushing on all the good reasons to change.

Lean Tip #259 – Focus on overproduction, the worst of all the wastes, first.

As you begin, your lean initiative, concentrate first on overproduction, which is often a company’s biggest area of waste. It can also hide other production-related wastes. As your lean initiative progresses, your company will become able to use its assets for producing products or services to customer orders instead of to inventory.

Lean Tip #260 – Use the fewest number of kanbans possible to keep downstream operations running.

The fewer kanbans you have, the better. Having too many kanbans means you have too much planned inventory. You should monitor and adjust your kanban level so that you only produce the minimum amount of inventory required to keep your organization’s downstream production assets running according to schedule. Too many kanbans, just like excess inventory, can hide problems.

Lean Tip #261 – A Leaders job is to help the team and team members succeed.

Every leader has two jobs. Your job is to help the team succeed by accomplishing your mission. That's the job that gets the most attention, but your other job is just as important. Your job is to help your team members succeed, too. "Succeed" means doing a good job, developing skills, earning autonomy, growing, and much more.

Neither job is "the most important." They're equally important, and often support each other if done well.

Lean Tip #262 - Give team members the maximum control possible over their work.

People want as much control as possible over their life, including their life at work. When they do, both you and your team are happier and more productive.

The key phrase is "as possible." If they don't know what you expect, tell them. If they don't know how to do the work, coach and train them. If they don't pitch in on their own, supervise them. Otherwise, let them get on with it.

Lean Tip #263 - Remember people are just people.

Sometimes we forget but people are people. People have emotions and they bring them to work. People are unique, not interchangeable parts. People have relationships and knowledge. People have lives that overlap their time at work.

People aren't good at the things machines and computers are good at, but they're perceptive and creative, things no machine can match. Bottom line: expect people to be people and revel in the wonder of it all.

Lean Tip #264 - Base your judgments on behavior and performance.

Behavior (what people say and do) and performance (something you can measure) are all you should use when you make your judgments and decisions. Everything else is a guess and this is an area you don’t want to be wrong in.

Lean Tip # 265 - Go Ahead and Make a Mistake or Two.

"Very few people feel comfortable making mistakes at work. They fear they will lose the respect of their managers and peers, and that their reputations will be tarnished. Yet, mistakes are often the best teachers. It's impossible for your people to learn something new if they only do things they know well. Create a mistake-making culture. Encourage your people to take risks. Help them accept their gaffes and share what they've learned from them. Of course, there are times when blunders are too costly. But for those less mission-critical times, ask your people to approach problems as learners, not experts."

- Today's Lean Tip was adapted from "The Miracle of Making Mistakes" by Vineet Nayar.

Lean Tip #266 - Ask Your Employees What They Value.

You must have a continuous discussion with employees as to what they value. If you want to keep them working for you, you must deliver value. Here’s a hint: It is usually not money. This is why it is important to have this dialogue with your employees.

Lean Tip #267 - Don’t Impose Your Values on Other People.

People may not value the same things as you. Do not project your own values on to others. Often people of different generations may have radically different work values than you do. Respect for people is about listening to individual’s needs and what they value.

Lean Tip #268 - Tell People You’ve Heard Them.

After you’ve asked employees what they value, it is important to let them know what you heard. Failing to recognize what’s most important is what leads to ineffective listening. You may have heard what they said, but you missed what they wanted to convey. You need to simply state what you learned from your dialogue.

Lean Tip #269 - Leadership is much like parenting.

You can read a lot, you can be taught, you can be mentored and guided, but in the end your leadership style will be unique to your experiences and specific situations. There will seldom be black or white answers. However, just like parenting, the one irrefutable characteristic about true leadership is that it is not about you.

Lean Tip #270 - True Success of a Leader can not be measured without considering the results of the succession plan.

Good leadership is not reflected in the leader’s actions, it is reflected in the impact and effect of those actions on the team. A leader should adapt to the environment and what the team needs today without losing sight of what will be needed tomorrow and always preparing for that moment when he or she will no longer be there. Guaranteeing the growth and sustainability of the team and the individuals that comprise it beyond the leader’s time is the ultimate trait of a great leader. In fact, the true success of a leader can not be measured without considering the results of the succession plan.


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Monday, August 15, 2011

You can’t motivate people, but you can help them.

Just as you can't motivate a seed to grow (you can only provide an appropriate environment that will allow it to grow), you can't motivate people. They motivate themselves. They have it in their blood, or they don’t. Some people will kick it up a notch to earn a promotion, or a reward, or for recognition. But ultimately, it’s up them.

In my experience there are three things you need to learn about motivation:
  1. First, you can’t motivate anybody to do anything they don’t want to do. Motivation is an internal thing, not an external thing.
  2. The second thing is that all people are motivated. The person that stays in bed in the morning rather than getting up and going to work is more motivated to stay in bed than to work. They might be negatively motivated, but they are nonetheless motivated.
  3. The third thing is that people do things for their reasons and not for yours. The trick is to find out what their reasons are.
We need to find out what’s on the person’s mind and that starts with asking great questions. They need to be open-ended questions that demand an open-ended response. “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” questions are absolutely critical to the success.

Avoid “Did, Would, Could, Should, Can, Do and May” questions because they will elicit a yes/no response. You want them to expound on what’s bugging them. If you lead with “Did, Would, Could, Should, Can, Do and May” then be prepared to have a follow-up question to draw them out. This allows them to vent their concerns about a situation. It’s a lot like paddling a canoe upstream. If you don’t keep paddling, you’ll go backward. You have to work through these situations.

Motivated, committed, engaged employees care about what they do and why they do it. They get up and come to work every day because they care about it. It’s not a short-term energy surge; it’s a way of life.

External factors can help create an environment where self-motivation can occur, however. The surest way to improve performance is to create a secure, calm environment where your employees know they are important members of your team.

As a business you can help them by creating the best conditions under which people get motivated: 


Sense of Purpose:
What is it about your job that gets you out of bed in the morning? What contribution to the betterment of anything are you, personally, making every day? Most people want there to be some meaning in the work they do, something more than hours of labor that result in a paycheck.

Leadership: Competent, trustworthy, genuine, conscientious innovators who are glad to be on the job every day! (Well, okay, most days.) Effective leadership is not a result of the command-and-control approach. Instead, it’s more like navigating than commanding – using the ability to “turn confusion into understanding,” and “see a bigger picture.”

Organizational Character: The integrity and consistency of choices and decisions the organization makes. Organizational Character is not only “how we do things around here” (the culture) but also why we do things this way and what people expect when we do things. It’s an organization’s reputation with the people who work there. It’s the tone and the pace of the organization and it’s how people are treated. It’s a major reason people like, or don’t like, where they work and a key contributor to motivation.

Motivation comes from within. Individuals have the capacity to motivate themselves...or demotivate themselves. Help them see the way by creating and sustaining the kinds of conditions that help them bring their best selves to work every day. Respect, proactive and honest communications, capable and engaged leadership – these are the ingredients that add up to an engaged, energized workplace.


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Friday, August 12, 2011

Lean Quote: The Responsibility of a Lean Leader

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 first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant." — Max De Pree

This quote, from Max DePree is among my favorite servant leadership quotes. This frames 3 roles every leader must fulfill: the roles of Realist, Praiser and Servant. I would like to extend this line of thinking to that of a Lean Leader specifically.

What are the qualities of a good Lean Leader? This is one of the most contemplated questions when undergoing a Lean thinking transformation since leadership is critical to it’s very success. In my opinion there are at least 10 key responsibilities for a Lean leader:
  1. Learn Lean Thinking
  2. Get out front, be hands on, don’t delegate
  3. Take lots of leaps of faith
  4. Change metrics and set stretch goals
  5. Create an environment where it is ok to fail
  6. Provide air cover for early adopters
  7. Eliminate concrete heads
  8. Have a no layoff policy
  9. Organize around value streams
  10. Change any compensation system that doesn’t support Lean
The next time someone asks you what roles a Lean leader must play, keep this mind. I am sure you have some others to add as well and I encourage you to do so in the comments below.

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