Friday, September 30, 2011

Lean Quote: Persistence is the Twin Sister of Excellence

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.

"Persistence is the twin sister of excellence. One is a matter of quality; the other, a matter of time." — Marabel Morgan

Striving for excellence is an ongoing process; it requires a persistent attitude of excellence demonstrated by a continual focus on both the large and small things in our daily work.

It takes special people to lead a company through change. It is not just the direction of action that counts, but sticking to the direction chosen. Effective leaders must keep pushing themselves and others toward the goal. David Glass, CEO of Wal-Mart, says that Sam Walton "has an overriding something in him that causes him to improve every day. . . . As long as I have known him, he has never gotten to the point where he's comfortable with who he is or how we're doing." Walt Disney was described as expecting the best and not relenting until he got it. Ray Kroc, of McDonald's Corporation, was described as a "dynamo who drove the company relentlessly." Kroc posted this inspirational message on his wall:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with great talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence, determination alone are omnipotent.


Persistence, of course, must be used intelligently. Dogged pursuit of an inappropriate strategy can ruin an organization. It is important to persist in the right things. But what are the right things? In today's business climate, they may include the following: satisfying the customer, growth, cost control, innovation, fast response time, and quality.

Lean excellence is about is about eliminating waste and making the work easier. Lean methods focus on determining ways to improve quality. High quality is essential if lean processes are to function effectively. Lean is also a cultural change and a management system, a transformation that takes time, effort, and persistence. The Lean journey is not an overnight change for any organization. Progress takes persistence and change takes time.



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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lean Roundup #28 – September, 2011


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

Many good employees want to continue to do their current job well – John Hunter explains that respect people requires paying attention to their actual needs and desires.

Who is really running the business? - Jauna Werner says to make a point to observe whether your plans, processes and standards are evident in each activity, connection or flow.

Stop Demotivating Your Employees – Dan Markovitz talks about the mismatch between authority and responsibility and how it can demotivate.

Why Don't People Follow Procedures? – Christian Paulsen writes about the value of following up with the team through their experience.

Case Study How to Make an Office Lean – Dan Markovitz shares a case study on how to implement Lean in your office.

Lean Volunteerism - Go Make Difference – Robert Hafey shares an experience from the community and challenges you to help Lean up your community and then the world.

Keys to Sustaining 5S – Matt Wrye shares four tips to help you sustain your 5S efforts which also support sustaining Lean.

Cottage Cheese and Mindless Adherence to Rules – Dan Markovitz shares a personal story that demonstrates the danger when leader's create an unthinking workforce.

How do you define SCM project success? – Monique Rupert explains 3 business benefits that can be measured to demonstrate supply chain management project success.

The Cream of The Crop – Ken Lowe talks about the problems associated with benchmarking best practices.

Every Approval is a Leadership Failure – Jeff Hajek challenges business leaders to look at approvals as an opportunity for improvement and developing people.

Junaid's Learning from a TPM Workshop – S.M Junaid explains TPM from a mother-child analogy and why caring for a machine is a lot like caring for your baby.

12 Common Errors or Lessons Learned with Value Stream Mapping-Part 1 & Part 2 – Tony Manos lends some great advice for those who are mapping their value streams.

With New Technology, Where Should We Go? – John Miller says like any technology, Lean must be used to create opportunities for people, not destroy them

Another Classic Lean Question - "Do you see what I see?" – Mark Hamel explains 2 ways that you can answer this in a lean context.

Lean and Operational Excellence – Dan Jones explains why Lean is a more comprehensive system than the view of operation excellence as a collection of best practices.

This Flows Up, That Flows Down – David Kasprzak shares some tips on how to balance the flow of pressures up and down and create flow.

Mike Rother: Time to Retire the Wedge – Mark Rosenthal explains Mike Rother's thinking that we stop sustaining and keep improving.

Call Firefighting and Band-Aids What They Are - But Do Them in a Structured Way – Jamie Flichbaugh says there is a time and place for fire-fighting but it must be done right.

10 Common Lean Lies – Mark Hamel explores 10 common lies found in so called Lean companies.

Changing the Discussion – Bill Waddell challenges executives to look at the financial numbers differently, one where value added and non-value added effort is separated.

Time –Dragan Bosnjak shares a quote from Taiichi Ohno and then challenges us to reflect on the importance of time as the basis for continuous improvement.

To Get Results, You Gotta Do the Work – Mike Wroblewski uses the reality example from Biggest Loser to illustrate an important Lean Lesson.




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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Upcoming Webinars on Performance Metrics and Value Stream Maps

Does Your Company Measure Up? Using Metrics to Improve Performance?
Date: Wed, Oct 12, 2011
Time: 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PDT
Cost: FREE
Notes: Space is limited to 100 attendees
It is hard to talk about making improvements without the conversation, at some point, turning to metrics. Used right, measuring processes in an organization can propel it forward. Used wrong, measurements can be disruptive and wasteful, and can crush morale.
In this presentation from Tim McMahon and Jeff Hajek’s webinar series, you will learn some of the measurement secrets we have picked up over the years. We’ll give you some practical tips that can help you use metrics to get more out of your organization, all while improving job satisfaction for the team.
They will present for 30-40 miutes, and then stick around for the rest of the hour to answer any questions you might have.
Click the ‘Register Now’ button to sign up.
The Secrets to Creating an Effective Value Stream Map
Date: Wed, Nov 16, 2011
Time: 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PDT
Cost: FREE
Notes: Space is limited to 100 attendees
Tim McMahon and Jeff Hajek will be connecting on November 16 at 9:00 A.M. PDT to talk about the proven steps you should use to create an effective value stream map. Value stream mapping (VSM) is ideal for creating positive organizational changes, developing efficient future states, and producing system-wide benefits in cost, quality, and flexibility. It is well suited for a broad range of industries and processes. But like any tool, VSM must be applied properly. Jeff and Tim will share the secrets they have learned from years of creating VSMs so you can get the most benefit from yours. Join them live so you can ask them your questions. Of course, if you can’t make it, you’ll be able to watch a recording afterwards.
They will present for half an hour, and then stick around for up to 30 more minutes to answer any questions you might have.
Click the ‘Register Now’ button to sign up.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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

Jeff Hajek of the Gotta Go Lean blog and I got together recently to offer several Lean tips to help speed up progress on your Lean Journey. Put these simple Lean strategies to use, and supercharge your continuous improvement efforts.



Here are the slides from the webinar
Stay tuned for notice on our next webinar to be held in October on Performance Metrics.


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Monday, September 26, 2011

Final Inspection isn't so Final

A recent edition at my newest favorite corporate life comic, ONEFTE.com, hit a common point that traditional companies use when there is an issue.



Many traditional companies use a final inspection department to 100% check the product just before it is shipped to make sure that any errors that occurred in-process are caught before the product is shipped.

When companies do this, they are trying to inspect quality into the product.  However, 100% inspection has been shown to be only about 80% to 85% effective.  Obviously, there has to be a better way than final inspection to assure defective products aren't shipped.

The better way is mistake-prevention by using by using poka-yoke.  Whenever there are possibilities of errors being made in a process, we should look at applying mistake-proofing techniques. Our ultimate goal is to improve the process so that mistakes are impossible to make.

Preventing mistakes is an order of magnitude better than just trying to inspect quality into the product.




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Friday, September 23, 2011

Lean Quote: Lean Transformation Needs Talent, Focus, and Endurance



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.

"Talent Is Nothing Without Focus and Endurance." — Haruki Murakami, writer

This quote reminds us that talent is basically irrelevant without the foundation of a good work ethic. In an interview the author of the quote was asked "what's the most important quality a novelist has to have?" He said "It's pretty obvious: talent. Now matter how much enthusiasm and effort you put into writing, if you totally lack literary talent you can forget about being a novelist. This is more of a prerequisite than a necessary quality. If you don't have any fuel, even the best car won't run."
The problem with talent, though, is that in most cases the person involved can't control its amount or quality. You might find the amount isn't enough and you want to increase it, or you might try to be frugal and make it last longer, but in neither case do things work out that easily. Talent has a mind of its own and wells up when it wants to, and once it dries up, that's it. Of course, certain poets and rock singers whose genius went out in a blaze of glory-people like Schubert and Mozart, whose dramatic early deaths turned them into legends-have a certain appeal, but for the vast majority of us this isn't the model we follow.
It's easy to see other people as talented and their work as effortless, but for most work is still work regardless of the quality. Before getting discouraged, it can't hurt to remember that. Most everyone has to work hard regardless of their skill level.
The next most important quality is focus—the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment. Without that you can’t accomplish anything of value, while, if you can focus effectively, you’ll be able to compensate for an erratic talent or even a shortage of it. After focus, the next most important thing is, hands down, endurance. You need the energy of focus for the long run. Fortunately, these two disciplines—focus and endurance—are different from talent, since they can be acquired and sharpened through training.
After reading this the applicability of these three qualities talent, focus, and endurance that Haruki Murakami cites to the implementation Lean thinking was clear evident. Talent is the necessary knowledge and skill needed to transform an organization.  At the foundation of Lean is the customer focused thinking that allows us to create value and eliminate waste. Many of us also know it takes focus to change our status quo thinking as well.  Transforming a business to a Lean is a process that takes time. Those leading the transformation need the endurance to see it through despite the challenge to revert back to traditional thinking.

So I think it could be said that "talent is nothing without the focus and endurance" when implementing Lean thinking.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lean at Home: Examples to Learn From

Paul Akers answers the popular question, "Do you apply Lean thinking at home?" In this new video Paul brings us into his own and shows a number of great ideas where he has applied lean thinking.  His approach to life is about making simple improvements to make life easier.  Every second he saves is a second more that he gets to enjoy the pleasures of life.





Paul has even done his own Toast Kaizen at home.  My favorite improvement is what he has done in shop with his bits. I can certainly use that in my shop. What is your favorite improvement?


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Seven Basic Tools of Quality

The Seven Basic Tools of Quality is a designation given to a fixed set of graphical techniques identified as being most helpful in troubleshooting issues related to quality. They are called basic because they are suitable for people with little formal training in statistics and because they can be used to solve the vast majority of quality-related issues.

The tools are:
  1. Check Sheets – A generic Tool which can be used for collection and analysis of data. A structured and prepared form that can be adapted for wide variety of issues
  2. Control Charts – This is a graphical technique,which can be used to study the changes to a process over time
  3. Pareto Chart – This is another graphical technique, which can be used to identify the significance of individual factors
  4. Scatter Chart – This is used to identify the relation between variables, by plotting pairs of numerical data, with one variable on each axis. The points will be falling on a line or a curve, if the variables are related.
  5. Cause and Effect Diagram (Also called as Ishikawa Diagram or Fishbone Diagram) – This can be used to structure the brain Storming Sessions. It is used to sort ideas into useful categories. Many Possible Causes are identified for a stated problem and the effect on the problem are identified
  6. Flow Chart (Stratification Charts) - This tool is used to identify the patterns within the data collected from multiple sources and clubbed together. It is used to identify the meaning of the vast data by identifying patterns.
  7. Histogram – It looks very much like a bar chart. it is used to identify the frequency of occurrence of a variable in a set of data.

The following presentation introduces the 7 basic quality tools:


Most organizations use quality tools for various purposes related to controlling and assuring quality. Although there are a good number of quality tools specific to certain domains, fields, and practices, some of the quality tools can be used across such domains. These quality tools are quite generic and can be applied to any condition.

The seven basic tools of quality can be used singularly or in tandem to investigate a process and identify areas for improvement, although they do not all necessarily need to be used. If a process is simple enough – or the solution obvious enough – any one may be all that is needed for improvement. They provide a means for doing so based on facts, not just personal knowledge, which of course can be tainted or inaccurate. Ishikawa advocated teaching these seven basic tools to every member of a company as a means to making quality endemic throughout the organization.




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Monday, September 19, 2011

Using Your Smartphone as Productivity Tool

When people talk about productivity and smartphones the conversation is usually about being able to stay connected or some app touting productivity.  Both of these are true and are much of the reason people get a smartphone.  They are wonderfully powerful devices that continue to transform the way we do things. 

In a recent post about my digital personal kanban system I mentioned that I use a number of Google products in my productivity system.  I use Google Calendar to sync all my work appoints and personal appoints in one convenient place.  Google Tasks is a simple To-Do list I use to manage my short duration tasks.  I also keep track of smaller tasks like phone calls or conversations that I my do that day.

These tools by themselves are not unique and can easily be done with paper and pencil.  The simplicity of these tools make them appealing.  I have been able to combine the simplicity of these digital tools and powerfully portable handheld device into a productivity tool.   Here is a screen shot of my system:


The top left is where my calendar resides showing me my next 3 appointments. In the upper right corner is a digital post-it note that allows me to quickly type a note or list of things that I must do today.   On the bottom of the screen is my To-Do list sorted by date.  The tasks are colored coded as I mentioned before by category. This is my home screen on my phone so that it is first and foremost easily accessed.

This is my own portable visual productivity board right in the palm of my hand.  How do you use your phone to increase your productivity?  Share your experience in the comments of this posts.


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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Made in America - The Northeast Shingo Prize Conference

Consider attending the Northeast Shingo Conference in Springfield, MA on October 5-6, 2011. The theme is "Made Lean in America" and the idea is to gather hundreds of people to make a strong statement about the ability of companies to use lean to remain a strong and vital part of the American economy. For these organizations, Lean means creating employment opportunities at home: good jobs, a strong tax base, a brighter future. Long-term thinking is emerging: America can compete through the use of lean thinking. Add your voice this year.

My friend Bruce Hamilton shares his thoughts on the upcoming conference in the video below:



I will be making a statement about manufacturing in America by attending the conference again this year.


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Friday, September 16, 2011

Lean Quote: Fostering a Positive Self-Image

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.

"A good leader inspires others with confidence; a great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves." — Unknown

All people have a need for confidence and a positive self-image. How individuals respond to problems almost always reflects that their feelings about themselves at that time or their general perception of self. Research indicates that two-thirds of the population suffers from generalized low self-esteem. They have negative feelings about aspects of themselves or attributes they possess. This focus on one’s deficiencies makes it difficult to feel energetic, to be motivated, or to make positive changes.

A less appreciated means of damaging one’s self-image is the way they talk to or about them. Virtually everyone carries on an inner dialogue. This inner-conversation can be negative if it focuses on failure and shortcomings. Many of us, in fact, have been taught to depreciate our achievements rather revel in them. This pulls down our spirits and sense of achievement. It is one thing to suffer a defeat and feel discouraged but quite another to beat yourself up over it.

As a leader in your organization especially in a change management function like Lean you can change this by:

  • Listening to the discouragement without passing judgment, thereby giving them a chance to vent.
  • Providing ideas for remedy when asked.
  • Offering help (when needed) once the person has decided on a problem-solving course of action.
Build self confidence in others for a lasting change that really matters long term.


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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ryder’s Five LEAN Guiding Principles

Frequent readers of this blog know I like to share good Lean examples as well as resources you can use to keep learning. Today's post combines both elements into one.

Ryder System, Inc., a provider of leading-edge transportation, logistics and supply chain management solutions, defines their Lean thinking process and principles.

The key to delivering long-term customer value and outstanding business performance, quarter after quarter, year after year, is to implement a lean culture. Lean practices improve quality and productivity by taking cost and waste out of all facets of an operation, from the procurement of raw materials to the shipment of finished goods. In a lean culture, every step in every process must add value for the customer. If it doesn't add value, you strive to eliminate it. At Ryder Supply Chain Solutions, five lean guiding principles govern every activity the company conducts in its own and its customers' warehouses.

People Involvement The most important of the Lean Guiding Principles is People Involvement: engaging every employee to root out waste, eliminate problems and make improvements. Nothing happens in a company without people to drive it forward.

Built-in Quality Principle 2 is Built-in Quality: building quality into every process in the production and distribution of products. With processes designed to make work flow correctly, and tools available to eliminate small problems before they grow large, employees can focus on increasing overall customer satisfaction.

Standardization Principle 3 is Standardization: ensuring all work follows established, well-tested procedures. With processes designed to make work flow correctly, employees have the instructions and tools they need to meet customer expectations.

Short Lead Time Principle 4 is Short Lead Time: improving quality and profitability with a steady flow of inventory arriving exactly when it's needed. Implementing short lead time ensures that a facility can meet increases in customer demand without having to ramp up resources. This results in significant savings, ultimately, strengthening the company's bottom line.

Continuous Improvement Principle 5 is Continuous Improvement: small incremental, ongoing changes that combine to deliver significant gains in quality and efficiency. The stream of continuous improvements creates a powerful and constant force, promoting high performance throughout a facility and producing tremendous employee pride.

Through Ryder's LEAN Guiding Principles, they strive to empower all team members to eliminate waste, complete work correctly the first time, and challenge every aspect of the business to improve. Their end goal is to move the supply chain as fast as possible by raising productivity and increasing inventory turns, all of which delivers operational excellence and measurable ROI to our customers.

So what do you think, does Ryder understand Lean thinking?


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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Goal: 2 Second Improvement Every Day for Life

Paul Akers describes his approach to teaching lean principles of productivity improvement this way: “All I do is ask everybody to make a two-second improvement a day for the rest of their life.” An accumulation of two-second improvements and a relentless emphasis on lean methods have helped build FastCap from a single product—a peel-and-stick cover for cabinetry holes—into a $10-million-a-year business with dozens of tools and products, and with a goal of introducing at least one product a month.

In this video Paul explains what 2 second Lean means and how this works to transform your environment for a lifetime.






What do you think does Paul Akers have the right approach?


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Monday, September 12, 2011

An Introduction to 5S plus Safety

A reader recently asked me for some information on implementing 5S in their factory. Even though I shared my 6S posters a couple weeks ago I thought I could still share some more. 

5S was developed, as with so many of today’s best practice tools, in Japan. 5S is the name of a workplace organization methodology that uses a list of five Japanese words which are seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. Transliterated or translated into English, they all start with the letter "S". The list describes how to organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order. The decision-making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization which builds a clear understanding among employees of how work should be done. It also instills ownership of the process in each employee.

Some companies will tell you that they implement 6S; 6S being 5S plus the added step of safety. The 6th “S”; Safety, concentrates on safety aspects of our processes, reviewing every action and each area to ensure that we have not overlooked any potential hazards.

The following presentation introduces the 6S (5S plus Safety) methodology:

The principles underlying a 5S program at first appear to be simple, obvious common sense. And they are for the most part. But many businesses have ignored these basic principles when improving their business.  5S should not be overlooked and is widely used by successful manufacturers.



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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering September 11th Ten Years Later

Ten years ago on September 11th The United States of America was attacked by a terrorist organization (al-Qaeda) led by Osama bin Laden. On September 11, 2001 on American soil, terrorist hijacked four planes. Two of them planes purposely crashed into the World Trades Center towers. The third struck the Pentagon and the last, Flight United 93 crashed into a PA field in Shanksville.

Ten years later, the mastermind behind the attacks was killed by our Special Forces (our unknown heroes) on May 2, 2011 after storming his compound in Pakistan. Although, as of right now the "War" in the Middle-East regions continue to rage on.

September 11th will remain a day that we will never forget!

"You can break the foundation of a building, but you can't break the foundation of our freedom!"





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Friday, September 9, 2011

Lean Quote: Gang up on the Problem, Not 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.

"The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other." — Thomas Stallkamp

Collaboration provides the cornerstone for engaging others to come to a consensus around critical decisions and problem solving.  Most organizations benefit enormously from transforming their basis for leading and managing to a collaborative workplace. The results from companies that have a collaborative workplace include:

  • Organizations collaborate internally to compete externally.
  • Decisions are faster, of higher quality, and customer-driven.
  • Decisions are made on the basis of principle rather than power or personality, resulting in greater buy-in and impact.
  • The energy of the workplace is focused on the customer rather than on internal conflicts.
  • Cycle time is substantially reduced and non-value adding work eliminated.
  • The productive capacity of the workplace increases.
  • Strategic alliances that might have failed not only succeed, but build trust and produce extraordinary results.
  • Return on investment increases dramatically.
  • Span of control increases substantially.
  • The workplace takes on full responsibility and accountability for the success of the enterprise, to the point where some teams have themselves.
  • Conflict is reduced as work relationships open up and  build trust.
  • The fear is gone - change is seen as a positive opportunity.
  • The organization is self-sufficient in sustaining the ongoing development of the company.

Creating a collaborative workplace means making a commitment to a new way of working together.  It is not a quick fix.  It is an ongoing process.



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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guest Post: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...

Today's post is by Rich Hoover, the Director of Sustainability for Libbey Glass, global manufacturers of drinking glasses and other glass tableware. Libbey has been working at integrating Lean into their global operations since 2004 and have recognized sustainability as a business imperative since early 2010. In this post Rich explains the important hierarchy of the three R's and the most effective way to eliminate waste.


We typically see or hear these words in this order for a reason. This hierarchy encourages us to reduce consumption first, which is the most effective way to eliminate waste. The least costly resource or material is that which is never used. Reuse is next in line, which is simply using an item over again for the same or different purpose than originally intended. Finally, recycle, which means to make new products from used or old materials. Let’s look at each of these landfill alternatives in more detail…

Reduce
The place to begin is to use less. Consumption reduction decreases the amount of natural resources used throughout the life cycle of a product, from extraction of raw materials, to several layers of transportation, to manufacturing or processing, to use by consumers. Reduction isn’t easy. Most consumers think “bigger is better”, “new beats used” and “convenience is key”. When you shop, look for things that will last…things that are not just durable and well-made, but useful and attractive. The extra money you spend will be offset by the money you don’t spend replacing them. Maintain and repair items to keep them working and looking good. Other ways to reduce include: buy products made from post-consumer recycled materials, especially paper products; choose energy-efficient electronics, appliances and vehicles; buy local when possible (less transportation = less energy used); look for items with minimal packaging; cut back on water use; and turn off electronics and lights when not needed.

Reuse
Before you recycle or dispose of an item, consider whether it has some life left in it. Reusing items keeps new resources from being used for a while longer and old resources from entering the waste stream. Reuse can take many forms. Find alternate uses for items such as plastic shopping bags or packaging from new item purchases. Have a garage sale or list items on internet commerce sights to turn used items into cash. Donate reusable items to charity. Books, magazines and dvd’s can be shared or traded. Use your creativity to find endless reuse opportunities!

Recycle
Due to the continued proliferation of curbside recycling programs, it is fairly easy to recycle a number of common household materials…plastic containers, metal cans, newspapers and magazines, and corrugated containers. While recycling is a much-preferred alternative to landfill, recycling has its shortcomings. Recycling rules vary by municipality and the rules are not always straightforward. Also, recycling is beneficial as long as there is demand for the different recycled materials. Finally, resources are needed to sort, transport and reprocess recycled materials into new products. Even with these blemishes, recycling still reduces waste. Recycling ties in to all 3 pillars of sustainability…conserving resources for future generations (people); keeping waste and toxins out of landfills and reduced manufacturing intensity from recycled input materials (planet) and; generating cost savings, job creation and revenue (profit).





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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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