Friday, December 30, 2011

Lean Quote: Forget About Resolutions Concentrate on Goal Setting

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.

"Many people look forward to the New Year for a new start on old habits." — Anonymous

With the hustle of the holidays over we turn to the New Year, where many individuals are honing in on their New Year’s resolution. For many, it may be an opportunity to assess their struggles of the previous year or to wallow in their triumphs. One thing for is sure, many people want to make positive changes in their lives.

Change is hard because patterns of behavior are embedded in the psyche. For many, bad habits provide a purpose. The behavior may provide an emotional benefit to the individual (albeit not in an ideal way) that they’re not even aware of.

Change can only be successful if it’s truly desired. Initially, it is common for the individual to feel stuck. Change may begin by making small behavioral changes. By planning and developing a firm, detailed plan of action the likeliness of success will increase. Behavior is modified the most when the individual is truly ready to take action.

Personally I recommend forgetting the whole concept of resolutions and concentrating on setting goals instead. Resolutions and goal setting may seem similar, but resolutions typically take a let's start something and see what happens approach, while goal setting is about planning a specific path to success.

Lasting changes require continued commitment. It can be motivating to add up and consolidate all the gains that have been made so far and to acknowledge how far you have come. Change isn’t easy but positive changes are always worth the effort.



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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lean Roundup #31 – December, 2011

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

A House Divided Cannot Stand – Bill Waddell talks about the divide between sales and manufacturing that creates a top line or cost reduction and not a bottom line improvement.

Kaizen and the Moisture Content of Fabrics – Jon Miller brings fabric and moisture together to talk about kaizen and approach you should take.

4 Myths About The Principle of Respect for People – Jamie Flinchbaugh shares 4 myths related to being respectful to people that helps define the Toyota principle.

The 5th Myth About The Respect For People Principle – Jon Miller continues Jamie Flinchbaugh's thought on the myths of respect for people with the 8th waste.

The Lean Blog Holiday Gift Guide – Mark Graban takes a stab at holiday gift guide for Lean enthusiast in a practical and humorous way.

The C Suite Double Standard – Dan Markovitz talks about leaders and executives who are ferocious about improving manufacturing processes and eliminating waste, but who passively accept waste in their office operations and individual work.

Standards Part 1 – Bruce Hamilton explains that standards are not a loss personal choice because the worker creates them.

The Waste of Interpretation – David Kasprzak says we need to say what we mean and mean what we say otherwise it leads to confusion.

A Dose of Common Sense Goes a Long Way – Bill Waddell shares a story about how simple improvements from the floor can be more effective than those large engineering projects.

In God We Trust Everybody Else Bring Data - Steve Taninecz talks about the need and use of data in the Healthcare.

An Easy Way to Make Your New Year's Resolution Stick  - Ron Pereira writes about making your New Year resolutions stick by taking action.

The Tough Decision: What Not To Do – Mark Rosenthal explains one of the toughest things to do when trying to focus is to stop doing those tasks that are not going to support your goal.

Kaizen Events vs Continuous Daily Improvement – Al Norval says they are both kaizen since they offer the company the ability for relentless improvement.

Lean Success  Part 1: If It's Not Complete It's Not Lean Enough – Jordan Berkley talks about the journey to Lean manufacturing and whether it is really worth the cost.

Lean Business Results – Al Norval says that while the primary goal of leaders is business results that is not why do Lean, we do it to build capability.

Don't Let Success Close Your Mind – Matt Wrye advocates that while success is great it should not stop you from continuously improving.

Lean Is About Waste Elimination, Or Is It? – Jamie Flinchbaugh says that the single word of waste does not sufficiently define Lean and suggests that value, alignment, and problem solving would be better.

Strategy vs Tactics – Dragan Bosnjak says you must have a clear strategy before you can have clear tactics.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 10 Posts of 2011 on A Lean Journey


As 2011 goes into the history books I want to take a moment to reflect on this past year. Nearly 79,000 people have visted the site this year.  I posted 230 articles on the site in 2011.  It has truly been a very positive and full year. 

Here is a collection of the Top 10 posts for 2011 by views:


10. Lean at Home: My Visual Schedule - posted May 16, was where I shared my family's visual scheduling board at home.

9. Lean Simulation: Your Source for Lean Games and Training Tools - posted June 1, was a post I did sharing a new blog from Martin Boersema which covers lean training, video, and games found online.

8. A Tribute to Eli Goldratt - posted June 13, was tribute to Eli Goldratt, a true pioneer in process and business improvement, after his death.

7. The Stages of High Performance Teams - posted April 11, explains the four stages that high performance teams must follow.

6. 12 Ways to Start Building a Continuous Improvement Culture - post March 15, was from a webinar Jeff Hajek and I did on how to start building a culture of continuous improvement in your company.

5. Book Review: Death By Meeting - posted February 23, was a book review I did on the subject of making meetings more engaging and less boring by Patrick Lencioni.

4. The 6 Pillars of 6S - Free Posters - posted July 6, was a collection of posters that have been used to explain 6S to make implementation easy for everyone.

3. Visual Management Board - posted January 11, was really a guest post by my friend Allison Myers describing her visual management board for marketing activities at Lantech.

2. Personal Kanban Kaizen - It's all Digital - posted March 14, shows a digital version of personal kanban system I use for productivity.

1. Ten Ways to Show Respect for People - posted January 17, lists ten ways to show respect for people in your organization like encouraging them.


Do you have any favorites not on this list that you would like to share?  Leave a comment.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Monday, December 26, 2011

My Gift to You


Merry Christmas to all A Lean Journey Fans! Lean is a gift to us individually and to organizations empowering and inspiring improvement all around us. This holiday season I want to take the opportunity to thank all those who share the passion for continuous improvement and share in the learning on this blog. As a way of saying "Thank You" I want to share a gift you, a free copy of Henry Ford's "My Life and Work".


Henry Ford (1863-1947), founder of the Ford Motor Company, lays out the secret of his success in My Life and Work. Pretty much everything in the Toyota Production System can be found in Henry Ford's 1923 book "My Life and Work".


You can download your copy now here.


For those kindle users you can get a free copy here


or this illustrated version for under a dollar.




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Friday, December 23, 2011

Lean Quote: Give the Gift of Inspiration

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 people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves." — Anonymous

The ability to inspire people to reach great heights of performance and success is a skill that leaders need. Passion, purpose, listening and meaning help make a leader inspirational.

So, why must inspiring yourself and others be so high on your agenda as a leader? First, because if you are inspired, you will automatically be more inspiring to others. Second, because an inspired team is an energized team, and an energized team is a more productive team.

If you have managed to capture hearts and minds, excite and engage people, they will in turn feel more motivated and energized to take action. In our fast-moving world where productivity is king and time is endlessly squeezed, focusing on increasing energy levels (your own and your team’s) is a lot smarter than trying to expand time.

To inspire, you must both create resonance and move people with a compelling vision. You must embody what you ask of others, and be able to articulate a shared vision in a way that inspires others to act. You must offer a sense of common purpose beyond the day-to-day tasks, making work exciting.

So this holiday gift giving season give the gift that lasts a lifetime. Give the gift of inspiration. Inspire them to be confident. Inspire them to greatness.



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Thursday, December 22, 2011

That's Kaizen - FastCap Style

Many think Kaizen is about some sort of 5 day event where you shut down and make improvement.  Maybe this idea is fed by consultants in some manner but Kaizen in fact is not this.  It is about small incremental change. The type of change that makes it easier to do your job.  Change in which the people doing the task are intimately involved in.

In a new video from the team at FastCap they demonstrate what real Kaizen is all about.



There are so many great lessons in this video including:
  • Make improvement in the Gemba (actual place).
  • Importance of collecting data (stop watch) along the way.
  • Some improvements don't work the way you expect but you still learn from them.
  • If your improvement is not successful keep trying.
  • Try other peoples ideas even if you think they might not work.
  • People on the outside often see things you can't see.
  • Importance of a knowledge coach (Paul Akers) to guide and encourage the team to keep improving. Notice he never solves the problem for the team but challenges them to think about what is happening.
  • Making improvement is invigorating and rewarding.
  • Seconds matter.
This is one of the best explanations of Kaizen I have come across.  I hope you enjoy it and share it with others.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Learn to Achieve Flow in Your Workplace From Angry Birds

Angry Birds, found on so many smart phones is so compulsive because the game applies the rules for achieving flow in your workplace. First, having a clear objective and a goal which is difficult but not impossible. It allows control over the action and gives immediate and comprehensive feedback on the attempts. Finally. it celebrates success. Time passes without being noticed.





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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Daily Lean Tips Edition #24

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 #346 - Think Strategically about Your Improvement.

There is nothing worse than optimizing a process and then having the entire system be less than optimal. In order to understand the parts, you must understand the whole. Get your entire team involved, understand the business strategy and goals, and start thinking from a high level. After that you can drill down into the details.

Lean Tip #347 – Leader must ask the right questions.

Ability of leaders to ask the right questions is critical to the success of a project. The type of questions will determine the quality of process improvements. If leaders do not know what to look for, teams would get the message that they can get away with whatever is possible.

Lean Tip #348 - Teams are the engines that deliver successful process improvements.

Teams are the engines that deliver successful process improvements. While there are many traits, the five key characteristics of an effective team for process improvements are:

• Teams should have a clear defined purpose;
• Teams should be cross functional and have representation of all stakeholders of the process;
• Teams should be empowered to take all required decisions;
• All team members should be trained on the improvement methodology;
• Team members should have good change management skills.

Lean Tip #349 - Learn how to use the word “WE”.

Learn how to use the word “WE” among your team members because this gives them confidence and encouragement. It shows that their contribution towards the process improvement is recognized and taken into consideration. It will also enable the team to get more information/ data needed for the process improvement.

Lean Tip #350 - Evaluate your improvement process as a whole.

Once you have put your plan into action and have achieved the results from it, you will need to evaluate your improvement process as a whole. Ask yourselves if the process had its desired effect. Was the process successful? Did it fix the problem? Did it eliminate waste? Did you implement the improvements on time and within budget? All of these factors should be taken into consideration.

Lean Tip #351 – Encourage Your Team Members.

Always try and encourage your team members and be sure that any criticism you give is constructive. Encouragement and constructive criticism is a sure way to promote team work.

Lean Tip #352 - Do Not Hide Your Mistakes.

To err is completely human, so you should not be afraid of the mistakes you may make and of course, you should never hide them. Each mistake you make saves everyone else from repeating it – this is the very case, when you should consider team profit higher than yours. Such lessons do improve team knowledgebase and highlight weak points.

Lean Tip #353 – Teams Require Good Leadership.

For a team to work well together there needs to be a person in the leadership position. Someone who will motivate, inspire, and make sure everyone is moving in the right direction.

Lean Tip #354 - Form Common Skills To Make Your Team More Productive.

Be sure everyone has a common skill base for communication, conflict resolution, problem solving, giving and receiving peer feedback. I find that teams who have these common skill sets are much more productive than teams that don't. Technical expertise is only half of the success quotient.

Lean Tip #355 - Acknowledge Unique Talents and Contributions.

Each team member brings value to the team. Point out or showcase various abilities. Take time in a meeting to recognize one or two members. Be sure everyone receives equal recognition.

Lean Tip #356 – You must believe in your goals to be successful.

You must believe that it is at least possible for you to achieve the goal or you will not be motivated to try. More importantly, it is you who must believe, not others. Also, just because you should believe that the goal is possible does not mean that you must expect it to be easy or even probable. Indeed, some argue that completion of only the most difficult goals will have enduring value to you.

Lean Tip #357 – Make your goals measurable and specific.

Your goals should be measurable and specific enough for you to know unambiguously whether they have been completed yet or not. Makes sure your actions and their timing will satisfy your goals and if not rethink your plan.

Lean Tip #358 - Prioritize your goals but be flexible.

Decide which of your goals (and tasks) are most important and assign your due dates accordingly. Be willing to change due dates or even put a goal on hold for a while if necessary.

Lean Tip #359 – If you get discouraged re-evaluate your expectations.

If you feel discouraged, it's probably the result of not meeting one of your own expectations. Ask yourself, "Was the expectation realistic in the first place?" If not, you have no reason to feel discouraged. Simply create a new goal (or tasks) that you feel are realistic and keep on going.

Lean Tip #360 – Don’t fear failure, if you don’t try, you gain nothing.

Fear of failure is a genuinely scary thing for many people, and often the reason that individuals do not attempt the things they would like to accomplish. But the only true failure is failure to make the attempt. If you don't try, you gain nothing, and life is too short a thing to waste.


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Monday, December 19, 2011

Key Learnings From 2011


In our strive for continuous knowledge sometimes we fail to look back.  Reflecting on our key learnings is an important part of the learning process. My friend Marci Reynolds has done just that in a new post on her blog The Operations Blog. Marci, the Director of Operations at ACI Worldwide, surveyed 12 top operations experts across the globe and asked them to share their most impactful learning or most important piece of advice.

I was fortunate to contribute to this post with first learning:
Developing Leadership Skills Must Be Intentional “This past year I’ve learned the value of continuous learning for the development of leadership skills. Far too may business executives believe leadership skills stem from some sort of wondrous epiphany or other such flash of insight. Sure, great ideas can come to any of us, but being a bona fide leader also means study. It takes reading books and online articles on all sorts of subjects, attending workshops/seminars, and learning from others for instance to develop leadership abilities. It can be a long education, but one with rewards that multiply with the more knowledge you have under your belt.” Tim McMahon, Founder of A Lean Journey Blog
Another favorite is from our friend David Kasprzak at My Flexible Pencil Blog:
Attendance Is Not Synonymous With Performance “In 2011, I discovered the need to ask the question, “Why are we here?” in the operational sense. A tremendous amount of waste is produced from the belief that being in attendance is the same as, or necessary for, producing results. How much of this waste could be avoided if we shattered the assumption that attendance is synonymous with performance, and managers followed the principles of the ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) to measure people only on results?” David M. Kasprzak, Author, My Flexible Pencil Blog: Discussing management excellence and the pursuit of work/life synthesis
And, one last one to share was from Marci herself:
Practice Process Improvement – Before Executing Process Improvement “In 2011, I learned the value of teaching and helping others practice new process management skills, as an alternative to traditional training and immediate implementation. Professional athletes practice their moves over and over again, before they actually compete. The same can easily apply to the process of learning new business skills. If we practice first, we will be much more successful when we begin to apply them. I described this in more detail in my earlier post “A focus on learning will fuel more doing”.” Marci Reynolds, Director Global Customer Operations, ACI Worldwide, The Operations Blog, @marcireynolds12
The remaining list of learnings can be viewed on Marci's Blog -  12 Operations Experts Share Their Key Learnings From 2011.

What would you say?  Share your advice and key learnings from this year in the comment section here.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Lean Quote: Hoshin Kanri is the Structure that Creates Results

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.

"Unless structure follows strategy, inefficiency results." — Alfred Chandler

Traditional planning methodologies focus on steering an organization in the direction desired by top management. Often referred to as management by objective (MBO) since top management establish the objectives, targets, evaluate whether employees meet these targets. Unfortunately, as we know, you can’t achieve the desired results by just dictating individual targets.

Hoshin kanri translates the strategic intent into the required day-to-day behavior. It is not another attempt to improve MBO. While hoshin kanri and MBO both aim to deploy company goals and encourage employees to achieve them, there are several radical points of departure. Specifically,

  • Hoshin kanri deploys the voice of the customer, not just profit goals. More than the traditional MBO description of projected market share, profit goals, and revenues, hoshin kanri maps and controls the path to a new design based on customer priorities. It describes the behaviors needed to achieve the policies that support the strategic vision.
  • Hoshin kanri depoys breakthrough strategies. It concentrates resources on strategic priorities and chronic problems by going after root cause(s) of obstacles to achieve dramatic improvements in performance.
  • Hoshin kanri controls the means and methods, not just the results. It manages cause and effect linkage of supporting strategies, measures, and targets to ensure that employee efforts are realistic, synergistic, and add up to the total effort required to meet corporate objectives.
  • Hoshin kanri is a continuous improvement management process, not calendar-driven system. MBO typically establishes a set of quarterly and annual goals. In contrast, hoshin kanri identifies a few critical breakthrough objectives that require coordinated and focused effort over an extended period of three to five years. Annual objectives are established within the context of these longer term objectives.
  • Hoshin kanri emphasizes frequent reviews up and down the organization. In MBO, the performance review, often an annual event, does not capture or communicate valuable feedback to inform future rounds of planning. Hoshin kanri uses an explicit inter-level communication system to continually distill local lessons and channel them upward to the leaders of the organization. It routinely tracks performance, reviews the capability of the entire planning system, and modifies it accordingly.
  • Hoshin kanri is not tied to performance appraisals. Authentic hoshin kanri separates the evaluation of personnel from the evaluation of the strategy. It focuses not on personnel, but on the quality of the strategic assumptions and the discipline of the planning system.
 Features like these make the hoshin kanri process an attractive alternative for MBO. It emphasizes Lean management principles: customer focus, process control, employee participation, and management by fact.



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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Guest Post: Applying Electronic Content Management Technology to the 7 TPS wastes

Today I am pleased to introduce a guest post by Samantha McCollough. Samantha is Director of Public Relations at iDatix, an award-winning leader in enterprise content management and business automation solutions. When not writing, she enjoys Scuba Diving, spending time with her dogs and painting. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily antics @smccollo.

Lean manufacturing has roots in the Toyota Production System (TPS), which is focused on minimizing waste for increased business optimization and value. Through reducing the top seven wastes outlined in the TPS model, a company can effectively improve efficiency and productivity while cutting costs for the most optimal business processes possible. The key concentrations include a reduction in waste regarding: transport, inventory, motion, waiting, overproduction, over processing and defects. Advanced technology now allows for modern, electronic tools to further enhance and improve this established recipe for lean manufacturing success. One of the ways to leverage technology is to adopt an electronic document management strategy as a way to engage in efficient processes. An integrated workflow solution enables a company to control tasks, manage workers and have full visibility of the working process. Let’s look at how a mature ECM solution can be applied to the 7 muda to increase the effectiveness of lean principles.

Transport Waste. This is seen as the transportation of staff and products with no purpose both internally and externally, a common pitfall in organizations with limited process management and a lack of visual control. Often times, this problem is marked by the over shipment of products, the underutilizing of equipment, or the complex physical path of parts when moved through the plant. The ideal is an organized production line leading to delivery of the correct amount at the correct time, an objective met through efficient communication and quick customer response times; all aided through workflow management.

Inventory Waste. Monitoring and managing your manufacturing line properly minimizes the work in process and the amount of unfinished parts in queue. An electronic management system allows for total control of the workflow to effectively manage production and reduce or eliminate any inventory waste.

Waiting Waste. The traditional method of manually reviewing and delivering documentation can choke the core business processes. Idle time for both man and machine is considered the waste of waiting and is often caused by inconsistent processes and low man/machine efficiency, problems reduced or eliminated with business process improvement. An electronic management system allows for synchronization of work orders and worker instructions across each assembly step. A workflow ensures that staff members have the necessary requirements to complete a job at their fingertips without waiting for instructions or sign off to begin the next project.

Motion Waste. Time spent hunting down documents and hand delivering work orders drains resources. Through a decrease in man hours spent on manual tasks, such as traveling across the factory floor for worker instructions, searching for parts or moving heavy machinery, companies can see measurable cost savings and a quick return on investment. Utilizing workflow provides a means for workers to interact in a centralized environment; all work tasks and required information are accessible and viewable.

Overproduction Waste. Besides the inherent issues with excessive amount of unneeded goods, overproduction also results in added storage costs, increased transportation waste and a decrease in productivity due to the lack of demand. Symptoms of overproduction include inventory stockpiles, unnecessary equipment and additional storage space. An optimized and streamline business process offers complete management of the production line. Increased visibility ensures that only the required tasks are being worked on and a lean approach enables organizations to plan according to demand.

Over Processing Waste. Over processing is commonly identified as overlapping worker responsibilities, doing more than is required to meet the final goal, or printing documents that will quickly getting discarded just to share information. Standardizing processes and making documents quickly and easily accessible to all workers from a centralized repository will begin to eliminate over processing.

Defect Waste. One of the most highly regarded benefits is maximizing productivity rates with existing equipment and resources. A workflow management system allows for tracking and monitoring each work step along a process. This allows for identifying potential trouble areas or bottlenecks and reducing the chance of errors or defects. If a weakness exists, it can immediately be isolated and addressed. Companies must be able to anticipate what kind of volume they can push through with current staff, and go further by pinpointing the areas where improvements can be made. Functioning at peak performance, sometimes referred to as being at rate, is a goal facilitated through an electronic workflow solution.



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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Use the Catchball Process to Reduce Ambiguity


To reduce ambiguity and misinterpretation during the planning phase of Hoshin Kanri management uses a fact-based inter-level negotiation process known as “Catchball”. The word “catchball” denotes a simple social game in Japan in which a circle of young children throw a baseball back and forth. It metaphorically describes a participative process that uses iterative planning sessions to field questions, clarify priorities, build consensus, and ensure that strategies, objectives, and measures are well understood, realistic and sufficient to achieve the objectives.

Hoshin planning begins with the senior management identifying the strategic outcomes/goals to be achieved, complete with deadlines. Once determined, the ‘challenges’ are sent to the operational units who break them down and determine what each unit and person has to do to be able to achieve the management objective. They then bounce the ‘ball’ back to senior management who catches it and determines if the execution committed to will be satisfactory or not. If it is not, the ‘ball’ is bounced back to the operations folks again who catch it and respond accordingly.

The conversation about strategic objectives and means widens as top management deploys its strategy to middle management because managers throw ideas back and forth from one level of the organization to another. There are three major benefits to catchball. First, it opens up new channels of communication between company leaders and process owners, which greatly improves the quality of the organization’s shared knowledge about its processes, people and relationships. Second, it forges new relationships necessary to execute the strategy. Third, by engaging middle and even front line managers in genuine give-and-take negotiations—that is, by getting their buy-in—Hoshin dramatically reduces the cost of getting people to do what they’ve agreed to do.

In short, catchball is a disciplined multi-level planning methodology for “tossing an idea around.” It takes strategic issues to the grassroots level, asking employees at each level of management to “value add” to the plan based on data analysis and experience of their functional areas.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was on to something when he said, “A strategic plan is nothing but a dead letter. It comes to life only through discussion and negotiation.”

Catchball requires that the people who deploy downward engage in some kind of data-based conversation with the people who design the plans. There must be sufficient coupling and discussion during the planning process to ensure the strategic plan is clear and realistic otherwise it will be nothing but a dead letter.



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Monday, December 12, 2011

Hoshin Kanri: Setting Management's Compass for Alignment


If management by objectives is so deficient in communicating direction and ensuring cross-functional coordination, then how can managers develop, communicate, and monitor their corporate road maps? The answer is to find an alternative management methodology to disseminate and implement strategic policy in a turbulent operating environment.

Such a planning process already exists. The Japanese call it Hoshin Kanri. The word hoshin is formed from two Chinese characters: ho stands fro “method,” shin means “shiny metal showing direction.” Kanri stands for “planning.” Together, hoshin kanri is used to communicate a “methodology for setting strategic direction,” in other words, a management “compass.”

Hoshin kanri is not a strategic planning tool, it is an execution tool. It is a system to deploy an existing strategic plan throughout the organization. In other words, hoshin management is an idea handler, not an idea generator. It depends on a preexisting statement of direction typically generated by an augmented strategic planning process.

There are many versions of hoshin kanri. However, certain themes recur in many stages of the planning process, at many levels of the hierarchy, and at many levels of abstraction. These principles include:

  • Align the organization’s goals with changes in the environment.
  • Focus on the vital few strategic gaps.
  • Work with others to develop plans to close the gaps.
  • Specify the methods and measures to achieve the strategic objectives.
  • Make visible the cause and effect linkages among local plans.
  • Continuously improve the planning process.
These principles describe certain basic practices associated with the school of total quality management (TQM). In the context of hoshin kanri, they are specifically applied to achieving dramatic and measurable breakthroughs.

At the heart of hoshin kanri is the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle. Promoted by w. Edwards Deming, this management cycle (sometimes called the PDCA cycle) is an iterative process. A closed loop system, it emphasizes four repetitive steps:

  • First, start with an idea and create a PLAN to test it.
  • Then, DO adhere to the plan, and take corrective action when necessary.
  • Next, analyze and STUDY discrepancies to identify the root causes of obstacles.
  • Finally, take appropriate ACTion. If the outcome matches expectations, then standardize the process to maintain the gains. If the results were disappointing, then modify the process to eliminate the root cause of remaining problems. In either case, repeat the process starting again with PLAN.
While these steps appear in a linear sequence, when implemented the phases are best thought of as concurrent processes that can continually be improved.

The hoshin kanri process is sometimes described as the SA/PDSA (Study-Act/Plan-Do-Study-Act) cycle. In the face of changing goals and moving targets, the SA/PDSA cycle reminds members of the organization not only to review pas performance, but also to conduct a qualitative assessment of the next important direction. As the environment changes, the organization can modify it strategic priorities to ensure a dominant position in the eye of the customer.

Hoshin Kanri is the system for setting management’s compass toward True North. It is a tool to align people, activities, and performance metrics with strategic priorities. It can be used to communicate direction, coordinate activity, and monitor progress. It enables members of the organization to work together in the most creative way to define and achieve the strategic intent.



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Friday, December 9, 2011

Lean Quote: Safety Culture and Leadership Behavior

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 desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise." — Tacitus, Publius Cornelius

One of the key predictors of an organizations safety culture is perceived management value of safety, often expressed by the behavior of managers within the organization. It is the leadership behavior therefore of managers that often can be the key to influencing risk taking occurring within organizations.

Leadership behavior and safety culture is related to safety performance in two ways:

1. Organization’s safety culture affects safety performance.
2. Leadership behavior affects safety culture and indirectly affects safety performance.

Leadership is more than just management, and refers to not to just what, but how a person influences and motivates others. For example if a manger walks by an employee not wearing the correct PPE for the job, because they do not notice it is not being worn, the employee can be left with impression that managers do not mind if safety rules are not followed. It is these subtle things or soft signals that can play a major role in safety across the board.

As a leader your behavior affects the safety culture of your organization. Focus on three strategies to achieve world-class leadership in safety and operational discipline:

• Change Culture and Behavior - Build and lead a culture of personal accountability for safety and operational discipline.
• Provide Staff with Knowledge and Tools - Establish, and continue to improve, communicate, and maintain well-defined standards, requirements, and tools that integrate safety into processes and operations.
• Create Safer Workspaces – Through direct observation reduce/eliminate hazards to prevent near miss injuries.

In order to connect safety objectives to safety performance, leaders perform critical behaviors, such as challenging assumptions, describing a safety vision, and providing feedback to other leaders on performance.

As the business climate continues to change, it is critical that we think beyond traditional safety management paradigms that limit leadership activities to detached “prescribe and allocate” roles. Successful organizations are demonstrating that active safety leadership is not only definable, it is also effective. Leaders who harness this knowledge stand to gain significant improvements in safety and at the same time build a foundation for other kinds of organizational excellence.



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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Everything in it's Shadow

In 5S there is a saying  "A place for everything and everything in it's place." 5S is a technique that results in a well-organized workplace complete with visual controls and order. 5S produces an environment that’s clean, uncluttered, safe and organized. People become empowered, engaged and spirited.

A shadow board is a device used in the straightening phase of 5S to organize tools and materials. It contains outlines of designated tools to show where they should be stored. Here is an example of the shadow boarding technique from FastCap.





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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Creating Good BHAG

Last, Friday in the Lean Quote I introduce a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”. Remember, a BHAG is different from traditional organizational goals and objectives in that they are way bigger. James Collins and Jerry Porras suggest that a good BHAG has four qualities:

Aligned. Properly set goals can be transformational if they’re tied closely to what is most important to the organization.
Audacious. BHAGs are a breed apart. You’re probably on to something if the first reaction to a BHAG is “impossible!” BHAGs can’t be achieved easily or quickly. They demand different thinking.
Articulate. A good BHAG is a clear target. And it’s real. It’s not in any way a fanciful statement disconnected from the business. Kennedy’s 1961 mission to “land on the moon by the end of the decade” needs no further detail.
Arduous. Easy goals don’t require innovation. A good BHAG does. It’s achievable, but only through different thinking, real struggle, and a dash of luck. If it’s truly impossible—as opposed to perceived as impossible—people will disengage from the process entirely.

And here’s how you create a good BHAG:

1. Conceptualize It
The first step is taking the time to think through and conceptualize a goal you can aim toward that will change your business and/or your life. Let go of constraints and let your imagination takes charge; your BHAG should be overly ambitious and seem unattainable. Here are the other criteria of a BHAG to keep in mind:

  • Minimum of a 10-year plan
  • Action-oriented
  • Innovative
  • Compelling and exciting
  • This is probably the most difficult part of creating a BHAG. It can take a long time (weeks, months, even years) to identify a goal that is important enough to you to qualify it as a BHAG.
 2. Test It
Now that you have your BHAG in mind, run it through a feasibility check to gauge if it’s a BHAG and really one that you can dedicate the next decade to achieving. Some questions you may want to ask yourself include:

  • Is it long-term?
  • Is it something people will understand if you share it?
  • Will it require you to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone?
  • Is it measurable and life changing?
  • Does it create momentum?
  • Does it excite and stimulate you?
3. Commit to It
Just like you do with any goal, you will need to commit to your BHAG and start forward progress immediately. You can break it down into smaller, measurable chunks, or mini-goals. And make sure you check-in on your progress regularly (I suggest monthly) to dedicate productive focus to your BHAG.

So basically, when you create your BHAG, don't get overly excited or egotistical. Instead, use your understanding of who you are and what you are capable of doing to create realistic, but challenging, goals. Remember to look into the distant future and always stay true to your organizations core beliefs, morals and principles.



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