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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lean Roundup #32 – January, 2012

A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of January, 2012.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

The Missing Link in Lean Deployment – Gregg Stocker says the missing link in Lean deployment is organization leadership DNA from Deming's profound system of knowledge.

Standard Work is Like Food - Taste Before Seasoning – Mark Hamel talks about the need to improve and implement standard work but both need tried and improved.

How To Trick Yourself Into Thinking You Are Doing Lean (And to Trick Others At the Same Time) – Jamie Flinchbaugh says se sometimes confuse using the tool, or filling out the form, or making a list, with actual analysis and thought.

5S First? – Bruce Hamilton says "True North" is the vision of the ideal and we should always do what we should do, not what we can do.

Should Lean Start With 5s? or Somewhere Else? – Jamie Flinchbaugh continues Bruce Hamilton's thoughts or where to start Lean implementation suggesting a roadmap insteaf of a recipe.

The 3P's of  Kaizen – Tom Southworth suggests using the 3 P's - purpose, plan, people – to improve kaizen activity.

What is- Lean - Minimize or Maximize? – Glenn Whitfield explains that Lean is not about more or less but rather increasing value through continuous improvement with respect for people.

Jidoka- The Forgotten Pillar – Al Norval explain the 2nd pillar jidoka which combined with JIT can provides value to customers.

To Change the Game, Ignore Those Willing To Play – David Kasprzak says that we need to focus on those that encourage status quo for the most reward.

Finding Waste at the Stadium – Chad Walters explains the 8 wastes in sports and how he is using Lean Thinking to improve this industry.

We Don't Know – Mike Wroblewski shares some insightful reflections on why we must keep improving, learning, and growing.

How to Translate Waste to Cost - My 1 Second Lesson! – Tracey Richardson explains the importance of everyone saving just one second.

Lean-led Design: Rules of the Road - Teresa Carpenter explains Lean led design in healthcare with Steven Spear's "Four Rules-in-Use."

Evaluating Executive Performance – Art Smalley shares some thoughts on how executive performance may be evaluated by looking at the lasting impact the leader leaves.

When You Can See It You Can Manage It – Dan Markovitz shares a visual system that helps manage team member's work load.

Are Your Operations Success Levers Defined? 6 Steps to Get You Started – Marci Reynolds defines the right levers to make your operations successful.

ThedaCare's "Business Performance System" - and a 10% Target – Mark Graban writes about ThedaCare's lean system and their desire for 10% improvement.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Daily Lean Tips Edition #26

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 #376 – Create a culture that values direct observation.

Identify some “champions” to role model the importance of observation, teach others to do it well, and mentor others in the process. A system-wide change regarding the culture of observation can be both challenging and intimidating.

Lean Tip #377 – Build meaningful feedback into the direct observation process.

Train your staff to provide effective feedback. Particular emphasis should be placed on giving clear, timely, specific, behaviorally-based constructive feedback that focuses on a behavior that the learner has the capacity to change.

Lean Tip #378 - Require action planning after each direct observation.

After observation, the observer and learner should agree upon an action plan for the learner. An action plan that characterizes steps the learner can take to improve is crucial to the effectiveness of feedback.

Lean Tip #379 - It’s the Discussion That Counts.

The main value to be found in the observation process is actually in the discussion which takes place, not just in the observing or the paperwork (although these are both vital to the overall process). By engaging in a discussion about the process, we are not only addressing any specific issues that were observed and giving the person feedback, but we are also making a habit of thinking and talking about observation.

Lean Tip #380 - Give Praise Where It’s Due.

Make sure in your observations, that you are also looking to catch people doing the right thing. Give praise or positive feedback when you see things being done correctly and instances where people have gone beyond the procedure with ideas they’ve thought of themselves.

Lean Tip #381 - Active listening requires being observant in the signals.

Effective Active Listening requires skill in providing feedback and being observant of verbal and non-verbal signals.

• Good eye contact
• Facial expressions
• Body Language
• Silence

• “I’m listening” cues
• Validating Statements
• Statements of Support
• Reflection/Mirroring Statements

Lean Tip #382 - Good communication must be H.O.T.

I’ve been thinking a lot about employee communication lately. I’ve been thinking about what makes for good, effective communication and how it can be a powerful force within any organization. Good communication must be H.O.T.

H.O.T. stands for honest, open, and two-way.

Lean Tip #383 - Make your visualizations appealing to the eye.

While this might seem trivial, an aesthetically pleasing graphic or report will attract more attention and will generally be better understood. Limit the amount of text used for visual communications. Use key words to highlight important information. Do not use paragraphs or lengthy sentences as they weaken the message being conveyed and bore the audience.

Lean Tip #384 – Make visuals simple to understand.

Remember the old KISS method? Keep it simple: Make the communication easy and clear by avoiding unnecessary elements. The aim should be to communicate the data with as little visual "noise" as possible. However, take care not to go too far and remove meaning.

Lean Tip #385 – Prioritize communication for key messages.

It may be easy for you to know what information you need and what you can ignore. But for your workers, it may be hard to judge what’s really important and what’s extraneous. Prioritize for your workforce by aiming only to communicate key messages. This will help ensure that you’re not piling too much information on your team.

Lean Tip #386 - Communicate Regularly and Timely.

Schedule regular communication to your employees, so they can learn to expect how they will receive their information. Convey messages in a timely manner to stop the rumors before they start.

Lean Tip #387 - Communicate honestly.

Be straightforward and don’t be too entrenched in delivering the "party line", which represents management’s sometimes overly rosy view of a situation. The honesty of your communication determines the character of the company and its ethics in the minds of employees.

Lean Tip #388 - Invite questions.

Two way communications is important. Wise managers realize that they won’t have all the answers to employee questions. "I don’t know at this point" is an acceptable response to an employee question, as is "Let me check into that and get back to you." The key here, of course, is following through. If you say you’ll get back to the employee with more information, do it!

Lean Tip #389 - Communicate Clear Goals and Expectations.

Each employee needs to understand what is expected of them. They also need to know how those expectations are going to be evaluated. Without this information how can management demand results? Don’t assume they know. Involve the employee in setting the goals to ensure they are comfortable with meeting the challenges.

Lean Tip #390 - Take Time to Build Relationships.

When you understand your employees’ individual work styles, preferences and needs, you can gain their trust. You can motivate them to achieve greater productivity, more effective teamwork and higher morale. When someone joins your work team, learn about their special skills and talents. Find out about their learning style and the type of feedback they appreciate. Ask them about their previous successes and how they work best with others.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Lean Quote: The Gift of A Good Book

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 book is a gift you can open again and again." — Garrison Keillor

It can be extremely easy to fall into the trap of letting life get in the way of your learning. In order to be at your best and stay at your best, you must never stop learning. Are you constantly learning new things? How many educational courses do you partake in every year? How many books a year do you read?

Reading is vital to maintaining a better quality of life. If someone has spent years or even decades packing all of their knowledge into a book, I am able to absorb all of their knowledge in a few hours by reading their book. If you learn even one idea, you can change your entire life.

The best thing about reading books is that all the advice is there for you to take or leave at your own discretion. This makes it easier for you to take action on what you are learning from the books because you can make the knowledge relatable to your situation.

A good book is also a good tool for your learning. Learning through books can establish a strong foundation for continuous improvement in you. Reading books will help you to self-evaluate, self-motivate and self-critique yourself better than any other external party can.

Reading is so important and in order to be a leader or a person of influence, constantly learning is vital to your success. No leader in history ever became one simply because he/she was a born leader. Leadership is not a talent, but a discipline that is forged through years of consistent work on weaknesses and development of strengths. One of the best ways to do this is by reading.

I always have a list of books on my waiting list to read and go through. Many of those I have reviewed on this site. I believe reading is essential for all of us and there is no better gift than knowledge.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review: A Factory of One

Most people who seek to improve their personal productivity are left with a bunch of anecdotes and tools. They fail to understand how to make it all work. What they don’t realize is they lack a system of improvement to make their process better. Now there is a new book that does just that. 

Daniel Markovitz authored A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance which describes how you can foster a new mindset and improve your performance by applying Lean methods to your work. Dan is the president of TimeBack Management, faculty member at the Lean Enterprise Institute, regularly teaches at the Stanford University Continuing Studies Program, and frequent blogger.

This book explores in detail a theme that I’ve writing about in the past on this blog: how to apply lean concepts and tools to individual work in order to improve performance, reduce waste, and deliver more customer value. In my view, we too often focus on the entire value stream or a large process within that value stream, and ignore the way people work within that value stream.

The same Lean principles that have improved efficiencies on the factory floor can be just as powerful—in fact, far more so—in helping individuals boost personal performance. Dan translates powerful Lean tools such as visual management, flow, pull, 5S, and kaizen to your daily work, revealing how they can help to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and link you ever more closely to customer value.

This book not only provides the tools, but also teaches you how to find the root causes underlying your inefficiencies so you can eliminate them permanently. It will enable you to immediately improve personal productivity while developing the skills needed for continuous improvement.

Dan challenges you to think more about your own process. He also includes real-world examples that illustrate how these principles have been successfully applied across a range of industries. Providing the perfect mix of what-to-do with why-to-do it, the text details a step-by-step approach to applying Lean principles to your work.

Each chapter ends with simple action steps to get you implementing improvement immediately. This learning and doing will get your removing waste and improving the process by which your work is performed. This practice enables a foundation of excellence where you can imagine your workdays filled with value and progress.

Dan writes this 145 page book with wit and passion which is so refreshing. If you want to be entertained and learn a few things about applying Lean thinking to your work then I highly recommend you read A Factory of One.

You can read much more about the book and download a free chapter on the book’s website, www.afactoryofone.com

Disclosure: Dan and I discussed several stories while he was writing this book, conversations I thoroughly enjoyed. He provided a copy of the book for my review.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Very Best of 5S - Benchmarking Report

Last summer A Lean Journey Blog co-sponsored with 5S Supply a 5S benchmarking survey. Now I am happy to share with you the 5S benchmarking report - "The Very Best of 5S." This free 30 page eBook is the full summary of a detailed benchmarking survey that 5S Supply sponsored in 2011. See what others are doing, good or bad, when it comes to setting up, implementing and sustaining a world-class 5S system. Some results will confer what you already know and others will surprise you.
This manuscript is an in-depth report on 5S Workplace Organization and Standardization. It sheds light on how organizations have successfully created a 5S system or the obstacles and solutions they used to overcome them.

Of those surveyed, the overall rank of the effectiveness of their 5S system is a 3 on a scale of 1-5 (1=low, 5=high). This is a clear indication that there is much room for improvement. There are many suggestions and comments presented here to help coach and guide organizations as they improve their 5S systems. The level of cooperation for 5S initiatives is initially low but increases with time with the most resistance coming from the supervisor level. Contrary to this is that upper management is generally supportive of a 5S system, but the top reasons for obstacles for implementation are “lack of management support” and “not enough time.” Another finding is that the amount of training spent on 5S training is relatively low (typically two hours or less). It seems that organizations have a hard time quantifying benefits from 5S (other than 5S Audits). Companies that did calculate the financial benefits proved that the return on investment far exceeds the cost of training, supplies and manpower. The lack of reward & recognition and the ability to engrain 5S into the organization’s culture is another impediment that must be overcome. Over 50 “best practices” are shared and many suggestions on how to properly create a 5S system or improve your current one are included.

The Best of 5S from 5S Supply on Vimeo.

5S Supply is offering a free webinar at the end of the month based on the report - “The Very Best of 5S.” Want to see how your 5S System stacks up against others or would you like to learn a few Best Practices? Then, this free webinar is for you! This webinar will be a condense review (20 minute format) of the 5S Benchmarking Survey sponsored by 5S Supply. 

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Monday, January 23, 2012

10 Low Cost Ways to Learn Lean

Sometimes I am asked how I learned Lean either from those who want to do the same or by those who want to clarify my experience. I was fortunate to have studied with a Toyota Sensei for a number of years. For anyone who has experienced this kind of teaching it truly is a unique opportunity for learning. I also have a number of Lean certifications for those who like that sort of thing. I don’t want to get into that debate in this article but there is place for certification as part of overall learning.

I thought what I would do is to share 10 low cost ways that you can go about learning more about Lean thinking.

1. Read books. There is an unlimited supply of highly rated books available to help you succeed. I have highlighted a number of notable books on this site. Start your collection today.
2. Company library. Many companies have their own libraries and training that are available for the asking. You could even hold a lunch and learn session where a group gets together to review a book that the group is reading collectively.
3. Go online. Who hasn’t Googled to learn more on a topic? A simple online search will reveal a wide range of online webinars and training courses, many of them free or low-cost. This can be a great way for you to learn at your own pace and when it’s convenient for your schedule.
4. Join a professional association. Industry associations and trade organizations offer a variety of training options, including conferences, seminars, certifications and more. There may be a cost associated with some of this training, and access to some of the resources may require membership. As many of you know I am the VP of Programs for the Northeast Region of AME where I am responsible for these learning workshops.
5. Listen to podcasts. Podcasts are becoming increasingly media savvy learners. They often include product information or interviews with experts in a particular field and tend to cover fairly narrow topics.
6. Read blogs. Online publishers are another great source for information to enhance your skills. I prefer my own blog but I continue to learn some much from other bloggers which I highlight monthly.
7. Attend a webinar. Webinars are another area of increasing popularity for learners due to the flexibility of scheduling and the ease of attendance. Jeff Hajek and I have been offering webinars for about a year now. If you missed any you can see them replayed here.
8. Go to a conference. By attending conferences, trade shows, and workshops you can find quality teachings. Guest speakers entertain, educate and inspire their audiences through motivational and informational presentations. I had a recent talk about Lean Product Development that you may remember.
9. Network. Local groups that share your interest in a particular topic, offer a great forum to learn and share information for little or no cost. Special interest groups within these groups can offer further topic specialization and can be a tremendous way to learn or be mentored. I am an active participant in AME’s northeast region network as well as the Western Mass Lean Network.
10. Learn by doing. Human beings can definitely learn by hearing, reading, watching, seeing, and analyzing…but when it comes to getting results you simply cannot learn better than to learn by DOING. You learn best by doing.

Take advantage of as many of these training approaches as you can, and you will well on your way to learning Lean thinking. Staying current with the newest knowledge and ideas, and acquiring the skills to support it, is a necessity for lifelong learning. Take an hour each day to learn how to be more productive and successful by learning a new skill and applying this new expertise in your business.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Lean Quote: Leaders Learn From Their Mistakes

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.

"Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom." — Phyllis Therous

Mistakes are unavoidable in life and leaders certainly make their share of them. Any time you look to break new ground or technologies or whatever it is you are leading, you open up many new avenues for mistakes and they are inevitable with change. You can’t have one without the other and so learning to use mistakes well is an important leadership trait.

Leaders must also be a leader in this area and actually admit your own mistakes. Admit when you were wrong, and emphasize what you have learned from it and what your next steps are work around that mishap. If you encourage and set the example of owning up to mistakes quickly and working past them, you can quickly inspire your followers to do the same and look at the value of the mistakes instead of hiding from them.

Learning from mistakes clearly needs some analysis of the mistake itself to gain value from it. Here are a few steps to use to analyze a mistake quickly and efficiently:

  1. Accept that it happened and can’t be changed.
  2. Know there is always something to learn from it.
  3. Look to understand it and the factors that caused it.
  4. How could you have recognized the mistake earlier?
  5. How can you avoid the mistake next time?
  6. Are there similar things that might have a related mistake to avoid?
  7. What has changed now to ensure that mistake doesn’t reoccur?
  8. Who else should know about this and learn from it?

When you focus on the improvements and lessons learned from a mistake you reinforce the ability to make mistakes part of the process and something that is accepted as long as it improves things. There is no value in worrying about the mistake or dwelling on it after it is done. So, move on!

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