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Friday, March 30, 2012

Lean Quote: Creating Culture Change

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.

"Culture is no more likely a target than the air we breathe. It is not something to target for change. Culture is an idea arising from experience. That is, our idea of culture of a place or organization is a result of what we experience there. In this way, a company's culture is a result of its management system. The premise of this book is that culture is critical, and to change it, you have to change your management system." — David Mann

This quote is from the book Creating a Lean Culture by David Mann.

Culture can be defined as the day-to-day experience of the ordinary worker. Leaders need to be mindful of their role in creating culture change. Here are seven ways to initiate a change in your management system, day by day:

Really Listen. Look at people when they talk. Give them your undivided attention. Ask follow-on questions during the conversation.

Don't waste time. If you keep employees or customers waiting you are saying to them "your time is not as important as mine"

Go to the Gemba. Go see for yourself at the place the work is done. If you allow a worker to use a machine that produces defects, you are in effect telling the worker their work does not matter.

Develop people. Encourage learning, teamwork and continuous improvement. Build knowledge in problem solving thinking and countermeasures.

Acknowledge the accomplishments of others. If things go well, give away the credit. If things go poorly, take the fall. This humble approach will ensure your team rallies behind you.

Temper authority. Don't use authority just because you have it. Encourage your people to make decisions, set their own goals, and take responsibility as often as possible.

Promote others often. Grooming talent is good for your organization and for you as a leader. Promote people around you, giving them opportunities to match or even surpass your success.

Your management system is the basis for what you do and how you do it. Adding these improvements to your management system will change your daily experience and therefore change your culture.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lean Roundup #34 – March, 2012

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

Masaak Imai  Remembers Taiichi Ohno – Masaak Imai, founder of Kaizen Institute, remembers the life and wisdom of Taiichi Ohno on what would be his 100th birthday.

A lean Leader Strengthens the Business By Developing People Through Coaching Process Improvements at the Gemba – Jeff Liker answers the question of what distinguishes a Lean leader by comparing to a traditional leader.

One Size Never Fits All – Bill Waddell talks about the next emerging frontier in lean is sales and marketing.

No Problem Is A Problem – Al Norval writes about the importance of creating an environment where it's OK to surface problems.

Managing Supply Chain Risk: What Drives Risk? - Milosz Majta explains 2 factors significantly impacting risk in today's supply chain: increasing supply chain complexity and decreasing access to information.

Lean, Bias, Impartiality and Justness – Jon Miller says the lean journey is the pursuit of systems ever more free of bias, impartial and just.

Hoshin Kanri – Dragan Bosnjak explains the concept and tool used for alignment and development of people.

Put On Your Listening Ears – Liz Guthridge shares some tips to help you improve your listening skills.

Visual Management: What's In It For Me? – Pete Abilla explains and shares the benefits of visual management.

Lean Leaders Make People Before They Make Parts – Michael Balle explains Lean leadership and the importance of developing people.

Respect For People, Shingo Edition – Dan Markovitz writes about the methodology Shigeo Shingo used to impart the philosophy of respect for people.

Experience The Pain To Drive Organizational Gain – Marci Reynolds advocates making key managers experience your organization's problems so they can drive change.

Manager vs Leader – Chrisy Burnett explains the differences between management focused and leadership focused leaders and what a role model is.

Respect For People Is Not Respect For Person, Just Ask Clint Eastwood – David Kasperzak advocates that respect is about teamwork and developing people not individuals.
What Is Your Line of Sight To Company Business Indicators? Tracey Richardson looks at a sequence of questions that can align us to that true north and ensure we are adding value.

What's the Single Biggest Obstacle to Continuous Improvement? – Pascal Dennis answers this common question by saying a lack of persistence.

Muda, Muri, and Mura: The Animated Adventures – Brad Schultz explains Muda, Muri, and Mura with an analogy of an animated cartoon.

Lean Listening – Mark Hamel builds on the 5 senses in terms of Lean and then focuses on listening strategies.

Everything Else I Know-About Lean... I Learned In 8th Grade Science -  Robert Martichenko, the author of Everything I Know about Lean I Learned in First Grade, follows up the story with how he came up with this new addition.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Challenges Facing the Manufacturing Industry

The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME), has an initiative called the“Revitalization of Manufacturing”. As part of this initiative, they are writing a whitepaper addressing three aspects of the industry: challenges facing manufacturing and North America; examples of what organizations are currently doing to ensure a better future; and how we can all prepare for and execute a sustainable industry.

In an effort to keep this initiative at the forefront and build awareness, they have created a series of whitepapers from the three sections listed above, and they will distribute one part each month (in March, April and May). The first part, Challenges Facing the Manufacturing Industry, is available.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing supports approximately 18.6 million jobs in the United States—about one in six private-sector jobs—and nearly 12 million Americans are hold manufacturing jobs. As a key driver of economic prosperity, it is essential that manufacturing jobs make their way back to North America. America faces four major challenges - globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation’s chronic deficits and its pattern of energy consumption.

The National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) Manufacturing Institute 2011 Skills Gap study states that 82 percent of manufacturers have a moderate or serious shortage of skilled production workers. Having a steady supply of highly skilled workers, scientists, researchers and engineers is seen as the top driver of the manufacturing competitiveness of nations and the standard of living of their people. 

The study states the hardest jobs to fill are those that have the biggest impact on performance. One of the reasons is the changing nature of manufacturing work is making it harder for talent to keep up. This illustrates the importance of utilizing Lean manufacturing to make our jobs easier.

Last month I wrote about the need for STEM careers in business. STEM represents the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM education encourages a curriculum that is driven by problem solving, discovery, exploratory learning, and student-centered development of ideas and solutions.

The manufacturing industry does face many challenges and our economic prosperity as a nation depends on us solving these challenges.  How are you addressing these challenges in your organization?  Share your thoughts on what we can do better.

Disclosure: I am on the Board of Directors for the Northeastern Region of AME.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Five Lean Lesson from a Hockey Coach on Saturday Morning

Many of you know this time a year I spend a lot of time at an ice rink coaching hockey. It is a sport I have played all my life and coaching provides an opportunity for my kids and others to have the same experience (hopefully). As a coach you can’t help but feel a sense of instilling good behaviors in your players. While you might be teaching specific skills and helping them understand the strategies of the game I think the opportunities to teach life lessons are the most important.

In my experience I liken this to the way a Lean Sensei (champion, mentor, teacher) coaches continuous improvement thinking. They don’t focus on the tools necessarily but rather the approach or method of problem solving. It is this that provides a valuable foundation of Lean thinking from which you can address any situation.

On a long drive back from a game as the season is winding down I got to thinking about the lessons I hope my players take with them through life. Many of these lessons are the same that I and others try to instill in the organizations we work with. So in no particular order here are five lessons that apply to sports and Lean:

1. Never give up. Sports have lots of highs and lows throughout the game. Perseverance is necessary to turn a bad situation into a good situation. When your team is behind never give up or you will be defeated. Lots of teams come from behind to win.
Lean also needs perseverance to get you through the difficult bumps in the road along the way to improvement.

2. Practice. Practice. Practice. All sports teams practice in order to improve. The key to their practices is to focus on basic skills for game situations. This high speed sport is much about reading and reacting so you must practice with intensity if you want to play with intensity.
In your organization you may not necessarily call it practice but you certainly experiment. This experimentation is what prepares us to solve more and more complex problems.

3. The power of teamwork. Hockey is not an individual sport it requires every member of the team to play their part to win. It also requires everyone to be at their best. Open communication and chemistry are an essential part of teamwork.
We all have roles in our organizations but it is the power of teamwork that makes our endeavors successful. It takes everyone working together on a common goal to be successful in Lean.

4. The value of hard work and sacrifice. Undoubtedly it takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice along the way to get to the elite levels of the game. But this makes winning so much sweeter in the end.
Lean takes lots of hard work as well but it makes wins you get much more pleasurable. It is this hard work that creates customer value and makes your organization competitive in the market place.

5. Winning requires a positive attitude. There are a lot of things out of our control and adversity is part of the challenge but how we react is up to us. The right attitude can keep you moving forward. Never dwell on what you did wrong but what you need to do better for the next game.
Lean requires a willingness to try something new to improve our workplace. Fix what bugs us. Make work easier.

I am reminded of a great quote from Mark Messier at the 2007 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony:

"For all of us that have children in minor hockey, it's not about becoming a professional athlete, it's about the journey and about what you learn along the way and the life lessons that you get from playing an incredible game."

Even if you’re not a hockey fan like me, I hope you’re able to take some of these life lessons from ice hockey and apply them to your experiences. I think these are lessons we can all use especially in a continuous improvement environment. What do you think?

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Lean Quote: Leadership is All About People

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.

"Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It is not about plans. It is not about strategies. It is all about people--motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centered." — Colin Powell

When you hear the word “leadership” what comes to mind? There are numerous definitions of leadership. For me leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen. Effective leadership comes down to people. It is about the ability to successfully engage and maximize all human resources for the attainment that vision.

In keeping with this idea that leadership is about people, there are 6 qualities of leadership starting with the letter P:

Principles - You have to have a moral compass as a leader. It starts with basic beliefs and values. It's important to make clear to the people in the organization what those are, so you're transparent. They have to be consistent with the values of the organization, or there will be a problem.

Perspective - That's an ability to dream, visioning that leads to strategies. It starts with a broader view of the world you live in. It's about value to the consumer.

Passion – It is not style. There are a lot of different styles -- charismatic, quiet, confident. But it all comes down to this motivating sense of commitment to what you do. Vince Lombardi said “the difference between success and failure is energy … fired with enthusiasm.”

Perseverance - That's sticking with it through the good times and the bad times -- mostly the bad. It means picking yourself up every day to go after it.

Plan – It's great that you have a dream and a vision but how are you getting there? If people see that you have a passionate purpose but get the feeling that there's now way you'll get there, how likely are they to buy into it? Not very to say the least. Build a plan and use it.

Partnerships - Seek co-operative working relationships both internally between functions and externally with suppliers and customers. Seek to use teams, not individuals. Seek to build trust. Create win-win solutions.

While there are people who seem to be naturally endowed with more leadership abilities than others, I believe that people can learn to become leaders by concentrating on improving these particular leadership skills.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Building Your Change Muscle

Change is hard; even if you want to change. If you don’t think so try changing the way you fold your arms. Many times, the actual change is not the real problem; instead, we feel frustrated when we can’t find meaning in our new situation. Impatience and a longing for certainty also get in the way of the natural process of change. Some people are better at it than others because they’ve learned some simple strategies for changing, but also because they’ve built up their change muscle.

What’s a change muscle? It’s the muscle we use for creating changes in our lives, and like our physical muscles, it is weak if you haven’t trained it. Our change muscle is there to help us adapt; we all have this ability.

Like any muscle, the change muscle is strengthened through consistent use. Every time you are faced with a change and move through it, you are activating this part of yourself. The principles for growing your change muscle are similar to growing regular muscles. Here are 5 ways to improve your ability to deal with change using the exercising of muscle analogy:

Start small. If you try to lift too much weight at first, you’ll have bad form and could injure yourself and therefore won’t last long. But if you start small (or lighter weights), you can learn how to lift and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. The change muscle is the same: start with one small change at first. You may want to do more, but if you do more, you’re much more likely to fail in the long run.

Train regularly. Some people will go to the gym for a week, then stop, then start again in a few months. This is a waste of time, and no progress will be seen. You have to do it regularly to see progress. Same with the change muscle: do it daily, make it routine. You’ll get stronger and stronger with regular training. Don’t start big, then fail after 1-2 weeks, then start again later. Regular repetition is the key.

Increase load gradually. If you don’t increase the weights, you don’t get stronger. But if you increase too much, you could get injured. With your change muscle, increase your daily training each week building on what you have learned from the previous days and weeks. You’ll be amazed at how strong your change muscle gets with gradual progressive loading.

Rest. Most people don’t understand the importance of rest when it comes to training. We train, then rest, and we grow. If we don’t rest, we hurt our progress. Growing the change muscle is the same. Resting is like reflection, where you learn as you do. Don’t overload yourself this hurts learning and progress. Make one change, and let yourself stick to your regular routine. This forms a new habit.

Fuel the growth. Aside from rest, fuel is one of the most overlooked aspects of muscle growth. You need sufficient calories for growth, otherwise all the training in the world won’t get you anywhere. So what fuels the growth of the change muscle? Motivation. Find as many ways to motivate yourself as possible: make the change enjoyable, don’t go it alone, create rewards, celebrate small victories, create a chart to see your progress, etc. Motivation is the fuel for growing your change muscle.

Like real muscle your change muscle has memory. You’ll need to learn how to learn from your experience in a way that allows you to tackle the next challenge. Muscle memory makes the process familiar and systematic but you must develop that muscle properly for it to be ready for the challenge.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Facebook’s New Timeline and Dealing With Change

Facebook will soon start requiring people to switch to a new profile format known as Timeline. Timeline is essentially a scrapbook of your whole life on Facebook. It's the most radical change in the history of the site. This news has been greeted with intense emotion in the blogosphere.

Changing the place we call home resonates deeply. Timeline makes us uneasy because we will now be doing openly what we have always done unconsciously. Living in the moment, we do not have the perspective that Timeline offers.

I for one am not too excited about this change. Even as a change agent I am not prepared for the inevitable. This has forced me to think about how we deal with change.

Change is one of the most difficult things for humans to readily accept. Anyone who has worked in or led an organization's transformation understands change is not easy. We are so ingrained in the way that we do things that to do it a new way, or to stop doing something causes us to feel uncomfortable. We equate uncomfortable with wrong, instead of different, and there's a tendency to go back to what was comfortable.

People tend to resist change naturally. There are four common reasons people resist change:

It's unknown –One of life's greatest fears is the unknown. It causes us to resist those things for which we cannot easily discern an outcome.

It's challenging – Change stretches us out of our comfort zone. Some of us like to be stretched more than other people do.

It's uncertain – When we change, we are often introducing untested waters. We prefer certainty.

It's unpopular – The resistance to change is universal. Change invites animosity and tension.

However, our fears of change can be managed with the following suggestions:

Suggestion 1: Keep people informed. Communicate as much as you know about what is happening as a result of the change. One of the major reasons people resist change is fear of the unknown. If you communicate and keep them informed, you put this fear to rest.

Suggestion 2: Answer the "What's in it for Me?" question. This suggestion is similar to Suggestion 1. Generally people will accept change when they see a personal benefit. . Assist people in identifying what the change will do for them.

Suggestion 3: Empower people to become part of the change. There are several reasons people resist change, one of which is fear. Help people identify how the change will influence them, benefit them, and improve their present situations.

Suggestion 4: Help people assimilate to the change. Once people begin to experience change, help them assimilate to it by reinforcing the personal benefits they're gaining.

All new things stir emotion, as the most adventurous of us hold tightly to our moorings. While we wait to see how significant the impact of Timeline really is, we are wondering what to hope for. In a time of anxiety, it can be comforting to survey the impact of small changes. One thing, for sure, that is contributing to our unease about Timeline: it would have been nice to be asked.

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