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Monday, April 30, 2012

Lean Roundup #35 – April, 2012

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

Shingo's Network – Bruce Hamilton explains Shingo's concept of production as a network of process and operation.

Commitment – Joe Wilson says if you want to start a Lean transformation you need to start with commitment not 5s.

Addressing Problems With Countermeasures Rather Than Solutions – Gregg Stocker explains the difference of solving problems with countermeasures instead of solutions.

Don't Just Change the Process if People Aren't Following the Existing One – Jamie Flinchbaugh isn't advocating not to improve the process but rather saying understanding the current process is necessary to make it better.

Lean and Good are Not Synonyms – Bill Waddell explains that Lean is more about profits and customer satisfaction and less about cost savings, waste, and culture.

The Secrets of Successful Employee Training...Do or Die! – Colin Willis says that training should look like in a Lean environment and be a learning environment.

It's all in how you look at it - current state to ideal state – David Kasprzak says your appetite for improvement is based on your perspective of reality.

Go To Where They Are At – Matt Wrye says we have to remember to go to where people are at mentally and emotionally with the change.

6 Big Data Analysis Mistakes That Hinder Lean Efforts – Jeff Hajek shares the biggest traps people fall into when they try to interpret their data.

Be Lean, Not L.A.M.E. – Mark Graban shares his thoughts on Lean by contrasting from those efforts he calls L.A.M.E. (Lean as Misguidedly Executed).

Lean is Patient – Christina Kach explains Lean by saying what it is not.

The Importance of the Knowledge Distillery – Kevin Meyer writes about the importance of a learning organization especially to those in critical leadership roles.

Where is the blueprint for a manager who wants to create learning organization? – Michael Balle explains a learning organization and says learning requires a determination to learn.

Performance Organizations – Art Smalley answers why is there such a resistance to creating learning organizations and why are leaders letting the future deteriorate without doing anything about it.

Employee Suggestion Program: How to Create an Idea Submission Form – Pete Abilla shares how to capture employee ideas and an example of a suggestion card.

What Does 3P Stand For? – Bruce Hamilton explains that 3P goes beyond Production Preparation Process but like Lean thinking is more about People, Passion, and Principle.

Show us your time, pain and attention; 7 action to take – Liz Guthridge shares some of the make or break actions of senior leadership sponsorship.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Lean Quote: Empowerment Leads to Success

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.

"An empowered organization is one in which individuals have the knowledge, skill, desire, and opportunity to personally succeed in a way that leads to collective organizational success." — Stephen R. Covey

An empowered workforce is something that is highly desirable in an improvement culture. Unfortunately, just because we want it, it doesn't make it so, as this comic highlights.

Leaders of the organization must create the conditions for empowerment. Here are 10 ways to be better at empowerment:

Be clear in your communication. When you express goals or explain projects, be sure the employees really understand what you are asking for. If the goals are unclear then the employees are not sure what they are being asked to do.

Eliminate barriers, restrictions and layers of protocol. The more steps, individuals, policies and departments employees have to work through to get results, the more frustrating and disempowering things actually are. Use cross-training, multi-department teams and projects, and trainings to help break down the boundaries and barriers that may exist between employees and departments.

Allow employees to suggest better ways of getting their jobs done. Ask for employee suggestions for other ways of getting the task or project accomplished. Listen and be willing to really hear the employees' comments. Employees hate to have no input and be told exactly how to perform their jobs, leaving no creativity.

Show you have trust in your employees. Allow them to make mistakes as a form of learning. Show that it is really OK to make mistakes. Trust that people have the right intentions and will make the right decisions, even if they are different than your own. Let them know you really support their decisions.

Encourage and reward improvement and innovation. Employees may be afraid to offer insight and new ways of doing things because the company culture doesn't support them. If you really want to empower employees, you'll need to create a company culture that encourages and rewards innovation. You may start by asking individuals to look for ways to improve efficiency, output, safety, etc. in the tasks they perform every day.

Listen. Listen. Listen. Do you do most of the talking? Be open to communication and ask your employees questions. They can demonstrate what they know and grow in the process.

Share leadership's vision. Help people feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves or their job by sharing your company's overall vision. Tell your employees the most important goals for your organization and let them know of the progress towards those goals

Allow employees to actively participate in team and company goals. Look for every opportunity to include employees at every level of the organization, in being active participants. Employees can't be involved with one-way directives.

Be a coach. The best way to empower employees is not to manage them. Coach them to success. This is a process of developing their skills and providing them specific feedback to meet high standards. Employees want to be on the same team with their bosses. Be their coach and lead the team to success!

Communication. The key to empowerment is communication. Give every employee equal and direct access to information. Many companies have developed a trickle-down style of communication that alienates those employees who may not be "in the loop." The more informed employees are and the more communication is open, honest, direct and complete, the more likely employees are to feel empowered and connected to the daily operations and overall goals of their company.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If you are a manager, then think of yourself as a queue

The role of management should be an important one for organizations. Management can be defined as the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, sometimes management in not the business leader it should be but rather the bottleneck.

In Bob Emiliani’s recent newsletter he explores the notion of managers as queues:

The method that managers normally use to process information is batch-and-queue. As a result, managers often delay taking action or making decisions. Sometimes the delays are necessary and legitimate, but most are not. Because of batch-and-queue information processing, managers can inadvertently harm efforts by people at lower levels to improve material and information to flow. While we have many Lean tools to improve the technical aspects of material and information flow, we have only education and training to help managers' desire and ability to improve flow in the work processes that they own.
In some cases, the manager even intentionally develops a batch process to avoid interruptions. Managers should not have to review everything their team does. Management should not be synonymous with "command and control.”
Everyone would quickly realize that the job of the manager is not "to handle" things (which implies immediately, or nearly so), but instead to delay things and to make people wait. Few managers would think of themselves as queues and would likely justify delays in action or decision-making. Regardless, this is a big problem.
So if managers recognize this approach as ineffective why are there still queues:
Why do managers delay things and make people wait? It is because managers are human, which means we are all are subject to the following:

  • Faulty assumptions
  • Illogical thinking
  • Decision-making traps
  • Overconfidence
  • Mistaking beliefs for facts
  • Uncertainty
  • Distractions (organizational politics)
  • Being inflexible
  • Status quo oriented
  • Making or repeating mistakes
The role of a manager like that of a Lean process should be about creating flow and empowering employees. The flow of information enables continuous improvement by applying the PDCA cycle.
This is indeed what some leaders do when they re-orient themselves from command-and-control to servant leadership. Lean leaders, of course, develop awareness of the many ways they can inhibit flow through participation in kaizen. Not being status quo oriented they seek to improve themselves and their managerial capabilities in ways that are consistent with Lean principles and practices.
Managers should systematically be identifying and reducing bottlenecks in their processes. Some fail to notice they may be the source of problems. Managers can set a good example by starting improvement with themselves and how they approach managing.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In a Strong Safety Culture, Safety is Everyone’s Job

Creating a safety culture takes time. In a strong safety culture, everyone feels responsible for safety and pursues it on a daily basis. Safety should part of everything we do. It is everyone’s job, every day. In fact, nothing is so urgent or important that we cannot do it safely.

Integrating safety into our daily lives reduces risk of injury and other losses. In offices, a safety focus helps us avoid ergonomic injuries or slips and falls. It also teaches us things like how to safely evacuate a building during an emergency. In manufacturing operations there are engineering controls, procedures and safeguards to ensure a safe working environment. Embedding safety into our culture also ensures that the products we make are safe for our customers.

Safety is part of continual improvement and requires participation by everyone. If you observe a situation or activity that is dangerous, it is your job to take direct action to ensure the safety of your colleagues. Attention to safety is the kind of behavior businesses need to help fuel success and, at the same time, safeguard their business.

A company with a strong safety culture typically experiences few at-risk behaviors, consequently they also experience low accident rates, low turn-over, low absenteeism, and high productivity. They are usually companies who are extremely successful by excelling in all aspects of business and excellence.

Adhering to the principles of safety helps protect a business’s most important assets—its people. Employer and employee commitment are hallmarks of a true safety culture where safety is an integral part of daily operations. Mutual commitment is the basis for mutual respect.

How do you approach safety? And who’s job is it?

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Daily Lean Tips Edition #30

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 #436 - Management must go to the Gemba to practice Lean management.

Go see for yourself at the place the work is done.
Look at the process and talk with the people.
Ask these three simple questions:
• What is the process?
• How can you tell it is working?
• What are you doing to improve it (if it is working)?
Teaches us to see in new ways what we have failed to see before.

Lean Tip #437 – Go For Many Small Wins, Rather Than The Occasional Big Win

Small wins keep up the enthusiasm, and certainly add up.
Embed your improvements for lasting change.
Make this “The way we do things around here.”
Management needs to continually recognize small wins.

Lean Tip #438 – Stop Fighting Fires, Think Proactively

Problems (fires) can be avoided and the resulting fire fighting by trying these proactive steps:
• Stop rewarding fire fighting and start recognizing fire preventing.
• Create a corrective and preventative action process based on root cause analysis.
• Conduct follow-ups.
• Share lessons learned.

Lean Tip #439 - Map Your Value Stream

Mapping your processes will help you understand the actual condition.
• The actual place or location in which a process occurs
• The actual employees working in that location
• The actual process in that location
A Target is not the same as a Target Condition

Lean Tip #440 – Use a charter to establish the framework of the kaizen.

A charter determines what the problem statement is, relevant background information, time frame, team members, and some estimation of the resources involve.
You must determine how you will measure the success of this kaizen so you know if your countermeasures are effective.

Lean Tip #441 - Picking the team members should be an important part of planning the kaizen.

The team members on the kaizen are the brain power and manpower behind the improvement.
Picking the team members should be an important part of planning the kaizen.
You need to consider people's skill sets, expertise or knowledge, individuals within and outside the process, and who will provide the learning.

Lean Tip #442 - Perfection is elusive.

If you try to achieve perfection you may well be at the kaizen a very long time.
If you can accomplish 80% of what you set out to and meet the goals of the charter then call it complete. You will be back to improve from this new state again.
Failure to follow through on these can undermine the team's efforts.

Lean Tip #443 – Ensure Non-Participants Have Visibility To Kaizen

Getting the buy in from those who are not participating on the team is important for sustaining the improvement.
For those who are not involved we need to make them aware of the improvements the team is making.
If you don't they will naturally resist the improvement.

Lean Tip #444 – Pick a Winning Team for Improvement

Here are a couple of things to consider when picking team members:
• Balance of "hard" and "soft" skills
• Best experience possible
• Coverage of the knowledge areas needed
• Willingness to join, available
• Leadership / Management skills
• Maturity to take responsibility
• Follows through on commitments
• Good listening skills
• Willing to actively participate
• Can give and take feedback
• Can communicate clearly

Lean Tip #445 – Great Groups Need Great Leaders

Every great group has a strong and visionary leader. Not simply an ambition to succeed but vision that inspires the team to work as if the fate of civilization rested on their completing their project.

Lean Tip #446 - Focus on Behaviors, Not Results

Performance has a random pattern to it.
Rewards and reprimands don’t change results short term.
Work on changing behaviors and skills.

Lean Tip #447 - Effective Meetings Are a Necessity

Create an agenda and stick to it.
Establish a meeting code of conduct.
Everyone’s idea will be heard.
Use the 3 Knock Rule and a “Parking Lot” for out of scope ideas.

Lean Tip #448 - Improvement Starts and Ends with Communication

It is crucial to be able to communicate openly and honestly about ideas, recommendations and concerns with other team members.
It is just as important to be able to listen attentively and respond objectively with helpful feedback.

Lean Tip #449 - Give people autonomy.

Give people autonomy.
• Match skills to risk.
Doesn’t apply to negligence.
People learn best in ‘sink or swim’ situations.
• Leaders should act as lifeguards.
Teams should not fear failure.

Lean Tip #450 - Get People the Right Skills to Succeed

Performance requires many factors therefore we must supply minimum skills to meet basic job requirements. Enhancements of skills lead to exceptional performance. Skill building requires resources and a plan.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Lean Quote: Teach Problem Solving As They Occur

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 best time to train workers is when an error is first detected. It also is the best time to solve a problem." — Dr. Ryuji Fukuda, VP of Production at Sumitomo Electric

When do you train your personnel in problem solving? How do you train them in problem solving? Dr. Ryuji Fukuda, VP of Production at Sumitomo Electrics says "The best time to train workers is when an error is first detected. It also is the best time to solve a problem." He refers to this activity as On-Error-Training (OET).

The following five rules are necessary to make OET work successfully in your shop.

Self Rule – The responsibility of finding the root cause of the problem must be from the worker who first detects the problem. They must stop the line and get their coworkers to help.

Quickly Rule – It is important to solve the problem immediately when the information is right at hand.

Actually Rule – You must replay the process that transpired before the defect occurred and try to re-create the defect. Management must challenge and empower the worker who detected the problem to take the prime role of problem solving in order to learn.

Support Rule – Everyone must stop working and support the primary problem solver in the process of finding the root cause and determining appropriate countermeasures.

Don’t Speak Rule – Management (supervisors and managers) must not come up with all the answers. Allow the discoverer and coworkers the time to discuss the problem and a chance to solve it. If they get stuck then management can offer suggestions.

This simple process will help you reduce quality defects, empower your work force, and create a learning organization. It can only be effective if people are allowed to stop line and eliminate the root cause of the defect. In the long run you will be much better off resolving issues as they occur.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Gemba Walks: Go See, Ask Why, Show Respect, and Follow Up

My friend and blogger Tom Southworth recently delivered a short presentation on Gemba Walks.  Tom presented this lesson as part of CONNSTEP's "10 Minutes: 5 New Ideas" series.
In just 10 minutes, learn the vital steps needed to ensure your gemba walk is a successful one. You'll learn the reasons why this is a necessary function and what you should be looking for when visiting the real or actual place.
The purpose of Gemba walks is to fully understand the current state with facts.
The word 'gemba' is a Japanese word that means the real or actual place. The purpose of walking the 'actual place' or 'gemba' is help identify problems, non-value added activities, or wastes through a deliberate observation of a particular area or process. 
Gemba walks are not to be confused with management by walking around (MBWA). It is really the check in our PDCA methodology of continuous improvement.
All too often, attempts are made to solve problems without knowing anything about or are not being familiar with a particular area or process -- resulting in a misdiagnosis or failed solution. Answers come from the floor, from the 'gemba,' where the condition occurs. You need to go to the real place and experience these conditions for yourself before being able to take the next steps.
Tom says Gemba Walks can be summarized by:
  • Go to the actual place.
  • Get the facts about the actual thing or activity.
  • Grasp the entire situation.
  • Generate reasons that explain what is happening.
  • Guide corrective actions or countermeasures.

Remember to Go See, Ask Why, Show Respect, and Follow Up.

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