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Friday, June 29, 2012

Lean Quote: Have a Little Relaxation

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.

"Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen." — Leonardo Da Vinci

Despite our best intentions to live balanced lives, the modern world demands that we are almost always connected and productive, and this can drain us emotionally, spiritually, and physically. With our hectic lifestyle, we often underestimate the power of relaxation. Most of us have a massive to-do list each day, and we feel we can't afford to slow our pace or we'll quickly fall behind. However, we fail to acknowledge the ways that relaxation can increase our stamina, clear our thoughts, and allow us to get much more accomplished with less effort.

Rest and relaxation is the cessation of work, exertion, or activity which could result into peace, ease, relief from disturbance, mental & emotional tranquility and healing.

So I’m taking my own advice. Beginning today, I’ll be on vacation. That means no blogging, email, or social media. I’ll have virtually no access to a phone or computer. In short, I’m dropping off the blogosphere for two whole weeks. But don’t worry, I’m not leaving you in the dark. I have prepared several post and I have several guest posts until I return. I hope you will enjoy these posts while I spend some time recharging.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lean Roundup #37 – June, 2012

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

The Importance of Proper Definition – Glenn Whitfield advocates properly defining a project is essential to the success of the project.

The Single Most Important Attribute – Pascal Dennis explains that initiative is the single most important attribute for leaders of all levels.

Organize, Standardize, Stabilize, Optimize – Mark Rosenthal shares 4 steps for implementing a daily improvement culture.

Standardized Confusion – Art Smalley explains standardized work in an attempt to alleviate confusion so you can get out the most possible from standardized work.

How to Clear the Hurdle to Implemented Improvement – Jack Datz shares some advice on overcoming the challenges of Lean implementation.

Begging for Lean Thinking – Bill Waddell shares some examples of hidden wastes in processes in terms of inventory and cycle times.

Learning To See Waste Over Time – Lee Fried teaches that waste is often cleverly disguised as useful work which is what makes work so fun.

Boy Scouts Explore Welding As Well As The Wilderness – Karen Wilhelm talks about how Boy Scouts expose young men to manufacturing skills and leadership.
PDCA Cycle: Lego Style – Pete Abilla shares lesson on PDCA using Lego people to model the process from HÃ¥kan Forss.

5S with Purpose – Mark Rosenthal talks about the reasons behind 5S with a real case example.

Harness the Contrarians and Facilitate their Emergence – David Kasprzak explains the importance of never dismissing ideas of those who may be contrary to you.

Placing a Popular Taiichi Ohno Quote in Context – Jon Miller explains the popular quote about reducing the time to paying to getting paid and why it came about.

Changing The Structure Doesn't Change The Work - Don't Reorganize, Teach Teamwork – Jeffery Liker says you shouldn't reorganize your silos rather rely on teamwork to close the gaps.

Without Work Standards There Can Be No Kaizens – Tracey Richardson gives 5 reasons why work standards are the infrastructure for improvement.

Don't Reorganize! Learn to Pull Instead – Michael Balle says that you can transform your organization by learning to use a pull system.

Leading Improvement and Enjoying the Rewards – John Hunter explains the role of leaders in improvement and the necessity of coaching people.

 3 Tips for Leading With Clarity – Liz Guthridge says when striving for clarity, keep in mind these three C's—call to action, context and consistency.

Mapping Your Work With Personal Kanban – Jim Benson illustrates the importance of mapping you work and how the kanban is multidimensional compared to the To Do list.

Time for Mindset Change? – Mike Rother talks about breaking down silos by changing people's mind.

How Standard is Standard Work? – Al Norval explains that standard work is the base of improvement but they are meant to be changed.

The Difference Between Learning and Understanding – David Kasprzak teaches us there is a difference between learning and understanding the learning.

The Use and Abuse of Parking Lots – Dan Markovitz answers a readers question on how best to use parking lots so they don't become parking garages for ideas.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Meet-up: Encob Blog's Dragan Bosnjak

Today, we’ll meet-up with Dragan Bosnjak, who blogs at Encob Blog. Dragan is one of the first international bloggers I followed and conversed with on Lean.  He is a great mind and shares a wealth of knowledge from personal experience. Dragan's posts are frequently highlighted in the monthly round-up.

The goal of Meet-up is provide you an opportunity to meet some other influential voices in the Lean community. I will ask these authors a series of questions:

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Dragan Bosnjak, 38 years old, I'm a mechanical engineer and I work as a lean consultant in my own company in North-East Italy. Actually I help some companies on their lean journey, giving advice and helping them on the thinking part of lean, which I think is the most difficult to absorb for who has worked for decades in traditional setting.

How and when did you learn Lean?
My first job was as a quality manager in a small company in Northern Italy. I needed to establish control over significant metrics in the company and to organize them to be useful for the decision making at upper levels. That's where I got to know about six sigma through Thomas Pyzdek's The Six Sigma Handbook. I read it and applied some of the things I found in it, but there was still something missing: we haven't improved our operations as much as I thought would be possible. We were gathering lots of data, but to no big avail for the delivery times or improvement of internal operations. That's where I continued my research and found Mike George's Lean Six Sigma, which introduced me to lean, even though through six sigma perspective. But I sensed that it was the way to go, because I've seen ideas in lean that could be applied right away in my operations and obtain immediate results, which would eventually touch the overall company performances. And that is what happened, we have improved our delivery times from 6 to 2 weeks in a couple of years.

Of course, I haven't stopped learning about lean. I read almost everything that has ever been written on the argument and talked about it with lot of people and sensei's, and continue to do so today, as I define myself a lifetime lean student... Reading books though, as you know it, is not nearly enough if you want to master lean: gemba is the place where you learn the most. Books can only help you with clearing your mind about some concepts, but gemba is the place where you test them and approve or reject them with the facts and data in hand...

How and why did you start blogging or writing about Lean?
I started my lean blog, Encob Blog (in italian language...), in 2008, with a goal of sharing my personal learnings with the others, who can maybe take profit from it. I decided to write daily blog posts in which I explain the thinking and the tools of lean. Since, after appx. 1.400 posts written, the blog has been seen by approximately 200.000 people and continues to grow every day. I never regretted starting it because it helped me know some marvelous folks out there that I would never be able to know without. It also helped me sharpen my thinking about lean, about business, about life in general, so it is a really great experience, even though it doesn't give me any financial profit (all the posts are freely available to everyone).

What does Lean mean to you?
Lean is a way of life. You can never say you're finished with improving, there is always something you can try to do differently, there is always some new experiment that is awaiting for you. And I don't say this only regarding work, but also in your private life. Lots of my posts go into my private life practices, that have allowed my family reach lots of small victories and satisfactions.

What is the biggest myth or misconception of Lean?
If you take lean as just a toolset to reduce costs, you're missing the essence of it. Unfortunately, a great lot of companies tries it exactly for that exact reason. They think that lean will resolve their problems without them needing to make any effort. They hire a consultant and think: "OK, now he is going to make us lean". And this type of thinking takes you only to the failure of lean, and they say: "lean doesn't work here" or "lean hasn't worked for us".

Lean is all about making the new culture in the company, a culture of development of people, development of leadership, scientific experimentation. Tools serve only as a "necessary evil" in order to grow your people and improve your processes.

What is your current Lean passion, project, or initiative?
Currently I'm working on two projects, one regarding lean sales and marketing, the other regarding application of complete pull system in another company. My way of working is that of explaining and showing principles to the people and then asking them to apply the learning, to learn on the job, to fail fast and learn from the failure. I love guiding people, I love seeing them "get it", I love seeing them grow. The most beautiful moments in teaching lean to others are when someone makes an improvement considered impossible just couple of months before. These are the moments worth living for...

You can follow me on twitter (@dbosnjak), or on Google+ or on Facebook by following the Encob Blog page. You can see my profile on LinkedIn.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Daily Lean Tips Edition #33

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 #481 – Customers always have a choice, listen to what they want.

Customers want:
  • A high quality product that meets their requirements
  • Delivered when they want it
  • In the quantities they asked for
  • At a price that they are willing to pay
Lean Tip #482 – Optimize the plant layout for Lean Improvement.

Optimizing the plant layout can:
  • Reduce movement of people and materials
  • Reduce work in process
  • Allow better flow of production
  • Support better communication
  • Maximize capacity of machines, floor space and material handling systems
Lean Tip #483 – Use simple visual signals that give the operator the information to make the right decision.

Visual controls should be efficient, self-regulating, and worker-managed:
  • Kanban (cards, containers, squares, racks)
  • Color-coded dies, tools, pallets
  • Delineation of storage areas, walkways, work areas
  • Lights
Lean Tip #484 – Standardized work is the combination of three elements resulting in repeatable and reliable operations.

Standardized work is repeatable and reliable operations, safely carried out, with all tasks organized in the best known sequence using the most effective combination of people, material, machines, and methods.

The three elements of standardized work:
1. Work Sequences: well understood and documented, separating cyclic and non-cyclic elements and including quality standards.
2. Standard in-process stock: minimum quantity of material needed for processing
3. Demand: good understanding of how much to produce in a given period of time

Lean Tip #485 - Inspect at the source to prevent defects being passed.

Operators inspect product before passing it to the next workstation. Operators must be enabled to perform inspection:

Visual Tools: samples or established standards
Supporting documentation/standardization: clear checklists and established quality disciplines.
Effective training: quality standards and inspection process.

Lean Tip #486 - Test your 5 Whys chain with the ‘therefore’ test.

Start at the bottom of the chain and say Last Why occurred, therefore the second to last why occurred. Carry on until you reach the first why. If it isn’t true, revise the why chain until you can pass the ‘therefore test’.

Lean Tip #487 – Learn to question to find the answer you need.

If you don't ask the right questions, you don't get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer.

Lean Tip #488 – Don’t jump to solving the problem too quickly if you want to find the root cause.

Moving into 'fix-it' mode too quickly might mean dealing with symptoms but leaving the problem unresolved, so use the five whys to ensure that the cause of the problem is being addressed.

Lean Tip #489 - Data collection through questioning establishes what happened.

The most time-consuming part of root cause analysis, data collection must have a scope and depth sufficient to answer any question the team rises. Usually a quality improvement team gathers data, using blameless, open-ended questions when interviewing, refraining from value judgments.

Lean Tip #490 - When it comes to looking for failures for causes during a Root Cause Analysis investigation, ‘Listen to your operators’.

They are the eyes and ears of your production facility. It doesn’t matter if you are running a chocolate factory, bottling beer, or drilling for oil, they all have one thing in common – operators on the front line. These valuable members of your team are often the first to notice problems occurring.

Lean Tip #491 – When coaching follow the 5 step process from the acronym COACH for the most success.

C.O.A.C.H. stands for these five steps:

Connecting with the coachee.
Observing his or her job performance.
Assessing the performance to select a high-ROI area for coaching.
Conversing with the coachee about performance-improvement ideas.
Honing the coachee's competencies.

Your job as a coach is not complete until you have completed all these steps.

Lean Tips #492 - The most useful coaching is situational.

Consider the difficulty of the task being coached, the skills and experience of the person you are coaching and their preferences in terms of how much 'help' should be given. Sometimes people don't want/need 'the answer', they need a little assistance in finding out how to get the answer themselves.

Lean Tip #493 – Coaching must be part of business processes if you want the most benefit.

Coaching is related to several other organizational processes including change management, team building, facilitation, performance management, and strategic planning. You can acquire many coaching tips from these other processes. You should position your coaching session as a part of these other processes for the most benefit.

Lean Tip #494 – When coaching for performance improvement, make failure acceptable and necessary.

When coaching an employee or team for some type of performance improvement, make failure less threatening and success more personal by taking Peter Drucker's advice (roughly paraphrased): "Don't concentrate on polishing your skills. That will take care of itself if you seek to eliminate the constraints that impede you from achieving your stated goal. Using this approach, the focus of your effort becomes external to yourself, reducing the notion of a "personal shortcoming."

Lean Tip #495 – Coaching is not telling them what to do, help them understand what they should do.

During coaching sessions, you are advised to make suggestions or ask questions instead of telling the coachee what to do. Help them understand for themselves what is to be done. Sometimes this is not a good idea. Your coachee may get confused and wonder, "Now what exactly did my coach want me to do?" Don't feel guilty about providing unambiguous, no-nonsense instructions--when it is appropriate.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Test Your Productivity Skills with GTD-Q in 2 Minutes

Self management is all about perspective (focus on the right things) and control (the ability to effectively manage all the things coming at you).

The David Allen Company in conjunction with one of the world's leading professional assessment firms developed a test to determine ability to GTD.

GTD® is the shorthand brand for "Getting Things Done®," the groundbreaking work-life management system by David Allen that provides concrete solutions for transforming overwhelm and uncertainty into an integrated system of stress-free productivity. GTD is a powerful method to manage commitments, information, and communication.

GTD-Q is a measurement for evaluating two elements of self-management - control and perspective. In less than two minutes, you will get a visual representation of where you fit in terms of personal productivity.

My Results:

Your "perspective" score was 4 and your "control" score was 2. This means you have scored in the "Visionary / Crazy-Maker" quadrant.

On the positive side, you are a Visionary—you have no shortage of ideas and inspiration. You're probably pretty good at setting goals, being creative, and focused on "the most important thing."

On the developmental side, you are a Crazy Maker. The challenge is that your ideas, projects, and commitments may be outstripping your ability to keep up with them. Along with the inspiration of what you're envisioning, there may be things falling through the cracks, details being missed, and a general sense of being overwhelmed.

Test your ability to get things done here.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Lean Quote: Encouraging Those to Succeed

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.

"Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not." — Neil deGrasse Tyson

Congratulating employees is a simple, effective way to acknowledge them and boost their morale, as well as their colleagues. Leaders know that in order to be successful, they must influence employees to deliver positive performance. They succeed in this area because they do things to inspire higher levels of commitment and cooperation from employees. They don't just assume that because they are leading, employees will follow.

Here are some ways to encourage your employees to get moving in the right direction:

Show genuine interest. I believe this is by far the most effective way of encouraging others. Let them know you care. Express genuine interest by asking questions. Get them talking. With some hope and luck, this can lead to positive action. But don’t be fake about it and don’t go overboard.

Acknowledge what’s important to them. When you acknowledge what’s important to others, you provide a form of affirmation and validation about who they are and what they’re doing. Whether they can admit it or not, each of them deep down craves this acknowledgement. The affirmation and validation fuels their confidence and self-esteem.

Offer to lend a hand. Waiting for someone to ask you for advice is passive. You can be proactive by offering to lend a hand. If that person sees that you are willing to commit your own time and energy in their interests, they will be more committed to seeing it through and less likely to give up themselves.

Say “Well done”. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. If it’s easy, then it’s not worth doing. Worthwhile things always takes time and effort. One good way of providing encouragement is simply by saying “Well done” or “Congratulations”. These magical words of encouragement at the right time can make all the difference between “keep going” and “give up”.

Giving encouragement can boost that person’s motivation, which in turn lead to actions and finally results. Managers need to keep in mind that feelings are contagious. By positively encouraging, a leader makes others want to be part of the change. Only satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Year Ago on A Lean Journey (25-2012)


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