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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Secrets of Success in Eight Words, in Three Minutes

Why do people succeed? Is it because they're smart, or are they just lucky? Analyst Richard St. John condenses 7 years of research and 500 interviews from TEDTalks into an unmissable 3-minute presentation on the real secrets of success.

If the video leaves you wanting more, St. John has written a book on these eight success traits. He also offers a "Rate Your 8 Traits" self evaluation sheet and wallpapers on his blog.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lean Roundup #41 – October, 2012

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

Agile Lego - Kanban Kata Getting Started – Hakan Forss explains how to Kanban and Toyota Kata into a retrospective style meeting using his Lego graphics.

Lead With Humiliation – Bruce Hamilton talks about what is means for transformation leaders to lead with humility.

Convincing the Unconvinced - Glade Nielson explains the importance of spending your energy on getting those that are undecided to see your cause.

Preparing For The Natural Tendency To Backslide – Gregg Stocker writes about preventing backsliding from Lean thinking to more traditional thinking and what to do about it.

Perfection - Dragan Bosnjak explains the importance that a view regarding perfection has on continuous improvement.

Lean is a Lifestyle Change – Jamie Wilson explains Lean by comparing Lean Thinking to the world of diet and weight loss.

Flow if You Can, Pull if You Can't – Michael Balle says factories need to learn to flow but if they can't then you must pull to control materials.

Depends on Your Goals – Mike Rother says Lean starts with defining your goals to set the direction then you create current state and target state using PDCA cycles.

7 Tips for Communicating in a Brain Friendly Way – Liz Guthridge provides communication tips that show respect by communicating clearly.

11 Common Misconceptions About Lean – Jeff Hajek explains lean by debunking common misconceptions and myths of Lean.

Retail Values For Lean Leadership – Jon Miller shares a set of leadership values for a Lean Leader that are customer focused.

"I Get No Respect" - 11 Ways Lean Leaders Can Show Respect to the Frontline – Matt Hanrion shares ways leaders can show respect in a Lean Healthcare transformation journey.

Bi-Polar Working Environment – John Smith says you need to make a conscience decision to stop treating everything as a fire and learn from your mistakes.

Going Beyond Quality Makes No Sense - There Is No Border To Move Beyond – John Hunter says there should be no limit to the quality department's influence in improvement.

An Adaptive System – Erika Fox says while change is inevitable and Lean provide the tools it is people that build the systems.

Lean and Technology – Bill Waddell talks about Lean versus technology and while technology is a tool not a strategy they can fit together.

5 Skills To Steal From Auctioneers – Liz Guthridge presents 5 leadership skills that we should adopt from Auctioneers.

Just Call It "5s Six Sigma" Instead of "Lean Sigma," Please – Mark Graban talks about the fallacies in Lean, Six Sigma, and combinations thereof.

Respect for People Goes In All Directions – Natalie Sayer challenges the inference that "Respect for People" is unidirectional or bidirectional.

Obstacles vs Lists of Tools – Mark Rosenthal explains while it takes longer it is better to teach someone to observe the impact of variation on process than a list of tools.

Consistency is Key – Karen Martin explains that disciplined organizations are more creative, flexible, and successful than those that are not.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Daily Lean Tips Edition #38

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 #556 – Learn more about Lean thinking and leadership by reading 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.

Lean Tip #557 – Start a company library of books that exemplify your philosophy.

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.

Lean Tip #558 – In our digital age there is a wealth of knowledge 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.

Lean Tip #559 – Joining a professional association can a valuable resource of knowledge and support.

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. Sharing with like-minded people who have various experiences can create a support network for continuous improvement and learning.

Lean Tip #560 – Learn more from listening 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.

Lean Tip #561 – Learn more from reading 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.

Lean Tip #562 – Learn more by attending 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.

Lean Tip #563 – Professional conferences are good for networking and learning.

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. They are particularly good for networking with others that you can learn from and share with.

Lean Tip #564 – Networking with other Lean thinkers benefits everyone.

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.

Lean Tip #565 – The value of tacit learning, learn by doing, should not be underestimated.

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.

Lean Tip #566 – An improvement process is one of the fundamental elements in any quality management system.

An improvement process presents a series of steps to think about and work through. These steps help you ask questions, gather information, and take actions effectively and efficiently. Thus, an improvement process provides a framework that guides you from the initial improvement to successful completion.

Lean Tip #567 – When making initial plans try setting milestones backward.

Do you have a deadline for finishing? When do you want to have a solution ready to put in place? When will you have finished studying how things are now? How much time will you allow for gathering customer input?

Lean Tip #568 – Assess the current state by defining the process, collecting and analyzing data.

Start with a simple flow chart that shows the big picture, then draw one with more detail. Try considering the current state from your customer’s point of view. Carefully identify inputs and outputs to capture interfaces and cross-functional activities. As much as possible, involve people who do the process.

Lean Tip #569 – Don’t jump to solutions when defining problem.

Many teams have an almost irresistible urge to jump to solutions at this point. Often, a problem statement is really a premature solution in disguise: “We don’t have enough people.” It is an important role of the facilitator to keep the team focused on problems and causes until both are well understood.

Lean Tip #570 – Think boldly and creatively when envisioning the ideal state.

Do not take anything for granted; question all assumptions. Lateral thinking can be very powerful. Expand your thinking and identify many possibilities. What would the best look like? What are all the things you could do better?

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Lean Quote: Be Willing to Fail In Order To Achieve Your Goal

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.

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." — Robert F. Kennedy

Failures can either destroy or advance our goals, but it's our response to them that truly determines the outcome. If we are too afraid of failure to try then we will never know if we can improve our situation. 

Past failures prepare you for future successes. It’s the old adage, “Learn from your mistakes”. Failures help you realize what didn’t work, so you can find what will work. 

 If we allow ourselves to become discouraged during the learning process we may give up right before we reach our goal. Anytime we learn from our efforts we are in the process of succeeding. Each lesson brings us closer to our intended result. 

The real failure is trying nothing to improve your situation. Lean is about thinking and making improvements. Some ideas work and some ideas don’t. What management needs to do is create a safe environment where it is OK to fail.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Meet-up: The Lean Turnaround's Art Byrne

Today's meet-up guest is Art Byrne. Art is a well know figure in the Lean Community and has been featured in numerous books.  He now has published his own book The Lean Turnaround. I recently reviewed his new book which I recommend you read. I have been fortunate to see Art's handy work at Wiremold of the years since it is a few miles away. With the wealth of expertise Art has in Lean transformation it is finally great to hear it in his own words.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Art Byrne and I am an operating Partner with J W Childs Assoc. a Boston based private equity firm. Prior to that I was the CEO of The Wiremold Company and before that I was a Group Executive for the Danaher Corporation.

How and when did you learn Lean?
I started lean in January of 1982 during my first general managers job at The General Electric Company.

How and why did you start blogging or writing about Lean?
I recently had my book, The Lean Turnaround, published by McGrraw-Hill.

What does Lean mean to you?
To me lean is the greatest strategic weapon any company can use to improve it’s results.

What is the biggest myth or misconception of Lean?
The biggest myth about Lean is that it is just “some manufacturing thing”.

What is your current Lean passion, project, or initiative?
My current lean project is promoting my book.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Going Beyond Quality Brings Value to Customers

This month Paul Borawski raises the question about going beyond the traditional quality function
My question is, how well understood and embraced are the contributions of the quality professional beyond what is traditionally thought of as the quality function? 
Quality should be part of the culture of the company. Employing quality methods and practices in everything you do provides a firm foundation for your business and can be a determining factor in your success.

Quality must go beyond our product or service. We cannot add it at the end of the line or inspect it into the product. At best that is only a false sense of security. If we want a quality product it must be made with quality processes by quality minded people. A focus on quality must be intrinsic to the company culture and practices for the customer to take notice. 

In my opinion successful businesses are those that not only sell quality to their employees but make it part of the culture or what they do daily. The organization must make quality a top priority for everyone in the company, from top managers to the workers building product. The final product and goal of the organization is creating value for consumers.

A quality organization understands that the realization of quality must be continually energized and regenerated. Successful implementation of a quality focused organization requires commitment and patience, but the rewards are substantial. Beyond the obvious practical benefits, organizations become empowered to solve persistent process and performance challenges while raising the expectations they set for themselves. 

Excellence in quality improves customer loyalty, elevates brand position, reduces cost, attracts new customers, and draws the best and brightest talent. A strong orientation for quality helps to achieve business goals. Achieving excellence in quality provides significant momentum for the business and is a source of pride for all employees. A comprehensive quality management system is a key attribute to the longevity and success of an organization.

Unfortunately, there are not enough organization that understand that going beyond quality is the means to bring value to customers. Too many waste their resources on things the customer doesn't want. Too many look at their competition instead of listening to their customers. Too many can't sustain their initiatives for even several years. As quality professionals and the like it is our responsibility to continuously improve how we bring value to the customer. Going beyond quality brings true, lasting value. 

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program. While I receive an honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Guest Post: Lean, Mean Safety Machine

Company safety policies generally have two important objectives. First, safety policies aim to ensure a company's compliance with federal, state, and local laws and, therefore, to avoid fines and other forms of punishment for violations. Second, and more importantly, these policies strive to prevent accidents and injuries in the workplace so that employees remain healthy.

Since lean business philosophy gained traction, some critics have charged that a strict focus on lean initiatives compromises a company's ability to deliver on these goals of complying with the law and keeping workers safe. Lean detractors reason that a focus on efficiency, productivity, and avoiding waste could diminish concern for employee safety, thus putting workers at risk.

Extensive research and the experience of many lean proponents around the globe have cast serious doubt on those unfounded theories. In fact, companies that adopt lean strategies generally report enhanced workplace safety and reduced on-the-job accidents and injuries. The information below reinforces the idea that a keen emphasis on preventive safety measures is, in fact, compatible with lean business philosophy.

The Bottom Line: Workplace Injuries are the Epitome of Waste
One of the lean movement's primary goals is to eliminate waste (whether it be wasted time, wasted resources, or wasted money). An unsafe workplace is a breeding ground for waste. Indeed, an employee injury leads into a waste explosion!

First, production must stop so management can survey the scene and take action to care for the worker's injuries. A halt in production is wasted time. Let's assume the employee has a great deal of experience, and his absence from work means a less skilled replacement must take over. That worker's diminished skill level will likely lead to less productivity. Then, if OSHA investigates, the facility inspection will likely create a further disruption to the normal orderly operation of the company's business.

If this cycle continues, where employees suffer injuries routinely, insurance rates will rise. In addition, chances are that employees who observe the accidents and their supervisors will become witnesses in workers' compensation litigation, creating a further drain on progress. In short, lean leaders have a vested interest in promoting safety in the workplace.

Preventive Safety Measures are Compatible with Lean Philosophy
In many ways, the interests of safety gurus and champions of all things lean are consistent. Take ergonomics, for example. Studies show movements that incorporate poor ergonomics typically take longer than motions with good ergonomics. And, as we all know, poor ergonomics can lead to a wide range of physical ailments. Therefore, managers should instruct workers on the safest (and, in many cases, the fastest) movements to employ when carrying out their duties. These movements and methods will then become standard practice, thus reducing unnecessary repetitive motion injuries and increasing productivity.

Pay Attention to Details
Lean principles can provide innovative solutions to what might appear to be insignificant, though wasteful and harmful, business practices. Consider an employee whose daily routine involves lugging heavy boxes from one place to another. Even if supervisors have instructed him on the safest way to lift heavy items, the constant strain could eventually lead to injury. The brilliant solution? A hand truck or dolly. No, it's not rocket science, but minor adjustments like that can make the difference between a healthy worker and a former employee on disability. In addition, now the worker can push several boxes at one time and complete his tasks much more efficiently.

Apply Safety Principles to Get Lean Results
The preferred order of dealing with recognized hazards is:

  1. Use engineering controls to eliminate the hazard.
  2. Institute administrative controls to deal with the hazard.
  3. Use protective equipment.

Look at the previous example of carrying heavy boxes as a recognized hazard of repeated back strain. The least effective control is to provide a back brace, because that requires the worker to wear it every time. An administrative control would be to teach proper lifting technique. Eliminating the hazard by providing a hand truck is safer and more efficient. But what would happen to efficiency if you took the engineering control one step further and designed the process so the boxes were stored right where they are most needed?

Don't Underestimate the Importance of Staff Morale
If employees suspect that management is not concerned with their safety, animus will ensue. Dissatisfied workers become uncooperative workers. Uncooperative workers are often vocal, and their attitudes can impact the environment of the entire facility. Productivity will undoubtedly suffer. In contrast, employees who have a sense that their supervisors respect them and have a vested interest in their wellbeing will often return the favor. Satisfied workers become cooperative workers. Cooperative workers are typically efficient, productive, and don't cause problems.

Although lean proponents and safety experts may initially come to the table with different goals in mind, their objectives are not inconsistent. By implementing preventive safety measures in the workplace, companies often recognize unintended results that reflect the values of the lean movement. While going too lean could conceivably compromise workplace safety, smart decisions and careful planning can easily ensure a healthy balance.

About the Author:
Jay Acker is the leader of a Safety Services production team. Jay leads a team who supply businesses with regularly updated OSHA compliance related materials and a range of services for workplace safety. At www.safetyservicescompany.com, Jay Acker's editorial group makes materials for conducting weekly safety meetings, safety training programs, posters and other items.

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