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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Daily Lean Tips Edition #40

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 #586 – Share Information and Numbers With Your Employees

Let them in on what is going on within the company as well as how their jobs contribute to the big picture. When you keep you employees informed they tend to feel a greater sense of worth. Keep communication hopeful and truthful – do not be afraid to share bad news, instead be more strategic about how you deliver it. Improve performance through transparency – By sharing numbers with employees, you can increase employees’ sense of ownership.

Lean Tip #587 – Leaders should collaborate and share on problem solving.

When employees get the idea that their manager or leader is the one who has to solve all the problems, it takes away from their sense of empowerment, and ultimately is likely to decrease engagement over time. Encourage team members to take responsibility, and work through problems or issues on their own, or collaboratively. It’s not the manager’s job to fix everyone else’s problems.

Lean Tip #588 - Involve team members in the process.

Ask team members for their ideas. Engage small working groups to come up with recommendations for ongoing challenges or needs. Select people to set agendas and lead meetings. Doing this develops your team members for bigger responsibilities and gives them a say in how the team works.

Lean Tip #589 - Connect employees to the greater good.

When employees feel connected to the company mission or like their work is contributing to a goal that is greater than profits, they feel like their work has purpose. A sense of meaning is priceless and costs nothing for an employer to cultivate.

Lean Tip #590 - Invest in your employees’ success by supporting their learning.

Continuous improvement and lifelong learning are important qualities for companies to instill in their staff. What does your company do to help employees improve or learn new skills? Offer in-house workshops or employer tuition assistance for employees to take coursework somewhere else. Show employees you are invested in their success by providing and supporting different learning opportunities to help them reach their goals.

Lean Tip #591 - Don't Stray Too Far From Your Expertise

The closer you can keep your customer and problem hypothesis to your experience and expertise, the easier you will find your Lean journey.

Lean Tip #592 - Clearly Identify Hypotheses & Assumptions

Remind yourself that every phone call, customer visit, or experiment is a test of a customer, problem and/or solution hypotheses. By defining the pass / fail criteria before performing the validation, you will ensure better results from your calls / experiments.

Lean Tip #593 - Stay Close To Your Passion

Most successful new businesses have one thing in common: they are started by people with a passion for the customer, problem and/or the solution hypotheses of the business. Unfortunately you can’t fake passion, and as you execute your Lean process, your passion (or lack thereof) will be clear to the people in which you engage.

Lean Tip #594 - Get Advisors To Help you See What you Don’t Know

Find people smarter than you to provide support in areas where you lack experience / expertise. Having advisors with very different backgrounds also adds some much needed diversity to the process, often resulting in uncovering something you otherwise might not have seen.

Lean Tip #595 – Lean takes a change in mindset of the organization

This is a cultural and organizational issue and is difficult to accomplish. Mindset implies people and it is helpful to bring in an outside look or fresh perspective. One can hire from outside, but the organization can also bring in consultants that have a broad and multi-industry perspective. It can also be done internally by having the courage to collaborate with other departments from within the organization. Collaborative efforts from all parts of the organization should be encouraged.

Lean Tip #596 – Successful teamwork is about knowing and executing on the basics.

To be successful your lean team requires effort:

You need a vision—what are you trying to achieve?
Metrics are a must—you can’t improve it if you can’t measure it.
Goals move you forward—Where would you like to be a year from now?
Execute the basics—Concentrating on flow is the key to lean improvement.
Celebrate your successes…and work on your weaknesses!!!

Lean Tip #597 – Focusing on Safety Fosters Employee Involvement

The initial efforts focusing on safety is a good foundation for fostering employee involvement. Norman Bodek said, “Employee suggestions are not for the company, they are for the employees.” Granted, there will be ideas that save money and increase productivity. But that is not the focus. The focus is getting employees contributing to improvement and the developing a problem solving work force.

Lean Tip #598 – Great Leaders Cultivate Charisma.

The myth of leadership is that it is all about greatness. It’s not only a myth, but a harmful deception. Leadership is all about relationships. Charisma is one of the key ways you develop these relationships. Some people think of charisma as fake or showy. It’s not. Charisma is having the sort of personality that draws people toward you and makes them want to follow you to success. This is exactly what you need as a leader.

Lean Tip #599 – Don't Wait Until All the Stars Align Before You Begin.

There is never an ideal time to start redoing your manufacturing process. There always are reasons you should wait or gather more data, but a ready-fire-aim approach is not all bad if it is applied to smaller aspects of the project.

Lean Tip #600 - Focus on the rate of production, or takt time.

This is a heartbeat measurement for the team. One-piece flow is ideal, but any flow is better than no flow. Pull at the demand of the customer, if possible. Then, pull the material through the process rather than push it along. This may take time. Setting up small work-in-process (WIP) or finished goods inventory (FGI) locations from which teams can pull material through production can be a good place to start. Holding areas also are known as Kanban areas, or supermarkets.

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