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Monday, December 31, 2012

Lean Roundup #43 - December, 2012

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

The Big Gains? Not Without Transformation – Gregg Stocker explains that many underestimate the effort required to succeed in transformation.

Customers – John Hunter talks about the importance of customer focus but different customers have different needs.

How to involve the masses in the change? – Dragan Bosnjak says that involving the masses in the change requires making small improvements daily.

The Risk of Ignoring Muri – Natalie Sayer explains that a relentless focus on muda and lack of focus on muri is not “respect for people”.

Am I Ready? How to be an Effective Lean Event Facilitator - Alex Maldonado shares some tips on how to improve facilitation of Lean events based on experience.

Christmas Wish: Meaningful Measurements – Matthew E. May advocates the use of a meaningful set of measurements from customers point of view.

Designing Perfect Process – John Smith admits while you may not get to the perfect process there is no reason not to try, that is what improvement is all about.

Do You Have a Lean Gas Tank? – Christian Paulsen reminds us that Lean examples are all around us like that of our gas tank in our car.

User Gemba – John Hunter talks about the importance of customer focus which is achieved from understanding the actual experience in order to be a successful business.

Well of Course No One Trusts Management – David Kasprzak says while this may be true there is something you can do about it: seek understanding and reflect before speaking if you want trust.

Too Happy Too Soon – Bruce Hamilton tells the story of how he learned to never settle on an improvement, you can always do better.

Still Missing the Point of Lean – Glenn Whitfield refutes a recent article claiming Lean is about waste elimination by explaining Lean is about Increasing Value with Respect for People.

Fail Forward to Success – Al Norval says failure is part of learning process and the quicker we learn to uncover with PDCA process the faster we can find success.

Success! Sustaining Tiny Habits – Liz Guthridge says the path to success comes from taking tiny steps and sustaining these new behaviors through continued practice.

What Before Why – Paul Levy reminds us that defining the problem helps us arrive at the root cause much faster.
Why Reorganizations Fail – Dan Markovitz explains that reorganizations are often the knee-jerk to poorly defined problems resulting in poor solutions if all you do is shuffle the boxes on the org chart.

"True North" - Explicit or Intrinsic? – Mark Rosenthal explains the ideals of “True North” from both an explicit place and intrinsic concept.

Srooge or Fezziwig? – Bill Waddell defines respect for people by illustrating leadership styles at two companies which portray the familiar Christmas Carol characters of Fezziwig and Scrooge.

Ringi is the formal process of writing up a proposal and getting it approved – Jeffery Liker explains the Japanese concept of Ringi the formal approval process that is related to nemawashi.

5 Best Practices To Help Build Trust With Employees – Marci Reynolds says the key to success is building trust with employees and shares 5 ways to do so.

Customer Driven Management – Bill Waddell says right management structure and processes for any company are a function of its customers, and how those customers define value.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Lean Quote: Resolutions Start With Self Improvement

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.

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing." — Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) Politician. President of the United States

What would you like to change in your life? The new year is traditionally the time to stop, take inventory and set positive goals for life change. And you don't have to focus only on diets or exercise. Improving the quality of your life is broader and more comprehensive and ultimately more important than your waistline. There's no good reason to dwell on the problems of the past unless you want to make yourself feel bad! You can only change the present and then the future. It's never too late.

There are certain self improvement tips you can use to keep your New Year’s Resolutions and keep in track with your self-set goals.

Stay Organized 

An organized work or personal space reflects an organized mind, and vice-versa. By keeping things, thoughts, and goals in order, it would be easy for you to remember your New Year’s Resolutions and stick to them.

Force Yourself to Remember 

Force yourself to remember by sticking to-do notes on your computer monitor (or make it your desktop background if you like), fridge, wallet, or even on your mobile phone. Seeing the same notes over and over again will help you keep your resolutions in mind even if your lifestyle is more chaotic than ever.

Focus on the Process 

Focus on the process rather than the end goal. Take each step one at a time and be happy with your progress. The only way you'll get to where you want to go is to complete every small step along the way, checking it off with pride as you accomplish each step.

This new year realize that all life problems can be improved. Giving up means surrendering to a negative situation rather than using your skills and finding support to move ahead in the best manner possible. Enjoy your journey. It's energizing. It's rewarding. It’s life changing.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Top 10 Posts of 2012

As 2012 goes into the history books I want to take a moment to reflect on this past year. Nearly 159,000 people have visited the site this year which is more than double 2011.  I posted some 230 articles on the site this year.  It has truly been a very positive and full year. 

Here is a collection of the Top 10 posts for 2012 by views:

10. 5 Lean Leadership Behaviors to Transform Your Culture - posted March 5, presents 5 Lean leadership behaviors you need to emulate to make your transformation effective.

9. Lean Quote Impossible Is Not a Fact. It’s an Opinion. - posted July 20, from a popular feature analyzes a Muhammad Ali quote that nothing is impossible.

8. Challenges Facing the Manufacturing Industry - posted March 27, highlighted a new initiative from AME on revitalizing manufacturing in the US.

7. Management Improvement Blog Carnival #166 - posted May 10, was from hosting the Management Improvement Carnival reviewing a collection of recent blog posts.

6. Kanban Flow - A Free, Fast, & Flexible Kanban Tool - posted May 2, reviewed a web app called KanbanFlow for creating personal kanban systems.

5. New Webapp - Pomodoro Daisuki is a Simple Kanban Board - posted February 15, reviewed another new web app called Pomodoro Daisuki which can create simple personal kanban boards.

4. How Do You Define Quality? - posted February 14, was a post at truly attempts to define quality and it's importance to businesses.

3. Quality Improvement in Government? - posted May 22, an ASQ post that looks at why there aren't more quality initiatives in Government agencies.

2. 10 Characteristics of a Good Measure and 7 Pitfalls to Avoid - posted February 22, demonstrates 10 characteristics to create good performance measures and highlights several pitfalls to avoid.

1. The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process - posted May 15, describes a six step methodology that is necessary to solve any problem.

Do you have any favorites not on this list that you would like to share?  Leave a comment.


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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Gift for You

Merry Christmas to all A Lean Journey Fans! Lean is a gift to us individually and to organizations empowering and inspiring improvement all around us. This holiday season I want to take the opportunity to thank all those who share the passion for continuous improvement and share in the learning on this blog. As a way of saying "Thank You" I want to share a gift you, a free copy of Henry Ford's "My Life and Work".

Henry Ford (1863-1947), founder of the Ford Motor Company, lays out the secret of his success in My Life and Work. Pretty much everything in the Toyota Production System can be found in Henry Ford's 1923 book "My Life and Work".

You can download your copy now here.

For those kindle users you can get a free copy here

or this illustrated version for under a dollar.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Twas a 5S Christmas

The folks over at Graphic Products received this great holiday poem which they shared in their newsletter. I thought it would be great to share with all of you.

Anonymous, 2012
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the plant
Machines were not running; production was scant.
We’d been forced to shut down and were incurring large fees,
Cause one of the workers dropped a wrench in line three.
Production mistakes had the owners complaining,
So we’d sent all the workers for refresher training.
The foreman in his hardhat, and I in my tie,
Had just settled down to discuss ROI. 
When out on the floor there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
And ripped the Venetian blinds off the wall with a crash.
The loading dock door somehow had been lifted,
And inside the door snow had already drifted.
When what did my wondering eyes then behold?
But a white-bearded man shuffling in from the cold.    
He had a broad face and a round little belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
His eyes twinkled bright and his dimples were merry.
The foreman exclaimed, “Now this dude is scary.” 
He spoke not a word but went straight to work,
Rearranging and cleaning like some kind of jerk.
He threw things away that were taking up space,
And organized stuff that was in the right place.    
The tools that were needed he moved to be near;
Equipment not needed he moved to the rear.
He moved with precision, his speed it increased
I picked up the phone to call the police. 
Then from his beard, as pure white as winter,
He pulled out a small DuraLabel-brand printer.
He set it up quick, with no cord or cable,
In the blink of an eye he was printing out labels.   
“Label this counter space, label this drawer!
Label this cabinet, label some more!
From the top of the window to the base of the wall,
We’ll label everything, once and for all!” 
He yelled this out loud, the right jolly old elf,
I laughed to see him, in spite of myself.
He labeled the floor and he labeled the cables.
“With 5S in place, to work they’ll be able!”  
And then in a twinkling, I knew what he meant!
Our workplace had been as confusing as heck!
I joined him in working and when we were through,
You knew where things were and you knew what to do.
I thanked him profusely but he remained stoic,
And went to the break room and purchased a Coke.
I called him a hero, a magical man,  
But outside the building he’d already ran.
He greeted twelve reindeer and jumped in a sleigh
And up from the ground his team then flew away
But I heard him exclaim as they rose through the night:
“I’ll come back next Christmas to audit your site!”
Want more holiday cheer? DuraNews authors provide their DuraLabel-based holiday ideas for your reading pleasure. For extra cheer, click here.

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Lean Quote: Don't Try to Boil the Ocean

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.

"Don't try to boil the ocean." — Meg Whitman

If you haven’t heard this phrase before, it’s used as an illustrative term for saying you’re trying to do too much with the resources you have available—perhaps to the point of detriment. So when someone says to you, "Don't try to boil the ocean" they are saying you don't have enough of something needed to achieve such a large-scale goal. Unfortunately, we tend to tackle too many goals, overwhelming and exhausting ourselves before measurable progress is made. Many think they can fix everything and address every concern, which means little or nothing gets done, and then they lose focus and move on. All too often these companies lack a sense of realism and priority when dealing with problems. Sound familiar?

In the midst of a world of problems, avoid the temptation to boil the ocean. You can‘t do everything at once, as much as you would like to. You will kill yourself with stress and discouragement if you try. Change the things you can. Focus on conquering what is around you. Force yourself to focus, completing one or two tasks very well. Create action plans for dealing with one or two issues – achieving visible progress will serve to keep individuals interested, invested in the process, and give them a sense of accomplishment. Opportunities will present themselves when you do that. Those opportunities will then put a different set of challenges around you to tackle.

There is the easy and the difficult, the simple and the complex, the achievable and the ambitious. Attempting to “boil” the ocean is not a practical task to take on due to its sheer magnitude–failure is a near certainty. When trying to solve too large a problem or too many problems at once you make your chances of success slim. The better solution is to look to your strategic plan and objectives. Pick one or two activities that directly support these objectives. Do them. Actually accomplish. Don’t get part way on many tasks, but finish a few important tasks. 

Take a cup from your ocean of work and boil it instead of trying to boil the ocean to get a cup of water.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Annual Management Improvement Carnival 2012: Kaizen Notebook

In my last and final review for John Hunter's Annual Management Improvement Carnival I have chosen Evan Durant's Kaizen Notebook. Evan is an improvement lead at a large technology company. He helps to facilitate the use of lean thinking in operations as well as other areas in order to improve overall business results for the organization. I have been following Evan for several years. He has a great knack for applying Lean to the world around him. 

Evan started his blog Kaizen Notebook at the same time I started mine.  We have had many conversations on Lean thinking and implementation. I really enjoy Evan's practical approach to applying Lean to his every life. I get a number of great ideas from Evan that I don't mind stealing. 

Here are a few of my favorite posts on Kaizen Notebook from this past year:

Value Stream Mapping and Lead Time – Evan Durant explains that lead time is a proxy for all those other process metrics in the value stream.

I's on the Prize – Evan Durant explains 3 ‘I’ things that are required to make truly effective visual management.

The Politics of Problem Solving - Evan Durant talks about problem solving and the importance of adjusting your thinking based on experimental results.

Action - Evan Durant reminds us that the action necessary often is to go and see because action without understanding counterproductive.

Evan is always challenging my thinking which is why I keep coming back to see what next. I know you will want to keep tuning in as well after reading posts like these.

Don't forget to read some of the other great reviews from other bloggers by going to the Annual Management Improvement Carnival home page.

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