Friday, August 31, 2012

Lean Quote: Still the question recurs “can we do better?”

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.

"Still the question recurs “can we do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the storm present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, we must think anew, and act anew." — President Abraham Lincoln in his Annual Address to Congress (December 1, 1862)

Lean Leaders and Lean Thinkers should rally around this great quote from a great President. Can we do better? The answer was “YES!” which President Lincoln made clear as he exhorted all who would listen to think anew and act anew.

The answer was yes during the Civil War years and it is yes at your work site today. The harder question is “how?” How will you think and act anew? Do you need to think anew about an old issue that has been causing waste at your site? Do you need to think anew about how to make your process even better? Do you need to think anew about your problem solving methodology? Does your organization need to think anew and act anew by embarking on the Lean Journey?

Many organizations have been on the Lean Journey for some time. Many others are just starting or have not yet started. All need to think anew and act anew.

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Today's Lean Quote is by Christian Paulsen who has guest blogged a number of times. He authors the Blog Lean Leadership. Christian Paulsen helps companies optimize performance. He is a Lean – TPM facilitator and adds value to organizations by driving continuous process improvements and bottom line cost savings. Christian is a Consultant who brings 20 years of manufacturing leadership experience and Lean Manufacturing expertise.

Christian’s experience includes the use of Lean principles in Food and Beverage manufacturing plants using a variety tools. Christian successfully led Kaizen Teams with a track record of yield and efficiency gains, process improvement, cost reduction, as well as safety and quality improvement in ten manufacturing plants competing in highly competitive markets. Christian’s experience also includes the TPM Instructor Course training and leading the implementations of 5S, Autonomous Maintenance, TPM, PDCA, DMAIC, and Six Sigma.

Christian attended Purdue University on a Navy ROTC scholarship and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics. After serving in the US Navy, Christian pursued a career in manufacturing with Frito-Lay, Unilever (Lipton), and Nestle USA as well as smaller private manufacturers. Christian also has MBA coursework at Lehigh and Regent Universities. Christian is a husband, father, and a follower of Jesus Christ.


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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lean Roundup #39 – August, 2012

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

Focus on the Process and the Results Will Come – Pamela Kan uses the Olympics as an example to highlight the need to set goals but more importantly to focus on the process to achieve them.

The Increasing Role of IT in Lean Manufacturing – Gordon Benzie explains that IT is a key component of Lean programs, helping to further the spread of waste reduction and process variability to achieve performance improvement.

Keeping Your Lean Transformation Focused – Mike Rother answers this question with a wonderful presentation on how to concentrate your organization achieve continuous improvement and sustained competitiveness.

Go For The Gold – Charles Hagood writes about removing waste with standardized work with Olympics gold as the backdrop.

Hoshin Kanri as Both Strategy and Meta Strategy – Jon Miller talks about the continuous PDCA cycle of improvement that makes the Hoshin Kanri process so powerful.

Customer Focus By Everyone – John Hunter explains why and how to get all employees to be focused on the customer.

Olympics and how we can apply game theory in our companies – Dragan Bosnjak using the attraction of the Olympics looks at how we can get this excitement in our company.

A Fire Truck When An Ambulance Would Suffice – Kevin Meyer talks about organizational scope creep that happen in organizations causing inefficiencies.

What Will You Be Judged On? – Dan Markovitz writes about finding time to think strategically to make your actions count.

Organization Structure Changes Doesn't Solve Leadership Issues – Kevin Meyers writes about the all too common and unsuccessful organization change that many use to fix leadership competency.

Granddaddy Of Them All – Matt Wrye explains why overproduction is the granddaddy of all waste because it leads to all the other wastes.

Management Lessons From the Olympics – Dan Markovitz shares some management lessons from Olympic Track and Field that every business can benefit from.

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

Creating a Quality Culture – John Hunter writes about what it takes to create a quality focused culture and why it is so difficult to do for most companies.

How to Setup an Effective 5s System – Tony Manos explains how to set-up an effective 5S system in 5 simple steps.

Wisdom vs Bureaucracy – Al Norval talks about standards as rules to be followed but only until you can't, don't follow blindly.

Why are there Standards? – Dragan Bosnjak reiterates that standards are not to be followed blindly.

In my time at Toyota, Nemawashi was as common as the word Kaizen – Tracey Richardson explains nemawashi or the process of gaining consensus from her experience at Toyota.

Nemawashi is about genuinely being interested in the ideas of others – Jeff Like explain Nemawashi as the process for getting broad input at every step of the way.

Nemawashi in Toyota – Art Smalley give another account of nemawashi as a management process of PDCA and gathering the facts.

Lean and Free Will – Mark Hamel says Lean transformations are so hard because there is no true compulsion in Lean.

For Improvement You Need Honesty Transparency Not Anonymity – Mark Graban reiterates the importance for open, honest, transparent communication for continuous improvement.


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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meet-up: Kaizen Notebook's Evan Durant

On the Meet-up today, it is my pleasure to introduce Evan Durant who authors Kaizen Notebook. I have been following Evan for several years. He has a great knack for applying Lean to the world around him. Evan is always challenging my thinking which is why I keep coming back to see what next.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Evan Durant, and I am currently a continuous improvement lead at a large technology company. I help to facilitate the use of lean thinking in operations as well as other areas in order to improve overall business results for the organization.

How and when did you learn Lean?
As a student of six sigma, I went through all of the lean training and learned about one-piece flow and such, but the light bulb didn’t really come on for me until around 2007 when the company I worked for was acquired by a very large organization with a well-established lean culture. It was then that I got to see some really interesting applications of lean in a variety of different environments, and I was instantly fascinated. I volunteering to be involved in lean transformation and took every opportunity I could find to learn about and experiment with lean principles.

How and why did you start blogging or writing about Lean?
During my early years with lean transformation I found that blogs were a rich source of information and advice. There are some phenomenal bloggers out there with a ton of experience who are willing to share their knowledge of lean and to help others on their journey. I wanted to be part of that community. Plus I really admired the discipline required to put your thoughts down in a coherent way and on a regular basis. I started blogging in 2009 and have been thrilled to be part of an international conversation on the advancement of lean thinking.

What does Lean mean to you?
For me lean (or whatever you want to call it) is really a rallying cry. It’s a directional beacon that people can understand and get behind. I’ve been part of other organizations where improvement efforts are scattershot, unfocused, and almost always locally optimized. As part of a lean organization, we may not all agree on the right way to get there, but there’s little doubt about the direction we’re going. Lean provides that direction.

What is the biggest myth or misconception of Lean?
I’m still amazed at the number of people I meet who think that lean has some ultimate conclusion. We’re going to “do lean” or “lean that out” and then move on to something else. We refer to the directional aspect of lean when we talk about True North. Well you never get to “North”. As an essentially unobtainable goal Lean provides the compass to guide your efforts, but if you think it’s a milestone or a benchmark to be achieved then you miss the real benefit.

What is your current Lean passion, project, or initiative?
Right now I’m most passionate about problem solving. We are starting to take an A3-like approach to solving problems that focuses on having a very clearly defined problem statement and then using PDCA over and over to drive to root cause. This is something that I think is sorely lacking in many organizations I’ve seen, and I’m very excited to see this rigorous and systematic approach starting to take hold. We’ve already seen some substantial and measureable business benefits from it.



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Monday, August 27, 2012

ASQ Post: Creating a Quality Culture

ASQ’s blog topic for August by Paul Borawski is all about culture. Paul asks the Influential Voices to express their views specifically around a quality focused culture.
When you’re in a culture of quality, how does it feel? What attitudes support the success of a culture of quality?
Culture is a topic with plenty written but unfortunately poorly followed. This highlights the lack of understanding for what it takes to create a quality focused culture.

Building a quality culture is not an easy task. A quality culture starts with managers who understand and believe the implications of the systems view and know the necessity of serving customers in order to succeed. The result of that understanding is a culture where a positive internal environment and the creation of delighted customers go together. It is a culture that naturally emphasizes continuous improvement of processes, one that results in a healthy workplace, satisfied customers, and a growing, profitable company.

Here are a few vital points necessary for creating a climate focused on quality:

Commitment to Quality
Commitment from management is a “MUST”. In fact, it is the driving force. Procedures, tools, and database are all useless if the management do not want to see a Quality culture in the organization. The employees of the organization will not care, if the management themselves do not show the attitude to follow the right path.

Capability of Skill
Capability refers to having the skills to undertake work successfully. As is true with any successful implementation, you need the right team blend and capable people in the team, to execute these things. There will be a need to raise the basic knowledge, understanding, and maturity for each and every member of the organization.

Honest Communication
People function best in a culture where open, honest communication is understood. You may be surprised how many innovative solutions can be developed when the truth is consistently shared throughout the organization. An important way to encourage truth-telling is by creating a culture where people listen to one another.

Focus on Processes
Focus on processes helps everyone understand even further the importance of teamwork and cooperation and the interdependence of their work. It places a premium on implementing the tools that make management and improvement of processes more efficient and effective. The emphasis is on continuous improvement through the use of quality tools to measure process performance and teamwork

Understand Your Customer’s Needs and Expectation
For any business the customer is the lifeblood. Every process and every action internal or external should ultimately result in the value addition to the customer and the customer’s delight. Therefore it is essential that the customer needs, wants and expectations are identified before you embark on a quality building program

It is said that the quality of an organization can never exceed the quality of the minds that make it up. The key to success lies in how well each employee is motivated and inspired to deliver quality work.

To create a culture of quality, an organization must align its organizational processes with these vital points. Quality leadership starts with the leaders who plant the seeds, create the environment for success, empower others and deploy quality throughout the organization.


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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Friday, August 24, 2012

Lean Quote: Value Listening and Reading More Than Talking for 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.

"Value your listening and reading time at roughly ten times your talking time. This will assure you that you are on a course of continuous learning and self-improvement." — Gerald McGinnis, President and CEO of Respironics, Inc.

Learning needs to become part of your daily routine. You are most likely to succeed if you consistently pursue a learning activity each day. Even five minutes a day can make a tremendous difference.

So how do you make learning continuously part of job? Here are six ways to get started today:

1. Pursue ways to develop and apply specific skills. The most effective way to develop your skills it to make it part of your daily routine. Each day, identify where you can practice new skills and behaviors. Compile a list of people who can support your development. Observe people who are skilled in the areas you are trying to improve.

2. Get the most out of readings and seminars. When you are reading or are attending a seminar, take notes. Search for one insight or application in everything you read. Decide what you will do differently.

3. Involve others in your development efforts. Effective development rarely happens in isolation. Instead, successful learning occurs through a continuous process of feedback and support. Learn from people outside of work and realize that no single person will fill all your needs. Use resources available through professional associations, Web sites, blogs, and so forth.

4. View mistakes as learning opportunities. Mistakes are a problem if you repeat them or don't learn from them. When you make a mistake, ask yourself what you can learn from it.

5. Stay informed about industry practices. Industry practices and standards change so you need to keep up-to-date on developments. Visit other companies and talk with their employees. Attend industry or professional meetings, conferences, seminars, webinars, and other educational events. Join a group of professionals who get together to discuss issues of common interest.

6. Seek out and learn from others who are different from you. Getting input and advice from a wide range of people will provide you with new ideas. Develop a habit of identifying what you can learn from each person you meet. Realize that to keep learning, you need to put yourself into unfamiliar situations. Network with others to learn needed information.

Everything can contribute to our experience of learning. But as you may realize, learning is incomplete if we don't listen to the voices of those whose background and experiences are different from our own. Part of our learning continuously is opening our minds and hearts to those who propose a different way.


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lean Gone Lego Red Trolley Factory Worker Interviews

My friends at The Gordon, an online training company, have created another series of Lean Lego videos. The Gordon is Victoria's largest regional stand-alone TAFE and one of Australia's original and leading education and training providers -- established in the heart of Geelong in 1887. This project aims to empower workers to continuously come up with ideas to improve workplace productivity. Their first video Lean Gone Lego delivers an insight into a better way of working in manufacturing.



Following on from LEAN gone LEGO is this interview with Robbie the Red Trolley Manager who implemented the LEAN changes. Robbie talks about the benefits of implementing Lean.


Following on from the original Lean Gone Lego clip Sheila, a Red Trolley worker, tells how the new LEAN systems have helped better her workplace. Sheila talks about the positive work environment and teamwork she experienced in this new Lean company.


These are great additions to the original video and they highlight the respect for people aspects of implementing Lean in your workplace. I think those that have seen "Real" Lean can relate to the comments in these interviews. Hope you enjoy a little fun lesson today.



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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meet-up: The Operations Blog Marci Reynolds

Today's guest on the Meet-up is Marci Reynolds, who authors The Operations Blog.  Blog posts focus on Service Operations and Tech Support, with an emphasis on how to align and leverage “people, processes, technology and data.” I have been following Marci for a couple of years and always enjoy her creative posts on leadership.


Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Marci Reynolds and I am Vice President of HELP24 Technical/Customer Support for ACI Worldwide, the leading global payments software provider for banks and retailers. I lead an international team of just under 200 employees with offices in the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions. Our vision is to provide the best customer support in the payments industry.

How and when did you learn Process Improvement?
My first introduction to process improvement was in the early 90’s, when I worked at The Boston Globe newspaper where they used the APIMC approach to address business problems. APIMC stands for: analyze, plan, implement measure and control. In the late 90’s, I participated in a Six Sigma wave with another company, was formally trained in the DMAIC process and received my Greenbelt certification. Last year, I got involved with another twist on Six Sigma, which we labeled the “Higher Velocity” approach.

How and why did you start blogging or writing about Process Improvement?
I have been blogging for about 6 years. I started writing about process improvement within sales (i.e. sale enablement) and then switched to process improvement within service operations about 2 years ago (refer to The Operations Blog). I enjoy writing, sharing what I have learned and getting feedback and ideas from the blog readers. It also forces me to keep current with industry trends.

What does Process Improvement mean to you?
It means identifying and taking action to remove the roadblocks and causes that prevent us from fully achieving our business objectives. Process improvement allows us to implement sustainable improvements in results, not band-aid fixes. It is about looking upstream, and thinking about end to end activities, instead of focusing on the end result only.

What is the biggest myth or misconception of Process Improvement?
The biggest myth I have heard is that process improvement (Six Sigma, Lean etc) is only for manufacturing environments. Second, that process improvement can not be used in creative professions, like logo design. In reality, process improvement techniques can be used in any work environment, for any profession and in any industry.

What is your current Process Improvement passion, project, or initiative?
My entire job is about process improvement. Here are some examples of the types of business questions/problems that my team and I are current addressing using systematic, process review techniques: How can we resolve customer cases faster? How can we improve the capacity of our engineering team to implement code fixes? How can we improve collaboration across departments?



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