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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Daily Lean Tips Edition #45

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# 661 - Define the problem first.

Explain what the problem is—what went wrong, what are the symptoms, what is the impact on your business. Write it down. Everyone who reads it should understand what the problem is and why it’s important. Caution: describe the problem, not what you will do to fix it.

Lean Tip #662 - Test your assumptions about everything.
Check the facts first. Be sure that you and your team understand the problem the same way, and that you have data to confirm that the problem is important. Test the assumptions about proposed solutions to improve the chances your solution will actually solve the problem.

Lean Tip #663 - Measure the right things.
A common measurement trap is to measure something because it’s “interesting.” If knowing a measurement won’t change anything (e.g., help you make a decision, verify an assumption or prove the problem is solved), then don’t waste your time measuring it.

Lean Tip #664 - Look for solution owners rather than problem owners.
Everyone participating in the situation owns the problem, like it or not—and nobody likes it. Avoid the finger-pointing trap by looking for solution owners, i.e., the people who can do something to help solve the problem. Helping with a solution is much more fun than being blamed for a problem, so you’re more likely to get the response you need.

Lean Tip #665 - Acknowledge and thank everyone who helps.
Solving an important problem deserves recognition, and nobody else is going to take care of this for you. Make sure management and key stakeholders know what you and your team have achieved. Remind them of the risks avoided. Thank everyone who participated in the project. It’s the polite thing to do, and encourages them to help you next time.

Lean Tip #666 – Management commitment and leadership from the top is paramount.
Your leadership should be 100% convinced of Lean benefits if it is to be implemented successfully. You should form a steering committee to ensure that resources are planned for and roadblocks removed. Organizational goals need to be aligned to Lean activities. An individual should be selected to lead Lean for your organization.

Lean Tip #667 - Lean is not just a Lean Manager’s job.
Implementing an effective Lean management system will mean engaging staff at all levels. A Lean Manager’s role is distinct – they are not capable of improving an entire business single-handedly.

Lean Tip #668 - Lean is Easy – It’s the People and Culture Stuff that’s Hard
For those of us who have been around LEAN for a while, we know that the methods and the tools are easy. It’s the people and culture stuff that’s hard. That’s one of the main reasons that I recommend people focus on the 4% of the business that’s causing over 50% of the delay or defects, and only engage the employees involved in that 4%.

Lean Tip #669 – Teamwork is Critical for Success, But You Cannot Simply Will it to Happen.
Teamwork is important to the success of the team, but as they say in the magazine: it’s “like getting rich or falling in love, you cannot simply will it to happen. Teamwork is a practice. Teamwork is an outcome.” And teamwork leverages the individual skills of every team member. What can you do now to maximize your team’s success?

Lean Tip #670 - Leverage Your Centers of Influence to Improve Your Success
As Malcolm Gladwell identified in his book, The Tipping Point, there are people in your company who are the true centers of influence. They may not have the top job, but they do have the ear of the right people. They can make or break your success. There are two types of centers of influence: connectors and mavens. Everyone comes to the maven for their encyclopedic knowledge of the business or technology. The connector knows everyone and succeeds by connecting the right resources. It would be a good idea to engage your connectors and mavens in the improvement team.

Lean Tip #671 – Don’t expect training alone to fix your problem
Having a well-trained, correctly-focused team is of course an absolute must for any organization looking to operate with a Lean mindset. But training alone isn’t a panacea and, indeed, will almost certainly lead to serious problems if it’s not accompanied by the organization paying proper attention to the other requirements of the methodology.

Lean Tip #672 - Engage Senior Leadership to Push Through Transformation
As with so much in this life, a successful adoption of Lean simply isn’t going to happen without getting the requisite buy-in from the top. A clear mandate from above will be an indispensable aid in pushing through what for many people might seem a particularly exotic - even downright incomprehensible - methodological transformation.

Lean Tip #673 - Deliver Quick Wins to Receive More Management Endorsement
Everyone knows walking the walk matters more than talking the talk - and nothing’s going to make those at the top more likely to endorse subsequent projects than a quick and successful turnaround on initial Lean ventures. Sure, bear in mind the dangers of rushing things through - it’d be a particularly bitter irony if an over-hurried process improvement methodology implementation were to lead to a decline in process quality - but if you can show quick wins initially you’ll have the ear of those who matter when it comes to getting cracking on more ambitious, lengthier and costlier projects.

Lean Tip #674 – Lean Embodies, Keep It Simple Student (KISS)
Too many times we try to over complicate processes, events, projects, and even standard work.  One of the key elements in Lean instructs to “design simple and inexpensive techniques to error-proof processes”.  When we add levels of difficultly and complication we add an opportunity for error and costs, and possibly waste.

Lean Tip #675 - Make Small Changes – One at a Time
In the world of business it’s not always about survival of the strongest, rather those companies that adapt to change. Human nature is resistant to change, so the entire organization must be involved in establishing company goals and objectives. Small changes are not only easier to handle, but easier to maintain and perfect. The ideal company will learn through small, incremental improvements to the current state. Think of it like building a house.  The foundation goes down first, then the frame work, the roof, the electricity, the installation, the walls, etc.

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