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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lean Roundup #50 - July, 2013

A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of July, 2013.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

The "Art" of Workarounds – Leslie Marshall talks about the dangers of workarounds and asks you to consider two questions when deciding to deviate.

Develop A Shared Language For Improvement – Pascal Dennis shares 7 thoughts that can help align Lean across disparate silos.

We Can Tell You How To Find The Answer – Mike Rother says the use of Kata or Lean behavior pattern can help sustain Lean across decentralized groups.

Growing Deadwood in the Organization – Gregg Stocker talks about employee development and the role of leadership in the organization.

What The Gym Can Teach Us About Lean – Chad Walters explains Lean in the terms of sports and uses some examples from the gym.

Does Lean Really Work? – Karen Martin answers the popular question and explains true Lean implementation and its benefits.

Clarify the Problem – Dragan Bosnjak explains the importance of properly defining the problem you are trying to solve for efficiency.

Easy on People, Hard on Process – Al Norval says we need to create a work environment where problem solving combines these two ideas together.

Betting on Lean or... Analytics Versus Empowerment – Bill Waddell explains that Lean is a management decision to commit to people, instead of to data.

Basketball is a Big Game of Competitive 5S – Chad Walters explains 5S with an interesting look at examples from a basketball game.

Deming and Lean: The Disparities and Similarities – John Hunter discussed the similarities and differences in the approach to the Deming philosophy and Lean philosophy.

The Importance of Seeing Through The Same Lens – Tracey Richardson talks about breaking down silos by aligning to the business vision.

The Importance of Empowerment For a Lean Leader – Kelcy Monday explains that empowerment is an effective tool in Lean leadership and their responsibility.

Lean Leadership: Breaking Down the Silos - Robert Martichenko explains how to break down those walls in businesses that are so detrimental to lasting improvement.

10 Characteristics of Great Coaches & Learners – Ron Pereira provides 10 traits that define great coaches and learners in continuous improvement.

Mobility of Management – John Hunter outlines the dangers of turnover and short term thinking in the management of organizations.

Lean Thinking Spreads Only as Fast as Each Individual Manager Learns to Think Lean – Michael Balle explains Lean implementation grows as the management learns Lean.

Managers Are  Crucial To Problem Solving Success – Matt Wrye says the manager’s mindset, attitude and support around problem solving creates the type of results achieved

Put Your Lemons on the List (aka Got Standards?) – Matthew E. May explains the importance of having standards and how to create good standards.

Was Steve Jobs a Lean Thinker? – Ron Pereira believes both the tools and tenets of continuous improvement can most definitely enable companies to improve and innovate. 

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Five Traits of Customer Focused Organizations

The importance of the quality function within the organization has been evolving along with that of the customer. Organizations focused on their customers consistently outperform their competition. A truly customer-focused organization sees things through the “lens of the customer” not the “lens of the organization”.

Customer-driven organizations share certain traits.

Flattened hierarchies. When customers are the focus, a larger percentage of the resources are directly or indirectly involved with customers, reducing the number of bureaucratic layers in the organization structure. Employees will be empowered to make decisions that immediately address customer issues, reducing the need for structured oversight. The traditional functional hierarchy, with departments focused on singular functions, is best replaced with horizontal process or product-based structures (often referred to as value streams) that can quickly respond to customer need.

Adaptable processes. Customer’s demands are at times unpredictable, requiring adaptability and potential risk. Customer-driven organizations create adaptable systems that remove bureaucratic impediments such as formal approval mechanisms or excessive dependence on written procedures. Employees are encouraged to act on their own best judgments.

Effective communication. During the transformation the primary task of the leadership team is the clear, consistent, and unambiguous marketing of their vision to the organization. The behavior of senior leaders carries tremendous symbolic meaning, which can quickly undermine the targeted message and destroy all credibility. Conversely, behavior that clearly demonstrates commitment to the vision can help spread the word that they are serious.

Measuring Results. It is important to verify that you are delivering on the promise to customers, shareholders, and employees. These measurements form the basis of the improvement efforts, and should include internal processes as well as external outcomes. Data must be available quickly to the people who use them and be easy to understand.

Rewarding Employees. Employees should be treated as partners in the improvement effort. Rewarding individuals with financial incentives can be manipulative, implying that the employee wouldn’t do the job without the reward, which tends to destroy the very behavior you seek to encourage. Recognizing exceptional performance or effort should be done in a way that encourages cooperation and team spirit.

For too many organizations, the journey from traditional to a customer-focused organization begins with recognition that a crisis is either upon the organization, or imminent. This wrenches the organization’s leadership out of denial and forces them to abandon the status-quo. Their actions at this point define their success. The successful organization will establish a customer-focused vision, and develop plans to attain the vision.

The common thread in the evolution of quality management is that attention to quality has moved progressively further up in the organizational hierarchy. Quality was first considered a matter for the line worker, then the inspector, then the supervisor, the engineer, the middle manager and, today, for upper management. Quality will continue to increase in importance, in tandem with customer relations. Ultimately, it is the customer’s concern with quality that has been the driving force behind quality’s increasing role in the organization. As Juran (1994) stated, the next century will be the century of quality.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

Key Organizational Metrics and How to Make Them Effective

Most businesses understand the value of using metrics to assess the state of their company and validate the company is heading in the right direction. Organizational metrics, sometimes called Key Performance Indicators (KPI), are developed to understand the overall health of an organization. They provide the fundamental element of balanced scorecards and dashboards, which are used to quickly show how well the organization is performing relative to the past, a target, or both.

The choice of metric is important only so far as the metric is used to guide behavior or establish strategy. Poorly chosen metrics may lead to the suboptimal behavior if they lead people away from the organization's goals instead of towards them.

To be effective and reliable, the metrics we choose to use need to have ten key characteristics. The following table was adapted from Keebler (1999) which suggest the qualities to look for in indicators.

A good measure:
Is quantitative
The measure can be expressed as an objective value
Is easy to understand
The measure conveys at a glance what it is measuring, and how it is derived
Encourages appropriate behavior
The measure is balanced to reward productive behavior and discourage “game playing”
Is visible
The effects of the measure are readily apparent to all involved in the process being measured
Is defined and mutually understood
The measure has been defined by and/or agreed to by all key process participants (internally and externally)
Encompasses both outputs and inputs
The measure integrates factors from all aspects of the process measured
Measures only what is important
The measure focuses on a key performance indicator that is of real value to managing the process
Is multidimensional
The measure is properly balanced between utilization, productivity, and performance, and shows the trade-offs
Uses economies of effort
The benefits of the measure outweigh the costs of collection and analysis
Facilitates trust
The measure validates the participation among the various parties

Traditional KPI are established within four broad categories:

Customer. Customers generally consider four broad categories in evaluating a supplier: Quality, Timeliness, Performance and Service, and Value. Customer communication methods are the means to understand the relative importance the customer base places on these categories as well as their general expectations.

Internal process. These metrics that are strongly aligned with the strategic objectives are best suited. Total cycle time (i.e., time to process the order) and first-pass quality are relevant indicators of internal process performance. Process cycle efficiency, calculated as the value-added time divided by the total lead time, or Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) are relevant Lean-focused metrics for evaluating internal performance and resource utilization.

Learning and growth. Metrics in this category might focus on the total deliverables (in dollars saved) from continuous improvement projects, new product or service development times, improvement in employee perspective or quality culture, revenue or market share associated with new product, and so on.

Financial. Many suitable financial metrics are available and widely tracked, including revenue, profitability, market share, and so on. Cost of quality is also recommended.

Once chosen, the metrics must be communicated to the members of the organization. To be useful, the employees must be able to influence the metric through his or her performance, and it must be clear precisely how the employee’s performance influences the metric.

Regardless of the metrics you use or your method for tracking, make sure to educate your organization on how the metrics are derived, what they indicate, and how they will be used in addition to regularly communicating relevant metrics to your team members.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Lean Quote: Achieving the Goals

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.

"Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success." — Vincent van Gogh

Goals should be accompanied by a detailed plan of how each goal will be achieved. Goals without plans are little more than wishes. The plan will detail the steps that will be taken to reach the goal: who will be responsible for each step, resources that will be required, a timetable. The supervisor should assist the employees with the planning process, and should agree to the plan.

If the plan is carried out and the goals not reached, the problem is in the plan, not in the employee. Remember, Plan-Do-Check-Act is a process of continuous improvement.  If the plan doesn't achieve the result, improve the plan and try it again.  Since progress will be monitored on an ongoing basis, and the plan  will include a timetable, lack of progress should be evident well before the time the goal is to be accomplished, The lack of progress is a signal to revise the plan.

The responsibility of achieving the goals belongs to both the supervisor and the employee, as well as everyone on the staff. It’s a team effort. It’s a company wide effort. The supervisor should work with the employee and the staff to identify ways that the supervisor can assist them in meeting their goals. Progress toward the goals should be monitored constantly. 

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

10 Things Your Lean Leader Can Do Now To Make a Difference Culturally

The best leaders understand the present is nothing more than a platform for the envisioning of, and positioning for, the future. If you want to lead more effectively, shorten the distance between the future and present. Inspiring innovation and leading change call for more than process– they require the adoption of a cultural mindset.

Implementing Lean Thinking is a cultural change that requires leadership…because in the end it’s all about people. Here are 10 things your Lean leader can do right now to change the culture:

  1. Challenge People to Think
If you are not thinking, you’re not learning new things. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing – and over time becoming irrelevant in your work.
The most successful leaders understand their colleagues’ mindsets, capabilities and areas for improvement. They use this knowledge/insight to challenge their teams to think and stretch them to reach for more.
  1. Lead by Example
Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one. Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.
  1. Take Lots of Leaps of Faith
Making a change requires a leap of faith. Taking that leap of faith is risky, and people will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe – and perhaps more importantly, feel – that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction.  Making a change takes lots of leaps of faith.
  1. Create an Environment Where it is Ok to Fail
Failure should be encouraged! That’s right. If you don’t try, you can’t grow; and if growth is what you seek, failing is inevitable. There must be encouragement to try and it’s ok if you try and it doesn’t work. An environment where you can’t fail creates fear.
  1. Eliminate Concrete Heads
“Concrete Heads” is the Japanese term for someone who does not accept that the organization must be focused on the elimination of waste. People feel threatened by the changes brought about by lean. As waste and bureaucracy are eliminated, some will find that little of what they have been doing is adding value. The anxiety they feel is normal and expected. To counteract this, it is critical that people are shown how the concept of work needs to change.
  1. Be a Great Teacher
Successful leaders take the time to mentor their colleagues and make the investment to sponsor those who have proven they are able and eager to advance. They never stop teaching because they are so self-motivated to learn themselves.
  1. Show Respect to Everyone.
Everyone desires respect. Everyone. Regardless of your position or power, ensure you show everyone respect. Everyone wants to be treated fairly.
  1. Motivate Your Followers
Transformational leaders provide inspirational motivation to encourage their followers to get into action. Of course, being inspirational isn't always easy. Some ideas for leadership inspiration include being genuinely passionate about ideas or goals, helping followers feel included in the process and offering recognition, praise and rewards for people's accomplishments.
  1. Develop a True Team Environment
Create an environment where working as a team is valued and encouraged; where individuals work together to solve problems and help move the organization forward. Individuals who will challenge each other and support each other make teams more successful.
  1. Encourage People to Make Contributions
Let the members of your team know that you welcome their ideas. Leaders who encourage involvement from group members has shown to lead to greater commitment, more creative problem-solving and improved productivity.

Constant change is a business reality and organizations must continually adapt to their environments to stay competitive or risk losing relevance and becoming obsolete. For each change, leaders must define it, create a vision of the post-change world, and mobilize their teams to make it.

Leaders who protect the status quo through control must surrender to change in order to secure the future for their organization. Don’t be the leader who rewards herd mentality, and me too thinking. Don’t be the leader who encourages people not to fail or not to take risks. Be the leader who both models and gives permission to do the exact opposite of the aforementioned – be a leader who leads.

Lean success requires a change in mindset and behavior among leadership, and then gradually throughout the organization. So it follows that success in Lean implies a change in what leaders reinforce—a change in leadership behaviors and practices. Change begins when leaders start acting differently. It’s that simple (but not that easy).

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Guest Post: Encouraging Your Employees To Recycle More

I am pleased to introduce this guest post Lee Newell, who has experience in recycling programs. He has some advise for engaging employees in a recycling program that you can use in your workplace. This advice is applicable for most new initiatives as you will see.

Recycling isn’t just a way of saving money, or even satisfying regulations. More and more, businesses are being judged on a wide range of credentials, including their environmental policy. Asking your employees to recycle as much as possible makes good sense from any number of angles. But how do you encourage busy people to make the change and swap landfill for the recycle bin?

Lean is all about maximum effectiveness for minimum effort and learning as you go. Take it as read that you’re not going to get everything right the first time, but as you find out what works then you can use those insights to expand your program. Here are some ideas for getting started.

1. Appoint a champion
First, you need someone to champion your cause. It doesn’t matter if you call them a Product Owner or Eco-warrior, but you need someone to organize your company’s recycling program – one point of contact for questions (and complaints), and one person with overall responsibility and oversight of what’s going on. Ideally this will be someone full of ideas and an infectious enthusiasm, who is able to communicate clearly why it’s so important to get it right.

2. Involve people
The most successful initiatives aren’t decreed from on-high. Whilst you need strong leadership, the more you can involve your people in the decisions that affect them, the more they are going to buy into them. You may need to set some time aside for training new and existing staff, but try to make it a collaborative process. The more they have input into the recycling program, and the more they understand why it matters to them, the easier it will be to implement.

3. Minimum effort, maximum impact
Don’t try to change the world all at once. People don’t like that – especially if they can’t see why it’s important. Start with one small, easy area. Paper is the obvious one. Estimates suggest that every office worker gets through around 10,000 sheets of paper a year – and two-thirds of that is wasted. Swapping the wastepaper basket for a recycle bin is a small step, especially if it’s right next to the photocopier or printer. It takes literally no effort to make the change, but there’s a big impact right off the bat. Similarly there will be obvious places for toner cartridges, drinks cans and bottles, and other common items. Reduce the number of general waste bins, and put them in places that mean they are a less easy option for recycling that should end up elsewhere.

4. Make it fun
Depending on the nature of your workforce, you can incentivise them to take part by various means. Run competitions to see who can come up with the best re-purposed or ‘upcycled’ office gadget/toy. Get them to nominate a charity to support by recycling old computers, toner cartridges and other hardware. Invite new ideas for reducing your carbon footprint or other environmental impacts.

5. Iterate
Small refinements can make a big difference. As you experiment and learn you’ll find ways to improve your recycling scheme. The famous book Nudge explores the idea of ‘choice architecture’ – changing behavior by the options you give people. For example, most employees generate a huge amount of waste paper every day (around two pounds on average), so it can make sense to have a personal recycle bin under every desk. Similarly, putting general waste bins in central places means that everyone else can see what you’re throwing away. Perhaps simplifying things so that a smaller range of items is recycled will result in a greater proportion of those things ending up in the right place. The idea is to create cultural norms in your organisation and encourage your staff to recycle without having to think hard about it at all.

About the Author:

Lee Newell is a marketing assistant at the experts in products for business - ESE Direct (http://www.esedirect.co.uk). ESE have a wide range of products to assist recycling in the workplace and always strive to make positive contributions to communities and the environment.When he's not busy blogging, Lee is a keen cyclist and often participates in charity bike rides.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Networking and Social Media for Lean and Quality Professionals

On ASQ’s blog this month Paul Borawski shared the news of ASQ’s updated online communities which led to the question of online communities:
The overhaul of ASQ’s Communities got me wondering about which online communities you take part in for professional networking with others in quality.
Networking is the single most powerful approach to accelerate and sustain success for any individual or organization. It provides the most productive, most proficient, and most enduring tactic to build relationships. Personal relationships enable you and your organization to stand out, rise above the noise and remain top of mind.

The network I prefer the most is the blogging community. This is the single most powerful online resource for learning and sharing. A blog is a good platform for reaching out to others. Bloggers spend most of their time sharing their ideas and insights with their readers. But I have found that my readers share a lot with me, too.

If you’re looking for an incentive to keep up to date on all of the latest information on lean or quality, starting a blog is a great start. Your weekly quest to put up new content will lead you to always be searching for new information and sharing it with your readers. Every good blog helps its readers. The power of a blog to educate, inspire, and bring like-minded people together makes blogging a great way to help people.

Facebook is another favorite platform of mine.  I enjoy the ease of sharing information and the convenience of interacting with individuals and companies. Facebook has over 1 billion users and they are interacting on Facebook. These interactions provide a tremendous opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals. Done correctly, these interactions can create value.

LinkedIn is another good community but doesn’t offer more value than blogging in my opinion. It has the professional conation that Facebook doesn’t however it is a bit clunky. There are few useful groups but many are not managed well. The networking is more useful in job hunting than professional groups. I find it helpful in managing contacts and interacting one-on-one via messages.

I am not a big fan of Twitter due to its limitations (140 characters). While it is easy to follow and be followed it doesn’t offer the conversation power of other social networks.

Considering all these things I am active on all these sites and some others like Google+, Slideshare, Youtube, and about.me because you sort have to with social media. However, with so many sites engaging can be diluted so you need to find the networks that work best for you.

Social networking sites allow us to communicate with others and express ourselves easier. These sites help you find people you have not seen in a while, chat without actually going places and learn things that are happening today. Social networking sites are basically joining us to the world apart.

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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