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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Lean Roundup Edition #53 - October, 2013

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

Faith as Second Nature – Bill Waddell says the core kata is perhaps the most valuable element of a lean transformation, and quite likely the most powerful bit of Toyota DNA that can be traced back to Henry Ford.

The Lean Formula – Gregg Stocker shares basic equation which is a guide for starting your Lean journey.

Failure is Requirement for Innovation – Al Norval talks about the need for failure and to be comfortable with it if you want to innovate.

Machines Must Serve People – Bob Emiliani explains the need for machines to serve people in the process and not the other way around.

Problem-Solving: Is There An Easier Way – Karen Martin explains while there are needs for more sophisticated tools simple problem solving by all is more powerful in the long run.

Key Takeaways From The 2013 Northeast Shingo Prize Conference – Christina Kach summarizes here visit to the Northeast Shingo Prize Conference.

Lean Sigma = Lean Plus Six Sigma or Six Sigma With Just a Little Lean? – Mark Graban outlines his opinion on the common debate about and Six Sigma.

The Key to Customer Satisfaction in Lean Logistics Management – Sussie Sterling shares 5 Lean guidelines to improve your company’s on-time performance.

Process, Result and Value for the Community – Jon Miller talks about bringing value beyond the individual and the customer to that of the community and their interrelationship.

Leadership, Time, and Information Flow – Bob Emiliani shares some thoughts on economies of scale and it relationship to how managers lead organizations.

 8 Deadly Sins – Bill Waddell shares 8 big reasons for Lean failures.

Adding Flavor to the Gemba Using SALT – Grant Greenberg shares the mnemonic “Go S.A.L.T.” can remind every leader of the true purpose and value of a gemba visit.

Poka Yoke & Respect for People – Al Norval explains poka yoke and it’s relation to respect for people.

Lean Champions Must Understand the Psychological Principles of Change – Karen Wilhelm shares a few more ideas on how people are affected by technological change.

Catchball Helps Us Get Past We Versus They – Tracey Richardson explains the concept of catchball and how it creates teamwork and mutual respect.

Lean v. Innovation…Wrong Question! – Matthew E May says Lean and innovation does not have to be at odds with each other.

The Future of Lean – Bob Emiliani discusses the evolution of Lean and what the future holds.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Daily Lean Tips Edition #55 (811-825)

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 #811 - Share Successes Within Your Company
One of the best parts about creating an environment that fosters collaboration and experimentation is sharing successes and failures so that everyone can learn from it. When you do something that you consider a success such as developed a new app or even a new strategy that was effective, share it. Not only can it benefit the community at large but it will make your staff feel recognized and feel that they are contributing to something bigger.

Lean Tip #812 - Commit to Culture Change and Failing Fast
While creating a culture of collaboration and innovation within a very traditional and rigid organizational structure can be challenging it can definitely be achieved. But, make no mistake it requires a major culture change within the entire organization that must be led from the top. Senior management must focus on breaking down the silos in the organization to have more of an open culture and leadership.

Lean Tip #813 - Celebrate the Work of Others.
Celebrate your successes! Find ways to publicize your ongoing collaborative work, giving credit to those who have taken on new roles. As projects draw to a close, focus on the ways collaborative work has enhanced the customer and company. Use your celebrations to recruit new supporters and fortify future collaboration. In this way, collaboration becomes rooted in the company’s culture.

Lean Tip #814 - Keep Your Organizational Hierarchy as Flat as Possible to Foster Collaboration.
The more layers and levels of management, team leaders division heads, etc., that you have in your company, the more challenging it becomes for information to travel throughout the organization, and the more people are likely to become territorial. BY keeping the layers of information to minimal we can empower people to provide solutions and to be directly attached to all of our company goals.

Lean Tip #815 - Push Decision Making Down
Try to push decision making down to the lowest level of your organization. If you allow the people in your company who are directly connected to the problems that emerge, to be able to make decisions to fix those problems, you typically will get the best solutions. More succinctly put, the people who encounter the problems all of the time, usually know the best ways to fix the problems. We know that if you do not empower those who encounter the problems to be able to make decisions in how we fix them, then ultimately everyone just develops "work arounds" and the problem gets greatly delayed in being resolved.

Lean Tip #816 - Establish the Core Values that Comprise the Continuous Improvement Culture.
Establish the core values that comprise the continuous improvement culture such as a focus on supporting the customer, teamwork throughout the extended enterprise, receptivity to evolving continuous improvement concepts and tools. These core values will create a sense of belonging and a common vision for all involved.

Lean Tip #817 – Regular Communication Fosters Collaboration
Ensure regular communications to foster collaborative interactions among leaders, stakeholders, and practitioners at all levels.  Where needed, schedule face to face meetings and where not needed, use the communication and collaboration tools and capabilities of the enterprise to keep all members updated and involved.

Lean Tip #818 - Use a Consistent Approach for Projects
A consistent and structured approach for project identification and execution will provide the organization with the ability to identify, select, and manage continuous improvement projects. It should also provide post-closing process steps to continually refine the improvement project methodology and to act upon the lessons learn from the project effort.

Lean Tip #819 - Facilitate Process-Centric Thinking
Process-centric thinking does not have to be overly complex. Sometimes, all it takes is a thoughtful examination to uncover significant areas for improvement. Rather than tolerating mistakes and repeat errors, facilitate process-centric thinking to continually improve, correct, and overcome execution difficulties.

Lean Tip #820 - Turn Employees into Problem Solvers and Improvement Specialists
The most important aspect of lean is to involve employees in developing lean processes. Many times companies create a culture in which the employees don't make the decisions, management does. Then when problems occur, employees are unable to diagnose or solve problems without involving a supervisor. lean reverses that by revolving around employees and looking to them as the improvement specialists.

Lean Tip #821 - Measure, Audit, Review and Continue to Improve Processes
A common saying with our lean program is, “If you can't measure, you can't improve.” Without a baseline, you will not be able to show improvements, so you must measure virtually every process.

Use audits to not only sustain the improvements from Kaizen, but also expose new problems and resolve them with your employees' involvement and input.

Create a culture that continually looks to improve processes — even ones that aren't broken. Through lean you will learn to look at things differently and develop an eye for improvement. The key is to get as many “eyes for improvement” as possible.

Lean Tip #822 - Teach Others What You Learn.
One of the best ways to deepen and solidify your new knowledge is to teach it to others. Give a presentation, run a seminar, teach a class, or volunteer to run a small internal workshop to teach others in your organization what you are learning. Real learning occurs when you share it.

Lean Tip #823 - Focus on the Big Picture
Explain the long-range plans of the company and reinforce them regularly. People often become so focused on today's problems and routine duties that they lose sight of the big picture. When some members of the team concentrate on putting out fires, others can dedicate more time to reviewing processes to eliminate future problems.

Lean Tip #824 - Create a "We" Culture
Team building starts at the top. If senior executives encourage an environment where the organization uses less "I" and more "we" in how they communicate, everyone will feel supported, included and important to the organization. This eliminates an employee's fear of standing alone and shows that the entire organization is thinking about the company.

Lean Tip #825 - Recognize Success, Regardless of Its Origin

The worst organizations are those that think good ideas or successful programs only come from senior-level individuals. Conversely, good organizations encourage creative thinking from all levels and give credit when a creative idea or solution comes from junior or mid-level employees. This is one of the most crucial components of developing a teamwork-based culture.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Lean Quote: Do The Impossible

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.

"I have learned to use the word impossible with the greatest caution.— Wernher von Braun

Impossible is a state of mind; what is impossible today may not be so tomorrow. What is impossible for us may not be so for others. This means that nothing is impossible if we know how to do it. To think otherwise will prevent us from finding a solution. Take flying for example. In the past, man could not fly. To make such a suggestion then would have made a person look stupid. But because some people refused to believe that flying was impossible, it is possible today. In fact, flying is so common that we take it for granted. The impossible has become the possible. When new changes or ideas become the accepted norms for us, we have greater options at our disposal. Today, we can travel by land, sea or air. In the future, space travel might become common for the masses.

It's easier to say something is impossible, or at least extremely unlikely. Everyone has periods of doubts. Everyone considers giving up sometimes, but then you just have to remember why you tried so hard in the first place.

Nothing is impossible. If you never tried it then you would never know if it worked. Every failure teaches you something if you are willing to learn from your mistakes. Those saying it can not be done should not interrupt those trying it. Artificial roadblocks are wasteful and counterproductive. Keep trying. Keep learning.

Your self-belief as a leader is infectious as well. What do you believe about yourself? What do you believe about your ability? What is possible and what is impossible? Your willingness to try the impossible will inspire your team push the limits as well.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guest Post: Addressing Poor Performance Among Your Employees

I am pleased introduce a guest post by George Zoe, who specialized in training and employee development. We had a good discussion regarding the causes of poor employee performance many of which our out of the employees control. See what George has to say below.

When performance is at stake, it is easy to get caught up in pinning blame on others. This is especially true in the workplace, where everyone is reporting to their respective supervisors and the pressure meet deadlines, quotas and industry standards is palpable and ongoing. 

This is where the Lean Principle of ‘Respect for Others’ comes into play. Workplace pressures can get under your skin whether you are an entry-level employee or a high-ranking supervisor. They can also lead us to treat employees with less respect than they deserve. It is easy to assume that performance is suffering because the employee is simply not good enough at their job. But this conclusion makes the issue personal without reason. It’s better to take a step back and assess the entire situation. More often than not, you’ll find external factors at play.

Addressing poor performance begins with understanding its root cause. A range of factors are at play here. Consider the following potential causes: 

  • The employee has been poorly matched with tasks that are outside of their skill set.
  • The work that you are assigning the employee may be too difficult for them to complete. 
  • The employee may not have had adequate training in relevant fields. 
  • The task or assignment may be too drawn out or time-consuming, leading to burnout and decreased motivation. 
  • The employee may not have access to the tools and resources necessary to successfully complete the task. 

These are a few key points, and there are undoubtedly many more that apply. But even across these few, you can see a clear trend emerging. More often than not, poor performance can easily be linked to external factors that are outside of the employee’s immediate control. 

To that end, the following are key areas to investigate when assessing and addressing poor performance:

Consider the employee’s skill set, taking everything from their educational background, natural inclinations and work history into account. Sometimes, a short, focused training session is all that’s needed to help a person achieve higher performance standards. For example, suppose you place a highly productive salesperson on your team in charge of a small team, thinking that the others could learn a great deal from this top performer. 

However, this team does not turn out the results that you expected. You assumed that success and productivity were contagious, but you failed to consider the fact that this employee has been thrust into a position of leadership, without any background or training. It could be that some management development training is all it takes to place that employee on track for success. They know how land sales, but they are ill-equipped to lead others, and that’s no fault of their own.  

Look at the environment in which the employee is carrying out their assigned task. Do they have access to all of the tools and resources that they need to succeed, or have they been left in a situation in which they need to improvise and take shortcuts just to meet benchmarks and quotas? Beyond that, is the area in which they work large enough, quiet enough, well-lit, etc? Don’t assume that your employees will let you known if they are poorly equipped. 

Sometimes the task or project in question simply exceeds the employee’s ability level. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and mismatching an employee with a task outside of their skill set is a recipe for frustration – both yours and theirs. When ability is really the culprit – as opposed to environment, resources, etc. – then the best move may be to reassign the employee with a new task. Handle this with the right amount of tact, and no feelings will be hurt. The key is to frame the reassignment as needing the employee’s skills on another (potentially more important) assignment. 

Difficulty Level
There are times when an assignment is simply too difficult for the employee to excel at. Perhaps the employee is inexperienced, or maybe the task is simply too difficult to begin with. In either case, the only way to really move forward is to reshape the task so that it’s easier to complete. Consider adding another employee to the team to lighten the load. 

Author Bio:
Zoe George is a writer for London Corporate Training (LCT), caters to the needs of businesses who would like to have their employees undergo management development training in human resources, sales, public relations, or finance.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Quality Beyond Manufacturing

In this month’s ASQ post Paul Borawski asks about quality beyond it’s roots in manufacturing.

Customers and companies alike recognize that quality is an important attribute in products and services. Suppliers recognize that quality can be an important differentiator between their own offerings and those of competitors.

It was in the second part of the twentieth century that ‘quality’ boomed in application by industrial and service organizations. Japan and the United States were the first countries to look at quality as an important competitive advantage. However, the quality movement can trace its roots back to medieval Europe, where craftsmen began organizing into unions called guilds in the late 13th century. Until the early 19th century, manufacturing in the industrialized world tended to follow this craftsmanship model. The factory system, with its emphasis on product inspection, started in Great Britain in the mid-1750s and grew into the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s. In the early twentieth century, manufacturers began to include quality processes in production. It was only in the late 1970s that service quality emerged as a solid management discipline and practice.

Recently, quality improvements (and Lean) have moved from manufacturing plants to operations of all kinds, everywhere: insurance companies, hospitals, government agencies, airlines, high-tech product development units, oil production facilities, IT operations, retail buying groups, and publishing companies, to name just a few. In each case the goal is to improve the organization’s performance on the operating metrics that make a competitive difference, by engaging employees in the process and improvement activities.

The biggest challenges in adopting the quality (and Lean) approach in nonindustrial environments are to know which of its tools or principles to use and how to apply them effectively. Organizations succeed or fail based on what happens within specific key business processes. Focused process improvement is a fundamental requirement to sustain initiatives like quality or Lean and to generate positive results.

All products and services are produced and delivered through work or business processes. A process can be defined as the sequential integration of people, materials, methods, and machines so as to produce value-added outputs for. A process converts measurable inputs into measurable outputs through an organized sequence of steps. Furthermore, the process model applies to both manufacturing and nonmanufacturing work.

Nonmanufacturing processes differ from their manufacturing counterparts in any of three ways. Manufacturing is unique in that (1) its customers are isolated from production, (2) its outputs are tangible, and (3) its operations are highly repetitive. By contrast, customers usually are involved directly in the delivery of services, and the value added by nonmanufacturing processes is often characterized as intangible. Some nonmanufacturing processes are repeated infrequently, and their outputs can be unique.

Customer participation in the production of the output is the first key characteristic which distinguishes manufacturing from nonmanufacturing processes.

Many organizations don’t sustain their quality or Lean eorts because they are not focused on improving critical business processes. Successful companies recognize the need to extend the quest for quality beyond manufacturing. Quality awareness must be inherent in all aspects of our business through new product development, manufacturing, administration, sales and customer service.

As the quality (or Lean) approach percolates into ever wider circles, it ceases to be about best practices and starts to become a part of the fabric of doing business.  The next level of the quality (or Lean) journey is managing the softer side of the equation – less about tools and frameworks, more about building the energy and engagement of employees from the shop floor and the office, tapping into their ideas, focusing them on constant problem solving, and keeping them open to change and flexibility.

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, October 18, 2013

Lean Quote: Lost Time is Never Found Again

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.

"Lost time is never found again.— Benjamin Franklin

Every time we put something off, the excuse is some variation of the same: "I'll get to it later. I won't be long. I've got plenty of time." Once that moment is gone, though, it's gone forever.

While it may be tempting to think that it's okay to put something off, the truth is you'll never get those minutes back. You can allocate future time to doing tasks you could do now, but that's essentially spending on credit.

Consider these 7 golden rules of time management for effective management of our most valuable commodity.

1. Time is fleeting. Think about it...the moment you started reading this is gone, never to be regained. It seems we get so caught up in petty circumstances that we forget what we set out to do, and before you know it, the day is gone!

2. Time is valuable. You always have time to make money; but you can never have enough money to make time!

3. Time is unforgiving. The amazing thing about your time; even through no fault of your own, even "wasted" time will never stand still.

4. Time is money. You must be constantly asking yourself, "Am I doing the most productive thing I can be doing right now?" Watch out for those "wasted" moments we were talking about earlier.

5. Time is always changing. We all must constantly renew our minds, and let the past be just that...the past! It can't help you now, aside from the learning experience, don't dwell on it.

6. Time is the ultimate judge. We have all heard "time will tell!" Well, there is some truth to that, as the future has a way of finding any flaw in the plan. Pre-planning will save massive amounts of your precious commodity called time.

7. Time is in your control. We can all be more in control of our day and how we spend it. Today should have been planned out yesterday, and tomorrow should be thought about today.

Time can't be saved.  It can only be spent! We spend it at the exact rate of one minute per minute. We can’t spend more or less no matter how hard we try. We can’t spend more than 5 minutes in five minutes with a friend, and we can’t spend less than 5 minutes in five minutes being angry in traffic. Our rate of spending is fixed. All we can control is where we choose to invest…

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Reducing Changeover Increases Capacity Through Flexibility

In manufacturing, changeover is the process of converting a line or machine from running one product to another. Changeover times can last from a few minutes to as much as several weeks in the case of automobile manufacturers retooling for new models.

Reducing changeover time is like adding capacity, increasing profitability and can help most manufacturers gain a competitive edge. Image a pit crew changing the tires on a race car. Team members pride themselves on reducing changeover by even tenths of a second because it means that their driver is on the road faster and in a better position to win. The same philosophy applies to manufacturing – the quicker you are producing the next scheduled product, the more competitive you are.

The purpose for reducing changeover time is not for increasing production capacity, but to allow for more frequent changeovers in order to increase production flexibility.  By reducing changeover times, your company will be able to run smaller batch sizes. If being able to offer a mix of products and services is important, then quick changeover will reduce the number of operations you need to run every day, week, or month.

The benefits of quick changeover include:

  • Reduce defect rates - Quick Changeover reduces adjustments as part of setup and promotes quality on the first piece.
  • Reduce inventory costs - Elimination of, or reduction in numbers of batches, and their sizes, allows for recovery of operating cash and manufacturing space.
  • Increase production flexibility - Increase output and improve timeliness of response to customer orders.
  • Improve on-time delivery - Quick Changeover supports the ability to meet customer demands.

The keys to quick changeover are found in changing your thinking about changeover as in the following:

  1. Rethink the idea that machines can be idle, but workers cannot be idle.
  2. The ideal setup change is no setup at all or within seconds.
  3. Ensure that all tools are always ready and in perfect condition.
  4. Blow a whistle and have a team of workers respond to each changeover.
  5. Establish goals to reduce changeover times, record all changeover times and display them near the machine.
  6. Distinguish between internal and external setup activities and try to convert internal to external setup.
To start identify and separate the changeover process into key operations – External Setup involves operations that can be done while the machine is running and before the changeover process begins, Internal Setup are those that must take place when the equipment is stopped.  Aside from that, there may also be non-essential operations. Use the following steps to attack the quick changeover:

Eliminate non-essential operations – Adjust only one side of guard rails instead of both, replace only necessary parts and make all others as universal as possible.

Perform External Set-up – Gather parts and tools, pre-heat dies, have the correct new product material at the line… there's nothing worse than completing a changeover only to find that a key product component is missing.

Simplify Internal Set-up – Use pins, cams, and jigs to reduce adjustments, replace nuts and bolts with hand knobs, levers and toggle clamps… remember that no matter how long the screw or bolt only the last turn tightens it.

Measure, measure, measure – The only way to know if changeover time and startup waste is reduced is to measure it!

To compete in today's manufacturing markets, it is necessary to have diverse product lines that can be manufactured and delivered to the customer in the shortest time possible. Producing a large range of products in a short amount of time is only possible through efficient and effective manufacturing practices. Reducing the changeover time is one way to accomplish this goal.

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