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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lean Roundup Edition #55 – December, 2013

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

Carry the wounded and shoot the stragglers: dealing with cynics and skeptics – Jamie Flinchbaugh discusses how to deal with resistance to change.

What it Takes to Succeed – Bob Emiliani describes what it takes to succeed with Lean.

Leading Lean – Leaders Must Be Teachers – Matt Wrye explains why it is so important for leader to be teachers especially leading Lean transformation.

Lean & Project Management – Gregg Stocker discusses the use of Lean thinking in project management and how to get started.

Lean Leadership: Listening & Humility – Karen Martin explains the importance of listening and humility in business planning and reflection.

Lean Leaders – Lean Logistics writes about the power of teamwork and how to build teams.

Leading Lean - Apply Lean to Your Work – Matt Wyre did a nice 5 piece post sharing learning from a forum on leading Lean like this one on applying it to your work.

Key Principles for a Lean Business System – Jeff Hajek provides some guidelines on developing a successful continuous improvement culture.

Confounded by Reality – Bob Emiliani explains the importance of both research and critical thinking for structured problem solving.

Support of Top Management is Not Sufficient – John Hunter says far too few executives practice management improvement in their own work.

Doin’ the Gemba Strut – Bill Waddell explains what a Gemba Walk is and the purpose leaders to understand the value stream.

Top 3 Pieces of Advice for Lean Implementation – Al Norval shares 3 pieces of advice for implementing Lean in your business.

What does 'right first time' mean in an R&D environment? – Jon Miller explains what getting it right the first time mean in a development environment.

Why Is Lean Important? – Bob Emiliani answers the very common question why is Lean important to businesses.

Perspectives on Standard Work – Michel Baudin writes about the important Lean concept of Standard Work.

Sustaining your Gains: What is a Lean Management System? – Maureen Sullivan shares several key components to a Lean Management System that she has found to work from experience.

Gemba and the Data-Based Organization – Dave Krebs provides 4 guidelines for an effective Gemba walk program.

Guest Post: Book Chapter on VIBCO and “Captain Karl” – Toby LaVigne shares a book chapter he wrote on Vibco and Karl Wadensten.

Lean, Deming, and “Accountability” – Mark Graban shares thought on accountability and responsibility in terms of a Lean culture.

Lessons From the Road: 3 Rules for Equipment Excellence – Jamie Flinchbaugh provides 3 rules equipment excellence in any situation.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Lean Quote: Reflection Brings Greater Perspective and Clarity For Achievement

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.

"Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.— Margaret J. Wheatley

Great leaders pause and reflect on a regular basis; leaders at their best renew themselves daily. Without time for reflection, a leader is likely to miss important cues, to forget to do the more important things. They don’t see opportunities because they are hidden by the busy and trivial things. Over time, the leader without time for reflection is doomed to run out of ideas, energy, and the ability to serve those that we lead. We simply “run out of gas.”

Unfortunately, there’s not enough emphasis in the business world about the need for leaders to make time in their day for reflection. In fact, thanks to today’s accelerated pace in the workplace, a greater focus is being put on a leader’s ability to react fast to changes and making quick decisions for their organization. While the ability to think quick on one’s feet is certainly a valuable trait for a leader to demonstrate, it’s also important that leaders develop the habit of putting aside time during their day to reflect not only on current decisions their organization needs to make, but also to review past mistakes to see what lessons their company can gain from that experience.

For many leaders, the acknowledgement that slowing down for some part of the day is necessary, desirable and valuable is in itself transformative. Even the very practical leader will discover that regular time spent in reflection will bring greater perspective and new levels of emotional clarity.  This is the time to step back and take an unhurried look at daily challenges, past “mis-takes” and future visions.

The more you reflect, the more you realize that it comes naturally, and that without it, you are not able to do your job. You will discover that we all reflect, most of the time. By relearning how to use your reflecting skills as a tool in your leaders toolbox, you can increase your ability to see possible challenges early, and seek alternative solutions before you are forced into a corner. You become pro-active.

Making time to reflect on past decisions and mistakes, and allowing yourself the opportunity to learn from it, is a critical step to continued growth and development and your ability to effectively lead others.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Top 10 Posts of 2013

As 2013 goes into the history books I want to take a moment to reflect on this past year. Over 100,000 people have visited the site this year.  I posted nearly 200 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 2013 by views:

10. The 20 Second Rule of “Lean” Change  - posted January 22, describes the idea of frequent small improvements over large projects.

9. 10 More Ways to Show Respect for People - posted April 3, highlights 10 ways you can show respect for people.

8. Management by the Numbers Makes You Blind, Go Beyond the Numbers  - posted March 4, describes the pitfalls of managing the numbers despite the people.

7. Lean Quote: Simple Rules for Holding Lean Meetings  - posted Jan 4, is a Lean Quote that presents 9 rules for holding effective meetings.

6. Poka Yoke: Mistake Proofing to Reduce Errors - posted August 21, explains the basics of mistake proofing as a means to reduce errors.

5. 10 Things Your Lean Leader Can Do Now To Make a Difference Culturally - posted July 24, describes 10 things your Lean leader can do right now to change the culture.

4. No Time for Improvement Means No Improvement - posted July 9, illustrates the importance of making time for improvement.

3. The Right Order of MUDA, MURA and MURI - posted June 17, explains the correct way to attack the 3Ms consider the impact each other.

2. Top 10 Reason Why Lean Transformation Fails  - posted May 6, details 10 common reasons why Lean transformation fails.

1. The 8 Common Wastes in an Office That Cause Downtime – posted February 12, describes the 8 common Lean wastes from an office environment perspective.

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


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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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.

"Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect."

  --  Oren Arnold

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Lean Quote: Ambition is the Driving Force of Change

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.

"Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.— Salvador Dali

Every great leader begins with a great dream. Ambitious visions not only require a capacity for meaningful change, but also provide the energy and inspiration to engage others. These tasks -- articulating a dream and rallying others around it -- are the essence of leadership.

Ambition can be developed in an organization, but it must be held first by senior executives in the enterprise. And, if the organization is to be more than a collection of ambitious individuals, its leaders must be able to articulate a shared, compelling purpose and must engage others in its pursuit. In sharing their dreams, leaders encourage others to dream, and to perform.

Ambition is wanting to move to the next step. Sometimes opportunity is staring us in the face but we may not recognize it. Ambitious people look at the status quo and see ways to do things differently. Ambition may be the driver that challenges assumptions. Part of a leader’s responsibility is to identify the need for positive change and to usher in that change. Looking to do things differently can be a force for the good. 

Without ambition, it doesn't matter how smart you are. Ambition is the driving force that makes our intelligence actually useful.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Logistics and Supply Chain Management: The Lean Delivery Drone

Written by Derek Browning, Regional Vice President of Deployment at LeanCor

In a move that has generated controversy in the e-commerce market, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently unveiled a plan to home-deliver packages with unmanned aerial vehicles moments after an order is placed. 

Fellow lean thinkers, let’s put our whiteboards and calculators away for a moment, and  just assume the costs of transportation, legislation, and uncle George’s duck-hunting club can be neutralized.  Let’s look at the principles that would guide this journey in logistics and supply chain management, namely the voice of the customer, lead-time reduction, and one-piece flow.

Voice of Customer
Consider Amazon’s customer base, specifically those like me who subscribe to Amazon’s Prime service.  We want our products now - not two, three, or six days from now.  The thought of clicking “buy” on my couch while filtering through a few e-mails, then picking up the recently purchased item on my porch moments later is nothing short of amazing. The time and money saved by eliminating a trip to the store makes it well-worth a nominal yearly subscription fee.  As both a customer and professional in logistics and supply chain management, I can only imagine there are thousands like me wanting the same thing.  Bezos, whether he calls it lean thinking or not, has his eye on the customer and is willing to push conventional logistics management practices to get the customer what they want. This, my friends, is how a lean supply chain should operate.

Lead Time Reduction
A lean logistics and supply chain management professional is always looking for opportunities to minimize or eliminate lead time.  Lead time is made up of two things: waste and value added activities. Thus, to reduce lead time is to minimize or eliminate waste in the supply chain.  While automation brings up many questions about flexibility and return on investment, the logistician looks at an over the road route vs. a route as the crow flies.  The logistician also observes many necessary wastes associated with road transportation (turns, waiting, etc.) while a straight delivery path eliminates many, perhaps all of those wastes.

One Piece Flow
Batching for efficiency purposes is very common in distribution.  We batch pick releases and pick-routes to minimize human travel, we batch delivery routes to minimize transportation costs, and we batch order sizes to optimize package and transportation utilization.  While financially beneficial, the lean thinker begs the questions: “What if the customer doesn’t want to order that quantity?” or what if the customer doesn’t want to wait for a truck to fill up before it leaves the facility?”  It looks like this new paradigm of distribution thinking will answer those questions with, “Now he doesn’t have to.” 

Automation often brings up many questions about flexibility and return on investment, but let’s look at this closer:  an over the road route observes many necessary wastes associated with road transportation (turns, waiting at stop lights, etc.), while a straight line delivery path eliminates many, perhaps all of those wastes.

A facility that can pick orders and flow them through without stopping to an unmanned aircraft for single-piece delivery, minimizes or even eliminates the batching of orders arriving at the ideal state – a single-piece flow model.

Regardless of your position on the approach, this shift in the logistics and supply chain management industry should cause ample reflection in your own supply chain:

Do you know, and how are you responding to your customer’s voice?

Are you willing to think beyond industry paradigms to reduce lead-time?

What will it take for you to shrink your current batch sizes?

Author Biography

Derek Browning is a Regional Vice President for LeanCor Supply Chain Group.  LeanCor is a trusted supply chain partner that delivers operational improvement and measurable financial results. Derek’s supply chain and logistics experience has encompassed transactional transportation management, logistics network and route designs, supply chain and facility assessments, lean cross-dock and distribution center projects, people development, and the deployment of lean principles and practices in several cross-functional areas. Read more of Derek’s views on logistics and supply chain management at LeanCor.com.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Collaboration: The Missing Ingredient to Transforming the Way We Work

Our business cultures reflect the core values and beliefs that drive our actions and behaviors and influence our relationships, both internally and with our customers. The culture of a workplace shows up in powerful ways in terms of commitment, quality, and productivity, loyalty, satisfaction, and pride. It creates the standards, work style, and expectations by which our companies are defined. Our job is to engage that culture so that its best values emerge and flourish.

The organization as a whole must create a shared cultural framework that will be powerful enough to replace hierarchy. That framework must not merely be a program or technique or a sophisticated new way to manipulate the future. On the contrary, it must be based on fundamental principles, enhance the stability of workplace relationships, help define the new covenant, and enable managers to use common sense in making business decisions.

In my experience there are seven core values that define the basis for effective work relationships:

  • Respect for people
  • Honor and integrity
  • Ownership and alignment
  • Consensus
  • Full responsibility and accountability
  • Trust
  • Recognition and growth
Collaboration is a principle-based process of working together, which produces trust, integrity, and breakthrough results by building true consensus, ownership, and alignment in all aspects of the organization. Put another way, collaboration is the way people naturally want to work. It is a way of life that enables us to meet our fundamental needs for self-esteem and mutual respect in the workplace. This principle provides the basis for significant and permanent change – for people as well as for organizations.

Put simply, collaboration is the missing ingredient to transforming the way we work.

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