Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lean Round-up #44 - January, 2013




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

Goals & Priorities: Your Personal Hoshin – Karen Martin shares here 6 step process for annual hoshin planning which involves hansei or reflection.

Superficial Resolutions – Bruce Hamilton warns organization so creating superficial improvements by automating waste instead of eliminating it.

Should We Focus on Strengths or Weaknesses – Gregg Stocker says that when developing people it is more important to focus on their strengths not weaknesses.

It's Not About The Boards – Dwayne Keller says it’s not about the boards it is about the daily management system behind the boards.

Lean Thinking: Respect for People – John Smith explains that respect for people is the foundation for Lean thinking and open and honest communication is a big part of it.

Lean Goal Setting or Just Another Resolution? – Christian Paulsen explains a 5 step Lean Goal Setting approach will help you set goals that are both effective and aligned with the needs of your business.

Supply Chain Management and Bridging the Ingenuity Gap - Robert Martichenko defines true supply chain management and the need of executives focus on stability, flow and discipline.

Your Kaizen Story – Evan Durant shares with readers how they should put the Kaizen report out so that is tells a story.

Poke Yoke - Preventing Inadvertent Errors – Al Norval explains an important part of Jidoka which is poke yoke a technique to prevent errors.

Waiting is Less Expensive – Matt Wrye says overproduction is still more costly than waiting idle and that looking busy is not good.

Kaizen, per se – Evan Durant explain the Kaizen using a personal example of preparing for running a marathon.

Meetings: The Plaque of an Organization – Dan Markovitz shares so advice on too many meetings, the impact they have on organizations, and is really a miss.

Don't Annoy to Help or Improve – Liz Guthridge explain how to avoid leadership complacency with 3 proven processes.

The Limits of Imitating Toyota – Bill Waddell answers a readers question on value streams and whether Toyota uses them by reminding us of the failures in copying Toyota.

You already have a KPO... It"s called Management – Mike Rother says that kaizen promotion office is not necessary because it is management’s job.

Are Your Meetings Batched or Botched? – Maureen Sullivan explains two types of waste responsible for the lack of value in meetings; meetings were either “batched” or “botched”.

The Driver's Ed Philosophy of Management – Bill Waddell shares some management flaws using the analogy of a young driver and driver’s Ed that is highly relatable.

My Continuous Improvement: Personal Kanban - 3rd Revision – Matt Wrye shares his latest improvements with his Personal Kanban Journey, one we have mutually shared.

This is Your Brain... – Kevin Meyer explains the power of thinking and why some companies are valuing brain power.

Yokoten - Rapid, Shared Learning Across An Organization – Al Norval explains what Yokoten is and how to use this approach to share the learning within your organization.

Metrics Create A Focus For The Company So Changes Lead to Meaningful Business Results – Jeff Liker answers the question of how do measure productivity in a lean way.

Group Leaders Have To Compute Their Teams Productivity Standards – Tracey Richardson talks about the group leaders role in productivity metrics.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Epic Fail, Yes Fail Epically To Improve


It seems nowadays everything is Epic. The word ‘epic’ is probably the most misused and overused word in the English language. Everything is epic this, epic that. Epic Thread, Epic Blog, Epic Win, Epic Fail, etc. But wait Epic Fail, yes we should.

Individually they are defined: 

Epic- Anything great, spectacular, or large/monumental in nature.  
Fail- An inability to complete an objective, task or job either assigned or volunteered for.

Combining them means: 

Epic Fail -A mistake of such monumental proportions that it requires its own term in order to successfully point out the unfathomable shortcomings of an individual or group.

Failure is part of risk-taking for any growing business. It’s what you learn from those missteps, however, that determine future success.

Treat every mistake as an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t feel stupid or doomed forever just because you failed at something. You can find always other opportunities. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not improving. Henry Ford said, “Failure is merely an opportunity to begin again knowledgeably.” Failure can be an inevitable stepping-stone to great achievement.

Fear of failure is a genuinely scary thing for many people, and often the reason that individuals do not attempt the things they would like to accomplish. But the only true failure is failure to make the attempt. If you don't try, you gain nothing, and life is too short a thing to waste.

Management needs to establish an environment where failure is acceptable. Failures can either destroy or advance our goals, but it's our response to them that truly determines the outcome. If we are too afraid of failure to try then we will never know if we can improve our situation.

Learn to fail epically. Essentially, if you are going to fail you need to learn to do it epically to allow for reinvention and reprocessing to improve on the concepts of a failed product or service. Figuring out why something failed can teach you how to avoid future failures.



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Monday, January 28, 2013

Daily Lean Tips Edition #42

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 #616 – When Setting and Achieving Goals Write Them Down
A very simple tip and a very effective one, too. Write your goals on a piece of paper and paste it somewhere which can remind you everyday that you need to get them. No, I am not suggesting that you get paranoid. If you think that they won't go out of your mind and you don't need to jot them down, it's good. But if there's a slightest chance that you'll lose sight of them, it's better to have them written down and take a look everyday.

Lean Tip #617 – When Setting and Achieving Goals Make an Action Plan
So you have set goals, written them down and now you are all set to start working towards achieving them. First step - make an action plan. There could be more than one method to achieve a goal. Which one suits you ? Decide on it.

Lean Tip #618 – When Setting and Achieving Goals Welcome Failure
If you learn to welcome failure and keep going, I think there's nothing which can stop you from achieving your goals. I don't know anyone who had an absolute smooth run and became successful. Failure is an important part of the entire process. Welcome it. Learn from it.

Lean Tip #619 – When Setting and Achieving Goals Track Progress
Extremely important. If you don't track progress, you don't get an idea if you are going the right way and if you would ever achieve it in the time frame you had set in your mind. So track your progress everyday. There are various methods and tools to track progress.

Lean Tip #620 – When Setting and Achieving Goals Persist
Persist. Don't give up. As I mentioned, there could be many paths leading to the same destination. Try out different methods. Learn and improve. Be patient. Be persistent.

Lean Tip #621 - It takes time for a change to become an established habit.
It will probably take a couple of months before any changes become a routine part of your life. That's because your brain needs time to get used to the idea that this new thing you're doing is part of your regular routine.

Lean Tip #622 - Pleasing other people doesn't work.
The key to making any change is to find the desire within yourself — you have to do it because you want it, not because someone else wants you to. It will be harder to stay on track and motivated if you're doing something out of obligation to another person.

Lean Tip #623 - Roadblocks don't mean failure.
Slip-ups are actually part of the learning process as you retrain your brain into a new way of thinking. It may take a few tries to reach a goal. But that's OK — it's normal to mess up or give up a few times when trying to make a change. So remember that everyone slips up and don't beat yourself up about it. Just remind yourself to get back on track.

Lean Tip #624 - Read, Listen and Learn
Setting goals is not about accomplishing things as much as it is about personal growth. You see, when you set goals that are challenging, you will have to become a better person in order to accomplish those goals. That is why it’s important that you read, listen and learn how you can become better in every area of your life.

Lean Tip #625 – Achieving Your Goals Requires Determination
One of the most common characteristics of people that constantly achieve their goals is that they are determined and relentless. They don’t give up. Imagine being relentless in the face of obstacles and challenges. See yourself blasting through the roadblocks and moving boldly to your goals. You already have that ability in you, you just have to dust it off and start using it.

Lean Tip #626 - Get Energized About Work.
Getting energized about work usually results from a couple things. Primarily if a work culture is fun to be in, it’s a place you look forward to going because the people (and leadership) are authentic, caring and fun. And teams that are energized with what they are doing get excited by the opportunities that a day may bring.

Lean Tip #627 - Planning is the Basic Step for Success.
You won’t know where you are going unless you know where you want to go. Confusing? Well that’s exactly how your business would be, if you do not keep things simple and organized. Planning is the basic step to succeed in business and planning accurately and developing strategies will lead you to a healthy and growing business. That means reframing the top down objectives in your organization. Don’t just work with only the large goal in mind. Set immediate and short term goals that fire up your team. Celebrate achieving those goals and adjust as the culture and needs change… We live in a very fluid business world where things change fast. Create a team that is able to change along with it.

Lean Tip #628 - Strive to Learn Something New Every Single Day.
It is easy to get bogged down in the same old, same old. In order to fully realize potential, you’ll have to add knowledge, skills, and experience. Don’t expect your potential to spring forth in a final draft; it takes time to hone your skills and build your confidence. This could come from formal schooling, from the school of hard knocks, or from both. Either way, your education is the house your realized potential will live in. The opportunities for learning are multiplying every day in this information/technology age. Learn at least one new thing every day. Improve your mind and enhance your skills. Never stop learning.

Lean Tip #629 - Work Smarter Not Harder.
Productivity comes from working smarter, not harder. That is the difference between effectiveness and efficiency. You can be effective without being efficient, but, the key to productivity is to do both. Sometimes, those job inefficiencies are not very obvious. However, if you can specifically identify them, then those inefficiencies can be eliminated and staff can become more productive. By distributing the tasks and responsibilities around, you not only become more flexible and able to respond to changes more quickly, but you involve more people in the improvement process. This can increase work satisfaction as well.

Lean Tip #630 - Devote Time Each Month to Employee Development.
Most people want to learn and grow their skills at work. Encourage experimentation and taking reasonable risk to develop employee skills. Get to know them personally. Ask what motivates them. Ask what career objectives they have and are aiming to achieve. You can make their career. In order to get the most from your employees, you need to invest time and resources in their development. Annual performance reviews simply aren’t enough. Make a point to sit down with each employee on a monthly basis (or more frequently, if possible) and provide them with specific feedback and areas of improvement.


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Friday, January 25, 2013

Lean Quote: Corporations Need to Become People Factories

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.

"Corporations need to become people factories—places that develop people—not human warehouses that only produce window watchers." — A. William Wiggenhorn (Motorola University)

Most people want to learn and grow their skills at work. Encourage experimentation and taking reasonable risk to develop employee skills. Get to know them personally. Ask what motivates them.

In order to fully realize potential, you’ll have to add knowledge, skills, and experience. Don’t expect your people to do their best if you don’t equip them with the training they need to perform. And don’t expect your potential to spring forth in a final draft; it takes time to hone your skills and build your confidence. This could come from formal schooling, from the school of hard knocks, or from both. Either way, your education is the house your realized potential will live in.

Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company's philosophy Empowerment happens when employees use the company tools to solve problems. Build cross functional teams to improve quality and productivity. Work hard to reinforce the company culture and assure it is followed over the course of years.

Your role as a leader is to develop talent to the highest levels of independent and autonomous thinking and execution. Great leaders don’t subscribe to a “Do-It-For-You” methodology of talent management, rather they lead, mentor, coach and develop team members by getting them to buy-into a “Do-It-Yourself” work ethic. Great leaders view each interaction, question or even conflict as a coaching opportunity. Don’t answer questions or solve problems just because you can, rather teach your employees how to do it for themselves. If you make it a habit of solving problems for people, you simply teach them to come to you for solutions at the first sign of a challenge.

Leaders facilitate the solution of problems by pinpointing responsibility and developing employees. Leaders do not solve other people’s problems. Similar to the fishing adage, which says don’t feed a person a fish; teach them how to fish, don’t solve the problem, teach them how to solve their own problems.

Lean thinkers at Toyota believe that showing respect for people means you allow them to think for themselves and solve their own problem. It is often said that the mission of Toyota is about developing exceptional people who happen to make great cars. The point is that it is more about people and less about the problem. The problem is another opportunity to teach them a skill for lifetime.



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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Quality Customer Service is All About The Quality of Design




On ASQ’s Blog, President Paul Borawksi asks what the role of quality is customer service.
When you think of “quality,” do you think of customer service? What do you think is the role of quality—whether the “big Q” or the “little q”—in customer service?
Customer satisfaction is one of the most important aspects of any organization. If customers aren’t satisfied, they will take their business elsewhere and the organization won’t last.

The responsibility of delivering quality products and services to customers lies on the shoulders of every single individual who is even remotely associated with the organization. It is not only the management but also employees irrespective of their designation, suppliers, clients, customers who need to come up with improvement ideas to make foolproof systems and processes to deliver quality products which meet and exceed the expectations of end- users.

The meaning of quality differs depending upon circumstances and perceptions. For example, quality is a different concept when focusing on tangible products versus the perception of a quality service.

Fundamentally, there are three levels of quality customer service:

First level: Conformance to Customers basic requirements, includes safety /health.

Second level: Customer satisfaction with Customer's expressed requirements.

Third level: Customer delight with unexpected new quality achieved by meeting customer's latent requirements.

Remember that long term profitability isn’t as much in winning customers as in keeping customers. Each individual customer’s perception of your company will determine how well you do and that perception will depend on the level of customer service you provide.

Big Q and little q is a term coined by Dr. Juran and is key in fully understanding quality. It contrasts the difference between managing for quality in all aspects of business process, products and services which is Big Q – or quality of design.  While little q relates to a much more limited capacity of quality of manufacturing (e.g. quality control activities).

Quality of design: Thoughtfulness and processes that lead to user delight, that make it likely that someone will seek out a product, pay extra for it or tell a friend.

Quality of manufacture: Removing any variation in tolerances that a user will notice or care about.

To survive and thrive in a very competitive landscape, companies need to focus on the Big Q – or quality of design. Quality of manufacturing is important to control defects, but remarkability can only be built into the design. These are emerging views on quality, and the ones we cannot afford to ignore.

Customer satisfaction is a very important part of quality management because it directly involves the products and services that are made available as well as what goes into the manufacturing process. That is why companies strive to offer products of the highest quality and work hard to maintain that level and make improvements or change where ever necessary. That is what managers work very hard to do and why teams are constantly learning new techniques and processes.


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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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The 20 Second Rule of “Lean” Change

Change is one of the most difficult things for humans to readily accept. People commonly resist change for a variety of reasons. Although you intend for the change to result in a positive outcome, change is often viewed as negative. Anyone who has worked in or led an organization's transformation understands change is not easy. We are so ingrained in the way that we do things that to do it a new way, or to stop doing something causes us to feel uncomfortable. We equate uncomfortable with wrong, instead of different, and there's a tendency to go back to what was comfortable.

One key to changing a habit is to put desired behavior on the path of least resistance, so it takes less energy to do it than to avoid it. It often takes more than 20 seconds to make a difference, but the strategy is universally applicable: Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt and raise it for habits you want to avoid. In physics, activation energy is the stimulus required to cause some sort of reaction. With human behavior, it’s the energy we must first expend in order to do something new.

In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor talks about his experience with activation energy when he was trying to practice guitar more frequently. In his description of what he calls the 20-Second Rule, Shawn put the guitar closer to the couch and moved the television remote further away – about 20 seconds away, to be exact. “What I had done here, essentially, was put the desired behavior on the path of least resistance, so it actually took less energy for me to pick up and practice the guitar than to avoid it.” He calls it the 20-second Rule, “because lowering the barrier to change by just 20 seconds was all it took to help me form a new life habit.”

Sustainable behavior change is not something that occurs as a result of doing a 30 or 90-day program, nor is it something that you master after doing it for a year. Change takes a daily commitment to put in the time and energy, knowing that the return on that investment is great. The more we are able to reduce the resistance to, the better we are able to focus on things that matter most to us.

Sustaining lasting change often feels impossible because our willpower is limited. And when willpower fails, we fall back on our old habits and succumb to the path of least resistance. This principle shows how, by making small energy adjustments, we can reroute the path of least resistance and replace bad habits with good ones.

Change should be ongoing and employees should be a critical part of that process so there is not fear of change but a willingness to embrace it because it’s a part of the everyday process in the organization.

Look at the good habits you want to develop and see if there’s a way you can make them easier to begin by 20 seconds. Conversely, want to stop a bad habit? Increase the time it takes to initiate it by 20 seconds.



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Monday, January 21, 2013

The Benefit of Being Part of a Team

Highly empowered and effective teams are the key to compete in today’s world of high technology processes, six sigma quality and continuous innovation. We all have roles in our organizations but it is the power of teamwork that makes our endeavors successful. It takes everyone working together on a common goal to be successful in Lean. Teams are the engines that deliver successful process improvements.

A team of people can achieve far more than the sum of the total of the individuals skills alone. In business teams can achieve: 

They can generate a wider range of ideas and innovation than individuals; 
They are able to motivate themselves; 
They can bounce ideas off each team member; 
They often take more risks than individuals; 
They have a range of personalities such as workers, thinkers, leaders who contribute the right balance of skills necessary to achieve high performance; 
They support each other and are not just task-orientated; 
They can be a support mechanism which provide mentoring and allow others to grow in self-confidence. 

I used the following video at a company meeting last week to illustrate the benefits of team work.  This funny video is pretty effective at showing it is smarter to work in teams.



If you have individuals with the potential to create a high performing team, just imagine what they could achieve for your sales, productivity or bottom line!


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