Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lean Roundup #45 – February, 2013





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

No Time For Heroes – Gregg Stocker explain how to deal with the problem of hero worship and how it is a crutch for ineffective processes

Top 3 PDSA Mistakes - Michael Lombard shares the top 3 most common PDSA mistakes from the frontlines of healthcare process improvements.

Redefining Your "Real Job" through  Leadership Standard Work -Steve Taninecz defines 3 components of leaders standard work that are critical factors for success.

The Value of Mistake Proofing – Mark Rosenthal explains why mistake proofing instead of blaming shows real respect for people.

Do The Right Small Thing – Jim Benson explains the value and throughput of breaking up projects to small manageable tasks.

Applying Lean In Uncommon Ways – Jeff Hajek shares some examples of applying Lean in companies outside the traditional manufacturing setting.

Lean Transformation: Top Down or Bottom Up? – John Smith talks about change from those managers in the middle and how to get them to support the transformation.

We're On The Hunt For Silos... And You Won't Believe What We've Found - Colin Willis explains 4 negative effects of silos and shares some advice to eliminate them.

Better To Cause Problems Than To Solve Them – Bill Waddell says that creating new problems instead of applying the same old solutions can truly open doors.

Leaps of Faith – Evan Durant explains why Lean conversion takes a leap of faith relating to a real life experience of sky diving.

We Need To Understand Variation To Manage Effectively - Mike Stoecklein offers an in depth look at variation from two points of views and the importance for managers to understand it.

Productivity and Improvement – Art Smalley says there is no perfect metric and it can’t replace observation and improvement.

Who Needs To Use The Metric And To What Purpose? – Michael Balle cautions the use of productivity and focuses on how to make effective measures.

Lean and Productivity – Daniel Jones says we need to avoid looking inward and shares some indirect measures of productivity that add value.

The Significance of Catchball – Gregg Stocker has a nice explanation of the catchball process for what I call strategy alignment and execution.

Improving Processes Helps Innovation Efforts – John Hunter explains how process improvement increases innovation rather than stifles it.

Communicating for Change - Aaron Fausz shares a number of guiding principles that should be followed when creating and delivering your communications regarding change.

Kaizen - Small Changes vs Monster Projects – Al Norval explains why Kaizen is about small changes and why it is so beneficial to sustaining improvement.

Early Bloomers – Bruce Hamilton explains stereotypes of those within transformations in terms of seasonal changes.

TPM Before Lean – Ellis New shares his thought on the importance of total productive maintenance and why your improvement should start with TPM.

Try Walking Before Talking – Liz Guthridge says while choosing and using the right words are still important words don’t drive behavior actions do.

Toyota, Respect for People (or "Humanity") and Lean – Mark Graban writes how “respect for people” and “continuous improvement” (or Kaizen) are intertwined.

Heard on the Gemba: We are Great Problem Solvers, But... – Jon Miller explains the 8 steps of Toyota’s Business Process synonymous with practical problem solving and mapped against the PDCA cycle.


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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Deploying Lean in a Product Development Process

On The Lean Edge Blog this week a reader asked how to take Lean into product development:
A consumer-products company has recently begun its Lean journey by focusing on Lean fundamentals starting on the shop floor (standard work, 1-piece flow, pull, work to Takt). The company is simultaneously refreshing its product portfolio.  Although the cross-functional New Product Development (“NPD”) team members may have little experience working in a Lean environment, the team nevertheless desires to (1) deploy rapid NPD processes and (2) prioritize its product pipeline to take full advantage of its budding Lean capabilities.  For example, the team believes it should put higher weight on products most relevant to customers who will benefit from (and pay for) its improved service and quality levels.  If you were coaching this NPD team, what advice would you provide?  What Lean tools / resources / would you recommend?
I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the question, so here it goes:

Lean thinking is an enterprise strategy to grow your business profitably. For a business to grow profitably there are essentially two elements that are needed: Lean and Innovation. You need innovative products, technologies, and services that people really want. And this all needs to be done with operational excellence to compete in a global consumer driven market.

A Lean Product Development Process comprises 3 basic elements: (1) driving waste out of the product development process, (2) improving the way projects are executed with stage-gate A3 management process, and (3) visualizing the product development process.

The first step in eliminating waste from New Product Development (NPD), and thus improving the process, is to learn to identify the eight wastes.  By closely examining the entire NPD process from a Lean perspective, the opportunities to drive out waste and increase value will become obvious.

Improving the execution of individual activities with the use of Lean tools is the next step.  A stage-gate review process helps to define the process utilized in development while reducing the risk of development.  The A3 management process is used to solve problems, gain agreement, mentor, and lead projects.

The last step is to bring visual factory techniques to your product development process.  Visual boards displaying necessary information provides the status at a glance.  Stand-up meetings in combination with the visual boards allow for optimized communication and with a bias for action.

A couple of years ago I gave a presentation on Lean Product Development at a local conference where I expanded on the items I listed above.

Lean Product Development
View more presentations from Tim McMahon.
Lean is implemented in product development the same way it is in manufacturing or service processes. Predominantly the tools are the same. Sometimes we want it to be more complicated but the thinking is all the same. Start growing your business by deploying Lean thinking in your innovation process.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Guest Post: How I Quit Being a Door Mat


There’s a fine line between being a team player and ending up as the official doormat of your workplace.

Most of the time, when your coworkers ask for your help, it’s because they’re genuinely too busy with important work to get everything on their plate done on schedule. Maybe their responsibilities expanded because cutbacks caused someone else to lose their job. Or perhaps it’s just the busy season and they have more to do.

Whatever the situation is, it’s important to do your best to help the team. Not only will this raise the level of the entire department, it will help you as well. Do a good job on some important projects – whether they’re yours or not – and the people who matter will see how much you’re contributing and recognize your value.

The problem comes when you constantly find yourself suffering – both in work and life – because you’re always doing the dirty work and people start to expect that you will do it. Earn that kind of reputation and you could end up killing yourself with all the extra work just to keep a job that’s no longer satisfying. Worse, all that grunt work can sap away at your energy and make you less capable in your real work.

But there is a way to get out of this rut. Here are several lessons I learned that let me quit being a door mat.

Why you should not always say yes. Learning to say “no” is a very powerful tool, but it’s not just about saying "no.” You always want to be thought of as a person who’s willing to help the team, so you have to pick your battles wisely and have good reasons for when you do refuse extra work. And I don’t just mean good excuses that you can tell the person requesting your help.

Saying no is an opportunity. Instead of bogging yourself down in the grunt work that someone else doesn’t want to do, you’re keeping yourself free to tackle more important jobs, and preventing yourself from doing a bad job or burning out because you’re overworked. The goal shouldn’t just be to get the job done, but to impress the people above you and make it look easy – when you’re accepting work from all sides, the quality of what you’re doing can suffer, and that hurts everyone.

Why you don't have to please everyone. Some people just don’t like being the bad guy and turning others down, especially people they see as their friends. But by constantly taking on others’ work that you know they have time to do, you’re hurting yourself, enabling their lazy behavior, and making them see you as someone who can be taken advantage of. This doesn’t enhance friendships or build respect; it makes you their whipping boy.

At this point, it’s important to say that this kind of behavior isn’t the norm in most workplaces. Most people are just trying to work hard and climb that ladder – the same as you – but there are a few out there who are just opportunistic, and you have to know how to recognize them or risk being taken advantage of. Ultimately, refusing them is good for you, for them, and for the company because it causes everyone to strive for a particular level of productivity. Your goal should be to complete your work to the best of your ability; doing an excellent job makes the entire team look better.

Why being a leader of yourself helps you to lead others. Deciding to become a “leader of yourself” teaches you to prioritize tasks, evaluate the time you’ll need for each one, and agree or refuse to take on more work based on facts and what’s best for the business. Learning how to make yourself adhere to these principles is a fantastic way to show that you can transfer those skills into a position where you will be leading others.

In contrast, taking on everyone else’s work is a horrible way to conduct your professional life because it will leave you constantly struggling to define priorities and get everything finished. In effect, it keeps you from having to make those tough choices about what’s important and what isn’t because everything always feels like it has to be done now, now, now!

About the Author: 

Patrick Del Rosario is a Filipino business and career blogger. He is part of Open Colleges Blog. Aside from blogging and being a business blogger, Patrick is an aspiring photographer. If you want to feature his writings on your site, connect with him at Google+ or drop a line at patrick (at) oc.edu.au.


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Friday, February 22, 2013

Lean Quote: Leaders Don't Invent Motivation In Their Followers, They Unlock It

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.

"Leaders don't invent motivation in their followers, they unlock it." — John W. Gardner


In my experience there are three things you need to learn about motivation:
  1. First, you can’t motivate anybody to do anything they don’t want to do. Motivation is an internal thing, not an external thing.
  2. The second thing is that all people are motivated. The person that stays in bed in the morning rather than getting up and going to work is more motivated to stay in bed than to work. They might be negatively motivated, but they are nonetheless motivated.
  3. The third thing is that people do things for their reasons and not for yours. The trick is to find out what their reasons are.

Motivated, committed, engaged employees care about what they do and why they do it. They get up and come to work every day because they care about it. It’s not a short-term energy surge; it’s a way of life.

Motivation comes from within. Individuals have the capacity to motivate themselves...or demotivate themselves. Help them see the way by creating and sustaining the kinds of conditions that help them bring their best selves to work every day. Respect, proactive and honest communications, capable and engaged leadership – these are the ingredients that add up to an engaged, energized workplace.



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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lean Math is a New Blog You Should Read

Our good friend Mark Hamel has a new project that I would like to share with you.


The Blog
We would like to announce a new entrant into the lean blogosphere, it’s called Lean Math (leanmath.com).

We know what you’re thinking, “Lean Math?!” Now, that’s a subject that evokes passion in the heart of every lean practitioner…right?

But, the truth is effective lean transformations require some level of math, whether it’s the often deceptively simple takt time calculation, sizing kanbans, calculating process capability, or anything in between. It’s hard to get away from math. There is no such thing as math-free lean and certainly not math-free six sigma!

Lean Math is not intended to be some purely academic study and it does not pretend to be part of the heart and soul of lean principles. Rather, it’s a tool and a construct for thinking. Here we want to integrate lean math theories and examples with experimentation and application. 


The Background

Within the next year, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers will be publishing a book, tentatively entitled, Lean Math. Mark Hamel, author of the Shingo Award-winning book, Kaizen Event Fieldbook and founder of the Gemba TalesTM blog, and Michael O’Connor, Ph.D. (a.k.a. Dr. Mike) are co-authoring this work. They are also getting a ton (!) of help from Larry Loucka, friend, colleague, and fellow-blogger at Lean Sigma Supply Chain.



Here are some of the first blog posts:

  • Time
  • Cycle Time
  • Square Root Law
  • Min/Max Cut Theorem
  • Coefficient of Variation
Personally, I am excited about this new addition to the lean blog frontier. I think there is a lot to be learned by Hamel, Loucka, and O'Connor. I hope you visit this new blog and find it useful and enjoyable.  I'd like to hear your feedback.


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Guest Post: How 5S Strategies Can Help You Organize Your Tools with Ease

Today, I am happy to introduce another guest post by Mike Wilson from Creative Safety Supply. Mike enjoys blogging and reading about the lean manufacturing niche. He is invested in Creative Safety Supply, known for its safety products to help manufacturers with their 5S and Lean Projects. Mike is going to talk about the importance of 5S, specifically tips for organizing tools in your workspace.
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Are you familiar with the strategies of 5S? If not, right now is a great time to learn! 5S originated from a Japanese concept involving the “lean” mindset and it is has been successfully utilized within many different business sectors to help improve overall function. Let’s start with a basic overview of 5S and then discuss how it can help tremendously with tool organization.

Brief overview of 5S

The five S’s basically stand for seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu and shitsuke. Have I lost you? I hope not. Let’s briefly go over these five terms in English for better understanding.

1. Sorting: The first “S” stands for sorting, this essentially means to get rid of unnecessary items or tools and to prioritize the items that are used so they can be stored more efficiently and within accessible areas.

2. Straightening: The second “S” is for straightening or setting things in order. The main objective here is to organize the workspace to be most efficient and productive by locating tools and equipment most often used in easy to access areas. Not only does this better utilize the space within the work area, but it also helps to save time that may be lost in trying to locate specific items or tools.

3. Shine or Sweeping: The third “S” focuses on cleanliness. Having a clean and tidy workplace encourages others to also keep the area clean and helps contribute to a more productive and effective work environment.

4. Standardizing: The forth “S” helps with standardization, the goal with this strategy is to keep workstations that do the same jobs more uniformly organized. For example, if an employee does a particular job and there are multiple work stations doing that same job, the employee should be able to move effortlessly from workstation to workstation since they all function in the same manner.

5. Sustain: The fifth “S” is for sustaining the practice. This step basically includes the monitoring and sustaining of the four previously mentioned 5S tactics. The focus should be to move forward with the 5S methodology and not fall back into old ways and habits that are potentially not as beneficial and effective for the organization.

Tips for Helping Organize Tools Utilizing 5S Tactics

After reviewing the 5S tactics, it is pretty easy to see how this methodology can be very helpful with operating and maintaining an effective workspace. One key component we want to discuss regarding the 5S practice is tool organization. Tool organization seems to be among one of top areas of concern and disorganization within many types of businesses including, but not limited to auto body shops and maintenance departments within manufacturing facilities. 




Unfortunately, so much time is wasted looking for misplaced tools that businesses are losing valuable employee work time and also the tools that were not properly organized or returned. One very helpful alternative to implement to help with this issue is the use of a foam tool organizer. A foam tool organizer follows the methodology of the 5S mindset in making tools easy to find, and located within a handy area. Most foam tool organizers are fully customizable meaning that you can alter them to fit any sort of tool related to your business. Whether it be screwdrivers, hammers, or pliers they can all easily be stored within the organizer. Not only does this type of organizer save time in locating needed tools, but it also saves the business money by not having to purchase replacement tools in place of lost tools and in addition, it keeps a neat and tidy workspace. 

Many people who implement the help of a foam tool organizer wonder how they ever functioned efficiently without one. It’s worth it to take some time to really review the 5S process and analyze whether the use of foam tool organizers could be helpful with the organizing of your business-related tools as well.


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Monday, February 18, 2013

Daily Lean Tips Edition #43

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 #631 - Learn More from Reading. 
Far too may business executives believe leadership skills stem from some sort of wondrous epiphany or other such flash of insight. Sure, great ideas can come to any of us, but being a bona fide leader also means study. Read books, attend seminars, and pick the brains of colleagues to see what works for them. Read an article; discuss a new approach with a colleague; research what other organizations are doing on the Web. It can be a long education, but one with rewards that multiply with the more knowledge you have under your belt.

Lean Tip #632 - Try Something New.
The world is moving forward, swiftly and consistently. As industry leaders, if you stop taking a breath, you will be left far behind others, competing in the race. Change is inevitable as so is it a scary concept. To overcome this fear, try doing something new. Take risks, explore ways to overcome the disabilities and move ahead. It might sound easy, but it is no less challenging.

Lean Tip #633 - Get Out of Your Office.
When you get bogged down, distracted, or even discouraged rediscover the power of going to see. There is no better way to experience the flow of value (or lack thereof) than taking the same journey that an order, new product, patient or other takes through your processes. Spend as much time as possible with employees and customers. Learn the issues first hand. Expand your focus. Many look primarily at the steps in the value stream and ask how to remove the waste. Reflect first on the purpose of the process. You must ask about the support processes to get the right people to the right place in the value stream at the right time with the right knowledge, materials, and equipment. Work to solve problems when and where they occur. Pay special attention to the way people are engaged in the operation and its improvement.

Lean Tip #634 - Focus Feedback on the Future.
You want people to improve. In almost every case, people want to improve and do great work. Yet most workplace feedback is focused on something that can’t be changed -- the past. If you want to be a more effective coach to your team and help them make improvements in their skills and results, give them feedback, and about what they can do next time.

Lean Tip #635 - Follow Up and Follow Through.
The primary criticism of leaders is that they do not follow up or follow through on promised actions and information. How well a manager follows up or follows through on promises is part of the test to determine if they will be a quality leader. Another reason follow up is so important is that old saying “out of sight, out of mind”; leaders need to remind employees that their interested in improvement.

Lean Tip #636 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Demonstrate That You Value People
Your goal is to demonstrate your appreciation for each person's unique value. No matter how an employee is performing on his or her current task, your value for the employee as a human being should never falter and always be visible.

Lean Tip #637 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Share Leadership Vision
Help people feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their individual job. Do this by making sure they know and have access to the organization's overall mission, vision, and strategic plans.

Lean Tip #638 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Share Goals and Direction
Share the most important goals and direction for your group. Where possible, either make progress on goals measurable and observable, or ascertain that you have shared your picture of a positive outcome with the people responsible for accomplishing the results.

Lean Tip #639 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Trust People
Trust the intentions of people to do the right thing, make the right decision, and make choices that, while maybe not exactly what you would decide, still work.

Lean Tip #640 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Provide Information for Decision Making
Make certain that you have given people, or made sure that they have access to, all of the information they need to make thoughtful decisions.

Lean Tip #641 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Delegate Authority and Impact Opportunities, not Just More Work
Don't just delegate the drudge work; delegate some of the fun stuff, too. You know, delegate the important meetings, the committee memberships that influence product development and decision making, and the projects that people and customers notice.

Lean Tip #642 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Provide Frequent Feedback
Provide frequent feedback so that people know how they are doing. Sometimes, the purpose of feedback is reward and recognition as well as improvement coaching.

Lean Tip #643 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Solve Problems, Don't Pinpoint Problem People
When a problem occurs, ask what is wrong with the work system that caused the people to fail, not what is wrong with the people.

Lean Tip #644 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Listen to Learn and Ask Questions to Provide Guidance
Provide a space in which people will communicate by listening to them and asking them questions. Guide by asking questions, not by telling grown up people what to do.
When an employee brings you a problem to solve, ask, "what do you think you should do to solve this problem?"

Lean Tip #645 – Establish Employee Empowerment: Help Employees Feel Rewarded and Recognized for Empowered Behavior
When employees feel under-compensated, under-titled for the responsibilities they take on, under-noticed, under-praised, and under-appreciated, don’t expect results from employee empowerment. The basic needs of employees must feel met for employees to give you their discretionary energy.


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