Friday, June 28, 2013

Lean Quote: Change is Inevitable

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.

"Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." — John F. Kennedy

Change is inevitable. Adaptation to change is a necessary and critical component to survival. But mostly, change is a constant in business. And business seems to be where the adaptation to change -- or lack thereof -- seems to have some of the most significant impact.

In business, we must continually change, evolution is not an option. If we stand still in our businesses we go backwards. The day that we think we have our business model perfected is not the day to stop changing. The issue comes about when we try to make changes. With the evidence in existence related to the necessity of change in business, you would think every business would constantly be revising their model. But that is not the case.

Change is most often a difficult thing. The sooner we learn to embrace it and work within it, the easier it will be to begin the next challenge that comes along. We naturally gravitate toward the things that make us feel fulfilled, safe and happy. Therefore as we embrace change more often and see the good in it… the more we will gravitate toward it with enthusiasm!

If we accept change is inevitable, you will need a means to continually drive change throughout your business. You should have a change management process that involves every single employee in an organization. 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.

Change is necessary, resistance is futile. Prepare to be assimilated.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lean Roundup #49 - June, 2013







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

Why Do We Need A Checklist? – Dragan Bosnjak explains how checklists can be used to avoid errors which are part of our human nature.

If You Develop People Results Will Follow! – Tracey Richardson explains the importance of developing people to always ask questions and focusing on the process if you want results.

Leadership and Management – John Hunter defines leadership and management and says that traits of both are needed to effectively optimize systems.

Good Witch or Bad Witch? – Bruce Hamilton shares a few traits of bad (non-lean) accountant.

Silly Accountants! Profits Are For Companies – Bill Waddell explains the problems with GAAP accounting and the impact it has unfortunately on company decisions.

Lean as Growth Strategy – Al Norval disputes the common misconception of Lean and illustrates how Lean is business growth strategy rather than only a waste reducer.

Mastering The Meeting – Matthew E May introduces the “Lean Meeting” and shares 3 simple strategy to make your meetings “Lean”.

10 Tip to Motivate Excellence in Teams - Marcela De Vivo shares 10 guidelines essential to managers to transform into a dynamic dream team capable of delivering the levels of manufacturing operational excellence.

5 Powerful Techniques For Dealing With Setbacks or Total Failure – Ron Pereira provides 5 strategies for overcoming setbacks that you may face.

Toyota's Jamie Bonini On Organizational Culture – Mark Graban shares the lessons of Toyota on organizational culture from a recent talk.

Invest For Success – Ellis New shares three fundamental elements to consider to ensure that improvement efforts get off on the right foot.

The Executive Steering Committee Explained- Why Do You Need It & What Is It's Purpose? – Brad Schultz provides 5 responsibilities of a executive steering committee and how it helps the beginning of a transformation.

Leadership: The Force Multiplier of Kaizen – Kevin Meyer explains how leadership that commits and engages in the Lean transformation can create incredible value.

Don't Agonize; Agendize – Liz Guthridge provides 7 steps and other strategies to make a robust agenda that makes your meetings more effective.

Safety Stock – Lawrence Loucka explains the ups and downs of safety stock and how to use this strategy.

Where Are We Going? – Bill Waddell explains the importance of having a future state vision and getting everyone to understand it.

Building Intellectual Capital – Pascal Dennis says the Kaizen/ Continuous Improvement Office needs to be known for creating intellectual capital – by developing people.

Lessons from the Road: Eliminating Waste in Your Personal Work – Jamie Flinchbaugh shares lessons of lean to apply to your own work that can help assure your time is spent on the most valuable tasks.

Most Workers "Hate Their Job" (Are Disengaged); Lean & Kaizen Can Help – Mark Graban says you can close the gap and improve engagement with “continuous improvement” and “respect for people” the pillars of Lean.

Real Lean versus Faux Lean – Bill Waddell puts a few things straight regarding headcount, inventory, and green when it comes to Lean.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Daily Lean Tips Edition #49

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 #721 - Reduce information overload to get our message across
Employees can feel deluged by information and it can be a major source of workplace stress for them. In addition, an overload of information means staff may be unable to effectively identify and assimilate important information due to excessive background 'noise'. As new forms of communication have grown, internally communicated messages have to compete with more and more traffic; if there is no appeal, internal communications will simply not be read.

Lean Tip #722 - Find ways to 'listen' and gather feedback 
Listening is an essential part of good communication. Effective communication is not a top-down, one-way exercise, but involves listening and demonstrating an inclination to act in response. 'Listening' can be a real challenge for many leaders. Employee suggestion schemes can encourage ideas but are not always that effective. Other ways to listen include: attending local team meetings, formalized feedback sessions, open forums and of course direct dialogue with employees.

Lean Tip #723 -   Maintain levels of capability and knowledge 
A good knowledge and understanding of products, services and key business processes is essential to developing effective, satisfied staff and delivering good customer service. The next time you roll out a training program, remember, in 30 days people typically forget 80% of what they have learnt if it is not reinforced... Any easy way to reinforce training and measure and raise capability is to use standard work.

Lean Tip #724 - Engage employees by involving them 
Involvement is an important aspect of engagement and commitment to an organization. Find ways to involve employees and allow them to influence some aspects of the business operations. Ensure a process exists for submitting ideas and suggestions, allow employees to solve problems in their own area, as well as contribute to projects and initiatives being run by the wider organization.

Lean Tip #725 - Communicate respectfully to be heard.
Poor communication wastes time, delays decisions, and damages morale. Core values such as respectful communication and integrity cost nothing. Smarter managers empower their employees to work together with respectful communication and leadership approaches that enable them to leverage scarce resources and to do more with less.

Lean Tip #726 - Boost Confidence in Your Team by Focusing on Strengths,
Self-confidence is always a winning quality. Its value is never more evident when welcoming change at the workplace. Focus on individual and team strengths, not weaknesses. There is little that boosts self-confidence more than a sincere “Atta, Boy!” Use individual and team strengths to help staff accept change and implement necessary procedures with a smile, instead of a frown.

Lean Tip #727 – A Good Work-Life Balance Aids in Acceptance to Change.
Most people that have a sense of balance in their lives, between the personal and professional, adapt well to change. It seems that those employees that have other interests, beyond the workplace, deal with change much better than those who are “married” to their jobs. Encourage your staff to have other, meaningful life experiences. Support your employees' getting a real life, hobby, pastime or other interests. Convince them that you understand and encourage a strong work-life balance. Your staff will appreciate your concern and position on this subject. Whether or not they verbalize their need for balance (or even consciously understand that it exists), your staff will appreciate your interest in their total—not just workplace—well-being.

Lean Tip #728 - Show Respect for People’s Natural Creativity.
Employees who are naturally curious tend to embrace change as a new adventure in gaining knowledge, fueling their inherent creativity. Nurturing an employee’s “inner genius” generates and fuels creativity. All staff members have creativity and innovation. Bringing it out can be challenging. Mandating it is impossible. However, publicly displaying your knowledge of and respect for your staff’s individual and collective creativity can make workplace change a highly successful event.

Lean Tip #729 - Take Time to Sharpen Your Collaborative Skills.
There are those who prefer working individually, often alone. Others, however, like collaborating with a team to achieve solutions. These people also often thrive on change. You cannot mandate a collaborative staff. You can, however, influence a team mentality and active sense of collaboration, by showing the value of collaborating to achieve a goal. Design a collaborative environment that rewards employees for helping reach objectives necessary to implement changes.

Lean Tip #730 – People Can Cope With Change Much Easier When You Lighten The Mood.
Inject a sense of humor and levity. People can cope with change much easier when you lighten the mood. You minimize the inevitable stresses and pressures of change, while offering your staff a safe, comfortable “landing spot.” Those who are adaptable, as most creatures become through evolution, deal well with changes. They resist becoming overwhelmed or discouraged. These people simply “go with the flow.” Few techniques exist to better lighten up a dower or stressful situation than some appropriate humor and a spirit of fun.

Lean Tip #731 – Leaders Empower Employees to Move Forward 
Empowering leaders think about how they can help their coworkers move up and grow. They think about ways they can guide people in developing new skills. They delegate important tasks, explain the expectations, and coach them to win. Empowering leaders never blame themselves or others for failure. Rather, they empower people to try new things without being worried about failure, take bigger steps without competing with others, and climb up the ladder in their field without worrying about someone pulling them off the ladder.

By empowering others to do more than they think they can do, you fill the gaps and guarantee success.

Lean Tip #732 – Leaders Encourage Leadership
The ultimate task of an exemplary leader is to develop more exemplary leaders. Therefore, the right plan for employee development aims toward developing future leaders who can influence many in positive ways. Encouraging people to take leadership roles, lead by example, and raise their leadership lid should be on the top of the list of employee development for any organization that wants to reach to the peak of success in the 21st century.

Lean Tip #733 - Effective Leaders Discover People’s Potential and Talents
All people have more energy and ability within them than they could ever imagine. Your job, as a leader, is to discover this truth for the benefit of your organization as well as yourself. When you discover someone’s potential, you can help her develop her potential and become more productive and skillful. There is no service better than helping others to soar to excellence and become better human beings.

Lean Tip #734 - Organizations Suffer Without Development Plans.
Unfortunately, many organizations do not plan properly for the development of their people and teams. People development without proper planning in place normally results in internal and external conflict, which leads to confusion, low productivity, less motivation, and therefore loss in various ways. When the right plan for development is designed based on the employees’ needs, desires, and potential the expected positive outcome will be achieved.

Lean Tip #735 - Challenge Your Employees To Move Out Of Their Comfort Zone.

You can’t move forward if you don’t grow and you can’t grow if you never leave your comfort zone. When possible, give your employees challenging assignments. Help them prepare by providing them a safe environment to learn from the mistakes that they are bound to make.

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Guest Post: Five Deadly Sins of Project Management and Their Remedies

Today I am pleased to introduce a guest post by Aileen Galsim, who works for Comss, who offer Lean software for Lean Businesses.  She writes about project management mistakes and how to avoid them to be successful.
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If your business has just been awarded a project that you’ve worked hard to obtain, congratulations! It’s a great feeling to be selected over your competitors, and it can be a big step forward for your business.

But don’t go celebrating just yet. Before you can call this project a success, you actually have to complete it. And to do that, you need to make sure you avoid major mistakes that can cause a would-be successful project to become a failure. Here are five deadly sins of project management, and the remedies that will allow you to avoid them:

1.  Poor Planning (Or Lack Thereof)

Quite simply, this is the biggest and most avoidable of all the deadly property management mistakes. It’s the biggest because if you do not plan adequately, the project has almost no chance of succeeding at the highest level. And in a lot of ways it’s the most avoidable because, well, you often have the opportunity to plan ahead without having to deal with the minute-by-minute issues that a project might throw at you when you are in the midst of it. The best way to deal with this mistake is to not make it. Plan ahead… then plan some more. You obviously need to be adaptable to issues that come up during the project, but if you don’t a have both a template to adapt from and an overall strategy, you will be lost.

2.  Unrealistic Timelines

Whether you are bidding on a project for a new customer or trying to keep a current client happy, it is often tempting to provide the shortest timeline imaginable. However, committing to timelines that you cannot keep will do your company a lot more harm than good in the long run. Will saying you can complete a project in a shorter timeline than your competitors get you new work? Maybe. But once you fail to meet the deadline on your first project, it will be significantly harder to get the next one. A solution to this is to spend time getting to know the process before committing to a timeframe  You can also use project management software to come up with a realistic estimate.

3.  Micromanagement

As the boss, you can sometimes feel like if you don’t do something, it won’t be done right. But in reality, this attitude is counterproductive. Spend more time working on the overall direction of the business as opposed to babysitting each project yourself. That’s not to say that you shouldn't establish appropriate ways to assess the project at different stages, but in general your focus should be on the big picture.

4.  Using the Wrong Project Manager

This goes hand-in-hand with number three. Since you are not going to micromanage the project, you’d better make sure you assign a project manager with the appropriate skillset to make the right management decisions on a day-to-day basis.  Having a project manager you trust will allow you to focus on other things, and will ensure that the project continues to move forward efficiently and effectively.

5.  Over-extending Your Business

This is a major sin that many businesses realize but ignore. Over-extension can apply both to taking on too many projects at once, and to committing to a project that is too big for your current abilities. As a business owner, it is often very difficult to turn down work because you don’t think you can handle it. But just like with offering a timeline that’s too optimistic, if you are unrealistic about your business’s capabilities, the costs will far outweigh the benefits.


About Author: 
Aileen Galsim is a business blogger from Comss. Comss is a software company with a difference – their products are designed by business people to be used by business people. They offer Lean software applications for construction, distribution, retail and project-driven businesses.







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Friday, June 21, 2013

Lean Quote: The Vital Few and Trivial Many, Doing More by Doing Less

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.

"The Vital Few and the Trivial Many." — J.M. Juran

Quality guru J.M. Juran referred to Pareto's principle as "The Vital Few and the Trivial Many". If you are running a company the 80/20 rule has powerful implications for every area of your business.

Pareto's postulate says 20% of your effort will generate 80% of your results. There is also a corollary: 20% of your results absorb 80% or your resources or efforts.

Pareto's Principle, the 80/20 Rule, should serve as a daily reminder to focus 80 percent of your time and energy on the 20 percent of you work that is really important. Don't just "work smart", work smart on the right things.

From your long list, identify the top three to four and focus all your energy on those. When one is complete, pull another up to the top, but hold no more than four at a time. You will find that you get more done (and at a higher quality) by working on only four priorities at a time than you did when you tried to juggle ten or twelve.

The most effective leaders are those who can cut through the clutter to focus on what is most important. Anyone is a leader who can help others simplify and focus so that more of what matters is what gets done!

Production: You may find that 80% of your products or services are created by 20% of your people, 80% of your problems are fixed by 20% of your people, team, and, 80% of your problems probably come from 20% of people. All a different 20%! Wouldn't it be helpful to know which 20% is doing what?

Quality: 80% of your defects are found in 20% of your product units. Also, 80% of the defects come from 20% of the defect types. Spend lots of energy figuring out how to prevent those 20% and you've made huge gains in quality.

Of its many applications, its strongest interpretation suggests that 20 percent of actions accounts for 80 percent of results. Dr. Juran also identified, on the flip side, that 20 percent of defects accounts for 80 percent of problems.


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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Talking Lean (Episode #1, 6-14-2013)


Welcome to Episode 1 of “Talking Lean” with Jeff Hajek (Gotta Go Lean Blog) and Tim McMahon. This show is intended to be a buffet of Lean bites. Jeff and I both have a variety of features that we regularly post on our websites. Unfortunately, great content such as this can get lost in a sea of Lean noise.

This podcast is intended to cut through the clutter and give you a manageable chunk of some of our favorite recent content. If you want to dive deeper into anything that we talk about click the links at the bottom of this page.

As this is the maiden voyage of this feature, we would certainly appreciate your comments and feedback. You can either posted at the bottom of this page or email me at Tim@ALeanJourney.com.
To play the MP3 simply click the link below. If you would rather download it, right-click the link and follow the directions in your browsers pop-up window.
Enjoy the show.


Links from the Show


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Advancing Quality is a Matter of Customer Focus


Paul Borawski, CEO of ASQ, asks the influential voices basically how to advance quality so it’s value is fully realized.

I pose two questions for your consideration.

  • What is the most important challenge the quality community faces in ensuring that the value of quality is fully realized for the benefit of society? (I could write a book on that question.)
  • And, what question does the quality community most need answered in order to advance the state of quality practice in the world?
I realize these are big questions, but then you are big thinkers. 

Over the last 40 years, the quality management discipline has undergone steady evolution from internally focused command-and-control to more proactive, customer-focused functions. The market certainly encouraged that, as economies shifted from dominance of product-based manufacturers to more heavily depend on service-based solution providers. It seems reasonable that service economies will naturally tend toward customer-focus, since much of the service involves direct customer contact. Feedback can be bitterly honest, yet also quickly addressed (compared with poor manufacturing quality).

Aspects of quality management are becoming integral to business operations; quality ratings and awards are a competition, and success is marketed as a sign of commitment to the customer; innovation is a constant refrain in business journals and even advertisement; customer surveys are endemic; data is rampant, so differentiating between real change and random variation becomes a core competency; and so on. The cost of poor quality is realized in real time as loss of market share or profitability.

The manager in today’s world must implement cost-reducing quality initiatives that increase market share in spite of competitive forces. There are two basic ways to become (or remain) competitive: achieve superior perceived quality by developing  a set of product specifications and service standards that more closely meet customer needs than competitors; and achieve superior conformance quality by being  more effective than your competitors in conforming to the appropriate product specifications and service standards. These are not mutually exclusive; excellent companies do both simultaneously.

Customer “satisfaction” does not simply happen; it is an effect. Quality is one important cause of the customer satisfaction effect, along with price, convenience, service, and a host of other variables. Generally businesses do not seek customer satisfaction as an end in itself. The presumption is that increased customer satisfaction will lead to higher revenues and higher profits, at least in the long term. To best serve customers, the successful quality program will apply specific principles, techniques, and tools to better understand and serve their firm’s royalty – the customer. The Customer is KING!


I believe the answer to both of Paul’s question lies with customer. Those organizations that are customer-focused will be the ones who fully realize the value of quality.  This practice or focus is what has advanced quality to it current encompassing approach. It is in the pursuit of satisfying the customers that future advancements will be made. However this is not easy and therein lies the challenge.

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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