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Monday, March 31, 2014

Lean Roundup #58 – March, 2014

A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of March, 2014.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

My 3 Best Coaching Kata Mistakes – Michael Lombard shares lessons learned from practicing Toyota Kata.

Are you too busy to improve? – Hakan Forss explains what continuous improvement and innovation is all about.

What Does Leader as a Teacher Really Mean? – Al Norval explains what it means for a leader to be a teacher.

ASQ Influential Voices: Sports Industry Manufacturing – Chad Walters shares some thoughts on the challenges of growth and how they impact sports industry manufacturing.

WHAT IS “LEAN?” – Mark Rosenthal takes his stab at explaining what Lean really means by sharing Mike Rother’s view.

The People Formula – Gregg Stocker shares a basic formula for organizational development that shows respect for people.

ASQ Quality for Life Video: Lean In Sports – Chad Walters talks about how Lean and quality can have an impact on sports organizations.

Twelve Common Errors with Value Stream Mapping – Tony Manos shares from his experience some common errors people make when value stream mapping.

Lessons From the Red Bead Experiment with Dr. Deming – John Hunter explains that the value of the Red Bead Experiment is to provide focus to your thinking.

Strategy Deployment: Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey – Mark Hamel discusses strategy deployment x-matrices and the direction in which they should be developed…which is clockwise.

When management doesn't get it – Karen Wilhelm shares seven principles of change that help explain cross-cultural change.

How Do We Start with Lean? – Pascal Dennis answers the common question by explaining how to identify what problem you are trying to solve.

Right Sizing the Team – Linda Duvall explains how to build a team using the SIPOC (Supplier-Input-Process-Output-Customer) tool.

Is it Lean’s Fault or the Old Management System’s? – Mark Graban says we can’t blame Lean or a lack of Lean… we can really only blame the senior leaders.

When One-Piece Flow Restricts Capacity – Michel Baudin explains a situation where one piece flow can restrict capacity from Theory of Constraints (TOC) view.

Inventory Reduction: The Path to Supply Chain Management – Robert Martichenko explains how inventory reduction leads to waste elimination, problem solving and teamwork, and is critical to quality.

How a Problem-Solving Culture Takes Root -  Jim Luckman & David Verble suggest, based on experience, that traditional managers and executives focus on and practice three behaviors to help them personally make the transition.

Learning From Mistakes – Bob Emiliani shares a personal lesson on mistakes he made in executive training, what he learned from it, and how it resulted in improvement.

If you don’t have time to do it right first time, when will you have time to do it over? – Tracey Richardson discussed finding time for improvement.

Are you too busy to improve? – Focus on the system – Hakan Forss discussed how you can find time for improvement by focusing on the system.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Lean Quote: You Get What You Measure

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.

"Some say you only get what you measure. I say that’s all you get.— A. Donald Stratton

It is not enough to simply create a numeric measure. The measure should accurately reflect the process. We use metrics to base decisions on and to focus our actions. It is not only important to measure the right indicators, it is important to measure them well.

Choosing the right metrics is critical to success. Although there may never be a single perfect measure, it is certainly possible to create a measure or even multiple measures which reflect the performance of your system. If the metrics are chosen carefully, then, in the process of achieving their metrics, managers and employees will make the right decisions and take the right actions that enable the organization to maximize its performance.

If you don’t measure your organization’s improvement, you won’t monitor it, and if you don’t monitor your organization’s improvement, you can’t manage it. If you don’t manage your organization’s improvement, it will fail. 

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Teamwork is the Engine that Drives Success

I believe teamwork is the real engine that will drive our initiatives through to success. Together, we will push forward and deal with the many critical issues and directives facing our industries and businesses. 

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.

Most people respond well to being a valued member of a team by putting forth their best efforts. Human beings are hard wired to work cooperatively with one another to achieve common goals, so keep remember that not all performance rewards need to go to individuals. Incentives can be provided to the team as a whole for working efficiently together to reach goals.

Groups don’t just become teams because we use that name and it is not about teamwork. Teams act as a collective unit with shared commitment and not a band of individual contributors. Just like in Lean the whole, or in this case, the team is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Teams often are more difficult to form because it takes time for members to learn to work together. Management must support and encourage the use of teams in there organization.

Highly performing and effective teams use a set of values that encourage listening and responding constructively to views expressed by others, giving others the benefit of the doubt, providing support, and recognizing the interests and achievements of others.

Collaboration and team work create an environment that allows the collective knowledge, resources and skills of each team member to flourish. When people work together they can complete tasks faster by dividing the work to people of different abilities and knowledge. Teamwork can lead to better decisions, products, or services.

Organizations that cultivate a culture of teamwork generally outperform their more individualistic competitors. Frequently, this leads to a virtuous cycle of self-improvement, as success breeds enthusiasm, which breeds better teamwork, which breeds yet more success. For this reason, teamwork is important for creating a healthy, prosperous organization.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Lean and Inventory: Misunderstood

One of the most misunderstood aspects of Lean is the use of inventory. Inventory is one of the eight deadly sins (wastes) in Lean manufacturing. This waste is often one that hides other wastes in our businesses. I think most are familiar with the river and boulder analogy. The water level in the river is the level of inventory and the boulders in the river and the problems in our business. As we lower the water level or inventory level those boulders or problems stick out.

It is fairly well understood the financial impact of inventory. Certainly, in these economic times it is not a surprise that many companies and their CEO’s are focused on cash flow. Yet, well-intentioned efforts to reduce inventory, more often than not, get only temporary results. Without effective business process changes, the organization can easily slip back to old ways with inventories (and costs) just climbing up again. I think question is should inventory reduction be an objective of the business or a result of say implementing improvements.

The numbers on the company balance sheet do not tell the whole inventory story. The overall inventory of an organization can be divided into 3 major groups: 1) Raw material, WIP, and Finished Goods 2) MRO inventory (inventory of tools, maintenance spares, misc. production items, etc.) and 3) Distribution inventory (all materials in-transit of stored outside premises). Traditionally, inventory reduction efforts have focused mainly on the first category. However, this typically accounts for less than 40% of the overall inventory of a company.

One of the major impediments to inventory reduction is the mistaken notion that just improved inventory management is all that is required to get the job done. The real culprits are the inefficient business processes that cause excessive inventories to exist in the first place. It is often the case that the real causes of excess inventory lie outside the purview of the supply chain managers.

The mantra here is that in order to get a bigger piece of the cake, one should increase the size of the cake itself. So the objective should be one of continuous improvement. We should consider improving production scheduling, reducing cycle times, increasing manufacturing flexibility, improving quality, improved forecasting, and developing and partnering with suppliers as the goal. By addressing the cause of the increased inventory the gains can be sustained. Reduced inventory quantities and dollars are then the resultant of said improvements in the business system.

Lean doesn’t mean ZERO inventory. It means the right inventory at the right time at the right quantities and in the right place. Every company needs buffers, but they must be well planned and controlled. As anybody who has spent some time in a manufacturing plant will tell you, operating without buffers is a sure recipe for disaster. Low inventories are commonly linked to Lean because many organizations are able to reduce inventory levels due to practicing Lean Thinking. But "true" Lean Thinkers understand lower inventories are a resultant of a process improvement not a solution to a problem.

Keeping the right amount of inventory is not straightforward, so managers need to address the issue in a proper way. Management who do not truly understand Lean teachings are often results orientated in our performance driven society. Inventory decisions are risky and they make a large impact throughout the supply chain. Without proper planning, a manufacturing company can run out of raw material, negatively impacting the company and its customers. Likewise, overstocking of raw materials, work in process inventory, or finished goods could also hurt the company’s profitability.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Lean Quote: Learning to See

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 real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.— Marcel Prust

Lean is not about the destination but rather the direction or path you take toward an idealistic place. The journey towards Lean can be difficult and filled with obstacles. Developing the ability to recognize waste is an essential first step on the right path of the Lean journey.

In my opinion Leaning out the waste is not necessarily the difficult part but rather the identification of the wastes.  Waste is all around us yet many cannot recognize it. 

Through lean you will learn to look at things differently and develop an eye for improvement. Learning to see the whole picture (value stream) is the challenge. We need to stop looking at our work from within. This allows us to see the waste that accumulates between all our processes and how to improve. No matter how “Lean” we are, we’ll always need to continue doing that. The key is to get as many “eyes for improvement” as possible.

Do not forget that wastes exist in all processes. The important point is “to see, identify and remove them.” 

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Daily Lean Tips Edition #61 (901-915)

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 #901 - 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 #902 - Establish and Communicate a Clear Message on Lean
Have a plan to communicate the value of lean throughout your organization. It should not only address the benefits of lean to the company and customers, but also how lean can improve the work life of your employees. A clear vision needs to be repeated regularly to show the company's commitment to lean. We highly recommend that company leaders make lean a part of their everyday pulse checks.

Lean Tip #903 - 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.

Lean Tip #904 - Empower The People Operating the Process.
The best person to improve a process is the person who carries out the process. Utilize employee’s full skill sets—can someone be doing more? If the process is improved, they will likely have time to take on higher level work.

Lean Tip #905 - Go on Lean Factory Tours
A great way to learn is to see other people’s lean operations in person. Many manufacturers are proud of their efforts and often very open to sharing what they have learned in the form of factory tours. Second best to going in person you can find some good virtual tours. This website also offers links to 300 factory tour videos: www.superfactory.com/content/tours.html

Lean Tip #906 – Encourage Employees by Sharing Information and Numbers
Let them in on what is going on within the company as well as how their jobs contribute to the big picture. When you keep you employees informed they tend to feel a greater sense of worth. Keep communication hopeful and truthful – do not be afraid to share bad news, instead be more strategic about how you deliver it. Improve performance through transparency – By sharing numbers with employees, you can increase employees’ sense of ownership.

Lean Tip #907 – Encourage Employees to Collaborate and Share on Problem Solving
When employees get the idea that their manager or leader is the one who has to solve all the problems, it takes away from their sense of empowerment, and ultimately is likely to decrease engagement over time. Encourage team members to take responsibility, and work through problems or issues on their own, or collaboratively. It’s not the manager’s job to fix everyone else’s problems.

Lean Tip #908 - Empower Each Individual On Your Team.
Every single individual contributes to the bottom line. Empowering them to excel in their role, no matter how large or small, creates a sense of ownership that will lead to meeting and exceeding expectations.

Lean Tip #909 – Encourage Employees By Supporting New Ideas.
When employees come to you with an idea or a solution to a problem they believe is for the betterment of the company, it’s a sign that they care. Supporting new ideas and giving an individual the chance to ‘run with it’ is motivating, whether or not it works out in the end.

Lean Tip #910 – Encourage Employees by With The Right Tools and Skills for the Job
Regardless of whether you are operating during a credit crunch or not – staff motivation is influenced by the following factors: having the right person in the job who is capable of doing it; equipping them to do the job by giving them the right tools and support and finally setting realistic targets that they believe can be achieved. 

Lean Tip #911 - Training is Always Good, It Keeps People Up to Date and Focused on the Job
Regular, effective and relevant training is massively important and a great motivator. If you want them to perform properly and consistently then you have to give them the tools to do so. Training is always good, it keeps people up to date and focused on the job at hand, it keeps their skills at the forefront and it will show them that management are obviously concerned with how well they do their job, etc.

If they are given good quality training that covers the topics and issues they are faced with then they will respond and to a certain extent motivate themselves to stick with what they learn.

Lean Tip #912 – Encourage Employees By Acting on Great Ideas
An idea box is useless if nothing ever happens. If an employee's tip leads to a change, publicize the change. Recognize the employee and show the whole company the benefit of her idea. People respect leaders who have the humility to give a subordinate credit for a job well done. When the team sees that its ideas matter, that encourages members to become serious about sharing their tips.

Lean Tip #913 - Establish a Positive Culture.
Establish an organizational culture that encourages the employees to take acceptable risks in pursuing creative ventures and innovative projects. Whatever the outcome – be it positive or negative – let all their decisions serve as learning opportunities for everyone in the company.

Lean Tip #914 - Encourage Teamwork to Achieve Company Goals.
A lot of businesspersons used to make different departments compete with each other in order to make them perform at their best. Instead of making different teams compete, try to encourage them to work together in order to achieve your company’s goals. Conduct meetings that have representatives from all departments and allow them to share knowledge and information with each other.

Lean Tip #915 - Help Employees Succeed to Motivate Others

People go to work to succeed, not fail.  It is your job to understand your employee’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can put them in the best position to succeed.  If, for example, you find out that an employee is lacking in a certain skill set to succeed during a change then provide the coaching and training to make them and your organization successful.  The best managers minimize or eliminate their employees weaknesses and while building on their strengths.  Remove any and all barriers to success.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Overcoming Employee Resistance to Change Is All About The 4 C's

Change doesn't just happen. It needs to be driven with purpose and intent. Change management requires planning for acceptance. If you want employees to accept change, invest some time in planning and communication. Too often, managers throw a change out there and expect others to say, “Well, that’s just fine.” That’s not likely.

To start, you must first understand why people are so quick to resist change. By knowing this, you can make intelligent decisions about how to introduce changes.

Change equals loss. One main reason for the negativity: When things change, you lose something. You may gain something as well, but a loss is usually involved.

To get people to accept change, the first step is to understand what, from their perspective; they feel that they’re losing. If you can empathize with their feelings—and possibly compensate for the loss—you’ve taken a giant first step toward acceptance.

Here are four more factors—the four C’s—to promoting acceptance of change:

1. Caring. Listening and responding to people’s reactions is just as important as explaining the reasons for change.

2. Control. People want input into how change will be implemented. But never ask for input unless you plan to consider it.

3. Choice. Employees feel better if they are given options as part of the change process. The more choices they have, the more they feel in control.

4. Competence. Workers are happier about change if they feel they have the skills and abilities to succeed after the change. The faster you can help someone move through the learning curve, the faster they will accept the change.

Managing change means managing people's fear. Change is natural and good, but people's reaction to change is unpredictable and irrational. It can be managed if done right.

So before you begin to implement any important change with employees, take time to develop a plan that incorporates those four features.

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