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Monday, April 7, 2014

Daily Lean Tips Edition #62 (916-930)

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 #916 - Don’t Expect Training Alone to Fix Your Problem
Having a well-trained, correctly-focused team is of course an absolute must for any company looking to operate along Lean lines. But training alone isn’t a panacea and, indeed, will almost certainly lead to serious problems if it’s not accompanied by the organization paying proper attention to the other requirements of the methodology.

Lean Tip #917 - Develop a Suitable Infrastructure
Lean is far from a cosmetic practice: indeed, it’s pretty much the opposite, going deep into the cogs and springs of a business to get the very best out of the areas of operation it touches. As a result, it needs to be supported by a suitable organizational infrastructure catering for the specific requirements of this methodology. Think of what’s required as a somewhat holistic approach reaching throughout your business - it might sound like a big task, but in order to make the most of Lean you need to go well beyond the implementation team.

Lean Tip #918 - Cultivate a Zero Defect Mentality
The effectiveness of a Lean program depends on developing a mindset that refuses to accept or accommodate defects. Defects cost money, waste time, and frustrate managers, and building and sustaining a prevention-oriented culture requires driving away both defects and non-conformances. It’s important to create a culture of prevention, which causes people to prevent defects and non-conformities.

Lean Tip #919 - Understand Customer Requirements
Quality is a moving target that is defined or judged by the customer. Lean places the highest priority on customer input, and adopts a customer-driven quality approach to anticipating, meeting, and exceeding customer requirements. Lean should focus on aligning critical to quality customer requirements with the company’s business strategy.

Lean Tip #920 - Address the Root Cause
One critical factor on which the success of a problem solving rests is whether the analysis of the problem treats the root cause of the issue or the symptoms. Treating the root cause allows for the successful resolution of the problem and a permanent fix, whereas addressing the symptoms means that the root cause remains and will manifest itself later.

A successful root cause analysis must ask the question "WHY" the process or product is defective and proceed from there to try to find answers. Repeatedly stressing the "Why" after each answer allows you to peel away the layers of symptoms, eventually leading to the root cause of a problem.

Lean Tip #921 – Use a Data Based Approach to Improvement
Any good Lean program is steeped in data collection and analysis. Lean emphasizes gathering data, and then analyzing the same to identify problems, measure changes, and verify whether the changes lead to the desired improvements.

Lean Tip #922 - Manage Resistance to Change
Lean is in its purest sense a change management initiative, for it involves changing from a current state to a better state. Just as all change attracts resistance, Lean improvements also attract resistance to change, which may manifest as employees ignoring new processes, disagreeing with the benefits, making stringent criticisms, and more. Success depends on how effectively the leadership rises to the occasion and manages resistance to change.

Ways to overcome changes involve proactive leadership that lends clarity and removes doubts, effective communications, a carrot-and-stick policy, and more.

Lean Tip #923 – Effective Leadership is a Decisive Factor in Lean Success
Effective leadership is a decisive factor in the success of any project. Lean leaders need to lead from the front by displaying competence in the key methodologies, adopting a hands-on approach in the actual implementation, selling the project to the top management and other stakeholders, striking a rapport with key functional heads, overcoming resistance to change among the workforce, and more.

Lean Tip #924 – Involve the Workforce in Improvement
Quality improvement through Lean is not the responsibility of a specific team or department. Successful implementation occurs only when all employees take up responsibility to implement Lean in their work domains. Such a mindset comes only when employees perceive the benefits of the change. Benefits come only when the organization develops leaders and empowers people to become valuable contributors to the organization's success.

Lean Tip #925 - Without People, a Process Will Fail
If anything, good Lean is an intensively collaborative effort. From defining a problem to identifying what is important to a customer, from brainstorming for potential solutions to the actual work of implementing solutions, people form the core of a good Lean project. An important lesson here is to collaborate and associate with people who can offer ideas, give constructive criticism, and empower the attainment of your goals.

Lean relies on people working together to achieve a common measurable goal and the effective use of collective intelligence.

Lean Tip #926 - Engage the Right Team to Drive the Change
Having the right project structure is important. Make sure you have a strong, multi-disciplinary project team with the authority to make decisions on areas of design, communication, and change management. At the same time, ensure you have a group of employees who are representative of the workforce and whose role is to facilitate upward communication, review plans, and be your ambassadors in change.

Lean Tip #927 - Keep Culture Change Top of Mind
Many organizations focus on the physical and logistical changes (e.g., construction, moving into the new space) needed when transforming their workplace. Afterwards, they realize they should have focused much more on the culture change needed for success. The impact of change on people can be significant, and managing this is a crucial step to reaping the benefits of these programs.

Lean Tip #928 - Listen Deeply and Empathetically to the Employees.
You can expect that the employees will experience the same range of emotions, thoughts, agreement, and disagreement that you experienced when the change was introduced to you or when you participated in creating the change. Never minimize an employee's response to even the most simple change. You can't know or experience the impact from an individual employee's point of view. Maybe the change seems insignificant to many employees, but the change will seriously impact another employee's favorite task. Hearing the employees out and letting them express their point of view in a non-judgmental environment will reduce resistance to change.

Lean Tip #929 – Empower Employees to Contribute.
Control of their own jobs is one of the key factors in what employees want from work. So, too, this control aspect follows when you seek to minimize resistance to change. Give the employees control over any aspect of the change that they can manage. If you have communicated transparently, you have provided the direction, the rationale, the goals, and the parameters that have been set by your organization. Within that framework, your job is to empower the employees to make the change work. Practice effective delegation and set the critical path points at which you need feedback for the change effort - and get out of the way.

Lean Tip #930 - Create an Organization-Wide Feedback and Improvement Loop.
Is your change effective or optimal? Not necessarily. You must maintain an open line of communication throughout your organization to make sure that feedback reaches the ears of the employees leading the charge. Changing course or details, continuous improvement, and tweaking is a natural, and expected, part of any organizational change. Most changes are not poured in concrete but there must be a willingness to examine the improvement (plan - do - study - act).

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