Friday, May 30, 2014

Lean Quote: Learn By Doing

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.

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.— Louis Pasteur

One way to enhance learning is by doing. If you want to learn how to drive, you have to drive. Humans are natural learners. They learn from everything they do. When they watch television, they learn about the day's events. When they take a trip, they learn about how to get where they are going and what it is like to be there. This constant learning also takes place as one works.

Learning by doing, also known as experiential learning, happens when you use hands-on learning to engage in an ongoing cycle of action and reflection, deepening your understanding of concepts and mastering practical skills. As you take part in meaningful activities—instead of simply watching them—and then later evaluating what you have learned, learning is far more meaningful, memorable, and long-lasting. Leaders/coaches assist in this process by facilitating appropriate experiences through which you can learn, and by leading discussions that reflect on those experiences.

If you do something often enough, you get better at it -- simple and obvious. When people really care about what they are doing, they may even learn how to do their jobs better than anyone had hoped. They themselves wonder how to improve their own performance. They innovate.

Since mistakes are often quite jarring to someone who cares about what they are doing, people naturally work hard to avoid them. No one likes to fail. It is basic to human nature to try to do better and this means attempting to explain one's failures well enough so that they can be remedied. This self-correcting behavior can only take place when one has been made aware of one's mistakes and when one cares enough to improve. If an employee understands and believes that an error has been made, he will work hard to correct it, and will want to be trained to do better, if proper rewards are in place for a job well done.

Human beings can definitely learn by hearing, reading, watching, seeing, and analyzing…but when it comes to getting results you simply cannot learn better than to learn by DOING. The best way to learn about continuous improvement is to simply try to make things better and learn from our mistakes.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Daily Lean Tip Edition #63 (946-960)

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 #946 – Lean Leaders Get the Facts
Lean leaders collect all the facts about the problem because they know that some problems are not as big as they seem. Fact-finding is an analytical, rather than an emotional task, so it is useful in other ways, too. When a follower comes to a leader with a problem, a good Lean leader will start asking questions and gather the facts, rather than engage in an emotional discussion.  Fact-finding is a process and you may have to dig deep to get to the real problem. Lean leaders are great at asking the right fact-finding questions. They’re also adept at listening to the answers and “hearing” any sub-text that could illuminate the situation.

Lean Tip #947 – Lean Leaders Don’t Just Know How to Solve Problems; They Know How to Find Them.
Great Lean leaders can detect smoke, rather than simply trying to fight raging fires. That’s the type of leader you should groom your employees to be. And it’s critical they have a good rapport with their team to encourage them to share bad news, red flags, or concerns with them quickly!

Lean Tip #948 – Lean Leaders Follow Through
Effective leaders don’t just implement the solution and turn away. They follow through with making sure necessary team members are also doing their part (if required). And they ask everyone involved how they think the “solution” is working out now that it’s actually being used.

Lean Tip #949 – Lean Leaders Research Knowledge For Answers
Leaders consider what research would be valuable to their problem-solving efforts (like searching the Internet, asking other people, reading books, etc.). Leaders do not think of themselves as all-knowing and understand that the first instinct for an answer is not necessarily the best. Sometimes when you are too knowledgeable about a subject, you can overlook something obvious.

Lean Tip #950 – Lean Leaders Focus on People and Vision Not Just Results
Managers who choose not to embody important leadership qualities suffer – as do their employees and their companies as a whole. Shortsighted managers tend to focus only results of processes and procedures, not people and vision, whereas leaders focus on the latter first.

Lean Tip #951 - Focus on the Solution – Not the Problem
You cannot find solutions if you focus on the problem. This is because when you focus on the problem you’re effectively feeding ‘negativity’. These emotions block potential solutions. I’m not saying you should ‘ignore the problem’ – instead try. It helps to first acknowledge the problem and then move your focus to a solution-oriented mindset where you keep fixed on what the ‘answer’ could be instead of lingering on ‘what went wrong’ and ‘who’s fault it is’.

Lean Tip #952 - Have an Open Mind
Try and entertain ‘ALL POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS’ – even if they seem ridiculous at first. It’s important you keep an open mind to boost creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions. ‘No idea is a bad idea’. Whatever you do – do not ridicule yourself for coming up with ‘stupid solutions’ as it’s often the crazy ideas that trigger other more viable solutions.

Lean Tip #953 - Try Simplifying Your Problem
As human beings we have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be! Try simplifying your problem by generalizing it. Remove all the detail and go back to the basics. Try looking for a really easy, obvious solution – you might be surprised at the results! And we all know that it’s often the simple things that are the most productive.

Lean Tip #954 - Keep Calm and Solve On
When faced with a significant problem, it is important not to panic or rush into making quick decisions. Take some time to think about the problem and the options that are available to you. To do this, you might find it helpful to put your initial thoughts down on paper or chat through your thinking with a colleague.

Lean Tip #955 - Reflect and Evaluate After Problem Solving
Once your problem is finally solved, take some time to reflect on which aspects of your approach worked, and what you would do differently next time. You may be able to apply some of these approaches the next time a problem arises.

Lean Tip #956 - Create an Atmosphere of Trust.
Building a team is mostly predicated on trust. One of the best ways to instill trust in your team is to be open, honest and transparent. You need to show your team that you are confident. That way, your team will work harder for future goals.

Lean Tip #957 - Make Good on Your Promises.
If you keep breaking promises to your employees, there is a good chance that they will lose confidence in you and the business. So, you don’t want to keep making lofty promises that never come to fruition. When you make promises, you want to make good on them, so only make promises that you can keep – it is as simple as that.

Lean Tip #958 - Stimulate Your Employees’ Strengths.
Your team is multifaceted – mainly because the individual members have vastly different personalities and strengths. So, if you want to increase teamwork success, you want to make sure that you encourage individualism for the sake of motivation. The more motivated a team member feels, the more efficient and productive the hive will be.

Lean Tip #959 - Alleviate Conflicts Among Team Members.
Inner conflicts among team members can only be a hindrance to success. So, anytime conflict arises, you want to make sure that you take remediation efforts to quell it. However, it is also important to look at conflicts as an opportunity for your team members to learn from each other and from the conflict. The more tools your team members have to resolve conflicts, the stronger your team will be.

Lean Tip #960 - Bring Your Team Members in on the Hiring Process.

If you want continued success for your business, you may want to think of making the hiring process an inclusive and democratic process. When trying to build the most talented core team, your other employees may have incredibly wise words of wisdom when it comes to hiring someone new.


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Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day: Remembering the Sacrifice of Freedom

www.memorialday2014.net
Memorial Day has come to signify the start of summer for many Americans and is often celebrated with cookouts, family get-togethers, road races and concerts. But the real meaning of Memorial Day has, for too many Americans, gotten lost in holiday hoopla.

Memorial Day is a day of reflection and remembrance. It is a day to remember all of our Fallen Heroes from all of the wars. It is a day to think about the families that will forever grieve for their lost loved one. It is a day to be thankful to those who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice. They fought and died to win the freedom and democracy that we Americans cherish so dearly. They also fought and died to bring that same freedom and democracy to the people of other countries as well.
In the words of Thomas Sherlock, Arlington National Cemetery Historian, “the most important thing parents can tell their children is that we, as Americans, are able to enjoy the freedoms we do because there have been men and women willing to sacrifice their lives so that we can be free.  We should all stop and remember this on Memorial Day.”
 The true meaning is to remember and honor veterans of all wars and peacetime service who paid the ultimate price to keep America free. They will long be remembered in our hearts.
“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy
This Memorial Day, enjoy burgers and hot dogs with loved ones, but take a moment to remember those who can’t do the same. Remember those families who will have an empty seat at their table and the men and women who used to occupy it.

Take a moment this Memorial Day to remember all those men and women who have so bravely and honorably served this country. The courage and sacrifice of all who died in military service will not be forgotten.

We can't say enough for your kind deeds and dedication. God bless you and God bless America.


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Friday, May 23, 2014

Lean Quote: Celebrate Your Successes

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.

"It's when ordinary people rise above the expectations and seize the opportunity that milestones truly are reached.— Mike Huckabee

Long ago, ancient Romans placed stone pillars called “obelisks” along the sides of roadways. Typically, the stones were placed a mile apart. Each “mile stone” was given a unique number, serving as a mile marker.

Today most people are familiar with the word “milestone,” but we use it in a slightly different way. Our modern-day use was inspired by the Romans’ ancient practice. Just as Roman mile stones helped travelers know how far they had come on their journey, our modern use of this expression does the same thing.

Instead of marking our journey on an actual road, however, milestones mark significant events in our lives. People reach milestones throughout their lives. This week I reached a couple on this blog: 1) 1000th Blog Post and 2) 5thYear Anniversary Blogging.

Reaching milestones is something that must be rewarded. We tend not to recognize our successes, when we should. Celebrate your successes, each and every one of them.


When you've reached a goal that your organization or initiative has worked toward for a long time, or that acts as an organizational milestone, it's important to recognize that achievement. Within the organization, such recognition helps to build commitment and to provide motivation to employees. In addition, recognition adds to and maintains the organizational culture, history, and myth.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5th Anniversary of A Lean Journey Blog


Today marks the 5th anniversary of A Lean Journey Blog and as tradition here each year I take the opportunity to reflect. The act of "self-reflection" is called Hansei is Japanese. It is the practice of continuous improvement that consists of looking back and thinking about how a process can be improved.

I’d like to think that I turned my naive endeavor to share learning along my own journey into a successful contribution in the Lean community. As I have said before this labor of love has been a tremendous learning process both from the great fans and other colleagues online that I exchange with and from the process of distilling my own learning with you.

I love statistics, so with this milestone, here are some numbers from the blog:

Total Posts: 1001 (see my 1000th post)

Most read post:  DOWNTIME and the Eight Wastes (with over 18,000 views)


Number of countries/territories who have visited this blog:  209

Top 3 Countries with the most views:
  1. U.S.A.
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada

Total views:  Over 580,000 and climbing

Unique visits: Over 425,000

Total comments:  Over 1,500

Total Facebook Fans: Over 1,000

Total Twiter Followers: Over 2,200

LinkedIn Members: Over 800


Top 5 posts this past year:
  1. Top 10 Reason Why Lean Transformation Fails
  2. The Right Order of MUDA, MURA and MURI
  3. Lean Leadership Lessons We Can Learn From Geese
  4. Poka Yoke: Mistake Proofing to Reduce Errors
  5. Visual Management, A Status At A Glance


I would like to thank all the visitors and contributors to A Lean Journey Blog this past year.  It has been a successful Journey this past year. Please, share your feedback so that A Lean Journey can be even more successful next year.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

My 1000th Post


Today’s post marks a bit of a milestone for me, as this post is the 1,000th one since I started this blog back in May 2009.

This is a big milestone for me as I’ve never seen myself as a writer and when I started, I wasn’t sure where it would lead.

This blog is dedicated to sharing lessons and experiences regarding Lean thinking, improvement practices, and leadership. I started this blog to share my perspective of Lean and to chronicle my own “Lean Journey in the Quest for True North."  I hope this has inspired, encouraged, and equipped you for your own journey.

This has been a labor of love and I enjoy the challenge of coming up with enriching content to share with all of you.

Here are the top 10 posts of all time:
  1. DOWNTIME and the Eight Wastes
  2. The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process
  3. Draw a Pig to Learn the Importance of Standard Work
  4. Ten Ways to Show Respect for People
  5. The "Hot Stove" Rule of Discipline
  6. Defining the Problem Statement
  7. Free Online Process Mapping Tool For Value Stream Maps and More
  8. Personal Kanban Kaizen - It's all Digital
  9. Personal Kanban Kaizen
  10. 10 Characteristics of a Good Measure and 7 Pitfalls to Avoid

Lean is not about the destination but rather the direction or path you take toward this idealistic place. It is about the constant, persistent, even relentless pursuit of improving your current situation. This improvement then brings you to the next current state and so on. ALeanJourney.com shares lessons and experiences along this journey to “True North” as a way to support learning and reflection, without which there can no lasting improvement. Lean is a "learning" process so sharing your lessons and opinions here are welcome.

A big thanks to everyone for your support so far, I appreciate every subscriber, reader and person who has taken the time to comment over the years.

You guys are a constant inspiration to me and I love hearing from you.



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Friday, May 16, 2014

Lean Quote: Empowering is About Coaching Not Managing

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.

"Empowerment is all about letting go so others can get going.— Jack Welch

Empowerment may not be a new concept to you, but many organizations experience problems because they don’t know how to ‘live it’. Employee empowerment has been described and defined in many ways but is generally accepted as: the process of enabling an employee to think, behave, act, react and control their work in more autonomous ways, as to be in control of one’s own destiny.

Many managers feel that by empowering employees, they relinquish the responsibility to lead and control the organization. This is not the case. Empowerment is actually a culmination of many of the ideas and tenets of employee satisfaction.

The best way to empower employees is not to manage them. Coach them to success. This is a process of developing their skills and providing them specific feedback to meet high standards. Employees want to be on the same team with their bosses.


Empowering employees is the ongoing process of providing the tools, training, resources; encouragement and motivation your workers need to perform at the optimum level. When you show an employee you trust them, and give them timely information and the authority to find solutions, they will be able to solve problems and provide solutions more rapidly than someone without that empowerment.

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