Monday, June 30, 2014

Lean Roundup #61 - June, 2014



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

Hoshin Kanri X Matrix Template for Lean Policy Deployment – Pete Abila explains how to use the X matrix for Hoshin Kanri.

Is Assessing Lean Wasteful? – Gregg Stocker shares problems he has encountered when using an assessment tool to gage and drive progress toward a lean transformation.

Why is "What is Lean?" 'A Simple Question Without An Easy Answer'? – Jon Miller discusses the not so simple answer of “What is Lean?” to provide greater understanding.

Leadership: What’s Love Got to Do With It? – Karen Martin says when it comes to achieving outstanding business performance, love’s got a LOT to do with it.

Addicted to Lean – Bruce Hamilton created a parody that despite being passionate about Lean you do have to remember to have some fun.

5S: It's not About What is Done but Who Does It – Michel Baudin explains the importance of having those close to work inspect the area with eye for abnormalities.

A World Devoid of Common Sense – Bill Waddell talks about the silliness of annual budgeting, variance analysis, and three way matching of invoices.

Root Cause, Interactions, Robustness and Design of Experiments – John Hunter answers question on interactions, variation, and root cause analysis.

Total Quality Management Models and Why I Hate This Chart – Pete Abila explains the problems with typical TQM models where 6sigma comes late journey.

Settings For Lean Success – Bob Emiliani talks about what conditions are necessary to be successful with Lean.

Employee Buy-In to the Improvement Plan – John Smith talks about creating a vision for improvement and the importance of communicating that plan with employees for buy-in.

What Your Father Can Teach You About Lean – Chad Walters shares 3 things your father has taught you regarding Lean thinking in recognition of Father’s Day.

More steps, more waste. – Dan Markovitz says no matter how simple the process is the more steps you have the more waste you have.

I Mean No Disrespect: Avoiding the Blame Game - Nicole Einbeck says the easiest way to gain respect is to go to the Gemba to understand what is actually happening.

Change Management: Fasten Your Seatbelts – Jacklyn Whitaker shares several tips for helping with change management in your company, department, or team.

The self-development of leadership development – Jamie Flinchbaugh explains why self-development is more important the directed development today.

Back to Basics – Employee Engagement – Al Norval talks about the types of employee engagement and management’s role in engagement.

Targets are for Losers – Bill Waddell discusses the problems with performance targets in a continuous improvement culture.

The #Lean Goals that Matter - SQDCM – Mark Graban shares real objectives of Lean and why there is a balance.

Kaizen events are mainly a tool to open the minds of the leadership – Jeff Liker talks about the real purpose of Kaizen events.

Kaizen? Good or Bad – Tracey Richardson discusses when kaizen events help and when do they hinder and how to best use kaizen events to leverage results and support the lean culture.

Three Steps Toward Lean Culture Change - Erin Urban shares 3 items that must be a part of any successful lean culture change initiative.

Lean Government – Jim Womack discusses how any government at any level can try a simple method for improving its value-creating processes.


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Friday, June 27, 2014

Lean Quote: Simplicity is the Key to Effective Continuous Improvement

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.

"To be simple is to be Great.— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Simplicity is the key to effective continuous improvement. Simplicity is the state or quality of being simple. Simplicity is not simple. If it were otherwise, it would not be the subject of discussion. Simplicity would be what is taken for granted.

According to Occam's razor, all other things being equal, the simplest theory is the most likely to be true.  A simple solution always takes less time to finish than a complex one.  So always do the simplest thing that could possibly work next. If you find something that is complex replace it with something simple. It's always faster and cheaper to replace complexity now, before you waste a lot more time on it.

In my experience with problem solving in a Lean environment it is often those simple creative solutions at the source of the problem by those who do the work that are the most effective.  Lean leaders understand this well and work to create a culture that fosters and develops the use of this ingenuity.

If your process isn’t simple, it’s going to be very expensive, not very usable, and probably not sustainable – put simply, it will fail. Whether evaluating new processes, or determining which ones to re-engineer or discard, make simplicity a key consideration. Remember this – usability drives adoptability, and simplicity is the main determinant of usability.


I think it was Leonardo da Vinci that said it best "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."


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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Keep Calm and Let the Quality Manager Handle It


Yeah, that will work. While a creative idea in the “Keep Calm” series and probably something many of experience this is completely the wrong idea.

Quality is not something we can rely on a single person or group to perform. We cannot add it at the end of the line or inspect it into the product. At best that is only a false sense of security. If we want a quality product it must be made with quality processes by quality minded people. A focus on quality must be intrinsic to the company culture and practices for the customer to take notice.

The responsibility of delivering quality products and services to customers lies on the shoulders of every single individual who is even remotely associated with the organization. It is not only the management but also employees irrespective of their designation, suppliers, clients, customers who need to come up with improvement ideas to make foolproof systems and processes to deliver quality products which meet and exceed the expectations of end- users.

Generally the most effective way to achieve quality is to avoid having defects in the first place. It is much less costly to prevent a problem from ever happening than it is to find and correct the problem after it has occurred. Focusing on prevention activities whose purpose is to reduce the number of defects is better. Companies employ many techniques to prevent defects for example statistical process control, quality engineering, training, and a variety of tools from the Lean and Six Sigma tool kit.

Quality is everyone’s job. Each individual can influence some parts of the manufacturing process of a product or service they provide, therefore, effecting the quality of its output and ultimately the customer’s satisfaction. Quality directives should be compulsory to everyone in the corporation.


Perhaps the shirt should say “Keep Calm and Let Me Handle It”.


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Monday, June 23, 2014

Six Tips for Facilitating a Lean Event


Kaizen events are opportunities to discuss problems within your organization. The purpose is to find workable solutions to problems within an organization or to find new opportunities for a company. The participants of a Kaizen event are key to the success of it. They need to be engaged, thinking and interacting throughout the entire event. This is the role of the facilitator to accomplish.

Here are some thoughts on how to facilitate an event.

1. Start small. Trying to do too much when introducing a new process can be overwhelming. Strive to accomplish small steps over time and build on your successes.

2. Expect to use extra time at first when planning to incorporate activities for reflection. Extra time spent in up-front planning will help reduce challenges during delivery of activities or in follow-up.

3. Work with a colleague whenever possible. You and your colleague can provide each other with a sounding board for ideas and mutual support.

4. Make a collection of activities and ideas. Evaluate the ones that work and those that do not. Revisit old activities occasionally; fresh eyes may see new opportunities for old ideas.

5. Be persistent. If you feel that the process is not working, reflect on the experience to gain new insights. Identify the issues, create solutions, and make necessary adaptations. As a facilitator, consider:
 What worked?
 What could have been better?
 How did the students respond to the activity?
 What feedback did colleagues give about the activity?
 Was I open to honest feedback (or was I nervous about receiving constructive comments)?
 What adaptations could be made to the activity?
 How did I respond to the activity?
 How could I adjust my approach to enhance the process?

6. Remember that expertise develops over time and often through a process of trial and error. See this learning process as a journey, rather than the destination.

As a Lean facilitator, if you apply these sensibly you will not go far wrong. Just remember to try it. It's easy to forget about these simple things during the heat of battle.




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Friday, June 20, 2014

Lean Quote: Quality is Really About Customer Service

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.

"Quality is understanding, accepting, and meeting the needs and expectations of customers.— W. David Hall, Prosolve Consulting LTD

Customer satisfaction is one of the most important aspects of any organization. If customers aren’t satisfied, they will take their business elsewhere and the organization won’t last.

For any business the customer is the lifeblood. Every process and every action internal or external should ultimately result in the value addition to the customer and the customer’s delight. Therefore it is essential that the customer needs, wants and expectations are identified before you embark on a quality building program.

Fundamentally, there are three levels of quality customer service:

First level: Conformance to Customers basic requirements, includes safety /health.

Second level: Customer satisfaction with Customer's expressed requirements.

Third level: Customer delight with unexpected new quality achieved by meeting customer's latent requirements.

Quality is an ever evolving perception by the customer of the value provided by a product. It is not a static perception that never changes but a fluid process that changes as a product matures (innovation) and other alternatives (competition) are made available as a basis of comparison.

Remember that long term profitability isn’t as much in winning customers as in keeping customers. Each individual customer’s perception of your company will determine how well you do and that perception will depend on the level of customer service you provide.


Since the customer is the only reason you have a job, if you are not willing to satisfy the customer…then you might as well go home; you are not needed. Remember that perception is reality with customer service. If your customers don’t see your organization as one that engages in customer-focused behavior, then you are not providing exceptional customer service. Treating your customers as valued individuals is often more important than price.



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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A CEOs Role In Lean All Is About Involvement


It’s not news that most change initiatives fail because of lack of CEO involvement. Most CEOs are simply delegating responsibility down the workforce ladder to accomplish Lean results. These CEOs often view lean as a tool rather than a business philosophy. Focusing on tools, such as the 5S organization method, will produce limited results because the company culture still has not changed.

To become Lean, every process must indeed be examined and refined; but even more fundamentally, every mind must be trained for situational awareness and instinctive efficiency. As long as things could be improved, it is the role of the executive to take responsibility and make sure they are indeed changing for the better. However, this change cannot be forced from the outside, but must occur naturally; and only an executive has the influence to plant the seeds of change deep enough. Sure, there are improvements to be made simply by employing some of the tools and practices developed in the TPS, but without an executive leading by example and motivating managers and employees to higher standards of performance and efficiency, any enhancements that happen will not stand the test of time.

CEOs have the critical role of motivating and engaging all people to work together toward a common goal. They must define and explain what that goal is, share a path to achieve it, motivate people to take the journey with them, and assist them by removing obstacles. It’s important to recall that Lean is mostly about empowering collaborators to spot problems and imagine solutions that they implement, measure and standardize where appropriate. This is basic PDCA and scientific method.

We certainly don’t want the CEO to solve problems on behalf of employees, for that would prevent them from learning (and he probably doesn’t have time for that anyway).
Simply put, the role of a Lean CEO is to coach, on the gemba, his middle managers into coaching, on the gemba, their employees into the scientific method (PDCA) in order to move current processes to a vision of one-piece-flow.

CEOs should serve as a Lean coach or mentor to key staff members, not only empowering the employees but holding them accountable for their results. Lean CEOs are firm and inspiring, relentless and resilient, demanding and forgiving, focused and flexible. Above all, they have to be smart and highly respected in the organization.

Commitment from management on Lean is a “MUST”. In fact, it is the driving force. Procedures, tools, and database are all useless if the management does not want to see an improvement culture in the organization. The employees of the organization will not care, if the executives themselves do not show the attitude to follow the right path.

The truth is demonstrating commitment is hard work. Wavering commitment is usually seen as no commitment at all. The only way to achieve a reputation for commitment is through determination and persistence. Genuine commitment stands the test of time.

Lean is a journey, not a destination. As a consequence, a Lean CEO is always learning and there’s no end to that. Properly supported and rewarded, Lean will produce a positive environment to make continuous improvement a way of life…everyone will win!


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Monday, June 16, 2014

Daily Lean Tips Edition #64 (961-975)

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 #961 - Processes are Really Just Ideas
Most change efforts require changes to organizational processes, and we have some great tools for representing processes. The tools are too good, though — we sometimes forget that processes have no physical manifestation. Processes are just ideas, and ideas exist only in our minds. So if a process is to change, what is in people's minds must change — their ideas about the processes, and how they, as people, relate to the processes and to each other.

Lean Tip #962 - People Change for Something Better Rather than to Avoid Something Worse
Threats are fine for determining behavior, but they just don't create real change. Here are two approaches that don't work: "You had better do this, or it's your job." "If we can't figure out how to do this, we'll be out of business." Instead, realize that lasting change comes from within — from the heart, from the spirit. To create lasting organizational change, you must develop a vision of a better work life — a vision that people can really believe in.

Lean Tip #963 - People Don't Forget What They Already Know
Although we know quite a lot about how to show people new ways, very little is known about how to make people forget old ways. The old ways will stay with the organization, no matter how tightly you try to constrain — or coerce — people to follow new paths. This means that after you've educated everyone about the new ways of doing things, the old patterns are still there. And people are always free to fall back on the old ways. The only way to limit this behavior is to make the new ways so appealing and fun that people will choose them over the old ways.

Lean Tip #964 – Fight Against Complacency.
Have you heard the saying that “the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference?” Employee development suggests that at certain phases of an employee’s work life, there can come a time when unresolved issues and hurts render an employee “indifferent.” Surface any dashed expectations or old problems, and focus employees on new goals and renewed commitment to their jobs and the future.

Lean Tip #965 - Expect Change To Take Longer Than You Expect
Recognize that in your own mind, you've already made the change. You've thought it through, and you know where you want things to go. But nobody else has — well, hardly anybody. Getting everyone to move to where they will want to go will take time. And we always underestimate how long it takes. Always.

Lean Tip #966 - Learn Something Each and Every Day
The best lesson I was ever taught by a mentor – was to strive to take learning from every experience in a day and to recount it at the end of the day.   This orientation around learning and looking for learning has made a tremendous difference in my life – and I know it will in yours as well.  It’s leveraging this knowledge that will move you forward on your personal leadership development plan as fast as anything else.

Lean Tip #967 - Maximize Your Team’s Talents With Four Steps
Follow these points to build high performance teams: 1) Establish a common vision 2) Emphasize the importance of team trust 3) Ensure your team has the collective capacity to get the job done by maximizing individual potential 4) Keep meetings and operations running smoothly and efficiently.

Lean Tip #968 - When Possible, Encourage Variety
Employees who are appointed to different roles tend to be more productive. Of course, this is a trick on floors that rely on an acute specialization of labor, but to the extent that you can, switch up job assignments from time to time. When workers see their vocation as an endless treadmill, their efficiency suffers.

Lean Tip # 969 – Leaders Must Guide, Motivate, and Inspire.
Guide your team in the direction you want the group to go by setting a vision, strategy, and goals. Motivate them to bring their best by expressing your passion, communicating with confidence and optimism, and connecting tasks to a greater purpose.  Your work doesn’t stop there; inspire them to act by continuously engaging their talents, re-recruiting their spirit, and celebrating successes.

Lean Tip #970 – Foster Innovation by Encouraging Creativity
Foster innovation by challenging assumptions about what can and cannot be done. React to mistakes and failures in a way that shows that you condone risk-taking. Give your support, provide resources, and remove barriers to change. Approach problems as learning opportunities. Think twice when people agree with you; show you value independent thinking and reward people who challenge you.

Lean Tip #971 - Know Your People Personally
Personal interaction is important. The impact of a simple “hello” in the hallway or conversation in the lobby goes a long way into getting employees to feel important and want to be part of the vision a leader has created for the company.  You have the ability to impact each of your team on a personal level. When was the last time you took the time to listen to your team and get to know them as individuals?

Lean Tip #972 - Set a Company Standard
Lean leaders model a company standard they expect everyone to follow. They clearly communicate their vision, expectations, and how this standard is to be carried out throughout the organization. What is your company standard? What standard are you setting by example?

Lean Tip #973 - Collaboration Across Departmental and Hierarchical Boundaries Collaboration across departmental and hierarchical boundaries can help organizations to achieve transformational change. The key to getting employees to buy into change is dialogue not dictation. Through dialogue, employees’ concerns can be addressed and ideally eliminated, so they can start to learn how the proposed change will be better. As people become more open, the organization becomes more transparent and trust is fostered, enabling collective solution building and idea sharing to occur.

Lean Tip #974 - Coach for Continuous Improvement
Organizations need continuous improvement in all areas if they are to remain successful.  Meet with members of your team often.  Make them individual change champions for their areas of responsibility.  Encourage strategic thinking and planning for their roles and future roles.  Help them develop the skills needed to implement these anticipated changes.

Lean Tip #975 - Catch People Doing the Right Thing. 

It’s easy catching people doing the wrong thing, any manager can do that.  Inspirational leaders deliberately set out to catch people doing the right thing.  They acknowledge it when they see it, point it out to everyone around, make heroes of them in the workplace and reward the right behaviors.


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