Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Daily Lean Tips Edition #76 (1141 -1155)

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 #1141 – Problem Solving Starts With Defining The Problem First.
Explain what the problem is—what went wrong, what are the symptoms, what is the impact on your business. Write it down. Everyone who reads it should understand what the problem is and why it’s important. Caution: describe the problem, not what you will do to fix it.

Lean Tip #1142 - Test Your Assumptions about Everything.
Check the facts first. Be sure that you and your team understand the problem the same way, and that you have data to confirm that the problem is important. Test the assumptions about proposed solutions to improve the chances your solution will actually solve the problem.

Lean Tip #1143 - Use Your Project Management Skills To Solve Problems.
Solving a big problem is a project: you’re far more likely to solve it successfully if you treat it like one. That means you’ll need to identify tasks, make and adjust assignments, and keep track of what is due when. Be sure to get appropriate management support for your project.

Lean Tip #1144 - Look For Solution Owners Rather Than Problem Owners.
Everyone participating in the situation owns the problem, like it or not—and nobody likes it. Avoid the finger-pointing trap by looking for solution owners, i.e., the people who can do something to help solve the problem. Helping with a solution is much more fun than being blamed for a problem, so you’re more likely to get the response you need.

Lean Tip #1145 - Identify And Fix The Right Root Causes.
Complicated problems have multiple root causes, probably more than you can fix in a reasonable amount of time. Don’t waste time or money on causes that are either insignificant in impact or only peripheral causes of the problem you’re trying to fix.

Lean Tip #1146 - Reward Prevention.
Although it’s generally understood that it costs more to deal with crises than to prevent them, many companies do not recognize and reward those who push past the symptoms to the root causes, preventing future occurrences. If you want to focus on prevention, be sure to reward those who do it successfully.

Lean Tip #1147 - Choose Solutions That Are Effective—And Implement The Solution Completely.
Identifying the right root causes is necessary, but unless you then implement a solution, you still have a problem. Double-check to be sure your solution plan really will eliminate the causes you’ve identified, and then execute the plan. It’s easy to get distracted by other projects once you get to the implementation phase and never finish.

Lean Tip #1148 – Avoid the “bug mentality” of Corrective Action.
Fixing bugs fixes symptoms: like taking aspirin for a headache, it may provide relief but does nothing to prevent the next headache. It’s ok, and often necessary, to relieve the symptoms but you have to dig deeper if you’re going to prevent problems from occurring.

Lean Tip #1149 - Plan For Things To Go Wrong.
We’ve heard it before, and it’s still true: if something can go wrong, it will. Figure out what can get in the way of your problem solving effort and develop appropriate contingency plans.

Lean Tip #1150 - Acknowledge And Thank Everyone Who Helps.
Solving an important problem deserves recognition, and nobody else is going to take care of this for you. Make sure management and key stakeholders know what you and your team have achieved. Remind them of the risks avoided. Thank everyone who participated in the project. It’s the polite thing to do, and encourages them to help you next time.

Lean Tip #1151 – Provide Training to Your Employees
Provide your employees with proper job training to help them excel in their career. Ensuring employees complete tasks accurately helps them achieve goals and provides motivation which leads to higher levels of engagement. Employees are more engaged when they understand their roles and responsibilities within their position. And, an understanding of job responsibilities results in higher levels of performance and commitment to your organization.

Lean Tip #1152 – Develop Your Employees
Developing your people is important to your success as a manager. Opportunities for growth and development are a key driver of employee engagement as well as organizational success. Employees who grow and develop their skills are more likely to stay with a company and recommend the company to others. This helps the overall company build the talent and teams needed to be successful.

Lean Tip #1153 – Recognize Your Employees
Recognition from a manager is a very important motivator for employees. It encourages positive behavior and attitudes in the workplace, and in turn, promotes higher levels of employee engagement.
Make recognition easy and highly visible to everyone throughout the organization so that others can share in the acknowledgement. Recognition should be simple and should occur as often as possible. There is no limit to how much recognition can be delivered and it is important that it come from multiple sources (i.e., senior leadership, immediate supervisors, peers and clients).

Lean Tip #1154 – Encourage Teamwork
Teamwork grows out of a culture of openness and trust between managers and employees. When employees feel they are part of a team within their company, they invest more time and energy into their job.

Teamwork fosters a cooperative atmosphere where employees have a positive attitude about the job and also ensures greater efficiency. As a manager, instill a “we’re in this together” spirit among your team. Sharing important company information, newsworthy updates from client meetings, or providing a summary of recent meetings ensures that the team is aligned toward the same goals.

Lean Tip #1155 – Build a Customer Focused Team
Today’s best leaders, managers and employees are customer-focused. They understand and anticipate the needs of both internal and external customers. They meet and exceed customer needs with timely, efficient and economical solutions.


Conduct periodic meetings with internal and external customers to discuss their unique challenges and the ways your team can be more supportive. Invite your employees to participate in the meetings. Develop and ask a brief set of questions to assess their satisfaction with your department’s services. Share the results with your team and develop action plans to improve customer relationships.

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