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Friday, July 29, 2016

Lean Quote: Leadership is Unlocking People’s Potential to Become Better

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.

"Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.— Bill Bradley

Successful leaders understand the difference between things and people in an organization. They know that it’s important to manage things, but that it’s even more important to lead people. Leaders don’t just mouth empty phrases like “people are our greatest resource;” they demonstrate by their actions that people – not strategy, products, plans, processes, or systems – are the most critical factor in an organization’s performance. That’s why leaders invest heavily in growing and developing people, while managers see people as objects to be commanded and controlled.

Developing people means challenging people. But just issuing challenges isn’t enough. It would be disrespectful to not also teach a systematic, common means of developing solutions and meeting those challenges. Leaders facilitate the solution of problems by pinpointing responsibility and developing employees. Leaders do not solve other people’s problems.

Your role as a leader is to develop talent to the highest levels of independent and autonomous thinking and execution. Great leaders don’t subscribe to a “Do-It-For-You” methodology of talent management, rather they lead, mentor, coach and develop team members by getting them to buy-into a “Do-It-Yourself” work ethic. Great leaders view each interaction, question or even conflict as a coaching opportunity. Don’t answer questions or solve problems just because you can, rather teach your employees how to do it for themselves. If you make it a habit of solving problems for people, you simply teach them to come to you for solutions at the first sign of a challenge.

The best way to develop employees is not to manage them. You need to 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.

To get people across an organization to systematically work on improvement every day requires teaching the skills behind the solution. And for that to happen, their leaders and mangers also need to practice and learn those skills. Be their coach and lead the team to success!

In order to fully realize potential, you’ll have to add knowledge, skills, and experience. Don’t expect your people to do their best if you don’t equip them with the training they need to perform. And don’t expect your potential to spring forth in a final draft; it takes time to hone your skills and build your confidence. This could come from formal schooling, from the school of hard knocks, or from both. Either way, your education is the house your realized potential will live in.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lean Roundup #86 – July, 2016

A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of July, 2016.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

Consult with Humility – Bruce Hamilton explains his philosophy teach what you know, but don’t pretend to teach what you don’t, always be a student.

The Call and the Response - Steve Taninecz says “pulling the cord” to communicate “I need help” is a key tool to empower our staff and improve our patient experiences.

Information Overload: Is Too Much Data Crippling Your Supply Chain? – Alexa Cheater says to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment in big data, make sure you have a quality supply chain solution with the ability to centralize and harmonize data, quickly perform analysis, and allows for a collaborative decision making process.

Integrating Technical and Human Management Systems – John Hunter says an integrated management system with an appreciation for the importance of people centered management is the only way to get the true benefit of the technical tools available.

The Misunderstanding of Andon – Jamie Flinchbaugh outlines the elements of building your andon system.

The Destructiveness of “What Can You Improve?” - Mark Rosenthal explains the demotivating, disempowering, destructive question “What can you improve?” can be.

The Improvement Mindset Is Rare – Bob Emiliani advocates adopting the mindset that “Everything is a disaster.”

The 5-Day Kaizen | Bob Emiliani – Michael Baudin comments on the kaizen process from Bob Emilianit’s earlier article.

Back to the Beginning with Ohno, Suzuki, and Yoda – Kevin Meyer talks about taking steps to neutralize your biases will help you make smarter, more rational decisions.

The Easiest Kaizen Trick in the World – Jon Miller says most kaizen tricks, and lean management in general, have a lot to do with getting out of our own way.

Don’t Let the Perfect Get In the Way of the Good – Steve Kane discusses the fact that you will likely never achieve perfection but he pursuit of perfection is success.

Lean Transformation: Have You Hit the “Lean Plateau?” - Craig Stritar says focus on Lean tools causes plateaus for most organizations.

Ask Art: Is There More to Becoming Lean than Conducting Kaizen Events? – Art Byrne explains that kaizen events are the catalyst, but continuous improvement and continuous learning by everyone in the company are the real objectives.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Lean Tips Edition #98 (Tip# 1471-1485)

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 #1471 - Focus on the Rate of Production, or Takt Time.
This is a heartbeat measurement for the team. One-piece flow is ideal, but any flow is better than no flow. Pull at the demand of the customer, if possible. Then, pull the material through the process rather than push it along. This may take time. Setting up small work-in-process (WIP) or finished goods inventory (FGI) locations from which teams can pull material through production can be a good place to start. Holding areas also are known as Kanban areas, or supermarkets.

Lean Tip #1472 - Create a Model Line.
Develop a showplace within your shop where everyone can see how it should be done. Start small, but don't pick a project that has no challenges. Develop key measurements before and after the production line so that people can watch the progress of your get-lean initiative. Finally, create a future-state map that acts as your ideal value stream.

Lean Tip #1473 - Don't Wait Until All the Stars Align Before You Begin.
There is never an ideal time to start redoing your manufacturing process. There always are reasons you should wait or gather more data, but a ready-fire-aim approach is not all bad if it is applied to smaller aspects of the project.

Lean Tip #1474 - Develop the Ability to Make “Every Part Every Day”
Develop the ability to make “every part every day” (than every shift, than every hour or pallet or pitch) in fabrication processes upstream of the pacemaker process. By shortening changeover times and running smaller batches in you upstream fabrication processes, those processes will be able to respond to changing downstream needs more quickly.  In turn they will require even less inventory to be held in their supermarkets. This applies to both discrete-parts manufacturing and process industries.

An initial goal at many plants is to make at least “every part every day” for high-running part numbers.

Lean Tip #1475 - Use Kaizens to Teach and Make Rapid Changes
Use a talented and experienced facilitator who has a deep understanding of Lean tools and philosophy but keep training focused on a specific problem. This helps to keep the training relevant to real world situations and ensures that there are tangible outcomes from training activity. The kaizen might have an objective to reduce setup time, reduce waiting time, or increase workplace organization, for instance.

Lean Tip #1476 - Benchmark with other companies
Visit other companies that have successfully implemented lean to get ideas and understanding; other companies are often delighted to present their lean implementation progress. Networking is key to ensure global understanding with other companies implementing Lean.

Lean Tip #1477 - Set up a Lean Enterprise Steering Team
This team would be responsible to provide support in the planning, resourcing, implementation, and follow-up accountability for implementation. The steering team is often identical to the normal line management team. The internal resources and external consultants would provide consulting support to the team. This infrastructure would resolve inter-departmental issues.

Lean Tip #1478 - Leaders Must Thoroughly Understand, Believe In, and Live Lean
All leaders must understand the work in detail and know how to involve people. If the top is not driving the transformation, it will not happen. Then, to keep the results sustainable you must have a system for both result- based and process based performance measurement including measures for velocity of the overall business process and the individual business processes.

Lean Tip #1479 - Create a Positive Atmosphere
Be tolerant towards mistakes committed in lean environment with a supportive and learning attitude. Have patience with progress as this will be key to get results and also try to create a blame free supportive environment. Have courage to take risks at crucial stages to push things and resources to meet the plan and achieve results.

Lean Tip #1480 - Make Lean Mandatory
If a company looks at Lean transformation as a "nice to do" in spare time or as a voluntary activity, it will simply not happen. It needs to be mandatory and people need to be given the space to think about improvements they can make.

Lean Tip #1481 - Involve Employees in the Change Process.
Employees are not so much against change as they are against being changed. Any time managers are going to implement organizational change, there is always a lag between the time the change has been discussed at the management level and the time the change is going to be implemented. Managers like to play like an ostrich and believe that they are the only ones who know about the changes that are going to take place. Unfortunately, while their heads are stuck in the sand believing that no one else knows, employees are effectively undermining the future changes with negative informal communication…the company grapevine. The sooner you involve employees in the process, the better off you will be implementing the change. A formal communication channel is more effective at implementing change than a negative informal one.

Lean Tip #1482 - Ask Employees For Commitment to Change.
Once change has been announced, it is important that you personally ask for each employee’s commitment to successfully implement the change. It is also important that you assure the employee that if there are problems, you want to hear about them. If a negative employee does not tell you, they will tell other employees why the change will not work.

Lean Tip #1483 - Expand and Improve Communication to Employees.
The change process usually means that normal communication channels need to be improved. First, give employees an opportunity to give you input. Start by becoming more available and asking more questions. Get employees’ opinions and reactions to the changes. Maintain your visibility and make it clear that you are an accessible boss. More importantly, be a careful listener. Second, keep employees updated on a regular basis. Just letting your employees know that you have no new information is meaningful information to them. Strive to be specific; clear up rumors and misinformation that clutter the communication channels. Remember, it is almost impossible to over communicate.

Lean Tip #1484 – Management Should Keep a Positive Attitude.
Your attitude as a manager or supervisor will be a major factor in determining what type of climate is exhibited by your employees. Your attitude is the one thing that keeps you in control. Change can be stressful and confusing. Try to remain upbeat, positive, and enthusiastic. Foster motivation in others. During times of transition and change, try to compensate your employees for their extra effort. Write a brief note of encouragement on their paychecks; leave an affirming message on their voice mail; take them aside and tell them what a great job they are doing; listen to their comments and suggestions. Last, try to instill organizational change as a personal challenge that everyone can meet…with success!

Lean Tip #1485 - Raise Levels of Expectations.

Now more than ever, you should ask more from your employees. It is expected that more work needs to be done during the change process. While it may be most practical to expect less in terms of performance, raise your levels of expectations and theirs. During change, employees are more likely to alter their work habits, so reach for the opportunity and push them to try harder and work smarter. Require performance improvements and make the process challenging, but remember to keep goals realistic in order to eliminate frustration and failure.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Lean Quote: Leader's Actions Inspire Others

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.

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.— John Quincy Adams

People do what they have to do for a manager, they do their best for an inspirational leader.  The ability to inspire people to reach great heights of performance and success is a skill that leaders need. Passion, purpose, listening and meaning help make a leader inspirational. Leaders must create a corporate culture that inspires, empowers, and energizes employees.

To inspire, you must both create resonance and move people with a compelling vision.  You must embody what you ask of others, and be able to articulate a shared vision in a way that inspires others to act.  You must offer a sense of common purpose beyond the day-to-day tasks, making work exciting with fun.

Inspirational leaders have an important role to play in their organization as defined below: 

1.  Provide an inspiring vision and strategic alignment, launch a crusade
2.  Help people connect their personal goals to business goals
3.  Make relentless innovation a religion
4.  Encourage entrepreneurial creativity and experimentation
5.  Involve everyone, empower and trust employees
6.  Coach and train your people to greatness
7.  Build teams and promote teamwork, leverage diversity
8.  Motivate, inspire and energize people, recognize achievements
9.  Encourage risk taking
10. Make work fun

The ability to inspire and motivate workers to high performance is one behavior that separates top-performing leaders from the rest of the pack.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Six Principles of Mistake Proofing

Some may say that it’s impossible to eliminate mistakes. And they are right; it is, most of the time. But, to be honest, they are missing the point.

Poka yoke, or mistake proofing, describes any behavior changing constraint that is built into a process to prevent an incorrect operation or act occurring.  The three aims of mistake proofing are:
  • To reduce the risk of mistakes or errors arising.
  • To minimize the effort required to perform activities.
  • To detect errors prior to them impacting on people, materials, or equipment.
Ideally, poka-yoke ensures that proper conditions exist before actually executing a process step, preventing defects from occurring in the first place. Where this is not possible, poka-yoke performs a detective function, eliminating defects in the process as early as possible.

This can be achieved by following the 6 principles or methods of mistake proofing. These are listed in order of priority in fundamentally addressing mistakes:

1. Elimination seeks to eliminate an error-prone process step by redesigning the product or process so that the task or part is no longer necessary. This may require redesigning a new process or product simplification or part consolidation that avoids a part defect or assembly error in the first place.

Example:  An example of elimination is the use of ambient-light sensors to turn outside lighting on and off.

2. Prevention modifies the product or process so that it is impossible to make a mistake or that a mistake becomes a defect. This includes Limit switches to assure that a part is correctly placed or fixtured before process is performed; part features that only allow assembly the correct way, unique connectors to avoid misconnecting wire harnesses or cables, part symmetry that avoids incorrect insertion.

Example: An example would be a camera that will not function when there is not enough light to take a picture. Also some clothes dryers shut down when they detect an overheating situation.

3. Replacement substitutes a more reliable process to improve repeatability. This includes use of robotics or automation that prevents a manual assembly error.

Example: An example would be the implementation of an automatic dispenser to insure the correct amount of adhesive is applied during an assembly process or the coin dispenser in food stores preventing that customers are getting short changed.

4. Facilitation is the most used principle and employs techniques and combining steps to make a process step easier to perform or less error-prone. This includes visual controls including color coding, marking or labeling parts to facilitate correct assembly; checklists that list all tasks that need to be performed; exaggerated asymmetry to facilitate correct orientation of parts.

Example: An example would be to color code parts that are similar in shape. This would make it easier to identify the correct part for assembly. Another example would be the use of a slipping-type torque wrench to prevent over tightening. When gas stations introduced unleaded gasoline, the nozzle on the leaded pump was designed to be too big to fit into an unleaded tank, thereby preventing mistakes. Electrical outlets have been mistake proofed to assure proper polarity. It is impossible to put a plug in an outlet incorrectly.

5. Detection involves identifying a mistake before further processing occurs so that the operator can quickly correct the defect. This includes sensors in the production process to identify when parts are incorrectly assembled; scales to measure and control the weight of a package; built-in self-test capabilities in products.

Example: Examples would include a weld counter to ensure the correct number of welds or a software modification that will not allow incorrect entries. Also warning device, using sound and light, like the seat belt buzzers, can be used to predict when something is about to go wrong.

6. Mitigation seeks to minimize the effects or the mistake. This includes mechanisms that reduce the impact of a error and defect; products designed with low-cost, simple rework procedures when an error is discovered; extra design margin or redundancy in products to compensate for the effects of errors.

Example: An example would be a smoke or heat detector detecting a hazardous situation. Also fuses to prevent overloading circuits resulting from shorts are mitigation techniques.

Ideally, mistake-proofing should be considered during the development of a new product to maximize opportunities to mistake-proof through design of the product and the process (elimination, replacement, prevention and facilitation). Once the product is designed and the process is selected, mistake proofing opportunities are more limited (prevention, facilitation, detection and mitigation).

Eradicating human errors is crucial to any business. Errors cost money and impact customer satisfaction. By introducing simple measures to trap and stop errors organizations can not only save costs but also become more efficient. 

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Sixteen Human Error Modes for Mistake Proofing

We all make mistakes, to err is human.  The question is why does it happen and how can you prevent it.  The essence of mistake-proofing is to design both products and processes so that human errors or mistakes are impossible to make or, at the least, they are easy and early to detect and correct. Poka-yoke is Japanese slang for mistake-proofing, a term coined by Shigeo Shingo.

When performing a mistake-proofing analysis on a manufacturing, service or business process, it is of course important to identify every human error possible during each process step. There are 16 human error modes particularly helpful to understand when identifying potential human errors.

The Sixteen Human Error Modes

1.     Omission
What part of the process is prone to be omitted?

2.     Excessive/Insufficient Repetition
What part of the process is prone to be excessively repeated?

3.     Wrong Order or Sequence
In what wrong sequence can the process be executed?

4.     Early/Late Execution
What execution can be early or late?

5.     Execution of Restricted Work
What tasks could be executed by unauthorized personnel?

6.     Incorrect Selection (or Identification)
What object of the process is prone to be incorrectly selected or identified?

7.     Incorrect Counting (or Calculating)
What objects of the process can be counted, measured, or calculated incorrectly?

8.     Misrecognition (or Misunderstanding or Misreading)
What misunderstanding or misreading is prone to occur?
What information, risk, or failure/error is prone to be overlooked?
What miscommunication is prone to occur?
What incorrect decision is prone to occur?

9.     Failing to Sense Danger
What information, risk, or failure/error is prone to be overlooked?

10.  Incorrect Holding
What object of the process are prone to mishandling?

11.  Incorrect Positioning
What positioning setting error is prone to occur?

12.  Incorrect Orientation
What orientation error is prone to occur?

13.  Incorrect Motion
What motion or movement error is prone to occur?

14.  Improper Holding
What object of the process are prone to mishandling?

15.  Inaccurate Motion
What motion or movement error is prone to occur?

16.  Insufficient Avoidance
What can be unintentionally touched, stuck, or splashed?
What movement can cause harm?

We must approach human error by considering the interfaces of the process that the operator is engaged in. The process should be designed to permit communication between the process and the operator.

Shingo argued that errors are inevitable in any manufacturing process, but that if appropriate Poka-yokes are implemented, then mistakes can be caught quickly and prevented from resulting in defects. By eliminating defects at the source, the cost of mistakes within a company is reduced.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Lean Quote: Lead by Example

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.

"You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.— Ken Kesey

Whether you realize it or not, if you're a leader, your employees are watching every move you make. Good leaders must lead by example. By walking your talk, you become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing, but do another, they erode trust--a critical element of productive leadership.

Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one. Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

Leaders must lead with their actions as well as their words. Leaders can effectively translate intention into reality by acting on the concepts and messages they teach and the things they say to those around them. Leadership is the act of setting the right example for those who follow. Leadership is about actively demonstrating your belief, not just talking about it. People who say one thing but do another eventually lose credibility.

Leaders are not afraid to jump into the ‘trenches’ and do some of the work themselves. They also encourage team members to take risks and support them when they do. Being a hands on manager will inspire and motivate the team to achieve greater things.

When you “walk the talk,” your behavior becomes a catalyst for people’s trust and faith in you. And it also emphasizes what you stand for. Leading by example shows people exactly what you expect and gives them living proof that it can be done. On a deeper level, leading by example and being as good as your words builds trust. It’s a sign that you take what you say seriously so they can, too.

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