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Monday, December 5, 2016

Lean Tips Edition #103 (1546 - 1560)

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 #1546 - Learn by Doing First and Training Second
The Toyota Way is about learning by doing. I believe that in the early stages of lean transformation there should be at least 80% doing and 20% training and informing. The best training is training followed by immediately doing … or doing followed by immediate training. The Toyota approach to training is to put people in difficult situations and let them solve their way out of the problems.

Lean Tip #1547 - Use Kaizen to Teach and Make Rapid Change
Kaizen frees up a cross-functional team to make changes quickly that otherwise can drag on for months. Selecting the right people for the team is critical, as is setting aside the time for those individuals and giving them a lot of management support. Using a talented and experienced facilitator who has a deep understanding of lean tools and philosophy with a specific problem to tackle makes all the difference in what you can accomplish.

Lean Tip #1548 - Use Value Stream Mapping to Develop Future State Visions
Value stream mapping is a method for clearly showing in diagram form the material and information flow. When developing the current state map, future state map, and action plan for implementation, I always recommend using a cross-functional group consisting of managers who can authorize resources and doers who are part of the process being mapped. Mapping creates a language and tool for the team to actually pick apart a specific process, see the waste, develop a lean vision, and apply it to that particular process.

Lean Tip #1549 – Organize Around Value Streams
In most organizations, management is organized by process or function. In a factory, there is a manager of the paint department, a manager of the assembly department, and a manager of the maintenance department. In Lean Thinking, Womack and Jones recommend creating value stream managers who have complete responsibility for the value stream and can answer to the customer.

Lean Tip #1550 - Realign Metrics with a Value Stream Perspective
“You get what you measure” has become a truism in most companies. But metrics are used very differently by Toyota compared to most companies. They are an overall tool for tracking progress of the company and they are a key tool for continuous improvement. At most companies they are mainly a tool for short-term cost control by managers who do not understand what they are managing.

The first step therefore is to eliminate non-lean metrics that are wreaking havoc with those seriously invested in improving operational excellence. The next step is to measure a variety of value stream metrics from lead time to inventory levels to first-pass quality and treat these metrics as seriously as labor productivity and other short-term cost metrics.

Lean Tip #1551 - Figure Out How the Work Gets Done.
We have lots of assumptions about how work gets done that don’t mirror exactly what happens. After all, during the day-to-day grind, we don’t think about how we do the work, we often just do it. Ask an outside observer to record the steps of the process in a way that he/she could repeat it themselves if they had to, without assistance.

Lean Tip #1552 - Remove Inefficiencies and Waste.
Once you know what the workflow of your process looks like, take a second look at any step in the process that doesn’t directly create value for the customer. Manage, improve, and smooth your process flow to eliminate non-valued-added activity (e.g., wasted time, wasted movement, wasted inventory due to overproduction, customer delays, waiting for approvals, delays due to batching of work, unnecessary steps, duplication of effort, and errors and rework).

Lean Tip #1553 - Empower the People Operating the Process.
The best person to improve a process is the person who carries out the process. Utilize employee’s full skillsets—can someone be doing more? If the process is improved, they will likely have time to take on higher level work.

Lean Tip #1554 - Track Numbers and Manage by Evidence.
Sometimes what should work well doesn’t. Test out your process, collect data on how well it is working, highlight and eliminate errors, and seek continuous improvements in value. Seek proof; don’t assume an improvement has been made.

Lean Tip #1555 - Focus on Your Customers.
Ultimately, what all customers want is value. Value creation occurs when the quality of services received is perceived as high compared to their cost. What does your customer want and how can you provide it better, faster, cheaper?

Lean Tip #1556 - Don’t Try To Map All Your Processes at Once.
Some businesses make the erroneous move of documenting all their processes at once. This sort of exercise requires a significant amount of time and man-power upfront with little or no value-add. Focus on mapping key business processes that cut across the value chain where identifiable improvements can be made. Define the scope, identify the business processes you need to focus on and concentrate on those.

Lean Tip #1557 - The Process Mapping Exercise Should Be Done Within A Well-Defined Framework.
Identify the standards, templates and guidelines to be adopted for the exercise. The last thing you want is a process repository with multiple notation types for the same type of event or activity. It can easily become confusing for anyone reading the documents.

Business processes can be mapped to varying levels of abstraction. The purpose of the mapping exercise will of course, guide the process data you collect and the level of detail you go into. Agree on what levels of abstraction the process documentation exercise should cover. For example, will the mapping exercise cover all the processes within a function (e.g. Planning) with the ability to drill down to sub-processes and procedures?

Lean Tip #1558 – Focus on Simplicity
There's no benefit to building a repository that can only be understood by its architect. Using complex notations or wording can quickly become overwhelming for anyone reading the documents, thereby defeating the purpose of the exercise. With process mapping efforts, this popular saying rings true: Less is more.

Lean Tip #1559 - Consider Training Team Members To Map
Not all team members will be equally versed in conducting the process mapping exercise. Set up a brief meeting/training session to bring everyone up to speed on what is expected of them. This training should cover the standards to be adopted, the tools to be used and any other unique requirements of the process mapping exercise (e.g. it may be necessary to capture the accounting transactions generated by each process step). Don’t assume everyone knows exactly what to do.

Lean Tip #1560 - Create Short-Term Goals to Keep Momentum High.

Documenting processes can be a laborious exercise, from holding meetings with different stakeholders, collecting process information, drawing process maps, creating process documentation to obtaining signoffs. To keep morale and momentum high, identify short-term wins and milestones to keep team members from lagging behind or worse still, burning out.

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