Monday, February 29, 2016

Lean Roundup #81 – February, 2016



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

How Failed Lean Implementations Are Like a Bad Home Theater System – Mark Graban discussed the failure of Lean implementation when you just look at a few tools with a systematic approach.

How to Observe – Matt Wrye provides a few pointers from experience on how to observe.

Lead With Respect For Better Results – Pete Abilla says leading with respect is a radically different approach that engages staff and shows them the way forward.

Bump and Grind – Bruce Hamilton says no amount of tactics can overcome a bad strategy.

The thinking behind an effective Gemba Walk – Tracey Richardson shares some of the key points to an effective Gemba walk.

Lean Thinking in Software Design – Pascal Dennis describes Lean thinking in software design.

It might be too late to get “Buy In” by the time you bemoan the lack of it – Mark Graban talks about why there’s a lack of buy in and how to get it.

Weighing the Waste of Waiting – Jon Miller discusses the waste of waiting when is comes to the most common example of meetings.

Why Your Factory is Failing in Its Green Initiative - Brooke Chaplan shares 3 reasons why your green initiative might be under-performing your goals, and how to resolve this.

Notes and Thoughts from KataCon 2 – Mark Rosenthal share some notes about leadership development from KataCon 2 conference.

What Direction Are You Heading? – Matt Wrye describes what “true north” means to organization’s vision and strategy.

How Do I Sell Lean to My Boss? – Pete Abilla shares several points that manager’s will find value in when trying to implement Lean.

Say No – Steve Kane says that saying no to unnecessary commitments (overburden) can liberating.

Make the invisible visible – Visual management in agile product development – Hakan Forss says too create a common and shared understanding in knowledge work we often need to make the invisible visible.

What is Lean Management? Bob Emiliani describes what Lean management means and how it differs from other approaches.


Accountability: Not What You Think it is... – Mike Orzen says accountability is not about blame it is about creating a learning environment.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Lean Quote: Embrace Transparency to Involve Employees

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.

"The price of light is less than the cost of darkness.— Arthur Nielsen

Good leadership is all about communication, and the best leaders are completely transparent with their staff. I believe that with knowledge comes power and the more information we share the quicker with can improve.  Creating a culture of openness and free-flowing information can be a competitive advantage.  Here are three reasons you should embrace transparency:

1. Transparency helps employees connect to the why. When employees are working in a vacuum, they can't see the financial "big picture," and decisions leaders make may seem ill-advised or unfair or simply inexplicable. Transparency connects them to the why—and that understanding propels them to act. You can ask people to change their work habits and established processes all day long. But if they don't know why they're being asked to change, they won't change—at least not for long.

2. Transparency leads to faster, more efficient execution. When times are tough, execution is everything. And the ticket to good execution is good alignment: All sectors of an organization must understand exactly what's required so they act in a coordinated and collaborative fashion. Transparency is what facilitates that kind of alignment. It's all about a shared sense of urgency.

3. Transparency facilitates the best possible solutions. In transparent cultures, leaders encourage employees to solve problems themselves. And because those employees are the people closest to a problem, and because they must live with the outcome, they almost always design the most effective, efficient solution.  And, of course, they'll also have instant buy-in.

Be honest and open with your staff on matters that affect them and could ultimately put their mind at ease. It is important that you involve employees where you can with decision making to make them feel valued. As a manager, your aim is to have an open and honest working environment where your staff feels confident in coming to you with the truth about matters, whether they are big or small.


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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Leading by Example is a Trait of a True Lean Leader


One of the most important qualities of a good leader is for you to lead by example, to be a role model, to be the kind of person that everyone else looks up to and wants to be like. One of the characteristics of leaders is that they carry themselves at all times, even when no one is watching, as if everyone was watching.

For an organization to grow, the people within it also must grow. The way for leaders to bring a team to a higher standard is by committing to a greater challenge themselves. The abilities, talents and characteristics of leaders provide a larger foundation on which those around them can grow, both as individuals and as a group. By being the example of greater discipline and greater drive, a leader encourages those who follow him to adopt a higher standard as well.

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.

All managers are teachers, and their actions determine company capability. Whether consciously or not, with their everyday words and actions all managers are teaching their people a mindset and approach.

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.

The level of involvement in Lean by the management team often shapes the Lean implementation and those who may lead it. In my experience the less knowledgeable the management about REAL Lean (Bob Emiliani’s term) the more they think of it as a set of tools the more they want you to just do it. These are the managers that are usually hands-off with Lean and want to see the short term gains to demonstrate they are improving the process. They are focused on the results and outcomes and not the means by which we achieve them. This task oriented approach to management unfortunately is only sustainable while the doer is doing.

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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Monday, February 22, 2016

Lean is Not a Hunt for Waste it is a Journey to Add Value

Courtesy: http://www.allaboutlean.com/muda/
Undoubtedly, you have seen the narrow minded definition of Lean as a waste elimination tool. If you search the internet for a definition of Lean you will find many different suggestions, ranging from a few sentences to others that run many pages. Most miss the main point of Lean; they on the whole define lean as being a process of waste elimination. Unfortunately, this misses some of the major and most important parts of Lean.

It is difficult to define Lean in just a few sentences as Lean encompasses so much. To me it is:

Lean is all about respecting people while eliminating Muri (overburdening), Mura (unevenness), and Muda (non value added activity) in all business processes. It is a philosophy which embodies a culture of continuous improvement based on setting standards aimed at providing value through participation of all employees.

Lean Thinking is comprised of five fundamental principles:

1) Specify Value – End-use customer view
2) Indentify Value Stream – Activities that create value
3) Flow – Make value flow
4) Pull – Respond to customer demand
5) Perfection – Zero waste

Lean is Customer First, what is value in the eyes of the customer? What features and services does the customer want? When do they want them and what price do they want to pay? Without this information how can you design your ideal system?

This value needs to be made to flow from raw materials through to the consumer, this value stream needs to produce product at the pull of the customer. This is Just In Time manufacturing (JIT), producing what the customer wants when they want it!

Once you have the customer defined value flowing at the pull of the customer you strive for perfection, improving everything that you can about the product and process.

This is done by all within your organization, Lean values respect for people, involves everyone in the company to help meet customer value.

In some ways is could be said that Lean is more about preventing waste. By implementing the Lean principles above you identify those actions that add value and make them flow at the pull of the customer, this prevents the waste from occurring.

Lean follows a set of rules to provide value what I refer to as “Lean Rules-in-Use”:

1) Activity Rule – Specify all work to content, sequence, timing, and outcome.
2) Connection Rule – Customer-supplier connections must be direct & unambiguous.
3) Pathway Rule – Pathways for product/service must be simple & direct.
4) Improvement Rule – Improvements are made using scientific method (PDCA) at place of activity (Gemba) under the guidance of a teacher (Sensei)

If you follow this process you will not be going through a process of waste elimination and reduction but a more important process of waste prevention! So if you want to implement Lean manufacturing you must not just focus internally to impress your shareholders and make short term gains, but focus on the customer to make sustainable changes that will help your company flourish in today's world, not just struggle to survive.

If you only focus on an internally focused drive to eliminate waste, a process generally of cost reduction and labor elimination to reduce costs and increase profits, you forget the first and most important part of lean; what is value to the customer? The selfish drive to reduce costs wrongly assumes value on the part of the customer and the organization tends to become not Lean but anorexic! They remove the ability to be able to react to customer changes, to adapt when there are supplier and internal problems. Because of this companies that "have done lean" quickly revert to the way they were before the improvements, bringing back old inefficient processes to cover over other issues and rehiring the labor that they removed, Lean being put on the discard pile of management fads.

Lean Manufacturing is a business improvement philosophy that has developed over many years. Whilst Lean has a huge toolbox of tools and techniques you cannot define Lean from those tools. Lean is more than the sum of all of those tools, applying tools in isolation will not necessarily give you the benefits that you would expect and want to see. Lean is a method to better focus your business on the true needs of the customer to help you prevent waste from being built into your system.

Lean is not a hunt for waste it is a journey to add value.



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Friday, February 19, 2016

Lean Quote: Kaizen Can’t Exist in State of Fire Fighting

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.

"We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet.— Author Unknown

Unfortunately, a far too common management style in many companies is the reactionary style commonly referred to as fire fighting. But fire fighting consumes an organization's resources and damages productivity. Fire fighting derives from what seems like a reasonable set of rules--investigate all problems, for example, or assign the most difficult problems to your best troubleshooter. Ultimately, however, fire-fighting organizations fail to solve problems adequately. Fire fighting prevents us from getting to the root cause. And if we don’t get to the root of problem we will be right back to fire fighting soon.

The idea of fire fighting is to let a problem fester until it becomes a crisis, and then swoop in and fix it. Fire fighting is popular because it is exciting. Furthermore, it is a win-win situation for the fire fighter. If the fix works out, the fire fighter is a hero. If it doesn’t, the fire fighter can’t be blamed, because the situation was virtually hopeless to begin with. Notice that it is to the fire fighter’s advantage to actually let the problem become worse, because then there will be less blame if they fail or more praise if they succeed.

But the real problem is the people in charge. Fighting fires instead of developing a plan to stop fire fighting and making sure it will not happen again is the job of management. Most of us deplore the firefighting style, yet many managers and organizations perpetuate it by rewarding firefighters for the miraculous things they do. In fact, it may be the absence of a vision and plan that cause your organization to be so reactive, and spend a lot of time fire-fighting rather than proactively meeting the needs of your customers. This is all easier said than done, of course, but if you get things right the first time, there's usually not much fire-fighting later.




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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

8 Benefits of Benchmarking


When organizations want to improve their performance, they often benchmark. Benchmarking is the process of comparing one's business processes and performance metrics to industry bests and/or best practices from other industries. The discussion of whether benchmarking is good or bad is an old one. 

If haven’t bought into benchmarking manufacturing performance, below are 7 reasons why you might want to reconsider that strategy. The process of benchmarking can benefit your organization:

1. Better understand what makes a company successful. Benchmarking can provide a better outlook as to where you are versus where you want to be. The challenge is that successful companies are no doubt working to widen the gap.

2. Opens minds to new opportunities: Comparing key measures to industry targets or even internal targets, can be incentive to drive productivity and innovation needed to exceed those averages. This process usually raises new challenges for businesses.

3. Leads directly to an action plan: Rather than simply highlight problem areas, it undertakes a strong review of processes and metrics.

4. Improving productivity: Businesses following improvement action plans can expect gains in cost, cycle time, productivity, and quality.

5. An holistic approach: It is both qualitative and quantitative, ensuring more accuracy in developing a whole picture of your business.

6. Improve performance. Benchmarking identifies methods of improving operational efficiency and product design.


7. Gain strategic advantage. Benchmarking helps companies focus on capabilities critical to building strategic advantage.


8. Increase the rate of organizational learning. Benchmarking brings new ideas into the company and facilitates experience sharing.

Some feel that benchmarking can limit the true potential of an organization by focusing on how well their competitors are doing. Somewhere I heard the comment that "if you benchmark against your best competitors, your best product will look like your best competitor's crap.” Your competition won’t stand still and you shouldn’t either. Maybe there’s a case then for benchmarking organizations from other industries and not your competition.

The worst mistake is to simply adopt a best practice without first identifying the problem you are trying to solve. Tools and best practices must be applied in response to a specific, defined problem, not just because it seems like a good idea. Instead as we do in Lean you should learn about waste and value. Then analyze your processes to reduce waste and improve value to your customers. Learning from others can be very powerful, but you must learn to apply the right tools and ideas for your particular situation. The problems of your competition or that of other companies you benchmark may not necessarily be the same as yours.

Benchmarking can be an effective means to learn new skills and to develop your organization. However, it should be a process of continual improvement. Once you have implemented changes, you should benchmark your business again to see the results. This will tell you what is working, and where you can still improve.

While benhmarking is not a perfect process if done properly and consistently it can be the start of improving your business and creating a more optimal learning environment. Avoid using it as a means to judge your competition at the expense of creating customer value or solving someone else’s problems.


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Monday, February 15, 2016

Employee Engagement in Lean - Promotional Video

Here is a great video to start your week off about engaged employees in Lean.

Adam Tartt, COO of MyEmployees, encourages you to start the process of Lean manufacturing in this music video.

Music Instrumental | Silento (Watch Me)

Adam attributes Paul Akers' ideas and enthusiasm for Lean manufacturing for the creation of their company culture.




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