Thursday, August 17, 2017

On Vacation But Enjoy


Blog Vacation Till August 28th!

Here is a collection of the Top 10 posts for 2013 by views:

10. The 20 Second Rule of “Lean” Change  - posted January 22, describes the idea of frequent small improvements over large projects.

9. 10 More Ways to Show Respect for People - posted April 3, highlights 10 ways you can show respect for people.

8. Management by the Numbers Makes You Blind, Go Beyond the Numbers  - posted March 4, describes the pitfalls of managing the numbers despite the people.

7. Lean Quote: Simple Rules for Holding Lean Meetings  - posted Jan 4, is a Lean Quote that presents 9 rules for holding effective meetings.

6. Poka Yoke: Mistake Proofing to Reduce Errors - posted August 21, explains the basics of mistake proofing as a means to reduce errors.

5. 10 Things Your Lean Leader Can Do Now To Make a Difference Culturally - posted July 24, describes 10 things your Lean leader can do right now to change the culture.

4. No Time for Improvement Means No Improvement - posted July 9, illustrates the importance of making time for improvement.

3. The Right Order of MUDA, MURA and MURI - posted June 17, explains the correct way to attack the 3Ms consider the impact each other.

2. Top 10 Reason Why Lean Transformation Fails  - posted May 6, details 10 common reasons why Lean transformation fails.


1. The 8 Common Wastes in an Office That Cause Downtime – posted February 12, describes the 8 common Lean wastes from an office environment perspective.
See you soon!
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Vacation Reading


Blog Vacation Till August 28th!


Here is a collection of the Top 10 posts for 2012 by views:


10. 5 Lean Leadership Behaviors to Transform Your Culture - posted March 5, presents 5 Lean leadership behaviors you need to emulate to make your transformation effective. 

9. Lean Quote Impossible Is Not a Fact. It’s an Opinion. - posted July 20, from a popular feature analyzes a Muhammad Ali quote that nothing is impossible. 

8. Challenges Facing the Manufacturing Industry - posted March 27, highlighted a new initiative from AME on revitalizing manufacturing in the US

7. Management Improvement Blog Carnival #166 - posted May 10, was from hosting the Management Improvement Carnival reviewing a collection of recent blog posts. 

6. Kanban Flow - A Free, Fast, & Flexible Kanban Tool - posted May 2, reviewed a web app called KanbanFlow for creating personal kanban systems. 

5. New Webapp - Pomodoro Daisuki is a Simple Kanban Board- posted February 15, reviewed another new web app called Pomodoro Daisuki which can create simple personal kanban boards.

4. How Do You Define Quality? - posted February 14, was a post at truly attempts to define quality and it's importance to businesses. 

3. Quality Improvement in Government? - posted May 22, an ASQ post that looks at why there aren't more quality initiatives in Government agencies. 

2. 10 Characteristics of a Good Measure and 7 Pitfalls to Avoid - posted February 22, demonstrates 10 characteristics to create good performance measures and highlights several pitfalls to avoid. 

1. The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process - posted May 15, describes a six step methodology that is necessary to solve any problem.


See you soon!
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Keep Calm, Keep Reading



On vacation till August 28th!

Here is a collection of the Top 10 posts for 2011 by views:

10. Lean at Home: My Visual Schedule - posted May 16, was where I shared my family's visual scheduling board at home. 

9. Lean Simulation: Your Source for Lean Games and Training Tools - posted June 1, was a post I did sharing a new blog from Martin Boersema which covers lean training, video, and games found online. 

8. A Tribute to Eli Goldratt - posted June 13, was tribute to Eli Goldratt, a true pioneer in process and business improvement, after his death. 

7. The Stages of High Performance Teams - posted April 11, explains the four stages that high performance teams must follow. 

6. 12 Ways to Start Building a Continuous Improvement Culture- post March 15, was from a webinar Jeff Hajek and I did on how to start building a culture of continuous improvement in your company. 

5. Book Review: Death By Meeting - posted February 23, was a book review I did on the subject of making meetings more engaging and less boring by Patrick Lencioni.

4. The 6 Pillars of 6S - Free Posters - posted July 6, was a collection of posters that have been used to explain 6S to make implementation easy for everyone. 

3. Visual Management Board - posted January 11, was really a guest post by my friend Allison Myers describing her visual management board for marketing activities at Lantech. 

2. Personal Kanban Kaizen - It's all Digital - posted March 14, shows a digital version of personal kanban system I use for productivity. 

1. Ten Ways to Show Respect for People - posted January 17, lists ten ways to show respect for people in your organization like encouraging them.

See you soon!
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Monday, August 14, 2017

Blog Vacation Til August 28th


Hey everyone! I am going to take some much needed time off from blogging to recharge. I'll be on vacation with my family for the next two weeks. Hopefully, you can guess where from this photo.

Here is a collection of the Top 10 posts for 2010 by views:

10. Stop Multi-tasking Before You Can't Anymore! - posted October 5, explains why the more you multi-task the worse you get at it. 

9. Ineffeciency Through Default Meeting Times - posted May 16, has a number of pointers on how to make your meetings more effective including the 22 minute meeting. 

8. Lean Round-up - Toyota Recall - posted February 9, who can forget the vast array of articles written about the infamous Toyota recall. 

7. The Characteristics of a Lean Enterprise - posted July 25, explains 15 characteristics that comprise the defintion of a Lean Enterprise. 

6. Why is Lean Office more difficult than Lean Production? - post August 26, this post is a repost of an explanation by Bruce Hamilton, aka. Mr. Toast, on why Lean is harder in the office. 

5. Lean Gone Lego - There must be a better way - posted October 18, highlighted an Australian video demonstrating the traditional and Lean work examples with Lego characters.

4. The "Hot Stove" Rule of Discipline - posted January 26 explained how to discipline using the analogy of a hot stove and the importance of immediacy, advance warning, consistency, and impartiality. 

3. Kanban for Personal Management - posted May 18, highlighted my first introduction into the use of kanban system for personal management. 

2. 10 Things to Avoid During a Kaizen - posted December 6 was about pitfalls to avoid during a kaizen event. 

1. Personal Kanban Kaizen - posted August 29 on the improvements made to my own kanban system of managing tasks and activities.


See you soon!


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Friday, August 11, 2017

Lean Quote: Tap Into Urgency

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 best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." — Chinese Proverb

I like the inspiring wisdom found in this old Chinese proverb. 

The only thing you truly have any control of is this moment. Right now. You do not have the DeLorean time machine to go to the past or future to change things. The only thing you have impact on is what you do today.

We talk a lot about having a sense of urgency in continuous improvement. We preach it to our team to move and act with it. Yet, how many demonstrate that trait themselves? A lot of managers are hypocrites. Do as I say, not as I do is the common theme. That goes back to integrity. Without it you will never become a leader.

Now has power. Use that and do one thing today that your future self would be happy you did today. If you want to be a leader, you have to become known for taking action…now.

If you don’t purposefully carve time out every day to progress and improve — without question, your time will get lost in the vacuum of our increasingly crowded lives. Before you know it, you’ll be old and withered — wondering where all that time went.



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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lean Tips Edition #113 (1696-1710)

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 #1696 - Discard Conventional Fixed Ideas
Part of problem solving is thinking “outside of the box.” Encourage fresh perspectives and ingenuity in your team in order to develop innovative ways to forward Lean manufacturing without changing what is already efficient and successful. With such a rapidly evolving climate in manufacturing, sometimes conventional thought is what leads to the problem in the first place!

Lean Tip #1697 - Determine What Works Best for You
It is important to understand that one size does not fit all and a one-off approach may not work. Concepts, such as value stream mapping, one piece flow/continuous flow or 5S initiatives can be helpful tools, but keep in mind that these “tools” are not meant to exist in isolation. At the same time, success depends on a comprehensive, but not necessarily complicated, strategy that is uniquely suited to your business. Not every rule or tool associated with lean will apply to your business, so take the time to figure out what works best for you.

Lean Tip #1698 - Don’t Forget the Basics
Many manufacturers are challenged with trying to manage hundreds or thousands of part numbers.  This can be especially challenging in relation to lean.  Therefore, I recommend developing part families. Many people skip this step and jump right into creating lean cells, but taking the time to first develop part families will make things much easier for you down the line. That’s because part families help you to further refine your core competency and eliminate unnecessary and disruptive parts, creating a more automated production flow.  To create part families, start by looking for parts that are similar in shape and geometry or ones that are produced using similar material or processes.

Lean Tip #1699 - People Can’t be Controlled like Machines
People are your major assets, but they are also your major cause of variation and can resist the change imposed on them. You must pay particular attention to people issues in the beginning of a project; this is achieved by including people working in the area on the Lean team or Kaizen event.

Lean Tip #1700 - Use Kaizen Events to Identify Opportunities and Then Develop Solutions
Kaizen uses common sense to improve cost, quality, delivery and responsiveness to your customer’s needs. Kaizen is a focused activity that uses small cross-functional teams aimed at improving a process or problem identified within a specific area in a very short period of time (“Quick Wins”). Employees should be encouraged to drive continuous improvements in their area that are more complex with a Kaizen event.


Lean Tip #1701 – Maintain Clear and Comprehensive Communication on a Consistent Basis
One of the most vital strategies that must be employed in order to align employees with the company’s vision is maintaining clear and comprehensive communication on a consistent basis. Not only must a company’s basic vision be communicated to employees in this manner, but the goals and objectives associated with the mission must be conveyed via consistently reliable, clear and comprehensive communication as well.

Clear and comprehensive communication regarding the company’s vision is best ensured by taking advantage of multiple resources. In addition to direct face to face communication with employees about vision related issues, a company needs to take advantage of high-tech resources as well — including email, texts, blogs and related avenues.

Lean Tip #1702 – Form Strategic Partnerships with Employees
When it comes to aligning employees with the vision of the company, the business itself — via its owners or managers — must form a reliable, meaningful strategic partnership with the workers. In other words, employees need to feel a sense of ownership in regard to the company’s vision in order to be fully aligned with it.

Although it is not always possible, one of the best strategies to utilize when it comes to forming this type of strategic partnership is to include employees in the development of the mission in the first instance.

This is particularly useful (and possible) when an existing business elects to make some changes or alterations to its stated mission. In that situation, employees are already associated with the company. Moreover, they may feel quite wed to the existing mission. By including them in the process of crafting a new or modified vision, they are less likely to be reluctant to embrace the newer mission envisioned by a business enterprise.

Lean Tip #1703 - Share Leadership Responsibilities.
People often confuse titles with leadership, but the qualities of true leadership can be found anywhere in an organization. Managers should take stock of their employees and spot the leaders among teams. These key employees take initiative, inspire and encourage others, and positively impact productivity and morale.

Take time to acknowledge the leadership skills of these employees, asking how you can support them in their leadership roles. Also, make sure their leadership skills don’t come across as bossy or top-down, because that will have a negative impact on their teams – and remember to encourage everyone to lead in the areas they’re most successful.

Lean Tip # 1704 – Clearly Communicate Objectives.
Teams need to communicate constantly to stay on course – not just once a quarter during ‘reviews’. Checking in with each other via email, an employee feedback platform, and/or in person is paramount to staying aligned on goals. Continual communications helps individuals understand where they fit in the big picture, and helps them prioritize tasks to line up with the company’s greater mission.

Of course, communication is also essential to deliver encouragement and coaching. Positive reinforcement inspires everyone to work towards a common goal – delivering a product, solving a sticky customer issue, or finalizing a plan.

Continual communications helps individuals understand where they fit in the big picture, and helps them prioritize tasks to line up with the company’s greater mission.

Lean Tip #1705 - Rally Around Shared Values.
Teams are most effective when people are purpose-driven and feel they share a common mission. Beyond this shared end-goal, the best teams have the same vision of how to get to this end-point. In other words, they are aligned at every step of the way.

To align your team around common goals, it helps to create core values for your company. For example, our core values include supporting health and vitality; a commitment to customer success and delight; keeping things simple; embracing freedom and flexibility; holding one another accountable; and committing to constant learning and growth.

Teams are most effective when people are purpose-driven and feel they share a common mission.

Lean Tip #1706 – Challenge the Status Quo
Throw out all your old fixed ideas on how to do things. Replace “sacred cows,” personal opinions, and “it’s the way we’ve always done it” with performance facts and data. Numbers are the language of improvement. Avoid the emotional traps of blaming people or making excuses that prevent you from discovering the real problem. Once you have established the new best-way of doing something, stick with it until a better way is found. When confronting old ideas and traditions, apply the Rules of Engagement.

Lean Tip #1707 - Keep It Simple and Inexpensive
Ideas for incremental improvements that bubble up from workers are usually easier to implement and less expensive. Apply creativity and craftiness before cash for your solution. Follow the 80-20 Rule; do the twenty-percent of things that get you eighty-percent of improvement results. And do it NOW! Don’t wait until you can achieve perfection.

Lean Tip #1708 - Focus on the Right Things
Improve the core business systems that enable you to find and keep customers, and earn more money. Find ways to provide customers greater value and a better buying experience. Zero in on removing the obstacles, bottlenecks, and weak links in your business processes that slow lead-time, order completion, and collection of cash. Fast throughput of products and services creates happier customers and more profit. Remember: quality plus speed equals low cost. Put emphasis on enhancing business systems that drive your Balanced Scorecard goals, or that improve a line-item number on your financial statement.

Lean Tip #1709 – Provide Training For Improvement
Kaizen involves setting performance standards for your business systems and processes and then striving to elevate those standards. Continuous Improvement requires ongoing development of your most important asset—PEOPLE! Tom Peters, business-management author, teaches, "If your company is doing well, double your training budget; if your company is not doing well, quadruple it!” As process changes are made, face any resistance by employees head on—Listen-Thank-Consider-Decide.

Lean Tip #1710 - Never Stop Improving

Halt the process immediately to fix quality or customer-related problems. Don’t let problems accumulate for later handling. Reflect daily (in the Gemba) on your opportunities for improvement and innovation. Make business improvement kaizens a weekly habit. Implement a suggestion-box system that calls for employees to submit so many improvement ideas per month or year. And be sure to compensate people appropriately for implemented solutions. Just one improvement a day is 260 improvements a year!



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Monday, August 7, 2017

Managing your Management System

Today's post is from our sponsor, The Lean Office, on effectively managing your management system.

In my experience, the typical Lean goes something like this: a company takes a stab at “doing this whole Lean thing” and gets started with a tool like 5S or value stream mapping. Pretty soon, kaizen events are scheduled, and the Lean initiative starts to demonstrate some impressive (albeit short-term) results. Then, the company’s Lean journey enters the dreaded “Valley of Despair” phase, when progress on Lean initiatives stalls, or maybe even goes in reverse. Processes start to push back against all this change, and entropy rears its ugly head. The companies that make it out of this valley and into the promised land tend to have one thing in common – some form of a management system to help sustain the results already achieved, while keeping momentum on improvement activities.

These management systems come in various names – Lean Management System, Lean Daily Management System, Management System, etc. While they may be called different names and have different approaches, most have a few things in common: engage and interact with your employees on a regular basis, use a disciplined approach to ensure your improvements are sustained, be proactive with identifying issues, and make the work visual whenever possible.

No one can argue with the effectiveness of a well-orchestrated management system. If you’ve ever had the good fortune to work for a company with one in place, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But, you also understand the effort that goes into managing the management system. Several times a day, supervisors are walking the floor, taking notes, updating metrics, and working to keep the system in order. That’s just the problem The Lean Office is designed to address.

Our software allows supervisors to spend less time on the paperwork side of the management system, and more time on the people and problem-solving sides of Lean. Plus, instead of notes and metrics being stored in hard copy, everything in The Lean Office is available for immediate, real-time access from a computer, tablet, or smart phone. We’ve got modules like Leader Standard Work, 5S Audits, Gemba Walks, and others designed to be customized to your specific management system, and visual tools to help you see your management system in action.

If you are ready to spend less time on managing your management system, click here to learn more and schedule a demo today!

About Author: Randy Siever is the founder of The Lean Office, Lean Management software that saves time and improves results. He helpa companies identify problems in their current management system, and determine if The Lean Office is the right solution for them.


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