Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Digital Leader Standard Work With HabitHub

Several months ago I talked about the importance of leader standard workThere is no such thing as self-sustainability, it requires ongoing effort. Organizations need to follow a disciplined process of on-going activity by all.  Leader Standard Work is the system that provides a structure and routine for leaders.  It set standards for expected behaviors of leaders and drive accountability.

In simplest terms, Leadership Standard Work is a check-list of leadership activities to be performed on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. What makes this tool exceptionally effective is that, when well defined, Leadership Standard Work drives process definition and daily accountability.

I've been using a paper version like this one shown below for a long time. It is effective but with travel and frankly the digital age I've been looking for a automated handheld solution.


I've been experimenting with an app called HabitHub. It is an app that can track your habits, remind you to stay on top of them, and provide some great charts showing your progress.


You can see from this picture I was able to create a couple of color coded categories for blog activity (green), work activity (blue), and exercise (yellow).  



It works by making items visible, organized, portable, and tracked. So in this sense you make a habit out of the items.  Where is falls a little short is with the frequency of tasks. It is really designed to daily habits. Habithub is based on Seinfeld's productivity secret - Don't break the chain! Every time you do a habit, your chain grows longer. This makes it difficult to keep track of monthly or even less frequent tasks.

Do you have experience with this app or others?  Do you have a digital way you're managing Leader Standard Work?  I'd like to hear more.


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Monday, April 24, 2017

Four Essential Elements for Creating a Lean Culture or Management System


Culture is the sum of people’s habits in doing their work. Changing culture should not be targeted per se, instead target the management system and the culture change will follow. 20% of a Lean transformation is covered by physical changes and the other 80% is more difficult because it involves deeply ingrained work habits. A robust Lean culture grows from a Lean Management System, which describes a way of working for Lean Managers and must replace the old management approach.

So if we really want to create a truly Lean culture we need to tackle the culture change problem head on. A basic outline for creating a Lean culture or management system is quite simple. But, keep in mind that, even simple systems require close attention and maintenance to run smoothly. You should build your Lean culture on the following essential elements: make the customer everyone’s business, standardize work for managers, have daily accountability and require discipline.

1. Make the customer everyone’s business: The customer is the very reason for an organization to exist. There is no need for Lean process management without customers, because there would not be any processes to manage, right? So, make the customer everyone’s business, because if their wage is paid by the customer, they should think how what they do contributes to successful customer outcomes that their organization should be producing. Getting rid of useless processes is more effective than tweaking them.

2. Standardize work for managers: People are not machines, so it is impossible to standardize everything. Managers and especially leaders should have sensitive ears and eyes for what is going on around them. However, it is possible to standardize some aspects of managers’ work to make sure that everyone delivers within same levels. Standardized work (for example task list) presents a clearly stated recipe for management, making it easier to evaluate managers’ effectiveness. That standard should not be solely build on internal tasks; it should also include evaluating processes from an Outside-In perspective.

3. Have daily accountability: Having brief accountability meetings every day is a great way to concentrate your efforts on active improvement (for example compare to daily Scrum meetings). In these meetings you can go through shortly what happened yesterday and what you can do today to make things better. Do not hold accountability meetings to share information of low relevance, or to have long discussions. While having these meetings remember to assign responsibility for the necessary tasks. And it is not forbidden to have customers join the meeting if that serves the purpose.

4. Require discipline: you can think of your Lean management system using a motorcycle metaphor. Standardized work is its ‘engine’ and your daily accountability process represents its ‘gas throttle and steering rod’.  Discipline is the ‘fuel’ that keeps the motorcycle running and the customer is ‘the driver’. Having all the elements of your Lean management system in place is not enough, because each has to be observed individually for the system as a whole to work.

The Lean culture is critical for sustainability; and to change it, you have to change your management system. If you stop following through Lean practices because things seem stable and in control, it is certain that you will soon face unstable and out-of-control processes. Lean management culture is crucial to the success of Lean production, because it both sustains and extends the gains from establishing Lean procedures.

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Lean Quote: Be a Role Model, 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.

"A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not." — Anonymous

"A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not” means that even a leader’s flaws (something not intended to be seen) are examples of leadership. The popular saying is usually attributed to “anonymous.” 

“The leader sets the example whether he intends to or not!” is from Donald G. Krause’s book, The Way of the Leader (1997).

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.

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.

Be a role model, be the kind of person that everyone else looks up to and wants to be like. You must do this at all times, even when no one is watching, if you want everyone to follow.



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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What Makes a Boss Great?


Being a boss is hard. People don't naturally wish to have one. And not everyone aspires to be one. But most people are anxious to follow a good leader, and most organizations live and die on the quality of the leaders who run them. Bosses are often the primary reason for people either loving or leaving their jobs. If you are one of the lucky employees who has a great boss, don’t take that relationship for granted.

Here’s what makes a boss great:

Set Clear Expectations: A great boss sits down with a new employee right from the beginning and identifies priorities. They discuss the performance review, and how they define “excellent performance.” They hold discussions regularly in regards to expectations from that point on.

Passionate: Few things are more demotivating than a boss who is bored with his or her life and job. If the boss doesn’t care, why should anybody else? Unforgettable bosses are passionate about what they do. They believe in what they’re trying to accomplish, and they have fun doing it. This makes everyone else want to join the ride.

Communication: A great boss is a communicator who has the ability to relate deeply to others, someone who is able to empathize and recognize the talents in their employees and peers. They have strong emotional intelligence and self-awareness, and speak and act with integrity.

Active Listener: Many bosses make the mistake of talking far too much and stifling staff contributions. Employees sit still and are sullen. A great boss will defend her stance when they know they are right but will also be able to listen when they think they may be in the wrong.

Delegation: Great leaders know when and how to delegate and, for the most part, remain removed from the project, trusting their employees to be professional and produce results. They know that being involved in the granular details of these projects is a waste of their time, and inhibits their employees from feeling free to do great work. They know that they should trust their employees and don’t micromanage to the point of distraction.

Recognize Effort: Employees need to feel appreciated. Research shows that human beings thrive on recognition. They just never get tired of it. Nothing works like positive reinforcement, and a great boss is very aware of this. A great boss mentions the things they like that their employees are doing; it’s no surprise that they get more of those things.

Invite Creative Thinking: A great boss knows how to integrate creativity into daily conversation and procedures so that every employee feels natural about being creative and facilitating productive creativity when interacting with others in the company. Creates an environment where people are empowered to make change on their own to improve product, process, and procedures.

Maybe the things I mentioned above do not make any sense for you now, but eventually, you will experience the difference and garner a greater understanding of which manager you prefer for your own professional life. If you cultivate these characteristics, you’ll become the unforgettable boss that your people will remember for the rest of their careers.

Who’s your greatest boss? What made they so great?

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Monday, April 17, 2017

The Wasteful Effects of Micromanagement


Micromanagement: Everyone knows the term. Micromanaging is a method of management in which an individual closely observes or controls the work of an employee. In comparison to simply giving general direction, the micromanager monitors and evaluates every stage in a process, from beginning to end. This behavior negatively affects efficiency, creativity, trust, communication, problem-solving, and the company’s ability to reach its goals.

In the best situations, micromanagement is an impediment to progress and in extreme cases it can cause the organization to stagnate. Let’s look at the some of the effects that come with micromanagement.

Micromanagement prevents innovation. Employees can’t come up with new ideas and procedures on their own; they have to constantly check with the micromanager who is often unavailable. Workers become “drones” that wait to be told what to do rather than take risks that come with innovation. Employees with skills and knowledge will leave such situations and the organization is left with workers who are content to wait to follow instructions.

Micromanagement slows workflow, as all approvals have to go through the manager who will not give up control. It is not efficient for normal work to have to wait for approval from an overzealous manager. Everyone in the organization learns to just wait until it has to be done and then do what they are told to do. Delegation is an essential element in any organization and it is an essential skill for any manager.

Micromanagement creates dependent employees. After being micromanaged, your staff will begin to depend on you, rather than having the confidence to perform tasks on their own. Micromanagement makes your team feel like they can no longer handle the work without your constant guidance. If you micromanage too much, your employees’ skills, talents and insights can fall to the wayside, leaving you with a team that only knows how to do what it's told. You must allow your employees the freedom to think and act on their own. When your employees aren’t dependent upon you, they’ll continue to think on their own – and when employees have the freedom to think on their own, great things can happen.

Micromanagement prevents an organization from using the talents and skills of the staff. Employees are hired because they have the knowledge and ability to do a job. If they are constantly being hovered over by an oppressive manager, then they cannot do the jobs that they were hired to do.

Micromanagement prevents autonomy. When you micromanage, your employees begin to feel like they’re losing their autonomy. When this happens, they’ll slowly lose the desire to do anything but that which you demand, and little more. No one will step outside the proverbial box or go the extra mile for a task. You hand those same people a certain level of autonomy and they will take pride in what they do and how they do it. A lack of autonomy will squelch growth in your employees.

Micromanagement causes high turnover of staff. Let me put it simply: Most people don’t take well to being micromanaged. When employees are micromanaged, they often do one thing; quit. Considering the reasons why managers micromanage (ego, insecurity, inexperience, perfectionism, arrogance), it’s simply not worth the high turnover rate. Having to constantly train and re-train staff not only robs your department of momentum, it affects the company’s bottom line and destroys morale. Friendships are made and destroyed, and eventually this will crush the spirit of your staff.

The effects of micromanagement can be disastrous for a company’s culture. Employees will soon realize that you are not listening to them. They will undoubtedly shut down, stop making suggestions or going to you with questions. Ultimately, employees will become disenchanted and will eventually quit to work for another company.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Lean Quote: Be The Energy You Want to Attract

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.

"Be the energy you want to attract ." — Unknown

Great leaders take vision and passion to the next step by investing their time and energy to create environments in which employees are engaged in meaningful work and eager to contribute. Passion isn’t something you can expect or mandate. You can, however, create the conditions for passion to be unleashed. Because leaders value passion, it is only natural that they expect passion in the workplace.

Passion is the driving force that enables people to attain far more than they ever imagined. Without passion there is no drive to succeed. It is the fuel of the will, and everything you do as a leader must express your passion. Passion is contagious and is easily shared. Passion will bridge moments of weakness, and will drive you past your failures while reaching for your goals. Passion radiates from you and is easily detected by others.

Leaders harness the passion of their team to bring about change. They engage people’s hearts and ever-deeper passion and commitment. When we care about our work, we will often be harder on ourselves than anyone else would dare to be. When we really care about the customers we serve, we’ll go out of our way to ensure that each “moment of truth” (contact with customers) is as positive as we can make it. When we care about making our organization successful, we’ll go above and beyond our job to do whatever it takes to be part of a winning team. When we care about our products or services, we’ll do whatever it takes to continue feeling proud of what we do.

Passion drives a lot, and you can inspire so much in others through your own passion and enthusiasm.


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