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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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