Friday, September 29, 2017

Lean Quote: Leading 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.


"Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing." — Albert Schweitzer


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. Here are 10 of the many ways to lead by example.

1. Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.
2. Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.
3. Be courageous. Walk through fire (a crisis) first. Take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.
4. Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of becoming extraordinary.
5. Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your company or team.
6. Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team for more.
7. Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.
8. Delegate liberally. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths.
9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, don’t overwork, take a break. A balanced team, mentally and physically, is a successful team. Model it, encourage it, support it!
10. Roll up your sleeves. Like Alexander the Great leading his men into battle, you’ll inspire greatness in your company.


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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Lean Roundup #100 – September, 2017


A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of September, 2017.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

What is Lean? - Paul Akers discusses how everything you do is a process and every process can be improved.

Why is Business Transformation so Hard? Lessons from the ‘Back Pain Industry’ – Pascal Dennis shares several lessons for Lean/CI and business transformation from the back pain industry.

Lean Leadership: A Direction . . . Not a Destination – Gregg Stocker says Lean is about shifting the way people throughout the organization think and approach work and if leaders expect it to happen without transforming themselves, the probability of sustaining improvements is pretty much zero.

Make Sure Failure = Learning – Mark Rosenthal says it is difficult for a lean process to survive in a culture that expects everything to run perfectly and doesn’t have robust mechanisms to turn problems into improvements.

Tools or Culture? – Bruce Hamilton explains why Lean tools are essential as means for improvement; Lean culture is essential to enable us to see beyond the status quo.

Creating a Problem-Solving Army - Dan Littlefield says by implementing a Lean Management System, you are, in effect, creating an army of problem solvers who improve processes as a part of their daily work.

How Toyota Gets Organizations Started with TPS – Mark Graban discusses how TSSC shares TPS with outside organizations as it celebrates its 25th anniversary from it’s VP Jamie Bonini.

Monuments to the Lean Journey – Kevin Meyer shares a personal monument that reminds he of the fragility of improvement, the importance of focus, and how critical it is to go beyond the gemba to see the value of your products from the eyes of your customer.

A Spymaster’s Guide to Lean Thinking – Jon Miller summarizes of a few similarities between good spy craft and good business leadership that come with lean thinking.

There’s Value in Simple, Visual and Manual Systems – Steve Kane explains that despite the ease of data management systems there is value in a simple, visual, and manual system of information.


Ask Art: “Do lean conversions actually go smoothly, like in the books?” – Art Byrne discusses from experience issues and solutions during Lean conversions.

Note: This is the 100th Lean Round-up on A Lean Journey Blog over about an 8 year period.

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Guest Post: The Top 10 Lean Books of All Time

Do you know what lean manufacturing is? If not, then you haven’t heard of one of the most important and useful ways to manage a manufacturing enterprise. The concept of lean manufacturing arose from the work of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on Toyota's production system. Initially, lean was created by Toyota to conduct business in a more effective way. The techniques they have been using are the six basic “lean” principles, which can be suitable for any business or production process.
These principles are used to improve the efficiency of manufacturing operations and include the elimination of waste, continuous development, respect for humanity, levelized production, just in time production, and quality built in. The advantages of lean manufacturing are so great that more and more companies, startups and entrepreneurs tend to adopt them as soon as possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about lean, you search for suitable literature on this topic. In recent years, there have been so many publications on lean change management that it is sometimes difficult to choose the best ones. Therefore, we have prepared for you a top of the best books on lean management.
The Best Lean Books for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
In order to learn more about lean, we’ve prepared 10 most efficient and informative books recommended you read as well.
1. The Machine That Changed the World.
A book produced by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, and Daniel Roos is, in fact, the beginning of everything connected with the lean production. You will be able to read the entire history of lean in the automotive industry. The book was created thanks to the enormous work of the authors, who analyzed the production system of Toyota, explored their basic lean principles and demonstrated their usefulness in any industry.
2. Lean Thinking.
A valuable creation again by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones that can be considered as a complement or continuation of their first book. This publication contains practical information on lean production. This book is more like a collection of the basic lean principles for the companies management, rather than a collection of step-by-step manuals with the use of lean manufacturing techniques.


3. The Lean Turnaround.

The book “The Lean Turnaround” is one of the best entrepreneur books of all time. Art Byrne, the author of this book, managed to determine the real lean strategies for entrepreneurs thanks to his numerous examples and practical results. 
4. The Toyota Way.
One of the premium lean management books free download is “The Toyota Way” written by Jeffrey Liker. Before the publication of this lean book in 2003, all the other authors focused on the technical aspects of Toyota Production System. The Toyota Way consists of 14 lean principles, which can be used as methods of managing an organization in the lean style.
5. The Toyota Way Fieldbook.
With the help of David Meier, Jeffrey Liker published the second part of the previous book. The Toyota Way Fieldbook contains the same 14 lean principles, but with a more detailed description and implementation (helpful tips and steps, troubles to avoid and reflection questions).


6. The High-Velocity Edge.

Steven Spear’s work on lean manufacturing was primarily called “Chasing the Rabbit.” To manage writing this book, Steven analyzed the work and production of such organizations like Toyota, Alcoa, and the United States Nuclear Navy. In the end, he figured out four important factors of improvement that became the core ideas of the book: problem solving, system design, knowledge sharing and people development.
7. Getting the Right Things Done.
To get the right strategy for entrepreneurship, you should certainly read this book by Pascal Dennis. It provides a guide for planning and executing the strategy deployment, and teaches you how to properly use your strategy to achieve greater goals in any industry.
8. Creating a Lean Culture.
An accessible and convenient book for those who want to get acquainted with lean management in the shortest possible time. The work of David Mann comprises four crucial lean principles: the leader standard work, visual controls, staff discipline, and daily accountability process.
9. Toyota Kata.
 “Toyota Kata” written by Mike Rother has the privilege over other lean books and publications since it interprets Lean as a set of simple rules for the overall improvement of an organization at all levels.
10. Real Lean Volume 1.
The top guide for lean manufacturing is the book “Real Lean: Volume 1”, published by Bob Emiliani. If you decide to take a course on Lean in your company, you are provided with the main strategies, advantages, and disadvantages, as well as the goals of adopting this enterprise management concept.

About Author: 
Lisa Griffin is a blogger and freelance writer whose lifestyle credo is "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."






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Friday, September 22, 2017

Lean Quote: Why Attend a Conference?

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.


"For me, conferences are like little mental vacations: a chance to go visit an interesting place for a couple of days, and come back rested and refreshed with new ideas and perspectives." — Erin McKean


This past week I spent time at the Northeast Lean Conference. Conferences serve as a great environment to learn more about content specific to your industry, product/services, industry trends and networking with other business owners.

Here are a few reasons you should go to conferences:
  1. You will Learn – If you want to be a leader in your industry you must always be learning new skills. Even if you think you are a master of your trade, there is always someone else that knows more. What better way to learn than from those who know first hand. Perhaps it is not your business idol that is the main speaker at the conference; you never know who you might run across that will teach you.
  2. Energy and Enthusiasm – So you go to a conference, there is a bunch of ‘rah rah’ cheerleader excitement. When you get home, usually the hangover wears off, and you crawl back into your normal life right? Being around like-minded people can excite you and get you ready to take on the world. However, it is up to you to carry that energy on with you after the conference.
  3. Investing in Yourself – It does not matter what kind of conference it is, there are always takeaways.The educational aspect of a conference can expose you to new ways of conducting your business and help you discover how to be more productive. By adding tools to the toolbox, you are better prepared for the unexpected.
  4. Network and Meet People - A big reason for going to conferences is to meet with like-minded people and industry peers. Conferences bring together people from all different geographical areas who share a common discipline or field, and they are a great way to meet new people in your field. At a conference you will be able to get together with people from a wide range of backgrounds, of whom you may not encounter at your home workplace or institution.


So why attend conferences? We each have our own reasons for attending but my personal opinion is that conference attendance dramatically enhances both your professional and personal development, as well as providing you with tools and skills which you cannot be taught in-house or online. 


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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Northeast Lean Conference - SIPOC - The First Picture of Your Process

This week I was fortunate to attend the Northeast Lean Conference. I met a number of great practitioners on their Lean Journey which I'll highlight in a upcoming post.  I also had the opportunity to present at the conference on a tool and how we use it for continuous improvement.  I wanted to share those slides here.

Whenever you are planning to start some process improvement activity, it’s important to capture an easily communicated picture of the current process first. A SIPOC (Suppliers, Inputs, Process, Outputs, Customers) diagram identifies at a high level the potential gaps (deficiencies) between suppliers and process inputs and between output specifications and customers’ expectations, thus defining the scope for process improvement activities. In this interactive session, you’ll learn to understand the fundamentals of creating an SIPOC diagram, demonstrating how you can dissect a process and create a workable improvement plan that can be applied in your everyday workplace. Armed with a detailed and shared visual understanding of how work actually occurs, the organization can more easily identify project ideas for improvement.




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Monday, September 18, 2017

Lean Tips Edition #114 (1711-1725)

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 #1711 - Involve Employees in the Change Process.
Employees are not so much against change as they are against being changed. Any time managers are going to implement organizational change, there is always a lag between the time the change has been discussed at the management level and the time the change is going to be implemented. The sooner you involve employees in the process, the better off you will be implementing the change. A formal communication channel is more effective at implementing change than a negative informal one.

Lean Tip #1712 - Be Firm, Committed, and Flexible.
As you introduce a change, it is important that you see the change through to completion. Abandoning it halfway through the change process accomplishes two negative impacts. First, it destroys your credibility. Second, it tells every employee that if you take the stance of a dinosaur, the change will pass by, even if you lose your job and become extinct in the process. Remain flexible, because you will have to adapt to situations to successfully implement the changes.

Lean Tip #1713 - Keep a Positive Attitude.
Your attitude as a manager or supervisor will be a major factor in determining what type of climate is exhibited by your employees. Your attitude is the one thing that keeps you in control. Change can be stressful and confusing. Try to remain upbeat, positive, and enthusiastic. Foster motivation in others. During times of transition and change, try to compensate your employees for their extra effort. Write a brief note of encouragement on their paychecks; leave an affirming message on their voice mail; take them aside and tell them what a great job they are doing; listen to their comments and suggestions. Last, try to instill organizational change as a personal challenge that everyone can meet…with success!

Lean Tip #1714 - Ask Employees for Commitment.
Once the change has been announced, it is important that you personally ask for each employee’s commitment to successfully implement the change. It is also important that you assure the employee that if there are problems, you want to hear about them. If a negative employee does not tell you, they will tell other employees why the change will not work.

Lean Tip #1715 - Set the Tone for Change
Many organizations never set the tone for change to occur. Employees fall into a routine, become comfortable in their environment, and feel deceived if changes are on the horizon. Mix things up and challenge employees. Set the tone that the organization is evolving and change is certain.

Lean Tip #1716 - Listen to People Who Work the Front Line
Seek advice and opinions of people in front line positions in your organization. People who interact with outsiders and co-workers on a daily basis will understand what needs to be changed and how it can impact work processes.

Lean Tip #1717 - Celebrate Milestones and Small Wins in the Process.
In today's organizational environment, change is a constant. Even though the vision may be communicated clearly, it is still "out there." If one waits until the vision is achieved before celebrating, then the recognition of success may always be just out of reach. Leaders celebrate small wins and steps in the right direction. This recognition shows that the change is worth the effort and motivates employees to continue striving toward the vision.

Lean Tip #1718 - Effectively Engage Employees
Listen, listen, listen. If there is another piece advice that a company should take, it’s to receive and respond to the feedback that is provided by the employees. They are the ones making sure that all the clients are happy and that all the work gets done, so keeping them in the loop is vital.

Understanding that no two employees are the same is another important tactic to use when trying to understand the employee’s concern. Being able to realize that there are going to be many different reasons for opposition depending on the person is pertinent, because then managers can tailor ways to work out these problems.

Lean Tip #1719 - Break the Change into “Bite-Sized” Pieces.
Smart leaders understand that people need both information about the reason behind the change and time to adjust to it. They also realize that they can’t wait forever to get everyone to commit to the new direction. So, they break down big changes into small pieces that people are most likely to accept quickly. By moving forward in small steps, smart leaders move their organizations with frequent, continual and steady forward progress rather than through periodic big jumps.

Lean Tip #1720 - Build Positive Momentum.
When you break larger changes into smaller, more manageable, bite-sized pieces, smart leaders position themselves to build positive forward momentum. Smart leaders know that an early failure or setback can create more resistance later – even if they do manage to overcome it.

Building a record of quick, early wins helps people accept the upsets that will happen on the way to success. Smart leaders understand the power of momentum – either positive or negative. Break changes into small pieces that improve your odds of success, and then pick the highest probability of success steps as your first move.

Lean Tip #1721 - Establish an Impeccable Standard of Excellence.
Set high expectations at the outset and raise the bar on any crucial factors. The best way to establish a standard is by modeling the expected behavior yourself. Showcase excellence. When your actions have the potential to affect everyone around you and the bottom line, don't dabble in mediocrity. Reflecting excellence is critical to exercising effective leadership. This is ground zero for establishing influence.

Lean Tip #1722 - Value People and Nurture Relationships. 
Top-notch people skills are vital to sound leadership. Develop premium listening, communication and decision-making skill sets. Demonstrate integrity by being open, honest and fair.

Your transparency will reap clear rewards. If you treat people well, most will be encouraged to return the favor. By elevating the importance of people and relationships, you enhance your ability to relate to others in an authentic and meaningful way.

Lean Tip #1723 - Be Part of the Change.
Adopt an attitude of anticipation and excitement. See change as an opportunity. Get involved in new committees and work teams. Be an influencer and driver of change. That way you will feel empowered and less fearful. See the positive in the way forward.

Lean Tip #1724 - Communicate Effectively to Avoid Fear
During workplace change, many employees probably experience a fear of the unknown. Therefore, effective communication is vital. When the lines of communication malfunction, harmful rumors and rumblings among the workforce can occur. Strive to create an environment where pertinent information about changes is communicated to employees as quickly and completely as possible. Also, establish effective channels for workers to address leaders in order to assuage their fears about changes. 

Lean Tip #1725 - Employee Involvement is Vital
All change efforts should involve employees at some level.

Organizational change, whether large or small, needs to be explained and communicated, specifically changes that affect how employees perform their jobs.

Whether it is changing a work process, improving customer satisfaction or finding ways to reduce costs, employees have experiences that can benefit the change planning and implementation process.

Since employees are typically closest to the process, it is important that they understand the why behind a change and participate in creating the new process.




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Friday, September 15, 2017

Lean Quote: Coaching is about...Others

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.


"Coaching is about helping others discover, believe in, and act upon what they know." — Brian D. Biro


Coaching is…

Management without exception, Not management by exception.

A way to build self-esteem, Not self-doubt.

Two-way communication, Not reading the riot act.

An ongoing relationship, Not a one-shot gimmick.

Goal-oriented, Not problem-oriented.

Focused on performance, Not personality.



The term ‘coaching’ means many different things to different people, but is generally about helping individuals to solve their own problems and improve their own performance.

Put simply, coaching is a process that aims to improve performance and focuses on the ‘here and now’ rather than on the distant past or future.There is a huge difference between teaching someone and helping them to learn. In coaching, fundamentally, the coach is helping the individual to improve their own performance: in other words, helping them to learn.


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