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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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tired of the Same Old Routine? Unleash Creative Thinking

It’s extremely easy to get sucked into routines. Are you stuck in the “same old, same old” routine?

1. Do you feel that it’s easier to go along with the way things have always been done, rather than spending time, effort, and energy on an idea that may not even work out?
2. Are you open to implementing new ideas … just not sure how to actually sit down and come up with them?
3. Have you spoken up before in meetings only to have your ideas passed over, shot down, or pushed aside?
4. Are you looking for specific action steps that will help you and your team members spark creative thinking, generate new ideas, and solve pressing problems more quickly?
5. When faced with making a critical work-related decision, do you constantly second-guess yourself and make it almost impossible to stick with your final choice?
6. Do you feel that you and your team members spend an inordinate amount of time spinning your wheels, going in circles, and rehashing the same problems without ever reaching satisfactory solutions?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, you need creative problem solving and strategic thinking.

Creative thinking is one of today’s most under-utilized business skills … yet it is one of the most powerful. This is often referred to as “thinking outside the box.” It is a way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions (which may look unsettling at first). When you approach problems in a way no one else has, work out imaginative solutions, and think from a strategic perspective, you’ll quickly find yourself way ahead of the game.

Creativity in the workplace is critical to both individual and organizational success. Don’t waste another minute on the “same old” routine and the “same old” results — unleash the creative thinker in you and stand back!

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Leading with Lollipops

There is a great video by Drew Dudley called Leading with Lollipops that quickly and expertly explains how you can make a difference in other people’s lives without even knowing it.

Drew Dudley investigates everyday leadership in this compelling talk. So many times, people celebrate leadership for things that nobody else has done — groundbreaking, life-changing actions.  Unfortunately, this tends to devalue everyday instances of leadership. Dudley encourages listeners to redefine leadership to when they change somebody's understanding of how powerful and important they are. 

I hope you enjoyed Drew’s video as much as I did. Drew and I think alike about leadership and making a difference – and he explains it well.

How did you answer the questions Drew asked in this video?
  • Are you completely comfortable with calling yourself a leader?
  • Do you have to change the world to be called a leader?
  • What is it that you must do, be, or have to be called a leader?
Who is a Leader?


Why do I say everyone is a leader? Because each of us influence/lead people every day. Our actions impact/lead other people whether we think so or not. Our actions affect the people around us for better or worse. Just by being you, you are leading someone by example.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Lean Quote: Lean Is About Constant Ticking, Not Occasional Kicking

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.

"Lean is about constant ticking, not occasional kicking." — Alex Miller, Professor of Management at The University of Tennessee

Continuous improvement is taking an established production process and looking for ways to incrementally improve the production process. Although individual changes may not seem to have a major impact, the aggregate means significant change and improvement to the manufacturing process. By taking small measured steps, as a course of every day action, it also allows for improvement while eliminating risk of making one massive leap to try to achieve the same effect.

Employees tend to focus on small changes that can be accomplished without a lot of expense. In fact, many ideas from employees involve eliminating processes, rather than adding them, which is an excellent way to be sure that every activity adds some value to the customer and reduces wasted effort.

Lean is the continuous improvement of processes and the constant questioning of the status quo. It’s always striving for an ideal. Do not expect your Lean efforts to be perfect from the start, but do not ignore the obvious requirements you need to meet and plan for. Go for simple solutions, without over-engineering the principles of the program.

By focusing on just the dollars and cents vs. the bigger picture, organizations can miss the bigger vision of their manufacturing environment. Incorporating a focus on company culture by adopting the continuous improvement philosophy allows organizations to incorporate both costs and people in their vision. Continuous improvement stimulates employees to achieve for the greater good of the organization.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How to Inspire Action

Simon Sinek's talk on How great leaders inspire action is one shown in classrooms and workplaces all over the world. His simple, yet brilliant concept of the "Golden Circle" can be used for anything — from large organizations to individuals. He argues that people do not buy into what others do or say, but why they do it. If a message starts with values and meaning, the "how" and "what" will naturally fall into place. He references models such as Apple and the Wright Brothers who adopted this successful strategy. 

What I learned from this TEDTalk was how critical it is to start an organization’s message with its purpose, its mission, its humanity, and its values. I knew about how important those are, but maybe had not quite been converted to the necessity of painting those in neon at the front of every media communication and social conversation.

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Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day! - Fun Facts and More

Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.

Here are 11 interesting facts that you might not know about regarding Labor Day:

  1. The first celebrated US Labor Day was on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union.
  2. 10,000 workers marched from City Hall all the way to 42nd Street and then met with their families in Wendel’s Elm Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches.
  3. Canada is said to have originated the idea of hosting a day honoring the labor movement. In 1872, they held a “Nine-Hour Movement” to show support for striking workers.
  4. There is disagreement about who actually proposed Labor Day as a holiday. Some say it was Peter J. McGuire, who was the cofounder of the American Federation of Labor. Others believe that it was Matthew Maguire, a machinist.
  5. Oregon was the first state to celebrate Labor Day as a legal holiday in 1887.
  6. The decision to make Labor Day the first Monday of September was approved on June 28, 1894.
  7. Labor Day started as a part of the labor union movement, to recognize the contributions of men and women in the US workforce, but modernly is seen as a chance to celebrate the last weekend of summer.
  8. Americans worked 12-hour days seven days a week during the 19th century!
  9. The Adamson Act was passed on September 3, 1916 to establish an eight-hour work day.
  10. Historians say the expression “no white after Labor Day” comes from when the upper class would return from their summer vacations and stow away their lightweight, white summer clothes as they returned back to school and work.
  11. There is still a Labor Day parade in New York City, which takes place throughout the 20 blocks north of the 1882 labor march.

So there you have it. Perhaps a few things you already knew about Labor Day, but hopefully a few that you didn’t.

We celebrate Labor Day because we are all in this world of work together. Let’s enjoy the fruits of our labor and the solidarity of workers, the work we do, and the nation and economy we and our parents and their parents have built. Happy Labor Day!

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