Monday, October 30, 2017

Lean Roundup #101 – October, 2017


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

The Ecosystem of Culture – Mark Rosenthal says there is a lot going on behind Lean, what appears to be well understood and simple on the surface.

Lean Was a Lot Simpler Back in the Day...  - Brent Wahba discusses his thoughts on what has made transformation efforts so complicated since lean's early years.

Don’t Turn Your Performance Metrics into “Success Theater” – Mark Graban says instead of making things look good, focus on actually making things better!

The Definition of Insanity – Jon Miller says doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is not insanity, it is naive.

Power, Management, and Harassment: It’s a Cultural Problem – Johanna Rothman explains that abuse of power is a cultural problem.

Is There a Tradeoff Between Employee Morale and Productivity? - Ken Eakin shares his own take on this ages-old question often discussed in lean circles.

Why Questioning is Critical to Lean Leadership – Gregg Stocker explains some basic reasons why questioning is an effective way to teach and learn.

It's Not All About the Cash: How to Help Leadership Understand Lean's Financial Benefits – Jean Cunningham explains Lean's cost savings might not show up immediately on the income statement -- but that doesn't mean there were no cost savings!

Where Lean Has Gone Wrong & What to Do About It, Part 1 Part 2 – Pascal Dennis adds his perspective on the failures of Lean and what we need to do to succeed.

7 Tips for Building Your Lean Team – Misti Yang draws on the advice of experts and recent research to share seven insights on how to best build a Lean team.

If You React to Every Blip in the Metrics, Then Nothing is a Priority? – Mark Graban talks about how to create and effective daily management system.

There Is More To Data Than Just Numbers – Michael Baudin discusses capturing manufacturing data from other sources like text, images, and videos.

How Can Total Productive Maintenance Improve our Company’s Bottom Line? – Shmula says Total Productive Maintenance is not really new as a concept but when applied correctly, it can significantly reduce the waste an organization creates in its daily work.

How Fresh Starts Motivate Us to Keep Improving – Jon Miller explains the PDCA cycle is all about fresh starts.


Don't Start with Tools! - Craig Stritar and Mark Rosenthal say to avoid the temptation to start with tools and explain their preferred gateway to lean transformation.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Lean Quote: Lean is Meant to Involve the Whole Company

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 isn’t Lean if it doesn’t involve everyone." — John Shook

Lean is meant to involve the whole company. It is not intended to be put into action in only one area. It is a management philosophy which should include every part of your organization. This helps promote the concept that everyone in the company is part of the team. True Lean manufacturing needs the involvement of everyone coming into contact with the company’s product and its customer.

Lean doesn’t work unless everyone is involved and has input. We must involve employees in the continuous improvement process because the people actually carrying out the job know how to do that job better. The best companies in the world tap the creativity and talent of the whole organization and not just a select few.

The lack of ongoing employee involvement at the shop-floor level has been identified as a major reason for the non-sustainability of Lean in the organization. When there is a lack of staff involvement, and management fails to seek employee input on critical decisions, employees may feel dejected and detached from the organization.

Employee involvement cultivates an atmosphere of collaboration, increases retention of talented staff, and intensifies dedication and commitment. Employees develop a sense of ownership over proposed changes when they are involved.  Employee engagement can not only make a real difference, it can set the great organizations apart from the merely good ones.


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Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2 Second Lean 3rd Edition Book Review


Paul Akers, founder and president of FastCap, has published his first book 2 Second Lean: How to Grow People and Build a Fun Lean Culture at Work and at Home. I have been following Paul for several years as he has built FastCap into one of the model Lean Companies in this modern age. So now that Paul has published his story I was delighted to take the opportunity to learn more.

2 Second Lean is different than most books on the marketing written about Lean manufacturing/thinking. This book isn’t really about Lean or continuous improvement but rather the transformation of a leader. The story chronicles one man’s personal journey with the discovery of Lean and how he implemented it in his business and personal life. This personal touch makes the lessons Paul presents more relevant and lasting.

Paul describes his personal journey beginning with a total ignorance of Lean thinking, all the way to being one of Lean's greatest success stories. Paul illustrates the struggle many organizations face when their understanding of Lean is centered only around tools. To quote Paul, “Using Lean as only a tool will leave you disappointed. It is much more than that.” He learns from Domo Arigoto, Vice President of Lexus, “The most important thing for Toyota is people – teaching and training people in a culture of continuous improvement.” This is the turning point for Paul and FastCap.

In 2 Second Lean Paul outlines the steps that he personally used to transform the culture of FastCap. His approach may be a bit unorthodox as he advocates starting in the bathroom but it is simplicity that he is after. Throughout the book Paul breaks down the concepts and thinking into simple easy to understand lessons. 

This book is a very quick read but offers a number of great resources buried within its covers. There are lots of colorful photos and examples throughout the book. If that wasn’t enough Paul even uses QR Codes to link to information andvideos on his websites for more detailed learning. The end of each chapter concludes with “The One Thing” which is a synopsis of what you just learned which is followed up by questions to make you act on your own situation. This reinforces the lessons and substantiates the learning for readers. 

There is an audio version of the book that recorded. This is a real treat to listen to since Paul is such a passionate personality. Anyone who knows Paul knows the energy he brings to this topic. Paul goes off script from the book but adds great value. Since the stories are so personal he ad libs throughout the recording adding some new tibits to ponder.

Paul says’, “At the end of the day everyone is a process engineer.” If you want something to stick as a leader you must expect it, inspect it, and reinforce it. Paul has simplified a rather complex process down into a simple phrase: "Identify what bugs you and fix it." Paul shows us that Lean can and should be fun.


In the 3rd edition Paul added 5 new chapters which basically answer common questions he gets. There a is a chapter on Lean Leadership why you want a Lean All-Star. Paul talks about the use of videos to put Lean on afterburners. He also shares his new building and how Lean thinking was incorporated in the design. There is also a chapter on touring his company FastCap.

I highly recommend reading this book and even further endorse the audio portion. You will find 2 Second Lean a fun, memorable, and valuable account into Lean. This story and its lessons is something everyone can benefit from personally and professionally.




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Monday, October 23, 2017

The Trust Gap In Your Organization

Most organizations focus on what they do and how they do it. But only the most inspired organizations have leaders who start with why they do it first. The single biggest challenge that an organization will ever face is its own success. The more successful an organization becomes, the more people it has to hire based on what they do. The company’s what keeps growing. The problem is why they do it starts to go fuzzy. And as the what and why lines separate, a trust gap occurs.

Technology, internet can not create trust. Only human contact can. Leaders tell us why we exist, authority/managers tell us what to do. We trust leaders, we distrust authorities /managers. As soon as our audience or clients become anonymous people, you can follow destructive mantras like “I have to follow the rules’, ‘these are my orders’.

Simon Sinek started with his simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership: The Golden Circle, where it’s all starting with the question “Why?” Now Simon takes the next step. After why comes : trust. When we surround ourselves with people who believe what we believe, trust emerges. 

Watch this great TEDx Talk about trust and why.



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Friday, October 20, 2017

Lean Quote: Leadership is Not a Dictatorship

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.


"Personally I cringe at the word 'leader.' It's more about getting people do what they're passionate about and putting them in the right context or setting. They're the ones doing the hard work." — Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos


Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, said, “Personally I cringe at the word 'leader.' It's more about getting people do what they're passionate about and putting them in the right context or setting. They're the ones doing the hard work.”

While I don't necessarily totally agree with 'leader' being cringeworthy, this is an awesome quote. From my point of view, what he describes is leadership. No one wants a central figure to come in and do everything for them so they can just follow blindly. They want someone that inspires them to be better, someone to follow until it's time to forge their own path.

The glory of a leader can be plagued and overshadowed by many concerns that can affect the team’s success. A leader must wear many hats and be able to lead and encourage a team to perform. It is necessary for a leader to become an engaged member of the team, but be able to lead at the same time. It is inevitable that different personalities, industries, and goals will force any leader to adapt and mold to fit the current environment. What is the best way to successfully encourage and lead a team? This is the million dollar question.

There is definitely a difference between leadership and dictatorship; unfortunately many so called “leaders” confuse the two. According to webster, we can easily see the distinguishing differences between the two:

Leadership – the position or function of a leader, a person who guides or directs a group.

Dictatorship – absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control.

Aha, one guides, directs, coaches and leads a group and the other tells the group to do this thing, this way, because I said so and more importantly because I have the power… I am the dictator.


Leadership is really about influencing people to believe in you and follow you. A leader takes people where they would never go on their own. Encourage your team members to the tasks that are most critical to achieving the main objectives. Make sure the rewards are useful and worthwhile. Try to understand each member and what they really want from their work and life in general.



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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Busy Does Not Equal Productive

Just because you are busy does NOT mean you are productive. This animation explains some of the major differences between busy behavior and productive behavior.



Here are the 6 Major Differences Between Busy People and Productive People:

Priorities
Busy People have many priorities.
Productive People have very few priorities.  Their mission is clearly defined and they put their energy on the few items that will bring them the biggest results.
Yes Vs. No
Busy People say Yes quickly.
Productive People say Yes slowly.  They don’t commit to anything that steers them away from their mission and goals.
Handling of Actions
Busy People focus on actions and checking things off of their To-Do list.
Productive People focus on clarity before action and have very few things on their To-Do list.
Multi-Task vs Focus
Busy People are always multi-tasking.
Productive People don’t multi-task but focus on one course until completion.
Email Management
Busy People respond quickly to emails.
Productive People don’t allow emails to determine their priorities.  They don’t allow other people to manage their day and are not distracted by the incoming email alerts.
A Question they Ask Themselves
Busy People ask, “What else can I add?”

Productive People ask, “What else can I remove?”  At the beginning of the day, they determine what needs to be their most important tasks of the day, in line with their goals.  Then, throughout the day, they take time to review their priorities and eliminate or delegate anything that doesn’t align with their vision.
Switch your focus from being busy to being productive, so that you can accomplish more, see tangible results, and have time for fun.
Don’t Aim for Busy, Aim For Productive

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Monday, October 16, 2017

7 Lessons We Can Learn From Geese To Succeed


Living in New England you become accustom to seeing the migration of Geese.  As the leaves start turning colors the Geese head south for the winter.  Geese are fascinating creatures and we can learn many lessons from them. Below are 7 things we can learn:

1. Sharing a common goal: As each goose flaps its wings it creates “uplift”, an aerodynamics orientation that reduces air friction, for the birds that follow. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock achieves a 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

The lesson we can learn here is that people who share a common direction and goal can get where they are going quicker and with less effort because they benefit from the momentum of the group moving around them. Make sure your team and company is aligned towards a common goal.

 2. Increasing visibility: Flying in a V-formation increases the visibility as every goose can see what’s happening in front of them.

The lesson here is to make our organizations visible in both org-chart directions. Having top-down visibility enables leaders to stay connected with the edges of the organization to make better informed decisions. Bottom-up visibility enables employees to see the bigger picture, engages them, and empowers them to better align themselves with the organizational objectives.

3. Having humility to seek help: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the friction of flying alone. It then quickly adjusts its mistake and moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

The lesson we can learn here is to be humble to admit the challenges we face and to seek help as soon as we get stuck. This humility will enable you, your team, and your company to move faster and achieve more.

4. Empowering others to lead: When the lead goose in the front gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and allows another goose to take the leadership position.

The lesson here is to empower others to also lead. Micro-managing and keeping tight control will burn you out. It will also disengage and demotivate others around you. People have unique skills, capabilities, and gifts to offer. Give them autonomy, trust and a chance to shine, and you will be surprised with the outcomes.

5. Always recognizing great work: The geese honk to recognize each other and encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

The lesson here to make sure we praise people and give them the recognition they deserve. Lack of recognition is one of the main reasons employees are unsatisfied at work and quit. It’s very common for people’s efforts to go unnoticed by their peers in a busy and fast-moving work environment. However, remembering to constantly provide recognition and encouragement is vital and keeps teams motivated to achieve their goals.

6. Offering support in challenging times: When a goose gets sick or wounded, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

The lesson here is to stand by each other in difficult times. It’s easy to always be part of winning teams, but when things get difficult and people are facing challenges, that’s when your teammates need you the most.

7. Staying committed to core values and purpose: The geese migration routes never vary. They use the same route year after year. Even when the flock members change, the young learn the route from their parents. In the spring they will go back to the spot where they were born.

The lesson to learn here is to stay true to our core values and purpose. Strategies, tactics, and products may change in order for an organization to remain agile, but great companies always stick to their core purpose and values, and preserve them with vigor.

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