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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Lean Tips Edition #116 (1741 -1755)

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 #1741 - Focus On Your Highest Priorities
Every day, organize your to-do list with the five highest priority items at the top, and have your employees do the same. Having an unorganized task list keeps you from tackling the most pressing items and dampens corporate morale when little seems to have been accomplished. Just make sure that your daily “top five” list is doable – you may need to break down your larger deliverables into smaller tasks.

Lean Tip #1742 - Hold More Efficient Meetings
Communication is the number one success factor in keeping your operations flowing smoothly. With that in mind, hold a daily huddle with your team of employees and share everyone’s top five priorities for the day. Keep the meeting brief though: Anything longer than 10 minutes might be wasting more time than you’re saving. If you’re having trouble finishing in less than 10 minutes, try standing instead of sitting.

Lean Tip #1743 - Make Process Control More Visual
Visual control systems include signs, displays and devices in your operations’ workflow that help you identify the current step in a process, the schedule for the next task in a project or any current problems in the process. Visual controls vary for every setting, but the interface of your visual control system should be intuitive and help employees work more effectively.

Lean Tip #1744 - Don’t Try a Solution before You Really Understand the Problem
You might start out believing you know where the problem is in your processes. You might already have a solution in mind. However, if you start out by changing processes without analyzing the problem, you may find that the problem isn’t what you thought it was. You may even make it worse.

Bring together people with different perspectives on the problem in your process. Talk about what everyone thinks is going wrong and listen to their ideas about solutions. It’s likely you’ll get insight you didn’t anticipate so you can make better solutions.

Lean Tip #1745 - Management Must Model the New Rules
This should go without saying, but nothing will undermine the effectiveness of but nothing will undermine a new business process faster than management not following the new rules. The rules are either there for everyone, or they’re there for no one.
Once management starts to “cheat” on the new process, people take it as a sign that the process is no good, and everyone will look for ways to cheat. Chaos will result as everyone is looking for shortcuts and doing things the way they want them done (often the way that sloughs the most work off their desk and onto someone else’s).

Lean Tip #1746 - Look for Quick Wins
Tremendous work goes into the process of planning for, designing, and implementing new practices. The team, the sponsors, and you will need some quick wins to help you look for—and even sometimes wait for—the long-term results that will unfold from your efforts. Set achievable interim goals to gain quick wins, and they will keep you going, providing crucial momentum that enhances the likelihood you will ultimately realize the full benefits that come from continuous process improvement.

Lean Tip #1747 - Plan for Long-Term Continuous Improvements
The greatest benefit can come from a continuous process of improving the way work is done. It takes time for people to learn and solidify new practices, recognize that their world does not end because certain old ways of working have been eliminated, and to appreciate the benefits that change can bring.

Lean Tip #1748 - Keep Track of Successes
Success stories can be useful when you’re trying to shore up stakeholder support and bring along reluctant members of the team. They serve as evidence that you’re on the right track with your overall plan, and they remind everyone that all the hard work pays off in the end.

Lean Tip #1749 - Give the New Process a Chance
A new process takes time to show its value. A new process will seem harder to many employees at first because it’s different, and it may seem slower for a while as everyone is learning their new roles and responsibilities. You have to stick to your new process long enough for everyone to learn it thoroughly and follow it smoothly before you can truly assess its impact.

Lean Tip #1750 - Implement Standard Work
Standard work is one of the most powerful but least used lean tools to maintain improved process performance. By documenting the current best practice, standardized work forms the baseline for further continuous improvement. As the standard is improved, the new standard becomes the baseline for further improvements, and so on.

Lean Tip #1751 – Measure the Effectiveness of the Process.
Ask yourself how you can measure things such as service levels, productivity or throughput. Match these metrics to your processes and ensure they are measured during regular intervals. Set targets for each metric and inform your staff on what is expected in terms of performance. Re-visit these metrics and increase the targets as your business grows and operations change to encourage continuous improvement.

Lean Tip #1752 - Display Metrics to Reinforce the Process Improvements
Metrics play an integral and critical role in process improvement efforts by providing signs of the effectiveness and the efficiency of the process improvement itself. Posting “before and after” metrics in the work area to highlight improvements can be very motivating to the team.   Workers see their hard work paying off. It is important to keep the metric current because it will be one of the first indicators if your process starts reverting.

Lean Tip #1753 - Define Your Current Processes.
To understand where you want to be, you have to understand where you are today. By obtaining a step-by-step description of each process, including all the people, documentation and systems involved, you can get a better idea on how to improve the processes. This activity is best tackled by involving everyone using with the process.  It can be a great way to team-build and set a future vision for the company.

Lean Tip #1754 – Determine Customer Value.
Now that you understand how your processes are currently working, you can brainstorm ways to make them better. A key question to ask at this stage is whether each activity is value-adding? Value-adding activities are the activities that your customer wouldn’t mind paying for as they are either part of product/service delivery or are considered to be necessary ‘overhead.’ If you were a customer, would you want to pay for it?

Lean Tip #1755 - Strive to Continuously Improve.
Business process improvement is not meant to be an ‘overnight’ fix that occurs in singularity. It requires the continual and aligned effort of your entire team. Make improvement activities fun and reward your staff for their effort. Collect suggestions, identify change champions and celebrate your successes. This will help build a culture of continuous improvement.

As you grow, keep in mind that Business Process Improvement is all about the journey, not the destination. Your processes are the highways to delivering value to your customers; don’t get stuck in the slow lane!

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