Monday, January 30, 2017

Lean Roundup #92 – January, 2017



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

Reusable Processes – Bob Emiliani shares his thoughts on John Shook’s Lean Transformation Model and assumptions.

The Failure of “The Livonia Philosophy” at my GM Plant – Mark Graban talks about his experience at GM and how difficult it is to change an organization’s culture and how fragile that new culture can be.

Why Do ‘Smart’ People Struggle with Strategy? – Pascal Dennis explains why in strategy there is no right answer only the right process.

Bridging the gap from coaching soccer to coaching business – Jamie Flinchbaugh shares some leadership lessons from coaching soccer that can be used in business.

Producing Business Results With Lean – Bob Emiliani discusses why the Toyota Production System (TPS) – inclusive of the “Respect for People” principle – is what drives business results, and that Lean does not.

Getting to Sustainability – Tracey Richardson explains how to get sustainability and why it is a never ending journey.

The Hidden Step in Hoshin Kanri – My Goal – Tony Manos talks about the power of goal setting and committing to do something different.

You Don’t Build a Culture of Continuous Improvement by Waiting Until Your Culture is Totally Ready for Continuous Improvement – Mark Graban says don’t wait to start and describes simple steps to get going on building a culture of continuous improvement.

Deadly Disease of Management: Emphasis on Short-term Profits – John Hunter discusses one of Deming’s Seven Deadly Diseases of Management, short term company thinking.

Coaching Lean Without Knowing – Bob Emiliani discusses his concerns with learning Lean from the interpreters instead of from the originators.

Coaching Lean Without Knowing | Bob Emiliani – Michael Baudin shares his retort on Bob’s post on Coaching Lean Without Knowing Lean.

How Do I Teach My Team? – Steve Kane shares some thoughts on teaching others from personal experience.

Lean is Not Just Process Improvement – Mark Graban explains why process improvement sells Lean short.

Ask Art: How high is up with lean? – Art Byrne says there is no limit to how high up with Lean.


Six Personal Kanban Habits to Avoid – Jim Benson shares 6 mistakes he commonly sees on personal Kanban boards.


Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare

Friday, January 27, 2017

Lean Quote: Chaotic Action is Preferable to Orderly Inaction

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.

"Chaotic Action is Preferable to Orderly Inaction.— Karl E. Weick

For leaders, action is one of the most important traits they can embody.  Taking action means getting things done.  It means seizing the initiative.  It conveys momentum, and energy, and creating something new, something that didn’t exist before.  And this excites followers and others who understand that going towards something is always better than sitting around staring at the wall.

Often managers spot a chance to do something valuable for their company, but for some reason, they cannot get started. Even if they begin the project, they give up when they see the first big hurdle. The inability to take purposeful action seems to be pervasive across companies. Managers tend to ignore or postpone dealing with crucial issues which require reflection, systematic planning, creative thinking, and above all, time.

If you do nothing, nothing changes. Things at rest have a tendency to remain at rest. Be aware of items that stall your action. It's better to have a 50-percent improvement right away than it is to take no action and hope for a 100-percent improvement sometime in the future.

The only cure for inaction is action. That’s why the first step in creating a successful culture of execution is creating a bias toward action. People who make things happen need to be praised and rewarded. People who don’t should be coached to change, or weeded out. Failure cannot be unduly punished. Unless people feel free to make mistakes, they will not feel free to take bold actions.


Action hurts now. We’ll get scarred. We’ll be uncomfortable. We’ll take losses. But we’ll grow. Inaction doesn’t hurt now, but it hurts for the rest of our lives. We’ll be comfortable now and be unable to do the uncomfortable thing later. We’ll be made soft by our stagnation. Every day we choose inaction over action it makes it harder to take action. We weaken ourselves. Every time we take action we become stronger.



Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

True Leadership Ability Goes Beyond Managing and Supervising


In today’s global business environment, the best laid plans, the greatest technology, and the best equipment will produce average results unless they are organized and utilized by a skilled and proficient leader. You must be able to inspire people to follow your lead. No matter how technically capable you are, you won’t be effective as a leader unless you gain the willing cooperation of others. You are the team’s coach, captain, quarterback, cheerleader, and fan all rolled into one. You are the critical lynch pin between the organization’s goals and your team. Your success in leading your department, team, or business unit to greater results and profitability lies in your true leadership ability.

It wasn’t always this way. An American mechanical engineer, Frederick W. Taylor (1856 – 1915) who sought to improve industrial efficiency, created a set of principles which came to be called Scientific Management. The basic assumption was a supervisor of the past could derive maximum productivity from workers by scientifically breaking down the required production tasks into the smallest possible units, and then assigning each worker a definite task with a definite time allocation and a definite manner for getting the task done. Other industrial engineers soon added to the basic principles of Scientific Management with a host of techniques and practices: written instruction cards for each task, sophisticated scheduling systems, job descriptions, and a lot of time and motions studies. None of these practices were inherently bad.

In fact, if you study modern supervisory texts, you’ll find that some of the same techniques that came out of Scientific Management are still advocated as being essential for good management. But, by the mid 1930’s, the basic premise of Scientific Management was in question. It was a good system, in theory, that had never been able to deliver the results it so thoroughly sought. Why not? Scientific Management was an attempt to engineer human activity without reasonable consideration for the human element. It was an attempt to engineer activity in much the same way someone would program a computer. By the mid 1930’s, theorists from the human relations movement began to show that motivated workers delivered better results.

These studies, and countless others, have all yielded a common truth: the best systems and procedures will produce limited results unless they are administered with full recognition of the fact that the team members who are to implement the systems and procedures are human, and need to be managed, motivated, and guided by an effective leader.

As a team leader you must do much more than manage and supervise. You must gain the trust and willing cooperation of those who look to you for leadership. You must learn to use all of your strengths by recognizing, developing, and utilizing the talents of your team. Because of the function and role of a team leader, it’s obvious that good team leaders are critically important to the success of an organization.

Studies at Stanford Research Institute, Harvard University, and the Carnegie Foundation have proven that 85% of the reason you get a job, keep a job, and move ahead in that job has more to do with people skills and people development. Remember, a team leader is responsible for: planning, organizing, staffing, motivating, and evaluating results. Most importantly, they need to exhibit an intangible collection of skills and abilities we commonly identify as leadership. A team leader has to be able to get results through his or her team!

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Real Reason We Procrastinate


Self-motivation is essential for success. When self-motivation does not push us toward accomplishment, outside influences have a tendency to pull us toward mediocrity. Procrastination is consistently failing to pursue the goals you have set in a timely manner, which leads to deflated self-motivation. Why do we procrastinate? Why do we unnecessarily put off something that we have decided in advance is important?

On reason is laziness. Sometimes we don’t do things we know we should so because we simply don’t like doing them. Maybe they’re unpleasant or take more effort than we care to expend. If you fall into this trap, use your goals to focus and remind yourself of the rewards you anticipate receiving by achieving your goals, as well as the potential consequences of not achieving your goals. When you’re pursuing goals you believe in, you’ll be too excited and motivated to be lazy.

Another cause of procrastination is apathy. If you catch yourself procrastinating, ask yourself whether you truly desire to achieve the goal in question. Maybe your lack of enthusiasm is telling you that you need to reevaluate your direction.

The largest cause of procrastination is typically fear. Understanding the nature of fear can help you overcome it. If fear of the unknown immobilizes you don’t imitate an ostrich and stick your head in the sand. Use the goal setting process to reduce your fear. Identify all of the obstacles that stand between where you are now and where you want to be. Develop solutions to overcome them. Fears immediately begin to subside when you turn the unknown into knowns.

Fear of failure is another common fear that has a tendency to hold us back. All worthwhile goals pose the risk of failure. Realistically high goals, the only kind that are meaningful and useful, lie somewhere beyond what you know for certain you can accomplish. Failure is a necessary component of progress. If you reach for a worthwhile goal, you might fail. But if you don’t try at all, you have truly failed. It’s virtually impossible to grow and achieve without failing at times along the way. But failure during your journey does not constitute the failure of your journey. Successful people often try, fail, try again, fail again, and try again before they succeed. They view failure as an essential part of the learning process on the path to their ultimate destination.

Adults tend to lose perspective on failure. We forget how many times as children we failed to tie our shoes before we succeeded. We forget how many times we fell before we learned to walk, skate, ski, or ride a bike. When you stop failing, you stop learning. If you struggle with fear of failure, examine the cause. Is there an issue with pride? Are you afraid of what others might think if you fail? Understanding the source of your fear will help you overcome it.

Fear of rejection and fear of criticism detour many from their journeys to success. Rather than face the possible rejection, some people simply don’t ask for what they need. Rather than face possible criticism, they conceal their true abilities and never display their full potential. Every team leader must rely on team members to get something accomplished. In order to attain our dreams and goals, no matter what they invariably ask others for their support, participation, assistance, or commitment. And every time we ask, we face the possibility of reject or criticism.

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lean Quote: Effective Leaders Must Master the Technique of the Educator

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.

"It has been well said that an effective leader must know the meaning and master the technique of the educator.— Philip Selznick

A leader must be a good teacher. Leaders must be able to be good teachers to share insights and experiences. Leaders can inspire, motivate, and influence subordinates at various levels through the use of teaching ability. Obviously, one must be a good communicator in order to be an effective teacher. Without the ability to clearly and effectively communicate a message, goal, story, or philosophy, it is impossible to lead.

In a Lean organization, learning is critical, and line management's direct responsibility. Lean is based on how people think; simply defined, Lean is shared thinking. Management and employees need common philosophy, ideas, and principles. Leaders can't just put workers into situations, and hope they learn the right things. They should take responsibility for the message, combining real-life experience with direct coaching. An organization's principles should become guideposts to help people make tough decisions.

Lean Leaders must not only be teachers, they must also preach and promote teaching at all levels. Lean Leaders make sure that all of their direct reports are good teachers. In classical leadership, the role of teaching is frequently delegated – not so with the Lean Leaders.

The Lean Leader must teach leadership. This is the real key to sustaining the gains. Teach them to keep a focus, teach them how to get their resources aligned and teach them how not to “de-motivate” their subordinates and peers and you will have gone a long way toward teaching leadership.

To teach, a leader has to learn, and learning Lean is more than a cerebral exercise By applying Lean to everything, a leader becomes a more effective teacher. Remember what leadership is really about: It's not a job; it's an act. Leaders have to learn how to teach, build creative tension, and eliminate fear and comfort. Leaders need to actively participate in the transformation of the business, and apply Lean to their own jobs.



Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lean Tips Edition #104 (1561 - 1575)

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 #1561 - Engage the Full Team to Find Improvement Opportunities
Continuous improvement in a facility is almost never going to be made by a single person. This is why you need to have the entire team involved. This starts with the CEO and leadership team and goes all the way to the front line employees. By creating a teamwork environment where everyone is working together to ensure ongoing improvement you will be much more successful in the long run.

Even when employees propose an unrealistic idea it should still be seen as a positive step. Taking all ideas seriously and trying to find ways to implement them if practical can allow employees to have the confidence in the management team that they need to want to bring new ideas up to the team.

Lean Tip #1562 - Recognize Successes
When a change is made that results in improvement in the facility it should always be recognized. This recognition could be something as simple as a thank you from the department manager or as large as corporate recognition with a bonus or other reward. To the extent possible, all recognition of improvements made should be done as publically as possible to help motivate others to work towards improvements.

If someone has an idea that doesn’t work out as planned, it can still be a good idea to recognize that even though it didn’t work out, it was still a good thing that they made the attempt. As the saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Even when ideas are unsuccessful it is still a learning opportunity and it may trigger ideas about the next great improvement in the facility. Never punish people for making an attempt at improving the facility.

Lean Tip #1563 - Know Your Processes
You can’t make improvements on something if you don’t really know what is going on with it. This is why you should have a clear understanding of everything that is happening in the facility. A great strategy for this is to employ value stream mapping. This will help you pinpoint where all the value for your products is added so that you can eliminate any waste that is involved.

Keeping your value stream maps updated and accurate is important. Every time a change is made to an area, for example, make sure you know how it is impacting the value add to that area. This will ensure you are always evaluating an accurate portrayal of your facility so you can make the needed improvements on an ongoing basis.

Lean Tip #1654 – 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 #1565 - Don’t Just Talk About it, Do it!
Once you have a Lean strategy in place, put it into fast and thorough action. Naturally, implementation is what ultimately yields results and improvement. The last think you want is to devise and formulate a Lean campaign that then sits on the shelf and collects dust. Run with your Lean plans as soon as you have everything nailed down.

Lean Tip #1566 - Harness the PDCA Strategy
One of the key concepts used in Kaizen is the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” strategy. This is a quality model that can be used when implementing any type of improvement in the facility. As you might expect, the PDCA strategy is a cycle of ongoing improvement that should never end. The steps are as follows:

Plan – This step is where you identify an area where improvement is possible and make an initial strategy on what chance should be made to realize the desired improvements.

Do – Implement the change, but only on a small scale. This may mean having one department make the change in some situations or for larger corporations, having one facility make the update. During this step it is also very important to be gathering as much data regarding the change so it can be properly evaluated.

Check – Review the results of the change including the data that was collected. Looking to see if they had the desired impact or not is critical to know whether you should move forward with rolling the change out to other areas.

Act – IF the data in the check step points to a success, it is time to push the change out on a wider scale. Once the change has been successfully implemented you will go back to the plan step to look for further improvement opportunities. If the data from the check step shows that the change did not work as planned, you go directly to the plan step to either start from scratch or attempt to make the needed adjustments to get the desired results.

Lean Tip #1567 - Think Small
Many companies today are only looking for the, “BIG WINS” when it comes to improvements. While big wins are always nice, they really aren’t going to be able to happen very often. A company that identifies small areas of improvement and implements them frequently is going to make much more progress over time than one that ignores the small things and only focuses on bigger issues.

Lean Tip #1568 - Empower Employees
Good managers are an invaluable part of having a facility that engages in continuous improvement. This is because good managers know that it is often going to be the employees who come up with the next great improvement idea. Employees perform their jobs all day everyday so it is no surprise that they will be the ones to find problems and hopefully the solutions to them.

Empowering employees to take steps toward improvement can be very helpful. Having a process by which they go through the PDCA cycle with as little interference from management as possible can be very helpful. Of course, for some changes manager involvement and approval will be necessary, but putting as few obstacles in the way as possible will result in much more improvement.

Lean Tip #1569 - Concentrate on Bad Processes, Not People
By concentrating on the processes and building continuous improvement, you will have the culture change that you are looking for. Also, correct mistakes immediately. Don’t wait for the next shift, the weekend or maintenance to do it.

Lean Tip #1570 - Create Short-term Goals to Keep Momentum High.
Documenting processes can be a laborious exercise, from holding meetings with different stakeholders, collecting process information, drawing process maps, creating process documentation to obtaining signoffs. To keep morale and momentum high, identify short-term wins and milestones to keep team members from lagging behind or worse still, burning out.

Lean Tip #1571 – Set Goals for Lean Manufacturing
In order to get people motivated, they must value the goals set for Lean manufacturing. These goals must be challenging, yet obtainable for your employees. Further, always ask for feedback on these goals, as well as progress toward target attainment. Feedback should always contain measureable facts and figures.

Lean Tip #1572 - Set Realistic Target Dates For Goals
People, by nature, are goal-oriented and want to see that their actions are producing positive results. But if you’re not being realistic with your target goal dates, you are setting yourself up for failure from the beginning. Set small goals and reward yourself and your employees for each milestone accomplished.

Lean Tip #1573 - Get (and Stay) Organized
Staying organized—and keeping your tools and equipment where they are easily accessible—will accelerate positive changes in your operations. Not only will it increase efficiency and reduce costs, but it will also help build support for subsequent phases of Lean.

Lean Tip #1574 - Show Results, Not Action Items
It’s important that you post real results on your Lean board, not things that you’re going to do. You must be able to point out your successes if you are ever going to convince others that Lean really works.

Lean Tip #1575 - Never Give Up
Whenever thinking about Kaizen continuous improvement you need to recognize that the ‘continuous’ part of the strategy is extremely important. This is a strategy that should be implemented as soon as possible and then continued indefinitely into the future. As soon as one improvement is made, it is time to start looking at what the next improvement opportunity will be.


It is also important to remember that there will be failures along the way. Some ideas will be tried and found to not produce the results that are needed. When this happens make sure you and your team don’t get discouraged or give up. Instead, start the process of finding and implementing improvements over and you’ll soon achieve the results you were hoping for.

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel

Monday, January 16, 2017

MLK - Taking a Leap of Faith


Today we celebrate and recognize the life and achievement of Martin Luther King Jr. MLK as they say was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. His quote below has always struck me as paramount to change.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase."

Making a change requires a leap of faith. Taking that leap of faith is risky, and people will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe – and perhaps more importantly, feel – that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction.  Making a change takes lots of leaps of faith.

Leaders may make bold and often unpopular decisions. Effective leaders require courage - to stand up for what is right, for what they believe in, and to take the necessary risks to be innovative and creative.

You can’t move forward if you don’t grow and you can’t grow if you never leave your comfort zone. When possible, challenge employees to grow. Help them prepare by providing them a safe environment to learn from the mistakes that they are bound to make.

Moving beyond our comfort zones is how we can best learn and grow. The challenge is to resist our normal human instinct to seek comfort rather that discomfort. The key is to continually push beyond the comfort zone and drive continuous improvement to develop and strengthen your Lean thinking.

It takes courage to be a change agent, to rise up and lead the way when others are filled with fear. It takes courage to walk in a different direction when others walk along a contrasting path. Most important, it takes courage to drive persistence to overcome resistance…to find comfort outside your comfort zone when the promise of reward is ambiguous.

When things are difficult, unknown, and perhaps unattainable we may turn the other direction. We must find the inner strength to overcome these perceived barriers. History has proven time after time that the power of a thought is the beginning for actions that will alter the future positively. Understanding this, and having the courage to keep going even in the face of all obstacles, allows us to accomplish anything we want.

The courage of true leadership is revealed while still standing in the midst of controversy and challenging circumstances. It is relatively easy and requires little effort to stay in your comfort zone or to do what is convenient. Courage is not required to stay comfortable. Leaders need essential people skills to get people to work together smoothly even if some compromise may be needed. However, it also takes courage to make a stand on what you believe to be right.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exemplified what being a true leader of change is all about. His actions made him one of the great leaders of the 20th century, Time Magazine's "Man Of The Year" in 1963 and a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1964.

Subscribe to my feed Subscribe via Email LinkedIn Group Facebook Page @TimALeanJourney YouTube Channel SlideShare