Monday, December 31, 2018

Lean Roundup #115 – December, 2018



A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of December, 2018.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

THE AGILE WAY TO USE KANBAN IN SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT – Shanie Weissman discusses the use of Kanban approach in software development.

Respect for “Respect for Human Nature” – Jon Miller explains three main perspectives on the lean thinking pillar of respect for people.

Is Five Why Analysis Too Simplistic for Complex Problems? – Pascal Dennis explains why 5 why can get to the root cause of complex design, supply chain and organizational problems.

How Does the Teacher Learn? – Mark Rosenthal says the teacher learns by sharing and swapping experiences with others.

Dismantling Classical Management – Bob Emiliani talks about how change happens  in an organization.

Kaizen and Improvements That Last – Michel Baudin discusses how to get good results from kaizen ways to make them stick.

Customer Satisfaction is Not Enough – John Hunter says to succeed over the long term organizations must seek not to satisfy customers but to delight customers.

What We See... – Bill Bellows discussed his experience with Toyota and interpretation of Lean and why it differs from the view of the Machine That Changed The World.

A Day in the Life of a Gemba-focused Executive VP – Jon Miller shares a great lesson on leading from the gemba with real example for Toyota executive.

GM Shrinking, Laying Off People, Shutting Down Factories, and Cutting Costs Isn’t “Lean and Agile” – Mark Graban discusses how Lean can be an alternative to slash-and-burn layoffs.

Ask Art: How Do I Get the Senior Management Team On Board with Lean? – Art Byrne explains that becoming a lean enterprise requires having a lean management team.

Standardized Work or Kaizen? Yes – John Shook explains why you want both, and you can’t have much of one without a roughly equal dose of the other.


Soliciting Suggestions in Ways That Don't Backfire – Cheryl Jekiel shares specific ways to prevent mishandling ideas from your people.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Lean Quote: Chance to Start Anew on Your Birthday

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.


"Every year on your birthday, you get a chance to start new." — Sammy Hagar

Today is my birthday and the older I get the more time I spend reflecting. The other day I was thinking about how birthdays are different as an adult than as a kid. If you are like me, birthdays probably aren’t as big of a deal now as they were then; and perhaps you still get gifts, but probably not as many as you once did. This reflection led me to think about the kinds of gifts we might want to give ourselves, if we are feeling a bit short in the gift department on our next birthday.

Give yourself the gift of time. Sometimes our days are so packed with events and tasks that we don’t have time for ourselves. Consider giving yourself the gift of time for your own rest and relaxation (or the time to do another item on this list!).  

Reflect on the last year. Your birthday is a milestone, so it can be a great day to review your results and actions of the past year to see how you have done and determine what is working – and what isn’t!

Set some new goals. Today is a perfect day to look forward, to project into the future, to set goals for the next twelve months. If you don’t have written goals, today is a perfect day to create them!

Give yourself a great book. Pick something that interests you. Regardless of the topic, as you read it, consider what insights you can take from it in your leadership role. I guarantee that if you read with that thought, you will garner leadership ideas while you enjoy the book on its own merits. Consider it a double gift.

Give yourself a great learning experience. In the end your leadership development belongs to you – it is not the responsibility of your organization or your supervisor to provide you these opportunities. If you want to be more effective, why not give yourself a chance to practice and improve your skills? Ask your leader for an opportunity, or open your own wallet and invest in your future. 

Give yourself an hour a week. This is my favorite of the six gifts and all it requires is desire and discipline. As a leader (and a human being), give yourself an hour a week.

To think.
To reflect.
To read.
To meditate.
To plan.
To learn.

If you will find an hour a week for this important work, I will nearly guarantee greater results in virtually every area of your life. You will benefit and you will love the recurring gift you are giving yourself. I know, you think you can’t find that hour, but you can. Maybe it’s a little less TV, a little less Facebook, or perhaps just a bit less sleep one day a week. Whenever that hour can be found, you will be glad you found it.

I know it is my birthday, but you don’t even have to wait for your birthday to give yourself one of these gifts.


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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Christmas Card Factory

I know Christmas is over but there is still something to learn from making Christmas cards.  The following video explains Lean thinking principles from kids making cards for their families.



Now this video is not too different than many others that explain the difference between the traditional push and a better pull manufacturing process. But I liked the use of children in this video. I think it is particularly important that we teach our young people in this better way of thinking. If we could successful educate the next generations of leaders we may imagine a time when a traditional push operation is a thing of the past..

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Twas The Night Before Christmas


Merry Christmas ! I thought it would be great to share this fun poem with all of you.

Anonymous, 2012

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the plant
Machines were not running; production was scant.
We’d been forced to shut down and were incurring large fees,
Cause one of the workers dropped a wrench in line three.

Production mistakes had the owners complaining,
So we’d sent all the workers for refresher training.
The foreman in his hardhat, and I in my tie,
Had just settled down to discuss ROI. 

When out on the floor there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
And ripped the Venetian blinds off the wall with a crash.

The loading dock door somehow had been lifted,
And inside the door snow had already drifted.
When what did my wondering eyes then behold?
But a white-bearded man shuffling in from the cold.  
  
He had a broad face and a round little belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
His eyes twinkled bright and his dimples were merry.
The foreman exclaimed, “Now this dude is scary.” 

He spoke not a word but went straight to work,
Rearranging and cleaning like some kind of jerk.
He threw things away that were taking up space,
And organized stuff that was in the right place.   

The tools that were needed he moved to be near;
Equipment not needed he moved to the rear.
He moved with precision, his speed it increased
I picked up the phone to call the police. 

Then from his beard, as pure white as winter,
He pulled out a small DuraLabel-brand printer.
He set it up quick, with no cord or cable,
In the blink of an eye he was printing out labels. 
  
“Label this counter space, label this drawer!
Label this cabinet, label some more!
From the top of the window to the base of the wall,
We’ll label everything, once and for all!” 

He yelled this out loud, the right jolly old elf,
I laughed to see him, in spite of myself.
He labeled the floor and he labeled the cables.
“With 5S in place, to work they’ll be able!”
  
And then in a twinkling, I knew what he meant!
Our workplace had been as confusing as heck!
I joined him in working and when we were through,
You knew where things were and you knew what to do.

I thanked him profusely but he remained stoic,
And went to the break room and purchased a Coke.
I called him a hero, a magical man,  
But outside the building he’d already ran.

He greeted twelve reindeer and jumped in a sleigh
And up from the ground his team then flew away
But I heard him exclaim as they rose through the night:
“I’ll come back next Christmas to audit your site!”

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Friday, December 21, 2018

Top 10 Lean Leadership Quotes From 2018


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 cannot improve.


  1. "An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves." — Bill Vaughn
  2. "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." — Mahatma Gandhi
  3. "Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day." — Frances Hesselbein
  4. "Regardless of the changes in technology, the market for well-crafted messages will always have an audience." — Steve Burnett, The Burnett Group
  5. "When you’re a manager, you work for your company. When you’re a leader, your company works for you." — Stan Slap
  6. "The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them." — John Maxwell
  7. "Why not make the work easier and more interesting so that people do not have to sweat?  The Toyota style is not to create results by working hard. It is a system that says there is no limit to people’s creativity.  People don’t go to Toyota to ‘work’ they go there to ‘think." — Taiichi Ohno
  8. "Waste is a tax on the whole people." — Albert W. Atwood
  9. "If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk." — Robert Baden-Powell



These are the top 10 quotes on A Lean Journey website in 2018.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Top 10 Lean Tips From 2018


As 2018 comes to an end and we look toward 2019 I wanted to revisit some tips. The Lean Tips published daily are meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledgeable tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey. Here are the top 10 Lean tips from this past year:

Lean Tip #1797 - Listen to Everyone’s Ideas

Your entire team has great ideas. They’re in the trenches all day, bringing their own experience and perspectives to the part of the project they’re focused on. For example, if there’s a way to make spreadsheets more efficient or processes more productive, the team members know how. It’s tempting to stick with protocol because you know that works well. But these days the world moves so fast nobody can afford to stay with a status quo for too long. So instead, make it a policy to listen to new ideas (you could structure appropriate time periods for this, too), and this will tell everyone they’re a valuable part of the team. Give the good ideas a try; you never know what might happen—other than the team becomes more invested in their work and the project outcome, for starters.

Lean Tip #1803 - Develop An Environment of Constant Learning

Encourage your employees to explore new techniques for achieving their individual objectives as well as those set by the company. As you allow them to make mistakes and learn from them, ensure that you also reward fresh and innovative ideas. Of course, it’s important to manage the amount of mistakes that are made so that the job is still getting done satisfactorily. The goal is to strike a balance that allows your employees to effectively get their job done while giving them the freedom to discover new methods that could lead to improvements. When you establish this type of atmosphere, you’ll find that your workplace will improve more rapidly because individuals are discovering their best systems and everyone is constantly contributing to the improvement of the company’s system.

Lean Tip #1817 - 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 #1871 - Encourage Safe Failure

Many employees, by their very nature, are risk-adverse.  That's why they are employees and not entrepreneurs. If they work in an environment where the boss is always correcting them before they have a chance to execute, they will constantly look for approval before taking action or, worse, simply avoid any new or dynamic action. Give employees the opportunity to try new things in a way that doesn't put the company in danger. Create milestone checkpoints or set up laboratory environments where people can test new ideas and learn from the failures as well as the successes. Then your employees will gain understanding and feel comfortable innovating.

Lean Tip #1886 - Show Employees You Trust Them
The first sure way to motivate and inspire your employees is to demonstrate that you have faith in their abilities to get the job done. You can do this by assigning them more responsibilities and giving them the chance to rise to the challenge. Doing so shows that you trust them, which has a way of motivating people to keep doing their best.

Micromanaging your employees and hovering over their shoulders at every step is counterproductive because it makes them nervous. If your employees are too afraid to try new things, they won’t be giving you their best. Give them greater autonomy and responsibility and they will rise to the occasion.

Lean Tip #1887 - Invest In Your Employees
Another way to inspire and motivate your employees is by investing in them. Offering things like tuition reimbursement, a mentoring program, one-on-one coaching, and job shadowing with people in higher positions sends a clear message: you care about their career and their future. Some companies, in fact, have periodic meetings with their employees to discuss their career paths and make sure they stay on track.

Aside from improving skills and increasing staff knowledge, this kind of investment in employee career pathing gives them a reason to stay with the company for the long haul rather than be on the lookout for a better offer.

Invest in your employees, and you’ll give them a reason to stick around. When your employees grow and improve, so does the company.

Lean Tip #1940 – Prioritize Tasks To Focus On Important Ones 
Work on one task at a time, starting a new one only once the previous one has been completed. Juggling tasks has been scientifically proven to “decrease the performance of workers, raising the chances of low output, long duration of projects and exploding backlogs”.

Having the resolve to stick with one task is actually not that simple, especially when people are pestering you to lend a hand with theirs. You have to know when to say no to colleagues and even your boss.

The Pareto principle (or the 80/20 rule) observes that most things in life aren’t distributed evenly. In business terms, this could mean that 80pc of your revenue comes from 20pc of your customers or that 80pc of your bonus depends on 20pc of your responsibilities.

Decide which tasks are most important to you and then focus the majority of your energy on them.

Lean Tip #1946 - Help the Employees Identify What's in It for Them to Make the Change. 
A good portion of the normal resistance to change disappears when employees are clear about the benefits the change brings to them as individuals.

Benefits to the group, the department, and the organization should be stressed, too. But, nothing is more important to an individual employee than to know the positive impact on their own career or job.

Additionally, employees must feel that the time, energy, commitment, and focus necessary to implement the change are compensated equally by the benefits they will attain from making the change.

Happier customers, increased sales, a pay raise, saved time and steps, positive notoriety, recognition from the boss, more effective, productive employees, and an exciting new role or project are examples of ways in which you can help employees feel compensated for the time, energy, focus, change, and challenge that any change requires.

Lean Tip #1959 - Innovation: Be a Courageous Change Agent
For teams to innovate, leaders must challenge each team member to think more critically and see through a lens of continuous improvement.  Looking through this lens requires the mindset of a “courageous enabler” – one who takes charge and embraces the role of a change agent in support of constructive disruption that ultimately makes things operate better and improves performance.

Every leader must become a change agent or face extinction.  As such, their teams must equally be charged to do the same.  Accepting the role of a change agent means taking on an entrepreneurial attitude, embracing risk as the new normal, and beginning to see opportunity in everything. As you do, innovation becomes second nature.

Lean Tip #2000 - Learn From Your Mistakes. 
No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them. Be willing to accept the blame and move on. Use your errors to make adjustments to the way things are done so that the same mistake does not happen again. Constantly be looking for ways to grow and improve. 


By making a conscious effort to improve yourself and your leadership abilities, you can make a positive impact on your company. Not only can it increase productivity and efficiency, it can lead to greater employee satisfaction. Start making changes today for a better tomorrow.

These 10 Lean tips can help you with your journey in 2019. What advice would you share for the New Year?

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Top 10 Posts From 2018


The end of the year is traditionally a time to look back and reflect. One way to reflect is to evaluate popular blog posts. I have been taking time to reflect on the year that was and as part of that reflection I have flipped back through the 150 blog posts I have written so far this year and compiled a list of my Top 10.


  1. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - Book review by Patrick Lencioni, central theory is that there are 5 key elements to a cohesive team.
  2. Five Guidelines on Effective 5 Why Analysis - Asking why 5 times: “the 5 Whys”, is a simple but powerful tool to use with any problem solving activity.
  3. Think and Lead Like a Coach Not a Boss - Major differences between a boss and a coach.
  4. 9 Team Roles for High Performance Teams - 9 roles outlined in the Belbin team roles model and the descriptions that explain the scope of each role.
  5. Creating an Environment of Teamwork - 5 tips to make teamwork happen in your workplace.
  6. The Leadership Code: Five Rules of Leadership - Review of guidebook to help readers be better leaders themselves and simultaneously help them build better leadership in their organizations. 
  7. 8 Ways to Keep Your Employees Motivated and Engaged - Eight ways to keep your employees motivated and engaged.
  8. The Changing Role of Employees In a Lean Organization -  Abilities that are essential for a worker to possess in Lean manufacturing environment.
  9. The Six Dimension of Servant Leadership - An effective leader is one who is highly effective in six major dimensions of accomplishment in working with others,
  10. Five Ways to Find Time for Continuous Improvement - 5 ways to build continuous improvement into your business.


What were some of your favorite Lean posts from 2018? Any recommendations for next year?


Thanks for your continued readership in 2018. I hope you enjoy the holiday season and go on to achieve Lean success in 2019.

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