Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lean Roundup #104 – January, 2018


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

How to Win at New Year’s Resolutions – Jon Miller shares a few tips on how to win at New Year’s resolutions.

Encouraging Organizational Learning – Lori Fry shares essential behaviors that drive a culture of organizational learning.

Why Start the New Year with Blank Charts? – Mark Graban explains that just because it’s a new year it doesn’t mean you need a new system and your charts and metrics should reflect that.

The Secret to Your Success in 2018 – Ron Pereira talks about goal setting in the New Year.

When Teams Don’t Finish Work in a Sprint: 3 Tips to Seeing and Finishing Work – Johanna Rothman provides three tips you can do if your team doesn’t finish work inside a sprint.

Reflections on True North – Pascal Dennis discusses strategy, philosophy, and the next cycle for True North.

Contemplation: A Change Practice - Bill Kirkwood shares thoughts the practice of contemplation and why it is important to be open and ask hard questions.

The Value of Muda – Jon Miller says in life, nothing is muda if we continue to learn and improve.

The Lean Journey Starts with Appreciating the Business as a System – Gregg Stocker discusses business systems and the importance of understanding these systems for continuous improvement.

Solving the Lean Transformation Problem – Bob Emiliani talks about his part in studying lean transformation and shares I research on the topic.

Innovation, Logistics, and Lean – Michel Baudin discusses why logistics information overpowers the innovation information in Lean thinking.

Big Decisions Don’t Lead to Results – Steve Kane discusses the process of making daily decisions and their alignment with your goals and principles.


Doing Versus Being – How Mindfulness Supports Better Lean Thinking – Mike Orzen talks about learning how to move from "doing" lean to the more creative and less stressful state of “being” Lean.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Educating New Hires to Your Lean Culture


Every organization that has implemented Lean is faced with the issue of how to train new employees so they fully understand the organizational culture and its approach to continuous improvement. Passing along your organizational culture to new employees is as important as any aspect of their training. An effective employee not only understands your organizational culture, but embraces it while performing his duties. There are a number of ways to pass your improvement culture to new employees, beginning at the genesis of their employment.

Share the Vision.
New employees won’t understand what is important unless you tell them. Share the company’s vision and strategy with new hires immediately. Create and align their goals with the vision and strategy of the company. Let your employees know how they will benefit from embracing the vision.

Introduce Them to Lean Principles.
Introduce your new employees to the tools that you use to structure your improvement initiatives right off the bat. This signals how seriously the organization is committed to the Lean methodology. Taking the time to explain all of the acronyms, Japanese words, and process improvement tools will help your new hire acclimate quicker. 

Get Them Involved in Kaizen
There is no better way to learn then by doing and that’s what kaizen is all about. The idea behind Kaizen is that all employees are actively engaged in the regular, incremental improvement of the company. Kaizen involves every employee - from upper management to operators. Everyone is encouraged to come up with improvements on a regular basis. Having them involved on a kaizen in the beginning gets them to use the tools you’ve taught but also the approach to how you solve problems.

By developing this foundation of every employee having knowledge and understanding of the basic principles and philosophies of Lean you’ll indoctrinate them from the beginning. Those early interactions with your company set the tone for the relationship that can last for years to come. The employee’s level of engagement over the long term can be impacted by how you introduce them to your Lean culture. An impactful introduction of your Lean culture can make all the difference.


What way’s do you introduce your Lean culture to new hires?

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Lean Quote: Focus on the Future By Acting Today

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.


"The future depends on what you do today." — Mahatma Gandhi

This is a powerful message and one that especially resonates with me. All our dreams and our aspirations can only come true if we do something about them.

Every time we put something off, the excuse is some variation of the same: "I'll get to it later. I won't be long. I've got plenty of time." Once that moment is gone, though, it's gone forever.

While it may be tempting to think that it's okay to put something off, the truth is you'll never get those minutes back. You can allocate future time to doing tasks you could do now, but that's essentially spending on credit.

Many organizations are waiting for the optimum time to change.  Unfortunately, tomorrow never comes.  If you allow it you will always find another distraction.  There is never a better time to start than now.  We really must invest every day in our future since you can't get back lost time.

We can’t expect immediate result, especially if we’re not doing anything. Whatever we want to be part of our future depends on what we are willing to do in the present. Just like what the quote above says, “The future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow.”

Don’t spend your time trying to wait till things are perfect. Perfection is elusive. It is more important to get started. And it's better to get something done imperfectly than to do nothing perfectly.


If you want a bright future then you need to act now, not tomorrow or the next week. Time is the essence here. Losing a day, a week, or a few months can significantly affect our future. So stop wasting your days. Make it happen today!


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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Lean Tips Edition #119 (1786-1800)

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 #1786 - Review your 2017 Goals and Objectives.
Before you start thinking about 2018, you should think about how 2017 went for you. When we look back on the previous year, we can see areas we succeeded in and areas that need to be worked on in the new year.

Think about the goals you reached, the successes you had, the struggles you encountered, and more. Then, think about what you wish you could have done better and the areas you struggled with.

By completing this step, you'll be able to better figure out what you need to do in 2018 in order to have a successful year.

Lean Tip #1787 - Make Sure Your 2018 Goals are SMART.
You should always make sure that any goal you set for 2018 is SMART.

A SMART goal is:

Specific – What is your goal? Is it specific enough or is it too broad? What needs to be done for you to achieve your goal? Why do you want to reach your goal?
Measurable – How can you measure your progress? How will you know if you’re on track?
Attainable – Can your goal actually be achieved?
Realistic/relevant – Can you achieve your goal? Is the goal worth it?
Time – What’s your time frame for reaching your goal?

This is extremely important when setting 2018 goals because by doing this, you are ensuring that your goals are realistic and attainable.

Lean Tip #1788 - Write Down Your 2018 Goals and Objectives.
Writing down your business and personal goals for 2018 is a very important part goal setting.

Completing this step can help you remember your goal and why you want to achieve it. If I don’t write something down or have it in front of me on a regular basis, I tend to forget about it.

If you can’t remember your 2018 goals, it would be very hard to achieve them. I suggest that you think about:

·       Making a vision board.
·       Putting post-its around your home that list your yearly goals.
·       Placing reminders on your phone, calendar, or whatever else you use for your to-do list.

Lean Tip #1789 - Create a Plan to Reach Your 2018 Goals.
If you want to stay motivated with your goals, then one of the first things you should do is to create a plan on how you will reach your goals for 2018.

A plan can help you focus on the steps it will take to reach your goal, instead of feeling like you are all over the place.

Your plan should detail the steps you need in order to reach your goal, what will happen as you reach each step, when and how you will track your progress, and more. Being detailed with your plan will help you reach your goal and be successful.

Lean tip #1790 - Break Your Goal Apart Into Smaller Goals for 2018.
A year can feel like a long time to reach your goals, and you may forget about them or become overwhelmed with the work it will take to reach them.

One way to approach your 2018 goals is to think of 12 separate goals that relate to an overall goal, one for each month of the year. Basically, each month would be a step that gets you closer to your overall goal.

This can be a great way to stay motivated while seeing the progress you are making towards your overall goal, and you'll know exactly what you need to do in order to be successful.

Lean Tip #1791 - Realign Your Team After The New Year
After the holidays, it can be tough to get back into the swing of things. While your employees might try to wade back into the depths of their responsibilities, you can’t afford to waste too much time. At the same time, however, you don’t want to overwhelm your team, either.

Start the New Year by reviewing where you all left off before the break. Discuss what has been going well, and where there is room for improvement. Once everyone is back on the same page, start looking forward.

Lean Tip #1792 - Streamline Your Processes
While you’re assessing your productivity from the past year, start tweaking your processes to help your team better reach its goals.

Analyze each step of your day-to-day processes, and try to figure out where you can save time, money or other resources. If you can save a minute here, or a dollar there, you could end up saving countless hours and thousands of dollars over the course of the next year.

Not only that, but by streamlining your processes and decreasing the amount of “hang-ups” your team faces, your employees will be more apt to dive in and get to work.

Lean Tip #1793 - Improve Communication In Your Business.
Effective communication is vital to business success. Encourage your employees to share their thoughts about the past and the future. Provide several ways they can communicate with you, from regular team and one-on-one meetings to an online chat platform. Have an open-door policy and be open to receiving honest feedback and ideas. Set the tone for consistent and transparent communication.

Lean Tip #1794 - Focus on Education & Development
Learning a relevant new skill will make you a more efficient leader, and the same is true for your employees. By focusing on education and growth throughout the year, you can improve operational efficiency, increase product/service quality, and foster an innovative and creative environment. Further, the opportunity to improve or develop new skill sets can translate to employees who are more confident and satisfied in their current position.

Lean Tip #1795 - Build Your Strategy With Your Team
What do you want your business to achieve next year? Be SMART, set goals rather than make resolutions. Especially in business, there is a difference between a goal and a resolution. Resolutions are things you keep, goals are things you attain. Nearly all successful business owners use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based) goals to achieve their goals.

Once you have goals for your business, it’s crucial to get your team on board. Schedule a planning and strategy meeting with your employees, colleagues, and support system to create the plans you need to reach those goals.

Lean Tip #1796 - Engage in Meaningful Dialog
When you make the effort to connect with your team members in person—individually and as a group—you’re establishing a position of caring that motivates individuals in all sorts of crazy-good ways. It’s easy to send short messages in emails, and then rely on these small exchanges for most of your communication. Or, you can focus on what needs to get done next and forget to take a breath, look around, and get to know your employees. Don’t fall into this rut. Instead, ask your team members about their immediate goals and project interests as well as their career objectives.

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 #1798 – Celebrate Team Successes Publicly.
Buy everyone the same t-shirt or hat. Put team member names in a drawing for company merchandise and gift certificates. Take the team out to lunch or order in pizza. Let the team members share their success story at your weekly company meeting. You are limited in the ways that you can celebrate teamwork only by your imagination.

Lean Tip #1799 – Assign Serious Team Goals
Give your teams really important assignments and projects, not just planning for next summer's annual company picnic. Bring teams in when you're looking at new trends in the market, or need to see things through new eyes. It's important to mix it up and not have the same people making the same decisions all the time. Ask them to challenge the status quo and the conventional wisdom. This will help to keep your company fresh and ahead of the game.

Lean Tip #1800 – Encourage Informal Teams
More work in organizations is accomplished through informal teams than formal ones. It's therefore in your interest to encourage the proliferation of informal teams throughout your company, addressing any and all issues and opportunities that capture their interest. When your employees are able to tackle concerns themselves, without elevating every little decision to top management, you'll have a much more efficient organization.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Guest Post: 3 Common Safety Mistakes in the Workplace


Safety is not as complicated as it truly seems. Many mistakes in the workplace are easily avoidable. Do you manage or run a business that finds itself overwhelmed by accidents and incidents and do not know where to begin? There is good news. Three common mistakes in the workplace that jeopardize safety are often very avoidable and easy to contain. Ignoring minor injuries, not employing a safety-first mindset and fatigued/dehydrated personnel are three common influences that can be easily remedied. Here is how:

1.       Ignoring Minor Injuries – No injury is minor. Whether it is a sprain, strain or simple cut, all injuries must be evaluated and assessed appropriately. It begins with proper antiseptic and antibiotic treatments of cuts to avoid infection as these can result in catastrophic consequences if unabated. Furthermore, working with a sprain or strain can only intensify the injury if it is not given the appropriate rest, isolation, compression and attention. It is imperative to utilize the appropriate first aid practices if you find any employee hurt or injured no matter how small.

2.       Not Employing A Safety-First Mentality – This may seem like a repetitive principle but nonetheless it holds truth. Safety-first is more than a mentality, it is a way of life. It is an attitude that implores personnel to think of safety before anything else in the workplace. This often transforms and transcends leading to best practices that result in a transformative culture. A safety-first mentality means assuring protocols are observed, standards are met and behaviors are fostered. Failing to do so often leads to complacency which leads ultimately to an increase in avoidable accidents, incidents and injuries as a result of a lax attitude towards overall safety. Don’t slip up and don’t let up on being safety champions.

3.       Fatigued and Dehydrated Employees – This is a matter that is often overlooked and in many cases understated so we will once again reiterate the fact that it is a serious issue that can yield potentially deadly outcomes. The greatest obstacle most workers face is fatigue and dehydration. The sad truth is this can be easily avoided. A tired or dehydrated forklift operator or general laborer is far more likely to get injured, endure heat stroke or even improperly handle any material hazardous or otherwise. This can ultimately place all other workers at risk.  It is essential that management and leadership implore and champion the appropriate frequency of breaks to ensure all workers are hydrated and ready to perform. This is especially true on hot summer days where it is imperative to take frequent breaks and drink enough water over the course of the day. In addition, it is also prudent for all employees to attempt to sleep eight hours per night to assure adequate energy for the next work day. While this cannot be enforced it should be promoted. Assuring workers also get adequate time to recover and replenish through food is also another safeguard that should be taken seriously.


About the Author: Tom Reddon is a forklift specialist and blog manager for the National Forklift Exchange. He also sits on the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) Executive Dialogue team. Follow him on Twitter at @TomReddon.





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Friday, January 19, 2018

Lean Quote: Learn From Past

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.


"We can draw lessons from the past but we cannot live in it." — Unknown

Look back at the previous year. Assess what went well and what didn’t, and find takeaways from both, the mistakes and successes. Review your business plan and make updates. Were there big moves you wanted to make last year but didn’t? Take a hard look at where you’ve been, and perhaps where you wanted to go but didn’t, so you can better know where you should be heading.

Unless people reflect on what they learn, they run the risk of completing a string of disconnected activities.  Try these tips to enhance learning:

•Before an activity, tell them what you believe they can learn from the experience.
•Talk with them about what they are learning.
•Use effective, open-ended questions to help them fully realize what they learned from the experience.
•Discuss with them how they will translate what they learned into new situations and opportunities.

Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. History, recent and otherwise, is filled with examples of successful business models and spectacular business failures. Think about what the people you admire do well, and consider what went wrong for those who end their careers mired in scandal or disgrace. Lessons can be found everywhere.

Great leaders -- indeed, great people -- are constantly learning and always trying to improve themselves. There’s always something that you can work on or a new skill to master. Be sure to keep your mind open to new ideas and possibilities.


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Creating an Environment of Teamwork


Many departments do not operate as teams—that is, “practice teamwork.” Members may talk to each other at the printer or over lunch, and their work efforts may be designed to meet the overarching objectives of the department, but these employees’ work on a day-to-day basis is largely done as individuals, which is unfortunate, for many business experts now believe that teamwork is critical to organization productivity and profitability.

To get the most out of your employees, you have to create a work environment for teamwork. Try these 5 tips to make teamwork happen in your workplace:

1.     Set Realistic Expectations
When expectations are not clearly set, and the roles not clearly defined and understood, the team won’t be able to focus on the tasks and goals. The success of the team in many ways depends on realistic expectations.

To transform a group of strangers in a united team, you also need to allow the team to take part in forming and decision-making, and an opportunity to present their ideas and get support for the same.

2.     Build Strong Leadership
A failure or success at collaborating reflects the company's leadership. If the leaders and managers have an innovative approach to team building, demonstrate collaborative behavior, support creativity and social relationships, teams are focused and efficient, and they achieve results and perform well. Innovative leaders, who are supportive, flexible, and task- and relationship-oriented, lead the most productive teams.

3.     Create an Environment of Trust
Innovation and creativity thrive when people trust each other and have trust in their organization. To get your team communicate freely and easily, one needs to build an environment of trust. If employees don’t feel trusted and respected, they will not participate or share their ideas.

The fear of being ridiculed is a great threat to innovation and success. If you promote team’s autonomy, you are supporting your team to discover better ways of accomplishing goals. While autonomy can result in mistakes and misjudgment, it’s essential to have a team who is ready to learn from their mistakes and inefficiencies.

4.     Invest in your employees’ skills and expertise
The company that supports their employees through seminars, mentoring, coaching and participation in relevant conferences and events, empowers collaborative behavior, supports community and promotes the environment in which people know they can excel. Such company’s policy is especially important for teamwork. The most productive employees are those ready to learn and improve in their field of interest.

5.     Provide Team Resources
No matter how talented a company's individuals might be, teams cannot be successful without the proper resources. Teams need a designated and available place where they can regularly meet. Nothing much can be achieved in an over-crowded lunch room. All employees need to be given adequate time to devote to their team meetings, with no grief from supervisors. And make sure to supply your teams with an appropriate budget if required, and the permission--with guidance--to spend it as they see best for the company.


Employee teams are one of the best ways to get things done in any business. When you take a group of independently talented people and create a team in which they can merge their talents, not only will a remarkable amount of energy and creativity be released, but their performance, loyalty and engagement will be greatly improved.

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