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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Lean Roundup #105 – February, 2018

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

We Don't Make Cars: Applying Lean to Other Industries – Gregg Stocker says focusing on the philosophy and transformation in the way people think and approach the business will make the application to other industries far easier and significantly more successful.

Strategy and the Worlds of Thought & Experience – Pascal Dennis explains that strategy, like all problem solving, entails moving fluidly between the worlds of Thought & Experience.

Three Ways to Think About Value – Johanna Rotham discusses 3 important ways to consider thinking about customer value.

The Seven Losses of High IQ Leadership – Jon Miller shares seven losses that surface when we sub-optimize our leaders for high IQ.

Learn, Grow, Share – Ron Pereira talks about why we must learn, grow, and share.

The Critical Thinking Value of Writing – Kevin Meyer says improving and reinforcing writing skills adds critical thinking value to both the team member and the organization.

Methods Yes, Methodologies No – Michel Baudin contrasts a set methods from learning vs methodologies, way of problem solving.

Form Follows Function – Say What? – Nicole Einbeck says when considering new designs, let lean principles guide your entire project team to transform organizational culture towards a future that consistently seeks to improve operations, improve quality, reduce costs and never loses sight of customer value.

#Lean Can Be Very Fragile, Especially With Executive Changes – Mark Graban discusses why Lean can fall apart with several well know and studied examples.

Do People Feel Comfortable Showing Problems? – Gregg Stocker explains the most common obstacle to successfully deploying lean is failure to appreciate the level of transformation required in behaviors and systems.

When “Resistance to Change” Is Really Something Very Different – Mark Graban says sometimes resistance to change is really resistance to your ideas.

Ask Art: Why do you say the CEO needs to become a lean expert? – Art Byrne explains why the CEO needs to have a deep commitment to lean thinking and practice for a successful lean conversion.

Tips for Proving the Financial Value of Lean to Leadership – Jean Cunningham shares some advice on showing the financial value on lean improvement to management.

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Monday, February 26, 2018

7 Must Have Tools for Lean Factory

There are lots of tools in the tool box of continuous improvement for sure. Out problem solving can be improved by basic application of simple tools. Perhaps there are several simple tools that everyone should have at their disposal. In my experience these tools can help with many Lean efforts including visual management or 5S, value stream and process mapping, daily management and standardization:

Camera. A camera is a great tool document the process. You can use it to share best practices like in single point lessons, create visual standards, or even communicate defects and discrepancy. A picture is worth a 1000 words. Pictures are very effective at visually highlighting the improved appearance and order in the workplace.

Laminator. Customize your own visuals with a laminating machine. The use of visuals helps to ensure that the new standards remain clearly visible, readily understood, and consistently adhered to by all employees long after the Lean or rapid improvement event is over.

Label Maker. The right printing system can be an essential tool for creating an orderly and visually instructive workplace, allowing you to make signs, labels, tags, and more on demand.

Vinyl Chart Tape. Chart tape can be used in charting, plotting, and sectioning off various cells and diagrams. Using magnets as cell markers or placeholders along with a vinyl tape-created chart can turn any magnetic surface, whiteboard or not, into a sleek, low-maintenance chart.

Magnetic Adhesive Tape. Magnetic self adhesive tape is a perfect solution for a variety of signage projects. It is extremely easy to use, just cut, peel and stick. This is perfect for adhering labels, signs, and other visuals to boards and equipment, allowing you to move & reuse them.

Double Sided Tape. Double-sided tape is a versatile tool that comes in handy for many uses including mounting, sealing, and installing. Peel-and-stick adhesive tape can secure materials to a wide range of surfaces, including paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, and metal.

Post-it-notes. Post-it-notes have become a symbol of process mapping especially value stream mapping. Where ever there is a vertical surface you can create a map. They can also be used to identify waste in a cell like a red tag card for a 5S activity. I have even used post-it-notes to do a work balance table by cutting slips to represent the process times of various steps. They are great for daily action item tracking, too.  Post-it-notes are a versatile tool with lots of potential for the creative.

There is no one right tool for every job, but these can be used together to come with many effective improvement solutions. There are low cost, simple to use, and easy to store.  I believe everyone should have these tools in their toolbox.

What items do you find indispensable to your continuous improvement efforts? 

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Lean Quote: Olympic Lessons for Success

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 most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well." — Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympic Games

Like millions of others from around the globe I have been glued to the TV watching the winter Olympics from Sochi. Once again the eyes of the world are on its best and brightest athletes as they attempt to push the human body to new limits, and remind us that our best human qualities — determination, perseverance, innovation, sacrifice, and camaraderie – know no bounds.

As much as the Olympics represent the pinnacle of the sporting world, they are also the source of a number of inspiring stories that showcase both the human spirit and what we can accomplish when we strive to be our best.

To that end, I’d like to share some important lessons for leaders on how to guide their organization to succeed and thrive, regardless of the challenges that stand before them.

Lesson 1: Olympians know no goal is impossible with the right mindset. If you want to succeed, don’t lose sight of your goals. Stay unwaveringly motivated. Your focus determines your results. Focus on the right things.

Lesson 2: When Olympians suffer an inevitable setback, they don’t let themselves succumb to doubts. You can’t compete at the highest levels without inner-confidence. And when you do get a taste of success, don’t rest on your laurels. You have to pivot, hone in on the strengths that have carried you so far, and overcome adversity with perseverance.

Lesson 3: There’s no substitute for surrounding yourself with the best possible team. With the right players, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish. Don’t compromise on talent, and hold yourself to the lofty expectations people will place on you.

Lesson 4: Olympians break through excuses. Many businesses will face immense challenges on the road to success. They will also be presented with opportunities to overcome these challenges. Don’t squander your potential with self-imposed limitations. Don’t make excuses for why you cannot engage more fully. Capitalizing on your chances is a matter of being dedicated and sacrificing for the greater good of the business.

Lesson 5: Olympians never stop learning from mistakes. In business you need to measure everything so you can analyze how to be more effective, more productive, and more profitable in the future. What gets measured gets improved. You never settle for good. You always strive to be great. It’s an attitude of constant improvement.

Lesson 6: Olympians give 100% commitment to their goals. You have to give 100% commitment to what it is you want to achieve. Without a doubt those that are competing have committed themselves 100%. They don’t expect it to be easy and are ready and willing to do what it takes.

To achieve success businesses and leaders within them need to take a long term view. The reality is there is no shortcut to success. These lessons above show how we should approach our leadership and guiding the people we lead towards achieving our shared goals.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

What is Watched Gets Done, Importance of Effective Measures

There is quite a bit of debate about the origin of this little statement. The Renaissance astronomer Rhaticus suggested that if you can measure something, then you have some control over it, and the Hawthorne Effect is a great example of this principle in action.

There are many ways for ensuring that effective measures and supervision is in place in my experience.

First, you must have a business plan and budget. Without the simple and clear statement of goals and objectives you’ll have no idea of why you are observing and where you would like to be.
You must also have good information systems. Your practice software will tell you everything you need to know, but only if you put the right information in to it. Garbage in, garbage out – or ‘GIGO’ definitely applies here. Empty data fields and inaccurate entry are going to sink the ship quickly. 

Know the difference between a measure and a metric. A measure is one quantitative number that counts something, for example; “We made $100,000 sales last quarter”. A metric gives you more information because it compares the measure to some other baseline, for example; “We made $100,000 sales last quarter, $50,000 more than the same quarter last year”. It is also important to look at trends over time. Benchmarks can also be helpful, particularly when discussing differences. A ‘busy’ practice with $500k of sales and four staff, might want to think about the $1.5 million sales practice with five staff.

Understand the difference between an outcome metric and a performance metric. An outcome metric tells you the result of something compared to the past. A performance metric tells you how well the activities are performing that have been determined as future targets.

Know what you want to know before you start measuring things. Sometimes reports are a dumping ground for all the data that’s available, whether it’s useful or not. The information must mean something and lead to a change in actions, tactics or behaviors.

Nobody will achieve their objectives if they have no idea what they are. Staff need to know what their daily, weekly and overall targets are for sales, break-even and the reportable KPIs. They also need feedback. We also need to give them knowledge, resources and support to get there. This is really important.

Measures need to be simple to understand and transparent. People in the business need to understand the measures and how they personally influence these measures. They also need to understand the impact these have on overall business success.

What gets measured gets done and drives business success.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Hawthorne Effect and Productivity

The Hawthorne effect is named after a series of experiments that changed the way we think about work and productivity. While previous studies had already focused on individuals and how their performance could be improved, the Hawthorne experiments placed the individual in a social context for the first time.

The experiments, which took place at Western Electric’s Hawthorne factory (a suburb of Chicago) between mid 1920s and early 1930s, showed that workers are influenced by their surroundings more than they are by their individual abilities.

Because the experiments originally sought out to study the effects of physical conditions on productivity, the researchers began the experiments by increasing the lighting in the work area of a group of workers. Another group of workers, whose lighting was not changed, served as a control group. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the productivity of the workers who got more light increased much more than that of the control group. After all, you can assume that a better lit work area is more conducive to productivity. 

But the twist came when the researchers noticed that no matter what changes they’re implementing, the workers’ productivity continued to go up.

Not only did the researchers change other working conditions, like working hours, rest breaks, and so on. They even dimmed the lights back down to the initial level. Productivity improved in each and every situation – even when the lights were dimmed!

By the time all the changes were reverted to their initial state, productivity was at its highest level, and absenteeism had plummeted.

So the researchers concluded that it wasn’t the actual changes in the working conditions that increased productivity. The workers increased output simply because they were aware that they were under observation from researchers and supervisors.

The Hawthorne Effect is largely about managing employees so they feel more like an integral part of your business. Encouraging employee input into workplace decisions and operational decisions tends to make employees feel more like part of a cohesive team striving to achieve the common goal of making the business more profitable.

The most effective changes are likely to be those that result from employee input. Boosting productivity from your employees is as simple as paying more attention to them and their needs and concerns. Making employees feel more appreciated encourages them to improve their performance.

If companies make an effort to invest in their workers' happiness and well being, they will improve productivity. Investing in better benefits, increased employee support, and improved workplace conditions rather than simply handing out raises yields a bigger return on investment, because time and time again, studies prove that happy employees are more productive employees.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Lean Quote: Lead With Humility

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.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." — President Abraham Lincoln

Monday, is President’s Day, a federal holiday to honor past Presidents of the United States. President "Honest Abe" Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, is one of America's best known presidents, remembered, not just for the key events of his political life but for the arc of his remarkable life story that saw him rise from very humble origins to become President, only to have his life cut short by assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Lincoln's statement is simply profound. Are you a humble leader? Do you try to impress others by letting them know how smart you are? Many of us may do this without even realizing it.

Humility may not be a trait that immediately comes to mind when thinking about leadership strengths. Humility is even considered by some to be more of a weakness than a strength—“Leaders must have backbone! They have to be strong and confident, not meek and subservient!” I don’t think humility is a weakness, I think it is an essential quality of a strong leader. In fact, I think it takes strength to be humble!

It’s OK to share mistakes in order to let others know that we do not have all the answers, to be transparent in the corporate setting and to engage workgroups for the professional and personal growth of everyone involved. Humility nudges us to be inclusive—to be open to varied perspectives which leads to the empowerment of others and ultimately demonstrates courage, ability and confidence.

Humility also enriches our lives and the lives of those around us, making us mindful of our own limitations. It’s an indispensable ingredient to living an abundant life and an essential virtue that forces one to live counter to acceptable norms, requiring a daily decision to let go of one’s ego.
Leaders who embrace humility are able to welcome the input of others and understand that decisions should be made in the best interest of the team or organization. People want their work to be valued, and they also value those who are not dismissive and embrace their positive contributions. The leader who is able to leave their ego at the door, accepts the individual strengths of their team members to work for the overall good or is able to exhibit trust that benefits the entire team, ensuring they’ll be well respected. Any team member will be excitedly loyal and productive when they recognize and know that their leaders are not afraid to work arm in arm with them.

Be a change agent. Lead by example. No matter how much we try to distance ourselves, we are still in need of each other. Our true measure is based on the number of lives we touch and not by the number of things we collect.

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