Monday, July 30, 2018

Lean Roundup #110 – July, 2018


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

How Leaders Sabotage Lean – Bob Emiliani shares some ways that leaders can sabotage Lean to impede progress or subtly signal process improvement work has little or no value.

Excelize Me: 4 Myths & 4 Realities of Racing to Automate – Bruce Hamilton debunks a few IoT myths, Industry 4.0, our next industrial revolution from Lean implementers.

Thinking About Thinking – Kevin Meyer shares three books that have expanded my view of how the world around us can influence how we think, and they have made me wonder about the impact on observation, discovery, and problem solving.

Value in an Age of Endless Innovation – Pascal Dennis explains value is no longer a fixed star, but a constantly moving & evolving entity.

Problem: What Does Maintenance Cost? – Mark Rosenthal answers the question of maintenance costs and impact on production.

Shorter Feedback Loops Help Us Learn Faster – Johanna Rothman says the shorter the feedback loop, the faster and more often we can learn.

Automation Opportunities for Increased Production - Megan Ray Nichols explains the future of manufacturing lies in automating your facility, which will increase productivity while it benefits your employees.

Manufacturing Inventory and Technology – It’s About Time - Dave Turbide talks about how technology contributes to reducing inventory through increased visibility.

What is the science in Lean? | Jeffrey Liker | The Leadership Network - Michel Baudin says Lean is not as much about science as it is about technology and management.

Lean Retrospective – Bob Emiliani says after nearly 25 years of study, practice, and teaching the Toyota production system and Lean management, it is time for a quick look back.

Unlocking the Power of Continuous Improvement – Ron Pereira explains the power of continuous improvement comes when we aren’t obsessed about the long term challenge… instead, when we’re only focused on that single obstacle standing between us and our short term target condition. 

What do you do when people won’t follow the process? - Paul Akers discusses how to deal with people who don’t follow the process.

The Catch-22 of #Lean & Kaizen: You Get More ROI by NOT Focusing Only on High-ROI Projects – Mark Graban says executives want big returns and high ROI but, at the core of Lean, is "Kaizen," which means allowing everybody to do small improvements even if there isn't big ROI.

Ask Art: Why Should I Be Able to Make Every Product Every Day? – Art Byrne says use “every product every day” as a key objective and guiding principle and you will be amazed at what can happen.


Thinking About Waste Helps Build A Learning Culture Everywhere – Sammy Obara creating a culture where people think about continually removing waste, regardless of the current health or prosperity of a company, plays a key role in making lean succeed.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Lean Quote: Weed the Garden, A Lesson In Priorities

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.


"When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority." — Karen Martin, The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence

We often feel pushed to be all things to all people. We’ve probably worked in institutions, organizations, and teams where we felt a need to affirm and operationalize our commitment to everything. However, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

I was in a leadership workshop where another participant described setting priorities as weeding the garden. He wanted to eliminate the things that he didn’t value so that the things that he did could grow. I love the metaphor and often think of it when I am feeling overwhelmed. Weed the garden.

A previous boss once encouraged me to find a way to do less, so that I can be more. I use this often with my staff. I also think of it when I find myself losing my way as a leader, parent, partner, etc. Do less, so you can be more.

The 80/20 principle is key to prioritization. The rule suggests that 80% of the things that you do bring only 20% of the results. So what if you focused on the 20% that contributed to 80% of the results. These high payoff activities have the most impact on our success now and in the future. The key is picking and focusing on the powerful 20% and letting the rest go. What if you spent 80% of your time on that powerful 20%?

How will you weed the garden?


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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Guest Post: 7 Tips for Effective Project Coordination


Project Coordinators wear multiple hats. They need to undertake the role of a manager, mediator, trouble shooter, and reporter all at the same time. 

Project managers define the project from inception to delivery. Project coordinators, on the other hand, ensure an effective project development cycle.

The project coordinator is the central point of contact and information: the team, project managers and stakeholders. This can result in a tedious process.

Managing a project well can save a project coordinator from facing unnecessary phases of stress and chaos. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial for the project coordinator to be as meticulous and thorough about the process.  

Take a look at these tips to make your project coordination easy.

1. Stay Organized
Michelle Long has helped many companies recruit project coordinators. A Technical Recruiter at Vaco Technology, she once shared that the main thing recruiters look for in a project coordinator is being organized.[1]

As a project coordinator, you need to be on schedule. Clearly define the timeline and have it communicated clearly to the team.

Keep records of the team and the tasks assigned. Make sure you know exactly when what is to be done and keep a log of alternative solutions.

2. Manage Change
When asked about change management, Frank Calderoni said he believed that all companies have to change at some point. We couldn’t agree more with this CEO of business planning/forecasting platform provider at Anaplan.

It is important to be ready to adopt it and be well prepared to manage through it.

Jaimin Doshi is the principal consultant at AppleTech Consultants. Doshi advises to keep track of critical changes and managing them to keep your projects under control. Not only that, you should be aware of minor changes that can be postponed lest they add up substantial hours of unnecessary work.

3. Encourage Communication
Look for processes that can limit or improve the project flow. When you do find them, take initiative and inform the relevant authority.

Unfortunately, the reason for failure of 57% of projects is breakdown in communications.

Which is why it is important to communicate the issues at hand and those that are likely to happen. Discuss possible alternatives with the team and update the schedule.

4. Promote Trust
When teams work together on projects, there is inevitable level of information exchange. Getting the right information at the right time is crucial to efficient project delivery.

According to a study, if your team members trust one another, they are more ready to share knowledge and to communicate. Unfortunately, only half of employees in a company claim to trust staff working above and alongside them.

It is important that your team trusts you enough to approach you for issues or ideas. Maintain a friendly approach and welcome out-of-the-box input.

5. Implement a Framework
Make coordinating your projects easier by implementing a project management framework, such as SCRUM or XP.

These frameworks provide standards for executing the project management life cycle. They define meeting schedules, daily follow up and autonomy amongst the team.  

Also, predefined activity logs for multiple projects encourage faster execution of regular tasks. This, in turn, avoids unnecessary problems and time wastage.

6. Understand your Team
To enable a smooth project delivery, it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team.

The CEO of PsychsoftPC, Dr. Tim Lynch declares this to be one of the most important things in keeping projects under control.

It will help you assess the team members need minimal supervision and those that need to be managed.

7. Use a Management Tool
You can try a project management tool to plan out the project. There are some excellent options for online tracking tools that save you physical space as well.

Using such a tool can help eliminate the tedious and time consuming tasks of the entire project development lifecycle.

The team can even follow up on and exchange information on their own through easy collaboration platforms.

What’s more is that everything would be in one place: the plans, the activities define, the teams assigned and the project progress report. This is especially handy when you have to assess a project flow or assess the best and worst practices for future projects.


Do you have any project coordination experiences you would like to share? Tips maybe? Let us know, in the comments below.

About the Author: Fred Wilson is an Agile & Software Consultant at nTask. I work with teams to streamline workflows and enhance team collaboration. I am an avid reader and often write about productivity, project management and collaboration.



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Monday, July 23, 2018

Guest Post: Motivation vs. Self-Discipline – Which Is the Key to Habit Formation

Habit formation is a time-consuming and tough process. Many factors need to be taken into account, the most crucial of which are motivation and self-discipline.

Some may claim that motivation alone is enough, while others swear that self-discipline works better when it comes to forming a new habit. So, which is more effective: discipline or motivation?

To figure it out, let’s dwell more on the difference between these two concepts.

The Essence of Self-Discipline
The experts at Inc. have compared self-discipline to willpower: self-discipline is a great ability that enables you to push yourself and do something that is planned. The same is with willpower. The stronger the power of will you have, the more persistent you become.

Unfortunately, willpower, as well as self-discipline, have turned out to be an exhaustible resource. According to the American Psychological Association, self-discipline often involves depriving yourself of something, which eventually takes a toll on your mental health.

This effect is called “ego depletion” and it has been known to psychologists since the 1998 study by Baumeister, Mark Muraven, Dianne Tice and Ellen Bratslavsky. They discovered that strict self-discipline that involves self-limitation inevitably leads to frustration and loss of interest to the goal that has been set.

Everyone has faced ego depletion at least once in a lifetime. The most common one is when students are so tired of tons of assignments that they try to figure out how to get out of doing homework. This is the reason why students came up with “My dog ate my homework” excuses and ask for assignmenthelp. Self-discipline can sometimes put too much pressure on our minds, and if we don’t fuel our brain with something, it will eventually refuse to comply.

The Essence of Motivation
Motivation is a popular concept nowadays. You can see it everywhere: in TV commercials, on billboards and in tons of articles on the Internet. If a potential employee doesn’t have a word ‘motivated’ in a resume, he or she probably won’t get hired.

Nike Motivation Poster. Image Source: Pinterest

Motivation is defined by psychologists as a process that launches, directs and sustains a certain activity aimed at reaching a particular goal. Motivation can also be called a power that guides us and helps us accomplish our goals.

Motivation is an important aspect of forming a habit. However, like self-discipline, motivation is also an exhaustible resource. The primary reason for losing the motivation is because it is attached to our emotions, which also tend to burn out.

Emotional burnout and lack of motivation can be observed, when a person, who wants to lose weight and is determined to go to the gym the night before, wakes up completely unmotivated the next morning. There’s a limit to our emotions and to the ability to motivating ourselves.

  • Autonomy: researchers from the University of Rochester determined that when people get in charge of something and take on the responsibility, they feel more motivated. You can see a close connection between motivation and self-discipline here, as you get motivated once you discipline yourself to do something and to be in charge of something;
  • Value: when you stay committed to your values and beliefs, you feel more motivated to pursue something. Psychologists from the University of Maryland have found that the students who felt committed to a certain subject, also felt motivated to pursue a more in-depth research;
  • Competence: the more time you spend on learning something and the more knowledge you gain, the better is your motivation. Competence fuels confidence, and confidence triggers motivation.

As you can see, motivation is a resource that also needs to be constantly “refilled” and fueled. And when it comes to forming a habit, all the three elements of sustaining motivation are crucial.

Say, if you want to get a habit of going for a run every morning, you need to:
  • take charge of it yourself, as no one else will do it for you. Only you are responsible for your own health
  • value the major principle behind it: you want to get healthier
  • competence: the longer you commit to your new habit, the more competence you get and the better your health becomes.

These three elements only work in conjunction, and they bring you motivation as a result.

So which one to choose?
Both. As both motivation and self-discipline are exhaustible resources, you can use both of them as fuel for each other. Motivation and its three elements of sustainability can trigger self-discipline, and self-discipline pushes you to stick to these principles and supports your motivation.

After carefully analyzing, what experts say about both motivation and self-discipline, it’s hardly possible to vote in favor of only one of them. Both motivation and self-discipline are crucial when it comes to forming a habit.


About The Author: Lucy Benton is a writing coach, an editor who finds her passion in expressing own thoughts as a blogger. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. Also Lucy has her own writing blog https://prowritingpartner.com where you can check her last publications. If you’re interested in working with Lucy, you can find her on Twitter.

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Lean Quote: Value Means More Than 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.


"Try Not to Become a Man of Success. Rather Become a Man of Value." — Albert Einstein

Success is something that can be judged based upon achievement of goals. However someone who is successful does not necessarily have to give anything valuable to the world.

Value is something that can be measured based upon what an individual has contributed to the world.

Examples of success:
A politician that is elected to a high level of office can be considered successful politician.
A business man that makes a lot of money in the stock market is considered a successful stock broker.
An athlete that wins a gold medal in the Olympics is considered a successful athlete.
Albert Einstein achieved many great accomplishments in physics during his lifetime, and is therefore considered a successful physicist.

Examples of value:
Einstein invented the wheel, and the wheel is used by nearly all human beings living on the planet; therefore he has contributed something of extraordinary value to society, and is hence a valuable person.
Einstein synthesized the polio vaccine, which has been used to rid much humanity of a horrible disease, hence he is a person of value to society.
Through his theory of general relativity Albert Einstein fundamentally changed our view of gravity, and it's mechanics, clarifying many previously misunderstood concepts, and natural phenomena; hence he has been of great value to humanity, and more specifically to the field of physics.

A leader of value measures success by his or her ability to consequently do their best within their definition of priority. A person of success may be valued. But a focus on success outcomes relies on an external benchmark…a measure against arbitrary criteria.


Having made the distinction between the two, it is also important to understand that "success" and "values" are not polar opposites. They can exist simultaneously in the one who is successful as a result of their commitment to principle. Success becomes the outcome of values rather than its own singular objective.

Throughout history, the people who change the way we think, and live, and the people who influence our lives most have been men of value rather than men of success. Though it should be noted that most people of value can also be considered successful, due to the value of their contributions to the world.

There's nothing wrong with success, but oftentimes it's easy to lose sight of who you are when you're successful. If you keep your eyes on your own values, you'll end up both successful and a good person, which is a pretty good combination.

Einstein's quote does not preclude becoming successful (after all, he himself was both), but exhorts value creation as being a higher priority.

It also subtly calls for those who have success but have not yet used it to help other people to pitch in, under the guise of leaving a much longer-lasting legacy.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Lean Tips Edition #127 (1906-1915)

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 #1906 – Establish Goals For Your Team And Ensure They’re Accountable For Getting Their Work Done.
Create accountability for your employees by aligning your team’s goals with company goals. This will allow them to have a better understanding of the big picture and to make more valuable contributions. Working together on strategic initiatives contributes to a shared feeling of success and improves a team’s ability to work together.

Lean Tip #1907 – Be the Leader Your Team Needs and Lead By Example
To improve employee relationships and promote teamwork, resolve interpersonal issues when they arise. Be sure not to let disagreements or hurt feelings fester. Encourage communication by bringing things out into the open and resolving issues as soon as possible.

Lean Tip #1908 – Foster a Collaborative Environment
Your team requires both an open company culture as well as a physical space that encourages collaboration and creativity. These are the elements of an environment that fosters discussion, idea-sharing and brainstorming among team members. Remind your employees that there are no stupid ideas. Establish trust and make sure they feel comfortable sharing ideas without judgment. In other words, provide the space to brainstorm in a way that embraces your team’s diversity, encourages teamwork and is open and non-judgmental.

Lean Tip #1909 – Reward Good Teamwork
Look for ways to acknowledge spirited teamwork on a regular basis. Reward your team for good teamwork by planning non-work related activities. These kinds of events are also great for helping build the team relationship outside the office. They help establish trust and make employees feel like they’re truly part of the team—or the family.

Lean Tip #1910 – Examine and Improve Teamwork Processes and Practices
The team should be able to discuss team norms and what is stopping them from moving forward and progressing as a business. The team’s progress should be reviewed regularly, possibly on a weekly basis, and issues and conflicts dealt with in a productive manner. If a resolution can’t be made, then ask your supervisor for advice and help. Constructive feedback should be given, and should be focused on ideas and behaviors, being positive, and providing suggestions for improving work processes. Everyone should also help each other in developing and using strategies to achieve their goals.

Lean Tip #1911 – Listen To Those Around You
An important trait of any business leader is the ability to listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand and you’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue. Communication is critical to the success of any company and if you as a leader take the time to promote open discourse, your employees will thrive and so will your business.

Lean Tip #1912 – Find Solutions Not Problems
Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team to do the same. In business, you will come across problems, hurdles and challenges (they are unavoidable) but it’s how you overcome those problems as a team that will define your business.

Lean Tip #1913 – Take Risks to Breed Culture of Continuous Improvement
Inspire change and innovation by taking calculated risks – it will demonstrate your commitment to a larger purpose and will breed a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. If those around you see you put your head above the parapet and be counted, they will be encouraged to do the same. This entrepreneurial mindset will catapult your business to new heights.

Lean Tip #1914 – Be Proactive and Persistent
Try, try and then try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your company or team, rather your successes do. As a leader it is your duty to keep morale buoyant and encourage your team to keep plugging away towards the company’s end goals. Set an example for your team by handling challenges in a proactive and constructive way, and show employees through your words and actions that giving up isn’t the adequate response when faced with obstacles.

Lean Tip #1915 - Develop and Support Employees
Leaders are in a position to empower employees and help develop them professionally. By prioritizing opportunities for career development and advancement, leaders can demonstrate their commitment to the wellbeing of their employees.


Supporting employees in developing their soft and technical skills is an important leadership responsibility. Understanding your employees’ aspirations and encouraging them to be creative and take initiative can help them gain experience and take on more responsibilities in the future. Additionally, acknowledge and reward proactive participation to encourage continued progress among employees.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Lean Leaders Meeting at Legrand Wiremold

I wanted to share with everyone a recent article written by Joe Rizzo. Director of the New England Lean Consortium, who visited my place of work recently.

The New England Lean Consortium is a dynamic, member-driven organization dedicated to advancing Lean in all sectors of our economy. Driven by members needs, the NELC can provide the philosophy, tools, and techniques to meet today's business challenges through members serving members, including but not limited to the following sectors: manufacturing, service/transaction, businesses, education, healthcare, and government.



The New England Lean Consortium held its June 2018 Lean Leaders Meeting at Legrand Wiremold in West Hartford, CT, on Thursday, June 28th. This was a Member only meeting as Legrand Wiremold, is not a member of the New England Lean Consortium. The NELC recognizes that not all the best practices in Lean and Operational Excellence reside in the member companies. Therefore, we visit non-member companies that are considered Centers of Excellence, or companies that are well down the road on their Lean Journey. Legrand Wiremold was prominently mentioned in the book, “Lean Thinking” by James Womack and Dan Jones. At the time the company was Wiremold and since been purchased by Legrand of France.



Michael Kijak, Plant Manager, and Timothy McMahon, Lean Champion, provided an extensive tour of the facility, and answered numerous questions along the way. All throughout the plant there was evidence of a strong Lean culture, employee engagement, and the implementation of Lean tools, philosophies and principles.

The plant operates on the philosophy of making a little bit of everything every day. This requires a flexible workforce, short setup times and quick changeovers of equipment. It also requires cells, minimum WIP, good flow, an efficient kanban system, and the extensive use of heijunka boxes to schedule the plant.


Our first stop was at a typical assembly cell, where all the tools, parts, supplies and materials were stored at point of use. Each operator assembled a full unit, to a given TAKT time. The operators kept track of their daily progress with the use of an hour by hour board.
Assembly Cell with "Chase the Rabbit" Technique    

A stamping press with a changeover time of ten to fifteen minutes    


“Pizza slice” listing of PPE requirements in each work area

Collection of Andon lights outside die maintenance shop  

Employee engagement through submission of improving ideas

Kanban cards     


Michael Kijak explaining the cards in the heijunka box


Daily performance indicators with status  

Daily accountability board with tasks and due dates for corrective action

As a reward for allowing the NELC to tour the facility, we conducted a Plus/Delta session to conclude the meeting. The Pluses were all the things that the attendees saw and liked. The Deltas were the improving ideas that the attendees offered to the host company.



As a token of appreciation, Michael was given a copy of a recently published book, “The New Collar Workforce” by Sarah Boisvert.


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