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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Lean Roundup #113 – October 2018

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

Lean is an Intangible Asset – Bob Emiliani talks about CEOs see Lean as an intangible asset, whether in the form of Lean tools or as a management system, that may or may not produce an income or other financial gain.

Humble Leaders are the Best, Says Lean and now the WSJ – Mark Graban discusses why humble leaders are the most effective leaders.

Three Core Beliefs Fundamental to Standard Work – Jon Miller says there are three core beliefs that create the set the tone or create the cultural environment in which standard work can thrive.

Structured Problem-Solving: Rarely Given the Attention it Deserves – Gregg Stocker shares four main issues that lead to poor problem-solving in an organization.

If You Can't Save 1/10 of a Second, You Can't Save 1 Second – Dan Markovitz shares a story that serves a reminder for leaders that kaizen means *continuous* improvement, not necessarily large improvements.

Strategy in a Time of Explosive Change – Pascal Dennis talks about how you develop and deploy strategy in ‘interesting’ times,

Elimination of Muda is the Key to Efficiency – Pete Abilla describes the 7 types of Muda (waste) from Toyota Production System.

Kata in the Classroom – Ron Pereira talks about his experience teaching “Kata in the Classroom” workshop for a group of 15 students ranging in age from 7 to 13.

What’s the Best Way to Deploy Lean? TPS? DBS? HOS? Other..? – Jon Miller discusses the “best way” for an organization to start or accelerate continuous improvement.

One Way to Improve Your Lean Daily Management Board: From Lists of Numbers to Process Behavior Charts – Mark Graban shares a few photos from a Lean daily management board and what it means.

Ask Art: Does Lean Really Work in A Non-manufacturing Company? – Art Byrne says in his experience non-manufacturing companies gain much more from lean than manufacturing companies do.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Lean Tips Edition #131 (1961-1975)

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 #1961 – Listen to the team.
As leaders, sometimes we are so consumed with providing directive, giving orders, and, well, talking that we forget to stop and listen. If the recruitment and training engine is functioning well, you should have a whole team of experts to turn to for advice. One sign of good leadership is knowing that you don’t know everything. Listen and get feedback from your team regularly.

Lean Tip #1962 – Establish an Impeccable Standard of Excellence.
Set high expectations at the outset and raise the bar on any crucial factors. The best way to establish a standard is by modeling the expected behavior yourself. Showcase excellence. When your actions have the potential to affect everyone around you and the bottom line, don't dabble in mediocrity. Reflecting excellence is critical to exercising effective leadership. This is ground zero for establishing influence.

Lean Tip #1963 – Promote Strategic Cooperation.
People often produce higher quality, more efficient work products when collaborating. Commit to this by actively embracing opportunities for healthy cooperation. Make teamwork an attractive aspect of workplace culture. Less burnout, increased trust among peers and enhanced interpersonal relationships will result.

Lean Tip #1964 – Freely Develop and Support Others.
Professional development is an extraordinary mechanism for facilitating growth. Demonstrate your commitment to expanding your reach and your team's by prioritizing opportunities for enrichment. Allot time and resources to make the process stress free. Challenge yourself and your team to overcome shortcomings at regular intervals throughout the year. Then acknowledge and reward proactive participation to build enthusiasm and encourage continued progress.

Lean Tip #1965 – Establish a Baseline of Excellence.
If you don’t want mediocrity from your team, don’t be mediocre. Whatsoever you do will be watched and emulated, so start with demanding excellence from yourself. Your team will notice, and do their best to keep up.

Leading by example is the fastest way to train a team. When you hold yourself to a high standard, your team will look to gain your approval by doing the same. They will rise to our expectations of excellence, integrity, and respect when you give them the same. And when your team is composed of excellence, you are sure to see success.

Lean Tip #1966 – Praise Improvement, Even Minor Improvements.
Psychologists discovered long ago that when you positively reinforce a desired behavior, people are far more likely to repeat that behavior. Most people want to do the right thing, which means you will find far more success in leading a team if you focus on using positive reinforcement rather than negative actions like threats and fear tactics.

Lean Tip #1967 – Create solutions.
Don’t dwell on problems but move into defining the solutions. Don’t be the first to offer up solutions, but ask thoughtful questions of your team to draw out their insights and ideas. When you are a leader, offering your solutions first will often inhibit other ideas.

Lean Tip #1968 – Leaders Take Risks
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 #1969 – Be 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. 
Lean Tip #1970 – Always Appreciate and Recognize
When there is no appreciation and recognition at an organization, self-motivation can become a fairy tale.

You can’t expect people to keep on doing a great job without getting recognized for their work. When people don’t receive recognition for their work, they come to your workplace just to “do their job”.

Your appreciation, recognition and the practice of rewarding them for their efforts can change their mentality, and convince them to go the extra mile.

Lean Tip #1971 – Instill Confidence Among Employees
A great leader can easily instill confidence among the staff. In order to maintain the positive work atmosphere which inspires creative thinking and new ideas, staff members have to feel confident about their work. A leader that simply nitpicks about everything and demonstrates extremely negative reactions for every mistake made will eventually ruin the positive energy in the work environment and ruin the self-confidence of the majority of staff members. A great and effective leader can inspire staff members to improve their performance and productivity by actively working on their confidence improvements. Publicly acknowledging those who perform well in certain areas can significantly contribute to this cause.

Lean Tip #1972 – Leaders Must Exude Honesty & Integrity
In order to be a great and inspirational leader one must be honest in the first place. This means that the true leader has to acknowledge their personal mistakes and always be willing to work on self-improvement. By showing a dose of humble and humanlike honest behavior, a leader can be better accepted among the team members. When a leader demonstrates honest and ethical behavior, others will be inspired to follow. This may be a cornerstone for creating a successful company culture that inspires a positive and ethical attitude of all staff members in various aspects and situations.

Lean Tip #1973 – Demonstrate Clear Goals & Vision
Creating a successful business is usually a result of clear goals and oftentimes, leaders who achieve such goals have an outstanding vision of new ideas, technologies, and industry specifics. A visionary leader can recognize new, emerging technologies and find ways to apply them in certain areas at early stages of development. This can give a competitive edge to such businesses and may inspire employees to easier gain trust in such leaders and excel in what they do.

Lean Tip #1974 – Excel With Team Building
In order to have a successful business, a true leader must be able to recognize a promising talent in those who get hired. While oftentimes, leaders seek for team members with complementary skills, sometimes it may be extremely beneficial to have some diversity between various team members, which may bring new and better ideas to the table.  Having a healthy discussion over certain ideas or procedures may be very useful when trying to pick the best approach.

Lean Tip #1975 – Communicate the "Why" Behind your Idea.

Regardless of the brilliancy of your vision, your team needs to feel part of it and not that they're merely being told to do something. If you're giving them the opportunity to really understand why the process is happening, you're also hopefully giving them the tools to be able to innovate on that process and drive even more value back to your organization.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Lean Quote: They Fly in V-formation...So It's Teamwork

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.

"I'm going to tell you the story about the geese which fly 5,000 miles from Canada to France. They fly in V-formation but the second ones don't fly. They're the subs for the first ones. And then the second ones take over - so it's teamwork." — Alex Ferguson

I share with you the Goose Story by Dr. Harry Clarke Noyes in the hopes that it might also inspire you to collaborate, share with & learn from others with the goal of becoming a better leader.



fall, when
you see Geese
heading South for
the Winter, flying along
in V formation, you might
consider what science has dis
covered as to why they fly that way:
as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an
uplift for the bird immediately following. By
flying in V formation the whole flock adds at least
71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

Key Takeaway: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

a goose falls
out of formation,
it suddenly feels the drag
and resistance of trying to go it alone
and quickly gets back into formation to take
advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front.

Key Takeaway: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are.

the Head Goose
gets tired, it rotates back
in the wing and another goose flies point.

Key Takeaway: It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs.

honk from behind to
encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Key Takeaway: As a leader, how are you communicating with; and encouraging your team?

and this is important,
when a goose gets sick, or is
wounded by gunshots and falls out
of formation, two other geese fall out with that
goose and follow it down to lend help and protection.
They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly, or until
it dies. Only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation
to catch up with their group

Key Takeaway: If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Power of Prioritization, Selecting the Vital Few

One of the hardest parts of being a leader is making critical decisions when multiple projects and tasks are competing for your attention. On any given day, you might be dealing with an emergency situation, multiple high-priority projects and several decisions that will affect the fate of your company long-term.

If I had to take one lesson from my business experience it is without focus you are lost.  Infinity is not available to us in this life.  Time and money are limited and as such we must utilize these limited resources effectively.  I can see no way to achieve our objectives other than to utilize discretion, prioritization and selection.  For after all, some things are simply more critical and more important. 

The most effective leaders are those who can cut through the clutter to focus on what is most important. When individuals and teams are confronted by multiple issues, they often try to take them all on… at once. Because they are overwhelmed, they make progress on none of them. The result: inertia and a lack of change.

The job of management is to steer the focus of their organization towards those few vital priorities that will keep or bring the organization into alignment with the demands of its customers. Once these are identified, employees can then pinpoint the group, division, factory, department, or project gaps that must be closed to stay aligned with the strategic direction of your organization.

Most people use a familiar method of prioritization to organize their tasks, based on the urgency and importance of any given item. Under this method, urgent and important items are assigned the highest priority, and items that are neither urgent nor important items are the lowest.

In 1954, former U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower, illustrated a task prioritization method when said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”  

It was this quote that created the Eisenhower Matrix; a 4-box system for organizing your tasks by urgency and importance, then getting them done.

The Eisenhower Matrix puts tasks into 2 categories, then prioritizes them for you. It’s a fast way to get everything in order at the start of the day.

The ‘Important’ Checklist:
  •  It will effect many people or projects if incomplete
  •  Other tasks depend on its completion
  •  It contributes a lot of value
  •  It’s low effort-high results (80/20 principle)

The ‘Urgent’ Checklist:
  •  It is overdue
  •  It is due soon
  •  It demands immediate attention
  •  The consequences of not doing it are immediate

You get results based on the things you focus on most intently. Regardless of how many things you want to accomplish, you must focus on the most important and let other things — which in the right context may be very good things — go by the wayside.

Pareto's Principle, the 80/20 Rule, should serve as a daily reminder to focus 80 percent of your time and energy on the 20 percent of you work that is really important. Don't just "work smart", work smart on the right things.

From your long list, identify the top three to four and focus all your energy on those. When one is complete, pull another up to the top, but hold no more than four at a time. You will find that you get more done (and at a higher quality) by working on only four priorities at a time than you did when you tried to juggle ten or twelve.

Prioritization is also about learning to say no. Identify the things to stop doing in order to focus on the vital few. These 'must stops' require leaders to let go of their favorite projects, stop wasting valuable resources, and focus their own time only on the chosen goals.

The beauty of this method, however, is that it relies on your intuition. After you’ve been on a few projects, or swamped by an overpowering to-do list enough times, you instinctively know which tasks are your most important.

In the end, there’s not a complete mathematical formula for working it out, but there are some ways to make prioritizing your tasks a habit, and a skill you can hone to get work done faster.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Guest Post: The Benefits of Applying Lean Management in Education

If there is a management concept that you need to know about today then it’s Lean Management. The question is how can adopting lean management optimize the learning experience of your students? Not only that, but how can your students themselves learn lessons that they can apply to their studies?

At heart it’s all about setting out process which take you from where you are to where you want to get to. And ensuring that everyone involved understands how that journey is going to take place.

You Can Adapt the Structure and Content of Lessons on a Rolling Basis
This point follows on naturally, and it’s something that many institutions could benefit from. By acting and then comparing the outcome to the intended goal you can see for yourself whether what you set out to do was actually achieved.

If not, then you’ll be able to find out why not. Perhaps it was always unachievable and needed to be broken up into more realistic intermediates? Or perhaps you went off on a tangent part way through and lost momentum? Lean allows you to answer these questions quickly and efficiently.

You Can Quickly Change Course When You Need to
The latest research shows that lean is a reliable way to correct mistakes and departures from the intended path. Not only that, but it does it quickly. The idea of setting things right at the earliest opportunity is something schools and students can both learn from.

If a student gets into the habit of regularly assessing the standard of their own work and evaluating their own knowledge then the chances are they’ll perform better under exam conditions. This is because they will have scrutinized their work in great detail several times before even putting pen to paper in the examination hall. When a practice test doesn’t yield the intended results it offers a chance to improve, not an indication that the student simply isn’t up to the task.

The same is true for schools and all other educational institutions. By continually assessing performance and feeding it back into a continuous cycle of improvement you can iteratively arrive at a much higher level of output.

You Will Make Better Use of Your Key Resource: Your Staff
One of the biggest advantages of lean is that you’ll be able to make best use of your staff. Check out sites like rated by students and it’ll become clear that the highest rated teachers are those that are used the right way.

By continuously monitoring progress and then feeding it back in, you can create a feedback system that moves things in the right direction. A key point is that lean allows you to be more agile and flexible than you otherwise would be. This means that if a new hire possesses skills your institution has been lacking you can adapt to this change in resources and feed it back in at your next periodic review. You may reassign certain duties and realign reporting structures to make better use of your new and existing staff.

This will also help your team achieve a better work-life balance as they’ll be playing to their strengths and getting through their workload more efficiently. Something that’s vital if you want them to bring energy and enthusiasm to the classroom each day.

You Will Learn Lessons Faster Than Others
As an institution or as a student there’s no better way to put your knowledge to the test than with a test under exam conditions. By forcing yourself to address flaws or gaps in your knowledge and performance you will be able to quickly identify the areas for improvement. This is the point at which lean really does come into its own.

By moving quickly from problems to solutions via a framework of incremental steps you can actually measure improvement over time. This then allows you to set in motion a process for continually minimizing weaknesses and gradually turning them into strengths.

Over time this iterative approach will allow you to create a wide and varied foundation on which to build. Whether this be the way in which you study for an examination, start a new elective module, or deliver the lesson itself, the fundamentals of the lean process are the same. It’s a process of continuous improvement that will take you as far in life as you want to go.

You Will Unite Learning Objectives With Learning Outcomes
Take this example of a lean school in the UK that partnered with Toyota. They were able to make better use of their staff and align their skills with their own personal teaching objectives. This created buy-in and allowed them to see a clear link between what they were doing in the classroom, and what the students were achieving lesson by lesson.

The process of tying learning objectives and learning outcomes together may seem like commonsense, but with so many daily tasks it can be easy to lose sight of. The lean approach allows teachers to strip away clutter and filler, and frame every lesson as a particular set of predefined objectives.

This not only makes their lesson planning easier, but it also gives students a clear reason as to why they’re doing what they’re doing that day. By having a motivation and a reason they are then able to commit to learning to a greater extent than they otherwise would be. Gone are the seemingly arbitrary tasks, definitions, and group projects. With a lean approach everyone in education is able to see a clear start and end point, linked together by an easily navigable pathway that takes them where they want to get to.

About the Author

Daniela is passionate about finding new ways for educational organizations to manage and allocate their resources so they can best meet the needs of their students. Her hope is that by opening up innovative practices to new institutions she will be able to help them meet the ever-changing demands placed upon them. In addition she is also a writer and editor at Topwritersreview.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Lean Quote: Listening and Observation Will Gain You More Than By Talk

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.

"If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk." — Robert Baden-Powell

Hearing and Listening, though synonymous, are completely different things. Hearing refers to the sounds that you hear, whereas listening requires more than that: it requires focus.  Listening means paying attention not only to the story, but how it is told, the use of language and voice, and how the other person uses his or her body.  In other words, it means being aware of both verbal and non-verbal messages.  Your ability to listen effectively depends on the degree to which you perceive and understand these messages.

Listening is not automatic.

It takes practice.

It takes intention.

It is a skill — one that is capable of being not only honed, but lost.

Listening is key to all effective communication, without the ability to listen effectively messages are easily misunderstood – communication breaks down and the sender of the message can easily become frustrated or irritated.

Listening is so important that many top employers provide listening skills training for their employees.  This is not surprising when you consider that good listening skills can lead to: better customer satisfaction, greater productivity with fewer mistakes, increased sharing of information that in turn can lead to more creative and innovative work.

Here are eight useful tips that can help you become a good listener:

Tip #1: Stop talking. If you really want to be an effective listener, stop what you are doing. Eliminate distractions. Give full attention. Show the person that you really want to listen.

Tip #2: Put the person at ease. Get relaxed yourself. Use door-openers like, “What’s up? Anything I can help you with?" Don’t rush, give them time…unhurried. Be alert to posture and nonverbal cues.

Tip #3: Don’t interrupt, especially if the person is upset. Allow for ventilation to occur. Remember, it’s only words. Be patient.

Tip #4: Empathize. Make a statement of regret. Be genuine. Ask them for their help. “I’d like to understand your problem; will you help me?”

Tip #5: Paraphase. Try to summarize what you’ve heard and restate it to the person to his/her satisfaction.  This often helps defuse tension. It also aids in showing employees that you’re trying to understand their situation.

Tip #6: Ask open-ended questions. Use questions for clarification and understanding, “What do you suggest we do?”

Tip #7: Use silence. Don’t be afraid of tension. If any tension exists, time perception get terribly distorted.

Tip #8: Allow reflection. In many case the best role we can play is that of a sounding board for our employees. This even allows for a little pressure release.

Bottom line, the time it takes you to listen to the ideas of others is not only worth it - the success of your enterprise depends on it. Choose not to listen and you will end up frantically spending a lot more time down the road asking people for their ideas about how to save your business from imminent collapse. By that time, however, it will be too late. Your workforce will have already tuned you out.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Guest Post: 7 Skills of Great Leaders

When it comes to getting your company or brand to the next level, excellent leadership is the basis of everything. By having a strong basis, you will have the liberty to make the choices and moves you want.

Leadership is what makes the entire vessel move, that allows goals to be accomplished. Without a strong leader, any company will be just a collection of separate skills and traits. Therefore, you should always take after history’s successful leaders and strengthen the bond between you and your team.

What exactly makes a great leader so great? We’ve selected 7 of the most important traits of a leader that should become your own.

1. Listening
Not everyone can listen. Listening is a formidable skill that’s closely connected to humility. Being the ultimate listener means accepting the fact that your solution might not be the best one.

If a leader is a good listener, he can connect with his or her team and show them that their work is important. By listening, you show people that their words matter and that they should express themselves.

Robert Garvey from EssayOnTime concurs and adds that listening is an investment in your team. Once people feel that they’re being listened to, they will be more motivated to share ideas and plans in the future.

As a direct result of this investment, there will be an atmosphere of equality, which will translate on everyone relying on each other and having each other’s backs. Leaders have to establish such a climate.

2. Critical thinking
To be a successful leader, you have to play the role of a judge on many occasions. Time and again, you will be presented with plans, proposals, ideas and everything else that comes to someone’s mind.

How will you be able to discern good from bad and make the right choice? Critical thinking is the key, and it always will be.

A critical-thinking leader can draw information from a multitude of sources, even if some of them are conflicting. Keep in mind that a critical thinker is also the owner of an open mind.
Even though you have to double check and question everything, don’t hesitate to use other people’s knowledge as an aid. Promote facts and scientific methods amongst your team, and you will be much more respected.

3. Giving feedback
While listening may be a paramount skill in today’s business world, giving feedback is also a skill that’s vital to quality leadership. By giving honest and useful feedback, the listener will also learn about your outlook on the situation.

With the critique added, they will be able to see what they can improve. Additionally, when they hear that they’ve performed well, they will be more motivated to continue in the same manner.

Hone the culture of giving feedback in your company. No matter the position or experience level, everyone should have the same right to voice their opinion.

If the feedback is negative, never end it on the same note. Emphasize that failure is just an indication that there is room for improvement. People will feel better about themselves as a result.

4. Time management
Even the greatest and most inspiring ideas have perished because of a lack of time management. Every goal and plan have to be dissected into smaller sections.

By inserting each of these sections in a corresponding period, you will be closer and closer to achieving that goal. Thus, it is your duty as a leader to allow your colleagues and associates to be precise and punctual.

Make to-do lists and have a big board or screen somewhere where everyone can see it. Even by casting a glance at the list, people will be reminded of their purpose.

Everything will be written down and managed, so they will feel more secure because they know what they have to do. Also, be sure to set an example of how to deal with unexpected occurrences and changes of plan.

5. Planning and implementing
Determining what you want and what should you do can sometimes be much harder than actually doing it. Plan together with your team. Have everyone give their opinion on what should be done tomorrow, next week or for the entire year.

A good leader always makes planning a collective activity, without much pressure on one single person.

By allowing your associates to participate in the implementation process, they will feel less of a burden. Different perspectives will yield a different result and thus result in a more efficient implementation of said ideas.

6. Organization
An organization is nothing more than practical use of knowledge. A great leader must know the individual traits, preferences and strong sides of every employee or associate.

With that knowledge, he can distribute every task accordingly, without worrying about something going wrong. Every part of the task will be executed by the person most fit to accomplish it.

In addition to giving out orders and distributing workforce and brainpower, a great leader knows how to distribute resources. To top it off, you have to implement written progress tracking, so that everyone is in sync.

7. Motivation
Everyone has bad days and doesn’t feel like doing something. No matter how discouraging this is, it doesn’t define anyone.

As a leader, it’s your role to remind people that you’re working with of what they’re worth and how valuable they are to you. Within your position, you have to display equal amounts of sturdiness and compassion.

Reward those around you and make them realize how much you value them. By providing clear purpose and an evident direction, you will be able to do great things and get the most out of everyone around you.

Concluding thoughts

Don’t look at leadership as a burden, but as a challenge. Look at that position as an ultimate form of gravity, the force that binds different people and different goals together. By functioning in sync, organizing and motivating your associates, everyone will flourish, and potential for further accomplishments will indubitably be infinite.

About the Author:
Serena Dorf is an enthusiastic content writer in Los Angeles. She is thirsty for knowledge and is always on the lookout for amazing writing tips to share with her readers.  In her free time, she is reading classic American literature and learning Swedish. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter.

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