Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Top 10 Lean Tips From 2018


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

Lean Tip #1797 - Listen to Everyone’s Ideas

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

Lean Tip #1803 - Develop An Environment of Constant Learning

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

Lean Tip #1817 - Empower Employees
Good managers are an invaluable part of having a facility that engages in continuous improvement. This is because good managers know that it is often going to be the employees who come up with the next great improvement idea. Employees perform their jobs all day everyday so it is no surprise that they will be the ones to find problems and hopefully the solutions to them.

Empowering employees to take steps toward improvement can be very helpful. Having a process by which they go through the PDCA cycle with as little interference from management as possible can be very helpful. Of course, for some changes manager involvement and approval will be necessary, but putting as few obstacles in the way as possible will result in much more improvement.

Lean Tip #1871 - Encourage Safe Failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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