Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Using Daily Management to Engage Employees in the Gemba

Learn more about NE Lean Conference below

In today’s active world we are hearing more about getting employees within the organization engaged at work. This is not only for the leadership team, but also for the hourly workforce.

For the sake of this discussion let’s define engaged employees as those that work with passion and feel a profound connection with their company. These individuals drive innovation, continuous improvement, and move the organization forward each and every day.

Why is having an engaged workforce so important? Gallup reported in their 2013 “State of the American Workforce Survey” the following key statistics:

Organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged workers for every actively disengaged employee in 2010-2011 experienced 147% higher earnings per share (EPS) compared with their competition in 2011-2012.

In contrast, those with an average of 2.6 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 2% lower EPS compared with their competition during that same period.

Gallup estimates that active disengagement costs the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion per year.

Work units in the top 25% of Gallup’s database have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents than those in the bottom 25%.

While there are many things that affect employee engagement, getting leadership to the place where work is done (the “GEMBA”) and actively engaging with the workforce, seeing with their own eyes the problems that occur, listening to associates and giving advice and direction (coaching) to the team is a critical factor in increasing overall engagement.

Lean organizations make use of Daily Management systems, a structured process to focus employee’s actions to continuously improve their day-to-day work. Daily Management empowers employees to identify potential process concerns, recommend potential solutions, and learn by implementing process changes. Daily Management, if done right, can be a critical tool in any organization’s toolbox to engage frontline staff in problem-solving and to deliver customer value.

Lean Daily Management includes three components: (1) alignment of goals and effort; (2) visual data management, daily huddles, and problem-solving; and (3) leader standard work.

Alignment of Goals and Efforts
When we launched our Daily Management program, we noticed that frontline staff often were not aware of the goals and targets set by senior leaders. Therefore, we emphasized the cascading nature of system goals and the importance of alignment between system and hospital goals during training.

Our goals fall under the pillars of Safety, Quality, Delivery, Cost, and People/Culture, Each department utilizing Daily Management set its own goals and targets in each of these pillars in alignment with system and facility goals. We found this exercise of aligned goal-setting to be incredibly valuable in that it not only improved awareness of goals among frontline staff, but it also helped them to see how their work contributes to the success of the system.

Visual Data Management, Daily Huddles, and Problem-Solving
Visual data management: Each department utilizes a visual board to display its goals, targets, and performance metrics. The look and feel of the visual board is standard across our system, with each board including the standard pillars mentioned above as well as a designated space for discussion and prioritization of improvement ideas. The visual board in each department is located in an accessible area in the Gemba so that the data and metrics stay in front of everyone.

Daily huddles: Daily huddles take place at the department level and last for about 10 to 15 minutes. Huddles are led by the staff and are attended by all members of the department Huddles take place directly in front of the visual board so that the metrics that are displayed on the board can be discussed and updated as needed.

Problem-solving: A unique aspect of our problem-solving process is the systematic feedback loop from senior leaders back to the department. We recognize that staff cannot implement all solutions or process improvement ideas alone and that process changes often involve other departments or functions. For this reason, part of the daily huddle is dedicated to problem-solving. This portion of the huddle includes a review of improvement ideas submitted by staff, a progress update on ideas that have been selected for implementation, and feedback received from senior leaders on ideas that have been submitted to senior levels for implementation and/or resourcing. Accountability is achieved through review of progress on implemented ideas with use of a simple WWW (What, Who, and When) form. This process of problem-solving (idea generation), reviewing progress, and providing feedback is key to sustaining team engagement.

Leader Standard Work
The third component of our program relates to the role of leadership. For the Daily Management program to be successful, it is critical for leaders at all levels of the organization  to be committed to the program and visibly present at huddles. The role of these leaders at huddles is to encourage teamwork and collaboration, help remove barriers, mentor and coach frontline staff (who often do not have enough exposure to the big picture), and foster systems thinking (that is, an understanding of the interactions between the work and processes from one team to another).

Lean Daily Management is a powerful and peerless method for engagement. The technical approach is simple enough to understand. But it is not a “plug and play” technique. To make it work requires a level of leadership understanding and commitment that is often missing. If you approach daily management as a stand-alone installation for the workers, it will fail. Daily Management, if done right, can be a critical tool in any organization’s toolbox to engage frontline staff in problem-solving and in bringing value for customers, employees, and the organization.

Note: If you would like to learn more consider attending the Northeast Lean Conference October 22-23, 2019 in Hartford, CT where I will be presenting about this topic.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

5 Lessons in Leadership Effectiveness from Christopher Columbus

The Columbus Day is celebrated every year to honor the man who led the expedition that discovered the Americas.  Where would we be without his efforts? Christopher Columbus demonstrated several remarkable traits that are just as applicable today as lessons in business and leadership effectiveness as they were more than five centuries ago.

Here are 5 leadership lessons from Columbus and thoughts on how to apply them to your business: 

1. Have a vision. If Columbus was like everyone else in believing that the world was flat, they’d still be traveling to Asia over land and we’d be who knows where. He gave thoughtful consideration to the situation and proposed an alternative way to trade more efficiently with merchants in the Far East. He didn’t just explore for glory – surely there was profit in mind to fuel his courage.

If you’re to be an effective leader, you have to thoroughly understand your business, including the environment in which you operate and challenges that can stand in your way. Good leaders don’t think “I hope we’re still doing the same thing in the same way 5 years from now.” Rather, they challenge conventional wisdom and seek out new, better, different ways of doing things, which will result in a more profitable business.

2. Be willing to take risks. The voyage that Columbus led to America was considered crazy by many. The notion that the world wasn’t flat, but in fact round, was radical. Columbus put his life and reputation on the line by taking what he considered to be a calculated risk that was ultimately successful. Columbus went against popular belief, providing a great example of “thinking outside the box,” especially when it wasn’t popular to do so.

In your company, is the world “flat,” or are you open to new ways of thinking? Are you willing to risk failure(s) on your way to success? Many people, processes, and functions get stuck in a rut, mindlessly following “the way we do things” rather than trying to make improvements. Have standards, but be open to suggestions for ways to notch up your game or even make radical changes to remain productive, relevant to consumers, and competitive.

3. Be persistent and resilient. When trying to secure venture capital to fund his voyage, he was rejected until he was able to convince Spain’s Queen Isabella to back him. Columbus had an idea and didn’t give up on it. He created his marketing pitch and refined it as he told the story trying to build his crew and secure funding. What if he had given up after being rejected by his own country? The world might look very different today.

Obviously you need to use common sense and discretion when seeking support for your business idea or venture, whether from internal leaders or external investors. Know your organizational dynamics and power structure as well as whose support to enlist who can help you toward your goal.

4. Be flexible and able to adapt. The adventurers were looking for a faster route to Asia, and ultimately failed in that mission. They could have turned back to Europe, or sailed on to try to get back on their intended course. But instead they realized the potential of their discovery, and turned their failure into a success.

In your work, you set out to achieve specific goals and objectives. When things don’t go as planned, evaluate the results and circumstances that lead to them to see if you can possibly salvage the experience and turn it into a success.

5. Be a leader. Imagine what it was like to be a member of Columbus’s crew on those first voyages. He lead scores of men on a treacherous journey into the unknown. There’s no doubt that Columbus must have been an effective leader – perhaps forceful, perhaps inspirational, and certainly charismatic – to achieve what he and his crew did.

When faced with challenging circumstances, do you stand tall to lead your team to success, or cower and shrink under pressure? Do you motivate your people to perform by earning their respect, or by spreading fear and flexing your authority?

True, the discovery of the Americas forever changed the lives and cultures of the indigenous peoples, but that was not Columbus’s intent. There is still room to honor his achievements and apply leadership lessons to your business.

Do you have a Columbus in your company? Have there been occasions when you could have persevered the way Columbus and his crew did in order to affect a positive outcome? Are you willing to turn your failures into successes?

Reposted from Profiles International : With the Profiles International South East Asia Blog, it is our mission to help organizational leaders and HR professionals improve their performance and workforce productivity.

Author: Vy Huynh

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Lean Quote: Confidence is the Backbone of True 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.

"Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less." — C. S. Lewis

Charismatic. Inspirational. Decisive. Focused. Passionate.

These are some qualities that people attribute to great leadership. All of these have an underlying tone of strength behind it, and understandably so, we need leaders to be strong. Here’s the problem, all of the above characteristics will never reach its full potential to positively influence people if the leader is self-centered.

C.S. Lewis has a great way of explaining this. He says, “True humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” This concept of thinking of yourself less, however, is totally counterintuitive. We strive to love others the way we love ourselves, because while we may not be great at loving others, we are great at loving ourselves. 

There’s an innate sense of self-centeredness that exists at the core of our beings. After all, it helps us survive. We need affirmation, encouragement, praise, and acknowledgement. We need to know we have value. We need to know we have worth. The problem with bringing self-centeredness into a leadership role is that leaders are tasked with influencing other people. The description alone takes the spotlight off of ourselves and onto those we are leading. It’s hard to influence other people if we’re constantly focused on ourselves — the focus must be on them.

I have found that those who possess true humility firmly know that they have value and worth. These people are some of the most confident people I’ve encountered, not by arrogance or conceit, but in unwavering stability and assurance. This gives them the capacity to be focused on others focused. They don’t always seek out attention because their identity isn’t derived from outside praises and credentials alone. They credit others for success and take responsibility for failures. They admit their weaknesses and seek help when needed. They listen and don’t feel the need to always dominate the conversation. They empower others around them. They lead by example. Ultimately, they care for those who they are leading, which leads to greater trust, and trust to greater loyalty. People want to follow these type of leaders. This is what confidence looks like. Confidence is the backbone to true humility, and humility is the single greatest strength you can exhibit as a leader.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

11 Classic Leadership Mistakes, and How They Can Be Avoided

These are the classic leadership mistakes to be avoided, no matter what your industry:

They don’t delegate
Failing to delegate is the classic leadership mistake. Don’t fall into the trap. The most effective leaders delegate nearly everything except the ultimate responsibility. Anything else is just power hoarding, which wins the respect and trust of absolutely nobody.

They focus on the title
President. CEO. Managing Director. What does it really matter at the end of the day? You’re the boss and everyone knows you’re the boss, so act like it. Which means be an inspiration, and get your hands dirty, and take responsibility for everything that you should take responsibility for (but never by failing to delegate). That’s what a boss does. It’s not in a name.

They take the credit but none of the blame
This is a classic mistake. Leaders who take the credit of their subordinates rarely remain in situ for long. And passing the buck is the most cardinal of sins. If you want to be respected, share the praise where it is due, and take the heat too. People will want to work their very hardest for you if they see that this is your approach.

They don’t put in the hours
Leaders should be the first to arrive and the last to leave. It is about inspiring others, not using your position to your own ends. Similarly, promote work/life balance by not being afraid to take a vacation, but do everything within the confines of established policies and procedures, and you will win the respect of your staff.

They see it as payback time
Most people have had a bad experience at some stage or another in their career at the hands of a senior manager. Yet leaders who hold grudges and see their time at the top as a period of revenge fail to grasp two critical concepts. The first is that you are exacting revenge on the wrong people. The second is to understand that this is a viscous circle, and failing to break it will drag down the organization.

“If you were treated badly on your way up, then rise above it and be determined to be different: it will win you far greater respect, and your leadership regime will be infinitely more successful as a result,” says Peter Tarrant, a business writer at Australia2Write and NextCoursework.

They remain aloof
Being a leader absolutely does not mean remaining isolated in your ivory tower: not only will you lose the respect of your employees but by positioning yourself outside of the collective you will be unable to gauge what is happening in the business. You will also fail to cement the relationships that are so important to the fundamental success of any business or organization.

They don’t recognize the next generation of talent
Nothing lasts forever, and there are always new talents coming through. Great leaders embrace that fresh talent, and harness it effectively. Failing to recognize it or, worse, deliberately stunting it, as some leaders are prone to do, shows a failing to grasp the important consideration of change. Everything changes. If you fail to adapt to that change, then your time as a leader will be oh so brief.

They don’t give feedback
In order to improve and grow, employees need feedback. And that means both the negative and the positive.

“It is a critical function of a leader to not only inspire in his or her actions but to impart knowledge and point out what needs to be done to improve. That’s what most people want to do, so be constructive in that feedback and they will follow you,” says Carlton Walsh, a communications manager at BritStudent and 1Day2Write.

They don’t listen
Failing to listen is one of the most frequently made mistakes of managers at any level of a business. In fact, failing to listen is a human error. Yet leaders are more prone to this than anyone because sometimes there is a pervading sense of superiority. Failing to listen at this critical juncture can be fatal to a regime however. You don’t need to act on everything, but you certainly always need to know what’s going on.

They fail to grasp what motivates people
Leaders may fundamentally fail to recognize what motivates people, and the truth is, there is no one single thing. However, thinking it is only money is a huge mistake to make, and will shift focus from the many things that matter. Taking the time to appreciate what really motivates the workforce individually, and enacting upon that, is where great leaders really step up.

They don’t care
Not caring doesn’t mean that the leader doesn’t value the company. It means that they fail to truly value the people who work in the business, and not just as a commodity. Of course it’s difficult to form an emotional attachment to everyone in a large company, but showing a human side, and compassion where it is due is far from a sign of weakness, as some leaders think it is, but instead is a sign of real dedication to what makes a difference in a business: the people.

About the Author:
Marketer and all-round business expert Michael Dehoyos loves nothing better than assisting organizations in their digital marketing approach. He can be found at PHDKingdom and AcademicBrits, and contributes to a number of other sites and blogs including Dissertation Help.

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Top Five Reasons Most Companies Fail at Lean Implementation

Lean has been around since the late eighties/ early nineties, but despite the enormous popularity of Lean, the track record for successful implementation of the methodology is spotty at best. Companies still make mistakes when implementing Lean.

These mistakes are generally due to simple misunderstandings of the Lean principles, but when something goes wrong, you will not reap the full benefits, and incorrect use of Lean can actually make a situation worse rather than better.

I believe when Lean principles are properly understood and applied, the upside for productivity improvements is nearly infinite. I have personally witnessed numerous Lean thinking initiatives that have improved productivity by large amounts (like 40-60%) in short periods of time with minimal expenditures.  The Lean track record is well documented by numerous authors.

In my experience these are five main reasons why Lean implementation fails:

1.      Lack of understanding
Senior leaders often develop the misperception that Lean is a series of projects to make randomized improvements. The organization often becomes obsessed with the application of the tools with no aim. They only focus on improving when they have the time or when they absolutely must. Lean should be adopted as a management system, as opposed to a project, and should be tied to business goals. If employees can’t put these two together, leaders risk creating resistance and lack of buy in.

2.      Lack of direction and vision
Lean must first start by deploying a crystal-clear vision all the way down to the entire organization of the company. All employees of the company must clearly understand the company vision and direction and must also understand all KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and measurements used.

3.      Too many initiatives
I have observed many companies that pursue excessive amounts of initiatives, concurrently. They fail to recognize that the organization can only take so much change. When leaders don’t provide the necessary focus to each initiative, they sacrifice their credibility with their employees. Cynicism is created, and employees begin to see each effort as a fad that they just need to endure until the next one comes along.

4.      Lack of resources
Most of the companies mistakenly consider that Lean is a matter of a few, select experts. This is not the case. All resources of a company must be involved in improving the operations and administration of a company because there are more improvement ideas in the brains of all employees of a company than in the brains of a few experts.

5.      Resistance of change
Lean is in its purest sense a change management initiative, for it involves changing from a current state to a better state. Just as all change attracts resistance, Lean improvements also attract resistance to change, which may manifest as employees ignoring new processes, disagreeing with the benefits, making stringent criticisms, and more. Success depends on how effectively the leadership rises to the occasion and manages resistance to change.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in initiating major company changes is to expect that everyone’s reaction will be even remotely like yours. Never minimize an employee's response to even the most simple change. Keep your employees informed.  Communicate as much as you know about what is happening as a result of the change.  One of the major reasons people resist change is fear of the unknown.  If you communicate with employees and keep them informed, you put this fear to rest.

Lean implementation is not simple or easy. However, results show that, when done properly, Lean lives up to its promises. Lean and its elements work. All of the failure modes presented here can be avoided or overcome.

If you want Lean to succeed in your organization, management has to become a student of Lean in order to be a successful sponsor. In other words, you have to apply Lean to your management process first in order to understand how to apply it to others.

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Friday, October 4, 2019

Lean Quote: It's Imperative to Lead by Example

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 three most important ways to lead people are:… by example… by example… by example." — Albert Schweitzer

Whether you realize it or not, if you're a leader, your employees are watching every move you make. Good leaders must lead by example. By walking your talk, you become a person others want to follow. When leaders say one thing, but do another, they erode trust--a critical element of productive leadership.

Leading by example sounds easy, but few leaders are consistent with this one. Successful leaders practice what they preach and are mindful of their actions. They know everyone is watching them and therefore are incredibly intuitive about detecting those who are observing their every move, waiting to detect a performance shortfall.

Leaders must lead with their actions as well as their words. Leaders can effectively translate intention into reality by acting on the concepts and messages they teach and the things they say to those around them. Leadership is the act of setting the right example for those who follow. Leadership is about actively demonstrating your belief, not just talking about it. People who say one thing but do another eventually lose credibility.

When you “walk the talk,” your behavior becomes a catalyst for people’s trust and faith in you. And it also emphasizes what you stand for. Leading by example shows people exactly what you expect and gives them living proof that it can be done. On a deeper level, leading by example and being as good as your words builds trust. It’s a sign that you take what you say seriously so they can, too.

Be a role model, be the kind of person that everyone else looks up to and wants to be like. You must do this at all times, even when no one is watching, if you want everyone to follow.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Guest Post: 7 Leadership Tools and Activities for Developing Your Leadership Skills

Whether you are already a part of a management team in an organization or you aspire to become one in the future, you should know that leadership skills need to be learned and polished throughout life.
Collaborating with professionals and teams in different working environments will give you the experience you need, but working on your own development doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the office. Whatever more, you should take time to work on your leadership skills in your free time, too.
Here are the seven most important tools and activities that will help you develop some of the vital leadership skills.

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses

Self-awareness is one of the most important traits a good leader can have. Knowing what you can and cannot do is crucial in the process of setting personal and professional goals, but this isn’t the only reason. A leader aware of his or her limitations can have a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of other professionals they work with.
If you want to know which personality type you belong to and which advantages and limitations you probably have, take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. It will help you learn more about yourself, providing you with a detailed description of your personality type.
Perhaps you think you already know all there is about yourself, but the results of this test might surprise you.

Developing your communication skills

Your day at the office probably consists of an endless stream of meetings and the constant flow of communication with your clients, colleagues and higher management. To be able to survive each such day, you’ll need to master patience, thinking on your feet, and the secrets of effective communication.
Developing your communication skills isn’t just about learning how to speak in presentations and answer emails professionally. It’s about active listening, reading body language, goodwill, and patience.
Activities such as traveling to experience different cultures and involvement in social activities and volunteering can help you learn a lot about other people and get plenty of chances to develop and polish your communication skills.

Recognizing your leadership style

What kind of a leader are you, and what kind would you like to become? Do you have clear, proven facts to support your observations? With the USC's Leadership Style Self-Assessment test, you will have both the answers you are looking for and the science to back it up.
It’s not uncommon to believe that you are a certain leadership style representative, only to find out that it’s not really the case. If you’ve “diagnosed” yourself wrong, that might be the source of a lot of frustrations and errors that can easily be avoided.

Boosting your creativity and problem-solving skills

Every inspirational leader is recognized by their ability to identify new solutions and new approaches to the same old problems in non-traditional ways. Creativity, flexibility in thinking, and problem-solving skills can be improved and boosted within your own workplace, and there is a lot you can do to make your team included as well.
From a Shrinking Vessel and Egg Drop to Frostbite and Minefield, games and activities that help you sharpen your brain are the best ways to connect with your colleagues on longer breaks in the office or on team building sessions.

Improving your delegation skills

It sure feels empowering when you do a lot of difficult and time-consuming tasks on your own, but sometimes doing it all by yourself is simply not the optimal solution. Delegating some of your responsibilities to the colleagues you can trust to take care of them is one of the most important things every leader must do now and then.
Learn more about how mastering six levels of delegation can help you save time and become more productive, while at the same time providing your subordinates the opportunities to develop their own skills and strengths.

Assessing your conflict resolution skills

To be able to resolve conflicts, provide inspiration and motivation to everyone around you, and truly understand and accept what you can and cannot expect from your colleagues, you need to be a leader with a high emotional intelligence score.
However, although a good leader needs to be emphatic, letting your emotions guide your every move can be quite risky. The IHHP Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Assessment is a test that’s created to help you find out how able you are to identify, comprehend, and manage your own emotions.
Do your emotions make you stronger or more prone to making impulsive decisions? It’s time to find out.

Staying calm during a crisis

Our workplaces are, unfortunately, often not the spaces where we can work undisturbed, in a peaceful, nurturing environment. The higher the level of your responsibilities, the more often you are likely to feel stressed out, tired, nervous, and impatient when it comes to both your own mistakes and the mistakes of others.
Keeping your cool and the ability to make quick decisions in stressful situations is vital, and you can improve these skills by developing a unique coping strategy, limiting your daily caffeine intake, and brainstorming with your team before making any final decision.


Whether you’re leading a team of specialists in a start-up, a large-scale company, or a non-profit organization, a lot depends on your perception of yourself, your relationships with teams and clients, and your leadership style. Working to improve yourself on a daily basis will bring you a lot of benefits, both in the professional and individual capacity.

Contrary to popular belief, a good leader isn’t born. A good leader is created. Try out these tools and activities that help develop your leadership skills, and let us know which ones worked the best for you.

About the Author: Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at dissertation writing servicesbest assignment writing service. She is interested in education technologies, professional writer service and is always ready to support informative speaking at essay writing servicesdissertation writing serviceseasy essay. Follow her on Twitter.

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