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Monday, October 21, 2019

Lean Tips #145 (#2386-#2400)

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 #2386 - Pilot the Solutions First
A pilot is a test of a proposed solution and is usually performed on a small scale. It's like learning to fish from the shore before you go out on a boat in the ocean with a 4-foot swell. It is used to evaluate both the solution and the implementation of the solution to ensure the full-scale implementation is more effective. A pilot provides data about expected results and exposes issues with the implementation plan. The pilot should test both if the process meets your specifications and the customer expectations. First impressions can make or break your process improvement solution. Test the solution with a small group to work out any kinks. A smooth implementation will help the workers accept the solution at the formal rollout.

Lean Tip #2387 - Implement Standard Work
Standard work is one of the most powerful but least used lean tools to maintain improved process performance. By documenting the current best practice, standardized work forms the baseline for further continuous improvement. As the standard is improved, the new standard becomes the baseline for further improvements, and so on.

Use a Standard Work Combination Chart to show the manual, machine, and walking time associated with each work element. The output graphically displays the cumulative time as manual (operator controlled) time, machine time, and walk time. Looking at the combined data helps to identify the waste of excess motion and the waste of waiting.

Lean Tip #2388 - Make the Improvement Real
Employees aren’t idiots.  When senior management seeks to drive change in the organization, they like to have a “quick win” that can be used as an example to the entire organization.  But sometimes, in their haste to have a trophy win, senior managers choose a change that yields very little result and does little to improve quality, lead times or other key performance indicators.  Employees realize this and see the program as one more in a series -- the “flavor of the month” -- for performance improvement.  Instead, work with employees to get a substantial win -- something that is indisputable and will lead the team to believe in the program.

Lean Tip #2389 - Translate and Communicate the Benefits of the Change
Workers on the factory floor don’t work with balance sheets on a daily basis.  Their primary concern is not whether your net return on assets has improved by 0.1%.  Translate the improvement to terms that are real to them: number of defective parts eliminated per shift, hours of rework eliminated, additional number of units produced per shift.  Compare this to competitive information for the sake of the staff, if possible.  Let the production team members know how they stack up -- give them an adversary outside the plant.  Make sure the information is provided to them in a clear way.  Dashboards and project kaizen one-page reports can work wonders.  When done properly, it’s amazing how much break time is spent discussing the latest change and its effect on the competitive landscape.  This leads to buy-in and everlasting change.

Lean Tip #2390 - Celebrate Real Victories – Even the Small Ones
So long as a success is real, translatable, and well communicated, regardless of the size, it’s worthy of celebration.  Avoid programs like “employee of the month” and recognize specific achievement in performance improvement, whenever they occur.  Don’t wait until month-end of year-end.  Every celebration, if done properly and if celebrating real improvements, has the potential to spawn additional performance improvements and to solidify the changes that have already been made.

Lean Tip #2391 – Communicate Daily
Commit to a daily 10-minute company or team sync every morning. During the meeting, have team members share their top five priorities for the day, as well as any issues or problems they are facing. This brief meeting keeps your whole staff informed, fostering collaboration and communication about any issues or problems. A quick meeting also reduces extraneous emails to project managers during the day.

Remember: You aren’t saving time if the meeting regularly goes past the 10-minute mark. If you have trouble keeping to time, ask everyone to stand during the meeting. When employees can’t sit, everyone works together to finish the meeting quickly.

Lean Tip #2392 – Get Your Teams Clear on the Processes
Producing tangible benefits for the organization means new ways of working must genuinely be put into practice – they can’t be left buried in process manuals saved somewhere on the shared drive. That means working with a system that makes it easy for your teams to build small, incremental process improvements into their day-to-day work. That system must be easy to review and update, and must be also be accessible and simple enough so that teams refer to it every day.

Lean Tip #2393 – Management Must Model the New Rules
This should go without saying, but nothing will undermine the effectiveness of but nothing will undermine a new business process faster than management not following the new rules. The rules are either there for everyone, or they’re there for no one.

Once management starts to “cheat” on the new process, people take it as a sign that the process is no good, and everyone will look for ways to cheat. Chaos will result as everyone is looking for shortcuts and doing things the way they want them done (often the way that sloughs the most work off their desk and onto someone else’s).

Lean Tip #2394 – Make Reverting Back Hurt
Usually, when individuals desire to revert to a previous behavior, it’s because the previous behavior took less time or effort than “the new way.”  Be certain to elevate the personal cost to perform tasks the old way.  You can do this by eliminating the tools that were used or automation that made the old methods easier than the new ones.  Make investments in automation and tools for the new methods.  Make it easy for your staff to succeed.

Lean Tip #2395 - Review the Process Regularly
Part of ensuring that the process lasts over time is ensuring that it remains relevant. Periodic review can support a culture of continuous process improvement and also provide an opportunity to reflect. If people aren’t following the process, conduct root-cause analysis to understand why. Maybe there’s a need for training. Maybe the process is no longer effective. Maybe turnover has left a gap. Adding the rigidity of automation to a murky process can result in workarounds, frustration, delays and a loss of credibility.

Lean Tip #2396 – Take Time to Watch and Listen When Change is Looming
If you know changes are looming--and they are for most organizations--take time to watch and listen carefully to your employees. Whether it's a major restructuring or a modification to a well-established procedure, change (or even the anxiety over impending change) can unsettle your employees and negatively impact the workplace. Sometimes employees will express their anxiety directly to you, but other times their anxiety becomes apparent through changes in their behavior or performance. This is especially the case when change threatens their comfortable and stabile  routines. Take time to observe and listen to the pulse of your organization, and then take steps to deal with the anxiety that you may detect.

Lean Tip #2397 – Demonstrate Your Genuine Concern For Employees
Great bosses realize that they can't achieve their goals if their people aren't performing at their very best. Employees, especially in times of stress and challenge, look to management for solutions. They seek guidance when they feel uncertain and isolated from organizational decisions that are out of their control. As a first step, be an example of transparency and honesty. Open the lines of communication between management and employees. Talk openly and regularly about what you know, and encourage input. Show you truly care about your people's welfare by understanding their concerns and by doing whatever you can to help them. This not only helps you solve any problems you have direct influence over, but also helps them by allowing them to talk freely about what is troubling them.

Lean Tip #2398 – Address Their Concerns About The Change
After hearing concerns and gathering input, fix the things that you have control over. Often, uncertainty results from miscommunication or misunderstandings. If, after listening to your employees, you discover an easy solution to dispel their angst, take the initiative to fix whatever you can as quickly as you can. A reassuring word or guidance from management can have a profoundly positive impact on employees in times of uncertainty. If you find the problems caused by change are beyond your scope, avoid promising your employees things you cannot deliver or have no business promising them in the first place.

Lean Tip #2399 – Be Positive and Look for Opportunity
Remain positive. Challenge your employees to take initiative and seek out solutions, new ideas, or cost savings. Look at standard procedures and policies and rework them, or propose alternatives with the bottom line in mind. When times are unsettled, it may appear to employees their efforts are not appreciated by management. By encouraging them to take the initiative you help them to keep moving forward, focused on what can or might be done, rather than fixating on events over which they have no control. As a group, come up with creative solutions to the new challenges created by change.

Lean Tip #2400 – Train and Prepare Your Employees for Change

If you have the opportunity and the resources, make time available to your employees to learn new skills. Give them an opportunity to prepare for change with more skills or experience. Preparation and training can help them transition more easily into new roles, or look for work in another areas or organizations, should it become a necessity.

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