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Monday, February 17, 2020

Lean Tips Edition #150 (#2461-#2475)

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 #2461 – Leaders Can Encourage Change
Leaders can do a lot to promote change so that it sticks. It’s useful if a CEO backs something new, but it’s not sufficient to support a sustainable culture shift. The biggest predictor of how employees behave is how their direct boss acts. So if you’re a manager, lead by example. And communicate clearly about changes and experiments, including following up with your employees and admitting mistakes. Start small and build changing products might be too big a jump at first, but changing processes (shortening meetings, for example) can happen faster.

If you’re someone whose employees bring suggestions to you, Alvarez suggests that you avoid being a seagull manager who swoops and poops on ideas. If a manager does that to you, neutrally respond to the quick criticism by clearly presenting the problem you were trying to solve. You could also ask for specific feedback about why your idea isn’t resonating.

Lean Tip #2462 – Ask Questions-And Listen To The Answers
When trying to make lasting changes in an organization, it’s natural to want to skip to solutions before focusing on the problem. But your first step should be talking to people about what they need. Alvarez suggests asking, What would you be able to do if things were different?

Most often, Alvarez says, you’ll hear from an employee, You need to build this. Your response to that answer should be, OK, but why? What would that allow you to do? If their answer is just, Well, it would be nice to have, then don’t build it. But if they’re saying, I want X because I can’t do Y, then a good, worthwhile solution might exist, unless Y is something very obscure.

This method of investigating your employees stumbling blocks involves a lot of repetition. Train people to ask why when they hear someone say, I want this. The answer could identify the problem, which needs to be fully understood before attempting a fix.

Lean Tip #2463 – Identify and Accept Risk
Fear can be a powerful deterrent it can hold your company back and cause dysfunction. When someone says, We can’t do that because bad things will happen, responding with: What bad things will happen? What’s the worst-case scenario? People shy away from this type of thinking but it’s really quite freeing. Often, the potential fallout (e.g., Customers will get mad?) isn’t actually a consequence. Decide beforehand and without fear on an acceptable level of risk for your organization.

Also, when conducting experiments, ask the people above you: How much can I spend without you coming in? Managers don’t want to be approving a lot, so most will respond with something like, Use your judgment and tell me the results. Pushing boundaries slowly works well.

Case studies are also important factors in getting manager buy-in. Because everyone’s afraid of screwing up, being able to point to similar scenarios that ended up successful can help. But case studies should be deployed with caution make sure the ones you’re using are appropriate and relevant.

Lean Tip #2464 – Communicate to "We" vs. "They"
All too often a message about change is delivered in a way that leaves people with a lot of reasons why they must change or how they need to change. Remember that when someone isn't the one choosing the change in the first place, resistance is a natural and predictable response.

As in any new endeavor, communication is key, so you must be mindful of your messaging. Anything you say that will be heard as "Why you should or must change" will only fuel the resistance.

Instead, when leading change, focus on making the case for why change will make a difference for us, and what it makes possible for everyone's future if we change together. If you really want to send the message that you're serious, try sharing about how or what you can already see you will need to change.

Lean Tip #2465 – Show, Don't Tell
Leading change requires that you show people rather than just tell them about it.

Show them how the path you're proposing can serve what matters to them.

Show them you're committed to change by making changes yourself.

Show those who aren't enrolled by empowering those who own the change with you to create short term wins that demonstrate the importance and power of the change you stand for, to create a better future.

Lean Tip #2466 – Productivity Tip – Use the 80/20 Rule to Focus Your Time on the Most Impactful Tasks
A good way to prioritize tasks comes from the 80/20 principle.
Discovered by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, the 80/20 rule (also called the Pareto Principle) states that in any pursuit 80 percent of the results will come from 20 percent of the efforts.

To maximize efficiency, highly productive people identify the most important 20 percent of their work. Then, they look at ways to cut down the other 80 percent of their schedule, to find more time for the things that make the biggest impact.

Lean Tip #2467 – Productivity Tip – Beak Down Tasks into a Single Next Step.
Why do you procrastinate?

There are a variety of reasons that people procrastinate, but one of the most important is that the tasks on their to-do list just seem too daunting.

If you have to-do list items that are large in scope and not very specific, tackling those tasks becomes challenging. You look at the item and think “I don’t even know where to start.”

You can start by breaking large to-dos into smaller to-dos.

Lean Tip #2468 – Productivity Tip - Make a Reasonable To-Do List.
Don’t overwhelm yourself. To-do lists often fail because we make them way too complex or the tasks are unequal. Some tasks will take a long time, others won’t take any time at all. This creates an unbalance in the way we distribute our time. What happens then is that our to-do list then becomes a procrastination tool. Yes, that’s right. Because then we do the easy stuff, and then become really distracted on the hard stuff.

Lean Tip #2469 – Productivity Tip - Set Specific Times to Check Email
It’s easy to waste time shuffling through dozens of emails.

All it takes is one email notification and, before you know it, you’ve wasted 20-30 minutes organizing and responding to multiple emails.

What you should do is choose two times a day to do emails. I recommend once before lunch and once more before finishing up your workday, that way it doesn’t accidentally seep into your work time.

Lean Tip #2470 – Productivity Tip - Use the Important / Urgent Matrix for Your Decisions
Do you often find yourself working tons only to find you didn’t get any “real” work done?

Then you should give this tip a try.

Separate your tasks into one of four categories:

Important & urgent (e.g. presentation due tomorrow)
Important & not urgent (e.g. exercise, working on a presentation two-weeks in advance)
Not important & urgent (e.g. social media updates, phone calls)
Not important & not urgent (e.g. surfing the web)
Important tasks are ones that contribute to your immediate livelihood & long-term goals, while urgent tasks are ones that require immediate action or have incoming deadlines.

The idea is to focus on tasks in category #2 (important & not urgent), because by doing so you:

Contribute to your immediate and long-term success
Prevent yourself from dipping into category #1 (important AND urgent tasks)

Doing this will keep you focused on only the most important tasks. It also minimizes the chances of your tasks going “critical,” preventing burnout by trying to catch up on an important task.

Lean Tip #2471 – Leaders Encourage Creativity
Intellectual stimulation is one of the leadership qualities that define transformational leadership. Followers need to be encouraged to express their creativity. Effective leaders should offer new challenges with ample support to achieve these goals.1

One way to foster creativity is to offer challenges to group members, making sure that the goals are within the grasp of their abilities. The purpose of this type of exercise is to get people to stretch their limits but not become discouraged by barriers to success.

Lean Tip #2472 – Leaders are Role Models
Idealized influence is another of the four key components of transformational leadership. Transformational leaders exemplify the behaviors and characteristics that they encourage in their followers. They walk the walk and talk the talk. As a result, group members admire these leaders and work to emulate these behaviors.

Research suggests that leaders are able to foster a specific belief and then transmit that inspiration to their followers. As a result, followers are optimistic and have high standards for performance and achievement.

Lean Tip #2473 – Leaders Listen and Communicate Effectively
Another important quality of transformational leadership involves a focus on providing one-on-one communication with group members. Transformational leadership is effective when leaders are able to communicate their vision to followers, who then feel inspired and motivated by this vision.

By keeping the lines of communication open, these leaders can ensure that group members feel able to make contributions and receive recognition for their achievements.

Lean Tip #2474 – Leaders Have a Positive Attitude
Transformational leaders have an upbeat, optimistic attitude that serves as a source of inspiration for followers. If leaders seem discouraged or apathetic, members of the group are likely to also become uninspired.

Even when things look bleak and your followers start to feel disheartened, try to stay positive. This does not mean viewing things through rose-colo
red glasses. It simply means maintaining a sense of optimism and hope in the face of challenges.

Lean Tip #2475 – Leaders are Passionate
Would you look to someone for guidance and leadership if they did not truly care about the goals of the group? Of course not! Great leaders are not just focused on getting group members to finish tasks; they have a genuine passion and enthusiasm for the projects they work on.

You can develop this leadership quality by thinking of different ways that you can express your zeal. Let people know that you care about their progress. When one person shares something with the rest of the group, be sure to tell them how much you appreciate such contributions.

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