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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Lean Tips Edition #152 (#2491 - 2505)

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 #2491 – Share Elements of Your Vision in Team and One-On-One Meetings. 
These settings provide a great opportunity to talk more at length about your purpose, core values, and mission as a company. Consider taking one core value and have everyone identify the types of behaviors and actions that demonstrate this core value. Setup one-on-one meetings with your team members to share your vision and how you see them being a key part of that vision.

Lean Tip #2492 – Set Up a Recognition and Reward System for Specific Behaviors That Exemplify Your Vision.
Most employees are worried that their boss will catch them making a mistake on the job. Instead of focusing on the negative, make it a practice for people to call out specific behaviors others are doing that align with your vision. Allow coworkers to recognize each other in meetings. Reward both of them for their efforts to build teamwork and live your vision.

Lean Tip #2493 – Act Consistently With The Vision
It is not enough to communicate vision verbally. Leaders and managers must role model the behaviors that they expect their people to perform. Without this consistency between words and action, credible leadership and the change project will dissipate rapidly, and resistance will grow.

Lean Tip #2494 – Celebrate Milestones and Small Wins in the Process.
In today's organizational environment, change is a constant. Even though the vision may be communicated clearly, it is still "out there." If one waits until the vision is achieved before celebrating, then the recognition of success may always be just out of reach. Leaders celebrate small wins and steps in the right direction. This recognition shows that the change is worth the effort and motivates employees to continue striving toward the vision.

Lean Tip #2495 – Your Vision Should Begin With Your Customers
The long-term survival of an organization depends on how well the organization stays aligned with and serves its internal and external customers. Functional units and the colleagues that comprise them must understand and apply the vision of greatness as they interact with customers and co-workers. 

Lean Tip #2496 – Use a Team to Create the Value Stream Maps and a Plan
Having one person create the map means you used only one brain and two hands. The information gathered may be biased or, even worse, incorrect. Decisions need to be made for what is best for the entire value stream, and that’s hard to do with only one person. Make sure you use a good cross-functional team to walk the shop floor, analyze part flow, gather the information, and then draw the map.

Ideally, someone with experience in VSM should lead the initial meetings. A person who has drawn several maps can help determine the process families with the team, teach the team the correct way to collect data and information, show how to draw the maps, coach toward a better future state, and facilitate a successful event.

Lean Tip #2497 – Draw Your VSM by Hand First
Some VSM software programs help you draw maps and perform many data manipulations. In my opinion, you should learn to draw it by hand first, because it will help you better understand the methodology (see Figure 1). By putting pencil to paper, you emerge yourself in the mapping process, and that’s how it becomes real. Yes, it may seem like a struggle at first, but with practice it becomes easier. The day you can grab a piece of paper, start discussing a problem with a colleague, and draw a map is the day you really start to understand the power of VSM.

Also, maps should be temporary. Once you reach your future state, that becomes the current state and you repeat the process of continuous improvement. Paper and pencil allow you to update maps easily, with no overprocessing waste.

By drawing value streams by hand and sticking to the standard symbols, anyone trained in VSM should be able to read your maps.

If you decide to use software instead of paper and pencil, make sure you are using it for the right reasons, such as for the ability to send a map electronically, and not just to make your maps look prettier.

Lean Tip #2498 – Start With Basic Building Blocks
If you’re trying to create a manufacturing cell when basic concepts such as 5S, standard work, or teamwork are not even present in an organization, good luck. I’m not saying that you can’t jump to a more complex technique or practice right away, but you will have a higher probability for success if you have a start on the basic concepts. This also goes for lean concepts like pull systems and kanban as well as total productive maintenance. Start with some of the basic principles and tools first before you try to implement something more complex.
Lean Tip #2499 – Don’t Expect Everything to Show up on the Value Stream Map
Even though the maps will give you great information and insights for improvement, they typically do not have other enterprise wide initiatives that an organization should undertake during its lean journey, such as 5S workplace organization and standardization. A company needs to have 5S everywhere, and VSMs may show only an area or process that needs 5S, not the entire facility. Also, other important functions like communication and training do not usually show up as an action item on a VSM, but these functions are extremely important while implementing lean concepts.

Lean Tip #2500 – Post Maps Where People Will See Them
Don’t hide your maps. A key benefit of displaying your value stream maps is to communicate what is going to happen at your organization over the next few months or during the next year. Many people resist change because they fear the unknown. Posting the maps with the plan removes or eliminates this fear. It’s also a way to start discussions and obtain buy-in and ideas for improvement. Don’t hide your maps; be proud of them!

Lean Tip #2501 – Listen and Observe to Help Employees Overcome Anxiety.
If you know changes are coming, 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 apprehension becomes apparent through changes in their performance or behavior. This is especially true when change threatens their normal routine. Take the pulse of your organization. Then take steps to deal with the anxiety that you detect.

Lean Tip #2502 – Fix Things if You Can.
After hearing concerns and gathering input, address the issues you have control over. Often, uncertainty results from miscommunication or misunderstandings. If, after listening, you discover an easy way to dispel angst, take the initiative to fix whatever you can as quickly as possible. A reassuring word or guidance from management can have a positive impact on employees in uncertain times. If you find the problems caused by change are beyond your scope, avoid promising things you cannot deliver.

Lean Tip #2503 – Be Positive.
Remain optimistic. Encourage employees to seek out solutions, new ideas or cost savings. Look at 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 encouraging them to take the initiative you help them to keep moving forward and focused on what can or might be done, rather than fixating on events over which they have no control. As a group, craft creative solutions.

Lean Tip #2504 – Focusing on Things Which You Can Do
It is often a good idea to look forward at good things rather than focusing on something very big. It would always be a good solution to stop complaining on any issue and focus on short term solutions. Take time and help to handle the present situation rather than going in for broader ideas. This is one way to handle and overcome uncertainty.

Lean Tip #2505 – Demonstrate Your Concern.

Effective leaders know they can't achieve their goals if their people aren't performing at their 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 care about your people's welfare by understanding their concerns and by doing whatever you can to help them.

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