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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Lean Tips Edition #156 (#2551-2565)

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 #2551 – Communicate Openly
Employees often have a hard time dealing with change in the workplace due to fear regarding its impact on their responsibilities, pay, benefits, and other important aspects to one’s career. Open – and proactive – communication can help alleviate this. Remember: Always tell employees what you know, what you don’t know, and what you’re working on figuring out. They’ll appreciate the honesty and it’ll help keep the rumor mill at bay.

Lean Tip #2552 – Listen Carefully
Chances are your employees have several concerns that have yet to be addressed, and this is true no matter how thoroughly and how often you communicate with them. Set aside part of your day to listen to their concerns and questions, and address them as openly and respectfully as possible. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer yet, let them know you are working on it and will get back to them.

Lean Tip #2553 – Prioritize People Over Processes
Having processes in place can help you deal with change, just as certain mathematical equations can be used to help mathematicians solve unique problems. But ultimately, an equation can only do so much. The same is true of business processes. You can have processes in place to handle unique challenges, but it’s the people behind these processes that matter most.

When confronted with change, a computer program or piece of software is only going to do so much for you. You really need to have strong relationships with people you can trust. Together, you can use your collective knowledge, experience, and creativity to tackle these new issues. Prioritize people over processes and you’ll be better off almost every time.

Lean Tip #2554 – Get Over the Pursuit of Perfection
How many mistakes do you think you make on a daily basis? Five? Ten? Fifteen? Between little things and big responsibilities, we’re all making a handful of mistakes on a daily basis. According to research, the average person will make 773,618 decisions in a lifetime. Of those decisions, 143,262 – or nearly 20 percent – will be regrets. In other words, you aren’t going to be perfect – not even for a day.

The sooner you get over the notion that you can or should be perfect, change will come easier. You’ll put less pressure on yourself and be more willing to confront the challenges and decisions that await you.

Lean Tip #2555 – Know Your Limits
You’re human and can’t be perfect. Once you realize this, you’re free to confront the fact that you have limitations. Recognizing your limits isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, it’s a sign of self-awareness. When you know what you can and can’t do, you’re able to hand off certain responsibilities and processes to other people who are better prepared to handle a specific element of change. It can be humbling to do this, but it’s usually what’s best for the company.

Lean Tip #2556 – Share More, Not Less.
Even in a small company, silos emerge. A policy of more sharing will help everyone stay in touch with what others are doing, and create a collective expectation. Keeping everyone pointed in the same direction is hard; sharing more about what’s going on, how you’re doing things, reasoning behind decisions, etc. will help.

Lean Tip #2557 – Don’t Automatically Blame the Tool.
It’s not the hammer’s fault if the person swinging it uses the wrong end. It just won’t work well. Most tools are decent enough, they’re just used incorrectly. Rushing to change a tool because things aren’t working well may be a mistake.

Lean Tip #2558 – Focus on Gradual Small Changes Instead of Major Shifts
Focus on small gradual changes rather than large changes. Small changes can be made quickly, on a daily-basis, and are typically inexpensive. By focusing on small changes, you can remove barriers from just starting a continuous improvement process. This focus will allow your team to reap the benefits of their “small wins” right away. As more and more small changes are applied, your team will see an accumulation of benefits from them. This will give them more confidence to suggest more ideas.

Lean Tip #2559 – Prioritize Ideas that are Inexpensive
By going after the ideas that do not require a large amount of investment, you can remove the financial barriers of your continuous improvement efforts. This process can empower the line worker to suggest and implement ideas that can improve their working process because they know that their changes do not need upper management approval. Some ideas such as reducing waste, eliminating unnecessary steps, and re-organizing in the work processes fall into this category.

Lean Tip #2560 – Gather Ideas From the People Doing the Work
In a Lean and continuous improvement organization employees are your greatest asset and should also be the source of generating new ideas for improvement. No one knows the work better than the person who performs it everyday. No one has more “skin in the game” about the working process than that person. As a result, the best person to suggest ideas for improvement and to implement them is the line worker.

Lean Tip #2561 – Empower Employees for Improvement
Although employees play a vital part in the continuous improvement process, it is management’s role to train and empower them. Most workers are unaware of Lean principles and practices such as 5S, the 8 wastes, value stream mapping, visual management, Kaizen, etc. As a result, they may not realize that many of the processes that they perform everyday and the frustration that they feel at work are due to unnecessary waste. Additionally some workers are modest and reluctant to share ideas. It is management’s role to educate their staff on Lean tools and techniques that can be applied to the continuous improvement process and to help their employees overcome any personal or psychological barrier that prevents them from trying out new ideas.

Lean Tip #2562 – Educate the Workplace.
Like any other business strategy, ongoing education of the workplace is critical in establishing awareness, developing skills, and institutionalizing the needed mindset and behaviors to bring about effective change. It is no different with Continuous Improvement. Expect and overcome resistance to change with ongoing training, reinforcement of expected behaviors, and recognition of those who are learning and doing.

Lean Tip #2563 – Ensure a Penalty-Free Exchange of Ideas.
In many organizations, expressing one's opinion on how to do things better may not necessarily be a welcomed activity. Management can feel threatened or pressured to act resulting in immediate resistances. And, those expressing ideas may be viewed as complainers or trouble makers. In such an environment, it doesn't take long for the potential risks of making a suggestion to stifle enthusiasm and participation in improvement oriented thinking. Ensuring a penalty-free exchange of ideas is beneficial to both the giver and the receiver of new ideas and approaches and will ensure a safe two way exchange of thoughts and ideas.

Lean Tip #2564 – Use a Consistent Approach for Projects.
A consistent and structured approach for project identification and execution will provide the organization with the ability to identify, select, and manage continuous improvement projects. The continuous improvement project process should also provide post-closing process steps to continually refine the improvement project methodology and to act upon the lessons learn from the project effort.

Lean Tip #2565 – Establish an Enduring Culture.

For continuous improvement to work, there must be a relentless focus on and commitment to getting things right. Adaptability and an action oriented leadership team are inherent components of a continuous improvement culture. Resistance to change exists in all organizations to a degree and it must be recognized for what it is, an impediment to improvement.

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