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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Lean Tips Edition #161 (#2626 - 2640)

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 #2626 - Boards Need to be Accessible and Close to the Workplace

The purpose of visual management boards is to be a reference point for discussions around team performance. Therefore the boards need to be located near where the teams work. That means in a safe location (not a forklift aisle) in the workplace where noise is sufficiently low to allow a conversation and where the board will not be obstructed by materials or machinery. People stand up during their daily meetings, so there needs to be sufficient space to enable the team to meet in front of the board. Lighting also needs to be good enough to read what is on the board.

Lean Tip #2627 - Visual Management Boards Don’t Have to Look Beautiful

One of the greatest frustrations with implementing visual management boards is managers’ preoccupation with aesthetics – how the board looks. I strongly advocate for handwritten graphs and problem-solving strips because this shows that it is the team itself that is updating the data. Using the “green pen = on target, red pen = off-target” approach really communicates strongly to the team how they are going. The team leader has to pick up the red pen to record off-target performance. This is a very conscious act and makes the Team Leader and the team very aware of the problem performance area. It then inevitably prompts a problem-solving discussion about how to turn the red line into a green one.

Lean Tip #2628 – Avoid Having Your Daily Management Meeting Around a Computer Screen

Computer printed graphs and computer “dashboard” screens in the workplace are by definition developed by someone working on a computer. That person is usually a manager or staff member who works in an office and is not part of the team. The act of preparing, printing and posting the graphs lacks the immediacy and impact of handwriting the result using the red or green pen. The computer dashboard approach reduces engagement further because now the data is being fed to the team by a computer and the team are the passive recipients of this information. Computerized production rate clocks or graphs can be useful to maintain a constant takt time during the day, but having a daily team meeting around a computer screen is unlikely to generate much engagement.

Lean Tip #2629 – Make Visual Board About Conversation Not “Wallpaper”

If you think just putting information on a Visual Management Board on the wall will get people to engage, then you will be disappointed. I see many big immaculate visual displays sprawling across entrance halls and walkways with literally dozens of metrics displayed. Here is the bad news: no one looks at them. In many cases, the job of printing the graphs and posting them is delegated to an administrative staff member and not even the business leaders notice or read the graphs. We call this type of visual management board “wallpaper” because that is the only function they serve. The boards need to be the focus of structured daily conversations about how the team is going, what are the barriers to improvement and how these barriers can be overcome. Therefore visual management boards go hand in hand with daily meetings.

Lean Tip #2630 – Provide Visual Factory Training

Visual communication cannot be effective if the employees don’t know what the different signs, labels and other items mean. For example, if you’re using red floor tape to indicate that there is a potential for fire but people don’t know that, they can’t take the necessary precautions.

With that in mind, your facility must provide training to everyone in the area whenever using visual communication. If you’re just implementing a visual strategy you can often do one large training session for all the employees. If you’re just looking to expand and improve an existing strategy you can ensure people are aware of the updates through one on one communication with their supervisors.

Lean Tip #2631 – Use a Skilled Kaizen Facilitator

The facilitator should be trained in lean techniques and philosophies and be able to help your team stay on track and motivate them; the facilitator should be someone who is passionate about creating positive change. You may wish to hire a consultant for this role or train a team leader from within your organization. Having a skilled facilitator is key to the success of your Kaizen event.

Lean Tip #2632 – Make Sure Leadership is Engaged in Kaizen

Make sure your organization understands the importance of the Kaizen event to your business’s bottom line. Gaining buy-in is crucial to the success of your Kaizen initiatives, and if your organization’s leaders are committed to sustaining a culture of continuous improvement, they will set the tone for the rest of the company.

Lean Tip #2633 – Focus Kaizen By Setting The Scope And Limits Of The Event

Clearly define the scope of the Kaizen event. The main focus of the event should be an area or process in which it has been determined that inefficiency is reducing value to the customer. The focus can be narrowed by analyzing KPIs, root causes, and other Lean metrics. Keep in mind that the end goal is to promote continuous improvement and reduce waste.

Lean Tip #2634 – Define The Team For Success

While everyday Kaizen should involve all members of your organization (from employees on the shop floor to upper-level leadership), Kaizen event teams usually consist of 6-10 people and should be strategically chosen. Keep in mind the following when choosing team members:

·        At least half of the team should be made up of people who regularly perform the work that the Kaizen event is intended to improve.

·        Limit the number of managers/company leaders on the team.

·        Choose team members from a wide range of relevant departments, who all touch the process being improved

·        Include people who provide input to the area

·        Include people who receive output from the area

·        Include subject matter experts who have special knowledge about the process.

·        Include someone who’s not directly involved in the process to provide an outside perspective.


Lean Tip #2635 – Define Kaizen Success

It’s imperative to be able to objectively measure success from your Kaizen event and other continuous improvement efforts. Identify metrics that quantify improvements. These may include metrics revolving around quality, cost, resource utilization, customer satisfaction, space utilization, staff efficiency, and other KPIs. Set benchmarks for improvement by measuring your current performance.

Lean Tip #2636 - Give Employees Authority to Make Important Decisions.

To show an employee that you truly trust and respect his opinions let him make decisions that will impact your company’s culture and future. Allowing team members to reward and mentor each other or empowering an employee to decide which vendor you'll use can propel them to take further initiative and trust their own judgment.

As your company grows, you'll need to delegate more work to others; this is an important first step in training yourself to let go of doing things your way, and it's a first step toward training your teammates to have the confidence to manage those tasks without you.

Lean Tip #2637 - Encourage Each Person to Contribute During Meetings.

We’ve all been in meetings when an urge to speak up struck, only to keep quiet. Eventually, you start to feel as if your voice isn’t valued. As a leader, you can prevent that from happening by encouraging your employees to participate in meetings.

Prep your meetings accordingly by keeping them short and focused. Give your team all relevant materials in advance, and pick productive times of the day, such as 10 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Only invite key stakeholders to keep the meeting lean and mean.

Assign attendees specific duties for the meeting so they remain involved, and regularly ask for feedback, invite questions and make your meetings interactive. And if you have trouble getting everyone to weigh in, use your powers of persuasion. Get attendees to say “yes” by having everyone agree to something right from the start. Actively listen, be empathetic and let people “own” their ideas.

Lean Tip #2638 - Recognize Each Employee's Contribution.

Rather than simply assign a task to a team member, explain why she's been chosen for this specific task. For example, you could tell her how awesome her design of Client X's website was and that you have another client who could benefit from her unique skills. Showing how an employee's specific contributions are helping the business succeed offers new motivation.

Likewise, share feedback from clients, co-workers and other leaders. Because customer service is important to me, I pass along positive customer reviews and comments to my team.

Lean Tip #2639 - Inspiration Instead of Motivation!

Motivation is a force from the outside. Inspiration is a force from within. When your team members are inspired, they feel an inner urge to do better. They are not doing it for someone else. They are doing it because they feel like it.

How do you inspire? Delegate the tasks properly. Be an example of the type of worker you want everyone to be. Create a calm workplace that makes them glad they are working for you.

Lean Tip #2640 - Develop An Action Plan

Create an action plan to make the team building part of your everyday work or life. Often retreat days or team building programs have few links with everyday business or organizational objectives. Ensure that when designing the program you create links to the organization or to everyday life so that participants can “bring the learning home”. This can be done by building into the program formal action planning time, and having managers follow up during regular staff meetings. Coaching can be leveraged to keep the “learning alive” after team building events. Research whether individual, team or group coaching will work best for your organization.

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1 comment:

  1. I love lean tip #2639. This past summer my boss was more of a "light a fire under your ass motivator" pre covid. When it got to the dog days of summer and the capacity was getting really really stretched he had to find ways to inspire the guys to keep going. He bared down and starting getting his hands dirty to inspire these guys. He had to raise his work level so they wanted to succeed for him. The employees saw how hard and long he was working and it really inspired them to work equally as hard. A lot of good tips here nicely done.