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Friday, January 29, 2021

Lean Quote: Humility and Awe

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"My dreams are my dress rehearsals for my future.  —  David Copperfield

Does everything in life go exactly how you plan it? Of course not.

Here’s the principle: Expect great things to happen, be happy even when they don’t.

However, just because things don’t go exactly according to plan doesn’t mean you aren’t in control. It is your decisions, not your conditions, which determine your destiny.

I don’t think happiness is so much about what you have. What you have changes; your “blessings” evolve. Happiness is about how you interpret what’s in front of you. How proud you are of the way you live your life. How willing you are to enjoy simple pleasures, even if things aren’t perfect.

When you take up the responsibility to live your life according to design rather than default, you will constantly be humbled and in awe. You’ll be blown away as you watch life unfold as you saw it in your head — as your physical world conforms itself to your thoughts.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Lean Roundup #140 – January 2021

A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of January 2021.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here. 

The Disaster of Lean Training - Bob Emiliani questions the impact of short-term training cycles to substantially change us personally or our organizations.

What is Courage & What’s It Mean for Strategy? - Pascal Dennis talks about how we sustain our drive in the face of hurtles, hassles, and hammerheads.

Why Your Productivity Hacks Don’t Hack It - Dan Markovitz shares four countermeasures that will help reduce the systemic load on personal productivity.

What are Lagging & Leading Indicators? How are they related? Why are they important? - Steve Kane shares article to help people at all levels of the organization understand how metrics help process owners more deeply understand the current state of business operations.

How to Have a Happy New Year - Jon Miller discusses whether we make this new year a better one will depend on what we choose to make of it.

Driving Innovation and the Role of the Board of Directors - Jamie Flinchbaugh shares a few ideas on boards can spend more time on innovation then governance.

Leadership Tip #1: Always Tell the Truth, Even When You’re Embarrassed - Johanna Rothman discusses the importance of always telling the truth.

Courage and Bravery - Bob Emiliani asks why people lack the courage to forcefully say what needs to be said to Lean practitioners and business leaders about Lean management.

Amy Edmondson on How to Really Learn From Failure and Mistakes - Mark Graban shares a 2011 HBR article from Amy Edmondson on strategies from learning from failure.

Standardized Work is a Goal To Work Toward, Not a Tool to Implement - Jeffrey Liker explains that standardized work can be an ugly thing in the hands of control-oriented bureaucrats and a beautiful thing when it enables creativity and continuous improvement.

How to Engage Everyone to Create a “Continuous Innovation Machine” - Jim Morgan explains which of the three elements – people, processes, or tools – he believes is paramount in lean product and process development and why.

Let's Celebrate Work - John Shook challenges us to aim to make all work meaningful by building our businesses based on the work itself and prioritizing the means over the ends.

How the Hoshin Kanri Process Coupled with Coaching Drives Lean Transformation,” Part 1 & Part 2 - Laura Mottola shares some of the intangibles you'll need to know to execute an organizational transformation using hoshin kanri.

Ask Art: Why Are Leaps of Faith Involved in a Lean Turnaround? - Art Byrne explains why leaps of faith are required to make a successful lean turnaround.

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Monday, January 25, 2021

The Power of Reflection In The Workplace

In general, reflection is understood as the process of learning through and from experience towards gaining new insights of self and/or practice. This often involves examining assumptions of everyday practices. It also tends to involve the individual practitioner in being self-aware and critically evaluating their own responses to situations. The point is to recapture experiences and mull them over critically in order to gain new understandings and improve future practices.

Reflection is an important part of the human experience that differentiates us from other living beings. It is fundamental to our growth and development, especially in developing higher mental functions such as problem solving and decision-making skills.

Reflection requires several skills which can easily be developed.

  • Self-awareness – an ability to pause, to pay attention to thoughts and feelings and to self-question non-judgementally. This will help you to become aware of your habitual ways of thinking and behaving in any given situation).
  • Description – it is important to be able to describe / recall situations neutrally. These questions can help. What did I see and feel happening? What background factors played a role? What were the things under my control? How would other people involved describe me and the situation?
  • Critical analysis – the ability to challenge your assumptions by asking yourself: Is what I am thinking about myself, others or the situation true? Where do I need to focus next?
  • Review – an ability to pause and to ask: ‘What would I do differently next time and why? How exactly will I do it and how will that give me the outcome I want?’
  • New learning and next steps – an ability to learn about yourself from experiences (your potential and areas for improvement) rather than seeing yourself or others as a failure.

Reflection can be a very empowering process. It can help you to make sense of your day; to come to decisions, to set a course of action; to step away from your habitual way of doing and thinking and discover new freedoms and opportunities.

As a leader, we need all the learning we can get – and reflection is the most powerful opportunity we have. Applying these ideas will make you more effective, productive, and successful in all areas of your life.

So, what have you learned today?

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Friday, January 22, 2021

Lean Quote: The 3 R’s of Choice

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"We are not animals. We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice.  —  Stephen Covey

There are three components to having the power to make choices:

  1. The right to choice
  2. The responsibility to choose
  3. The results of choice

If you don’t believe you have the ability to make choices, you have been deceived. You make choices every single day. You’re making a choice right now.

When you take responsibility for your choices, you realize there is no neutral ground. Every decision you make has inherent meaning and consequence. Every decision you make also reflects what you truly believe, far louder than any words you speak. Thus, what you do with your time actually does matter. Who you spend your time with does matter. Everything you do matters when you take responsibility.

Lastly, results. Every decision has a consequence. Said Dr. Stephen R. Covey,

“We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from those actions are controlled by principles.”

Every decision (and indecision!) has a consequence. Withholding the words, “I love you,” to a child or spouse could be more detrimental than you imagine. Conversely, doing small and simple things, like making someone feel special or smiling at a stranger could change their whole day, and whole life!

To quote the song “Have I Done Any Good?”:

“Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need? Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed. There are chances for work all around just now, Opportunities right in our way. Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,” But go and do something today.”

Every choice has a ripple effect.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Lean Tips Edition #165 (#2686 - #2700)

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 #2686 - Communicate Your Vision to Employees

Every successful business has a vision. Maintain regular communication about the company’s vision and request your employees and other people to help you to achieve it. Sharing your business motives with your employees allows them to set their mission and the future leaders see their future in your company and work towards attaining it. Therefore, it is imperative to have a common goal with your employees. Keep them on track each day to ensure that they do not lose focus. Always remember that the future of leadership in your company is determined by the manner that you handle your current workers.

Lean Tip #2687 - Keep Regular Monitoring, Measuring and Rewarding of the Employees

Every employee should be accountable and answerable for their performance. Those that show great efforts and appetite for producing better results should also be rewarded. Rewarding your employees makes them feel appreciated. They put more effort to clinch higher positions and achieve their goals. Ensure that the incentive and appraisal system that you use evaluates your employees’ performance with fairness and rewards the deserving candidates.

Lean Tip #2688 - Show Employees You Trust Them

If you want to help employees develop, trust them to do their jobs by getting out of the way. Let them know what your expectations are by modeling the behavior you expect—show them you trust them. This not only lets employees know what they need to succeed and gives them greater ownership, but it also shows them that credibility and trust are important in your organization.

Lean Tip #2689 - Teach Employees the Difference Between Leadership and Tyranny by Example.

Employees look to supervisors to set the standard for leadership in any workplace. As the primary example of what leadership look like, supervisors have to strike a balance between tyrant and pushover. You can’t let lousy workplace behavior or poor performance slide, but you also can’t resort to unfair punishment for employee mistakes. Just remember, future leaders in the organization will learn what acceptable leadership behavior is from the current people in management positions.

Lean Tip #2690 - Train Promising Employees to be Active Leaders, Not Passive Ones. 

Leaders need to be engaged in the work they’re doing and in the work they’re supervising. Many employees do not feel that their performance is managed in a manner that encourages them to do the best possible work. Encourage your leaders to take a more active hands-on leadership approach.

Encourage future leaders to bear part of the work burden. Managers and supervisors should delegate work when necessary, but they should also be closely involved with the work of the people they’re leading. Leaders should demonstrate to those under them that they are not above the work they’re assigning.

Lean Tip #2691 – Never Underestimate the Value of Sharing Your Time and Building a Relationship With Staff.

They appreciate your genuine interest in their ideas and thoughts about their jobs. They like bouncing ideas back and forth with you and look for your sincere input on their projects and goals.

The role of mentor and coach is powerful in training your organization’s culture and expectations. It is also a significant source of experiential knowledge, history, work approaches, and on-the-job training.

Pay attention to your staff, recognize them, and provide exciting work. Provide constructive criticism, that they will actually implement, you must have a relationship with them first.

Lean Tip #2692 –One of the Best Forms of Recognition is to Provide Opportunities for a Contributing Employee.

Opportunities can take many forms. But, all of them are outside of the normal day-to-day requirements of their job plan.

Employees appreciate chances for training and cross-training. They want to participate in a special committee where their talents are noticed. They’d like to lead a team that is pursuing an important objective. 

They are happy to attend professional association meetings and proud to represent your organization at civic and philanthropic events. They’d appreciate the green light relative to implementing an idea they have for increasing morale in your workplace. They are eager to stop doing portions of their job that have become rote in favor of new goals and assignments that stretch their skills and build on their abilities.

Lean Tip #2693 – Connect to the Bigger Picture

Recognition helps employees see that their company values them and their contributions to the success of their team and the company overall.

This is particularly key when organizations grow or change. It helps employees build a sense of security in their value to the company, motivating them to continue great work.

Regularly share news about how the company is striving to reach the mission, and explain how individual employee goals relate to that vision.

Lean Tip #2694 – Connect Recognition to Company Values

Another way to ingrain recognition into company culture is to relate it directly to your organization’s core values. This can take praise to a deeper level; rather than simply recognizing an employee’s great work on a project, you can explain how that work epitomizes the organization’s mission and is a key step toward its big-picture goals. Employees will see that their work is integral to the success of the company, which should help to inspire their work on a daily basis.

Lean Tip #2695 – Recognition Is More Than Words

There are so many ways to praise your employees. You can write positive feedback or publicly recognize employees at a team or company meeting. You can give them a handwritten note or gift. If the team has a big success, you can switch up the daily routine—let them come into work a bit late or leave a little early, or do a fun virtual activity.

Another way to recognize employees is through your actions. That could be a raise or promotion, or it could be that you assign them a big new client or let them take on more responsibility. It’s a way to exhibit trust and demonstrate that you’re invested in their long-term growth. Want to learn more? Check out our other resources on recognition and feedback.

Lean Tip #2696 – Earn Respect, Show Humility.

Be willing to admit your flaws, but do not focus on them. You should have some self-depreciation, but it should be paired with self-confidence. People generally will not respect a leader who appears insecure and continuously mentions their shortcomings.

Show your human side but maintain a sense of bravado and self-assurance.

Lean Tip #2697 – Earn Respect, Have Patience With Others.

Realize that co-workers each have their individual levels of learning and adapt to new tasks and job assignments accordingly. Praise others as they master each step of their new assignments. Having patience with others will demonstrate you have confidence in co-workers and believe they can expand their knowledge and skills. People are most likely to respect those who treat well and will not fear approaching them with problems or questions.

Lean Tip #2698 – Earn Respect, Be Inclusive

Tell employees about changes in the organization and what impact it may have on all involved. Encourage employees to ask questions and stay informed about what is happening within the company. One simple way to accomplish is to publish an office newsletter. 

Lean Tip #2699 – Earn Respect, Share Knowledge With Co-Workers

This action demonstrates that you have confidence in their abilities to handle new situations and that you respect them enough to share this important information. As you seek knowledge, you must also learn the value of communal learning.

This will help you form a team mentality in the workplace and include others in your success. Respected people are seldom loners on the road to success. They include others along their journey and make it known that everyone has a role in the success of the company.

Lean Tip #2700 – Earn Respect, Praise Workers

This enhances their confidence in their skills. It may encourage them to work harder and learn new tasks and skills. If you must give criticism, combine it with praise for what the employee does well. If something does go wrong, do not publicly blame anyone else. If addressing a group, explain the problem and what steps are being taken to prevent future occurrences.


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Monday, January 18, 2021

8 Leadership Lessons From Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, January 18, we celebrate across the nation the tremendous legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. His leadership excellence is best exemplified in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech that was delivered on August 28, 1963. In what is arguably one of the most famous speeches in history, Martin Luther King Jr. provided an articulate version for the future of this great nation. The speech contained some great leadership insights. If fact, an executive leadership development program could be built around the lessons from that Dr. King gave in that historic speech.

From Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech there are eight great leadership insights. They are:

1. Great leaders do not sugar coat reality.
Martin Luther King Jr. talked directly about the conflict and brutal reality facing the nation so that he could later set the stage for his vision on how we all can overcome these problems.

2. Great leaders engage the heart.
While logic may compel the mind, stories and metaphors move the heart. This is the difference between offering information and inspiration. Dr. King chose not to make a fact-based argument and instead decided to make a direct appeal to the hearts of the world. In so doing he made history.

3. Great leaders refuse to accept the status quo.
Dr. King refused to accept what was currently acceptable and outlined a bold vision on what needed to be changed – why it needed to be changed – and how it would be changed. Effective career coaching – like what we provide at OI Partners – helps leaders fine tune this critical skill.

4. Great leaders create a sense of urgency.
They are impatient—in a good way. They refuse to just sit by and let things take their natural course. They have a sense of urgency and communicate it. Dr. King reminded America of the “fierce urgency of Now”.

5. Great leaders call people to act in accord with their highest values.
Dr. King took the higher ground of nonviolent resistance that his movement would have the moral authority in their quest for change. Like Ghandi and Nelson Mandela, Dr. King believed that his movement could achieve their objectives by taking a higher standard.

6. Great leaders refuse to settle.
Great leaders know when to be stubborn and when it is better to compromise. Dr. King made a number of compromises on the smaller things, but was relentless when it came to achieving his vision.

7. Great leaders acknowledge the sacrifice of their followers.
They notice the effort their people have expended. Dr. King did not take credit for the accomplishments of his movement. He saw it as a collective effort. From this he received the engagement of his followers.

8. Great leaders paint a vivid picture of a better tomorrow.
Leaders can never grow weary of articulating their vision. They must be clear and concrete. They have to help their followers see what they see. Dr. King talked about his dream:
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

King's impressive command of the above leadership lessons led to truly historic success. They hold powerful lessons for all leaders, and underscore the courage and persistence needed to change the world. Leaders who want to change minds and overcome deeply entrenched prejudices, biases, and misguided values need to master the eight lessons profiled above and illustrated through Dr King's words and deeds.

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Friday, January 15, 2021

Lean Quote: Change Does Not Roll in on the Wheels of Inevitability

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.  —  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., would have been 92 this month, and his assassination occurred nearly 53 years ago. As we get further and further from that time, memories get fuzzy and a kind of collective amnesia sets in. But he provided a great many lessons we should not forget.

Change does not just happen overnight. Lean progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of continuous transformation.

Change is one of the most difficult things for humans to readily accept. Anyone who has worked in or led an organization's transformation understands change is not easy. We are so ingrained in the way that we do things that to do it a new way, or to stop doing something causes us to feel uncomfortable. We equate uncomfortable with wrong, instead of different, and there's a tendency to go back to what was comfortable.

Making a change requires a leap of faith. Taking that leap of faith is risky, and people will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe – and perhaps more importantly, feel – that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction.  Making a change takes lots of leaps of faith.

Leaders may make bold and often unpopular decisions. Effective leaders require courage - to stand up for what is right, for what they believe in, and to take the necessary risks to be innovative and creative.

You can’t move forward if you don’t grow and you can’t grow if you never leave your comfort zone. When possible, leaders need challenge employees to grow. Help them prepare for change by providing them a safe environment to learn from the mistakes that they are bound to make.

Lean is a journey that never ends. There will always be a gap between where you are (current state) and where you would like to be (True North). Since there will always be a gap, there will always be an opportunity to improve. The road to continual improvement can be a rocky one with many ups and downs.

Don’t leave Lean to chance. Be persistent with your transformational change.

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