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Monday, June 21, 2021

Lean Tips Edition #173 (#2806-#2820)

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 #2806 – Foster a Creative Environment.

Allow team members to brainstorm in an open, nonjudgmental framework that embraces the team's purpose and direction. The team has to be secure enough to take risks, both individually and as a team, to be willing to suggest daring ideas. There are numerous ways to give employees the security they need to take risks and be creative. Try periodically hosting a lunch event to celebrate the biggest team flops – to show that "we can't win if we don't fail, and we can have fun by laughing at our mistakes."

Lean Tip #2807 – Build Team Cohesion.

Create a means of communicating that allows for easy workflow, establishes a distinct set of priorities and makes all colleagues feel included. Keeping everyone on the same playbook enables team members to focus and flourish. Jeff Bezos famously established a "two-pizza rule" for the size of teams at Amazon: The number of people on a team was not allowed to exceed what two pizzas could feed. This limit kept the teams at a manageable size, fostering productivity and accountability.

Lean Tip #2808 – Visualize Ideas.

As humans, we interpret visual information much more quickly than verbal information. That’s probably why traffic lights are colors, not words.

Give team members the opportunity to use visuals to clarify and share their ideas at the simplest level. You can do this with anything from rough sketches to full-scale presentations. Most people learn better and retain more when they have seen something, and a shared whiteboard, real or virtual, is a great tool.

Lean Tip #2809 – Give Your Team the Power to Make Decisions

Giving your team the power to make decisions is a great motivation for teamwork. As a manager, you often rely on the expertise of your team for your own decision-making. So why not shift and share the power with your team? This gives them the autonomy and confidence to make decisions that allow the team to move closer towards the overall goal.

Lean Tip #2810 – Foster Creativity and Innovation in Problem-Solving

There are many ways to approach problem-solving and it is usually based on our own personalities and perceptions. For that reason, it is important to give the floor to your team in order to listen to different approaches to problem-solving. In listening to other perspectives, you are likely going to learn from the individuals in your group and adopt practices that promote effective team work.

It’s also important to give your direct reports the chance to solve challenges on their own (by coaching them and asking open-ended questions), instead of trying to give them all the answers and information they need.

Lean Tip #2811 – Make Communication a Two-Way Street

Teamwork only works when team members feel like they can speak openly, share ideas without getting shot down (and build on those of others), make suggestions, and voice their opinions. Make sure communication isn’t just flowing downward, but also upward and between team members. Multi-way communication is the goal. 

Lean Tip #2812 – Promote the Utilization of Your Resources

Your resources aren’t just money and products; they’re the people who hold your business together. Every employee, regardless of what department they work in or how long they’ve been with your company, has their own set of skills, strengths, and knowledge that can be valuable to others. By encouraging each person on your team to look at their peers as a valuable resource, they’ll begin to work together as a team to resolve issues, create new ideas, and even learn new skills.

Lean Tip #2813 – Lead by Example

You should conduct yourself in the way you would like your team members to behave. There is a famous saying that one should be the change they would like to see in the world, and similarly, a manager should live up to the change they would like to see in their office. Make a constant effort to lead by example, so your team knows how you expect them to behave. 

Lean Tip #2814 – Create a Culture of Collaboration, Not Competition

The ultimate goal of teamwork is to foster collaboration but sometimes it might turn into a competition when you’ve multiple teams. Employers often make the mistake of comparing teams with each other which is indeed a terrible practice.

Each team has got its own set of responsibilities and members with unique skill sets. If you’re comparing them with someone else, it’s like disregarding them and their work. It affects team morale and brings down their motivation when they see you praising others. This also gives rise to internal conflicts within the teams that hinder progress.

Hence, you must refrain from creating any sort of competition amongst your teams and encourage inter-team communication.

Lean Tip #2815 – Encourage Trust and Cooperation Among Employees on Your Team.

Remember that the relationships team members establish among themselves are every bit as important as those you establish with them. As the team begins to take shape, pay close attention to the ways in which team members work together and take steps to improve communication, cooperation, trust, and respect in those relationships.

Lean Tip #2816 – Start With Small, Simple Changes

To display the physical benefits of the ongoing change, choose a high-visibility work cell which will serve as a model. This space will be the designated location to implement your first projects.

Avoid beginning with lengthy, costly, and complicated undertakings. Instead, make small tweaks with a big payoff, such as improving a substandard workstation. Once you’ve finished your first project, ask your employees to examine the issue that has been solved—they’ll have the proof right before their eyes.

Starting small means, you’ll be able to show the results to your team quickly and reduce the risk of failure.

Lean Tip #2817 – Ask Employees To Pitch Ideas

Getting employees involved is the surest way to overcome resistance to change—even if you provide Lean training. You will need to make them understand that the ownership of the transformations doesn’t solely rely on 1 or 2 people; instead, it’s company-wide ownership. That way, a Lean culture will permeate all echelons of the business.

One of the best ways to have team members participate in the transition is to gather their ideas by using a suggestion box or board. Your supervisors and those spearheading the improvement process can also help employees make recommendations on an ongoing basis.

Responding to all suggestions quickly is a reliable approach to show that you open to change and innovation.

Lean Tip #2818 – Ask Employees To Help Implement An Idea

Once you’ve collected the various concepts and encouraged employees to play a role in devising the solution, why not ask them to continue the creation process by, for example, having them design their new lean manufacturing workstation? Besides feeling proud of his accomplishment, an employee can improve upon his workstation again in the future according to the company’s unique requirements, when need be.

Lean Tip #2819 – Enforce Improvements

It’s easy for employees to regress to their old ways. Enforcing the changes you’ve made to your processes is important for the improvements you’ve made to last, and it’s key to sustaining continuous improvement in the long term.

Documenting improvements, making sure standard work is up-to-date, and training employees on new procedures can help sustain the progress you’ve made in your continuous improvement efforts.

Lean Tip #2820 – Be Deliberate and Patient.

Creating a culture of continuous improvement is an exercise in demonstrating continuous improvement. You need serious commitment and sustained energy. Many of us make a practice to look for the quickest, highest value wins. Kaizen is more like the effect of oceans on the beach. It’s relentless and disciplined. It can take time to produce the results that many organizations want. A company with this kind of mindset may not be completely ready for kaizen. Also, keep this in mind: even if you have a healthy organization, it will likely be resistant to change.

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