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Monday, February 28, 2022

Lean Roundup #153 – February 2022

A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of February 2022.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

Signs of Spring – Bruce Hamilton shares several metaphorical lessons from the witch hazel and its co-inhabitants of his yard at spring.

Leading to Learn: Ask More, Tell Less – Mark Rosenthal explains the value of asking leading questions to achieve a higher level of implementation of ideas.

Nick Saban on the Power of Process Thinking – Pascal Dennis talks about Alabama football coach Nick Saban and how his approach aligns with process thinking. 

Visual Management – Michael Baudin discusses the key points of visual management and point of intervention.

A Common Tool Trap: the Tool Will Help Your Delivery and Planning Problems – Johanna Rothman explains why tools don't help you work better—they reflect how you work now.

The NBA’s Steph Curry, the Taguchi Loss Function, and Deming’s Funnel Experiment – Mark Graban shares story of Steph Curry’s NBA shooting percentage with statistical analysis and process improvement.

The Continuous Improvement Culture Model – John Knotts explores various facets of a model for building a culture of continuous improvement.

Leverage the Power of Safety to Drive Cultural Transformation – Kevin Meyer describes how making safety a priority can transform your organization.

Leader Standard Work for Time and Contingency Planning – Jon Miller discusses how time planning and contingency planning highlights the important practice of creating and following leader standard work.

Ask Art: Why is a Lean Sensei Necessary? – Art Byrne explains the importance of a lean sensei to bring knowledge and experience on how to transition from traditional management to lean management.

6 Things You Can Do to Become a More Effective Lean Leader – LEI shares a collection of articles from David Verble on how the way managers and leaders talk to employees (and to each other) can contribute, or be a barrier to, creating and sustaining a culture of engagement and continuous improvement.

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Friday, February 25, 2022

Lean Quote: The Servan-Leader is Servant First

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.

"The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first.  —  Robert Greenleaf

In a team led by a servant leader, the leader is one part of the team, and his role isn’t necessarily more important than the role of any other member. Being a servant leader means accepting responsibility for the team—its members, objectives, reputation, morale, and more. The servant leader recognizes that they are responsible to the team, not the other way around, and they act accordingly. Servant leaders lead teams that people want to join.

Servant leaders understand what success looks like, not just for the team as a whole but also for each member. A servant leader enables the success of those they leads, removing barriers and creating an environment for the team to succeed. To be a servant leader to a high-performing team, you’ll need to listen carefully, be attuned to the people around you, and empathically understand what they’re thinking. The servant leader knows their team’s capabilities and desires.

At the same time, servant leadership is more than just doing what the others want. Leaders need to lead—to set direction and lead team members in that direction. Sometimes they need to hold team members accountable, to make tough decisions that some won’t always like, and to encourage (push) people to excel. Sometimes, this is uncomfortable—for the leader and for team members. If leaders don’t do this, however, teams may become too “cozy”; they may lose their edge and start to fail their members.

Effective servant leaders care about others and about helping them succeed as individuals and as a group. Group members can see when a leader cares about their needs and is focused on their success. That service earns him the group’s respect. When a person has that respect, they have earned the title and role of leader.

In your lives today and in the future, you will have many opportunities to lead. If you accept the role of a servant leader, you’ll find that teams will seek you out to lead them, your advice and opinion will be sought, and your team members will also grow and succeed.

From a point/counterpoint perspective, servant leaders:

• Need to listen and know when the time for discussion is over.

• Achieve consensus, but know when to preserve things that are good without floundering in a constant storm of question and reinvention.

• Set/maintain standards and know when to reject what does not maintain those standards or the team vision.

• Serve their customers and know how to make a difference with the team.

Please think about how you can be a servant leader in your current role.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2022

15 Tips to Improve Your Leadership

When you hear the word “leadership” what comes to mind? There are numerous definitions of leadership. For me leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen. Effective leadership comes down to people. It is about the ability to successfully engage and maximize all human resources for the attainment that vision.

Here are some tips for being a good leader in your company.

KEEP YOUR WORD. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

BE FAIR TO ALL. A good leader shows no favorites. Don’t allow friendships to keep you from being fair to all members of your company or department.

BE A GOOD COMMUNICATOR. You don’t need a commanding voice to be a good leader, but you must be willing to step out front with an effective “Let’s go.” A good leader knows how to get and give information so that everyone understands what’s happening.

BE WILLING TO ACCEPT IDEAS FROM OTHER PEOPLE. It encourages other leaders to offer suggestions and ideas you may not have thought of. Their ideas may help deliver a better program for the company. When you are open to their ideas and willing to adopt good ones, the other leaders will have more ownership of the final plan than if you (or an adult) simply dictate to them what the company is going to do.

BE FLEXIBLE. Not everything goes as planned. Be prepared to shift to “Plan B” when “Plan A” doesn’t work. Think about “Plan C.”

BE ORGANIZED. The time you spend planning will be repaid many times over.

DELEGATE. Some leaders assume that the task will not get done unless they do it themselves. Most people like to be challenged with a task. Empower your team members to do things they have never tried, because they want to be trusted to perform their duties.

FOLLOW UP. When people are given assignments, follow up at appropriate times to make sure they haven’t forgotten what they are supposed to do and when. This can avoid problems when a critical aspect of an outing hasn’t been planned or supplies weren’t obtained. However, be careful not to micromanage others to the point that they stop doing things on their own and simply wait for your instructions.

SET AN EXAMPLE. The most important thing you can do is lead by example. Whatever you do, your employees are likely to do the same. A cheerful attitude can keep everyone’s spirits up.

BE CONSISTENT. Nothing is more confusing than a leader who acts one way one moment and another way a short time later. If your employees knows what to expect from you, they will more likely respond positively to your leadership. If you need to change the plan or change your instructions in light of things you didn’t consider earlier, explain this to the company so they will see the need to follow you.

GIVE PRAISE. The best way to get credit is to give it away. Often a “nice job” is all the praise necessary to make a employee feel they are contributing to the efforts of the company.

ASK FOR HELP. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. You have many resources at your disposal. When confronted with a situation you don’t know how to handle, ask someone with more experience for some advice and direction.

CRITICIZE IN PRIVATE. There will be times when you must provide an employee with critical feedback. Pull the employee aside and quietly explain what they is doing wrong. Add a suggestion on how it should be done correctly. Criticizing in public will undermine the employee’s self-esteem and may cause them to quit trying. Never criticize a leader in front of their department. Doing so will undermine their authority and make it more difficult than ever to carry out their role.

ACCEPT CRITICISM AS A GIFT. You may get criticism from other employees and possibly from the adult leaders. If someone tells you that you aren’t doing a good job, ask them what they mean and how you might improve. Criticism, when offered and received properly, can give you ideas for performing your role better. Being open to suggestions and adopting those that will benefit your company are signs of a good leader.

HAVE FUN. Most of all, have fun learning to be a leader. Your joy and enthusiasm will spread to other employees and will help energize the activities of the company.

Good leadership is not reflected in the leader’s actions, it is reflected in the impact and effect of those actions on the team. The best leaders don’t put people in a box – they free them from boxes. Ultimately, a leader’s job isn’t to create followers, but to strive for ubiquitous leadership.

While there are people who seem to be naturally endowed with more leadership abilities than others, I believe that people can learn to become leaders by concentrating on improving these leadership skills with the tips outlined above.

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Monday, February 21, 2022

Three Leadership Lessons Past Presidents Can Teach Today’s Business Leaders

Every year, Americans celebrate Presidents Day as a day of remembrance — a day to look back and learn from our nation’s leaders. In today’s competitive market, business leaders are looking for the edge that will put their organization and workforce ahead of the curve.

This Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 21, it might be time to dust off your history books and delve into the wisdom of the past. Here are three leadership lessons past presidents can teach today’s business leaders.

Develop A Bold and Resilient Attitude

In times of crises, persons with a high tolerance for stress, anxiety, and frustration are less likely to make impulsive or emotional decisions. It’s this sort of resilience that will allow President’s to cope with natural disasters, nuclear threats, and everyday life challenges.

Strengthen your resilience by accepting that change and disorder is a part of life. Rather than detach yourself from stressful situations, embrace the opportunity and take decisive action towards improving the situation, one step at a time.

Establish a Strategy, Not Goals

Goals are easy to create and even easier to toss out the window. In addition, goals can be too broad or big to tackle at first glance. Rather than set yourself up for failure, create a strategy that will help you reach your destination.

Take Risks and Take Ownership of the Consequences

Progress in life can only manifest out of action. It’s not enough to hope or dream of taking actions; a leader must also be ready to act. To do this, confidence in one self is key. Develop confidence in yourself by doing your homework and trusting your instincts.

Secondly, a leader must also take ownership to the results of his or her actions. Whether it’s working on a team or striving to lead the free world, a leader cannot pass blame to other members on the team.

Maintain an optimistic outlook and support team members to get the job done.

I hope this article inspired you to celebrate President’s Day by toning and developing essential leadership skills!

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Friday, February 18, 2022

Lean Quote: The Harder the Conflict, The Greater the Triumph

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.

"The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.  —  George Washington

In everyday life, people face various challenges and trials which in turn create different conflicts in life. The things or challenges that are difficult to overcome yield the most exhilaration once they have been accomplished. If one is not challenged enough to do better or persevere in their understanding, they will be lured to quit at the slightest sign of failure or resistance. 

When faced with a challenging situation, a person becomes stressed and uncertain as to the possibility of whether they will be able to sail through or conquer. If one does not have such an experience, they will not be able to look back in pride and say to themselves that they made it. Despite the fact that it is important to experience pain and setbacks in order to gain a spirit of achievement, the end results outweigh the memories of misery. The great effort put towards completing a given task allows a person to feel happy even in cases where the desired end result was not achieved. 

Notably, many great leaders, thinkers, and business people faced many challenges on their way to success. However, through perseverance, they were able to turn failure into a success story. In essence, the outcomes of great efforts translate into a glorious achievement and feeling of being victorious.  

Different situations call for different approaches with each requiring varying degree of effort to achieve. Some tasks or situations may seem humongous to achieve often leading people to give up along the way. However, those who persevere to the end attain a high level of happiness as they are able to look back with pride and say as Washington put it that “the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” 

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Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Lean Tips Edition #183 (#2956-#2970)

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 #2956 – Establish a Regular Training Schedule

Make it easy for employees to set aside time in their schedules for professional development by establishing a regular time for training sessions. For example, make “Training on Tuesdays” a regular thing, with different types of training happening each week of the month. Skill training could be slated for the first week, leadership development could happen in the second week, with other types of development activities scheduled for the other weeks. This way, employees can easily plan ahead for development opportunities.

Lean Tip #2957 – Source Training Topics from Employees

Try asking employees to suggest learning and development topics that they feel would be beneficial. Team members are much more likely to participate in development opportunities if they’re invested and have some input around what is offered. Plus, you’ll likely get some creative ideas that you might not have thought of on your own. Your development program is only posed to grow stronger when employees are invited to share their suggestions.

Lean Tip #2958 – Support Knowledge Sharing

To encourage even deeper involvement, invite employees who have specialized expertise to teach workshops or lead other types of development opportunities. By encouraging knowledge sharing in this way, you’ll help create a culture of peer-to-peer learning while meaningfully recognizing employees who are willing to share their expertise with others. These extra development efforts made outside of employees’ specific role requirements can also be taken into consideration when the time for performance reviews comes around.

Lean Tip #2959 – Endorse Joining Professional Organizations

Employee development isn’t limited to just courses and classes. Joining professional organizations specific to your company’s industry or employees’ occupations can be a great way for employees to grow and develop as professionals. Not only will they have an opportunity to meet and develop relationships with like-minded professionals, but they’ll also learn new skills while staying on top of new developments in their field. This can serve as a clever way for your employees to network and help your company’s outreach efforts.

Lean Tip #2960 – Be a Role Model via Active Participation

If you're engaging in professional development yourself, your employees will be more likely to do so as well. Be a role model for your team by actively participating in learning opportunities yourself — this could allow employee development to become the norm at your company. By modeling this behavior, you’ll positively impact the perception of your company as a learning organization in which professional development is valued at all levels.

Lean Tip #2961 – Lead With Positivity

Too often workplaces devolve into competitive, toxic environments. Remember, people are more likely to complain about something than they are to praise. Putting positivity and gratitude first is not a natural thing for most people to do, but it can radically transform company culture. A compliment goes a long way in building relationships, motivation, confidence and buy-in. This improves workplace dynamics and staff retention.

Lean Tip #2962 – Focus on the Individual

There’s nothing worse than feeling like a cog in a machine. With increasingly diverse workplace cultures, employees have varied needs, priorities and motivations. Leaders need to identify large scale tactics that don’t seem too generic or “catch all”. But before we can practice inclusion, we must first understand what really matters. Run surveys, diverse focus groups, and find out what’s important to your employees across various career stages, generations, genders, backgrounds, ethnicities, and functions. Enabling your employees to simply feel seen and heard is a crucial part of successfully managing cultural change.

Lean Tip #2963 – Celebrate Small Wins

No doubt you already have a structured schedule of employee 1:1s, annual reviews and formalized feedback loops. These are effective processes to provide a big-picture view of an individual employee’s progress. However, they can also be too infrequent, top down and not transparent enough to impact on company culture. You can make more significant change on a daily bases by creating opportunities to share praise that is not called upon. This makes it more authentic, organic, and appreciation-driven.

Lean Tip #2964 – Define - What’s Your Ideal Culture?

You want a better workplace culture, but what does that mean? To create measurable results and give direction to your teams, you have to define your ideal culture. Put those fantastic ideas for your organizational purpose, core values, and more on paper! Just start defining and then you’ll be able to narrow it down naturally. This is your opportunity to put the flavor of your unique culture out there, so have fun with it and involve your leadership and culture-building teams. If you have core values already, we can revisit them with you in a workshop and help you define what behaviors might support them [bringing us into the next step]. 

Lean Tip #2965 – Reinforce the Desired Culture in All Organizational Systems.

A strong focus on changing behaviors is a necessary condition for success. It is not enough to try to shape attitudes or develop and communicate a set of values; leaders must ensure that incentives reinforce desired behaviors. To support the desired culture, therefore, all key systems must be revised to reinforce the behaviors. All of the important people processes — recruiting, assessment, performance management, and development — must be carefully assessed and consistently modified to drive the desired culture.

Lean Tip #2966 – Make Listening a Priority

It is not enough to simply say that you're going to start listening to your workers, you must make listening to them a priority. It's important to develop active listening skills, so your team knows that you are really listening to what they have to say. Improving your listening skills will make you a better leader and enable you to better manage your team.

Look for and create opportunities to listen to your team. For example, set time aside when conducting both individual and group meetings for your employees to discuss their work experience and provide constructive feedback. Once your team discovers that they are able to provide honest feedback without negative results from management, they will start to look forward to these opportunities to share their ideas with you.

Lean Tip #2967 – Make Engagement Part of Listening

Listening is the starting point for boosting employee engagement in the workplace. When your employees express an opinion, it is important to actively listen to what they have to say by taking the time to ask questions, gather feedback and encourage them to elaborate more on their input so you have a rich understanding of what they’re trying to communicate.

Ensure that you’ve heard them fully by repeating back what you’ve heard, giving them an opportunity to clarify their points if necessary. Engaging with your people in this way will let them know that you are listening to them and it will reduce potential miscommunication between you and your team.

Lean Tip #2968 – After Listening Take Action

Listening is only the first step. You must also take action. This doesn't mean that you have to act on every suggestion or concern that your team has, but you should always closely evaluate what they have to say. Then, when you come across employee suggestions or concerns that call for more attention, don't stop at just listening - take action.

Develop a plan that will put your employee's idea into action. Technology can help with this by delivering bite-sized, personalized actions to employees and managers so that everyone is empowered to impact engagement right away. When your employees know that you are willing to make changes based on ideas or issues they have shared, they will know that you not only want to listen to them - but that you truly care about what they have to say.

Lean Tip #2969 - Follow-Up Is Vital

Listening is not a point-in-time activity, it is ongoing. If you fail to follow up on the input you’ve received, your efforts to show your employees that you are really listening to them will be for naught. For example, take the time to thank your employees for providing honest feedback, let your employees know what actions, if any, are being taken, and use communication tools (i.e., the company newsletter) to share survey results and follow on action. It’s critical that your employees know you’ve heard them, even if immediate change is not possible.

Lean Tip #2970 – Show Employees That You Care

When you listen to their issues and solve it, they believe that you care for them as an employer. When they know you care, then they work harder and aim higher than expected results.

Employees love to work under leaders who care for them, they do not want to be looked as tools or resources utilized for the success of the organization. Employees always want to have a good relationship where employers listen to their concerns at times of professional hardships.

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Monday, February 14, 2022

Valentine’s Day, The Day of Love and Employee Appreciation

Valentine’s Day is, of course, the day of love. It is a time to show the ones you love just how much you care. In the workplace, the holiday can serve as the perfect opportunity to show some of that love to your employees. After all, they are the ones who are working hard for your company, day-in, day-out, all throughout the year. 

By now, you probably know how much value an engaged employee can create for your organization. Businesses with strong employee engagement programs are proven to have a more productive and innovative staff that makes better decisions. 

Employee recognition is one of the key contributors to achieving higher levels of employee engagement. Positive reinforcement can boost morale and help motivate a team to reach its goals and produce real results. But more than half of employees say they don’t feel that their boss does enough to show appreciation. 

The Do's of Employee Recognition  

  • Make each employee feel special 
  • Offer personalized perks 
  • Show honest appreciation for a completed task 
  • Launch an employee recognition program that reflects the company culture 
  • Be fair when it comes to employee recognition 
  • Be proactive in recognizing your employees 
  • Explain why you chose to recognize specific employees 
  • Recognize also teams 
  • Do make employee recognition public 

The Don'ts of Employee Recognition  

  • Don't forget that your employees are your best asset so don't forget to recognize their contribution to the business success! 
  • Don't launch competitive games 
  • Don't forget to reward any kind of contribution to the business 
  • Don't set the bar too high  
  • Don't forget to reward team efforts 
  • Don't ignore your employees' hobbies so you can reward their hard work with personalized perks 
  • Don't forget to make employee recognition fun 
  • Don't forget to encourage your employees, even though they haven't delivered exceptional results yet 

Employee recognition is the key when it comes to employee motivation and employee engagement in the workplace. If you want your employees to feel engaged and stay at the company, you need to show them that you value their work and their contribution to the business. Everyone wants to feel appreciated in the workplace — so why not use holidays, such as Valentine's Day to show your staff how you feel. Remember that your employees are your best asset so take care of them! 

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