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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Lean Roundup #154 – March 2022

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

Do Your Job – Bruce Hamilton shares a story regarding CNC set-up reduction involving the need for a repeatable lathe process.

Strategy and the Worlds of Thought & Experience – Pascal Dennis says the movement between thought & experience is central to strategy and problem solving in general.

5 Ways to Be More Grateful and Why Lean Thinkers Should Care – Ron Pereira talks about how to deliberately practice gratitude.

Top 8 Reasons Teams Abandon Their Visuals – Jon Miller explains failure to maintain visual process standards is about “people” and shares the top eight reasons teams abandon their visuals.

Developing Leadership Through Tours – John Knotts discusses how you can use field trips to develop leaders in your organization.

If You’re Going to Visit the Gemba, Your Mindsets and Behaviors Matter… A Lot – Mark Graban says the behaviors of a leader in the gemba matter greatly and explains how to make them impactful.

A Lesson for Enabling Leaders and Systems – Josh Howell says an executive's gemba visit reveals the value of engaging value-creating frontline workers in improving their work processes  and talks about how you can create systems and adopt behaviors that help them do so.

How the Toyota Way and Toyota Kata Fit Together – Jeffrey Liker the author of The Toyota Way explains where Toyota Kata fits with Toyota’s broader management principles — and how each enhances the other to help you build more effective organizations.

Ask Art: How Does Lean Apply to Every Company? – Art Byrne shares a back-to-basics explanation of why — and how — lean thinking and practices can improve the performance of any company or organization.

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Monday, March 28, 2022

Lean Tips Edition #185 (#2986-#3000)

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 #2986 – Watch Your Key Performance Measures

Your strategic plan should include key performance indicators (KPIs) for each initiative. These may be measures for individual employees, departments and the business as a whole.

You must keep a constant eye on the KPIs, reviewing them at meetings and in between. This can be monitored by a suitable KPI dashboard.

Remember that what gets measured gets done. This is a fundamental principle of behavior and organizational change. You have to have the right metrics; otherwise nothing will happen. The right metrics are critical for driving the desired actions, behavior and results.

Lean Tip #2987 – Be Agile and Ready to Adjust

No plan survives the first contact with reality. It’s important for your implementation plan to be agile and flexible.

You can’t predict the future exactly, so be prepared to adapt and adjust the plan as conditions change internally and externally. You have to recognize that executing the plan is interactive and requires continuous adaptation, all focused on moving the needle toward your desired future state. A strategic plan is a living, breathing document.

Lean Tip #2988 – Engage Your Team

To implement your strategy both effectively and efficiently, you need to create focus and drive accountability. There are a few ways in which you can keep your team engaged throughout the implementation process:

·        Determine roles and responsibilities early on. Use a RACI matrix to clarify your teammate’s roles and ensure that there are no responsibility gaps.

·        Delegate work effectively. While it can be tempting to have your eyes on everything, micromanagement will only hold you back. Once you’ve defined everyone’s roles and responsibilities, trust that your team will execute their tasks according to the implementation plan.

·        Communicate with your team and ensure that everyone knows how their individual work contributes to the project. This will keep everyone motivated and on track.

Lean Tip #2989 – Get Closure on Implementation

Once you implement the strategy, connect with everyone involved to confirm that their work feels complete. Implementing a strategy isn’t like a puzzle that’s finished when the last piece is set. It’s like planting a garden that continues to grow and change even when you think you’re done with your work.

Getting closure from your team will be the second to last milestone of your strategy implementation and is a crucial step toward completion.

Lean Tip #2990 – Reflect on the Implemented Strategy

Conduct a post-mortem or retrospective to reflect on the implemented strategy, as well as evaluate the success of the implementation process and the strategy itself. This step is a chance to uncover lessons learned for upcoming projects and strategies which will allow you to avoid potential pitfalls and embrace new opportunities in the future.

Lean Tip #2991 – Develop Metrics for Every Project

Developing performance metrics for individual projects enables you to examine your team's efficiency on the project. If they aren't fulfilling the metrics, you can tell right away that they are underperforming.

Some team members like to hide under the shadows of others and do nothing. For individual accountability, apply the metrics to each of them.

Lean Tip #2992 – Set the Right Targets to Challenge Your Team

Your team members may not be as unmotivated as you think; they probably don't have the right targets to challenge them.

When tasks are too easy, employees become complacent because they know they'll be fine with the barest minimum. Don't give them impossible tasks just because you want to challenge them. You'll end up killing their morale.

Aim for a balance. The idea is to make them stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones to get the job done. The outcome might surprise you.

Lean Tip #2993 – Establish Your Success Measures

Once you are clear of the goals of your performance management system, the next step is to establish what success should look like for each one. In addition to agreeing on success measures related to specific performance goals, it is important to define some measures for your performance management processes (i.e. the actual mechanics). You’ll want to know how easy your employees and managers find the processes and tools they use, how time consuming they are, how well they are implemented, what proportion of people are following the processes and whether people are demonstrating the necessary performance management skills.

Lean Tip #2994 – Align Your Performance Measurement Strategies With Your Organizational Objectives

When any team is developing a performance measurement framework, they must make sure they have clear, defined goals across the organization. Plan out what you want to accomplish before you decide what individual performance goals you will measure.

It's also important to measure factors outside of financial objectives. Make sure to incorporate internal, operational processes into your performance measurement system.

Lean Tip #2995 – Focus on a Few Key Metrics, Rather Than a Slew of Data.

As you begin to identify KPIs for your business, less is worth more. Rather than choosing dozens of metrics to measure and report on you should focus on just a few key ones.

If you track too many KPIs, you might become overwhelmed with the data and lose focus.

As you can imagine, every company, industry, and business model is different so it is difficult to pinpoint an exact number for the amount of KPIs you should have. However, a good number to aim for is somewhere between two to four KPIs per goal. Enough to get a good sense of where you stand but not too many where there's no priority.

Lean Tip #2996 – Offer a Growth Mindset

Managers must offer their employees a continuous learning environment – nurturing, growing and developing them to be better. For example, create career paths for their best people so they grow as workers to benefit their organizations and people to benefit their careers, even if it means that you may lose that person because heart-based leaders want the best for their people.

Lean Tip #2997 – Managers Must be Humble

While it’s hard to measure, it’s the striving to be humble that matters. New managers have to be humble enough to put other people ahead of themselves, not taking credit for organizational accomplishments (since they recognize that the people in the trenches are the ones that “make things happen”). Humble leaders gladly accept the role of learners because they know it will make them better.

Lean Tip #2998 – Communicate Openly and Authentically

This is how managers win the hearts of their people – by being open and sharing plans for the future, communicating important things to their people, and fostering a transparent culture. The last thing you’ll see in a Servant Leader someone that hides behind closed doors. They’re constantly communicating. Giving and receiving feedback on no less than a weekly basis.

Lean Tip #2999 – Allow for Risks to be Taken

Servant Leaders are known for creating an environment in which risks are taken, allowing those around them to feel safe to exercise their creativity, communicate their ideas openly and provide input to major decisions. Because there’s trust there not fear. It communicates to employees of a sense of – “hey we are all in this together.”

Lean Tip #3000 – Listen to Your People!

Not just listening, but active listening. That takes SKILL! They must be open to feedback, and be willing and agile to change when they make mistakes (as a result of listening to constructive feedback that will help them grow as leaders). This is essential in building credibility with followers. When you listen well, you earn respect.


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Friday, March 25, 2022

Lean Quote: Live Like It’s Spring

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.

"Despite the forecast, live like it’s spring.  —  Lilly Pulitzer

‘Living like it’s spring’ can mean many different things to all of us. To a child, it has to do with playing in dirt, picking dandelions, and wearing shorts. To the athlete, it’s the time when exercising goes from an indoor activity to an outdoor one. And to a senior, living like it’s spring may be as simple as dressing in bright colors, noticing flowers in a window box, or sitting out on the balcony for fresh air and blue skies. 

Spring rejuvenates hope in the changing seasons and the cycle of nature. In the dreary dead of winter, it sometimes seems as if spring will never arrive. But it always does. Have faith in the seasons that have yet to come. Just because you can’t see the seeds that lie deep in the ground, it doesn’t mean they aren’t growing. 

Spring brings with it a sense of revitalization. It is no wonder that spring cleaning is a phenomenon: so many of us are simply itching to wipe the slate blank and make our surroundings feel new again! Take advantage of spring’s energy to do something that feels fresh and exciting. Start a project or make a plan to try something you’ve never tried before. Or revisit that ol’ to-do list and blow the dust off a task you forgot long ago. 

While the spring is around only for a period of time, this chunk of time can serve as inspiration. No matter the season, live your life like you would in spring! Appreciate the world around you, see new possibilities, and celebrate! .

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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

7 Traits of a Good Facilitator

Some people believe that facilitating a workshop/team is easy. It is not. When you have a group of people in a room, anything can happen. Some people will dominate the meeting, while others won’t say a word; a few will stick to the issues at hand, many more will go off tangent. Experienced facilitators know how to control a meeting without deciding its outcome; how to follow an agenda while accommodating discourse; how to build consensus without alienation. 

Here are some key traits that an excellent facilitator must-have: 

1. Active Listener 

Listening is a key characteristic for a facilitator. Both being able to listen to others and to encourage others to listen are equally as important. A facilitator needs to be able to actively listen to their group and understand what they are trying to say. Paraphrasing, summing up or using other active listening techniques are great ways to fully grasp and gauge the meaning of what people are saying. An excellent facilitator needs to be able to listen to a group, an individual and also themselves. If you feel like you aren’t feeling yourself, if you are tired this will emerge externally in your facilitation and the group will feel it. 

2. Inquisitive 

Asking questions is crucial to allowing valuable dialogues to be had. The facilitator does not want to simply talk to the group and tell them things and you don’t want to just give the group the answers to their problems. Instead, they must come up with them themselves. Asking open-ended questions that can spark helpful and beneficial discussions that can trigger solutions is much more valuable to all involved. The facilitator must also know how to probe respectfully, firstly to get people out of their comfort zones, but also to encourage participants to delve deeper into thoughts in order to get more out of the meeting. 

3. Authentic  

A good facilitator needs to be authentic. People will soon tune out, disengage and not trust what you are saying if you are insincere. Being authentic allows you to connect and relate much easier with the participants and enables you to bond with them. In order to be an authentic facilitator, you must create a safe space to encourage people to open up and express themselves without the fear of retribution. If people do not feel comfortable or safe to convey their feelings both they and the facilitator won’t be able to present their true authentic selves. Trust is the key to encouraging others to express their true thoughts and feelings. Without trust and authenticity, the meeting will be sure to be a waste of time. 

4. Impartial 

Having an unbiased perspective and not tainting other’s opinions with your own is crucial to allowing open and worthwhile discussions. You don’t want to push your views onto others, instead, you want to create a forum where people can freely discuss and express themselves, enabling problems to be solved and decisions to be made. Not to mention, treating all participants as equal ensures that you maintain honest and open-minded conversations. It will be crystal clear to participants if the facilitator is trying to steer the conversation and push their own predetermined conclusions onto the group. An excellent facilitator provides an unbiased space for alternative opinions and views to be brought up in a respectful way. 

5. Enthusiastic and Encouraging 

A facilitator has to know how and when to bring the energy into the room and at the same time when it needs to be reeled back in. The facilitator’s energy holds the ability to control the feeling and environment of the room. It can help to inspire, encourage and motivate the group in order to provoke solutions and creative ideas if there is a brainstorming exercise or bring the energy back down if a serious discussion needs to be had. The capability to manage the emotions in the room will be of great help when constructive conversations and to keep the meeting on track. 

6. Patient 

As they say, patience is a virtue and it is a fundamental trait when it comes to facilitating. Staying calm in discussions or when things get heated is important to limit any tensions or situations before they occur. As the facilitator, you want to help improve the situation so leading by example and keeping composed is essential. It is almost unavoidable that sometimes things just don’t go to plan. Whether it be technical or process issues, things just don’t always go how you thought they would. The facilitator must ensure they are patient and resolve the issue by encouraging dialogues and introducing different questions to the group as the purpose or plan changes and adapts. 

7. Goal Orientated 

Keeping the participants on track and keeping the conversation aligned with the main outcome is important and sometimes tricky. It is human nature that conversations go off on a tangent, which yes provides some of the most interesting and constructive discussions, but the facilitator needs to know when and how to bring the conversation back to the main purpose of the meeting. If the meeting is too long people will tune out and not focus, therefore managing the time is a tricky but essential part of facilitating. 

Becoming an excellent facilitator takes time and practice. The skills you need will be honed and tweaked over many years of preparing and practicing in real situations. It is very rare that you would wake up overnight and be the perfect facilitator. Successful facilitators are made, not born. 

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Monday, March 21, 2022

Teamwork Requires Open-Mindedness

Open-mindedness is one of the most sought-after employee traits because it helps increase the chances employees will look for new solutions when current processes don't work. Being open-minded means you have a willingness to listen to other ideas and opinions and consider the possibility that you are wrong or may change your own perspective. 

When working in a group, it’s important to keep an open mind. Recognize that your team members may see things from another perspective, and hear them out. Listening to other points of view can help you see multiple sides of an issue, including ones that you have never considered before. This allows you to be a better colleague and leader, to anticipate needs and challenges before they arise and to respond effectively when they do. 

Being open-minded typically makes you more adaptable to a unique work environment and job. Open-minded employees are usually better equipped to cope with jobs and co-workers who are different than what they are used to. This is especially important in the early 21st century, as workplaces become more diverse. Showing acceptance of different cultures, genders, races, ethnicity and ages makes it easier for the hiring manager to take a chance on you. 

An attitude of open-mindedness is also strongly correlated to workplace flexibility. You may get opportunities to participate in a wide array of work projects and tasks because of your willingness to learn and try new things. 

To work in a team together, one has to be open-minded to listen to others and co-operate with them. Without a sense of team spirit, no team can find success. If members of the team are unprejudiced, they can together perform a task well and find a better solution to a particular problem. 

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Friday, March 18, 2022

Lean Quote: Better Days Ahead

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.

"May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.  —  Irish Blessing

Sláinte! The last two years have been challenging to say the least! From the devastating coronavirus pandemic to political unrest and too many other news stories to even mention we're oh so very happy for a new day.

We all go through times where our lives seem out of control. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Sometimes we don’t want to know what tomorrow will bring.

Some days have been so bad. So hard. It seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

I want to encourage you today. There is always hope. There are better days ahead.

Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not the next day. But keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Every day is a new day with new opportunities and new joys.

You’ve got to continue moving forward. That’s the way you live life.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

10 Characteristics of St. Patrick's Servant Leadership

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Lost in the midst of parades, green beer, and Irish music, there is a story of a remarkable leader. That millions of people still celebrate a holiday honoring St. Patrick, 1500 years after his death, attests to his success as a leader.

The keys to St. Patrick’s leadership, from which we can learn for our own leadership development today, most closely relate to Servant Leadership. The Spears Center for Servant Leadership identifies 10 characteristics to Servant Leadership, and St. Patrick’s approach, work, and impact fit perfectly into each of these characteristics.

1.     Listening – The time he took to listen, talk, and answer questions was a recurring theme.

2.     Empathy – Based the trials of his own life, St. Patrick's empathy was displayed when he encountered the trials of others. This was especially clear in his Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus.

3.     Healing – At the end of his letter, he offers the opportunity for them to repent, even after what they had done, he offers the chance for healing.

4.     Awareness – St. Patrick was clearly aware of his own weaknesses and the culture of the Celtic Irish.

5.     Persuasion – His ability to convert strong leaders, Chieftains and Kings.

6.     Conceptualization – The use of the shamrock to articulate the Trinity.

7.     Foresight – The strategy he employed in charting his mission throughout Ireland, carefully choosing each step.

8.     Stewardship – St. Patrick saw the future of Ireland and the care of its people as the core of his mission.

9.     Commitment to the growth of people – He trained clergy and so sustained and consolidated each location before moving on to the next.

10.  Building community – The sites he used as churches were at or near the seats of Chieftains and Kings, many were founded as monastic settlements and became population centers at a time when few existed.

Regardless of a person’s beliefs, there’s no denying Saint Patrick’s enormous influence as a leader. He is an example of leadership that can influence us in our daily work lives.

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