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Monday, May 30, 2022

Happy Memorial Day 2022!

Many celebrate the long Memorial Day weekend with barbecues and family get-togethers, but Memorial Day is so much more than a chance to kick off the summer months. At its heart, Memorial Day marks a thoughtful day of observance, centered on remembering and thanking the millions of Americans in uniform who gave their lives for this country. Memorial Day's meaning is truly about those heroic women and men, and the remarkable sacrifices they made.

Memorial Day began a few years after the Civil War, in 1868. An organization of Union veterans established the holiday, then known as Decoration Day, as a time to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. From then until the present day, the solemn holiday has been formally observed at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act, which encourages Americans to observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time to remember those who have died in service.

Memorial Day Facts

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. 

The holiday began as a way to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War, but the day now honors all U.S. veterans who have sacrificed their lives.

There’s a specific way to display the American flag on Memorial Day, according to the U.S. Flag Code: hoist the flag quickly up to full staff at sunrise, then lower to half-staff until noon, and then return to the top of the staff.

Many veterans, as well as friends and family of veterans, make a pilgrimage to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., over Memorial Day weekend.

In 1971, Memorial Day was established as a federal holiday taking place on the last Monday in May. 

Poppies have become a symbol of Memorial Day because they are mentioned in a 1915 poem by Canadian soldier John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields.”

Many Americans mark Memorial Day with an official moment of remembrance at 3 p.m. local time.

During the 3 p.m. moment of remembrance on Memorial Day, Amtrak conductors sound one long whistle in honor of those who have died in service.

Traditionally, American presidents give a Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

New York was the first state to recognize Memorial Day as an official holiday.

Some Southern states celebrate a Confederate Memorial Day, or Confederate Heroes Day, in late April, remembering the Confederate soldiers who died during the Civil War.

The first Indianapolis 500 race took place on Memorial Day in 1911. 

The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated by then-Chief Justice William Taft on Memorial Day in 1922. 

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, for each person has their own way of memorializing and honoring the fallen soldiers of the past. However you choose to commemorate Memorial Day, be it with mournful reflection, hotdogs and happiness, or a mix of both, we ask that you do so to honor the memory of those who, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, never forget those who “gave the last full measure of devotion.”

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Friday, May 27, 2022

Lean Quote: Success is Found in Your Daily Routine

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.

"You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of success is found in your daily routine.  —  John C. Maxwell

Establishing a positive daily routine is both a self-investment and a way to do your best for the rest of the world. It also provides additional benefits, such as giving you structure, building forward-moving habits, and creating momentum that will carry you on the days when you feel like you don’t have the strength to carry yourself.

Following a daily routine can help you establish priorities, limit procrastination, keep track of goals, and even make you healthier. It lowers your reliance on willpower and motivation because habits are action[s] that you take on a repeated basis with little or no required effort or thought.

I admit it though; it isn’t always easy to create good habits. As Brian Tracy says, “Good habits are hard to form but easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to form but hard to live with.”

Here’s something really important to remember: what works for someone else, might not work for you. That’s why it’s important to pick the activities that resonate most with you, the ones that push you to become the best you that you are capable of being…and to keep doing those.

Don’t be afraid to try new habits and see how they work for you. If they leave you feeling energized and inspired, keep doing them…if they don’t, keep trying new ones until you find ones that do.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

FAST Diagram: The Function Analysis System Technique

Previously, I shared the six step of value engineering  to systematically improve the value of a products. Within the functional analysis phase (step 2) a FAST (Function Analysis Systems Technique) diagram can be used to deepen the teams understanding of all the functions within the scope of study. The technique uses “How-Why” logic to help describe the project in terms that allow for more effective inventive thinking.

The FAST diagramming is a tool that has been a mainstay with Value Analysis and Value Engineering (VAVE). The FAST diagram provides a graphical representation of how functions are linked or work together in a system (product, or process) to deliver the intended goods or services. By focusing on functions, team and individuals can focus on what is truly important and not ne constrained by physical features of products or processes, leading to better definition of the problem and a clearer path to a solution.

Three key questions are addressed in a FAST Diagram:

  • How do you achieve this function?
  • Why do you do this function?
  • When you do this function, what other functions must you do?

To Create a FAST diagram you:

  • The first step is to brainstorm all the functions the product will serve in the eyes of the customer.
  • The function should be defined as broad and generic as possible, such as produce torque, generate light, shape material etc.
  • The basic function is the overall product function. For example, the basic function of a car seat belt is to restrain a person in a car seat.
  • The Secondary functions:- these are essential to the performance of the basic function and they are direct cause to the basic function.
  • Secondary functions can be categorized into 3 types
    • Required
    • Aesthetic
    • Unwanted by product
  • Expand the functions in the "How" and "Why" directions.
  • Build along the "How" path by asking 'how is the function achieved'? Place the answer to the right in terms of an active verb and measurable noun.
  • Test the logic in the direction of the "Why" path (right to left) by asking 'why is this function undertaken?'
  • When the logic does not work, identify any missing or redundant functions or adjust the order.
  • To identify functions that happen at the same time, ask "when this function is done, what else is done or caused by the function?"
  • The higher order functions (functions towards the left on the FAST Diagram) describe what is being accomplished and lower order functions (functions towards the right on the FAST Diagram) describe how they are being accomplished.
  • Overall function is placed at the top left of the diagram. The sub-functions resulting from how questioning are listed to the right of the overall functions.
  • This string of sub-functions that are critical to achieving the product function is called Critical Path.
  • Other Functions must be listed at the top of the Fast diagram.
    • All Time Functions are functions that are pervasive to the product. Listed on the right of the diagram.
    • One Time Functions are functions are listed at the centre of the diagram.

Let us take an example look at how a FAST diagram looks like for a product. Then we can understand the steps very easily.


The development of a FAST diagram is a creative thought process which supports communication between team members.

There is no 'correct' FAST diagram but there is a valid method of representing the logic in a diagram. The validity of a FAST model for a given situation is dependent on knowledge and scope of the workshop participants. The FAST diagram aids the team in reaching consensus on their understanding of the project.

The development of a FAST diagram is a creative thought process which supports communication between team members.

The development of a FAST diagram helps teams to:

  • Develop a shared understanding of the project
  • Identify missing functions.
  • Define, simplify and clarify the problem.
  • Organize and understand the relationships between functions.
  • Identify the basic function of the project, process or product.
  • Improve communication and consensus.
  • Stimulate creativity.

FAST Diagrams represent a very powerful fool in analyzing complex systems, and boiling down the descriptions of the functions performed into the essence of the tasks that must be delivered. The requirement that functions be described in a two-word verb-noun format is a double-edged sword:

  • It promotes creative thinking in alternate ways to deliver a function; and
  • Limits it by constraining the perspective to looking at only positively framed functions.

The How/Why logical connection between functions serves as an excellent way to verify the validity of FAST Diagrams, and the focus on functions removes the physicality from the system (product, process, or service), opening the creative vista and removing physical and mental constraints in the process. Functional analysis helps make complex systems more understandable. 

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Monday, May 23, 2022

Get Aligned With OARRs

Effective meetings require careful planning and management. Preparing for a meeting involves more than reserving a room, setting up a few chairs and plugging in the coffee. Thinking through the basics of the meeting will help cement a successful effort when the simple acronym O.A.R.R.’s is employed.

O. Desired Outcomes: If a meeting is needed start by defining specific desired outcomes. Think about what would be created or accomplished as a result of the meeting. A desired outcome is a clear concise statement of the end product in 25 words or less. Describe what will be produced such as “a list”, “a plan”, “an agreement”, etc. Desired outcomes promote clear, focused thinking and work towards a common goal. Take the time to develop desired outcomes and get the group’s agreement to work on them. These outcomes need to be in writing, agreed upon at the meeting and visible for all to see. They address such things as products, such as a list, or knowledge, such as awareness or understanding.

Remember useful desired outcomes are clear concise statements that are brief, specific and measurable, using nouns not verbs, and are written from the perspective of the participant.

A. Agenda: The meeting “road map” that includes what will be discussed, time frame and who is responsible for each item on the agenda. It covers all the topics to address the desired outcomes, plus a section for evaluation. List the topics to be covered during the meeting and process you will use. Estimate the time you need for each topic. Prioritize the agenda items and allocate quality-meeting time to the most important items - not at the very beginning or end of the meeting. Be sure to get the group’s agreement to follow the agenda or change as needed.

R. Roles: Each person at the meeting has a specific function or Role. Someone will serve as a facilitator or guide for the meeting, a recorder captures the content or essence of what each person has to say on the “group memory”—large sheets of newsprint paper or easel pads are used for this purpose, a time keeper keeps track of the time and alerts the group when time is running out in each agenda item, and the remainder of the group serve as the content “drivers” of the meeting and participate fully.

R. Rules: A list of 5-7 group-agreed-upon Rules helps maintain focus of the meeting. These meeting agreements are behavioral guides for the meeting session framed in positive terms, whenever possible. They may include:

  • Start and end on time,
  • One person speaks at a time,
  • Listen with respect,
  • Be open to other ideas and perspectives,
  • Make decisions by consensus.


If you want to experience team alignment in a meeting, don’t forget your OARRs. Start every meeting by briefly confirming your Outcomes, Agenda, Roles and Rules to get everyone rowing in the same direction.

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Friday, May 20, 2022

Lean Quote: Fuel Coaching Conversation

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.

"A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.  —  Tom Landry

While the GROW framework is useful in certain goal-centric business needs, FUEL is a more adaptable conversation framework designed to achieve behavioral outcomes, challenge assumptions, and strengthen the relationship between coach and coachee. 

Frame the Conversation 

Understand the Current State 

Explore the Desired State 

Layout a successful plan 

As you can see this sounds very similar to the GROW framework, so let’s explore these steps more deeply. 

The FUEL model has four stages. 

Frame the Conversation 

The coach and coachee discuss and agree on purpose, process, and expected outcomes of the conversation. This can be used for goal setting, delivering redirecting feedback, development plans, and performance appraisals. The coach guides the conversation but the coachee owns the conversation content. 

Understand the Current State 

Next, through questioning the coach helps the coachee recognize where they are today. Both challenge each other’s assumptions about the situation. Challenge assumptions and identify beliefs that may drive the coachees behavior. 

Explore the Desired State 

It is of utmost importance that the coach does not rush the coachee into problem solving – it needs to be slow and deliberate to create the ideal vision and generate alternatives for achieving the vision.  The coach must negotiate and influence as to what would form part of the minimum measures of success 

Lay out a Success Plan 

The coach will then help the coachee develop their own action plan. The plan will need to be specific, actionable, and time-bound (SMART GOAL). It needs to be realistic and feasible to accomplish in the time allotted. Importantly, the plan needs to be the coachee’s plan. They need to own it. 

In summary, any coaching model is an enabler of the coaching conversation and development. The FUEL model pushes more on the coach to develop a breadth of pertinent questions. It also specifically focuses on generating a picture of the desired future state. This creates more emotional engagement. 

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

13th Blog Anniversary

Another milestone. Not sure if this is unlucky since it is 13 but I'll take it. Tomorrow marks the 13th year publishing articles on A Lean Journey Blog.

I’d like to think that I turned my na├»ve endeavor to share learning along my own journey into a successful contribution in the Lean community. As I have said before this labor of love has been a tremendous learning process both from the great fans and other colleagues online that I exchange with and from the process of distilling my own learning with you.

I've been doing this over a quarter of my lifetime so perhaps it has been somewhat successful but let's look at the numbers. In previous years we looked at the number visitors, Facebook fan, tweeps on Twitter, and LinkedIn members as an indication of growth.

So with this milestone, here are some numbers from the blog:

Total Posts: 2265

Most read post:  The Six-Step Problem-Solving Process with over 35,279 views

followed by What Do We Mean By True Northwith over 34,111 views

and by DOWNTIME and the Eight Wastes with over 32,823 views

Number of countries/territories who have visited this blog:  230

Top 5 Countries with the most views:
U.S.A. – 40%
India - 10%
United Kingdom – 6%
Philippines - 5%
Canada – 4%

Total views:  Over 1,925,600 and climbing

Unique visits: Over 1,569,660

Total comments:  Over 1,500

Total Facebook Fans: Over 2,300

Total Twitter Followers: Over 3,650

LinkedIn Members: Over 1,100

Total Tips Shared: Over 3,030

Here are the Top 5 posts from this past year in case you missed them:

Five Ways You’re Stifling Employee Engagement

Using the Gemba Walk to Learn and Engage

I am so grateful to everyone who has read my posts and/or followed this blog and my other blogs. Some of you have been with me since I began this journey.  Even though we never have met, you comment on my posts and continually send me words of encouragement.  Blogging has been a much more rewarding experience than I imagined it could be!  

I would like to thank all the visitors and contributors to A Lean Journey Blog this year and every year.  It has been a successful journey but we aren't done yet. Please, share your feedback so that A Lean Journey can be even more successful in the future.

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