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Monday, January 30, 2023

Lean Roundup #164 – January 2023

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


Systems Primed for Finding Fault - Christopher R Chapman discusses how leadership creates systems that cause fear and blame.


Year End Muda – Bruce Hamilton discusses two unpleasant and counter-productive business customs that occur at the end of the year.


Expand the View of the System to Find Ways to Improve Results – John Hunter shares an example of improvement made possible by expanding the view of the system and viewing the results from the perspective of the customer instead of just looking at internal process measures.


Fred Taylor & Illusion of Top-Down Control - Part I & Part 2 – Pascal Dennis discusses Fred Taylor’s approach and engagement with frontline workers.


Measuring The Pig In The Python – John Knotts talks about the challenges of measuring some processes that can take weeks or months to occur.


ROI: Financial Benefits of Business Process Improvement – JJ Puentes discusses the benefits of racking the ROI of business process improvement.


Huddle Board Examples to Encourage Collaboration – Noah Paratore explains how daily huddles is a powerful tool for keeping improvement work top-of-mind.


Leading by the solving (the right) problems – Juan David Ruiz Valencia says leading by solving problems is a key trait of any lean leader, but it is important to understand that not all problems are their prerogative.


Why is TPS so smart? - Michael Ballé and Alice Mathieu explain a real understanding of Lean Thinking can only stem from an exploration of its tacit aspects, not just its most explicit, easy-to-grasp elements.


The Difficulties of Dazzling Digital Shop Floor Dashboards – Christopher Roser talks all things within digital dashboards on the shopfloor especially the challenges and how to overcome.


The Back Story – A Changed Perspective – Bob Emiliani shares the story behind his new book “A Changed Perspective.”


Lean in One Drawing – Dave LaHote explains in a brief video why it’s vital to view lean thinking and practice as a system.


How to Go to the Gemba: Go See, Ask Why, Show Respect – John Shook shares some guidelines he uses when doing a gemba walk as an outside advisor.


Ask Art: How Do You Align Incentives for a Lean Turnaround? – Art Byrne offers practical strategies for incentivizing employees during a transition to lean management.


A Third-Grade Classroom’s Display on Growth Mindset (and Mistakes) – Mark Graban talks about how teaching about mistakes can inspire a love of learning.


You Have To Start Somewhere – LeanCor shares 4 foundational concepts as a great starting point.


Lean Leadership Begins with Executive and Management Teams – David Sherman explains the importance that lean leadership is prevalent in order to facilitate a problem solving, humble, and waste eliminating culture.


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Friday, January 27, 2023

Lean Quote: Overcoming Adversity Makes Prosperity Sweeter

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.

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.  —  Anne Bradstreet

A study published in the December issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, has found that although we all hope for a life free and clear of stress, the happiest and healthiest people are those who have had at least some early exposure to tough experiences.

Problems, large and small, present themselves to us throughout our existence. Regardless of how sharp, clever, or happy-go-lucky we are, we will encounter struggle, challenges, difficulties and at times, heart wrenching moments.

Learning to deal with, and overcoming adversity, is what makes us who we are. Every challenge, every difficulty we successfully confront in life serves to strengthen our will, confidence and ability to conquer future obstacles.

Business adversity is like a fire. It’s from the inferno where culture is born. Mature cultures know how to deal with the blaze so it doesn’t burn out of control. Without adversity, your culture is nothing more than the potential for greatness. The company’s culture wouldn’t be as strong and mutually supportive as it is. It wouldn’t be as prepared for the next conflagration as it is.

Are you resilient? The possibilities for setbacks are endless. Adversity can make you stronger when you make the choice to grow from it.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Helping Improve Employee Engagement Through Sustainable Practices


Employees want to work for a business that shares their ethics and values. They want to know that their employer has a moral compass and that they are authentically interested in solving the world’s major issues.

Employees also want to feel empowered by their employer. Empowered employees create a culture of community and are more invested in the success of the business.

You can improve employee engagement by tapping into a commonly held value: sustainability. Nearly 9 in 10 people want to live in a more sustainable, equitable world and will work hard to protect the environment.

Introducing Sustainability

Effective leaders are imaginative, driven, and care about their employees. This helps them create greater buy-in when rolling out new initiatives and practices. As a leader in the workplace, you can improve engagement in sustainability practices by educating employees and underlining the need for greater environmental activism.

Start by highlighting the key facts and figures. Draw from trusted sources like NASA and empower your people by giving them access to key environmental data. You may find that some folks are still reluctant to join in with sustainability practices, but others will come around to the idea.

Consider reaching out to employees before you start setting new policies. You may find that your employees are already enthusiastic about making a positive change and have ideas that you had not yet considered. A quick sustainability survey will improve buy-in and ensure you create a sustainable workplace that everyone cares about.

Sustainable Workplaces

Sustainability should start in the workplace. There are plenty of easy changes you can make to minimize your business’s impact on the environment and become a force for positive change.

If your employees wear a uniform or must meet a dress code, consider starting a sustainable clothing scheme that embraces slow fashion and recycled clothing. Keep stock of old uniforms, and offer to repair any damaged clothes. If your employees are due to attend an event with a dress code, consider renting suits and formal wear. This will save your employees money and help reduce their personal waste.

You should liaise with your local council or government to discover sustainability schemes in your area. You may be surprised to learn about new recycling and waste-reduction opportunities in your district. When speaking with local government, use the opportunity to connect with governmental organizations that help you form a deeper relationship with your community.


Employees care about the impact their job has on the world. 74% of employees say that their job is more fulfilling when their businesses make a positive change in their community and 64% of millennials say that they would not work for an employer that does not have a strong corporate social responsibility program.

Sustainability-oriented employees will also want to see your business make a financial commitment to sustainability. If possible, set aside part of your budget for sustainability-oriented outreach opportunities.

You can amplify your business’s impact on the local environment by working with community organizations that protect your local ecosystem. Look for community outreach programs that host opportunities like:

       Community Clean Up

       Community Gardening or Allotment Schemes

       Water Conservation Efforts

       Waste-Free Events

These sustainability opportunities can improve your brand presence and help improve employee engagement. Sustainability-oriented employees will jump at the chance to make a difference in their city or town and will love that your business gives them financial backing.

Setting an Example

As a leader, employees look to you as an example and will model their workplace behavior on you. If you ignore recycling bins and wear fast fashion, they will too. Instead, take your role seriously and try to model sustainability and eco-conscious living whenever possible.

Make your commitment to sustainability public by starting a carpooling scheme. Carpooling is a great way to save money on fuel and reduce everyone’s personal carbon emissions. Create an informal network of contact information and start a rotation so everyone does their fair share of driving. Carpooling employees may even be eligible for financial kickbacks from the Clean Air act depending on the state you live in.

Consider hosting a voluntary sustainability-oriented town-hall meeting once per month. Town hall meetings encourage participation from all levels of the corporate ladder and give everyone an equal voice. Take the suggestions you gather in earnest and try to incorporate as many ideas as possible into your workplace planning.


Your employees want to work for a business that matches their values and commitment to sustainability. Give your employees access to all the information they need and survey them to discover which sustainability policies excite them the most. Set a strong personal example by following your own policies to the letter and offer opportunities to carpool and clean up your community. Even small changes, like offering rented business attire, can reduce your personal carbon emissions and improve employee engagement. 

About the Author: Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and business topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

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Monday, January 23, 2023

Lean Tips Edition #198 (#3181 - #3195)

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 #3180 – Encourage Each of Your Employees to be Their Authentic Selves. 

Everyone has their own unique personality, hobbies, sense of style and passion. No one wants to be a robot or a number. Obviously, there should be some guardrails, but the more you allow your employees to freely express themselves, the happier and more productive they will be.

Lean Tip #3181 – Include Everyone in Goal Setting

It’s important that everyone is heard during the goal-setting process. Each member of your team should feel they can speak openly and contribute their ideas for goals.

Having everyone’s input will help create goals that everyone is invested in.

Write down each team member’s ideas, no matter how silly, so that they feel heard. Together, you can go through each goal to decide if it works for the whole team.

Lean Tip #3182 – Choose Goals That Are Achievable Stretches

The fact that goals have to be achievable is standard advice on the topic of how to set goals. Pretty well everyone knows that there's no point in setting a goal that you will never be able to accomplish. All you'll do is get frustrated and abandon it. Less well known is the fact that goals need to stretch you in some fashion. If a goal isn't engaging, you'll get bored and abandon it.

Lean Tip #3183 - Prioritize Your Goals

Goals don't have to be huge projects that take months or even years to attain, but because they require commitment and need to be worked on regularly, every single goal that you set will be demanding. So don't sabotage yourself by taking on a bunch of goals at a time. Assuming that you are following all the other goal-setting tips presented here and know how to set goals that are worthwhile, I would recommend working on no more than three at a time, and even then you should choose one goal as your top priority.

Lean Tip #3184 - Make Your Goals Visible

To keep your eyes on the prize, put your written goals somewhere you’ll see them. It should be a place you visit regularly so that you’re constantly reminded of where you want to be.

If it’s your personal goals, put them on your bathroom mirror or fridge as a nudge every morning of what you want to achieve.

For teams, your group goals should be somewhere all your team members can see them. This could be a bulletin board or incorporated online into your group management software.

Lean Tip #3185 - Reflect and Adjust

Maybe you haven’t achieved your goals in the time frame you wanted to. Maybe your goals were a bit too unrealistic. And that’s ok.

Rather than feeling defeated, take time to review your goals and see what you can change. You might need to adjust your goals or maybe just tweak your plan to achieve them.

Lean Tip #3186 – Map out Your Plan

It’s not enough to have a goal. You need an action plan to accomplish it, too. This is where many people fail.

They set goals but don’t follow-up and create a plan with the important steps to get started. When this happens, big goals seem overwhelming, and you’re more likely to give up.

Create a road map to reach your goal. Plan one or two actions you can take each week, and focus on doing small things every day. The key is to break your goal down into smaller steps that are more achievable.

Lean Tip #3187 – Take Action Every Day

It doesn’t matter how much you learn if you don’t take action. Don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis. The best way to learn is by doing and to embrace failure—it’s the stepping stone to success for all successful people and their long-term goals.

Everyday actions don’t have to be big. You simply need to take one small step in the right direction.

Lean Tip #3188 – Plan for Setbacks

Being a good goal-setter is kind of like boxing; you need to learn to roll with the punches because you know you’re going to get hit. The best way to minimize the impact of setbacks is to plan for them. Have a contingency plan for when things go wrong, and be prepared to react and learn from those setbacks.

Keep in mind that, while you may have created a timeline, you may need to tweak it later. Life is full of unforeseen complications. If you run into one, adjust your timeline without feeling negative about the change. It’ll only help you move forward in the end.

Lean Tip #3189 – No More Negativity

American writer Earl Nightingale once said “our attitude towards life determines life’s attitude towards us” and it’s true. Project negativity to the world and it will come right back at you. Tell yourself ‘you can’t do this and you can’t do that’ and you won’t be able to do it. As cliche as it sounds, having a ‘can do attitude,’ even if you’re faking it, can really help you realize your goals. Whenever doubt starts to creep into your mind, swat it away and be a glass half full kind of person.

Lean Tip #3190 – Make Your Goals Challenging

Besides making your goals fun and exciting, you must also make them challenging. Why? Because that’s the only way you can grow.

You see, Albert Einstein once said, “A ship is safe at the harbor, but that’s not why it is built for.” Your life is meant to be fun, exciting, and challenging. You want to live a remarkable life, isn’t it? Hence, make your goals challenging.

Think about it, if you are currently earning $5,000 a month, making an additional $100 isn’t going to make you jump out of your bed in the morning. What you want is to have a goal that is challenging and inspiring.

You want your goals to force you out of your comfort zone so that you can grow and become someone better, and worthy of the goals.

Lean Tip #3191 – Embrace Failure

Goal setting rarely runs smoothly. You will hit stumbling blocks that make you question why you attempted in the first place, but that’s part of it, and the sooner you accept that the better. Rather than letting failure bring you down, acknowledge that it’s happened and learn from it. Take note of what worked well, what didn’t and move on. It’ll make you a stronger goal setter.

Lean Tip #3192 - Visualize The End Result

Losing sight of the end result will encourage you to veer off course. One of the best ways to stay motivated is by visualizing the change you want to see. Make this image clear in your mind - the ‘you’ in X amount of weeks time - so when the odd setback does happen, you won’t be fazed and will come back stronger than ever.

And when you do hit your target, treat yourself; you deserve it. Managed to make it around the marathon course blister-free? There’s a post-race beer with your name on it.

Lean Tip #3193 - Identify the Lead Measures

Lead measure is an important measure of your goals. Most people focus on their main target or the results they want, but they don’t focus on their lead measures, and this is why they fail.

Your lead measures are the measures that directly impact the results of your goals.

For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, the two main lead measures are exercise and diet. How much time do you spend to exercise each week? And do you track your diet and calorie intake?

When you achieved your lead measure goals, you will achieve your main goal, which is to increase your sales. So, focus and work on the lead measures.

Lean Tip #3194 – Focus on Making Progress

Next, don’t always think about your goals and the results, when it comes to maintaining your momentum, you need to focus on making progress.

Can you notice the difference? Having a goal is important, but to achieve your goal, you need to make progress. Hence, it is more important to focus on the progress than to only think about your goals and do nothing.

Let your progress motivate you and get you to your goals.

Lean Tip #3195 – Believe in Your Goals and Trust Yourself That You Can Do It

You need to believe in your goals and trust yourself that you can do it. First, you must believe that your goals are possible. And second, you must trust that you can achieve them.

When you truly believe you can achieve your goals, you will do whatever it takes to reach them. Think about why people buy lottery tickets. Well, it is because they believe that they stand a chance to win, right? If you don’t believe you stand a chance to win, you will never bother buying the lottery ticket.

The same goes for your goals. When you believe that you can achieve them, you will do it with a 100% commitment rather than a half-hearted attempt.

Therefore, believe that your goals are possible and trust that you can achieve them.

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Friday, January 20, 2023

Lean Quote: The Importance of Good Deeds

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.

"To be doing good deeds is man's most glorious task.  —  Sophocles

It is important to always show kindness to others and be grateful to the ones who showed us compassion. The story “A Glass of Milk” is a great way to teach this important life lesson that we can enjoy.

In a small town, there lived a poor boy who grew up selling newspapers house to house. He used to make enough money to finance his educational expenses.

He was travelling from home to home, like every day, delivering newspapers even when he felt sick and hungry. He felt he couldn't continue much longer. He was so famished that he proceeded to go to one of the houses and ask for food.

When he knocked at the door, he was surprised to see a lovely young lady answer it. He asked the girl for a drink of water after much deliberation. The young lady saw the boy's predicament and offered him a jug of milk.

The boy gulped the milk and thanked the kind-hearted girl with a surprised expression.

"What do I pay you for this milk?" the boy inquired.

"I'm not looking for any compensation for all of this," the girl said softly. The kid greeted the girl again and again from the bottom of his heart and walked away.

Several years had gone by. The young girl was a grown woman. Tragically, the young woman was identified with a very rare form of neurological disorder. She was hospitalised at the best hospital as her health became more critical by the day.

Kevin, a well-known doctor, was available in that hospital. The physicians at the hospital had asked him in specifically to check her. Despite his exceptional expertise, Dr Kevin found the girl's ailment to be extremely difficult to cure.

He was, nevertheless, able to treat her sickness after much perseverance and hard work. The girl was finally cured of the condition after diligent therapy and observation.

All of the doctors complimented him on his dedication. The girl, on the other hand, was concerned about the hospital bill cost.

Her family had just a small sum of money in the bank, which was insufficient to cover the cost of therapy and treatment. Once the girl eventually received the hospital bill, she was taken aback. She accepted the bill with trembling hands.

She was shocked to discover that the bill had been struck out and cancelled and that behind the bill was a message written by Dr Kevin. The letter read, "Bill paid years ago with a glass of milk!"

This story teaches us the importance of good deeds. The story is a perfect example that one good deed leads to another. It was because the young girl from years ago helped a little boy that she received kindness when she needed it the most. The story also teaches us the important lesson on gratefulness. Since the little boy felt gratitude towards the girl he remembered her all through the years and worked hard to become a diligent doctor.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

What Does Having an Open Door Policy at Work Mean?

The modern corporate world requires management to be aware of what's happening with their teams at all times. They need to know of employee issues that could impact productivity and operations.

Employees have some expectations as well. They want to work under leaders who are willing and eager to resolve any issues they may have.

An open-door policy is a solution in both cases. It helps managers understand their teams and allows employees to be heard. It is a communication policy that encourages transparency, trust, openness, communication, feedback, and discussion among its managers and employees. It establishes an environment of trust and mutual respect between the employer and employee.

Employees or team members at your company need the liberty to walk up to their senior managers whenever they feel needed. It encourages employees at all levels in the hierarchy to take their workplace concerns, suggestions, or questions to their team leaders or managers. It further helps managers and leaders get a clear perspective of everything that is going on in the workplace.

This culture of mutual respect, trust, and open discussion among employees can bring about a change in the outlook on the workplace as a whole.

Here's how your company stands to benefit from the policy:

Understand Employee Attitudes.

An open-door policy creates a conducive environment for open communication. It effectively allows employees to be more forthcoming about the work-related challenges and concerns they face. As such, this policy helps you understand the attitudes and sentiments of your team.

Higher Levels of Engagement.

One of the best ways of ensuring daily operations run smoothly is by staying in touch with what's happening on the main floor. A true open-door policy actively encourages engagements which leads to an efficient flow of information. And this benefits everyone in the company.

Promotes Transparency.

Everyone knows that transparency is key for an effective leadership style. With an open-door policy, employees feel like they can trust their managers and leaders more because they have access to them whenever they need it. This makes the workplace environment much easier to handle because there are no hidden agendas.

Promotes Communication & Teamwork.

When you have an open-door policy, communication between employees is improved significantly. This type of relationship helps facilitate teamwork within the organization because everyone knows they can coordinate with each other easily and quickly when necessary. It makes the work environment more positive, which ultimately leads to better results.

Improved Workplace Relations.

Keeping managerial doors open, both literally and figuratively, cultivates a culture of openness and transparency. It brings down the walls of superiority, and this improves workplace relationships.

An Open Door Policy helps improve communication flow from bottom to top and from top to bottom. It helps in building trust, mutual understanding and improves the effectiveness of the workplace.

It plays a very significant role among manager interactions with employee relations which helps employee productivity increase and also provides a platform where conflict can be resolved through dialogue.

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Monday, January 16, 2023

10 Powerful Lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we celebrate and recognize the life and achievement of Martin Luther King Jr. MLK as they say was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

We can learn many powerful lessons from the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. Dare To Dream

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, and he declared his dream to the world.

He believed in his dream and passionately worked on it to bring it to reality, even though he did not live long enough to witness the full realization of it.

He showed the world to dream big when he declared:

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.” – MLK

Even though the dream was not realized in his lifetime, it was realized in ours.

No matter where you are on the journey, believe in your dreams.

Your dreams are valid, no matter how big they are.

Believe in yourself, believe in your dreams, and work hard to make those dreams come true.

You can do it, so go for it!

2. Love People

Martin Luther King Jr. believed in the power of love.

He taught people around him to love.

Love wins always.

He believed that hating people is stooping low and no one should ever fall prey to hate.

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” – MLK

When you return hate for hate, no one wins.

3. Persevere

They incarcerated him on different occasions, which never deterred him from fighting for human rights.

He showed that the fact that you are going through a difficult time does not signal a great time to quit.

Never quit. Just keep moving forward.

“If you can’t fly then run if you can’t run then walk if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – MLK

4. Invest In Yourself

He believed in empowering the human mind through education.

He described ignorance as a dangerous thing.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – MLK

While he encouraged education, he also believed the lack of education is not an excuse not to serve.

5. Serve People

If anyone ever exemplified a life of service, Martin Luther King Jr. did.

He believes serving others is the epitome of greatness:

“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – MLK

6. Forgive

Be quick to forgive.

Never allow hatred to develop in your heart for anyone.

Preventing hatred starts by learning to forgive quickly.

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” – MLK

7. Stand Up For Justice

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – MLK.

His stance for justice was obvious.

He discouraged keeping quiet in the face of injustice and standing up for what is right.

8. Have Faith

Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of great faith who delighted in doing God’s will.

“I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.”- MLK

Throughout his life, his faith in God was obvious in his thoughts, actions, and speech.

9. Step out of Your Comfort Zone

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – MLK

Successfully pursuing the dream in your heart may involve stepping out of your comfort zone.

10. All Things Are Possible

MLK inspired greatness in people.

He showed us that the human spirit has so much power to accomplish whatever we set our hearts to do.

For him, “impossible” was not an acceptable word.

He dreamed of a future where segregation would be history and everyone would be treated equally regardless of skin color.

He was not only a genuine leader; he was a great leader.

He did not search for consensus but molded consensus.

Martin Luther King Jr. changed the course of the human race.

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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