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Monday, January 29, 2024

Lean Tips Edition #294 (#3436 - #3450)

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 #3436 – Articulate and Communicate Goals Clearly

A great example of setting work goals is being able to communicate them to the team in an effective way. Often, ideas and professional goals may make perfect sense in the mind but when it’s time to share them with the team, it could be incoherent and incomplete.

The professional skills to articulate goals clearly requires leaders to have exceptional communication skills. Before sharing professional goals with the team, make sure it answers the following questions:

  • What? (The actual goal)
  • Why? (You want to achieve this professional goal because …)
  • Which? (Resources and skills that I need …)
  • Who? (Who will do the work? The team)
  • When? (Timeline/deadline for the goal)
  • How? (Steps/plan to achieve it) 

Answering these questions is a great way to ensure that the goals you have in mind are as ready as they can be in their draft version, before sharing them and improving them with your team.

Lean Tip #3437 – Make Goal-Setting a Team Exercise

The difference between a good leader and a great leader is that the former sets work goals for their team whereas the latter sets goals with their team. 

Team leaders that include team members in the process have a lot more to learn and a higher probability of succeeding. 

The reasoning is simple. Open conversations with your team create a constant feedback loop, refining the outcome every time. This can strengthen the communication channel between you and your team and make them feel included and understand how their work contributes towards the overarching goals. 

Lean Tip #3438 – Clearly Define Success.

Determine clear success criteria for your priority so you know what it looks like to achieve the goal. If your goal is a business one, ensure your expectations of success are aligned with everyone on the team. Everyone needs to agree on when we reach the goal to ensure that we are achieving success. We use a simple Red-Yellow-Green method to set clear success criteria:

  1. Red = Failure or unacceptable performance on the priority
  2. Yellow = Between Red and Green
  3. Green = Successful completion of the goal
  4. Super Green = Stretch goal

Lean Tip #3439 – Change Your environment to Meet Your Goals

In order to reach some goals that you have, change your habits. If you have organizational goals, then one of the first places you can start is by organizing your office and making sure that everything is ready to use.

Even some of your professional development goals can be tied to regular daily habits. For example, if you would like to increase employee engagement and team collaboration within your organization, you might have to start by simply thanking people for the work that they do.

Lean Tip #3440 – Redefine Your Goals When You Fall Short

Every single person on this earth has failed at some point in their life. What really matters is not when you fail, but what you do to affect change in your life. Ultimately, you have two choices: 1. You sulk when you don’t reach her goal, or 2. You pick yourself up and try again.

Lean Tip #3441 – Educate & Emphasize the Importance of Kaizen

Educate on the meaning of kaizen and emphasize a personal understanding of the philosophy of kaizen across all levels of the company. Building a company culture with a steady focus on improvement is critical to maintaining momentum in your kaizen efforts.

Lean Tip #3442 – Empower Your Employees in the Gemba

Employees who are closest to the problems in your operations are the best-equipped to solve them. They are your greatest assets in your kaizen efforts, so give them the support they need to implement improvements. Developing your team’s abilities through training and support should be as much a part of your continuous improvement program as making improvements to manufacturing processes.

Lean Tip #3443 – Document Your Process and Performance Before and After Improvements Have Been Implemented

In order to evaluate improvements objectively, existing procedures must be standardized and documented. Mapping the process’s initial state can help you identify wastes and areas for improvement and provide a benchmark for improvement.

Lean Tip #3444 – Standardize Work for Improvement to Last

In order for improvements to last, they must be standardized and repeatable. Standardizing work is crucial to kaizen because it creates a baseline for improvement. When you make improvements to a process, it’s essential to document the new standard work in order to sustain the improvements and create a new baseline. Standard work also reduces variability in processes and promotes discipline, which is essential for continuous improvement efforts to take root.

Lean Tip #3445 – Create Your Own Kaizen Guidelines

Reflecting on your kaizen efforts after improvements have been implemented is an important part of the continuous improvement cycle. As you reflect on your efforts, develop your own kaizen guidelines. Start by creating guidelines based on your own experiences improving the workplace. Keep in mind that these guidelines should be for your colleagues, your successors, and yourself to understand the problems you have overcome. These guidelines will ultimately help you as you approach your next challenge.

Lean Tip #3446 – Encourage Leadership to be Open-Minded

Continuous improvement works especially well when individuals are encouraged by senior leaders. Prepare your leadership team by offering special training to encourage new ideas and removing any blockers that may be in a team member's path as they are trying to improve a workflow.

Lean Tip #3447 – Don’t Make Perfection the Goal

One of the hardest parts of using the continuous improvement model is the desire to strive toward perfection. This is an impossible feat, and the philosophy behind kaizen is to make small changes to be better than you were the day before. Focusing on perfection can lead your team to make changes that aren’t actually necessary.

Lean Tip #3448 – Troubleshoot in Real Time

One of the most useful concepts in continuous improvement is the encouragement to confront problems head-on in an effort to solve it faster. If an issue becomes apparent fix it immediately instead of searching for the “perfect” solution.

Waiting will inevitably cost time and valuable resources. Instead, on-the-spot troubleshooting allows production to continue while the new, improvised solution can be analyzed using continuous improvement techniques. You might find that what was first a temporary fix could lead to permanent positive changes. 

Lean Tip #3449 – The Rule of 1% Improvement 

Improvement is a never-ending process. There’s always something that can be improved, and there are many ways of doing so.

The Rule Of One Percent Improvement: The rule states if you improve just one per cent each day then at least three hundred sixty five improvements will have been made by your business by the end of the year. It’s about Marginal Gains and it’s like compound interest but for business results.

This means even small changes done consistently over time lead up to big results! Transforming performance may seem like an impossible task but with kaizens, it becomes much more manageable as we take continuous steps towards our goals through our teams and our people.

Lean Tip #3450 – Challenge the Status Quo

Throw out all your old fixed ideas on how to do things. Replace “sacred cows,” personal opinions, and “it’s the way we’ve always done it” with performance facts and data. Numbers are the language of improvement. Avoid the emotional traps of blaming people or making excuses that prevent you from discovering the real problem. Once you have established the new best-way of doing something, stick with it until a better way is found.

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