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Monday, June 24, 2024

Lean Tips Edition #301 (#3541 - #3555)

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 #3541 – Daily Management Best Practice: Ownership for Action Items

When action items are assigned, they should be owned by the person responsible for them. This ownership is not just having a “clearly identified assignee” but making sure that the owner understands the rationale and impact of the action item. Make sure that the action item is something that the assignee can do.

Lean Tip #3542 – Daily Management Best Practice: Avoid the Hero Complex

Make sure that you don’t train your team to look to you as the hero coming to clean up the messes that all teams experience at one point or another. When team members feel unempowered, they tend to look to the heroes to solve their problems or at least to tell them how.

Instead, build up your team’s capabilities to deal with challenges that they face and celebrate their victories when they do. Help guide your team to come up with appropriate countermeasures to mitigate problems. Teams that feel empowered are better engaged and deliver a higher impact.

Lean Tip #3543 – Implement Visual Management Systems

Visual management is a fundamental component of Lean Daily Management. It involves using visual tools and displays to communicate performance metrics, targets, and progress. By implementing visual management systems:

  • Utilize tools such as Kanban boards, huddle boards, and performance dashboards to provide a visual representation of work, metrics, and goals.
  • Ensure that visual displays are easily accessible, understandable, and regularly updated.
  • Encourage teams to actively engage with visual displays, facilitating transparency and facilitating timely decision-making.

By implementing visual management systems, organizations can effectively communicate performance metrics, enhance transparency, and facilitate timely decision-making, ultimately driving continuous improvement and efficiency in their daily operations.

Lean Tip #3544 – Use Gemba Walks for Continuous Improvement

Gemba walks involve leaders and managers observing processes firsthand to identify inefficiencies and gather insights from frontline employees. To conduct successful Gemba walks:

  • Prepare for the walk by defining objectives, selecting relevant observation areas, and gathering the necessary information.
  • Engage with employees on the shop floor, asking open-ended questions and actively listening to their perspectives.
  • Provide feedback and discuss improvement opportunities with the team, ensuring that action plans are developed and followed up.

By utilizing Gemba walks as a tool for continuous improvement, leaders and managers can gain valuable insights by observing processes directly. Preparing for the walk, engaging with employees, and providing feedback enables a collaborative approach to identifying inefficiencies and generating improvement ideas. Through effective follow-up and action planning, organizations can drive meaningful change and enhance overall performance. 

Lean Tip #3545 – Encourage Employee Engagement and Empowerment

Engaging and empowering employees is vital for the success of Lean Daily Management. By involving employees in problem-solving and decision-making, organizations can foster ownership, commitment, and continuous improvement. To encourage employee engagement:

  • Create regular feedback loops, providing opportunities for employees to share their ideas, concerns, and suggestions.
  • Recognize and celebrate employees’ contributions to improvement initiatives, fostering a positive and empowering work environment.
  • Offer training and development programs to enhance employees’ skills and knowledge, enabling them to actively participate in Lean initiatives. 

Lean Tip #3546 – Challenge the Status Quo By Asking the Right Questions

If you keep asking yourself "why" when you're following a process or regular course of action, then you've likely identified something that needs to be changed or improved.

If that's the case, ask yourself and other people questions, in order to fully understand why things are being done in a particular way. There may be good reasons that you're unaware of, or maybe it is just because "that's the way it's always been done."

Let people take their time in answering and listen carefully – their answers may lead to further questions, problems or solutions that you hadn't considered.

Lean Tip #3547 – Challenge the Status Quo by Prioritizing Your Ideas

Perhaps you have a whole list of ideas that you'd like to implement. If so, it's important to pick your battles. Being passionate about change is admirable, but rattling off new ideas every day will see people start to tune out, and your best ideas may get lost among the lesser ones.

For maximum impact, pick the ones that are most relevant and likely to succeed. Choose wisely: take some time for self-reflection at the end of the day, and factor in some personal brainstorming.

Lean Tip #3548 – Challenge the Status Quo by Improving Workflows

One way to challenge the status quo is to present new methods and approaches to completing tasks to boost efficiency and improve results. This could include altering the process you work through to complete a task or coming up with more efficient ways of completing the same task using a different method.

Look at how the company currently does things and identify what aspects of the different processes could benefit from change. It's important to understand when a change would be beneficial, rather than inventing problems for the sake of change.

If you don't know where to start, try thinking of some challenging aspects of a process, and then generate ideas for how you could change that process for the better. When communicating your ideas to others, it's important to frame it as a positive change with improvements in mind. This makes it more likely that people will receive your idea well and consider implementing it.

Lean Tip #3549 – Challenge Status Quo by Inviting Feedback and Input from Diverse Perspectives.

Challenging the status quo requires creativity and innovation, which can be enhanced by exposing yourself and your team to different ideas, opinions, and experiences. Seek out feedback and input from people who have different backgrounds, expertise, roles, and viewpoints from yours, and listen to them with an open mind and curiosity. You may discover new insights, opportunities, or solutions that you would not have thought of otherwise. For example, if you are developing a new product or service, you can ask potential customers, suppliers, competitors, or experts from other fields to test it, review it, or suggest improvements. You can also use tools such as surveys, focus groups, or brainstorming sessions to gather feedback and input from a larger and more diverse group of stakeholders.

Lean Tip #3550 – Challenge Status Quo by Recognizing and Rewarding the Efforts and Achievements of Others.

One of the best ways to inspire and empower others is to acknowledge and appreciate their contributions and accomplishments, especially when they involve challenging the status quo and creating positive change. This can boost their morale, confidence, and motivation, and encourage them to continue or increase their efforts. You can recognize and reward others in various ways, such as giving them verbal or written praise, public recognition, awards, bonuses, or opportunities for growth and development. For example, if one of your team members has successfully implemented a new process or system that improves efficiency and quality, you can thank them personally, highlight their achievement in a meeting or newsletter, nominate them for an award, or offer them a promotion or a new project.

Lean Tip #3551 – Show Your Team You’re Engaged.

If your employees feel that you don’t pay attention when they speak, or that you don’t value their thoughts and opinions, they’ll shut down.

Demonstrate engagement by being present during meetings. This includes making eye contact and shutting your laptop. It’s easy to get distracted by emails, text messages, or Slack during a meeting—but these small acts of disengagement can negatively impact your team’s psychological safety.

Engagement also means listening to what others have to say. Practice active listening. Ask questions to make sure you understand the other person’s ideas or opinions. By actively engaging, you create an environment where people feel it’s only OK to speak up; in fact, it’s encouraged and accepted.

Lean Tip #3552 – Nip Negativity in the Bud.

If you have a team member who speaks negatively about peers, talk to them about it. Be clear; let them know that you work together as a team and negativity will not be tolerated.

When leaders allow negativity to stand, it can become contagious and spread to others. Employees will think that either they’re supposed to talk bad about others, or that others are probably talking about them. In, either case, it’s a psychological safety killer.

Lean Tip #3553 – Include Your Team in Decision Making.

When making decisions, consult your team. Ask for their input, thoughts, and feedback. Not only will this help them feel included in the decision-making process, but it will build psychological safety and lead to better outcomes.

Once a decision is made, explain the reasoning behind your decision. How did their feedback factor into the decision? What other considerations were made? Even if your employees don’t agree, they’ll appreciate the honesty and transparency behind how the decision was made.

When communicating decisions, be sure to highlight contributions from team members. If a certain idea or piece of feedback led to the decision or a successful outcome, acknowledge and celebrate that employee’s contribution.

Lean Tip #3554 – Swap Blame With Curiosity

When team members feel like they are constantly being blamed or criticized, it creates a sense of psychological insecurity and inhibits safety.

Research shows that blame and criticism are strongly linked to defensiveness, leading to individuals shutting down, resisting change, and even leaving the company.

As a leader, try to swap blame with curiosity instead. For example, when team members make mistakes or come up with new ideas that don't work out, ask them questions such as:

What do you think needs to happen here?

How do you think we could have done it better?

What can we do in the future to improve this process?

These questions promote a culture of learning and growth rather than fear. It will help your employees feel like their input is valued and that they can learn from their mistakes. It will also help to reduce the amount of defensiveness and conflict in the workplace.

Lean Tip #3555 – Encourage Experimentation

Fear of failure can be a significant barrier for individuals to take risks, speak up, and bring new ideas to the table.

As a leader, it's important to encourage experimentation and not immediately punish or judge failure. It's about creating a culture where experimenting, making mistakes, and learning from them is encouraged and valued.

For example, you could:

Set aside time for specific projects for individuals to experiment

‍Celebrate small wins or learning moments

Provide resources for career development

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