I am doing something this week that I haven’t done in the three years of having the blog. I am putting the blog on vacation while I am digging my toes in the sand on a nice warm beach. I hope everyone has a great week. I am looking forward to relaxing and unplugging for a bit.
Above is a picture from the beach I will be on. We took the picture last year. Ahhh!
Over the last few months, I have gain a greater appreciation for the role that an IT division plays in a company. It use to be that IT was there to make sure the servers were running and all the software applications were working. Not a small task by any means. There is a lot of building, testing and monitoring that has to go on to accomplish this.
In today’s technology age, a lot more has been added to their plate. With the explosion of wireless technology and cell phones there is a lot more to consider. There is more security exposure through cloud computing and mobile transactions.
Most companies are trying to utilize apps on a tablet or smartphone. It isn’t as simple as building an app. What is security around the app? How do you make the app available? iTunes? Other methods? Are you accepting customer data from the app like credit card information? What is the security compliance to keep that information safe?
It really is amazing all the added responsibility the new technologies have given an IT division in a company.
While all the background work may not be value added to the customer, it is necessary in order to deliver the value to the customer. We must be able to provide the security and app in the most efficient manner.
Are there things you have seen that has increased IT responsibilities in your company?
“I don’t feel like a coach anymore. We are friends and I care about what happens.”
—Usher on The Voice
I know what you are thinking right now, “Did he really just quote Usher on a lean website?”
The answer is yes I did. Usher made that comment about a week ago when asked about his thoughts on coaching his last remaining team member.
The comment struck me because I have had the same experience when being coached and when coaching. The people that have coached me I feel that we have become friends as well as the people that I have coached.
Being a coach is more than just giving instruction, whether it is in business, sports or life. When you are fully vested in coaching you care about what happens to the other person. When you truly care it is hard not to become friends or develop a more lasting relationship.
We may say we are coaching a lot of different people but when it comes right down to it we really only coach a few people at a time. It becomes too intense to do anything more. We may instruct or guide others, but when it comes to coaching there is much more of a personal investment.
Usher wasn’t the only coach to make similar comments. I noticed that other coaches on The Voice have said the same thing about caring for their team members they coach.
Who has coached you? Do you still talk with the ones that really had an impact on you whether it be sports or business?
If you are a male like me you may hate shaving as much as I did. I saw it as a chore. Something that had to be done because I didn’t want a huge ZZ Top beard. Because I didn’t want to do it, I took the short cut. I used an electric razor and then used a multiple blade hand razor to get what was left. The results…lots of ingrown hairs, a super sensitive face that stung when any lotion was applied and bleeding through my neck area. Not cuts but blood seeping through almost like a scrap.
A few weeks ago, my wife talked me into going into a shave specialty shop. I spent a good 30 minutes with the sales woman. She showed me their natural shaving products and then talked about the proper process for shaving. I learned that for most men, the multi-blade hand razors are still very irritating to the skin. The best are the old school single blade razors that you screw into the handle, not the cheap disposable kind.
So what is the proper process for shaving?
- Wash your face
- Apply an essential oil to help the hairs stand up and to lubricate
- Apply shaving cream to a shaving brush in a small amount. I learned that badger hair is naturally anti-bacteria.
- Use the shaving brush to apply the shaving cream to your face
- Shave face going WITH the grain. Use short strokes and rinse.
- Apply more shaving cream with the shaving brush
- Shave face going AGAINST the grain. Use short strokes and rinse.
- Rinse face and dry
- Apply after shave balm for soothing and moisturizing
If you are like me, you are thinking, “really?! That seems like a lot and over the top.”
My wife convinced me to give it a try, so I bought the brush and the oil, shaving cream and after shave balm.
It has been a few weeks and I have to say the results are amazing. I get a much closer shave so I don’t have to shave as often. I have had zero ingrown hairs, my face is less sensitive and I don’t bleed when I shave.
You might be thinking, “Great to know, but in the world does this have to do with lean?”
The answer is…a lot.
Too often we don’t want to follow the process because it seems long, over done or a pain, so we take short cuts. We may end up getting some good results once, but that won’t be repeatable. Take the problem solving process. We may short cut investigating the current state and what the problem truly is. One time we may get a good solution in place, but other times it is patchy results at best.
As tedious as it may seem at times, we should always follow the process when we know it will give us good, sustainable results.
5S is a process to achieve a safe, efficient and organized workplace. It allows people to see if things are abnormal quickly, so they can address the issue. It does not keep people from doing something. 5S just allows someone to see if something isn’t right quickly.
The Five S’s are:
- Sort – Decide what is needed and what is not needed. Get rid of the things not needed.
- Straighten – Understand how things are used and put them in an appropriate place for the work space.
- Shine – Clean and label the area.
- Standardize – The work you have done is the new standard and needs to be kept that way.
- Sustain – The hardest part is not to let the work space degrade. Put checks in place to keep the standards in place.
Quite often 5S is equated with being lean. A large number of people believe that 5S is foundational to being lean. The thought is 5S is the first thing an organization must do to be lean. That is not necessarily the case.
Something as simple as organizing the workplace can help improve the efficiency of many things you do. I have seen 5S help gain large improvements with quick changeovers of machines. Looking for tools always seems to be the biggest waste when breaking down a setup of a machine, so having the tools in a particular spot every time can help a lot.
5S is not just for the manufacturing floor. It can benefit any work space, including in the office. But you do have to be careful. When it comes to 5S in the office many people get carried away. They prescribe marking where the computer should be and taping an outline around the stapler at everyone’s desk. This isn’t the purpose of 5S, so be sure to do 5S correctly in the office in environment.
Think of a NASCAR garage when doing 5S. It is spotless. The reason, so any drip from the car can be seen immediately and the problem can be addressed. You can’t go too far with organizing your work place.
5S is hard work. The hardest part is sustaining the work of the first 4S’s. Sustaining the work takes discipline. If the discipline is maintained the rewards of 5S can be great.
Good luck on your path to success with 5S.
A topic that comes up a lot here and around the blog sphere is around leadership and what it looks like in a lean environment. There are many great perspectives on leading in a lean organization.
Mark Graban has done a great job breaking down some of Dr. Deming’s view on how to lead a transformation and what the role of a manager of people should be. Dr. Deming’s teachings still ring true today. His thoughts and leadership are timeless.
Mark also took some great notes from Art Byrne’s speech at the AME Spring Conference. Art spoke about why and how to do lean, but the most interesting part was Art’s thoughts on management principles. It is another great blog post summary of leadership.
Jamie Flinchbaugh wrote a great blog about the difference between tension and stress. Jamie explains a leader’s role in creating tension. Knowing you are not where you are supposed to be but understanding the gap and developing a plan to close it. Jamie does a great job of explaining how stress is not a good thing but tension is very healthy.
Steve Roesler explains how effective coaching as a leader leads to commitment from the employees. Steve’s ‘what it takes’ and ’3 to-dos’ is very insightful.
And awhile back Mark Welch wrote a great guest blog for Beyond Lean about being a Servant Leader. He looks at how Jesus was a servant leader and what we can learn from it for a lean organization.
There are many great blogs about leadership. I encourage you to make copies of a few and refer back to them occasionally. It is always good to get a refresher.
Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II. My father-in-law and step-father fought in Vietnam. Their sacrifices as well as all veterans will always be remembered.
If you know a veteran, thank them today.
Have a great Memorial Day!
Visuals really help people understand the information. Everyone sees the same visual and it starts a good conversation allowing people to gain high agreement. The issue is all the visuals I listed are tools and as with any tool you need to understand when to use it.
To be effective with using visuals, you need to understand what information the group is trying to understand. What is the purpose of the visual? Who is the audience? What do they need to learn from it?
Most of the time the standard visuals will be perfect. You can use them and get everything you need. That is why those tools are well known, because they are used all the time and work. But sometimes, they won’t.
Don’t be afraid to make up a visual tool to present the right information in an easily digestible manner.
Here are a couple a colleague and I came up with for a recent event:
This one shows the % of time people spent doing different tasks throughout the day. It helped the group better understand who was doing what and for how long.
This one shows the frequency of tasks. Daily, Weekly or Monthly? What was the task done on? Who many times on that day?
In both cases, the different colored post-its represent different areas of the company doing the work.
As you can see, the standard visual tools would not have shown this information in a easy manner to understand. We designed this for the group and it worked very well.
We can’t always rely on the tools we have and know in our toolbox. Sometimes we have to think outside the toolbox. It is important to understand what your customer/group is trying to accomplish and design the visual accordingly. Don’t meet the needs of the tool. Meet your group’s needs.
A huge take away from some of the studying of Toyota and case studies I have seen is that everything they do is considered an experiment. Every cycle on the assembly line. Every product development project. Every meeting. Everything is a test to see if they got the expected results from the process. If not, why?
It may seem excessive but it isn’t. If a process is designed to deliver certain results then we are doing ourselves a disservice if we aren’t stopping to ask if the process did deliver the expected results. If not, why? If so, why? What can we learn? Positive or negative.
This can be applied to all work. Many studies state that having an agenda and a plan for a meeting is important to making meetings effective. If that is the case (and it has been in my experience) then afterwards we should ask if we accomplished what we had on the agenda and did we stick to the timeline?
A person example is the agenda I use to conduct improvement (or commonly called kaizen) events. I have a detailed 3-day agenda that is my standard work. Each time I have timing information for every phase of the agenda. During the event, I note the time that I move on to the next phase. After the day is over, I reflect to understand if my experiment is working or not. If something took more time I try to understand why. If it went quickly I try to understand that too.
Approaching each improvement event as an experiment that is testing my standard process has allowed me to learn and create new ways to approach different phases of my agenda. I have discovered quicker and more effective ways to accomplish some of the tasks.
To truly learn and improve a person has to look at everything as an experiment testing our standards. People need to be open to learning with everything they do.
I had the pleasure of being a guest blogger on Karen Wilhelm’s Lean Reflections site. I wrote about the debate between centralizing versus decentralizing functions of a business.
Here is the beginning:
Should we centralize or decentralize our function?
Have you ever heard this question come up? I bet so. It is a very common question. The discussion could be around any area of service like procurement, IT, HR or many other functions that I haven’t mentioned.
I always seem to get the follow up question of “So what does lean say we should do?”
My simple answer is “Whatever makes the best sense for your company and your situation today.”
Most hate hearing this, but it is the truth. There is no lean perspective on this question. Both sides have good points and bad points to them.
You can read the rest over at Lean Reflections...