Category Archives: People
As agents of change, relationships become an important part of the work. Without relationships it becomes very hard to influence others to change. It seems very intuitive when you say it, but sometimes it is forgotten.
At the start, it is your knowledge and skills about the subject (Skills/IQ) that creates the foundation of the relationship. If you prove to the person you know what you are doing, it creates a foundation of trust.
As the relationship progresses over time, it becomes less about your knowledge. You have proven overtime the skills and knowledge to the other person. Now it becomes about understanding the other person and what makes them tick (Emotional Intelligence/EQ). Keeping the connection while still having open and honest conversations becomes the skill that helps create more and more influence as time moves forward.
I heard this and took the time to reflect on my own relationships. I found this to be true. My skills have gotten my “foot in the door” with people and then once my knowledge was established then it become about how I could connect with the person on a one-on-one level.
As you think about your relationships, do you find this to be true? What are your thoughts?
When creating change it is not always easy working with people. People are the largest variable in any change you want to create. Because of this, different people and situations have to be handled in different ways.
One way is through demonstration. Do the work on a project and show them the benefits of working in the new way. Either show them after the changes are made or have them work alongside you as you make the changes and work in the new way. This way the person gets first hand experience of the benefits.
Another way is coaching. Have them do the thinking and the work on an improvement. Learn by doing. Be there with them, side-by-side. Let the person bounce ideas off you. Ask questions back to them so they develop the thoughts around what actions to take and the benefits gained. This is usually very powerful, because most adults accept change and improvement when they completely understand it and what it can do. This is a great way to gain the buy-in and understanding.
A third way is giving a large learning zone. Give people the time and the freedom to make changes on their own without a ton of bureaucracy. They will make mistakes. It is important not to make it punitive for making a mistake. Ask what they learned and how are they going to correct it. It is amazing what people can accomplish and do when they have the comfort zone to learn.
There is not one way to help people learn. You have to understand the situation and the person to best develop a plan to help them learn. If it is something critical to running the business the learning zone may be smaller because you can’t afford to allow a mistake that shuts the business down, but coaching may be a good way. The next time expanding the learning zone may be better.
If a person has baggage that prevents them from wanting to do improvement then maybe the first way is best. Drag them along and let them see how it can benefit them.
People are our biggest variable to change, but they are also are most valuable resource.
H&H Color Lab began in the basement of Wayne and Shirley Haub’s residence in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, in 1970. Wayne and his brother, Ted Haub, owned a portrait studio that had just landed its first high school senior contract. With a background in and love for color printing, Wayne chose to install his own color processing equipment in the basement of his home.
Business increased, and so did the need for additional space and employees. What began with Wayne doing everything from his basement has grown to 165 people and 55,000 square feet of space over 40 years later.
H&H customers are primarily school/portrait/wedding photographers. The offer a wide range of products from photo prints to books to Leather bound albums and digital products.
In 1999, H&H Color Lab started is Lean journey led by Lee Gabbert. Lee had been with the company for 5 years at the time and was chosen to learn more about lean and teach others at H&H. They started by reading “Lean Thinking” by James Womack and Daniel Jones. H&H also decided to get a sensei to help them learn as they traveled the bumpy road down the lean path.
H&H Color Lab started by setting up work cells, going away from a department mentality. H&H moved to smaller batches, moving cells closer to the monuments (that they couldn’t move), standard work, and lots and lots of 5S.
Muda (waste), lead times, late work and quality all had improved. In fact, the gains from lean had now freed up space that was once occupied by manufacturing departments. It allowed H&H to take the space and use it as a training facility to help customers from all over the United States. Thus, H&H University was born. Roughly 3,000 square feet of space was now designed and transformed into a learning center, working photographic studio with equipment, mock up photography sales room, photography studio work area, kitchen to host all day training, library sitting room with sample products that H&H produce on the book shelves and restrooms. By providing training for customers (mostly free of charge), you truly can engage in a partnership that can grow.
All of this work allowed H&H Color Lab to make a success transition from the “Age of Film” to the “Digital Age”. Understanding their customers and providing training and education others companies do not, shows how the most important part of lean, focusing on the customer, helps you innovate, grow and thrive.
Here are results that H&H Color Lab have seen from their lean implementation.
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New followers of the blog can use this as an opportunity to read posts they might have not seen in the past. While, long time followers can use this as an opportunity to re-read some of the top viewed posts.
This post will count down the 10th thru 6th most viewed posts of 2012. Enjoy!
5. Sportscenter Has Killed U.S. Manufacturing (June 2012) – Previous Year Ranked #3 – Manufacturing is fundamental. The U.S. has lost it’s sights on the fundamentals and is just worried about the flashy. The U.s. needs to get back to the fundamentals in order to get back on top.
4. Need the Mental Toughness of a Navy SEAL (February 2012) – Inspiration of a Navy SEAL got me thinking about the mental toughness it takes to create change.
3. 5S in the Office (September 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #1 – Most viewed post for two straight years now. A look at using 5S in the office. What is going too far and how to use 5S in the office properly.
2. Keys to Sustaining 5S (September 2011) – Tips to help sustain (the 5th ‘S’) the gains made from implementing 5S.
1. Why Are Lean People Seen As Lean People? (February 2011) – Previous Year Ranked #2 – Exploring the question as to why lean people are not seen as more than just lean experts. Looking at a process from end-to-end seems like a good business practice no matter what the role.
I look forward to more posts in 2013!
I was looking at the Top 10 posts for 2012 and noticed that only 2 posts from 2012 made the Top 10. Both posts were from earlier in the year. I finally realized that a post from about May on in the year has very little chance to overcome posts that have a 5 month or more head start on gaining views.
I decided to highlight 5 of the most popular posts written in 2012. Then in January I will post the Top 10 posts for the year.
Enjoy and have a Happy New Year!!!!
5. Misinterpretations of Lean vs. Six Sigma (April 2012) - How Six Sigma and Lean can be misrepresented in what their purpose is.
4. Strategy A3 Downloadable Template (April 2012) – This is the post about the new downloadable template to help with strategy discussions.
3. Visuals Used in the Office (October 2012) – A couple of visual management examples from the transactional workplace.
2. True Mentoring (May 2012) – This is my take on true mentoring versus fake mentoring that goes on in business today.
1. Need the Mental Toughness of a Navy SEAL (February 2012) – Inspiration of a Navy SEAL got me thinking about the mental toughness it takes to create change.
Have a Happy New Year!!!!
Scott Adams does a great job of nailing how typically organizations take on transformational change.
(click on image to enlarge)
Two concepts I see Scott Adams touch on here. The first one is the idea of just speaking about transformational change will cause transformational change. It isn’t enough to just talk about it or say it. It is very hard work to create transformational change.
Which leads into the second concept shown. Transformational change does not have to be bad or painful on people..causing us to want to hurl. It can be good and as management we need to convey a clear message and show actions that back that message up. We have to consider how people process change differently and create change plans with that in mind.
If all else fails….just show them this cartoon.
How is the culture in your organization when it comes to confronting upper management about decisions or direction that may hurt the company? Does your culture allow employees to push back on upper management about a decision? Or does your culture shy away from pushing back afraid the manager will get angry or upset and hold it against them for bringing it up?
We can’t allow our cultures to be afraid to bring up decisions that may be costing the company money. We have to have the fortitude to raise the question and challenge it appropriately. I’m not suggesting to confront leadership with every decision or to do it in an emotional way because you have passion about the decision.
There is a proper way to raise an issue.
- Understand the Current State – Understand what the decision was and how it is understood to help the organization (grow revenue, cut cost,etc…). List the ways the decision is affecting the organization in a negative manner (Causing cost in another area).
- Gather the Facts – Once you have the list of the benefits and negative impacts you need to quantify them. How much revenue is the decision actually generating? How much cost are we saving? What is the cost in the area being impacted negatively? How much rework is the decision causing?
- Make a Recommendation – If you believe a decision is not what is best for the organization then that suggests you have an idea of what would be better. What is the recommendation you have? Quantify what you believe the results would be? Why do you believe that?
- Get Your Ducks in a Row – Think of different angles upper management could take. What are the facts around those options? Would they say, “Become more efficient in the other are.”? If so, how would you become more efficient? What would it cost to implement the efficient way? What would be the savings? When would it pay back?
- Present Your Case – Set up a meeting with necessary people and present your findings. Do it in a business-like manner and stick to the facts. Don’t let emotion control the discussion.
I have found over the years that approaching situations in this manner usually brings out a great discussion and upper management respects the way you handled the situation.
Nobody likes to be lectured about how the decision they made was wrong. It can be disrespectful. Show them it isn’t emotional. It is factual. A lot of times they may not have known what their decision was doing to another area or that it was actually costing the company money looking end-to-end.
I have approached different leaders in this manner several times over the years and all but one case the leader changed their decision once they saw the facts. The other time they still stuck with their decision which was their choice since they were the leader and the decision maker but at least the facts were presented.
How does your organization handle situations like this?
Last season a favorite TV show of mine had it’s final season (House). This season a new show has started that I am enjoying quite a bit (Elementary). The common thread in both shows is the main character is enthralled with solving the mystery. The main tool they use is direct observation. They are incredibly keen with what they see and what it means.
A trait both main characters share is the lack of social grace. They can be considered jerks with the way they ask questions. Yet, people overlook this because they solve the mystery.
I know these are TV shows, but to be that great at directly observing work, do you have to forget about social grace? Does it allow the person ask more direct questions easier? I don’t think so. I may not be Dr. House or Sherlock Holmes but people can observe without losing their social grace. I just find it interesting how TV portrays people with a keen skill for directly observing.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe a person can ask questions and directly observe without being a jerk and do it at an extraordinary level?
“Give a man fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”
This quote comes to mind when thinking about my role as a lean transformation leader. Lean is about how we think and behave. I don’t want to just do things differently. I want to teach and coach others how to think and behave in a way that aligns with the lean principles. There are two major reason for this.
I want the changes that I make to be sustainable. If the people involved in the changes don’t think in a lean way then at some point the changes will not be sustained. The metrics/results/process will slide backwards. In my experience, it slides at least to the previous state if not even further backwards.
The best example is a manufacturing facility that Joe and I worked at together. At one point, the facility was in the red with revenue over $100 million. The company decided to “go lean”. Joe and I, as well as another friend of ours, were tasked with leading the lean initiative in our facility. We became part of the plant staff. The plant manager and the department managers listened to what we had to say. They let us lead the lean initiative. Joe and I did a lot of great things from a lean perspective. In three years, the plant was in the seven figure profit range while revenue had dropped 25%.
This was a collaborative effort to use lean. Everyone played a part in the success. But in a big way, Joe and I failed. We both moved on to bigger and better opportunities. During the turnaround of the facility we did not change the way the plant manager and department managers thought. When some traditional mindsets started to creep back in, we were there to guide back to a lean mindset, but we never really changed their beliefs. We hadn’t taught them to fish. Within a couple of years, the facility was back in the red and back to traditional batch-and-queue mass production manufacturing. The results were not sustainable.
The second reason overlaps with the first. When you transform another person’s thinking, not only will results be sustainable, you have another person who can educate and transform the thinking of others. The lean thinking allegiance starts to spread. Instead of one person trying to transform thinking, you now have two. And so it spreads.
Transforming people for traditional ways of thinking to lean ways of thinking is not easy. The better the support system that is built the easier it is to continue to transform people’s thinking. There are times when a great support system is very reassuring.
These are the two biggest reasons why transforming the thinking is just as important as delivering the changes, driving results.
Last week, I caught a blog Why Apple Has to Manufacture in China. I read hoping to find some practical reasoning as to why it was critical that Apple manufacture in China. I read the post twice and I couldn’t find any reason it was critical for Apple to manufacture in China.
The post does say labor cost is not a reason to manufacture in China.
It is not an issue of labor costs. In fact, labor costs play a very small role in the equation — both for Apple and for Timbuk2.
The post compares Apple to Timbuk2, a company that makes custom bags. Two different business models, Timbuk2′s custom production versus Apple’s mass production. Here is what the post has to say about this.
Timbuk2 manufactures in the US because it produces custom-made bags, orderable through its handy web site, and customers ordering custom bags cannot wait for weeks for a bag to come from China by boat, while shipping by air is expensive and there would still be some uncertainty due to customs clearance. A very similar logic lies behind fashion retailer Zara’s choice to manufacture in Europe, also an expensive location in terms of labor costs. Of course, Timbuk2 does also produce many bags in China but these are mass-produced, non-customized bags, sold wholesale at a fraction of a price of a custom bag, and they are not time-sensitive.
Apple does not produce custom products and so it does not need to deliver quickly — all of its products are standard and mass-produced; just like the standardized bags for Timbuk2, so there is no reason to stay close to end-customers. Moreover, Apple does not change its assortment often — the new iPhone will probably be for sale for another year or two.
There is no need for mass producers to be close to the end-customer?! Really? So it is OK to spend a couple of months to get new phones to the U.S. or pay for air freight (which is quite expensive), if there is a defect in a batch of phones? Not in any business model I know of. That delay risks the loss of customers and costs the company more money than is needed because of the big batches that may have to be reworked or thrown out. Also, when the life-cycle of a product is coming to an end it may cause more phones to be thrown our or discounted because of the large batches.
The post is contradicting itself because it says cheap labor is only a small part of the total cost, but then does not take total cost into consideration when looking at all the freight and inventory and possible obsolescence costs.
So why else is it important for Apple to manufacture in China?
Apple is a huge company and as a New York Times article published in January this year details, its production volumes and often unpredictable engineering changes require manufacturing flexibilities and engineering capabilities on a scale that is simply unavailable in the USA.
Exactly my point about inventory above. The post goes on…
In China, by contrast, manufacturers can deploy thousands of collocated engineers to introduce needed changes overnight, and large supply of labor allows to ramp up and ramp down capacity quickly. There is simply no factory capable of employing 250,000 workers day and night in the USA, surrounded by flexible and capable suppliers. So the location decision isn’t really about labor costs — it’s about manufacturing risk and where that risk is best managed.
Because Apple has bad processes upstream, it is OK to disrupt the lives of thousands with no regards downstream to fix the problem. Reminds me of the saying, “A mistake by you, does not necessitate an emergency by me.” Again, raising the cost to produce.
- Mass producers don’t need to be near the end-customer
- Disrespect for people is OK when fixing a problem you created
Apple may be on top of the hill today, but 2-5 years from now they won’t be. As competitors, like Samsung, close the gap managing cost is going to grow more important. Fixing your processes so engineering changes are not needed overnight and locating close to your end-customer so when you do have an engineering change you don’t have tons of inventory to dispose of is a great way to manage your cost.