There is nothing more invigorating than a sponge.
Not the type of sponge you clean with, but a person that soaks up everything and is eager to learn.
I recently have been working with a facility on implementing lean thinking. At this facility is an operations manager that is trying to take in everything she can. It is amazing to watch her. Everything that is said and talked about is taken in, absorbed and thought about how it applies for her staff and herself.
One walk on the floor to spot issues in 5S and questions about if it is important to her whether it is maintained or not turns into a maintained 5S effort over the last month. She didn’t just go out and demand it be done. She asked the employees in the area if it was still needed and if so, what needs to be done to meet their needs. The employees wanted it and now are maintaining it.
The next time more in-depth questions on maintaining material levels led to thinking and study of a process to be sure the material levels are maintained.
In the short time I have been working with the group, I can list of more examples of taking the learning and turning into action than the past year of efforts in other areas.
Seeing others start to soak up the lean thinking like a sponge and grow is an invigorating feeling that gets the blood pumping.
Are you a lean sponge?
Karen Martin and Mike Osterling are consultants that have been helping companies with seeing their business through a different lens. Karen and Mike have co-authored two books in the past: The Kaizen Event Planner, a well written how-to guide for planning, executing and following up after a kaizen event and Metrics-Based Process Mapping, a how-to for using key metrics to analyze and improve processes. Value Stream Mapping is their third book together and again they have done a fantastic job.
Name of the Book: Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation
Author: Karen Martin and Mike Osterling
Publication Date: December 2013
Book description: what’s the key message?
Karen and Mike explain the in’s and out’s of understanding and completing a value stream map. They discuss how a value stream map is a tool that can help senior leaders and executives see their business in a new way. A transformative way.
Karen and Mike take the reader through all the steps. They explain the importance of setting the stage prior to the starting the value stream map in order to enable success in changing the business. Karen and Mike also walk the reader through the best ways to understand the current state of the business and the importance of understanding the current reality no matter how sobering it is. Next they walk the reader through developing the future state and then the transformation plan.
This book is not just a “Go do it this way,” book. The book is very complete and explains why the process they describe works.
What are the highlights? What works?
Most people miss the main point of value stream maps. They are about changing the mindsets of an organization through building a strategic direction with a lean lens. Karen and Mike do a great of reiterating this point throughout the book.
If you have never seen or been through a value stream mapping session this book is a great guide. The explanations are spot on. Karen and Mike hit on the most important metrics that can be used on a value stream map in order to get the most out of it. They explain how the map is not complete without the metrics, which is something a lot of people will leave off when doing the map.
The examples of value stream maps in the back of the book can help a reader with guidance in building their own. I know they are in the appendices but it is worth it to study all the examples.
The book also has a link to a downloadable charter and transformation plan templates. I found them to be very helpful.
What are the weaknesses? What’s missing?
The book is very well done. Not only a step-by-step but a great explanation of why for each step. There is one thought that I believe is missing in doing a value stream map. That is the concept and discussion around ideal state.
When doing a value stream map, I find invaluable to have a discussion on the difference between ideal state (perfection) and future state (somewhere between current state and ideal state). Usually, this discussion takes place after building the current state map. The team writes out bullet points of what the ideal state would look like. After that is completed, then build the future state. The ideal state discussion helps to stretch the thinking of the team and as Karen and Mike put it “help change the DNA of the organization.”
Having a direct conversation around ideal state is a step that I feel is important and I wish Karen and Mike would have spent some time on in the book.
How should I read this to get the most out of it?
The book can be used in two ways. One way is by someone that has been tasked to help an organization create a value stream map. It can be used as a learning text book. It can help the reader learn the in’s and out’s of creating a value stream map and give them guidance. Or even as a refresher for an experienced value stream map facilitator.
Another way for the book to be used is as an education piece for executives and senior leaders that want to change their business. It can help them understand their role in the value stream transformation process and how they can help the facilitator before, during and after a mapping session.
Kudos to Karen and Mike for another great book.
I have talked in the past about the importance of direct observation. The power in seeing the waste for yourself. It really shines a light on what is really happening and it also is the best way for a person to continue to learn.
The question is, “What do you do with those observations?”
Most often, I see people run out and try to eliminate or reduce the waste or even assign it to someone else to do. While not entirely a bad thing, if you are trying to instill a lean culture don’t just jump to trying to improve.
Stop and reflect about what you are trying to do as an organization and use the waste you saw as a way to further the lean culture.
Most organizations I have seen do not have a systematic way to eliminate waste. Usually, this is because waste is one of the first things people learn about lean. What happens is people just go out and attack waste (again not a bad thing) without any direction.
If your organization is early on in trying to implement a lean culture, think about how you can make the waste elimination systematic.
Is this a good way to engage employees in a kaizen event to start to build trust? Could be an easy win for everyone.
Should an improvement board to post the waste seen and how it is detracting a better option? Use the waste you saw as an example of how to use the board and go and eliminate it yourself or with the help of others, but be involved.
If you observed multiple areas, do you want to concentrate in one department? Make it a model for others in the organization.
Think about how you can make the waste elimination sustainable and systematic. This will benefit you and the organization in the long run.
Last week, I mentioned that I would talk more about the lean forum I attended. The theme of the forum was leading lean. Several speakers presented and they all did a fantastic job. One of the speakers was Jamie Flinchbaugh of the Lean Learning Center. Jamie outlined five leadership moves that demonstrate lean leadership.
- Actively Engage, Don’t Just Delegate
- Apply Lean to Your Work
Over the next few posts, I thought I would share the message and how I personally have exhibited the behavior positively and negatively, because we all must learn from our mistakes.
Actively Engage, Don’t Just Delegate
This is about actually being out front and engaging in the change. Engage with people and with lean. Transforming an organization to a lean thinking culture is not something a leader delegates to others. Be involved.
I have had to be the first to design and analyze an improvement. Then go sell it to leadership. In one instance, it took almost two years to get the idea approved. It was something that had never been done in industry at the time. In order to reduce inventory and quicken lead time, I worked to have 2200 Ton injection molding presses directly tied to a massive electroplating line. It took time but as it started to take shape others took notice and came forward with new ideas that would change the way production was handled at the facility.
I haven’t always been actively engaged though. I have tried to design changes and then hand them off under the guise of “they need to learn like I did.”
I needed to actively engage the team to help get the idea through. Instead, the improvement died on the vine and nothing changed. I was a poor leader because I kept mentioning that it could be better but didn’t engage and get and help to make it better.
When leading a transformation the leader needs to be actively engaged throughout the process and show everyone it will be alright.
How are you actively engaged in your lean transformation?
Today’s post is from Tony Ferraro, on behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR (www.creativesafetysupply.com). Tony strives to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. His knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. Tony believes in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier employees.
Have you ever walked into a work facility and taken note of an atmosphere full of complaints and unmotivated workers? I have, and let me tell you first hand it’s not a fun place for anyone to be. In fact, it is basically the opposite of what is needed for growth and success. Why are these employees creating such a negative work environment? Or is the negative work environment caused by something other than employees? Well, many times the work atmosphere is a direct result of leadership. Great leadership can motivate employees, create an environment conducive to high levels of productivity, and create unparalleled levels of employee job satisfaction, while not-so-great leadership can single handedly flush an entire business down the tubes. Whether we want to believe it or not, good and strong leadership is essential to the success of a business.
Creating Good Leadership
Good leadership isn’t something that just happens on its own, good leaders have to be trained, empowered, and willing to help others reach towards success as well. By doing this, the leaders help to motivate and grow the employees by guiding and leading by example. In order to empower employees, there are some basic elements that contribute tremendously to creating strong and positive leadership:
*Create a Positive Work Environment: A productive work environment that yields high levels of success is similar to having rich soil in your garden. The richer the soil, the hardier and more desirable the harvest.
*Empower Others to Grow: Being a leader isn’t just about focusing on being a leader and growing oneself, but it is also about empowering others to grow as well. Good leaders take the time to discuss with employees where they would like their career to go and help them to develop and refine their skills to help them achieve their career goals. One of the most depressing things to an employee is to believe that they have no opportunity for growth and that they will be stuck in a dead-end job doing the same thing for the rest of their lives. When employees elicit this mindset, their levels of productivity drop significantly and they are attending work for only a paycheck and that is it. This is poison to the success of a business.
*Think outside the Box: According to Rita Mae Brown, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” Don’t harbor insanity, instead if you want to strive for different results, changes must be implemented. The same goes with leadership, when leaders embrace the practice of thinking outside the box and are willing to think creatively, the sky is truly the limit.
*Encourage Experimentation: This component of leadership is similar to thinking outside the box but this tactic is more about encouraging employees to engage in experimentation. Employees should be praised for coming up with new ideas to help enhance products and streamline processes.
*Always be willing to Help and Listen: A good leader should always be willing to help employees. Whether there is a disagreement between two co-workers or a machine that creates constant headaches, an effective leader is someone who will be there to help sort out the details and rectify any issues or problems.
Never underestimate the power of great leadership. However, it is a mistake to just assume that because someone is in a management position that he or she is or will be a great leader. Instead, a leader takes time to create and must be willing to learn the important and crucial elements that make a leader great.
It looks like others are finally catching on to something the lean community has been talking about for years. Employee engagement benefits companies in many ways. The article talks about how employee engagement does more than just boost productivity. It helps with absenteeism, delivering company results and turnover rate.
Jim Harter Ph.D., a chief scientist at Gallup Research explained what engaged employees do differently in an email interview: “Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise, because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.”
Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? If you are engaged and part of the solution and the work then you pay attention and take it personally.
Harter also reiterates things the lean community has been trying to get people to understand for year.
Engaged employees “listen to the opinions of people close to the action (close to actual safety issues and quality or defect issues), and help people see the connection between their everyday work and the larger purpose or mission of the organization.” When engaged employee do this they create a virtuous circle where communication and collaboration nurture engagement and vice versa.
I appreciate the studies Harter has done, but why do we need studies to know and understand all of this. Lean organizations did read a study and then engage their people. Lean organizations engaged their people out of respect. Looking at people as more than just ‘hands and feet.’ When they did they saw all these benefits. Lean organizations have been trying to tell others this for years.
It is amazing that studies have to be done to understand this ‘phenomenon’.
So how can we engage our people?
One way to simplify it is to focus on purpose. Communicate the purpose of the organization, and how employees’ individual purposes fit into that purpose. When employees “clearly know their role, have what they need to fulfill their role, and can see the connection between their role and the overall organizational purpose,” says Harter, that’s the recipe for creating greater levels of engagement.
How are you engaging your people?
I am still amazed at what can be accomplished by improving the process first and then looking at how technology can support the process. I have always been a big advocate of looking at process first. Yet, still today I see great cases of studying the process first and then implementing supporting technology. In most cases, the technology needed to support the process is simpler than the original technology plans.
The rewarding part of the work is having success in an area that was hesitant to have the process work done. An area claiming just to need the technology. After completing the process work and seeing the benefits, that same area starts to ask for more process work to be done. That is a great feeling.
Another benefit of getting people to see the benefit of doing the process work first is they start to ask more questions around the end-to-end process. People start to see the entire process and the affects a change has in one area can have on another area. The end-to-end discussion becomes easier for people to have.
This shift in mentality can start to break down work silos and get more people engaged in the entire process.
Are you doing end-to-end process improvement at your company? Is it starting to change people’s perspective?
Last week, Beyond Lean focused on strategy deployment or hoshin kanri. A great concept to help align the priorities for the organization during the year. A term that appeared was “catch ball”. This is a term to capture the essence of gaining input through discussion with the next level down in the organization. It is a great way to get engagement at all levels of the organization and build the buy-in to what the work is for the year.
I found this great video describing what “catch ball” is. I thought it would do a better job than I could.
Do you use catch ball in your organization or do you have a straight line drill down with objectives?
This week is Lean series week at Beyond Lean. The blog posts will center around strategy deployment (or Hoshin Kanri). Justin Tomac, Chad Walters, Karen Wilhelm and Tony Ferraro will be guest blogging. This will give you different perspectives from on strategy deployment all right here at Beyond Lean. I am really excited for this week’s series. All the posts are great. Enjoy!
Almost every company will say they have a strategy. While they may have a great strategy, most companies miss out on deploying that strategy throughout their organization.
Strategy deployment is a key concept that most companies don’t execute well. Typically, a communication goes out stating the strategy of the company or it may even be communicated at a large town hall. This is great, but it is only a single step in the strategy deployment process.
A great strategy deployment process starts at the top with clearly articulated goals for the company. The executives involve senior management in the process. They discuss what the goals should be across all parts of the organization and how their areas can help achieve those goals.
Once that has been agreed upon, then the senior management involves the middle management. They discuss more detailed tactics on how to the middle manager’s area can help achieve the senior manager’s goals and objectives. It is a two-way discussion with input and clarity from both levels.
This catchball or laddering conversation should happen level by level all the way down to the floor and then all the way back up to the executives. This should happen a few times. Not just once.
Here is a good graphic to try and depict the process:
When done well, the benefits of this are enormous. Everyone starts to understand the strategy and how their work is helping to achieve the vision of that strategy.
The discussion that happens during the catchball phase isn’t just between a team and their manager but also between managers that are peers. This helps to develop alignment not only up and down the organization but also across the organization. This alignment helps determine how to use the finite pool of people and cash to best achieve the company’s goals and objectives.
In my experience, company’s that have a great strategy deployment process end up with much better results year-to-year and can sustain those results because of the clear communication and everyone understanding the importance of their work.
Does your company use strategy deployment? How does it work?
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.