Blog Archives

Counting Down the Top 10 Viewed Posts of 2013 – 10 Thru 6

2014 is now in full swing.  Before 2013 is too far in the rear view mirror, I thought I would recap the Top 10 most viewed posts on Beyond Lean for 2013.

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 2013.  Enjoy!

10.  Comparing Lean Principles to the 14 Toyota Principles (July 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #6 – The first part of a three part series where I compared the lean principles I learned from the Lean Learning Center to the Toyota Principles.  This post covers the first five Toyota Principles.

9.  True Mentoring (May 2012) – Previous Year Ranked #7 – This is my take on true mentoring versus fake mentoring that goes on in business today.

8. Strategy A3 Downloadable Template (April 2012) – A quick description of a strategy A3 with a link to a template that can be downloaded.

7. Guest Post: Selling Lean to People That Don’t Want It (July 2011) – Previous Year Ranked #10 – This is a post from Joe Wilson before he became a full-time author at Beyond Lean.  Joe talks about ways to sell lean to people who are not bought into the benefits of lean.

6.  Why Are Lean People Seen As Lean People? (February 2011) – Previous Year Ranked #1 – 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.

My next post will count down the Top 5 viewed posts of 2013.

Leading Lean – Apply Lean to Your Work

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.

  1. Leaders Must Be Teachers
  1. Build Tension, Not Stress
  1. Eliminate Both Fear and Comfort
  1. Actively Engage, Don’t Just Delegate
  1. 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.

Apply Lean to Your Work

As leaders it isn’t good enough to just talk about lean and how it can apply elsewhere.  Leaders apply lean thinking to their own work in order to help themselves improve continuously.  Structuring the day or week using standard work and learning ways to eliminate waste from their own work show a commitment to lean and how it can apply to anyone doing any kind of work.

Applying lean to my own work has helped me grow as a lean leader and gain credibility over the years.  I had standard work that I followed when I was working in the manufacturing facilities that called for dedicated observation or waste walk time.  This really allowed me to understand what work I was falling short in and make corrections.

Also, I have standard work for how I conduct lean improvement (kaizen) events.  I have it down to the minute for each section.  Because of this, I have been able to try new techniques to see if they allow me to reduce the time for a given section without sacrificing the quality of the event.

The biggest change was seven years ago when I added 45 minutes every Friday morning to reflect on my week.  This has helped me better understand things I have tried and why they worked or didn’t work.  Adding planned reflection time every week is probably the single most important thing I have done to learn.

With all the positives, I still don’t have standard work that I use for the week in an office environment.  This has caused me to not be as effective in high work volume times.  I have gotten so busy at times that I haven’t taken the time to reflect and improve.  We should always create time to reflect and improve so during the next heavy workload maybe it isn’t so stressful.

There are plenty of opportunities to apply lean to our own work.  We just have to take the time to do it as leaders.

How are you applying lean to your work?

Think Inside the Box

I saw a post last week on the Harvard Business Review blog about thinking inside the box.  The title caught my eye, but when reading the post it wasn’t what I had expected.  The post was about how to find ideas for innovation and improvement from within your company.  Great premise and I completely agree.

My thoughts about thinking inside the box have to do with creating and living by standards.  I work for a company with an extremely large creative staff.  At one time the largest creative staff in the world.  So, standards were frowned upon because it was thought to “box in” the creative talent in their designs.

As lean started to be implemented throughout the company, standardized work and product standards were an uphill battle.  After some discussion, we were able to get some standards in place.

The most interesting part has been the reaction from the creative staffs.  After working within the standards, they have said they have become more creative.

Thinking inside the box (or within the standards) has freed them from thinking about certain aspects of product design and allowed them to be creative within the space given to them.

This is a concept that is commonly misunderstood with lean.  Standardized work and product standards are not there to hamper creativity or take the thinking away from the work.  They are there to free up the peoples minds to think about the work in new ways.  Not think about the mundane aspects of the work.

Don’t fight standardized work, use to become more creative.

When Standards are in Place, Everything is an Experiment

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.

Topic for Lean Series Week

Last year, Beyond Lean hosted two lean series weeks.  The week focused on a specific topic.  Posts were from not only Joe and me but also guests.  Giving the reader a different perspective on one topic for the week all in one place.

Please take the time to answer the poll letting us know what you would like to see as the next topic for the Lean Series week.

The first lean series was on standardized work.

The second series was on visual management.

 

 

Counting Down the Top 10 Viewed Posts of 2012 – 10 Thru 6

2013 is now in full swing.  Before 2012 is too far in the rear view mirror, I thought I would recap the Top 10 most viewed posts on Beyond Lean for 2012.

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!

10. Guest Post: Selling Lean to People That Don’t Want It (July 2011) – This is a post from Joe Wilson before he became a full-time author at Beyond Lean.  Joe talks about ways to sell lean to people who are not bought into the benefits of lean.

9.   Making Leader Standard Work Visual (June 2011) – Previous Year Ranked #8 – An example of a visual board from a group I worked with.  The board makes the tasks and if they were completed by the managers visual.

8.  Dilbert Leading Transformation (July 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #10 – The Pointy-Haired Boss wants clear responsibilities and employee engagement.

7.  True Mentoring (May 2012) – This is my take on true mentoring versus fake mentoring that goes on in business today.

6.  Comparing Lean Principles to the 14 Toyota Principles (July 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #5 – The first part of a three part series where I compared the lean principles I learned from the Lean Learning Center to the Toyota Principles.  This post covers the first five Toyota Principles.

My next post will count down the Top 5 viewed posts of 2012.

Lean Series on Visual Management Next Week

Back in March, Beyond Lean hosted a week long series on standardized work.  Joe and I posted about standardized work (Lessons Learned and Foundational to Continuous Improvement).  We also had guests post from Christian Paulsen from Lean Leadership (SW and Your Packaging Line) and Tim McMahon from A Lean Journey (What It Is).

The week went over very well with readers so next week we are bringing the series back.  The lean series will be focused on visual management.  Joe and I will have our contributions as well as new guest bloggers Danielle Look and David Kasprzak.

The lean series is a way to get a concentrated dose of information on one subject by only having to go to one site.  I hope you enjoy it.

Lean Series Week A Hit

I want to thank all the readers of Beyond Lean.  This week was our first Lean Series Week where we concentrated all the posts on one particular topic.  This week it was Standardized Work.  The purpose was to invite guest bloggers as well as Joe and I to provide view points on a single topic so everyone could learn about the topic in an efficient manner.

As a quick summary, here are the posts from the series this week.

Standardized Work Lessons Learned

This week Beyond Lean is focusing the discussion on standardized work.  There will be four posts throughout the week from different bloggers.  Joe and I will post a blog as well as Tim McMahon from A Lean Journey and Christian Paulsen from Lean Leadership.  The purpose is to look at different aspects of standardized work from several perspectives all gathered in one location and within the same time frame.  We hope this spurs thought, reflection and action for our readers around standardized work.

I’m not going to lie.  Writing about Standardized Work makes me a little anxious.  For me, there is a huge gap in what I internally understand about Standardized Work and what I can articulate or explain.   So with that as my background, here’s a list of my lessons learned about Standardized Work.

  • Standardized Work is not job instruction or a substitute for training – This is kind of a slippery slope for a lot of people.  I think there is something comforting about codifying the steps of a job at the level of Standardized Work that tends to make people think that we can pick up any new hire, hand them the document and they’ll be off and running.  Can it be an aid?  Absolutely.  But it shouldn’t be meant as a standalone substitute for skill development and teaching.
  • Standardized Work is a tool for Visual Management – Much like 5-S, the tools have value by themselves, but are much more valuable as pieces of a visual management culture.  The team members following the Standardized Work should be able to execute the job without referring to the document every cycle.  With that as the framework, the document helps observers to identify when issues exist that are keeping the work from being performed according to the standards.
  • Standard Work in Process Inventory (SWIP) is part of the tool – This was an interesting lesson for me on two fronts.  The first time I worked on rolling out SW documents, I didn’t include it.  Mostly that was a result of trying to satisfy folks who thought the document could be used in place of a trainer.  The second front that made it difficult is that it can be difficult to quantify what exactly the SWIP should be.  In an environment where you are transitioning from not at all Lean to kind of Lean, there may be process disconnects that mean different size batches in and out.  Or, put another way, there is no normal to become the standard.
  • There is no simple way to explain the concept of Standards that are constantly under review for improvement – I have found this to be one of the most difficult Lean aspects to teach.  The discussion seems to end up in circular questions about “how can something be standard if we want to change it” and “if we are going to continuously improve the processes why document all of the changes.”  It seems to be one of those concepts that you can only learn by seeing or experiencing.

That was my top lessons learned about Standardized Work.  Nothing really earth shattering, just some thoughts on things I wish I had known at the beginning that would have helped me out.  Maybe one of these click for you or you have a lesson learned that you would like to share.   If so, please add a comment below and we’ll add it to the list.

Other posts from this standardized work series:

What Standard Work Is

This week Beyond Lean is focusing the discussion on standardized work.  There will be four posts throughout the week from different bloggers.  Joe and I will post a blog as well as Tim McMahon from A Lean Journey and Christian Paulsen from Lean Leadership.  The purpose is to look at different aspects of standardized work from several perspectives all gathered in one location and within the same time frame.  We hope this spurs thought, reflection and action for our readers around standardized work.

The post below is from my friend, Tim McMahon, who runs A Lean Journey blog.  Tim has great tips and insights on his Facebook page as well and a great weekly Lean Quote series every Friday.  You can also connect with Tim on Twitter.

Standard work is a written description of how a process should be done. It guides consistent execution. At its best, it documents a current “best practice” and ensures that it is implemented throughout a company. At a minimum, it provides a baseline from which a better approach can be developed.

The definition of standard work is “the most effective combination of manpower, materials and machinery”. Standard work is the method, and thereby you have the four Ms of manufacturing (manpower, material, machinery, methods). Standard Work is only “the most effective” until the standard is improved.

Standards to a company are like scales and sheet music to a musician. Our team members help develop and maintain standards, which are not static. Standards change as we get better, just as a good band will incorporate chord and melodic variations if they sound good. Thus, standards do not constrain creativity – they enable it, by providing a basis for comparison, and by providing stability, so we have the time and energy to improve.

Standardized work comprises:

  • Content
  • Sequence
  • Timing
  • Expected outcome

It should also contain tests, or red flags, which tell you when there’s a problem. That way, you won’t ship junk. The tests could be physical, such as a torque check on a bolt, or it could be administrative, like a blacked-out template that fits over a standard form and highlights the critical information.

Standard work enables and facilitates:

  • Avoidance of errors, assuring that lessons learned are utilized and not forgotten
  • Team learning and training
  • Improvements to make the work more effective
  • Reduction in variability
  • Creation of meaningful job descriptions
  • Greater innovation by reducing the mental and physical overhead of repetitive or standardized work

Standard work does not preclude flexibility. You can still do a lot of different jobs, and be able to address new problems. Standard work just takes the things you do repeatedly and makes them routine, so you don’t waste time thinking about them.

Standards are an essential requirement for any company seeking to continuously improve. All continuous improvement methods leverage learning to get better results from their business efforts. Standards provide the baseline references that are necessary for learning. A standard operating procedure supplies a stable platform for collecting performance measurements. The standard and its profile of performance yields the information people need to uncover improvement opportunities, make and measure improvements, and extract learning.

Other posts from this standardized work series:

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,223 other followers