Monthly Archives: May 2013

Great Posts on Leadership

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.

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Thank You!

US_flagI hope everyone in the U.S. has a great Memorial Day.  It is a day to celebrate the sacrifices our military veterans made for us so we could have the freedoms and rights we so often take for granted.

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!

Use the Right Visual

Visual management and visualization is a concept that lean relies heavily on.  There are a lot of standard visuals like metric boards, kanban signals, 5S and value stream maps.

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:

Type_of_Work_Done

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.

FreqReporting

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.

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.

Centralized vs. Decentralized

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...

3 Years for Beyond Lean

I can’t believe it.  Today is Beyond Lean’s 3rd Anniversary.  It has been three years since my first post.  The time has gone quickly.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

During the last three years, I have met some great people through the blog and developed some connections that I have enjoyed and learned a lot from.  Some have inspired me to try new things at work, while others have inspired me to try new things at home.

A lot of reflection has happened during the past 3 years.  I feel like I have been able to learn more about business, lean, lean application and myself.  That was one of the main goals I made for myself when I started the blog.

I want to thank everyone for choosing to read Beyond Lean and their continued support.

Here’s to another 3 years!!

Emotional Intelligence The Key To Sustaining Relationships

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.

RelatinshipEQ_SkillsIQDuring a class that discusses the importance of having open and honest relationships, the graphic to the left was shown.

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?

Guest Post: Eliminating TIMWOOD

blogphotoToday’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.

Unfortunately, waste is something that is all around us. However, even though waste is common it does not make it any more acceptable. When businesses implement lean tactics in order to enhance productivity and efficiency, the elimination of waste is usually one of the biggest challenges, yet offers the highest rewards when done effectively. The elimination of TIMWOOD can help save your business time and money, while also helping to add value and increase customer satisfaction. When we mention eliminating TIMWOOD, we are not talking about eliminating a particular employee or person. Instead, the mnemonic TIMWOOD refers to the elimination of seven different wastes. When it comes to productivity, the sad truth is that only about 5% of employee work time each day is spent on value added tasks that actually benefit the customer. However, knowing that statistic, it leaves many of us wondering “What are employees doing with the other 95% of daily work time?” Some may insist the rest of the time is spent on waste or tasks that essentially add no value to customer satisfaction. In order to combat unwanted losses in productivity and waste, we must first identify and understand TIMWOOD and how the elimination of the seven wastes can make a difference.

What Does TIMWOOD Stand For?

Many people choose to use mnemonics in order to help them quickly and easily identify multiple items. The mnemonic TIMWOOD is also used for that purpose. Let’s take a look at each letter and how it contributes towards the elimination of waste.

  • T- Transport: Even though product transportation is virtually unavoidable, the time and distance are both controlled variables. Many times products are moved multiple times before reaching their final destinations. However, each time a product is moved it runs the risk of being lost or damaged which in turn eliminates value.
  • I – Inventory: When working towards lean, it is important to avoid an abundance unused and unsold inventory that just sits around on shelves or in storage. Whether the inventory is of parts, partially finished products, or finished items, the more inventory there is, the higher the loss in value since funds are tied up in unsold goods.
  • M – Movement: This waste is similar to transportation waste, but instead of focusing on the loss of value with products in transport, this waste focuses on transportation or movement equipment. When trucks, hauling vehicles, and other movement devices are used for unnecessary long amounts of time and for unneeded tasks the value goes down while the opportunity for damage increases.
  • W – Waiting and Delays: When products are sitting in limbo, somewhere between the start and finish of production they are not adding value to the business and are thus creating waste.
  • O – Overproduction: The waste of overproduction has been considered one of the worst wastes. Money is wasted because businesses must pay employees to manufacture the parts, find places to store them, inventory them, etc. All of these are redundant costs that could be avoided.
  • O – Over Processing: Over Processing basically means to do more to a product than technically needed, and if a product is not 100% perfect it is rejected and therefore wasted. Even though businesses aim to provide customers with high quality products that operate as intended, small imperfections that would not impede function, use, or aesthetics should not be automatically disposed of and reworked.
  • D – Defects: Defects do not add value. When products are created with a defect that hampers the function they must be reworked and remanufactured. This causes a waste in production, materials, and other resources such as electricity and machine wear and tear.

Waste is Avoidable!

With the right amount of dedication and drive, anyone can succeed with the elimination of waste. However, the first step is to identify the areas of waste so tactics can be implemented to revamp processes and practices to help reduce waste and start improving productivity. The best part is that any business can benefit from waste removal; TIMWOOD is not geared only towards industrial or manufacturing businesses as it can also be effectively implemented in nearly any work environment.

My Kids’ School Eliminates Waste in Cafeteria

It’s that time of year again when I spend a day working at my kids’ school.  It is always a lot of fun to be with the kids in their classrooms and help with activities.  Every year I learn something new from a visual management perspective or from some other aspect of lean.  The school is not “using lean” but there are always elements of it around.

This year I noticed some small improvements that were great ways to element small amounts of waste that would add up over time.  One example was the placement of the silverware in the lunch line.  It used to be the first thing in the line so every kid would grab one of each piece of silverware before choosing their lunch and knowing what they would actually need for their lunch.  Now the silverware is the very last thing in the lunch line.  The kids can choose their food and then pick the appropriate utensils.  This eliminates the cleaning silverware that was never used, saving time in putting silverware away as well as possibly reducing the number of dishwasher cycles needed to clean the dishes.

A second small improvement I saw had to do with reducing food waste.  As part of the lunch, students get milk in cartons, yogurt cups or other food items that are packaged.  In years past, if the student didn’t want it they threw it in the trash.  At the same time, other students might want an extra milk or yogurt and would have to pay extra for it.

Now the school has the “share table”.  It is a small table where students that don’t want their milk carton or packaged food item can put it on the table for other students to eat.  If another student wants an extra milk they can ask to go to the “share table” and pick an item.  Less food in the trash and less cost to parents of kids who want a little extra.  What a great idea!

It is amazing at all the learning that I still get every year I go into my kids’ school.  We can learn ways to reduce waste and communicate visually anywhere.  We just have to keep our eyes and minds open.