Category Archives: Culture
One Man’s Lean Journey: Driving Employee Engagment Through Standardized Work Creation
One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is the importance of employee involvement in creating improvement within an organization. Working for the automotive supplier to create standard work instructions was time in my learning.
I have an industrial engineering degree. I had been certified in Ready-Work Factor and MTM motion-time analysis tools. I was taught how to analyze every slight movement a person makes and how to determine the amount of time it should take. I was the snot-nosed, arrogant, young engineer telling employees how to do their work quicker. I can count on one hand how many of the work instructions I wrote were actually followed for more than one day.
At the automotive supplier, my manager and I took a different approach. When going to an area to document the work standards, we pulled several people off the floor across all shifts to help. The teamwork between everyone was fantastic and my eyes were opened in three ways: (1) How common it was for a job not to be done the same way by multiple people, (2) the incredible dialog created to combine ideas and determine a better process, and (3) how the new work process was being followed by everyone weeks and months later.
Lean implementers will talk non-stop about the importance of employee engagement in everything that is done. There is good reason for this. Every problem has a countermeasure. Those countermeasures mean a work process WILL BE changed. It may be for one person or many. It may be a small, simple change or it may be a large, complex change. But there will be a change to the standardized work.
Getting people involved early helps to expedite adoption of the new process and helps to ensure adherence.
- Working with employees to create standardized work is critical to creating adoption and adherence to the new process
- It is extremely common that no one does the same job, the same way and standardized work is needed
- Standardized work is the foundation of improvement because it provides a baseline AND it DRIVES EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT.
Lean Culture Change
Recently, I had the opportunity to tour a local company that does sheet metal work. The company does not advertise being lean, although they are a part of our lean consortium. When you walk in the manufacturing facility you would be surprised at what you DON’T see. There aren’t 5S markings or visual production boards or kanban levels anywhere to be seen.
What the company is doing is the hard work. The are working to change their culture. They are focusing on it everyday from the leadership down to the floor.
The company is Webco Manufacturing.
What they have done is come up with The Webco Way. Thirty-one fundamentals for everyone to focus on improving. Here are just a few:
- Do the right thing
- Check your ego at the door
- Take ownership
- Practice blameless problem solving
- Be process oriented
- Continuously improve everything you do
- Embrace change
These are just a few. I encourage you to visit Webco’s website to see the complete list and a description of each.
You might think 31 is a lot to remember. I did too, but it is working for them. They focus on one fundamental every single day.
A fundamental is chosen for the week. A member of the leadership team sends out their perspective of the fundamental for the week every Sunday night to everyone with e-mail in the company. During the week, every meeting consisting of more than 2 people is started by reading the quick description of the fundamental and giving an example of how it is brought to life.
This includes meetings with supplier and customers. The meeting could be 1 Webco employee and 5 suppliers but they will start the meeting with the fundamental of the week. This is to let customers and suppliers know what they are trying to do and helps to drive the same expectations from their customers and suppliers.
Webco may not claim to be lean, but the culture they are driving and the way they are going about it sure seems like a lean culture to me.
What are your thoughts?
Book Review: Value Stream Mapping
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.
Counting Down the Top 10 Viewed Posts of 2013 – 5 Thru 1
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!
5. Making Leader Standard Work Visual (June 2011) – Previous Year Ranked #9 – 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.
4. Don’t Over Complicate the Formula (October 2011) – Talks about simplifying formulas to get you directionally correct especially with calculating kanbans.
3. Need the Mental Toughness of a Navy SEAL (February 2012) – Previous Year Ranked #4 – Inspiration of a Navy SEAL got me thinking about the mental toughness it takes to create change.
2. Keys to Sustaining 5S (September 2011) – Tips to help sustain (the 5th ‘S’) the gains made from implementing 5S.
1. 5S in the Office (September 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #3 – 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.
I hope 2014 is a great year!
Best of Beyond Lean in 2013
Today I am highlighting the five most popular posts written in 2013. Then in January I will post the Top 10 posts for the year.
Enjoy and have a Happy New Year!!!!
5. Visual Management at Home (February 2013) – A great example of a visual board used at home of a friend of mine.
4. Hoshin Planning – Catch Ball (April 2013) – A great video explaining the process of catch ball during the strategy development process.
3. My Continuous Improvemnt: Personal Kanban 3rd Revision (January 2013) – The latest update to my evolving personal kanban for work.
2. Guest Post: Moneyball – Hoshin Kanri (March 2013) – Chad Walters does a great job explaining strategy deployment using the movie Moneyball
1. When Standards are in Place, Everything is an Experiment (May 2013) – Talks about the importance of setting standards and using them to understand your processes.
Have a Happy New Year!!!!
No PowerPoint. You’re Unprofessional!
Over the years I have continued to learn how to communicate better. Through lean I have learned how to communicate more clearly using illustrations and eliminating the “other” information that isn’t necessary to get my story told.
One tool that has helped me communicate more clearly is the A3. The limited space really focuses me on what is important to talk about. Understanding waste, and not wanting to duplicate my work I use my A3s in during discussions with groups of people instead of creating a multiple slides in PowerPoint stating the same words. If I need a drawing to support my discussion, I use a white board or chart pad to draw it out, because the drawings can take time to recreate in PowerPoint.
We are taught the A3 is a communication tool. Don’t duplicate work. The story is important and that is what needs to be communicated.
WARNING!!!!! Know your culture and where you are in your lean journey at all times.
After the first few times of using A3s and chart pads to communicate within my current company, I was pulled aside by a couple of senior leaders and told that I come off as unprofessional and not prepared because I didn’t use PowerPoint.
Having no filter, I asked if it was better to spend three hours working on the issue or three hours putting together PowerPoint? I also asked how I came off unprepared because I could answer any question they had about the issue? Aside: you might consider how you are talking with before being that direct.
The point is, the leadership and culture at that time were not ready to be communicated with in that fashion.
If you are in a similar situation, I would recommend using slides as a supplement to the A3. Yes, it would be overprocessing waste, but it is better then people not listening because of a format issue and having to rework everything.
Hoshin Planning – Catch Ball
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?
Guest Post: A Few Thoughts on Policy Deployment
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.
Today’s post is from Justin Tomac. Justin and I have worked together for the last five years. My knowledge of strategy deployment has really grown since I have worked with him. Justin Tomac has been a Lean practitioner a year or two shy of two decades. His Lean background consists of various deployments with hands-on office, engineering and shop floor transformations with mentoring and training being provided by TBM and Shingijutsu consultants. A GE certified Six Sigma Black Belt, he has an Industrial Engineering degree from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and an Engineering Management masters from Wichita State University. If you would like to contact Justin he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
A lot of articles and books have been written about Policy Deployment, with the focus primarily on the high level concept with exhaustive studies on implementation. Most of us understand conceptually what Policy Deployment is, where it appears to break down is during the implementation and sustainment. As you may know, sustainment is a key indicator of how well a concept is understood and implemented by an organization.
Below are a few key characteristics of what a Sustained Policy Deployment look like:
1) Organic and Living. Policy Deployment should not be a one and done planning and execution exercise. Monthly reviews with Quarterly or Semi-Annual Adjustments highlight an active Policy Deployment. The health of these Reviews or Adjustments can be determined by How meaningful the actions and results are.
2) Influences the Behavior and the Culture. A robust Policy Deployment process exists to solve the various issues related to horizontal and vertical alignment of objectives, goals and priorities for a Company, Division or Department. What the boss measures and deems important only lasts as long as the Culture allows. Organizations that struggle with accountability, communicating (vertically and/or horizontally) strategies or tactics, simplification, etc., have Cultural issues. I heard a saying, “Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast”, why not flip this and make Culture the main dish for the morning meal?
3) A flexible, structured Process (not a fill-in the blank exercise). I find it interesting that when Policy Deployment is brought up, out fly the different templates, forms, etc. In the end, does the form or template set the Strategies or drive the priorities? Policy Deployment should be a process that examines the business top down and sideways, irregardless of what form or template is used. In the long run, it is what your Culture will allow or likes that will dictate what your Policy Deployment looks like.
Based upon your experiences would you agree and/or add to these? What say you?
Working With People
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.
Art Byrne’s Response to My Book Review
After writing the review of Art Byrne’s The Lean Turnaround, I sent him a copy of the review before posting the review. That is my standard work. Not because I want the author to have editorial rights (by the way, no one has ever asked me to change my review), but because I think it is a courtesy to let them have a preview before it posts.
As part of my standard review, there is a section where I talk about what was missing from the book in my perspective. Art read my review and responded. He DID NOT ask me to change anything about the review. In fact, he was pleased with the questions I posed. Art asked if he could respond to my questions and what was missing. I said absolutely.
As a recap, here is the section from my review:
What are the weaknesses? What’s missing?
This is a really good book, but I do see one thing missing. Art speaks from a CEO or executive viewpoint, which is great, but what if you aren’t an executive?
One question I would like to see answered is how do lower level employees help executives want to do a lean turnaround? Sure, one answer could be give them the book, but that probably won’t change everyone’s mind with just a single read. How do you help an executive that seems to want to do it, do it? Give them that final push and really start to see the benefits?
The book can also give the feeling that if you don’t have an executive leading and doing everything in the book then you might as well not go through with lean because you won’t be successful. Art does not say that explicitly. The book just gives that feeling.
With Art’s permission, here is his unedited response to my what’s missing from the book:
Matt, first of all let me thank you for your excellent review of my book, The Lean Turnaround. I really appreciate it and I was very happy to see that you got the main points of the book very well. You also had a couple of good questions that I would like to respond to just for clarity. Let’s take the softball question first. This wasn’t really posed as a question, but you say that I imply that if a company does not have the CEO (your term was “the executive”) leading the lean turnaround, then it might as well not start at all, since it won’t be successful. And my response is that your conclusion is correct. If the CEO won’t actively lead lean then my advice is don’t start with lean at all. That’s because you won’t get very far, and also because the entire campaign will just confuse everyone. There will be a huge gap between the things that are publicly said—and the actual commitment to lean and the actions that are taken. This has been a constant message of mine since way back in my Danaher days.
I’m going to respond now to what I believe is the basic question contained in your next comments—which, believe me, is a very good question that I get all the time in one form or another. To be more specific, I can’t remember a presentation that I have done to a national conference on lean where the first question from the audience is along the lines of “gee, that was great, but how do I get my management team to embrace lean, which I really believe is the right way to go?” This is of course a shame because it just serves to highlight the fact that most of the people attending the conference are mid-level managers or engineers who couldn’t get their senior management to attend in the first place. My answer to them is always the same. You have two choices. One, you can implement lean aggressively in the plant, division, product line or whatever you are responsible for. Go about it quietly though—you don’t want anyone above you to hear about it too early as they might try and stop you. While I was at Wiremold I introduced one of GE’s Aircraft Engine Plants to lean, and to the Japanese Consultants that I had been using (and that they are now using). At the time GE was all about Six Sigma, a very unfortunate diversion in my mind, and as a result, although they had great success with lean and became the best plant in Aircraft Engine, they were very careful to never mention the word lean and to just swear up and down that they were getting the results through Six Sigma. Once you have achieved great success and have a model line or model factory then you can show it off. Use that as leverage to get the CEO and the rest of the company to adapt it everywhere. Seeing success in your own company makes it harder for the CEO or the rest of the management team to say, “oh that lean stuff will never work here”.
Now, if this doesn’t work then your second choice is easy: quit and go work for a company that is really interested in lean. You’ll recognize this easily since the company will be aggressively pursuing it from the top down.
As to the other part of this question, “ how can I help an executive who seems to want to do it, do it?” Part of the answer here of course is exactly what I just said. In addition, I would recommend that you start by reading several key books on lean such as Lean Thinking by Jim Womack and Dan Jones, Toyota Production System by Taiichi Ohno, A Study of the Toyota Production System by Shigeo Shingo, Better Thinking, Better Results by Bob Emiliani, Real Numbers by Orry Fiume and Jean Cunningham, and Gemba Kaizen (2nd Edition) by Masaaki Imai. Then go visit some lean companies in their area, and ask to participate in their kaizens. You should also contact a high level lean consultant who teaches the Toyota approach and have them come and do a walk about in your company, and then share what they saw and what the opportunity is. Next, you should run a few kaizens in your facility (with you on the team of course) so you can start to see the opportunity and how people react; and then, and of course….take the lean leap. You can only learn by doing so at some point you have to start doing.
Thanks so much for giving me a chance to share my thoughts.
WOW! My respect for Art grew even more with the response. He took the questions, head on and didn’t hold any thoughts back.
What are your thoughts about Art’s response? I am interested in hearing any feedback you have on it.