Blog Archives

What Experiences Are You Giving Your Employees?

People behave based on their experiences at work and in life.  If a person has been mistreated by someone close to them, it may be hard for them to trust others.  If a person is being told how valuable they are to the company, then people may have a positive attitude when going to work.

I worked with a group a few years ago during an improvement event that had bad experiences with past managers on trying new things.  The team had no problem identifying a lot of great improvement ideas.  When I said it was time to start working on implementing them, they sat and stared at me with confused looks.

The team refused.  Thy said it was not their place.  The manager would not allow it.  After five minutes of discussion and no progress, I called the manager into the improvement event.

I asked him, in front of the team, if it was alright if the team tried the suggested improvements.  The manager said, “Absolutely.  We can test anything the team believed would help.”

It still took a few minutes to convince the team, but in the end they made the improvements and started becoming more engaged.

The team had so many bad experiences they were guarded and didn’t trust the new manager.  The team finally got a new, positive experience and mindsets slowly began to change.

What experiences are you giving your employees?  Are they experiences to exhibit the behavior you want to see out of them?

Dilbert – Creating Less Fear to Experiment

I hope everyone had a great Turkey Day.  I had plenty of food and and football with my family.  It was great.  Now it is time for a sanity break from the Black Friday shopping.  What better way to do it then with Dilbert.

As lean leaders, we try to create an environment that rewards experimentation.  With experimentation comes failure and we want people to feel comfortable with failing if they try something new, as long as they are learning from it.  I saw this Dilbert strip a couple of weeks ago.  It seemed to nail the struggle between traditonal mindsets and lean mindsets.

(Click on image for a larger view)

Is this what you hear a lot at work?  Does you manager say he wants you to try new things?  Does your manager get upset when you try something new and it doesn’t work?  This is such a big mindset to break.  We have to provide them with experiences that show them it is alright to try something new and if it doesn’t work, that is OK.

My First Kanban Experience at ‘Cookies By Design’

The kanban concept is all around us everyday.  From supermarkets to our toilet paper and paper towels at home.  As I was thinking back to one of my first jobs in high school (early 1990s to date myself), I realized I had used kanban without even knowing it.

I worked for a new franchised store called “Cookies By Design”.  The family that opened it was great.  They treated all the employees with respect and genuinely cared for us.  My job was to come in a few times a week and make the baskets with sticks for the cookies to go on.  This consisted of mixing water and powder to make plaster, lining a woven basket with plastic, pouring the plaster to the two-thirds level, waiting for it to start to solidify, and they place dow rods in the plaster to hold the cookies.  There were several basket layouts so I had to keep them stocked with the appropriate number of layouts.

I would come in a couple nights a week and then Saturday or Sunday.  Again, the owners showed respect for me by giving me (a 17-year-old kid) a key to come in as I needed.  Every time, I would analyze how many were used since the last time I made them, then calculated about how many would be needed before I came in again and if there weren’t enough, I made a standard order quantity of the baskets.

The whole time I was using kanban levels and had no clue about it.  I wish I would have known about visual management at the time in order to make my reorder points easier to see.

I am amazed of how much I used lean concepts before even knowing about them.  And I was using them in everyday life.  Do you have any examples of a lean concept you used before you even knew what lean was?  I would like to hear about any experiences you had.