Blog Archives

Are You Stuck in Neutral?

Seth Godin’s blog “The Cost of Neutral” is a short but insightful post.  The quote to take away from the blog is this:

Not adding value is the same as taking it away.

This is a driving point to the lean methodology.  You can’t stand still or you will get passed by someone who is improving and adding value for the customers.

Leaders and managers may not be directly involved in adding value to the product or service, but that does not mean they aren’t responsible for driving value creation.  Leaders add value by engaging employees in ways that will help them continue to add value for the customer.

People and companies can’t afford to be stuck in neutral.

Inspiration Update

In January, I posted a blog titled “Create Inspiration“.  In that post I stated a goal for myself.

I want to post 51 blogs in 2016, so I am going to use Seth’s example and every day until the end of February I am writing a topic in my notebook.  Some may never get written about.  Others will end up here on Beyond Lean.

The experiment has worked.  Here are the results:

  • I wrote an idea down on 17 of the 21 working days in February.
  • I documented 25 topic ideas
  • Every post since the start of February has come from that inspiration list

I still have room for improvement.  I didn’t get an idea added everyday, which was my goal.  I could also increase the average ideas/day.

There is a well wish people give to others sometimes, “I hope inspiration finds you.”

Don’t wish for inspiration to find you.  Go find inspiration!

Create Inspiration

I have to thank my manager for this one.  Before Christmas she handed out a few blog posts from Seth Godin.  One was called “Finding inspiration instead of it finding you.”

It is a short quick read that I recommend for everyone.  In it Seth talks about trying ideas and seeing what works.  It may not be the first or second idea but soon one will create inspiration and success.

This is great for problem solving.  Find the root cause.  Then try an idea.  Check the results and if it doesn’t work DON’T go back to the old way.  Try something different.

Quick example: I new my old ways of gathering tasks and prioritizing wasn’t working.  So, I tried a kanban board.  The first try didn’t work, so I tried something different.  The same thing happened when I went to an electronic kanban board as well.

I want to post 51 blogs in 2016, so I am going to use Seth’s example and every day until the end of February I am writing a topic in my notebook.  Some may never get written about.  Others will end up here on Beyond Lean.

If you have topics you want to hear about leave them in the comments.

Where do you need inspiration?

Counting Down the Top 10 Viewed Posts of 2011 – 5 Thru 1

2012 is now in full swing.  Before 2011 is too far in the rear view mirror, I thought I would recap the Top 10 most viewed posts on Beyond Lean for 2011.

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 2011.  Enjoy!

5.  Comparing Lean Principles to the 14 Toyota Principles (July 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #2 – 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.

4.  Seth Godin and Failing Better (April 2011) – This post dives into a post from Seth Godin talking about how to fail so you learn faster and use that to your advantage.

3.  Sportscenter Has Killed U.S. Manufacturing (June 2011) – Manufacturing is fundamental.  The U.S. has lost it’s sights on the fundamentals and is just worried about the flashy.  The U.s. needs to get back to the fundamentals in order to get back on top.

2.  Why Are Lean People Seen As Lean People? (February 2011) – 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.

AND……

1.  5S in the Office (September 2010) – Previous Year Ranked #1 – 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 look forward to more posts in 2012!

Top 6 – 10 of 2011

My Continuous Improvement: Outside the Lean Circle

In January, Karen Wilhelm did a blog post for John Hunter’s Management Improvement Blog CarnivalIn the post, Karen talked about setting time aside to learn by reading other blogs.

At the end of the post, Karen pointed out, with a fantastic graphic, how much the lean community is circling back around and reviewing itself over and over again.

I was part of Jamie Flinchbaugh’s Blog Carnival for John’s site and I am very appreciative.  I had been blogging for less then a year and it gave Beyond Lean some more exposure.  But, Karen’s post got me thinking about the blogs I read (and still do) and learning.  If I wanted to expand my learning circle I needed to read some blogs that weren’t lean related.

I found some about business and leadership and decided to give them a try.  A few blogs I didn’t find all that interesting so I moved on to others.  I thought I would share some of the blogs with my readers.  If you want to give them a try…great.  If not, no problem.

All Things Workplace by Steve Roesler – A great blog from an executive management consultant.  There are a lot of posts that relate to the respect for people part of lean.  Practical advice for different situations.

My Flexible Pencil by David Kasprzak – His blog tag line is “Observations of workplace behavior with an eye for waste and value….and anything else that comes to mind.”  David mentions waste and value which lean readers are all over but the blog isn’t about lean.  It is great observations of people and behaviors.  David does a great job of giving examples for his personal life to bring the ideas to life and make them hit home.

SmartBlog on Leadership – The posts are from various people on different aspects of leadership and culture.  The site also posts survey results to some interesting questions like “Does your organization have good alignment?”.  There are some interviews with leaders from companies from time to time also.

Seth’s Blog by Seth Godin – Seth has written a few books about marketing and is well known.  I just finally got around to trying his blog.  His blogs are short and interesting.

Some of these may strike a cord with you or they might not.  It can’t hurt to try new blogs and see what learnings we can get from someone else.

Seth Godin and Failing Better

Last week, I found a blog post by Seth Godin.  He talks about failing in order to be successful.

All of us fail. Successful people fail often, and, worth noting, learn more from that failure than everyone else.

The first thing that I thought about is how the lean philosophy talks about rapid experimentation using the PDCA cyle.  If we are experimenting then by definition we will fail.  It is what we learn from these failures that can help us improve and take us to new heights.

Seth mentions two habits that don’t help:

  • Getting good at avoiding blame and casting doubt
  • Not signing up for visible and important projects

Avoid blaming others is one that we talk about quite frequently with the respect for people pillar of lean.

I really took note of the “not signing up for visible and important projects” habit.  I never thought of this as a way to avoid failure, but I can see that it is.  We avoid it so we don’t fail in front of important people and hurt our careers, potentially.  I know I have done that in the past or even made comments like, “Boy that sucks to be on that project.”

I think the underlying point to this is the culture that exists in the organization.  If the culture is to look down upon failures as a very negative thing and to ridicule someone for failing then I can see why people avoid the highly visible and important projects if there is a hint of failure possible.  If the culture is such, should this be a place we want to work?  Should we take the project and if failure occurs show how that can be spun into a positive?  These are not easy questions to ask ourselves and can take a lot of courage to do.

Seth gives a few tips on how to fail better:

  1. Whenever possible, take on specific projects.
  2. Make detailed promises about what success looks like and when it will occur.
  3. Engage others in your projects. If you fail, they should be involved and know that they will fail with you.
  4. Be really clear about what the true risks are. Ignore the vivid, unlikely and ultimately non-fatal risks that take so much of our focus away.
  5. Concentrate your energy and will on the elements of the project that you have influence on, ignore external events that you can’t avoid or change.
  6. When you fail (and you will) be clear about it, call it by name and outline specifically what you learned so you won’t make the same mistake twice. People who blame others for failure will never be good at failing, because they’ve never done it.

I really like #6.  If we stand-up and admit when we fail, don’t blame others, and call out what we learned we can start to change the culture of the organization that failure is a bad thing.  Not to mention admitting we failed, instead of blaming others, is a leadership trait that usually sticks with people.

Lets take the fear out of failing and as Seth puts it “fail better.”