Blog Archives

Lean Concepts are Intertwined

When working with an area, department or organization to implement lean people like to focus on implementing a specific tool or concept, but it’s not that easy.  The concepts and tools are so intertwined that focusing on one is really difficult to do.

An example would be implementing SMED (or quick changeover) across a facility.  A vast majority of the time a large opportunity for improvement is through organization, having the tools you need where you need them and knowing when and where to be for the changeover.  Immediately, other concepts that come to mind are visual management to understand when and where to be without having to ask.  Also, 5S which can help with organization and having the right tools at the right spot.  5S is also a component of visual management.

A second example is implementing strategy deployment.  There is standard work to how to cascade catchball down through the organization and it should be documented to be repeatable.  Then the strategy is usually documented on an A3 to help communicate the message and most companies use visual management to show progress to the entire organization as time progresses.

As a person working to help others implement lean, it is OK to let them believe they are only focusing on one concept to start.  Sometimes thinking about the intertwined concepts can become overwhelming.  Let the customer focus on the one concept and introduce the other concepts through the backdoor.  There is no need to call out the lean concept.  Just discuss what a way to help them solve their problem in further implementing the concept the are focusing on.

At a later date, you can show them how they have actually implemented other lean concepts successfully.  This helps build their confidence, shows further progress then what they believed and builds momentum to continue moving forward and taking more on.

Don’t get hung up on explaining all the intertwined concepts.  Delivery on the needs of the customer and it will all work out.

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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.

Owning a Small Business is Very Educational

crimson_hillIf you are a regular reader of Beyond Lean,  you may know that my wife has her own small business.  It is just her and I.  She runs the business 24/7 and I help where I can on nights and weekends.

Both of us have learned about a wide range of business aspects over the last couple of years from her small business.  My wife has a background in marketing, but has learned a lot about IT and web design, materials, costing, production of a consistent product, using data to determine what the customers like and a lot more.

I have been working quite a bit with display booth setup and teardown (quick changeovers), preparing raw materials for usage and investment decisions.

When owning and running a small business a person can see everything from end-to-end.  How a packaging decision can affect sales?  How does shelf life of a product have an effect on the quality?  How do certain ingredients react when mixing for production?  Do they cause immediate quality issues?  Do they cause quality issues over time?

In our experience, we have seen how lean thinking can be more natural for a small business.  There is more of a concern about inventory and cash on hand, so there are many decisions that go into building to stock or building to order.  Using visual management to make things easier to see when work needs to be done or not.  I have some examples from my wife’s business that I will post at a later date as well as examples I have posted in the past.

I have learned numerous things from working with my wife in her small business that I carry on to my other job as lessons to apply.

Owning a small business is very hard work.  You have to learn about things that don’t necessarily interest you, but if you want to be successful you have to get it done.  In the end, it can be very rewarding and extremely educational.

Visual Management at Home

I received this picture from a guy I worked with and coached for a couple of years.  I am sharing this with his permission

Lean visual materials management at home

(click on image to enlarge)

He and his wife would go to the store and if there was a sale, they would buy meat.  They never knew what they had at home.  When they got home from a recent trip they had bought meat they had plenty of…again.  So my friend decided to get visual.  He sorted out the meat that had gone bad and then created this visual board to better understand when he needed to buy a particular type of meat.  He likes to barbeque so he keeps a variety of meat on hand.

The board is simple.  Conveys one type of information.  And anyone can understand it by looking at it.

What visual management have you used at home?

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.

Best of Beyond Lean in 2012

I was looking at the Top 10 posts for 2012 and noticed that only 2 posts from 2012 made the Top 10.  Both posts were from earlier in the year.  I finally realized that a post from about May on in the year has very little chance to overcome posts that have a 5 month or more head start on gaining views.

I decided to highlight 5 of the most popular posts written in 2012.  Then in January I will post the Top 10 posts for the year.

Enjoy and have a Happy New Year!!!!

5.  Misinterpretations of Lean vs. Six Sigma (April 2012) – How Six Sigma and Lean can be misrepresented in what their purpose is.

4.  Strategy A3 Downloadable Template (April 2012) – This is the post about the new downloadable template to help with strategy discussions.

3.  Visuals Used in the Office (October 2012) – A couple of visual management examples from the transactional workplace.

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

1.  Need the Mental Toughness of a Navy SEAL (February 2012) – Inspiration of a Navy SEAL got me thinking about the mental toughness it takes to create change.

Have a Happy New Year!!!!

Blog Carnival Annual Roundup 2012 – Lean Blitz

At the end of the year, John Hunter does a great job of facilitating an annual roundup of business and lean blogs at Curious Cat Management.  The roundup is a review of blogs by other bloggers.  This year I have the honor of participating in the Blog Carnival Annual Roundup.

Lean_Blitz_logo

A blog that I discovered this year was Lean Blitz written by Chad Walters.  Chad is a student of the Toyota Principles and he does a great job of explaining each principle in a separate blog post.  Each post has an example of the principle that can be seen in everyday life.  If you are not familiar with the Toyota Principles I would suggest checking out Chad’s posts on the all 14 Toyota Principles.

Chad uses his business background to write about lean in business like the overproduction Domino’s Pizza has in their stores with all the pre-built pizza boxes.  He also points out how Domino’s can use standardized work toe fold the boxes in the most efficient way like the worker in the TV advertisement.

Chad also shows how the Toyota Principles can help small businesses in a practical way.

A unique perspective that Chad brings is his experience in working with professional sports teams and organizations.  He does a great job of relating the Toyota Principles to happenings in the sporting world.  The Miami Marlins inability to think long-term in order to achieve their goals is a fantastic post about Toyota Principle #1.

Being a very large St. Louis Cardinals fan, I really enjoyed the post about the filth at Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs).  Chad uses data sited from studies and then relates it to having a good 5S program in place and using visual management.  The morale increases everyone is happier.  Is this the reason the Cubs can’t win?

Chad talks about other lean concepts such as long lead times and how sporting organizations are losing revenue due to long lead times.  Texas A&M got off to a great start in football this past season and their quarterback, Johnny Manziel played well enough to be in the discussion as a Heisman finalist as the best college football player.  The university had long lead times on the jerseys for Manziel and ended up leaving a lot of cash on the table and fans unhappy when they couldn’t get one.

Chad has created a unique blog at Lean Blitz.  It is a fun and different way to demonstrate lean principles in action in any environment.

Another Visual Management Example

There are examples of visual management everywhere.  Walk into a store and the departments are labeled so you know where to go.  Go to a Subway restaurant and the ingredients available to put on your sandwich are displayed right in front of you.   Or look all around the U.S. road system.  It is filled with visual cues and information.

This one is simple and can be handy.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Gatorade’s water bottle has a transparent stripe down the side that allows you to see how full the water bottle is.  This conveys a single message (how much fluid is in the bottle?) simply.  Sure you can pick it up and easily tell by the weight.  What if you are an equipment manager for a sports team and you have 10 more of these to manage during a game.  Instead of picking each bottle up several times to see if it is close to empty, a quick glance allows the equipment manager to know which ones to fill immediately.

It may seem like such a small improvement, but that is part of the essence of lean.  Improving everyday.  Saving even two seconds will amount to significant time as that process is repeated over and over again.  This is something Paul Akers stresses at his company, FastCap.

What have you done to save 2 seconds?

Visuals Used in the Office

A couple of weeks ago during the Lean Series week, a comment was made on one of the posts about showing more examples of visuals used in the office.  That was a great question.

Below are some ways visual management has been used in the office area.

(click on image to enlarge)

The column on the right shows the tasks that must be done each day by the managers.  When the task is completed they put a check mark in the box.  There are 4 managers in the area every day so there are 4 columns under each day.  You can see that one manager is in a kaizen event all week so they put kaizen on the board to highlight the situation.

(click on image to enlarge)

The above picture is a board displaying which employees are working on what work for that day.  The manager updates the board every morning.  The green square shows where that person will work that day.  If an employee finishes their work they put a blue square showing they are available to help.  If employee needs help, they can put a red square up.  This has eliminated a lot of startup time in the morning when employees were trying to understand what work they were needed on that day.

(click on image to enlarge)

This visual training matrix board supplements the visual scheduling board.  This board shows who is fully trained in what skills.  Green ‘X’ means they are fully trained.  Purple ‘X’ means they are in the progress of being trained.  Red ‘X’ means the employee is not trained to do that work.  The manager uses this board to inform who they can have do what work for the day on the board above.

(click on image to enlarge)

This is a typical way visual management can be used in the office.  It shows the progress of work through stages of the work.  Depending on the type of work, the stages work goes there can be labeled differently.  For software development it could be Design, Develop, Test and Deploy.

I hope these examples spur thought on how you can use visual management in the office environment.  If you have any examples you would like to share please feel free to send them to me so I can share them wit the readers.