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Lean Mapping Consists of More Than 1 Tool 0

I found Steven Borris use of Lean Mapping quite different in his book Strategic Lean Mapping. One that included Big Picture Steven BorrisMap, Process Mapping, Capacity Mapping, Value-Stream Mapping, and closing with how to use this information for better problem solving and decision making. The tools within the maps are quite common for a Lean Practitioner. Listen and enjoy the Scottish Accent.

Steve is a manufacturing advisor and continuous improvement expert and does this at Productivity Jigsaw.

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Can Lean Help you Co-Exists with Regulatory Bodies? 0

I asked Jerry Rosenthal this question in last week’s podcast: A few years ago, Lean sort of butted heads with ISO and it was like we kept 2 separate books. Is that what happens with food safety and the USDA and FDA protocols or are you explaining that there is common ground because they have given us that flexibility to operate Lean and meet the requirements?

The answer is an excerpt from this Related Podcast and Transcription: Using Lean in Food Processing

Jerry Rosenthal: I’ve seen over time on a company by company basis that compromise if you will the collaboration that these things can work hand in hand without being too much of a burden to a company. The example I like to talk about is, in any manufacturing site you go to, almost anyone, you certainly see there’s a certain level of conflict between production and quality. Right, production says, “We need to make a thousand cases of X today” and quality sometimes has the perception of “what, I’m the police force here. I’m going to look on that production line and I’m going to see, anytime I see something that’s a defect, I’m going to stop the production line and we’re going to get it fixed because we want to make it right. In more mature organizations, they find ways to be collaborative. How can production quality work together to ensure they get that thousand cases out every day, that is the finest product possible that the consumer is going to pay for that’s of value because it’s a good price and the company can be profitable.

I see the same thing co-existing here, with me with the different regulatory bodies. I think they go hand in hand. I think again if you go to ISO and the different standards that are out there, again, they set out the guidelines of what you should do, you should have a recall program in place. They don’t tell you how to do it. They certainly set out the elements of a recall program, but it’s up to a company to put a process together, that should there be an unfortunate event such as a recall, great, what are we going to do? How are we going to stop production? Who do we notify? Where do we pull our batch records or our documentation for, when was this lot made, what were the raw materials that came in, who are the employees that worked that day, where are the sanitation records located? How can we gather the documentation in the most efficient cost-effective way possible to address the needs of the agency? I think as time goes on, there’s a tremendous amount of balance out there. Is it perfect? No, but it’s trending in my opinion in the right direction and, certainly, I can see over the last 10 or 15 years tremendous strides moving in the right direction.

Joe: In manufacturing, I’ve seen where continuous improvement, especially with TPS, has just become the way we do the work, and that’s how it’s driven. In the food industry, I still see in food safety a process that is event-driven, “Oh, I have an audit.” Maybe we’re not there yet, but are we moving towards where it’s just part of the way we do business.

Jerry: That’s a big philosophy shift for a lot of companies. I mean, I’ve certainly touched base, either consulting or had an engagement with companies. They’re certainly in that reactive mode. They’ve called me up, and they’ve said, “We’ve got an audit coming up. We know AIB is coming in a month. Can you help us get ready?” It’s a scramble until 5 minutes they walk in the door. Certainly, a mindset of always being prepared, always doing the right thing is much less stressful, that should anybody an agency walk-in; everything is in place, it’s no, it’s minimal stress. There’s certainly some stress. Nobody wants the agency to just walk in his or her door. I mean they certainly think, “What happened? Something’s wrong.”

If you can get management and leadership to a point of being always ready, it’s certainly more advantageous and I do see a trend of more and more companies being less reactive, being more proactive, always having their documentation ready, and doing the right things all the time. If our procedure says we’re going to do internal audits on our incoming fruit, process, whatever that might be, if our SOP says we’re going to do it every month, great, let’s do it every month and let’s document it and not worry about it. Again, the agency doesn’t say “You will do it every month.” It would be a self-determined process. You can say you’re going to do it every week. You can say you’re going to do it every month. You can say you can do it, at quarterly but whatever you set out. Do what you said you were going to do. When the agency comes in, that’s what they’re going to look at. If your procedure says we’re going to do it weekly, but then, your documentation shows you’ve had weeks and weeks of weeks of not doing anything. Make the change ahead of time. Don’t set yourself out for failure. This is the trend a lot more companies are going towards.

Another trend that we see is, you’re hearing the news more and more the USDA, the FDA, they just simply don’t have enough auditors to do all the work that’s out there and there’s more agencies that are going along the lines of what’s called risk-based auditing. If they get phone calls, if they get complaints, if they get letters that, “Hey, I had this product, and it just wasn’t right. I could smell bleach. It didn’t taste right. The company didn’t respond to my request.” The FDA, they’re trying to, the USDA, they’re trying to get to the point of risk-based auditing. They’re going to look and see where are the complaints, what’s the information they’re hearing, “I better go visit that peanut plant in Georgia because there’s been a lot of complaints about product coming out of that environment.”

If there are companies that are quite compliant, they’re doing what they need to do. They’re staying on top of their documentation. There are no customer issues; they’re reducing their frequency; they’re going to reduced inspection if you will, of those facilities. Those facilities that are having challenges, having issues, they’re going to spend more time and more attention on those areas, to protect food supply in the United States. It really has been a long time coming. But, I’ve seen within the last year or 18 months that gaining a little more steam and heading in that direction, and I think that’s really good for all of us.

Jerry Rosenthal started on his process improvement journey where he entered the world of medical device and worked with such companies like Cardinal Health. Jerry’s expertise is primarily in regulated environments such as food, beverage and pharmaceutical production and packaging. He also has experience in plastics, printing, logistics and IT in both local and enterprise-wide organizations. Jerry has been successful at taking principles and tools from manufacturing and applying them to a commercial business practice, and he does that at Lean Six Sigma Expert.

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Share a Vision, Create a Sale 0

Think of all the things we need to deal with in sales:

  1. Present and future priorities
  2. Problems and Needs
  3. Gains and Opportunities
  4. Relationships and Influencers
  5. Technical Opinions
  6. People and Resources
  7. Money and Budget allocations
  8. Upcoming Schedules

This list is just the tip of the iceberg, and all these are continuously changing. Salespeople have to be Superman to stay up with it all. We try to counter or satisfy each of these options with a feature or benefit of our own. We have to prove we have a better product or service. We have to prove the value of our product/service and organization. The buyer, of course, naturally resists. There is incredible power in the act of making a decision and when they feel forced, manipulated into a decision, they  rebel. It becomes a give and take proposition.

Instead of beating a dead horse to death, why are we not facilitating the effort for the buyer to make a better choice or a decision. This ninth law of organizational structure (Robert Fritz’s book: The Path of Least Resistance for Managers ) states that “The values that dominate an organization will displace other competing, lesser values,” goes both ways. If the dominant values of the organization are self-serving, and manipulative, then what is trivial will become more important than the accomplishment of a greater cause.

Rather than going through the above exercise of countering with features and benefit, why not work on developing a shared vision and aligning values. When people join together in a common cause, each person makes an individual choice to participate. There is tremendous power in the act of making a choice, for it defines our personal resolve and our intended direction. You can’t share a vision when someone is trying to manipulate you into compliance, even for the best of reasons. Shared vision implies choice; we need to choose to join with each other and create a future that matters to both the buyer and the seller.

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Swarming as an Agile response 0

I asked Patrick Waara of Xerox about swarming being used as an Agile response when someone’s in trouble in the middle of an iteration.  I followed up with, “When does someone raise their hand or does the Scrum master determine that you need outside help and talks with the other Scrum masters? How do you go about that process to bring in the help?”

Related Podcast & Transcription:  Agile Software Development at Xerox

Patrick:  Generally, you’ll start seeing ?? and it depends on how big your iterations are. Typically around here, our iterations are reasonably short. We generally have two-week iterations. It’s usually during the retrospective or the review meeting where this information will come out more across teams.

Within the team, or course, you’ll start seeing that in your daily Scrum. If people have barriers, or they’re getting into trouble, they’ll come out in the daily Scrum.

Usually then, at the end of the retrospective, they’ll say look we’re behind. What didn’t work well? Well, guess what, we weren’t delivering our commitments, we’ve got these issues. What are we going to do about it?

Well, we need some more help. That’s when you can utilize this Scrum of scrums notion that I talked about before. Where the scrum masters from the various teams can start getting together and talking about inter-team issues.

If one of the Scrum master’s teams is having trouble, they can bring that up at the Scrum of Scrums. There at that level, start discussing what would be the best approach to fixing it.

Often what happens is the Scrum masters will bring that information back to their teams. The teams will collaborate and figure out what’s the best way to address the problem.

It’s this whole notion of again; self-directed teams. The Scrum master doesn’t come down and start telling people, “Hey, you guys have to go work on this other team.” But, it’s really more of an information flow. And say, “Hey guys, this is what I’m hearing about the project, what do you think we can do?”

The teams will then try to self-direct and figure out what’s the best way to approach. Now, of course, they also need to make sure that the product owners are all in line with priorities. If the team that’s the farthest behind, if they’re the lowest priority, then that’s the thing that’s going to fall behind.

If they’re a higher priority on the product backlog, those items will be higher so, just like we talked about this morning. People from other teams will then go over, and they’ll start dog piling these higher issues.

If they need to break it down into smaller chunks, the other teams can take on some of that work and then they can work on those higher priorities together.

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Can You Spend 50% of Your Time Thinking about a Problem? 0

I asked Mike Osterling, “Does it really happening where people are spending 50 percent of their time on defining a problem?”  Mike has worked full time for over 15 years applying the Lean concepts in manufacturing and office environments. He can be found at Osterling Consulting.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Lean and A3 Thinking

An excerpt from the podcast:

Mike Osterling:  I think people in organizations need to be convinced that it’s a good investment of time. Let me tell you a recent experience. We weren’t formally using the A3 form, but we were walking through these guys, these groups through A3 thinking. There was a team that we were taking through a development program was looking…They had a project that they voted to be on, this project team, and they opted in on it. The project team was looking at what this company called Asset Recovery.

So, when an employee leaves the organization, the problem that was perceived upfront was that they weren’t always getting laptops back or employee ID badges or cell phones or pagers or whatever these different assets might be. One of the senior managers was saying we need to improve that process, we’re losing stuff. As part of the program we were taking them through this thinking process of, let’s define the problem first.

When the team went in and started talking to the different parties engaged in mapping the process and collecting data, a very interesting thing that happened was everybody who was engaged in the process, and all of the data that was out there showed that they were at a 99 percent or better rate of asset recovery. It was a very, very rare occurrence when something wasn’t recovered, and the exposure was not significant from an information or nondisclosure…proprietary information, disclosure loss or something like that. And the dollar loss was very insignificant.

Historically?in fact, where this team was going initially, they were going to come up with a completely new process. After they did the current process math, they were ready to come up with a new process definition and have different checkpoints and things like that. Once they started getting the data and really talking to the people, they found out that there’s no problem! This was a really, really good experience, because before we would not have challenged anybody on what the problem was and they would have gone right to the solution.

So as part of the project report out 15 weeks after we started or 13 weeks after we started, these guys said, well, we learned a really good thing. There is no problem. On one level, it seems like it was a waste of time. But, these guys said the value of going out there and talking to the people that do the job and walking the process numerous times, numerous times, this isn’t go to Gemba and walk it once, this is go to Gemba and walk it 15 or 20 times, really understand what’s going on-was invaluable.

They said, “Whenever we’re going after a problem again, we’ve got to talk to the people. We’ve got to walk the process numerous times.” So those guys get it. They get that problem definition, root cause analysis, and measure the current state. They get that.

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Middle Managers: A Key in Any Transformation 0

Paul Yandell is President of  Value Stream Focus and has successful and varied manufacturing and operations experience in companies ranging from startups to multinationals. He led a Lean Transformation driven by middle management and I ask him the following question:

Related Podcast and Transcription: Speak to Middle Managers

Joe:  I think that’s what’s so important because I  always hear this top-down driven type culture and these mandates that we’re going to be a Lean company and it’s got to be the vision from leadership and it’s got to be this saying we’re going to become Lean and everything and I flat out don’t think that works. In certain circumstances, it might work, but…

Paul:  Of course, it does work but let’s agree that the middle management makes it work. So if the top management says, “This is how we’re going,” and he’s able to get the alignment within his company top to bottom. Then he’s got it. The real problem is alignment. If you say, you’re going to change, but you don’t change your structure…I mean, Lean is all about turning the triangle upside down. If you look at a triangle, a normal triangle with the apex at the top, this is in a people-centered organization, the classic organization where the boss tells everybody else what to do. If you are continuously, that’s how all your information flows, then what happens is it’s hard to drive change through that organization. You’re going to tell people what to do, but they may or may not buy into it. They’re kind of waiting for you to go away or for the wind to change.

Now, if you can through continuous improvement, through Lean techniques, if you can switch that, flop that triangle around so the apex is at the bottom, now what happens…you have a flat part of the triangle at the top, if you will. Now you have a situation where the supervisor in saying, “OK, I need you to make green ones, 200 of them, and then I need you to make a bunch of red ones, 200 of them.” Instead, now the conversation is, the supervisor is at the bottom of the triangle, and the center of the work is now the operator. Now the conversation is, “OK, operator, how can I help you do your work better? How can I help you improve your operations? How can I help you do a better job?”

Suddenly, the conversation has changed, and it will never go back because the operator goes, “Oh, well you know, my back hurts every day. If you could raise this desk another two inches, this table, or if you could improve my chair, they’d give me a back to my chair, I’d be a lot better.”

Now the operator makes 15 percent more work and then their back doesn’t hurt and now, all their friends, they want you to pay attention to them too. Because, “You helped Mary, why don’t you come over and look at me? I need a better light over here. And you think I could get a new knife? This one has a bad blade, and it takes me forever to cut this item.”

You’d find out all this stuff that you never knew. If you just walk through the area and look at it, everyone looks busy, everyone looks like they know what they’re doing, and no one tells you what they need, because no one ever listened before, why should they listen now? You don’t want to be a complainer. That’s middle management right there.

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Has Your Branding Changed? 0

Laura Busche ‘s book is based on the Lean StartupTM  principles and is titled; Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)). It is part Laura Buscheof the Lean Startup series of books by O’Reilly. I found her perception of marketing very aligned with mine and at the very start of the podcast asked her to differentiate her way of thinking versus the more traditional ways.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Branding Your Startup

Joe:   It’s very much different than what we’d say a Kotler book on marketing or the more traditional marketing branding books.

Laura:   I’ve read the Kotler books. They are actually…it’s how you start, so principles of marketing, marketing management, all these concepts. The real challenge for me was to bring these concepts to a level where anyone can use them to grow their startups. So it’s more of a tactical book, I’d like to think of it as a handbook. It has more than 100 tactics, it has case studies, examples, templates, checklists, all the kind of thing that you want to have when you’re just getting started and it’s definitely not the kind of book that’s here to introduce complicated theories, it’s rather here to show you how they can be applied. It’s also different from your traditional marketing book because I’m bringing in some insights from design; I’m bringing in some insights from psychology which is my background. I’m a business major and then I did some design management work and now I’m doing research in psychology, so it’s bringing together all of these disciplines and I like to think that that’s exactly what entrepreneurs need to use these tactics.

Joe:   Well I think you bring some interesting concepts there because so much of marketing today is influencing behaviors that’s let’s say in changing behavioral pattern to develop some sustainability, some use in the product anymore.

Laura:   Exactly. Marketing is so influenced by consumer psychology, it’s almost entirely an application of consumer behavior principles but there’s also some interesting things happening from the design end. Designers are starting to use more agile research methods, so rather than just doing all these old focused groups that nobody seems to like or use anymore, it’s becoming this environment where we can explore with ethnography, and we can do interviews, and we can discover consumers that way and it’s just so interesting and that’s one of the largest principles behind the book.

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