Lean Engagement Team

Can Arguments Help in Collaboration?

Joe:   Can argument mapping help in collaboration?

Timo:   Yes, a lot of us are working — as teacher’s we are working with groups of students, and they built together some argument around an issue. Argument mapping does when you present it with a beamer on a screen or something like that, it makes it possible to have a discussion on issues that can be very precise, and that generates something from a shared thinking process. For instance when you’re working with people who have to defend a PhD and they present their Ph.D. or parts of their Ph.D. to the head of dissertation on a map on a screen and people can be very precise in asking questions connected to some claims people make. The fault is it enables having an argument that before all the people involved, it allows to focus on specific issues and you can be very clear about what you are talking and what not because everybody sees the issue involved before their eyes; so it facilitates a process of shared thinking.

Joe:   One of the things you talk about in Rationale is Essay Planning and being able to build an essay, and that’s like somewhat of a step-off than an argument. What’s the connection there?

Timo:   In an essay, you try to give a contention, a position to defend the position by giving reasons and objections, etcetera and you write it in a form that you hope that the readers of your essay will comprehend what you are saying or what your logical structure is in your argument and have fun reading. Every teacher of writing will explain to you that you should think first before you start writing. What you’re doing in an argument map is making visual your thinking in an argument map, and when you’ve done that, you can export your arguments map into prose by using the essay function within Rationale. And then you have the hardcore of your essay is available within Word or whatever editor you use, and you can build your essay around the argument map you have been exporting. So what you’re doing is, first you think about a subject and you come to a position, you build an argument around it and you think, well this is okay, this is really a good argument for a position you want to defend or to do research in and only then you export it as a text file to your editor, and then you have to edit, the bone structure of your essay is ready, and then you can fill it in, flash it out with all kind of details, background information, things that are fun to read. But the hardcore of your essay, you’ll be making first.

These comments were from a podcast that I had with Timo ter Berg is the CEO of Critical Thinking. They help people visualize and organize their thoughts combining innovative graphic display tools with the latest research on how to make complex thinking more organized and accessible. They host several products called Rationale and bCisive which can be found at http://www.reasoninglab.com.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Organizing Complexity

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Learn To Do Then Learn To Teach 0

Dr. Liker is a nationally recognized authority on lean manufacturing methods and Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan. I asked him, “It’s amazing how intuitive a good coach can be in what you’re doing. I relate it a lot to sports, like you were talking about the golf head early, I mean that’s…”

Jeff:  Right. It takes a certain type of person to be able to bring themselves back and relate to the beginner, and remember, here is what I had to learn five years ago. There are some people who just can’t do that. They can do it, and they don’t understand, or get frustrated when others can’t understand what they understand. That’s another kind of an important issue, is that teaching is different than doing. Very often, we just assume. For example, somebody is a Black Belt, and they do enough projects they become Master Black Belt. Now presumably they can teach. That’s not a good assumption.

You need to learn how to teach. That’s a whole separate process of learning how to teach others. The teaching, one thing that happens with teaching very commonly is we overwhelm the student.

We’ve got to break it down and say, “Right now here is what I want you to do. Here’s an exercise that I want you to do. For the next week, this is what you should do.”

Then next week he’ll look at what the student has done and then he’ll decide if the student is ready to move to another step. And based on what the student does, when he sees a weakness that will determine what he asks the student to do next. That’s the teaching process.

We don’t do that in many situations. I think good sports coaches or good sports teachers do it naturally. I think in most workplaces, whether it is a restaurant or whether it is a hotel or a manufacturing company very few people really have ever learned how to teach.

Very few people were taught themselves how to do the jobs they do in a systematic way. They can’t teach anybody else because they never really learned in the right way.

So if you go back to the book, the other book we did David Meyer and me, “Toyota Talent” that the whole book really is about how you teach. It focuses on the job instructions training methods, which was taught to Toyota by Americans that include instructional designers. And really, they’re teaching Toyota, here is how you teach.

Taiichi Ohno was smart enough and wise enough to realize that that was missing from the Toyota Production System. They had sales and one piece flow, and he had this concept of people being cross-trained and he had a concept to standardized work.

He could kind of figure out the standardized work, but he was missing the method of training people in following the standardized work. Standardized work was not at the level of detail that you could effectively train people.

Then over time as a learning organization has learned. They introduced more recently something that they call fundamental skills training. They went back, and they looked at jobs in each area, stamping, and painting, and assembly and even things like troubleshooting equipment as a maintenance person.

They said, “How can we break this down to the most fundamental skills that the beginner needs to learn, before they can even get started doing the job, before we’re even going to send them to the assembly line?” And that’s offline training.

I remember talking to a golfer who was watching me swing, and I just happened to be at the driving range. This guy had been trained by Sam Sneed. He just gave me a tip, he just gave me one tip and he said that when he was being trained by Sam Sneed, Sam Sneed would not allow him to go to a golf course for three months.

For three months he was just at the driving range, and he was working on very, very basic swings, and body motions and things like that. There was some period of time when Sam Sneed wouldn’t even let him even handle the ball.

So that’s sort of like this fundamental skills training which was in advance of them going to the workplace. When you go to the workplace and actually do a real job then, you use the Job Instruction Training Method. The Job Instruction Training Method breaks down the task into small steps, and then you repeatedly do those steps over and over again.

With each step there are key points that are the right way to hold the tool, the sound that you should hear when the nut is locked in place. Its various key points and you have to be able to hear those and understand them, repeat back to the instructor what the key point is. You master that step and practice it. Then you move to the next step, and then you move to the next step.

So in that book we then talk about how would you train a nurse to do rounds? How would you train a nurse to resuscitate a patient? If you follow that method, how would you train an engineer? How would you train a Lean coach? What are the skills required by a Lean coach? The definition of the coach is that you’re coaching and teaching, not that you’re going in and doing a project yourself.

So at first a Lean coach has to learn and become an expert and master of the methods themselves. Then they have to learn how to teach. I don’t know how long that takes, but it takes a lot longer than a two week Lean certification program.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Tips on Coaching Lean

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Thinking of Lean as Your Business Model 0

Art Byrne has been implementing Lean strategy in various U.S.-based manufacturing and service companies, such as Danaher Corporation, for more than 30 years, including The Wiremold Company, which he ran for 11 years. He now serves as Operating Partner at the private equity firm J. W. Childs Associates L.P.

In a podcast (Lean as a Business) , I asked Art

Joe: Point of reference that really struck me in the book, the one big overall thought I had from it, is you view Lean from just about an appreciative inquiry point of view, what you do well, what are the value adding activities? That’s practically like heresy sometimes, what many consider Lean thinking. I think the first thing when someone thinks about Lean, they think about waste reduction. But, you talk about value adding.

Art: That’s correct. There’s a simple definition of, what is a business in the first place, not just a manufacturing business, but any business? It’s really a very simplistic thing. It’s a collection of people, and a bunch of processes all working to try and deliver value to customers. That’s true for any business. It doesn’t have to be just manufacturing. Unfortunately, the traditional approach that we’ve evolved to when we run these businesses, we started out with strategy, and more often than not the strategy is to create shareholder value, which I think starts out by having it all backwards because shareholder value, to me, is a result, not a strategy. It’s a result of what you do, and the value that you deliver to customers over long periods of time is what’s going to improve your shareholder value.

You can’t just say, “I’m going to do shareholder value.” That’s backward. The other thing that occurs in almost all traditional approaches to a business is we take the value adding part of the business as a given. For example, if you’re running a company and you have a six?week lead time, and you’ve always had a six?week lead time, then that’s taken as a given, “OK we’ve got a six?week lead time. How do we do our strategy around that?”

What we try and do instead is we try and get our customers to conform to what we do, to the fact that we have a six-month lead time. Then, of course, we focus very, very heavily on making the month. The traditional management approach is focus on the numbers and make the month, make the quarter, that kind of thing.

Unfortunately, when you’re focused on make the month; you’re focusing on something that already happened. You can’t do anything about that anymore. That already occurred. That happened last month.

In fact, for most companies, by the time they get the results of last month, they’re three weeks into this month. Effectively, we’re always trying to drive the car through the rear-view mirror when you look at it that way. The reality, however, is the opposite of that.

The value is created by a couple of things, one, by improving your own value adding activities. Two, by delivering more value to your customer than your competitors can. Three, by conforming what you do to your customers to satisfy them and make you stand out versus your competition. It’s really this opposite…value is created by the opposite of the traditional approach if you will.

I always like to use the example of a simple thing that productivity equals wealth. Productively, this is true for countries, for companies, for anything. Productivity always equals wealth. If you think of the industrial revolution in England if you think about why the United States has become so powerful, it’s all really because of productivity.

A Lean strategy allows you to get big improvements in your value adding activities, which is basically productivity. It’s a way to get productivity by focusing on your value adding activities. As you get these, this creates the opportunity for you to grow and to gain to gain market share, which is particularly important in times like this when the economy is really flat and slow and people are struggling to get any kind of sales growth.

The Lean approach gives you the opportunity to do that by focusing on your value adding. I look at Lean really as the greatest wealth creator that was ever invented. But most people just look at it as a bunch of tools, as I said before. It’s a whole bunch of tools in a tool kit.

We can roll then out when we want to use them. If we don’t feel like using them…if you look at most manufacturing companies, they say they’re going to do Lean, and most of them will start where they’re trying to do Kanban, just because they can understand Kanban a little bit better than some of the other stuff. They won’t do setup reduction.

They won’t do some of the other fundamental things. They’ll try and do Kanban, without doing all the other things first; you don’t get much cane out of doing Kanban. But, that’s the approach that a lot of people take.

I think you have to understand Lean as strategic to understand what’s possible here. I can give you a simple example of that, which is, if I just gave you an example that said, we got Company A and Company B, they buy the same equipment from the same manufacturer, so they run at the same speed. Everything is equal. They don’t have anything different…as Company B can change the equipment over in one minute, and Company A takes an hour.

If each of them can only afford an hour a day to change that equipment over, then if I asked you who has the lowest cost, and who has the best customer service, A or B, it becomes pretty clear to most people that the guy with the one minute setup is going to have lower cost. He’s going to have tremendously better customer service because of his ability to respond quickly.

He decides to leverage that by offering a two?day lead time, when Company A and the rest of the industry has a six?week lead time. He’s going to start to gain market share. Company A’s first reaction is probably going to be to build more inventory so that he can offer a short lead time. That’s just going to drive his cost up. Or, if that doesn’t work, he’s going to start to cut the price which also hurts his cost structure and his profitability.

Something that most people would look at clearly as a manufacturing thing, setup reduction, turns out that it’s going to give me lower cost and better customer service, two very strategic things. That might give you a little insight into why, Lean at its core, is a very, very strategic thing. That’s part of the point that we’re trying to make in the book, here is applying the Lean tools and doing this…there’re some tremendous results you can get from this.

Joe:  You talk about leadership as being a real focus in Lean. But, you talk about it more in a participatory sense than what I think traditional thought leads us. We think of Lean as empowering the workforce. But, you really do take it that leadership has to participate, and practically, at that ground level. Can you explain that?

Art: Right. Well, if you don’t have the leader of the business…and that doesn’t have to be the CEO, it can be the leader of a plant. It can be the leader of the division, or anybody that’s leading any business, a business owner if you will. My experience with Lean…It’s easy to tell you the facts about Lean and tell you the concepts. But, it’s very difficult to do. As a result, if the leader isn’t leading it, and I don’t mean managing it, but I mean leading it hands?on, out front, showing the way, then you’re not going to really get very far with this. It’s really interesting to me over many, many years…when I’ve given talks at national conferences on this stuff, or whatever, afterwards, people come up to me and say, “Gee, that was great. Can you come and talk to my CEO and see if you can get him to do this stuff?”

Because, the people down in the trenches that are trying to do Lean, they understand that without the CEO backing it, not much is going to change. The reality is, what’s very, very common is that you’ll see companies that say, “Oh, yeah? We’re going to do Lean,” and they think of it as some element of their strategy.

Mostly, they attempt Lean for things like reducing headcount, or improving their inventory turns or something like that. They don’t look at it as a strategic thing. They don’t look at it as, “How do I grow and gain market share by using this stuff…beat the heck out of my competition?” They just want to cut the headcount.

As a result, they delegate it down to their VP of operations. Then, they try and drop Lean on top of an existing batch structure, leave everything else the same. The reality is you can’t do that. You can try it, but you’re not going to be very successful for very long.

If you want to do this and use it as a strategic weapon, you have to change everything over time. It doesn’t do you any good, for example, if you’re in manufacturing, it doesn’t do you any good to try and do Lean at the manufacturing level and let your sales force continue running around doing big batch order taking, or have sales terms that call for you shipping 45 percent of your monthly sales for the last week of the month, and the manufacturing guys are trying to level load production. You’re at odds with yourself.

You have to have the leadership to do this. If you can’t get the leader to participate, it’s something that isn’t going to work very well. One of the main thrusts of this book is really to try and help the leaders understand what it is they have to do, and how they have to behave, and what they have to know in order to be successful at doing this.

I give some examples of; you just start out with as to, “Why do you want to do this in the first place?” Well, the results that you can get are fantastic. If I can digress for a second, I could just give you some of the results that we achieved at Wiremold.

There’s a whole long list here. Basically, we dropped our lead time from four to six weeks down to one to two days. That gave us the ability to increase customer service from 50 percent to 98 percent, and allowed us to quadruple the size of the business over eight years. We improved our gross profit margin from 38 percent to 51 percent.

Improved productivity by 162 percent. Inventory turns went from three times to 18 times. Our operating income improved by 13.4 times over the course of about nine years. The net result was, our value, our enterprise value, if you will, increased by just about 2500 percent over the course of about nine years. We went from a company valued at around $30 million to a company that we sold in 2000 for $770 million. That ought to give people plenty of incentives.

I can’t imagine someone leading a business and I said, “Gee, if I show you how to use these tools, and you can increase the value of your enterprise by 2500 percent over the next 10 years.” If you look at me and say, “Well, that’s interesting, but I don’t really want to do that.” Then, to me, you’re in the wrong job. You shouldn’t be in that position because you should want to do it.

The book really tries to say, “Look, this is what you can get from this. These are the steps you need to take. These are the things that need to be present. These are the things you need to know. This is how you go about implementing this, and the actions that the CEO or the leader has to take to make it happen.” Because, without the CEO driving this, you can really kind of forget about being successful, I think.

Wiremold was an interesting example. After we got written up in a number of books, we were a chapter in the book, “Lean Thinking.” We were a chapter in Gemba Kaizen. We were written up in articles. All the industrial tourists started coming. They wanted to come see what we had done.

That was starting to cause a problem because we had a business to run, and it was taking too much time. I basically put in a simple rule. I said look, we should be able…we should want to help other companies do this, but if they don’t bring their CEO, then we know that they’re not going to do it.

Let’s put in a simple rule that you can still come and visit Wiremold, but only if you bring your CEO. Guess what? All the tours stopped immediately.

Art: No one could get the CEO to come.

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Business901 Podcast of 2014 0

Yesterday’s post, Top 10 Business901 Podcasts of 2014, was somewhat misleading. I only listed Adam Zak, one time, even though his interview was separated into 2 podcasts. The truth is that both podcast rated in the top 4 and one of them was clearly ahead of all others in viewership.

Related Podcast #1: Secrets on Learning about PeopleAdam-Zak

Related Podcast #2: Secrets on Learning about People, Part 2

You can download a PDF transcription or read the content on line at: Learning about People with Adam Zak

Adam Zak is the founder and CEO of Adam Zak Executive Search. He is an accomplished senior executive with more than 25 years of experience spanning the areas of management, consulting, financial and operations management and talent acquisition. He co-authored the book, Simple Excellence: Organizing and Aligning the Management Team in a Lean Transformationclip_image001 detailing the role of senior management in achieving a successful transformation to organizational excellence.

The Virtual Individual 0

Dana Sednek Bowler specializes in eLearning, virtual meetings/collaboration, project management, analytics tools & strategies, and leadership facilitation. She puts these skills to work at Interaction Associates as the online learning manager.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Working Online

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:     Take the person who works online, all the time. Let’s say, out of their home, or they’re always virtual. What are some of the challenges they have? We need that human contact – can that be done just virtually or not?

Dana:    Definitely some challenges that folks who work from home can face in terms of that human connection and feeling like they’re connected to the workplace. Especially if they’re one of the lone few who are working remotely and everybody else is in the office, right? They’re going to miss that opportunity to have some of that time to be able to get to know their colleagues and their coworkers beyond just the work that they’re doing – get to know them on the human level. Like, the stuff that they like to do outside of work, or build friendships and relationships in that type of working situation. However, I don’t think that it can’t be done.

I actually have a lot of my colleagues and great collaborators whom I have never met face-to-face, and yet have built such a deep relationship with them because we have spent time virtually getting to know one another, beyond just the work product. We take the time out to say, “Hey, how was your weekend? What did you do?” You know – what are the things that you like to do that really recharge your batteries when you’re outside of work. What are some of those things – and be able to take that time in the front-end of meetings to check in with each other beyond just the content or the results that we’re trying to achieve. If you have too much focus on results, you’re not attending to your personal relationships, or the relationships that actually help build and foster trust. That’s a critical component there. I think the other challenge that I’ve found myself – if I spend more than three weeks at my home office, not really interacting with anybody face-to-face, I seriously feel like I have atrophied skills with, like, networking and seeing people face-to-face. So I go out – if I’ve spent too long in my home office, then I go out to a networking thing or I go out to meet some people that happen to be work-related. I forget – what kind of questions should I be asking to get to know one another, like, I just forget about it, right? So, my skills atrophy, and I feel more awkward when I’m in a face-to-face environment. In order to combat that, I feel like, for me, it’s every two and half weeks is where I pretty much hit my mark where I actually need to have a human, face-to-face, contact in order to keep my skills sharp.

Joe:     So, you really should plan some type of business activity, or – can I go out with my bowling team and bowl, OK? I mean, would that be good enough?

Dana:     You know that’s interesting. I think that making sure that find time for both of those things when you’re working remotely is really critical and important. When I used to work for a company whose headquarters was on both coasts, and I was here in Denver – we actually had an office here in Denver, but I didn’t know anybody. Finding that collegial connection with others helps you become a continuous learner in your job and in your profession. So, I really do suggest taking time out for the types of things that you like – like going to bowling with your league, or, like I like to do, riding my road bike. That’s really critical because that gets you outside of the box of the stuff that you’re working on at work – but, similarly, it’s so important to be able to make connections in your network so that you can have conversations about stuff that you’re working on in general and get some kind of other expertise, or other expert insight into the work you’re doing so that you can maybe get a fresh perspective. At the same time, building these relationships for your network that are close to home, because you never know what happens in these days – one day you could find yourself working from home, and the next day you could find yourself not at that job anymore. What are the connections or networks that you fostered that can help you get your next job, or your next gig, or your next project.

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How Well are You Connecting? 0

In Kanban, we talk about how important it is to manage our work in process. In fact Jim Benson’s latest book is on that topic, Why Limit WIP: We are Drowning in Work (MemeMachine Series) (Volume 2). I have always thought that it was just as important for Sales People to manage their Work in Process or their contacts. I have written on it in the past and built Kanban boards accordingly. I seldom find agreement on this subject.

The closest source I have in agreeing with me on this subject is Judy Robinett, author of How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits. She appeared in a past podcast on Business901 which you can access the Podcast and Transcription here: Tuning your Business Network.

She uses her connecting rule base on the Dunbar number. From Wikipedia:

The Dunbar’s number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person. This number was first proposed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can only comfortably maintain 150 stable relationships.

I find her work fascinating and have incorporated it into my practice. Enclosed is a PDF of a Mind Map I created to implement her system.

Download PDF of Power Connector

How to Be a Power Connector: The 5+50+100 Rule for Turning Your Business Network into Profits.

 

How Important Are Your Role Players 0

David Veech is the founding member of the Institute for Lean Systems and serves as its Executive Director. In this Podcast/Transcription: The Fun Side of Standard Work, I asked him about role players.

Joae: So you are saying that when you are building the team, you really do have to identify maybe even the roles within the team a little and get the right role players just like you need to build a basketball team up, let us say, or a football team, you have got to have the right role players. You have got to have a rebounder, and you’ve got to have a shooter, a passing guard or whatever.

David: Well and that is what the teams are going to find out. They are going to find out who is good at what. Even some lean organizations, even some key Toyota suppliers, even Toyota itself in Japan, they tend to have somebody kind of focused on one role. Where, to get the true benefits that I am talking about in this self-efficacy article, we really need them to do multiple things. We really need them to rotate. Now, at Kentucky, they rotate very effectively, but when we went to Japan to see them working at Toyota City, they did not rotate. Some of the key Toyota suppliers, they did not rotate.

We talked to some very expert people who were fantastic at their job, but that is the only job they get to do. Variety is one of the key pieces of a satisfying job. Despite the wonderful work environment that you might want to create, if your job sucks, your job sucks.

So, if there are jobs that suck and then jobs that do not suck quite so bad, I want you to do a variety of different things during the day. I think that will have a positive impact on a person’s feelings of their worth, their contribution and I think it will build better skills.

It is also safer because they work different muscle groups, and we have less of a chance of repetitive motion injuries and ergonomic problems. So it is really important to me that we drive this key rotation feature. So, that means the physical structure of the workplace, the engineering behind it, it has got to be in place too for the people stuff to really come out.

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