Lean Six Sigma

Gettng your Workforce Engaged in Problem Solving 0

In one of my most popular podcasts (Related Podcast and Transcription: A3 Problem Solving) of all time, Tracey Richardson talked about Problem Solving and A3s. However, I have always thought like most things, it is not about the tools and methods, it is about the people.

An excerpt from the podcast:  

Joe Dager:  How do you really get a work force engaged in problem-solving? I think about going out there to the line, do they really want to be engaged in it, or do they just want to go in there, get done with their job and go home?

Tracey Richardson:  Well, I think there’s a combination of both, and I think a lot of it is leadership setting the example. If leadership doesn’t come down on the floor, and they stay in their office, so to speak, and there’s no interaction or engagement and those questions aren’t being asked on a daily basis, then, sure, I think you’re going to have more of a lackadaisical work force that does just want to do their eight-ten hours and go home. I think it starts with leadership setting the expectation very high that we do have standards. When we are below standards, “What’s the expectation of me, at that point?” The leaders have to ask the right questions. It’s also good if you visualize your problems in the workplace.

For me, in my experience at Toyota, we had the visual board. Some folks call them the scoreboards. We were always able to see where we are, in regards to the company standard: the expectation of where we should be. When we weren’t, we had things like, quality circles that allowed our member engagement at the floor level, to be able to get involved and make change.

That’s a way to engage the workforce: suggestion system. We do have kaizen events, or what we call, “Jishuken,” which is a problem-solving event. I think, it’s up to leadership to really set the example, and set those expectations high for that work force to have, when the manager comes down and they’re doing their ‘go?and?see’ on that daily basis, and sometimes hourly basis, in some ways, that the expectation is there to always, “Where am I, in regard to the standard?”

Ask those questions, because, as a leader in the organization, I was always asking questions of my team leaders and team members, “What’s happening, what’s going on, what should be? Is there any variation today?” It’s developing that problem awareness. If you have that engagement, and that buy?in and that conversation, then those folks are going to have a tendency to be more engage in problem-solving. That empowerment can make a difference.

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Dan Jones on The Future of Lean 0

I ask Dan Jones,  “What is the future of Lean?” as part of the podcast/transcription: Dan Jones on Lean.  Dan is a management thought leader and advisor on applying lean, process thinking to every type of business across the world. He is the founding Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy www.leanuk.org in the UK, dedicated to pushing forward the frontiers of lean thinking and helping others with its implementation.

Dan Jones:  A lot of people want to pull Lean in the operational excellence box. And so OK, there’s a bunch of tools for operations folks, and I don’t have to worry about them. If I’m a senior manager, or if I’m in sales or if I’m somewhere else, I don’t have to really worry about them. Well, I think that’s not the true value of Lean at all. The future of Lean is about building a different way, building a management system to support the value creation process. We’ve done a lot of work thinking about what a Lean management system looks like in many different sectors. It is actually a different way of managing collaborative work, both within companies and between companies to create value for customers.

On the one hand, it’s about management. On the other hand, it’s also about rethinking and redesigning new ways of creating value that are now possible given technology, etc. On the other hand, envisioning the design of completely new processes and new business models that will in many cases replace the old ones.

What we’re doing is we’re at the moment still living in the legacy of the assets of mass production, the massive great hub airports, the huge massive central warehouses, the big superstores, the big district general hospitals and so on and so forth, the big postal sorting offices, the big back office headquarters or transaction processing facilities of the banks.

These are all legacies of mass production based upon routine operations and scale. What we’re doing now is designing a completely different business models that are not as asset intensive that are probably more technology intensive or IT intensive and I think open up a completely new ways.

We’re still living with those assets and until they’re depreciated or written off the new models struggle to survive. But I think it is happening. I just think in healthcare we are seeing the beginning of the end of the big district general hospital. I think in retailing we’re seeing the end of the big, big superstores as a way forward. Even Wal-Mart, along with Tesco and many others are now focusing on neighborhood stores, and they’re integrating those with home shopping.

Business models changes, I think, ultimately will come from our understanding or process view of the work, or how we organize the work to solve customers’ problems.

So I think those are two directions. I think the third direction is actually a learning dimension, which is that I think that we’re realizing that the quality movement, and certainly integrate into the Lean movement, taught us not only about the statistical analysis of variance but he taught us also about the value of PDCA ?? plan, do, check, act or some scientific method in solving problems, the closed loop of problem solving method.

I think there are people already beginning to start teaching that in schools, even in primary schools. I think teaching people a different way of thinking about how to solve problems is actually probably going to be one of the major lasting legacies of Lean.

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Significant Improvements Without Standard Work? 0

I was intrigued by Mark Hamel, author of  Kaizen Event Fieldbook: Foundation, Framework, and Standard Work for Effective Events that so much of his book is spent on Standard Work. Below is how he answered that question.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Lean Business System

Mark Hamel:  I think back to when I started learning from a Lean Sensei and that was 1994, ’95. I just remember sitting at his elbow, following him everywhere, listening to everything he said, and jotting stuff down. I had a ton of notes. And I thought, “I’ve been through a few Kaizen events now, I think I know how to do this.” Right, that was really off. Then I go in the next Kaizen event with my Sensei and I’m like, “Oh, I thought that step two was this.” I found pretty quickly that it’s a lot deeper than that. There’s definitely underlying principles that you always need to maintain and sustain. There is standard work, but at the same time, it’s kind of a loose type fit, although there are some things that you definitely can’t mess up on.

So, for example, definitely your Kaizen events need to be pulled, right? You can’t just be pushing them on folks. The old tool?driven Kaizen, they have to matter and they should be tied. Like I said before, diametric analysis or A?tree or process improvement plans, or whatever, there needs to be a context there.

You need to pre-plan, easy for me to say, properly. So we talked about team selection and we talked about scope and targets and so on and so forth. We talk about logistics, communication, which people end up messing up time and time again. Just think in terms of, “Hey, the more effective people are the more intense, the more frequent, and the more personal the communication needs to be.”

One of the major things I talk about in the book from a lean leaders perspective, they should be doing the change management thing. There are some great models out there like Kotter’s model of change management that we seem to just kind of forget. Maybe because it’s so simple, we just kind of blow it off, I don’t know.

But now we get into the actual Kaizen event and we’re talking about things like kick?off meetings. We’re talking about a healthy alignment team leader meetings, plus delta analyses. Very quick things each morning to really find out what’s working well for the team and what could be improved relative to work strategy and communication and things like that.

And then there’s a kind of storyline that’s inherent in the Kaizen event itself that follows that kind of plan, do, check, act. And if we process and if we get off of it, we’re really at risk of cause jumping, of implementing unnecessary stuff. It would definitely be in the category of waste or muda. So we’re training people how to think from a plan, do, check, act perspective as well as introducing them to standardize, do, check, act.

We expect to make significant improvements at a Kaizen Event, but we’re also trying to engage and develop the workforce at the same time.

For us to kind of bastardize the process by not following standard work that we should be following in a Kaizen event, we’re teaching them incorrectly. We’re teaching them bad habits. When we try to get to that daily Kaizen type of phase in our organization, it’s going to be really hard.

There are things that we need to follow. And there are certain tools for direct observation. There’s not observation forms really, spaghetti charts, the application of effect diagrams and histograms and things like that. We’re not super prescriptive: “Here’s a checklist you’re going to do A, B, C, D, E. You’re going to do these forms for this one and this in every Kaizen event.” They’re different. Sometimes you’re going to do process mapping to get an understanding of the current reality, so on and so forth.

I really wanted people to understand what that standard work is and what it means. It also gets into things like work strategy. This book is largely written for those people in the Kaizen Promotion Office. Those people who help facilitate this process, as well as Lean leaders; they need to understand how important this is to moving up that curve from a tool driven to a system driven to a principle-driven Kaizen culture.

Lastly, is the follow?ups piece. We have to have rigor on that and if we get sloppy, we end up wasting our time, unfortunately.

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Are Your Executives Using Machine Thinking? 0

The co-author of The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement: Linking Strategy and Operational Excellence to Achieve Superior Performance. James Franz,  answered a question of mine around how executives are trained in their thinking.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Toyota’s Continuous Improvement

Joe: Is this what you mean by machine thinking that’s attractive to a lot of executives?

Jim Franz: Yes. It’s one of our biggest challenges we’re going up against the entire “B-school” world out there. Steve Spear, I thought, talked about it very well in Chasing the Rabbit where he talks about all of our leadership now tends to come out of business schools. Who are taught to think in terms of transactions. “Where do I put the factory? Is this a make or is this a buy?” You do some accumulation of data and then bang! You make a decision!

That’s what makes a really good strong leader, is you can make quick, decisive decisions, et cetera. We support that kind of firefighter, chainsaw, Al Dunlap kind of thing, but the company and business isn’t a machine. It’s not something you walk up with a big honking wrench and crank on the bolt two times clockwise and suddenly your productivity goes up six percent. We don’t all show up in the morning, plug our brains in, and get our updated downloaded software telling us how to do our work.

When you think about the business as a machine, you think that there are some types of solutions. You’ll bring in technicians ?? how about consultants from the outside, to tweak the machine, to play with the source code. Ignoring the fact that your business is populated with people, and those people need to be developed into problem solvers to help the business achieve its goals. You totally miss that way of thinking when you get caught in this machine?head type scenario.

It is attractive, because you can think of things ?? well, like Lean ?? in terms of, “This is a project, how about a war on waste?” That’s attractive ?? that’ll look good on a banner when you come in the front door. “We’re engaged in a war on waste!”

Well, what do you do in a war? You gather all your troops, the generals plot the strategy. You unleash your strategy; you have this big huge war. Then the war is over, you declare victory, you send all the troops home and you demobilize. This is really the exact opposite of what we’re talking about, when you start talking about continuous improvement by developing your team’s problem solvers.

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Training 201: Training other People? 0

When I think about Training within Industry (TWI), I think of a method of incremental training. You don’t go out and try to train everyone at once, you actually get a few to master it and become your advocate and train more. That may not be a perfect description but I have used this method often in introducing products and services to others. I asked Bob Petruska, the author of Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters, that question.

Bob Petruska of Sustain Lean Consulting will be working his magic in his upcoming workshop at the 2014 Jacksonville AME Conference where you can participate and witness the Pizza Game.

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You Tube: Training 201: Training other People?

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Lean Service Design Program Offer 0

Lean Service Design changes the way you think about business. No longer can companies focus their efforts on process improvements. Instead, they must engage the customer in use of their product/service rather than analyzing tasks for improvement. We no longer build and hope that there is a demand. We must create demand through the services that we offer and Lean Service Design is the enabler of this process. It changes our mindset of thinking about design at the end of the supply chain to make it look good and add a few appealing features.Lean Service Design Instead, it moves Design and the user themselves to co-create or co-produce the desired experience to the beginning of the supply chain.

Or, purchase the Lean Service Design Program!

Purchase the 130 page PDF for download, Lean Service Design

The umbrella of Lean offers Service Design a method of entry into a well-established market. Lean has been very successful in Services and Design through traditional practices. However, we must move away from these traditions and institute a wider scope of Design to Services. This download contains a 130-page PDF book, workbook with forms, PDFs and training videos.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1 – Lean (SDCA)
  • Chapter 2 – Service (PDCA)
  • Chapter 3 – Design (EDCA)
  • Chapter 4 – Trilogy

In addition, for a limited time, I have included 2 popular eBooks from the Marketing with Lean Series:

  1. Lean Engagement Team (More Info): The ability to share and create knowledge with your customer is the strongest marketing tool possible.
  2. CAP-Do (More Info): What makes CAP-Do so attractive is that it assumes we do not have the answers. It allows us to create a systematic way to address the problems (pain) or opportunities (gain) from the use of our products and services.

Or, purchase the Lean Service Design Program!

Purchase the 130 page PDF for download, Lean Service Design

Connect with Me on LinkedIn and Mention the Date of the Blog Post

I will send you a Free PDF of The Lean Marketing House

A few reasons to consider the Lean Marketing House book:

  1. Is there a reason to use Lean in Sales and Marketing?
  2. Do you have to be practicing Lean in the rest of the company?
  3. Is Lean Marketing the same as Agile Marketing?
  4. How does A3 problem solving relate to Marketing?
  5. Why is Social Media so Lean?
  6. Can your company ever complete a Lean Transformation without Sales on board?
  7. What does Knowledge Creation have to do with Lean?
  8. Develop stronger partnerships with your customers?
  9. Provide a methodology to become more precise in your sales and marketing?
  10. Begin a continuous improvement program in your sales and marketing?

Book Description: When you first hear the terms Lean and Value Stream most of our minds think about manufacturing processes and waste. Putting the words marketing behind both of them is hardly creative. Whether Marketing meets Lean under this name or another it will be very close to the Lean methodologies develop in software primarily under the Agile connotation. This book is about bridging that gap. It may not bring all the pieces in place, but it is a starting point for creating true iterative marketing cycles based on not only Lean principles but more importantly Customer Value.

Or, purchase the Lean Service Design Program!

Purchase the 130 page PDF for download, Lean Service Design

A Few Hints When Starting with Lean 0

Natalie J. Sayer is the owner of I-Emerge, an Arizona-based global consultancy, and co-author of  Lean For Dummies. She has traveled the world extensively, working with leaders in English and Spanish, to improve their daily lives, businesses and results.  Natalie began studying and applying Lean in the automotive industry, in the US and Mexico before it was formally known as Lean. She has trained, coached, mentored and rolled up her sleeves to implement Lean in organizations ranging from Fortune 130 companies to micro-businesses.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Applying the Principles of Lean

An excerpt from a past podcast with Natalie:

Joe:   What would you then warn someone about before they would attempt Lean?

Natalie:    I wouldn’t say maybe warn. I would say advise them. That is to find a project that will have an impact on your customer if you improve. Two, get the leadership on board and get their support. Have your idea of the first place you’d want to start, have an idea. If you’ve read the whole book, then you might have an idea of what tools might be appropriate for that project and the scope of the project, and get your leadership onboard. If you just want to start in your own work area, start small. Maybe it’s something that will help you to be able to do your work more effectively. Workplace organization is a good place to start.

I have a home office, and it’s kind of funny because if I start abusing the systems that I have in place of not following them, it’s amazing how much time you waste looking for things. It’s not where in you expect it. We’re all human. There is no Lean robot perfection, so there will be times that you put something in place and then you, yourself, don’t have the discipline to follow-up. Then when you don’t follow it and you waste a lot of time looking for something. Let’s talk about your keys. How many times do people lay their keys down somewhere and then can’t find them? As a matter of fact, there’s a kind of a funny little spaghetti diagram in the book around, where the heck did I put my keys? There’s tracing the path looking for them.

I would say, to succinctly say that, start small. Start with a place that can affect your abilities to deliver to your customer. Get your leadership onboard. Get the ear of someone in leadership, and try a pilot.

The other thing I think that is kind of a warning for companies try to avoid the big launch event. It’s almost like that sets a company up for failure, because people expected then, “When are we going to get there?” like kids going on a destination, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Then you lose momentum because you’ve put this big, ‘Yahoo. We’re going Lean’ banner or cry out there. I kind of am a supporter of stealth.

Start talking about in your strategy, where can it fit; a leadership decision to move the direction. What does it mean on building capability, serving the customer, and understanding value streams? Then just start with projects and start with behaviors. Train as you go don’t just send a bunch of people to Lean classes to get Lean certified as we’ve already talked about, when, in fact, they don’t have a project that they’re going to immediately implement on.

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