Lean Six Sigma

Standard Work in Lean Services 0

Standard Work is a big part of Lean. But there seems to be a lot of confusion about that in services. Can Standard Work still be a part for the creative type and for services?

I asked Debashis “Deb” Sarka, one of world’s leading lights in the space of Service Lean.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Process Thinking in Services

Sarkar:  “I think that’s an excellent question. I think a mistake many Lean practitioners make is that they believe that, in a service organization, we can go ahead and invent standard work all across it. That’s not the reality. The approach to do it is wherever you have processes which are customer facing, you cannot have a standard work, right. On the other side, if your processes are not visible to the customer, you can have standard work.

Let me give you an example. If you get into a hotel and if you go to the front office, it doesn’t make sense to have standard work for the way you know the front office executive engages with a customer because every customer is different, the queries are different. Standard work would not be of use there. What you need in this customer facing process is a guideline, not standard work.

You don’t need to tell the person to look into the customer’s eye, speak this way, and speak that way because every customer is different. Right their moves are different. For customer facing processes, when you do Lean implementation, please keep in mind standard work should not be pushed. What we should look for are general guidelines. That’s one part but when you look at the back end of it, for example, reservations or maybe the kitchen, of course standard work is important there, and you need to have standard work.

I think the broad guideline that one needs to follow that if you have customer facing processes, you can’t have; you shouldn’t have standard work. But whenever the processes are not customer facing, you can go ahead and have standard work. Let me give you another example. Again this is from financial services. For example if you’re talking about processes in the back office, there you would have standard work. But if you’re talking about relationship management wherein high net worth clients are involved. You can’t have standard work right because customer is different, their requirements are different. So there you will not have a standard work, but you’ll have broad guidelines. How should you approach the customer? What are the do’s and don’ts?”

Related Podcast and Transcription: Process Thinking in Services

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The Power of 3: QFD, Taguchi, TRIZ 1

Dr. John Terninko has integrated his diverse experience base (electrical engineering, operations research, organizational development, teaching, continuing education and management consultation) to develop a unique intervention style for organizations. He has been teaching and using TjohnellendaveRIZ for 13 years. Consistent with his professional life of being on the cutting edge in QFD and Taguchi for 23 and 27 years, respectively, John has integrated TRIZ, QFD and Taguchi in his approach to design problems.

I can honestly say that John’s Step-by-Step QFD: Customer-Driven Product Design, Second Edition book, besides being on Amazon.com’s top 50 Management book list, is the “raggiest” book on my bookshelf.  His Systematic Innovation: An Introduction to TRIZ (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) (APICS Series on Resource Management) is being used by universities and industry for training. John has been advocating getting out of the office and seeing customer for over thirty years. It was my honor to have him on the podcast.

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If You Want to Think Out of the Box, You Have to Have a Box 1

I fail to see the argument against standard work. This argument even for startups to not develop standard work practices is baffling to me. Now, the first thing I must do is create my box for standard work:

My thoughts about Standard Work:

  • Standard Work should only encompass part of your time.
  • Every person wants some form of standard work. Most enjoy doing tasks that they are comfortable with, and it gives them a sense of accomplishment when completed.
  • Standard Work is what provides line of sight for your team. It enables support and provides an opportunity for managers to serve you.
  • Standardizing your work makes it easier for customers to go deeper into your organization for knowledge sharing. This provides a flood of new ideas for innovation and co-creation opportunities. More importantly, it secures a vendor-customer relationship or partnership that is difficult for others to replicate.
  • Standard Work does not need to be boring

David Mann’s in his book, Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions, sums up the definition even better in three words. He asks, “If your standard work can pass the 3 C Test”?

  1. Clarification – Minimum standard is explicit
  2. Commitment – Level of commitment is expected from the individual
  3. Connection – A path for support through conversation is provided.

I have been a longtime fan and practitioner of Franklin Covey’s, The 4 Disciplines of Execution. In 4DEx, they use the term the “Whirlwind”. They describe operating outside the whirlwind to implement breakthrough type improvement. What they encourage is making the same dedication to outside the whirlwind time as you do to your inside the whirlwind time. They feel that you always go back and get caught up in your whirlwind. This promotes and assists with completion of these new activities.

Most of would assume that the whirlwind is standard work. Standard work, of course, is inside the box thinking. Or, is it? Again, if you read my description it is anything but routine work. Standard Work creates the internal collaboration structure needed for learning. Standard Work promotes individual differences. Instead of teaching the way to do some things, you step back and determine the key points that are required, as Simon Sinek says the “Why” while leaving the how alone (Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action).

I believe that we need a defined work structure. Not in the sense of a rigid hierarchy or rigid methods but an understanding of this is Why we do things. We will always struggle with the how till we know this.

Holacracy, Zappos and Standard Work

One of my favorite exercises with a new customer is to develop a Business Model Canvas for at least one value stream and often times two at the outset. I seldom (never, but you never say never) do more than two at the beginning. The point of doing this it provides clarity for an ongoing sales and marketing program. This canvas will answer the initial questions that I have and insure the parties to carefully think through what outcomes we want to create, what supports and barriers we need to plan for, and who/when we have to involve others within the organization to guarantee success. You could say that the Business Model Canvas creates the box.

Business Model Canvas was made popular by Alex Osterwalder in his book, Business Model Generation.

It is the basic understanding of your business model that you must have to provide autonomy for your decision making. Even for a startup, till this process is completed it is very difficult to call it business and maybe even innovation, it may only be an idea. Creating the box is imperative for future development. As Taichi Ohno said, “without standards there can be no kaizen (improvement).

Paraphrased: If you want to think out of the Box, You have to have Box

I recommend for understanding and developing a canvas for a startup is Ash Maurya’s book, Running Lean. 

I am a big believer in developing from the core (your box) which I outline in this free eBook: Lean Scale Up.

The title I read somewhere, and it always stuck with me. I have no idea whom to attribute it to and searched the internet but failed to find the exact quote.

Strength Based Approach to Lean and Six Sigma 1

David Shaked of Almond-Insight  discusses his book, Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma: Building Positive and Engaging Business Improvement. in a podcast last fall but it was actually the 2nd time David appeared on the podcast. The first time served as a great introduction to me on his Strength Based Approach to Lean and Six Sigma.

In this podcast I asked David what does Lean & Six Sigma have in common with Appreciative Inquiry, the conversation went like this:

Joe:  Well, it seems like Lean and Six Sigma is driven by problem solving and looking for problems, and Appreciative Inquiry is saying, “No, no, no!” “Let’s look at the good things.” What do they have in common?

David:  They actually do have a lot in common. In the journey that I went with AI and then, later on with other Strength-Based tools, it took me a while to be able to merge the two things. But what they do have in common is the desire for improvement. Also, if you look at some of the principles of Lean, for example, or the mission that is behind Six Sigma, the principles in Lean would like to see the flow. You would like to see value to customer. You’d like to see pull versus push. You’d like to see continuous improvement, and Six Sigma is all about quality. All of these things that I’ve just said are very positive.

They’re not in complete misalignment with AI. AI is also very positive oriented. What confused me initially and what might confuse others is the language we use, or the ways we use, the approaches we use to get there. In Lean Six Sigma, I would actually analyze the defects or the wastes in order to get to value and quality.

Whereas in AI, I would actually look at where are we already creating value or where do we already have some quality? Then, build on that. If you actually look at the end result of what we are trying to drive, you’ll see that they’re very much aligned. It’s only the road we take to get there, which is different.

Transcription and Podcast: Strength Based Approach to Lean and Six Sigma

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The Blend of Appreciative Inquiry and Lean 0

Ankit Patel, principal partner with The Lean Way Consulting firm while doing some work with the Cleveland Clinic, discovered Appreciative Inquiry and saw an opportunity to blend it with his work in Continuous Improvement. I had a podcast with Ankit and you can access the podcast and entire transcription: Blending Appreciative Inquiry with Lean.

In the podcast I asked Ankit: Can you give me examples of some of the questions that I might use to lead into an encounter, or lead into a process and take more of a positive approach when we start out?

Ankit:  Sure, absolutely. I’ll give a couple examples. I use a lot of AI with strategy. One of the approaches with strategy, I did an AI initiative with an organization here called the Organization Change Alliance, and what I asked them was…well, first off, what they were looking to do was grow their organization. They’re a non?profit association for org development. What we did was we said OK, let’s take a…here’s a three set of questions that we want you to answer to do some initial data collection, just with the board. And so what we said was, the first question, what is it that attracted you to the OCA, which is called the Organization Change Alliance, what attracted you to the organization? They would all talk about it, and they’d pair off in their views.

The second question is OK, what do you think is happening that’s just fantastic, and we’re just knocking out of the park, and you want to see that continue into the future?

The third question there would be OK, let’s imagine you fell asleep, and you wake up 10 years later and the OCA has grown beyond your wildest dreams, everything you ever imagined is in place. What does it look like, and what are some of the steps that the organization took to get there?

What you’re doing there is building successes off the past, and isolating core factors that are really working well, and then building a vision of the future. When you get folks thinking in terms of that, they start getting more hopeful, they get more engaged; they get more passionate to drive forward.

Another example would be, let’s say you’re working more on a profit level. I’m working with a client at an IT service company, and one of the things they’re looking at is speed of closure. They’re an IT recruiting firm. They want to reduce the time it takes from the time they get a rec, a requirement, or a job, and the time it actually gets filled.

One of the questions that we would ask to the recruiters is, Tell me about a time when you had just expedient customer service and closure of a job that you had on the table.” We asked them that question and started getting ideas.  Let’s talk about that experience.

Then the next part of that question might be something like ?? well, there’s a couple parts, but one of the parts was, “If you had to bottle the top five characteristics of what made that experience so great, what would you put in that bottle?” Again same concept there, trying to isolate the factors.

The third part is looking into the future of designing, what it would look like if everything was like that top experience that you experienced, that you went through.

The basic format is: what worked well in the past, what are the key factors in how you design a future around those factors. That’s just an initial starting point, though. So, it’s a very integrative process. Each situation is different. With the OCA, the Association, we’ll actually be going back and drilling down into some more specific topics. We’re going to ask those topics in a bigger session with both members and also non?members that we would like to become members to get their feedback on how to improve.

With the IT recruiting firm, the service-based industry, what we’re going to do is actually take those pieces that we found, and once they’re finished we’re going to integrate them into some process change recommendations, and we’re going to start bringing the team back to the table and say, “These are some things we thought of. Now how do we go and do this moving forward?” Things like; we need to standardize, and we need to change our prioritization matrix. Those type of things.

Transcription and Podcast: Blending Appreciative Inquiry with Lean

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Using Process Mapping for Information Flows 0

Since 1953, the Graham Process Mapping method has been the choice of experts worldwide who need to understand the details of their data flows.  Third generation Ben Graham was on a past Business901 podcast and I asked him specifically about process mapping and later the difference between process mapping and value stream mapping.

Entire Transcript and Podcast Link: Process Mapping with Ben Graham

Joe:  I think there’s often confusion about process mapping. Tell me what process mapping is and isn’t.

Ben:  There are a lot of different types of process maps that you’ll see out there. Process mapping is laying out a process flow. A process is a series of steps that accomplish a specific task. A process map lays those steps out. When I say that there are a lot of variations, the variation comes at the level of detail that those maps have. You may have a process map that’s got two or three steps in it to lay out a process where another one will have 150 steps. That’s a level of detail situation.

Quite a few, if you did a search on process maps, a Google search on process maps,  you would see thousands and thousands of maps. Many of them are displayed on a single 8.5 x 11 page. They’re very high level. They give you an idea of what’s going on in the process, and that can give you some focus points.

But a detailed map, which is the kind that I’ve used, identifies all the documents in the process. By document, I mean the forms, emails, spreadsheets, systems, anything that conveys information. It lays out all the documents and lays out the depths of what each one of those does and how they relate to each other, how information from one is used on another.

With that kind of information, you can make decisions about each of those documents. That’s the difference between the high level and the detail map.

Joe:  When I look at process mapping, I think a lot of people think of Visio or, like you just mentioned, a lot of this stuff out on the web. This is not really what process mapping, more specifically your software, is about, is it?

Ben:  That’s right. Most maps are probably drawn with Visio. Visio comes with a lot of different shapes and such that you can use to create whatever you want. Unfortunately, when people are doing that they’re reinventing the wheel and they’re usually doing something or often doing something that’s not going to be repetitive. They’re not going to be able to use it again. Somebody else will see it, and they’ll probably start with something different. There are a lot of variations on what’s sometimes referred to as the box and arrow method, which is a box, arrow, diamonds for decisions. Then sometimes people insert their own symbols in there.

Joe:  When you mention all the different shapes and everything and the consistencies of having that common shape, it makes it much easier for people to understand and share, doesn’t it?

Ben:  Well, the problem is they have to invent the method they use every time. Is the flow chart going to flow left to right to indicate changes through time? Is it going to go up and down? Is it going to go around in circles? Is a phone call represented by a box or is it represented by telephone? Who knows? If there’s not a consistent method behind it, it’s going to change, and people are going to have trouble following it down the road. I think that’s the biggest issue with Visio and other programs like that is that they’re great for drawing a one?time picture of something, a diagram of something. But for process work, we want to have some structured methodology behind it, and there are several.

But with Visio and other diagramming packages, you have to bring your method to the table. You have the symbols there, and you have to figure out how to put them together and which ones you want to use and so forth.

Joe:  I always think process mapping seems to get identified with Six Sigma and value stream mapping with Lean. Why is that and what’s the difference? Can we do a process map before we do a value stream?

Ben:  Process mapping has been around for a long time to help people understand processes. It originated near the turn of the last century in manufacturing with what was called a flow process chart, which was a tool that manufacturing, machine shops and so forth, used to follow the flow of a part through its manufacture. Very powerful tool and that is what has evolved into the detail charting that we use. There is no reason why we can’t do a value stream map and process map. As a matter of fact, the value stream map gives you a high level view of what’s going on in the manufacturing environment, typically. That’s where I have found them to be most useful.

They identify where information flows are. If you have some questions about that information flows, that’s a great opportunity, then to use a detailed process map to see how that information is flowing through the shop floor, also from the office to the shop, or wherever the flow is and whatever media it is using.

You can get the details of that. Is it electronic and it’s sent to a terminal or it’s printed out and then hand walked over someplace? Or is it a piece of paper that is walked out and handed to somebody? All of these details of the process flow can be seen with a detail map, and that just adds more value to the analysis.

Entire Transcript and Podcast Link: Process Mapping with Ben Graham

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Simplifying Value Stream Mapping 0

When you start creating a Future State Map it is wise to step back and take a more empirical view of the process looking for major outputs or changes in skill requirements. Dividing the Value Stream Map in this fashion allows you develop chunks or groupings,. This allows the divided Value Stream to be scrutinized and more importantly better define your customer requirement, customer being the next recipient in the Value Stream. It can be challenging to define who that customer is and what the requirements for that handoff are.

In a past podcast with one of my favorite authors, Drew Locher, he related chunking to loops which I like thinking in cycles anyway.

Joe:  You talk about in your Value Stream Mapping approach about identifying loops as an important part of it. Could you briefly explain loops?

Drew:  Well there’s no science behind loops. We don’t always do it; it depends on the complexity of the future state. But basically what happens is when we design the future state, the room gets quiet because people start looking at this picture and start saying, “Wow, how are we going to make this happen?” because it represents significant system wide changes usually. If we’re doing this properly it should. So, we have learned to chunk down the future state into what some people call loops, which allows for them prioritize those and then prioritize the highs and opportunities within those.

So we can start laying out a more reasonable realistic plan that people can have a better sense of, yes, they can accomplish this. That’s really all loops are about in terms of chunking down a future state into pieces that people can get their heads and their hands around in terms of implementing it.

Joe:  And so you do the future state and get it out there. Then you break it in loops and kind of break it off into chunks to be able to accomplish it.

Drew:  Right, and then allow the company to just prioritize it and decide which area is going to have to come first. Which are is going to have to wait. That helps them kind of lay out a realistic plan, because if they put together a plan that’s not realistic, they won’t see the future state through successful implementation, and we just wasted everyone’s time. Which happens, people do not implement the future state.

Entire transcription and Podcast:: Value Stream Mapping with Locher

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