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.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook


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.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook

What’s different about an A3? 0

In a past podcast, I had Daniel Matthews author of The A3 Workbook: Unlock Your Problem-Solving Mind and ask him why he favored A3s over 8D or some other problem solving tools. The answer I received was much different that what I expected.

Daniel learned what it takes to make a truly successful Lean transformation by comparing his 14 years of experience at Toyota with his observations of more than 20 different types of organizations. During his time with Toyota, Daniel was part of the original group of trainers at the Georgetown Kentucky Toyota plant charged with developing an A3 curriculum that would be used to educate team members at all levels of the organization. While working for Toyota he became an experienced Training Within Industry (TWI) instructor.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Unlock Your Mind With A3 Thinking

Excerpt from the Podcast:

Joe:  What’s different about an A3?

Daniel:  I guess, from my perspective, and this is something that I’ve actually been working on. It’s something that I take managers through when I first introduce them to the A3 process. But as you said, there are many different types of problem-solving methods out there. From 8D to the problem solving that was created after World War II put in conjunction with TWI program.

I guess the reason I picked A3, one obviously is because I worked for Toyota and that’s what I’m very familiar with. But the other thing is, is that those other problem-solving methods are typically, for the most part, from what I’ve seen are isolated to small areas.

What I mean by that is, 8D is a very good problem-solving method and it has a format that you follow to document that, but it’s typically multiple pages. It also is typically for a corrective action process.

Whereas A3 can be used for quality circles, it can be used for individual problem-solving efforts by the operator. It can be used at a strategic level, to define the conditions of the organization and what direction the organization needs to go in.

The things like the problem-solving format for TWI, it really limits you in terms of the focus. It’s really focused at that supervisor level and it’s not really an organizational type problem-solving method. It really forces you to kind of use job methods, job instructions and job relations as your solutions to the problem.

So it, to me, limits your ability to be creative and come up with some really innovative ideas to improve situations.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook

Update on Marketng with PDCA 0

Marketing with PDCA is about managing a value stream using PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act). Using the new SALES PDCA Framework throughout the marketing cycle will provide constant feedback from customers, and can only occur if they are part of the process. It is about creating value in your marketing that a customer needs to enable him to make a better decision.

Targeting that value proposition through the SALES PDCA methods described in this book will increase your ability to deliver quicker and more accurately than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitate the journey to customer value.

This book also introduces the Kanban as a planning tool or, as I like to think about it, as an execution tool. Improving your marketing process does not have to constitute wholesale changes nor increased spending. Getting more customers into your Marketing Kanban may not solve anything at all. Improving what you do and increasing the speed that you do it can result in an increase in sales and a decrease in expenses.


Table of Contents

  1. Lean Marketing House
  2. Future of Marketing
  3. Marketing Funnels
  4. Cycles to Loops
  5. Knowledge Management
  6. PDCA
  7. Sales and Marketing Teams
  8. Kanban
  10. Marketing with PDCA Summary
  11. Marketing with PDCA Case Study
  12. Constancy of Purpose
  13. Marketing with Lean Program Series

SALES PDCA is the framework I use for the process that takes place in the customer groups. It is nothing more than a standard PDCA cycle except the SALES part of the framework is where the sales team gets its directions and coaching from the team coordinator and value stream manager. Within the actual PDCA stage the sales team is empowered to make their own choices and determine their own direction to accomplish the goals of that cycle. This framework is introduced in the Marketing with PDCA book.

The individual stages of the SALES – PDCA framework are as follows:

Select the initial problem perception
Analyze the current knowledge of the process
Locate the people who understand the process
Empower the team
Select the improvement that needs to take place
Plan the improvement that needs to take place and plan the change
Do it the new way, execute the plan.
Check the results of the plan to determine whether the plan worked.
Act on the results. If the plan worked, standardize the change. If it didn’t work, readjust and go through the cycle again.

Lean Sales and Marketing is built upon the philosophy that there has been a subtle shift to knowledge as the way to engage, develop and retain your customer base. The sales and marketing team must act as a vehicle to cultivate ideas not only within their four walls but more importantly from their customers and markets. If this is true, how do create new knowledge? How do we learn? Most studies show that we learn best by doing and by being forced to resolve our perspective with those of others who disagree with us. This means that you have to encourage contradictions and be willing to push the envelope with your customers.

This is a strange paradox. Disagreement with your customer can hardly be seen as a positive mechanism for sales and marketing. However, it is the embracement of this understanding that will move your sales and marketing efforts to a higher level of performance.

Can you disagree with a customer? Can you purposely cause tension? You must! You must move away from the comfort zone and create a healthy tension and instability in your sales and marketing process. The first step in doing this is that you must create an atmosphere of respect. The next step in the process is surprisingly easy but difficult to do. It is the process of reflection or in Japanese, hansei. There are three key components of hansei:

  1. Recognize that there is a problem – a gap between expectations and achievement – and be open to negative feedback.
  2. Voluntarily take responsibility and feel deep regret.
  3. Commit to a specific course of action to improve.

The first step, acknowledge that there is room for improvement is not that difficult. However, putting a number to it may be a different story. When we create a performance gap we identify 2 things, one where we are at now and where do we want to go. Of course we may not get there overnight but there will be limitations. You have to determine what is realistic to achieve. A simple but effective way of looking at it is, “From what to what by when”. The second step can simply be stated – don’t look for excuses. Take responsibility, feel a little humility and move forward. Without this, you will never fully release from the past and it may be much more difficult to bring fresh ideas to the table. This is your action plan to move forward. However, without step 2, you will seldom be passionate about step 3. It will just be another effort and ownership will be limited. Ownership cannot be done without an emotional attachment.

The steps of Respect first, Reflection second will drive the 3rd step of Kaizen or continuous improvement. This is the process and culture of PDCA in your marketing cycle. It is the embodiment of tension, a performance gap to send you off on a new path. This path acts as expanding spiral of co-creation of knowledge with your customer that will be truly valued. THE ABILITY TO SHARE AND CREATE KNOWLEDGE WITH YOUR CUSTOMER is the strongest marketing tool possible. Few companies will take this path. Few companies will take the time to develop the level of respect required. Even fewer will use Hansei and look at performance gaps releasing their own pre-determined reasons. Few will ever practice continuous improvement in sales and marketing.

Purchase Marketing with PDCA

Is Kanban Iterative or Linear? 0

Mattias Skarin  author of the book, Kanban and Scrum – making the most of both put it this way…

Joe: If that prioritization is changing all the time, it seems more like an iteration, and it’s hard to get an iteration within Kanban because Kanban seems to be a linear process. Can you elaborate on that thinking for me and how that works together?

Mattias: Even inside an iteration there are definitely linear steps; there are steps that you take to make sure the iteration is complete. This is just the same if you would think of Scrum or Development as if you use Kanban; there typically are the steps that guarantee you get a high-quality output. I’d like to say that there are more ways to deal with uncertainty; iteration is not the only way. If you have a very uncertain situation, for example, you might not know what solution that will work or what type of marketing message that the customer will buy into. Another way to approach it is to do set base design, so you run a multiple set of experiments in parallel. Then you evaluate really quickly which one of these works and you continue on with the ones that actually did work. This set base design is an underused mechanism in our organizations whereas we are getting pretty familiar with using iterations, but set base design can be as quick, or even more effective if deployed correctly.

Joe: It’s like taking a PDCA cycle and doing Plan-Do-Check-Act but when we look at Plan, Do, Check, Act that’s basically a linear progression but when we step back at it, it’s an iteration.

Mattias: Correct, I mean now you could see iteration as a way to evaluate 10 parallel experiments and then say okay, so we did 10 experiments, which one of these worked. So each experiment would be a PDCA per se but you would have a PDCA on all the 10 experiments. Running them in parallel actually buys you time because if you didn’t run them in parallel, you would have to run one after the other, and the question becomes which way is the fastest way to discover, or roll through this uncertainty.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Interactions in Lean Value Chain

Marketing with PDCA (More Info): Targeting what your Customer Values at each stage of the cycle will increase your ability to deliver quicker, more accurately and with better value than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Special Marketing with Lean Book and Program offers on Facebook

Tuning an Organization 0

When implementing Hoshin Kanri, I think Robert Fritz’s example of an Orchestra provides a unique perspective. From his book The Path of Least Resistance for Managers, he states:

An orchestra tuning is a self-organizing system; in other words, it is a complex created by incalculable numbers of occurrences that arc self-gene rated and self-arranged. There is no plan to the multitude of event! that occur, but they form predictable and consistent sound patterns.

What can we say about this organization? In many ways, a tuning orchestra fulfills many of the important criteria often described as essential to organizational success:

  • It has a common purpose (to tune each instrument to a common pitch).
  • Each individual takes personal responsibility for fulfilling that purpose.
  • Each member is a highly trained professional, fully capable of performing any task required.

However, this organization—the orchestra—is predictably limited in its ability to produce music within the self-organizing system that tuning produces. When we listen to an orchestra tuning up. we can recognize it for what it is. We do not confuse the tuning with the music about to be performed. If the evening consisted of hours of musicians tuning, we would are want our money back.

But after a short lime, the musicians become quiet. The conductor comes to the podium. The baton is raised, and with the first down-beat the musicians produce music that is far more interesting, structurally and emotionally complex, dramatic, and moving than any sounds that came I from the orchestra when they were tuning.

We have witnessed a transformation from unharnessed potential that reached a status quo to focused potential fulfilling its promise. What made the difference? Not talent, dedication, skill, professionalism, resources, energy, and attention to detail, for there was no change in these characteristics.

In business, we often hear the call for more of these very qualities. “Our organization needs more dedication, attention to detail, a higher skill level, more professionalism, more resources, more energy.” These certainly are useful and important qualities to have in an organization. But, as we can see from our orchestral example, by themselves, these factors are not enough. The composer and the conductor provide vision, leadership and a profound understanding of structure that enables the resources of the orchestra to be put to good use.

The musical score is the most dominant factor. An orchestra with a conductor but without a score would hardly be more productive than the tuning-up exercise. In fact, an orchestra can play a score without a conductor, although usually not as well. So the composer’s role is supreme. Rut the best score, unperformed, does not reach its height of fulfillment either. The composer, the conductor, and each musician performs a unique function within the music-making process. The separation of function allows each individual to serve the performance of the music. At its best, the orchestra is one of the finest examples of organizational control—the ability of a group of people to join together and accomplish their collective purpose through their shared efforts. Control is multiplied throughout the organization by combining clarity of a unifying principle (score) with competence of personnel (musicians) and leadership skills (conductor).

An organization can be as highly professional as the world’s best orchestras once it becomes well-structured, with a thematic unifying principle that is consistently reinforced throughout its various activities, To learn the lesson of the orchestra, we must move away from self-organizing systems that produce limited status-quo results and into a highly composed system that is capable of superior performance.

In the podcast featuring Ari Weinzweig, CEO and co-founding partner of Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Zingerman’s Community of Businesses (ZCoB) has annual sales of over $40 million. ZingTrain, a consulting and training company shares Zingerman’s approach to business with like-minded organizations from around the world, and offers a variety of management training seminars in Ann Arbor, as well as customized workshops and presentations at client sites.

Highly Recommend:Podcast: The Aroma of a Good Vision

eBook; The Lean Business Practices of a Deli

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: A big part of your organization has become Zing Training. What started that? Did you just wake up one day and say, “Gee, we need to bottle this up?”

Ari: ‘Well, we opened in ’82, and then in ’93, Paul and I spent about a year writing a new vision for the business. When we opened, we were very clear about our vision. And actually the first natural law of business, I think, is organizations that have a clear vision of greatness are going to have a better shot at succeeding. So when we opened in ’82, we were very clear in our minds and what we wrote down that we only wanted one deli. We didn’t want a chain or replicas. We knew that we wanted something that was unique to us and not a copy of something from New York, or Chicago, or LA.

We knew that we wanted really great food and service but in a very accessible setting, and that we wanted a really great place for people to work, and to be bonded into the community. By ’93, so 10, 11 years in, I mean, we kind of had done that. In that, we had filled in, expanded twice on the site that we’re on.

We’re in the historic district, so it’s not easy to do that. We kind of had, I guess in hindsight what would be the equivalent of an organizational “midlife struggle.”

I don’t think it was a crisis, because we weren’t crashing, but we weren’t really clear on where we were going. We had achieved what we had set out to do despite going against the odds. So we spent about a year coming up with our next vision, which we wrote out.

It was called Zingerman’s 2009, so it was for 15 years into the future. That vision outlined that we would have a community of businesses all here in the Ann Arbor area, because we like to be connected to what we’re doing.

Each building should be a Zingerman’s business, but each would have its own unique specialty. So that way, we could grow but keep the deli unique, and do other things. And we would only do a business when we had a managing partner or partners in it that would own part of that business and have a passion for whatever that business did, and be connected to it every day going for greatness.

And after we wrote that vision and rolled it out, then Maggie Bayless??who we had known at the restaurant?? she had been, I mentioned a waitress there. But she had gone back to school and gotten her MBA at Michigan, and wasn’t that thrilled with the corporate world, but loved training.

She read that vision. She came to us and said, “Well, what about doing a Zingerman’s training business?” That’s how it started, then we worked on it for a while and opened it up in 1994.”

I have written about Zingerman’s many times and in fact, Ari’s book, Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service, provided the service outline for a retail operation that I was part of for several years. Several mindmaps and more details are in this blog post, PDCA Cycle of Zingerman’s Deli.

Podcast: Transforming Healthcare thru Lean eBook: Transforming Healthcare with Lean eBook

Amazon: On the Mend: Revolutionizing Healthcare to Save Lives and Transform the Industry

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite authors. One of his books, Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business (J-B Lencioni Series)advocates the structure of a daily check in. He says the keys to make it successful are don’t sit down, keep it administrative and don’t cancel when someone can’t be there. It is important to share the news. I highly recommend the book and the outline of the four different types of meetings he discusses: Daily, Weekly Tactical, Monthly Strategic, and Quarterly Review. Having frequent short meetings simply keeps everyone on track. Sharing daily activities and schedules allows you to not operate in a vacuum and the knowledge of a team is always more powerful than the knowledge of an individual.

Listen to a tip from Patrick about improving team communication:

Patrick’s book is great in audio: Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable

Using Multiple PDCA for a Grander PDCA 0

Hoshin Kanri is a Lean Organization’s method to set mid to long term management plans. We prioritize our resources and activities by involving members through a method called catchball. Though it seems an easy process to understand most organizations design their systems based on the structure of the organization. It is a reason that Six Sigma may be better suited for the typical hierarchy structured command and control organization. It is also, why the catchball approach is very difficult for most organizations.

Catchball was explained before, but a few details that I felt worth mentioning. Managers in a hierarchy structured organization believe that not having a detail process will hinder getting their plans enacted. They also are hesitant sending their well-thought out idea and creating a free for all atmosphere around it. It often may be the fear of losing control. What they will find is that as you play catchball, the further you go down in the organization, the more tactical the feedback is. People want leaders to lead. In the same vein, most people want to do a good job. How to implement your idea, vision is often contained within the tacit knowledge of your organization. Catchball makes that knowledge explicit. Prioritizing activities and resources are best left to the parts of the organization that is closest to the job to be done.

An organization is structured into functional areas and each area is given a mission to efficiently reach the organization’s purposes. In Hoshin, we prioritize these activities to achieve company vision and targets. The Hoshin at each department level clarifies strategies and targets to reach these targets (macro and micro PDCA). This way problem identification at the place of work is needed to study these problems, develop improvement measures needed to reach targets. The team leader or manager takes on responsibilities to clarify the measures needed to achieve the Hoshin targets based on the workplace mission. Workplace mission is demonstrated in the question “For whom and what type of value added products and services should be provided?”

Another way of viewing this process is that you are incorporating multiple PDCAs into a grander PDCA. This ensures that checks and follow-ups are made during implementation of Hoshin so that the whole organization is moving in one direction with team members driving the initiative versus management. The entire organization is one large PDCA cycle with a defined target. Each division and other layers create specific targets with the appropriate activities to achieve these.

As a result leading indicators rather than lag accountability measures can be created. Leading indicators are not easy to create. Many times they are only known by the people doing the work. Another way to think about this is that leading indicators are at the level of individual or the team’s process, the activity that they do.

Bonus Material: Adam Zak, co-author of Simple Excellence: Organizing and Aligning the Management Team in a Lean Transformation details the role of senior management in achieving a successful transformation to organizational excellence. Maintaining a focus on the big picture, the book explains what value streams are and how to use them to structure your business to align everyone with the things that matter most. It boils constraint management down to its practical terms and lays out a sound approach to accounting that enables everyone to spend money where it adds value and to stop spending money where it doesn’t.

Podcast: The Lean Thinker on Value Enhancement (Lean)

eBook: Lean thinking on Value Enhancement eBook

The The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals is one of my favorite books and workshops, I have attended. the best workshops I have ever attended and overall some of the best training I have ever received. It is staggering some of the numbers that they quote such as:

What is happening in your organization?

    1. How many people on your work team know the organization’s most important goals? 58%
    2. How many people on your team know how they’re doing on those goals? 35%
    3. How many people know exactly what they are supposed to do to help achieve the organization’s most important goals? 54%
    4. Does your team consistently plan together to achieve their most important goals? 47%

This is a video preview of Store 334, a video featured in FranklinCovey’s Leadership and Execution workshops. Grocery Store 334 had its share of troubles. When manager Jim Dixon got everyone clear on the store goal, he thought his work was done. But only when everyone was accountable for the goal and empowered to make decisions did things start to change.

The 4 Disciplines of Execution:

  1. Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important – Human beings are wired to do only one thing at a time with excellence. The more we narrow our focus, the greater the chance of achieving our goals with excellence. Discuss what must be done or nothing else will matter. Using a tool called the Importance Screen, learn how so identity and narrow all of the possible goals down to 2 or 3 critical things that must be done with excellence. Learn how to create a ” line of sight” from your goals to the company goals.
  2. Discipline 2: Create a Compelling Scoreboard – People play differently when they’re keeping score. Work through a process of identifying specific measures for those goals that have been identified in Discipline 1. Understand the difference between “leading” and “lagging” indicators. Using a tool called the Measurement Builder, create a team “scoreboard” that informs and motivates everyone contributing to the achievement of the goal(s}.
  3. Discipline 3: Translate Lofty Goals into Specific Actions – To achieve goals you’ve never achieved before, you need to start doing things you’ve never done before. Using an entrepreneurial model, challenge the group to identify new behaviors that will result in new (better) outcomes. Learn the methods for finding the best behaviors by identifying where they might already exist in your or other’s organizations, or by brainstorming and then creating the best behaviors that don’t currently exist anywhere. These new behaviors are then translated in to very specific activities on a weekly basis which, when completed, will help to achieve the larger team goals.
  4. Discipline 4: Hold Each Other Accountable – All of the Time – Knowing others are counting on you raises your level of commitment. Understand where you and your team are on the “scale of commitment” regarding the goal, and what you can do to increase the level of commitment to the goal. Address the actual practice to be used (WIG Session) in keeping the team engaged and focused on the top goals. Focus on four critical elements of this process; 1. Meeting is about the WIG’s, 2. “Triage” Reporting. 3. Finding 3rd Alternatives, 4. Clearing the Path for each other.