Monthly Archives: February 2008

Toyota Trouble

The Check-Engine light came on my Toyota last Friday.  We brought the car into a Toyota service center on the same morning.  They advised us the needed part will not be in until the following Tuesday (2 biz days later).

I was surprised by the wait time for the part.  A car service center reminds me of hospital service.  Patients do not want to wait two days for something to arrive before they can be helped.  I am not advocating inventory, but their parts supplier sure were not ready “just in time”.

Everything I read about Toyota talks about the great partnership with their suppliers.  I am starting to think this is just on the production side of their business.  The service side still needs a little work!

To be fair, the service center gave us a courtesy car and were incredibly friendly.  The repair is done and the car works great now.  Being new to TPS, I expected a faster part delivery.


Leave a comment

Filed under Improve With Lean

Weigh-In Report

I lost 5.4 pounds!

Things that went well:  Entering my food into the e-tools really helped me be conscious of what I was eating.  There were times I would have absent-mindedly grabbed something to eat.  This awareness helped me determine if I really was hungry or not.

Things I can do better next time:  I travel around locations often and did not pack my bag with a good lunch.  I veered from my plan that day because I wasn’t prepared.  I now carry a bag of instant oatmeal in my bag for just such an emergency!

Add to Google

1 Comment

Filed under Encouragement, Weight Watchers

How To Kill Your Junk Mail

Are you sick of junk mail taking up inventory on your counter?  Lean practitioners always aim for eliminating waste.  Here is how you can get rid of this annoying waste!

You can pay a few dollars by contacting the Direct Marketing Association and credit reporting companies (I found some instructions here).  I was cheap and took the longer way by doing it all myself.  Here are the steps I took:

  1. Create two sort piles – Keep and Junk
  2. Contact junk mail companies once a week  Use the company website and fill out a contact form or send an email.  Avoid calling if you can.  Have your envelope handy because marketing codes are usually above your name
  3. Capture your efforts – Document the dates and methods used to request removal from the mailing list.  Add the affected name if more than one person gets junk mail (unfortunately an address can’t be blocked, all individual names need to be removed separately).
  4. Cease future junk mail – Be mindful where you provide your name and address at all times. 

Funny side-note: some of the credit card companies already had “Remove from mailing list” as a drop-down option!   

Here is the text I usually just copied and pasted: “Hello, please remove me from your mailing list.  Name, Address, City, State, Zip.  The code on the envelope is XXXXXXXX.  Thank you.”

This whole process took me about four evenings over a month.  I have seen incredible results from this little effort.  You will too!

Add to Google

Leave a comment

Filed under Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Productivity



Originally uploaded by Soubrause

I thought this was a cool lookin’ photo from Paul!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

I finally joined Weight Watchers

I joined Weight Watchers Monday night and need to lose 53 pounds.  I was successful at WW before and reached lifetime when I hit my goal 5 years ago.  I gained it all back since I quit monitoring my food and thought I could do it all “in my head”. I am going to do it right this time and keep it off!

I hope this inspires anybody like me that made it a new years goal but haven’t started yet.  New Years resolutions can still start near March!

Related Post(s)

Add to Google

Leave a comment

Filed under Encouragement, Weight Watchers

How To Thrive When Your Company Goes LEAN

Your management team says your organization is going Lean … what are you going to do to thrive?  Here are some tips:

  1. Be empowered to make change – Ever complain about frequently reworking the same stuff or waiting forever for somebody to move a task forward?  You can now take action to reduce waste to make your life easier at work.  Work with your manager and show where the waste is and how you propose getting rid of it.  Be engaged!
  2. Don’t be married to your function – Your management should be respecting people and not using Lean to lay-off staff.  It is possible job functions may change and your role may become different.  See this change as an opportunity.  As knowledge workers, we only grow when we try new things.  Don’t be the person who refuses to be flexible.
  3. Encourage others – Change is not easy for a lot of people.  Be there to help your team deal with the improvements that are being made.  Many people focus on problems.  Look for the benefits of the change and share them with others. 

Recommended:  A Changing Workforce by Lee Fried

Add to Google

Leave a comment

Filed under Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Productivity

Mystery Box

This 18 minute TED conference video featuring J.J. Abrams (Alias, Lost, and Cloverfield) is fascinating.  It inspires the story-teller in me!

Add to Google

1 Comment

Filed under Communication

Book Comments

I am 1/3 of the way for my 12 book goal for 2008!  Here are my thoughts about them:

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

This was an outstanding book.  I have the heart of an inventor and entrepreneur so I found this book quite inspiring.  Visit the author’s blog for examples of his topics and writing style.  I particularly enjoyed the practical tips for breaking free from email, how to avoid meetings, and the concept of outsourcing your personal life. 

The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker

This book was my formal introduction to Lean and the Toyota Production System (TPS).  I have utilized some Lean tools before when I was a business analyst (although I did not know the tools were Lean at the time!) but this book provides tremendous depth past my experience.  I enjoyed the learning all of the principles at Toyota, especially the emphasis on people.  I highly recommend this book to anybody interested in learning about this topic.  Excerpts are available here.  

The Complete Lean Enterprise: Value Stream Mapping for Administrative and Office Processes by Beau Keyte and Drew Locher

This was a great Lean book with practical tips for mapping value streams in any kind of workplace.  There is a fictional case-study company throughout the book to help the reader practically apply the mapping concepts.  I believe this book would be an inspiration to non-Lean companies as well.

Learning to See Version 1.3  by Mike Rother and John Shook

This book was written before “Complete Lean Enterprise: Value Stream Mapping for Administrative and Office Processes” but I read it afterwards.  I felt the other book added more relevant details since this had more of a machine-shop floor perspective.  It has a practical case study as well, but felt more like a Lean textbook. 

Related Post(s)

Add to Google

Leave a comment

Filed under Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Productivity

Grrr . .. I Am A Victim of Identity Theft

I discovered on Friday that I am a victim of identity theft.  Some jerk bought plane tickets from Southwest Airlines using my bank check-card.  There is a lot of work and headache associated with this!  I am very lucky my bank has been awesome to work with.

I want to take the time to encourge all of my readers to pull their credit report, look at all of your statements, and take a look at Detect Identity Theft from the Federal Trade Commission. 

Add to Google


Filed under Encouragement, Personal Development

Have You Read These Yet?

I want to share some articles I have read recently which I think you will find interesting.

If you enjoyed these posts, I share articles like these every day in My Shared RSS.    

Add to Google

Leave a comment

Filed under Communication, Encouragement, Productivity, Project Management

Flick My Bic


Image from Reflexstock

Have you ever been to a rock concert where the fans put their lit lighters in the air to celebrate an awesome song?  People use cellphones now but the lighter is much more vivid!  What do you do to let your co-workers know they rock?

I have been at my new job for two weeks now and every co-worker impresses me!  They know their stuff inside and out but still take the time to reach out and help me.  I feel like the kid brother who wants to follow my older brothers and sisters around all day just to bask in their awesomeness.

I provide feedback all the time to let them know how much I appreciate them.  I tell my team specific things that impress me.  I report to our shared supervisor what they did that realy helped me.  

One thing I have found is that the ROCK STARS in the office still like to know they have fans.  Shine a light on their coolness! 

Add to Google

Leave a comment

Filed under Communication, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Personal Development, Project Management

Satellite Special

Do you know what a satellite communicator is?  Do you know how this concept can increase your success?

Satellite is a term for organizational communications.  This is a person or team that communicates with many groups in an organization.  In other words, satellites do not communicate just with people in their department or silo. 

I like knowing this term because it gives a good visual image of what you are trying to do.  This concept can help if you purposefully “launch” yourself to circle around and build relationships with other departments. 

Set up time with other teams to share organizational challenges and wins.  Work on being the bridge between your departments by asking what can be done to improve your working relationships.  Remember to circle back and report to your department the outcome of your meeting.

This worked really well for me with the billing department at my last job.  My department relied on billing for a lot of things and we began to notice a lag in getting things done on schedule.  After meeting with them, we discovered the timing they needed to get things done didn’t match what we expected.  Our department then factored in the timing which billing needed.  Even better, the timing became reduced as an outcome of our monthly meetings.

I am sure nobody is excited by the pospect of more meetings, but I feel satellite communication is critical to your success.  When you build a network throughout your organiztion, you become a “go-to” person.  You will also meet people who will help you in future tasks.  

Add to Google

Leave a comment

Filed under Communication, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Productivity, Project Management

Funny Project Picture


This is from an ad for Deltek.  I have been involved in a project where this was my reaction!  How about you?

Add to Google

Leave a comment

Filed under PM Risks, Project Management

Does Respect Even Happen?

Every organization seems to have RESPECT as a value but how often do you see disrespect in the workplace?

I am sure everybody has seen co-workers rag about someone they work with daily but this happens on a managerial level as well.  I knew a manager who would make fun of people when they left the conference room!

I know we can not change the world and should only focus on what we can control.  I firmly believe respect can be catching.  I had a past supervisor begin to make fun of someone but stopped and said he knew I never did that.  Our actions can influence others!

Here are some tips for being seen as a respectful person:

  • Always talk respectfully to and about everybody.
  • If you have frustration about someone and you need to vent, do it in private with a trusted friend or manager.  Ask for solutions for how you can deal with it.  Don’t just make it a gripe session.
  • Have hard conversations with the people that bug you.  Find out what needs to be done to make things better.

Be the person who steps up and takes the steps to create a culture of change.  Demonstrating respect will inspire others to do the same.

PS – “Respect for people” is the second pillar of lean.  Check out Kevin Meyer’s great article Just a Bowl of Brains for an example involving Lockheed Martin.

PSS – (Newly added 2-4-08) – Check out Jon Miller’s Exploring the “Respect for People” Principle of the Toyota Way for an incredible analysis of this pillar.

Add to Google 

1 Comment

Filed under Communication, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, PM Ethics, Project Management

Powerpoint Bashing


This four minute video points everything that you do NOT want to do on Powerpoint (and its hilarious). 

I also recommend Edward R. Tufte’s 2003 post PowerPoint Is Evil.  His comments about how PowerPoint is used in schools is fascinating.

Add to Google


Filed under Communication, Learn Leadership, Productivity, Project Management