Monthly Archives: November 2008

Airport Waste – Lost Luggage

John C. Dvorak wrote a great piece United Lost My Luggage. Again.  This is a great article because we think technology is the answer but sometimes we automate bad processes.

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Filed under Waste

Tidying Up or OCD?

This 17 minute TED video with Ursus Wehrli is funny (RSS readers will need to open post to view).  It makes me think how Lean improvements appear to some people.  We need to be aware of the culture we are creating with 5S and kaizen.  Do the changes improve the worker’s or customer’s life, or does it look like someone had an obsessive compulsive disorder? 

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Filed under Communication, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Productivity

How Do You Treat The Less Fortunate?

My friend Soubrauseforwarded me an email that touched my heart.  I work in a pediatric hospital and see many kids with illness or major medical issues every day.  While a lot of adults can be deflated, depressed, or stressed-out if they had the same concerns, many of the kids I see are focused on “what do I have to do to be able to go out an play?”.  Their resilience and positive attitude are an inspiration to me.  The forwarded email below is a great reminder about human decency.

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?’  The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’  Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, ‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’ I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.’

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.  The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.  The game would now be over.  The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates.  Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first! Run to first!’  Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.  He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’  Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.  All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay’

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third! Shay, run to third!’

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay, run home! Run home!’

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team

‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world’.

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them.

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Filed under Encouragement, Respect For People

Extreme Toyota Book

Hal from Reforming Project Management posted about a book I haven’t seen yet but it sounds fascinating.  It is called EXTREME TOYOTA by Emi Osono, Norihiko Shimizu, and Hirotaka Takeuchi.  I like how Hal lists the six forces that feed the tension at Toyota.  Check it out!

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Lectern vs Podium

I have a pet peeve where I hope this post will help stop the insanity.  Many people incorrectly state they stand behind a podium instead properly calling it a lectern.  A podium is a raised platform where someone stands on while a lectern is what someone stands behind.  I hope this helps rid the world of improperly calling lecterns as podiums!

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Goodbye DHL Domestic

I am saddened to see DHL recently announced “U.S. Domestic-only services end January 30, 2009”.  I used to work with Airborne Express until DHL bought us in 2004 to widen their offering domestically.  I chose not to relocate but I know many talented people who did.  I am not sure of their financial situation, but I am surprised they gave up after only four years.  I hope all of my collegues are doing well.

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Filed under Business

Check Your Culture: Stop To Fix Problems

The Toyota Way Principle 5: Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.  Quality takes precedence (Jidoka). Any employee in the Toyota Production System has the authority to stop the process to signal a quality issue.

Do you have this culture yet?

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Quick Presentation Tip: Videos

I recently attended a training where a video was shown right after introductions.  After it was done playing, the facilitator asked “Are you all awake”?

If you think the video is boring and drives people to sleep, DO NOT SHOW IT!  If you think the video still needs to be shown despite it’s lack of being interesting, DO NOT SHOW IT AT 7:00 AM (or right after a meal)!

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Impossible To Forget A Friend

“Friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, impossible to forget.” – Star Wars The Clone Wars Episode 6

If it has not been clear from reading my blog, I am a Star-Wars-aholic.  The new cartoon each week has a “fortune cookie” lessons.  I thought it would be fun to share these and comment on them.  Each offer a little nugget for improvement.

I think it is improtant to recognize how people view you as a friend.  Many times we think about what we want but rarely focus on the impact we are making in our friend’s life.  Think about the qualities that make it impossible to forget you and share it!

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Filed under Communication, Encouragement

Alignment Is Important

Alignment is important for projects and improvement efforts. 

The communication plan I usually use for projects is the Green, Yellow, or Red indicators to show if we are progressing to plan or not.  This has proven to not be enough.  This became apparent when we had two stakeholders together in a room.  We saw how they weren’t aligned in the project vision.  We recovered from this, but I have learned a great lesson.

It is important to build into your communication plan a method to take an “alignment pulse” among stakeholders, sponsors, customers, ect.  People’s minds can drift away from the original plan and goal of the project.  Create visuals to ensure everybody sees the project as you do to generate the conversation.  Hold difficult “stop the line” meetings when you see the alignment being out of sync.

We always hear about managing expectations, but you need to begin with alignment instead before you can do that!     

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Filed under Alignment, Improve With Lean, Project Management