Monthly Archives: January 2009

Challenge: Cut Your Meetings In Half

I challenge you to reduce your meeting times by 50%.

Can’t get everything done that you want to accomplish?  We spend a lot of time in meetings but they are not always productive for every member in attendance.  Reducing time in meetings frees you up for more time in Gemba where your time spent is more valuable.  Look at meetings as the first place to remove overprocessing waste.

Here are some tips for your success: 

  • Change weekly meetings to bi-weekly or make one-hour meetings a half-hour
  • Never use meetings to discuss status; use email or post visually in a shared area instead
  • Challenge the meeting organizer to have a clear objective for the meeting before accepting the invite
  • Reduce waiting for people to show up by scheduling the start at odd times like 11:05 or 11:07
  • Gain faster understanding and consensus through the use of visuals instead of relying on just letters and numbers

Check out Reid Hastie from the New York Times article Meetings Are a Matter of Precious Time for more inspiration to make meetings more effective!

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Filed under Business, Communication, Encouragement, Gemba, Improvements, Project Management, Visual Systems, Waste

A Heartwarming Story – R2-KT

One of the things I love about being a Lean practitioner in a pediatric hospital is the focus on the patient.  Reducing waste to be able to help more kids, limit their waiting, and improving value-added time makes my work meaningful. 

My heart is touched when I see how others are doing what they can to improve kid’s lives by raising money and providing fun for them.  Even better is when it involves my other passion, STAR WARS.

Check out the “BIRTH OF A DROID” link on THE R2-KT HOME PAGE.  A little girl named Katie was diagnosed with brain cancer.  Her father is the founder of the 501st Legion costuming and fundraising group.  He connected with another fan group that creates life-size working R2-D2 droids.  They created the droid and painted it pink since it was Katie’s favorite color.  They named the new droid R2-KT (KT=Katie). 

Little Katie has passed but R2-KT still is helping raise funds and visiting kids to lighten their day (look at the link for R2-KT’s Adventures).  Hasbro Toys created a figure where the proceeds went to Make-A-Wish.  Lucasfilm even made the fan creation part of official cannon in last summer’s Clone Wars animated movie.

I like to share this because it is pretty deep in Star Wars fandom for most people to know about it.  I also hope this inpires all of us to follow our passions and do what we can to improve.  Our efforts today can have a long tail for others to build on our momentum.

My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Filed under Encouragement, Improvements

Be More Visual

Never settle for just letters and numbers to communicate.  Mix words, numbers, shapes, and pictures to create more powerful communication.  (I see the irony that this post has no visuals).

I am currently reading Robert E. Horn’s “Visual Language: Global Communication for the 21st Century“.  The book is an in-depth discussion of the semantics, linguistics, and structure of visual language.  His site is located here.  For those that want a more practical introduction, the outstanding book The Back Of The Napkin by Dan Roam is for you.

This made me think of the power of gemba.  Just looking at a report or process diagram will never replace what your mind sees when you go to gemba.  Reading cycle & lead times on a chart will not show wastes like a worker searching for a tool.  A spaghetti chart will not show stacks of papers in an inbox waiting as inventory.  Gemba is a multi-sensory activity.

My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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The Lean Journey – SlideShare

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more about “The Lean Journey – SlideShare“, posted with vodpod

 

Dave Salzwedel, partner in consulting firm at VerseOne, Inc, created this interesting slideshare presentation about the Lean Journey (RSS readers will need to open this post to view presentation). 

For those who are curious about Lean, this is a nice visual way to be introduced to it.  For those that have been working in Lean for a while, I liked the use of DOWNTIME to explain the wastes.  I also enjoyed calling out the office waste of excess authorizations because I have seen this practice is alive and well in MANY organizations.

My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Are Results > Improvement Process?

“A process that quickly jumps to a solution … without a good understanding of the root causes, though it may achieve desired results, would not be viewed as a successful project.”Understanding A3 Thinking (Sobek/Smalley) Page 15.

The truth is, both desired results and the improvement process are equally important.  It is easy to understand why it is undesirable to follow the improvement process but not achieve desired results.  What is hard, is the major cultural shift from only wanting the results at the expense of following the improvement process.

Due to limited resources, clients want the improvement results, but are asking internal consultants to be the go-getters.  I think this model has it’s place early in Lean transformations, but this is a difficult situation to turn around.  If clients and their teams are not doing their own time observations, pulling their own data, going to gemba, understanding root cause, and making their own recommendations then their Lean progress is stunted.  I view my role as being able to help coach, guide, and teach clients and their teams to “learn to see”.  If it is just me doing the majority of it, it comes at the expense of their Lean maturity.  This includes someomne else preparing tabels and charts for them in place of gemba but that is a topic for a different post.

This is an interesting situation.  Many times, it is difficult to get a culture that wants to change or improve.  When you have a culture that wants the results of change, it is important to remain principled and not do it all for them because that is a long term disservice in my opinion. 

My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Filed under Business, Data & Charts, Gemba, Improve With Lean, Improvements

Progress and Risk Quote

“Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”— Frederick Wilcox. 

This great quote was brought to my attention on Twitter by Royce Williard, Lean Enterprise consultant, author, and educator.  There has been a great boom of Lean practitioners on Twitter lately and I have been finding a ton of value in reading their Tweets!

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My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

 

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Book Review: Understanding A3 Thinking

A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota’s PDCA Management System by Durward K. Sobek II.



rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is outstanding. I initially thought it would be a quick read since the page count is short, but I found myself slowly savoring it. This book is like a good wine where you appreciate the textures and nuances if you take it slow.

I suggest this book to all Lean practitioners, most project managers, people who use data to understand problems and show improvements, people who like to draw, and anybody else that enjoys the thought process behind problem solving.

This is a great next book for fans of THE BACK OF THE NAPKIN. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24203…

The authors offer profound insights to A3 thinking and structure. They also paint a deeper understanding of the thinking at Toyota. I particularly liked the explanation of nemawashi and how the A3 author must return to those where their concerns were not addressed to explain why.

I found the thinking behind data to be fascinating. It is nice to see how much or how little is used. The authors even give a nice overview of Tufte’s graph theories while providing an easy template to choose the best graph to match your communication goal.

For project managers, the A3 project status template is worth exploring. I have used dashboards in the past but this structure paints a better picture while ensuring the organization’s objectives are still being met (projects can chug along way past this simple goal and this report keeps it grounded).

Last but not least, my organization is in the infancy of launching A3 to our mix of Improvement Workshops and Value Stream work. This book offers practical suggestions for starting A3 at your enterprise.

View all my reviews on GOODRADS.

My GOODREADS review

 

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Filed under Book Review, Data & Charts, Nemawashi, Project Management

Is Excel Evil?

Computerized spreadsheet applications are celebrating a 30-year anniversary.  Are Excel and other spreadsheets good or evil?

John C. Dvorak wrote a great article,  The 30th Anniversary of the (No Good) Spreadsheet App stating spreadsheets and the rise of accountants to positions of power have caused society to deteriorate.

I do not fully agree with Dvorak.  I see Excel as a tool.  Tools can be used correctly and appropriately, but have the potential for abuse.  Here are some things that can make Excel evil:

  • Myoptic data: Everyone seems to have Excel but may not have all of the data to input into their spreadsheet.  People might number crunch but do not have a systems viewpoint.  Comparison of other factors is often left out.  I had a situation where execs were in a panic over a spreadsheet showing lost revenue but nobody compared it to the data showing greater savings gains than the loss incurred.
  • Charts can lie: Ever hear “liars use numbers”?  Changing the height and width of the x and y axis on a graph can display the same data with a different visual impact.  A long x axis with short y axis can make increases look gradual.  A tall y axis with short x axis will make the increase look sharp.  Charts can be used as a tool of influence and not purely objective data.
  • Not everyone is good at Excel: There are people who mess up all their columns when they try to sort.  Formulas can be highly funky sometimes.  We can’t trust all spreadsheets because we do not know the author’s skill-set.
  • Gemba is avoided: Dvorak mentions how a CEO doesn’t want to disagree with what a spreadsheet told him.  If leadership went to Gemba to see, more root cause problems will be fixed.  Spreadsheets often just show a symptom. 

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Filed under Business, Communication, Data & Charts, Gemba, Improvements, Learn Leadership

When Worlds Collide .. Kanban and Project Management

It is exciting to see Lean concepts reaching beyond manufacturing and healthcare. 

Cornelius Fichtner recently recorded Kanban – An Introduction where he interviews Eric Landes, an Agile Project Manager in software development.  They didn’t call it out, but they also talk about a visual system for software development.  They even mention the Lean Blog Podcast

More episode resources are located here.

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Is Toyota Way Principle #1 In Your Organization Right Now?

I was reviewing Liker’s Toyota Way recently and principle # 1 jumped out at me: Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

Given the current economic situation, is management losing long-term focus?  Are immediate short-term decisions being made out-of-sync with a longer view in mind?

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Albert Einstein and 5S?

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein  This quote makes me think about 5S!

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Who Is W. Edwards Deming?

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Mark Graban at leanblog.org has inspired me to  learn more about W. Edwards Deming.  Karen Kroll has an interesting SlideShare presentation about this influential person (RSS readers might need to open post to view). 

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more about “Deming – SlideShare“, posted with vodpod

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Filed under Business, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Plan-Do-Check-Act

2009 Personal Improvement Plan

I have finished my goal planning for 2009 and would like to share them with you.  Publishing has really helped me feel more accountable.  I hope you will improve with me in 2009!

HEALTH:  Lose 50 pounds via Weight Watchers plan.  I have already signed up and love their new Momentum plan and the fact that there is a great mobile ap for my Blackberry to track and find points.

FAITH:  Find a new church home.  My wife and I are looking for a new church to be planted in.  

RELATIONSHIPS:  Make it a point to have a date-night with my wife once a month.  We focused on this last year and loved it so we will do it again!  

RELATIONSHIPS:  Invest in our friends.  Life gets busy and stressful, but our friends are important to us.  We will be more specific in our time to ensure our friends are included.

EDUCATION:  Read at least 12 books.  I used goodreads last year to track what I read and have already started to build a list of seven books I want to read.  Let me know if you recommend any other books or if I should avoid one on my list.

EDUCATION:  Continue my PMP exam prep.  I am primarily using Cornelius Fichtner’s awesome Project Management PrepCast and await his update for the Fourth Edition of the PMBOK.

FINANCES:  Save an additional minumum of $1000.  Have more liquid moolah in the bank!

FINANCES:  Pay off one of my credit cards.  Pay it off and close it out!

COMMUNITY:  Teach a business skills class in my local area.  I need to find out where I can teach a class and then try to find a curriculum.  I strongly feel I can help people help themselves through encouragement and teaching useful skills.  

HOME:  Get storm windows.  Seattle winter this year is telling me how cold our house can be.

FUN:  Enter my Star Wars collection for display in this years Puyallup Fair.  Sharing my dorkiness with one of the largest fairs!

FUN:  Take pictures more frequently.  Continue the habit from 2008 to take more pictures and capture more memories.

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