Monthly Archives: April 2009

Ideal State Challenge

I have been reflecting to gain a deeper understanding of standard work and came across this outstanding article from 2007 by Jon Miller called Standards, Abnormality and the Ideal.  Please check it out because the concept of negative inventory blew my mind.  I think ideal states are easy shortchanged and this article really challenges you to think a bit farther and deeper for where you want to go on your Lean journey.

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

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Filed under Business, Standard Work

Free Visual Storytelling

I love comic books and they have played a huge part in helping me understand how to communicate visually.  This Saturday is Free Comic Book Day where you can explore this medium for free.  The comic book art form has evolved past superheros and many different kinds of stories will be available for you this weekend. Visit http://www.freecomicbookday.com/ to find your local store and to see what titles will be offered.

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

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Filed under Storytelling, Visual Communication, Visual Language

Lean and Dental Floss

One of the things I love about Lean is the philosophy to make things more visual. 

This weekend our household dental floss ran out unexpectedly due to the classic white plastic container.  My wife commented that you can never know when you will run out of it. 

We replaced it with Oral B Dental Floss because the plastic is clear and you can see how much you have left (the attached photo shows how easy it is to see).  From looking at their website, they still use plastic you can’t see through on one of their products but the rest are clear.  We found the clear plastic to be value added.

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

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Filed under Business, Communication, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Value Added, Visual Communication

Drawing: Treasure Map To Find Truth

Royce Willard said something via Twitter (@Rwilliard) a while ago that really stuck with me when I asked about executives at gemba.  He said “The truth is not in their office.

I created this drawing to show places people try to find the treasure of truth instead of seeing where “X” marks the spot in gemba.

  • Afar Land:  This is the office or conference room where people decide what the solution is without ever seeing the problem.  An Ivory Tower is too far removed from the reality.  Think of Hall ‘N Oats “You’re Out Of Touch”.
  • Report Mountains: Taiichi Ohno states “Data is of course important in manufacturing, but I place the greatest emphasis on facts.”  Many people associate using the scientific method because they are driven by reports and graphs but miss out on the empirical aspect.  Reports only suggest facts/truths but they still need to be validated.
  • Ear-ie Canal: When someone tells you about a problem, it is usually from a subjective perspective based on their interpretation of facts.  This method becomes increasingly unreliable the more it is passed around before it reaches you.  
  • Past-Ville: Using “how it it used to be” as your basis for truth is dangerous because things may have changed since you last visited.
  • Gemba Jungles: The truth is only found when you go and see the actual work being done.  Like a criminal investigator, gathering real-time evidence in the space of the crime will paint a more accurate picture of the situation.  The wild gemba jungles do not have the limitations of the other locations on the map.  The next time you need truth, take the direct route to the gemba jungles. 

If you liked this post, then try:

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

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Filed under Basic Drawing, Business, Charts, Gemba, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Reflection, Visual Communication, Visual Language

Lean Leadership Articles

I really found a lot to reflect on these great articles related to Lean Leadership.  Check them out!

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

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Filed under Business, Gemba, Health Care, Improve With Lean, Kaizen, Learn Leadership, Quality, Root Cause, Waste

Create A New Reality Via A3

Jamie Flinchbaugh wrote a fantastic post called Grabbing the A3 Tool from the Toolbox for the Industry Week’s Best Plants conference on A3 problem solving. 

I like his take on writing the target condition.  He states “This is not the result you would achieve; this is how you will change the work in order to get the result. We don’t just want to uncover solutions to problems, we want to design the work to create a new and better reality. Bad systems beat good people, and our job is to change the system.”

The rest of his article is worth reading to help get a sense of your purpose for using A3s.  Are you using it as just another tool or as a method to get Lean thinking at all levels of your organization?

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

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A Song About Charts (really…seriously)

Dan Pink posted this 2 minute PBS Video aimed at kids to teach them about charts (RSS readers will need to open post to view).  Am I the only one who thinks this song is catchy?  Too bad they couldn’t think of something that rhymed with qualitative!

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

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Filed under Charts, Improve With Lean, Visual Language

Consultant Dependency = Etch A Sketch

Think of an Etch A Sketch when you solely rely on a consultant to do the majority of your Lean work.  A consultant may make a wonderful Lean picture for your organization, but once they are gone it only takes a couple of shakes to make it disappear.

Stephen Spear made a great comment on a recent Leanblog.org podcast.  He said a lot of organizations just want to copy the Lean tools they see working in factories.  He asks to picture a football team coach who gets the best plays from other teams and gathers the best players.  He said the football team can not expect to win with this formula because the team has not developed the discipline.

Your Lean gains can only sustain if you have Lean thinkers developed throughout your organization.  If you just put in the tools and only use front line workers to buy off on the change, it will eventually fade away like an Etch A Sketch picture. 

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

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Filed under Improve With Lean, Improvements

Parkinson’s Law and Improvements

In 1955, Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote what has become Parkinson’s Law:  “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”  The background on this is on Wikipedia.

Lean organizations should have a keen sense to look for this law because it will be fertile ground for improvement.  A lot of front-line workers will not tell you they are stretching the work out throughout their shift because they may not realize they are doing it and it might be perceived there is not enough for them to do which may threaten their job.

It might be obvious there is waste involved when this law is in effect but it can be sneaky to find where it is happening.  This law does not scream there is a problem going on so you have to go to Gemba and look for it (almost like an exterminator).  A good place to start is to ask staff what busy work they do.  Remember the Lean adage “No problem IS a problem” and investigate to find this sneaky waste!

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

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Filed under Business, Gemba, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Kaizen, Waste

John Wooden: Coaching for people, not points

 

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I have been focusing on coaching lately and found this 18 minute Ted video of John Wooden to be inspiring (RSS readers will need to open post to view).  I think he is in line with Lean on both the respect for people principle and his primary focus on learning.

I like how he explained a teacher’s response to why they teach: “Where else can I find such splendid company”.  As consultants and/or coaches, it is important to heartfully recognize and respect the ideas & thoughts of those making improvements. 

Coach Wooden said the “score of the game is a by-product, not the end itself”.  This makes me think about how Toyota expects both the problem solving process to be followed and the desired result to be obtained.  Stephen Spear says many people tour factories and see Lean tools in use but do not recognize they came as a by-produt from Lean thinking and discipline.

His pyramid of success is available on his site for free.  I think executives , managers, and the front line can learn a lot from his comment about a tendency to hope things will turn out but we don’t do the things that are necessary to make those things become a reality.  As a coach we need to help people understand what those things are that should be done.

I think his message to always coach people to give their best is something of value.  It is easy to come up with a communication and training plan to roll out an improved process but it is harder to think of reminding the people doing the new work to give their best during the time of change.  Recognize this need for empathy if you wish to be a good leader.  The ROAD AHEAD poem he reads is located here

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

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Filed under Business, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Respect For People

Book Review: Managing To Learn

Managing to Learn Managing to Learn by Shook



rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Managing to Learn” is an excellent book for managers and coaches of A3 authors/advocates. John Shook is a true sensei with 11 years of Toyota history and real world experience in helping organizations with Lean transformations. I have been learning a lot from his incredible blog posts recently as well.

My organization is about 5 months into our A3 launch so I have been researching a lot for best practices and ideas. I initially thought this book was going to be a “how to” guide for the author of the A3.  You can probably understand how to write an A3 from this book but it is not as explicit as Sobek/Smalley’s bookI believe managers and coaches should read both books.

Where this book truly shines is getting into the head of the A3 mentor.  A lot of Lean books are written from an academic standpoint but this book feels more like a day in the life of someone actually doing the work.  The pressure the manager feels organizationally to get things completed in contrast to allowing the A3 author time to learn is a true struggle I have seen in Lean transformations.  The book has a part where the manager is dealing with multiple A3 authors all at different stages in their learning.  I know these are true mental challenges for coaches so it is nice to relate to a character going through the same things.

Coaches can learn a lot from this book to help the A3 author’s growth and deep understanding.

Some great things I learned from the book is how to encourage more than one counter-measure, using respect through conflict, helping the author make valid decisions and transition from author to advocate, pull-based authority, using 5 whys after implementing in the check/act cycle, and how to help the A3 writer become a coach themselves.

I think this book would be interesting to Project Managers as well.  The last few chapters offer some great insight on how to deal with iterative changes and dealing with cultural resistance.

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

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Filed under A3, Book Review, Business, Communication, Improve With Lean, Project Management