Monthly Archives: May 2009

Bridge Science And Art

 

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Are science and art related or totally separate?

I really liked this 15 minute speech by astronaut Mae Jemison from TED (RSS readers may need to open post to view video).  This speech reminds me to keeping moving past EITHER/OR thinking and finding ways for both conditions to exist.  I also like her formula: 

Understanding + Resources + Will = Outcome

This formula is perfect in my mind because it stresses the importance of understanding a problem/situation.  Stephen Few said “most poor decisions are caused by lack of understanding, not lack of data“.  How often do resources and a force of will get applied to problems without a deep understanding?

I admit that I never considered scientists as creative before I went on a tour at a research center almost a decade ago.  The hallways were lined with whiteboards so scientists can capture their thoughts and ideas when they spring from a conversation.  I heard a research scientist test one thing but found a whole slew of other applications they did not expect.  There is definitely a creative buzz for scientists.

I have worked with a lot artists and have witnessed how they can be analytic and precise.  Think of an actor who can deliver the same line like it is a surprise every night for two weeks!  Arts has the perception of being fluff to some of academia but the creative spark should be harnessed for future progress.

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

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“Chain Of How” = Problem

You are wasting employee skills and your customer’s time by not equipping your staff to solve problems.

While getting four new tires this weekend, I was being helped by the crew supervisor.  The other team-members interrupted my time with the supervisor to ask where to order a replacement part for another customer, how to enter a refund for someone else, and other similar questions.  Every customer with these crew-members had to wait for their person to get advice from the supervisor.  Of note, EVERYcrew-member had a question.

I recently finished Matthew May’s “In Pursuit Of Elegance” and he talks about a company named FAVI.  Before the latest CEO began, he noticed a trend in the company loosely translated as a “Chain Of How”.  This means a worker needs to ask a supervisor for help, then it goes to a manager, up to a director, reaches the VP, then finally lands on the CEO.  This model implies only the CEO is smart enough to solve problems.  The book goes into more fascinating detail about FAVI that will get you to think differently.

I saw a little version of  the “Chain Of How” in play while at the tire center.  When you begin to see this pattern in your organization, call it out as a problem immediately

You need to improve information flow so your crew can find answers themselves.  You need to teach, model, and support problem solving methods so your staff is equipped.  Look at your approval protocols to see if they are too stringent.  Look to see if your culture put leaders on the mantle as the smartest people.

Once you train your team how to solve problems and break the “Chain Of How”, you will stop wasting employee skills and customer waiting time.  It will also place you in a prime position to take your Lean journey to a whole new level.

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

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Filed under Business, Improvements, Problem Solving, Waste

Making Costs Visual For Customers

This weekend I went out for fish and chips and saw this fantastic sign.  The restaurant is very nicely helping their customers recognize the costs associated with taking excess inventoryof straws, tartar sauce, napkins, and other condiments.  I am not sure how much savings they have seen since posting this sign, but as a customer I was more aware of how much I was taking (I happen to be a ketsup maniac). 

Do you think this is a good way to help lower waste or is a sign like this is too much to ask customers?

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Filed under Improve With Lean, Improvements, Visual Communication, Visual Language, Visual Systems, Waste

Gandhi Quote: Customer Focus

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” -Gandhi

Lean thinking is focused on the cusotmer.  This quote help reinforce this perspective.

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Filed under Business, customers, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Quotes, Reflection, Respect For People

Moore’s Law and Lean

There is an interesting computer-industry trend called Moore’s Law that can be applied to Lean thinking. 

Per Wikipedia, Gordon E. Moore pointed out since 1958, the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has increased exponentially, doubling approximately every two years.  It has continued for almost half a century and in 2005 was not expected to stop for another decade at least.

With performance doubling every two years as the basis for Moore’s Law, how does this apply to Lean thinking?

I think it is easy for people in Lean organizations to get stuck in the mode of always going after PERFECT instead of focusing on 50% BETTER.  With Moore’s Law, they did not wait to release electronics until the transistors were a perfect size.  This thinking can help you and your team stop waiting and do what is possible now to get an improved performance.

The second way Moore’s Law applies to Lean is the continuous improvement element.  There is a great thrust and expectation set by this law that performance will double every two years.  This drives people to continuously improve electronics all the time with no end in sight.  

Many organizations early in their Lean journey look at the thinking and tools as theory or philosophy.  Many Lean articles and books have documented improvment performance with clear cause and effect connections due to Lean thinking.  Maybe it is time to start calling it Lean’s Law! 

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Filed under Business, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Plan-Do-Check-Act

Book Review: In Pursuit Of Elegance

In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing In Pursuit of Elegance: Why the Best Ideas Have Something Missing by Matthew E. May



rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved “In Pursuit Of Elegance” by Matthew E. May. This book will provide a basis for a whole new kind of thinking. I can not think of an audience that would not benefit from reading this book because it can apply to business, art, home-life, and many other ventures.

One thing I found brilliant about the book is that it doesn’t offer specific steps to follow. This is not a “go and do” kind of book. What is NOT in the book is what makes this powerful (and elegant). May provides many case examples with different perspectives of elegant thinking without telling the reader what do make of them. After reading chapters, I found myself applying the thinking to my own situations. Powerful stuff started popping in my head based on the principles I learned about in the book. This is a highly interactive book if you plan to daydream a little bit after you read it.

I am a big fan of his last book “The Elegant Solution” and noticed a lot of similar ideas and concepts from that book. What the author did was shake loose the Lean/Toyota anchor and make this new book more open and accessible for a wider audience. There is a lot of freedom from that decision that will make this a better book for non-Lean practitioners while still providing relevant thoughts for those who are on the Lean journey.

This book is difficult to explain the highlights because most of them came from my personal application once I understood the concepts explained. What great ideas will come to you while you read the book?

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

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Filed under Book Review, Business, Communication, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Reflection, Respect For People

Book Review: Whaddaya Mean I Gotta Be Lean?

Whaddaya Mean I Gotta Be Lean? Building the bridge from job satisfaction to corporate profit Whaddaya Mean I Gotta Be Lean? Building the bridge from job satisfaction to corporate profit by Jeff Hajek



rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jeff Hajek’s “Whaddaya Mean I Gotta Be Lean” is a must-read for front line workers in a organization that is going through a Lean transformation. It is a highly suggested book for managers, supervisors, and Human Resources in Lean enterprises. I also think the book has value for unsatisfied workers in any field.

The book has some great advice for helping people cope with Lean changes. It is laid out in a way that you don’t have to read it cover-to-cover but can turn right to the section that you are currently struggling with. I think the description of how people think and then decide to take action is fundamental for people to grasp in any organization (Lean or not). Recognizing how your interpretations bring emotions which can fuel your decision to act is something I have had mentors teach me in the past but I have experienced many people who do not understand this or practice it. This part of the book will really help anybody looking for more job satisfaction.

The value for managers and supervisors is to really understand what your staff may be thinking. There are things in this book I never considered before that affects staff-satisfaction such as how it feels to people with seniority that end up on an even playing field as newcomers due to standard work. While the changes make sense, it can be difficult to consider all of the personal reactions for your staff. This book helps you reflect on what people are going through and more importantly provides advice that you can use while coaching.

Hajek’s chapter on the basics of Lean is outstanding. The concepts are explained in a very relatable way such as a lemonade stand used to describe wastes or linking Lean tools to common things we use like Netflix as example of Kanban.

The “Hard Truths About Lean” chapter is a good “tough love” discussion. I am an overly positive person (the cup is half-full and I know where the pitcher is to refill it) so this chapter really helped me recognize the difficulties faced in Lean transformations. While I knew them already, this book served as a reminder of what it is like in the beginning. I may work with people farther down the path but Lean is still only in beginning stages some parts. This chapter is helpful when you work throughout your enterprise and people are at different stages.

I highly recommend this book.

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

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Overprocessing Waste: Quotation Marks

Check out The “blog of  “unnecessary” quotation marks to see pictures of signs with unneeded quotation marks.  This takes additional time and printing ink to add the quotes which add no value and possibly confuse the customer.  Reduced “Meats” from 04/30/09 sounds frightening! 

Thanks to Dan Pink for posting about this funny site.

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

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Filed under Improve With Lean, Waste

Lean Times Require Lean Thinking

Vodpod videos no longer available. Jason Yip & Paul Heaton created this outstanding SlideShare presentation “Lean Times Require Lean Thinking(RSS readers might need to visit improvewithme.com to view).  I love the sketches throughout and really like the cartoon of 3 wastes.  The description of wastes are mostly hospital based which is nice to see.  The slide describing the difference between authority-based vs responsibility-based focus is a great reminder of the culture we are trying to create in Lean enterprises.

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

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more about “Lean Times Require Lean Thinking“, posted with vodpod

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Filed under Basic Drawing, Health Care, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Mura, Muri, Visual Communication, Visual Language