Category Archives: Communication

Be Different

Youngme Moon is coming out with a book called DIFFERENT.  The attached 3 minute video (RSS readers may need to open post to view) gives a great visual overview of how businesses can be different.  The video was created by XPLANE, a company that I enjoy their visual communication.  The book looks like something the Lean community would enjoy.

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Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, customers, Productivity, Project Management, Visual Language

Waste Of Breath: Wording Pet Peeves

In honor of National Grammar Day today, I want to share some of my favorite wording pet peeves for a little fun.  I am reaching to bring this into the lean world but there are overprocessing waste due to saying more than needed.

  • “Free Gift”: I have never heard of someone paying for a gift.  They are usually always free, no need to add the word.
  • I need to “respond back”: There is no way to respond in advance.  A response is always back to the person, so no need to add back.
  • I was thinking “in my head”: Where else would you think?  I can’t think in someone else’s head.
  • “Tunafish”: Just say tuna.  You never say halibutfish or salmonfish. 

Please share your wording pet peeves!

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Filed under Communication, humor, Improve With Lean, Waste

How Does Autonomy Fit Into Lean Management?

Dan Pink’s new book “DRIVE” made me wonder how Lean managementwill work with the book’s premise that knowledge workers seek autonomy.Do standardized work and job instruction sheets take away from the need to have autonomy over what tasks people do, when they do it, who they do it with, and how they do it?

The book’s premise is that old motivating ways of using the carrot as a reward or the stick as punishmentdoesnot work for knowledge workers. Knowledge workers are motivated by autonomy over task, technique, time, and team. They are also motivated by the pursuit of mastery and fulfilling a purpose. I posted a video from the author explaining the concept a couple of months ago.

Pink breaks down processes into two categories:

  • Algorithmic: Tasks where you follow a set of established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion
  • Heuristic: Tasks which require experimenting with possibilities to devise a novel solution and no single pathway exists

Carrots and sticks work well for motivating people with algorithmic tasks (to some extent) butcause damage when applied to heuristic tasks.

One of the challenges at my hospital is that most providers think providing all elements of care is heuristic. They each have their own special skills and experiencesto create care for the patient. From a Lean perspective, we have variation and unpredictable results which cause waste. Provider teams in the hospital are working at transforming some of these tasks to be algorithmic. Weare able to meet our patients’ demands better, less people are idle, and supplies are getting closer to point-of-use.

Despite these wins, is Lean thinking taking away autonomy by transforming heuristic tasks? I do not think so but we have look at things a little differently.

Just because a task is algorithmic does not mean creativity is lost and robots are created. For patient care, maybe all of the steps leading up to diagnosis are algorithmic but the value added part is heuristic. This frees up the provider’s mental capacity to focus on the true customer problem and not on the problems getting up to the customer.

Another way of looking at this is that the problem solving part of everybody’s work is heurestic. If every task is somehow transformed into a single pathway, your staff should still have the autonomy to recognize problems and experiment to fix them. Helping people understand that their creativity will be focused on trying to improve experiences instead of trying to figure out what to do next or where something is.

Lean management should strive to motivate people as autonomous knowledge workers. Even if standardized work makes tasks look ripe for the carrot and stick treatment, recognize you are asking staff to be creative and solve problems.

What do you think?

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Filed under Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Learning Organization, Problem Solving, Productivity, Reflection, Respect For People, Standard Work

Strategy Deployment Challenges At A Hospital

Just because a project is a good thing to do does not mean it should be done now.  It is very easy to spend time and resources on these “good” projects if your organizational strategy is not deployed throughout all levels. 

At my hospital we have many areas now doing Lean improvements and achieving good results.  The challenge our organization is facing is there are other strategic initiatives losing momentum due to competing resources.  We are currently learning how to do strategy deployment in an effective way. 

The Lean Enterprise Institute is providing an interesting resource that I think will help us featuring Dr. John Toussaint, from the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value.  The first part will be a 30 minute video where we see how ThedaCare cascades their strategy through all levels of the hospital. 

I really appreciate the idea to do a virtual gemba walk at ThedaCare.  I feel one of the biggest barriers to lean success for hospitals is isolation.  I think it is great that ThedaCare is “opening its’ door” for us to learn from them.

 The second part of L.E.I.’s product is a 60-minute Live Q&A Video Event on February 24 at 11:00 AM EST, where Dr. Toussaint will answer your questions.  This too will be recorded for viewing at a later date.

You can find more details about this here.

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Filed under Change Management, Communication, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Project Management, Strategy Deployment

Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs

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more about “The Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs“, posted with vodpod

 

Steve Jobs has a reputation for being an outstanding presenter.  This slideshow from Carmine Gallo is inspired from the book of the same name which I have seen a lot of references to lately (RSS readers may need to open post to view)

What tips do you have about presenting?

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Development Versus Deadline

For Lean improvement workshops, non-customer driven deadlines should be negotiable to ensure time is given for quality development of staff.

Matthew E. May discusses how organizations are so addicted to action sometimes that the deadline drives people to get things out versus get things right.  To me, “Getting things right” does not mean taking no action until something is perfect.  I think it means staff has a solid understanding of how to assess the current state, how to use data to determine where to begin improvements, how to see in gemba, how to communicate to gain consensus about the problem and the countermeasures, how Lean tools can help them, and how the workshop can be a model for their daily work. 

To move forward without that deep understanding poses a big risk for your organization for its long-term Lean growth.

With workshops at a hospital, sometimes dates are set aside before the work has truly begun.  Nurse and provider schedules are a very real constraint to work with.  I think dates should not be set until after the assessment.  This may draw out your lead time to an event, but it will have a better long-term effect on your organization.  The trick is to not have the event so far away from the assessment that momentum is lost (easier said than done).

When deadlines are put above development of staff, a consultant or Lean expert in the area ends up doing the work or telling people what to do.  While you may get the desired results with this method, the problem solving process was not followed.

The best scenario would be to ensure all of the development and understanding happens before the deadline.  Sometimes Lean can be so counterintuitive that people need more time.  One last caveat, I do not define development as “after one single event the staff become experts” since the Lean journey is iterative.

Do you let deadlines rule over staff development?  Do you think one is more important than the other?  What do you do to get both done on time?

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

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Keeping Lean Japanese

There is a trend towards removing the Japanese language or jargon from Lean transformations in the U.S.  I understand why organizations would want to make lean thinking and the  corresponding tools easier to digest, but I think we should seriously consider keeping it Japanese.

  • People get used to new words and phrases better than you might think – Until a few years ago nobody knew what an iPod was.  A cougar used to be a big cat and not a woman who likes younger men.  Jewelry is now commonly called bling.
  • There is no standard for Americanized Lean – Some call Gemba “three actuals (actual place, actual process, actual people)”, others brand it as “direct observation”, some refer to it as just “process walk”, and I am sure Gemba goes by other names.  The problem with this is members of your organization can not easily learn Lean from external sources.  Article and book authors tend to use the Japanese terms at least in reference but your staff may miss it if the original word is not shared with them. 
  • Lean transformation is a significant change and language should reflect that – A lot of Lean will seem counter-intuitive at first and there is a major shift in thinking that will take place on your journey.  A significant change in the language will help communicate to the culture that things will be different from here on out.  To paraphrase Deming, you are no longer using the language of the old world.

Choosing the language of Lean is a strategic choice for your organization.  It is easy to dismiss the notion of keeping the Japanese out and making easier translations.  Please consider the pro side of keeping the original language.

I am very interested in your comments.

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

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Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Learning Organization, Respect For People

Motivating Knowledge Workers

Dan Pink has an outstanding TED talk about how to motivate workers in the 21st century (some readers may need to open this post to be able to view the 19 minute video).  Dan’s message about the difference between what science knows versus what business does will hopefully give you a new perspective. 

Leadership can get into a trap when it tries to get compliance instead of commitment or engagement.  Dan discusses how incentives can do more harm for your business.  The speech discusses the need to move from a reward by carrot or punishment by stick practice. 

Dan also speaks about an interesting study by Dan Ariely whom I greatly admire.  I wrote about how his findings can help you connect actions to cost.

Please comment with your reactions to Dan’s speech.

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

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Windows Of Frustration (part 1)

As someone who helps people improve their processes and quality for a living, being a consumer can sometimes drive me batty!  I think there will always be a need for the lean principles to be applied (although some companies do not recognize the need).  My wife and I recently purchased new windows for our whole house and have had cascading problems since. 

The sales person did a quote while we were at work and mailed it to us.  To understand what the windows he quoted were, we visited the showroom and the sales person showed us a double-hung window where both the top and bottom opened.  We advised we wanted the energy-efficient and gas-filled glass.  We pointed out the measurements on the quote weren’t correct so he was going to send someone out again and provide us with a more accurate quote. 

The updated quote came and the price was good so we agreed via telephone.

During the day of the first installation I stayed out of the way from the crew.  I popped out at one point to see one of the windows that was finished.  It was a single-hung window where the top did not open like I ordered! 

I called the salesperson who was very rude stating it was on the quote I agreed to.  I advised it was not the window my wife and I saw in the showroom.  He said that was just a demo of the window brand and we were not clear to him we wanted double-hung.  I asked where it said on the quote that it was single hung to alert me as a customer that I might not be getting what I expected.  He said next to each measurement is the code “SH” for single hung.  I advised him that as the window expert, I would have expected him to explain technical codes to me the consumer and asked why he would not have tried to up-sell me on the more expensive window anyways.  We eventually came to agreement to get the correct custom windows installed.  This was truly a test of my respect for people principle!

Besides the obvious upset customer (me!), there was a lot of waste for the sales/installation company and the manufacturer: 

  • The installers have to send their crew out twice (you will find out it will be three times in part 2!). 
  • The single-hung custom windows are now scrap cost to  the installer and/or manufacturer. 
  • The time the salesperson spent fixing our problem took time away from him to generate new business for the installation company.

Potential counter-measures: 1) Train salespeople to ask customer’s the right kind of questions to ensure their needs are met prior to ordering.  2) Make quotes visual with descriptions with explicit explanations with no code so the customer can understand what they are agreeing to.  3) Don’t blame the customer when problems happen but own the issue.

I will share part 2 next week.  Any other wastes or counter-measures you see in this story?

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

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Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, customers, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Information Flow, Problem Solving, Quality, Respect For People, Root Cause, Value Added, Visual Communication, Visual Language, Waste

“Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen”

Remember the song “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen”? 

I was thinking how appropriate some of the lyrics are for people who see problems in their work area everyday that never get fixed.  Encourage your teams to make problems visible so they can begin to solve issues. 

  • Make a whiteboard where everybody writes problems they see. 
  • Have blank A3 paper handy so someone can begin to uncover the root cause. 
  • Remind people to not just keep problems limited to memory because in a fast-paced workplace it is easy to forget or trivialize as time progresses.
  • Assign or facilitate someone in the workgroup to own the resolution of the problem.
  • Reinforce a culture where leadership supports problems being visible and not used as an easy punishing device.

Giving your team an avenue to express the problems they see will bring massive improvement to your organization.

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

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Learning Mindset

Learn something like you will be required to teach it someday.

That advice was given to me when I was in college and selling knives to pay my way through it.  We had sales conferences and some speaker, I cannot remember their name, gave this principle to me and I try to use it every day.  This blog is a reflection of this mindset.

When you read a book/article, hear a speaker, or get mentored, try to learn with the intensity that you might be called on to help someone else learn the same thing.  You take on an additional responsibility if you know you are not learning just for your own sake.  Not everything taught to you will be perfect or relevant but you will begin to look for the gold nuggets to pass on to others.

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

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Brain Rules for Presenters (and Lean)

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I have not read John Medina’s book “Brain Rules” yet but this presentation from Garr Reynolds makes the book look fascinating (RSS readers may need to open post to view presentation).  If there is any trouble with the embedded video (sometimes SlideShare loads forever when I embed it), the original source is here.

Some elements really fit in with Lean thinking:

  • The comments about instruction space sucking the brain power out of people is quite apt to consider if you are trying to create a learning organization. 
  • The focus to minimize interruptions to gain quality is a form of waste to remove. 
  • I love the phrase “going analog” because it does not have to rely on technology.
  • Noticing where there is force feeding but little digestion makes me think of how respect for people is being practiced.
  • “Pictures beat text” is a great clarion call to make the workplace more visual.

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

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more about “Brain Rules for Presenters“, posted with vodpod

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Book Review: Flawless Consulting 2nd Edition

Peter Block’s “Flawless Consulting Second Edition” is an outstanding book and I recommend it for anybody who is ever asked for advice.  Consulting skills are not limited to people with a consultant title but anybody who helps others but has no authority over the outcome of their advice.  Leaders, project managers, church elders, event planners, and many others will find benefit in this book.

I bought this book because I am an internal consultant.  I had a coach challenge me to define my role as a consultant.  I was not able to do so in a way that satisfied me.  This book helped me tremendously to be purposeful in all of my consulting work.

Block defines the roles and needs for both consultant and client.  He provides the thinking behind the business of each phase in consulting.  The definition and encouragement of how to be authentic are very actionable.  The book also highlights the differences between external and internal consulting. 

Some stand out chapters cover: 

  • Contracting with a client (this is not just a formal & legal contract but a relationship contract)
  • Understanding, recognizing, and dealing with resistance
  • Obtaining data
  • Engagement thinking and tools

”Flawless Consulting” has many elements consistent with Lean thinking such as whole system engagement, being a learning organization instead of only focusing on teaching, and moving away from just engineering to include the social side of change. 

I really like the wide margins in the book to be able to write my notes and thoughts.  A good sign that I get something from a book is the amount of pencil marks inside of it.  Practically every other page has some notation from my pencil!

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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: Kaizen Express

Kaizen Express: Fundamentals for Your Lean Journey Kaizen Express: Fundamentals for Your Lean Journey by Toshiko Narusawa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kaizen Express from the Lean Enterprise Institute is an interesting book. The book focuses on the basic fundamentals of Lean and should be interesting to anybody wanting to reflect more on the principles.

I really like the book’s drawings and its focus on how to implement things like standardized work, visual management, jidoka, flow, and others. I want to emphasize a strength of this book is these concepts are not just defined like a glossary or a single paragraph but have a few pages dedicated to exploring the thinking and practicalities to operationalizing them.

Some lessons that stand out are the definition of three kinds of muda, the idea of islands, auto-eject devices, “A type pull” and “B type pull”, visual management, and zone control. The forms at the back of the book were interesting to see how similar or different to what my organization uses.

I do have some criticisms of the book. The biggest issue I have about this book is the lack of PDCA mentioned. While I learned TPS and TQC were developed separately by Toyota, PDCA is usually bundled into all Lean materials at this point. For a book about the basic fundamentals, this seems like a glaring omission to me.

I also need to discuss that this book is written in Japanese on the left side of the page and English on the right. I do not have major problems with this but found it to be slightly distracting – especially when some of the page layouts are in the middle of the page. It is quaint to see the Japanese writing but I do not see this as value added to me.

Overall, this book has a lot of gems in it and I would recommend it. I see this as a very handy quick reference book.

Conflict of interest disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes.

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

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How To Get People To Change

“People do not change when you tell them they should; they change when they tell themselves they must.” – Michael Mandelbaum, a foreign policy specialist at John Hopkins University

Jonathan Frye from LeadershipJot.com has great comments about this quote and the source where it came from.

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

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