Category Archives: Project Management

Does Technology Actually Provide “Solutions”?

Technology can sometimes seem like the right way to address issues but most people do not know about the extra problems it can create.  You may get a short-term win with technology but end up suffering in the long-term.

If your hospital or organization in on a Lean journey, technology can sometimes go against your philosophy and management system.

Here are some things to consider if you are looking at technology: 

  • Never automate a bad process. Eliminate waste and understand what the process really needs before you find a way to make it faster. Quicker waste is still waste.
  • IT systems should fit the process, not the other way around.  In The Birth Of Lean, there was an early Toyota document with the following: “It is not a conveyor that operates men…it is men that operate a conveyor…”  So often people change processes to meet the rigidity of the technology.  Ensure the technology does not force standardization that has waste, lowers quality, or makes no sense.
  • Be able to make changes after it is implemented. So often organizations are stuck with wasteful systems because nobody has knowledge to make iterative improvements or the cost to bring someone in is so high that nobody fixes it until it is totally broke.
  • Trial first instead of piloting. Pilots usually happen after you buy the system. I have rarely seen organizations stop implementation if a pilot does not work out like they expected.  Organizations usually just change their messaging and training to fit what the technology can do instead of ensuring it does what they wanted it to do.  Trialing is part of PDCA thinking and will help ensure the IT system meets the needs of the process without being financially committed to rolling it out.
  • Know the problem you are addressing. With today’s technology, there are all sorts of bells and whistles that seem great.  Although impressive, the added features may be more than needed (overprocessing waste) and can sometimes distract from why you were looking for technology.  These ‘extras’ can also add complexity to your processes.

I think technology can be embraced in Lean organizations but it is important to ensure it is thoroughly tested, reliable, and improvable before you commit to implementing. 

Any other tips?

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under Business, Change Management, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Lean Hospital, Mura, Muri, Productivity, Project Management, Waste

Book Review: Kaizen Event Fieldbook

Mark Hamel’s “Kaizen Event Fieldbook” is an excellent addition to the library of Lean literature.  Don’t let the title fool you though, there is more to this book than just the technical details behind a kaizen event.

The book definitely delivers on the myriad of details for progressing through the different phases of a kaizen event.  Instead of just explaining what to do, the author provides the reason why it is done.  The book’s emphasis on the thinking behind the actions is valuable for Lean leaders, facilitators, and consultants .  While there are a lot of similarities to how my organization conducts events, it is nice to see the differences recommended by the book.

There are many great tables and visuals throughout the book.  A few of my favorites are the decision tree for what should be a kaizen event, a table with nine symptoms of event malpractice, and a team behavioral audit for the facilitator.  There is also an exhaustive appendix with blank forms to use for kaizen events.

In addition to the technical details, the book has a lot of insight for transformational leadership.  I enjoyed the different short stories in the “gemba tales”.  I like to learn how others teach Lean concepts and the book has an excellent chapter where the author does just that.  I am glad the book also discusses the need for daily kaizen and what that looks like in relation to kaizen events.  Lastly, there is an outstanding section about the role of a kaizen promotion office and the core competencies of those who work in it.

The “Kaizen Event Fieldbook” is a book I open often and refer to.  I highly recommend it.

Mark Hamel writes a great blog at http://kaizenfieldbook.com/marksblog/ and can be found on twitter as @markrhamel.

If you liked this post, then try:

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under Book Review, Gemba, Improve With Lean, Kaizen, Learn Leadership, Problem Solving, Productivity, Project Management, Root Cause

Communication Or Announcements?

Photo Source: On The Sauce http://onthesauce.net/?p=391

You have a new change coming, do you communicate or just announce it?

I define communication as two-way where input and feedback is requested and announcements as one-way “this is coming or it’s already here” kind of messages.

Announcements are not an effective way to bring your organization along on your Lean journey.  People feel done-to or it appears as though they have no voice.  Announcements give the impression of very top-down leadership even if you had some of the front-line staff involved in creating the change (intent versus impact).

For people to be engaged in the change, ensure you are seeking input and feedback from those affected.  Firstly, before you make a change or set a target condition you should have gone and seen the actual process.  Use this time in gemba to get feedback about the problem.  I have seen flipchart paper put in an area for staff to add input prior to developing counter-measures to trial.  Use staff meetings to ask for thoughts before you start improving.

When developing counter-measures, share ideas with stakeholders or involve them in the trial.  Ask them what works or what further adjustments should be made before it becomes the new standard work.  Their input will make a better counter-measure and help them be invested the change.

After the standard work gets implemented, have leadership and key coaches on the floor soliciting feedback and providing clarifications.  The counter-measure may have some missing pieces that are only discovered after “launch” or people may not understand it enough to follow it.  This communication helps your organization sustain the improvement.

Honestly look at your “communication” strategy.  Is it really just announcements or are you actively asking for feedback to be seriously considered?  Did you bump the communication discussion from every agenda and now stuck in the mode of announcing because a counter-measure is developed and ready to go?

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS| Google Reader| Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under A3, Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Improve With Lean, Lean Hospital, Lean Hospitals, Learn Leadership, Nemawashi, Problem Solving, Project Management, Respect For People

Funny Escalations

I recently discovered this funny online webcomic 1.00 FTE.  This particular one reminds me of the waste of overburdening people.  An unreasonable request is made to a team and escalation is conducted to force it to action.

What is a better way to meet with senior management about this? 

  • Bring the senior leader to watch and talk with the team (gemba) to find out why they can not do the task.  There may be waste causing them to not be able to complete the task.  They may not have the resources or skills.  There may be other barriers for them.
  • Deeply understand the task that is being requested.  The task may not fit into the organization’s strategy or help your customer.  The task might not be worth doing right now (or ever).  It may just be someone’s pet project.  The team may have bigger priorities.

Keep on improving!

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

2 Comments

Filed under Business, Change Management, customers, Encouragement, humor, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Learning Organization, Personal Development, Project Management, Respect For People, Strategy Deployment

Why WHY?

WHY is one of the most important questions for your Lean journey. Here are the reasons:

  • IMPROVE ROOT CAUSES – Instead of fixing symptoms, determine what is causing the problem by asking WHY five times (Wikipedia example)
  • GOOD CHANGE MANAGEMENT – Ensure your staff knows WHY an improvement is made or the reasons for standardization.  This is only helpful if the answer to WHY isn’t “because I told you so”.
  • SUSTAIN GAINS – Just because a brilliant process has been designed for standardization does not mean all staff will follow it. Leaders need to ask WHY an individual does not perform to standard. It could be because of lack of training, a misunderstanding of WHY change was made, a physical or space limitation preventing the ability to follow it, a flat out refusal to adhere to it, or many other reasons. You can not sustain unless you find out WHY people are not following it.
  • BETTER TEACHING – In my experience, teaching the reasons WHY behind the Lean tools helps people think critically.  Just explaining how the tools are used can lead to a misuse of them.
  • IMPACT PERFORMANCE – Your organization probably has a lot of demand for projects.  Find out WHY the projects are needed and use that information to select those that impact your performance.  Projects can keep a lot of people flurrying in activity but are not always conceptualized to achieve improvement for the organization’s performance, creating value for customers, or achieving strategic aims.

What other use of WHY have helped you on your Lean journey?

Keep on improving!

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader| Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, Five Whys, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Learning Organization, Problem Solving, Productivity, Project Management, Root Cause, Standard Work, Strategy Deployment, Value Added

Lean Related Posts Roundup

Since my work banned access to twitter, it is not as easy to share great Lean related articles.  I will do this on my blog now!

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS| Google Reader| Twitter

1 Comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, customers, Gemba, Health Care, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Lean Hospital, Lean Hospitals, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Problem Solving, Productivity, Project Management, Respect For People, Visual Communication, Visual Language

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.

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS| Google Reader| Twitter

2 Comments

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

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.

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

2 Comments

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

Presentation Secrets Of Steve Jobs

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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?

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Communication, Consulting, Encouragement, Learn Leadership, Learning Organization, Personal Development, Problem Solving, Productivity, Project Management, Quality, Storytelling, Visual Communication, Visual Language

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?

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

1 Comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Improve With Lean, Learn Leadership, Problem Solving, Project Management, 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?

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Productivity, Project Management, Respect For People

Brain Rules for Presenters (and Lean)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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?

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Communication, Consulting, Encouragement, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Productivity, Project Management, Respect For People, Visual Communication, Visual Language

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!

If you liked this post, then try:

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

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Business, Change Management, Communication, Consulting, Improve With Lean, Improvements, Learn Leadership, Personal Development, Project Management, Respect For People

Lesson: Consulting Is A Different Beast

I am an internal consultant but just recently learned I do not fully grasp what consulting is.

I feel I am an effective communicator, I can train, I have a good understanding how to implement and sustain Lean improvements, and I can help people solve problems.  I was under the impression that all of these skills added together to equal consulting.  I was wrong.

I have been pressing in with my coworkers to get coaching on what consulting skills are and I am reading Peter Block’s “Flawless Consulting“.  I also have another book someone lent me as well.

You will see some of my reflections as I get a deeper understanding of consulting.  I welcome your comments about consulting or suggestions for blogs/articles/books to further help me understand.

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

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter 

2 Comments

Filed under Business, Change Management, Consulting, Improve With Lean, Problem Solving, Project Management, Reflection

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?

Subscribe to Improve With Me via: RSS | Google Reader | Twitter

Leave a comment

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