Let people make mistakes? Tough Love of Leadership!

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]While leading an event this week, I came across a common situation that I have faced over the years.  The group, very new to pull, wanted to implement a particular piece of the pull system in an exact same way that I have failed in a past life.  Despite my best efforts through education and description of the past shortcomings, I couldn’t convince them to set it up any other way.  As an event leader what do you do next?    Impose your will on the group or let them make the mistake and learn the hard way? Continue reading

Consistency is Key for Lean Transformation

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Those of you that are parents out there know how important it is to not send mixed signals to your children.  The same is true during a Lean transformation, especially early on in the process.  It seems I have most often seen mixed messages provided when it comes to the old world metrics that contradict with the new “lean rules.”  One must take special care to be consistent especially early on in a transformation when the team is just learning its new world.

An example would be setting up pull systems and installing rules to only produce when you have a signal from the downstream customer.  Your team is following the rules, demand drops for a few days, and then they get chastised for not meeting the old production unit goals.  What is your team to do now?  Follow the old rules or the new rules? Continue reading

22 Rules, Respecting Humanity?

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]I recently read a plant newsletter that list 22 keys to forklift safety. Twenty-two.  Many of these are pretty intuitive and are pretty easy to remember if not somewhat ‘natural’ to someone who is used to operating any motor vehicle.  Some forklift operators will probably read this list of rules and integrate a couple of these keys into their behaviors – they will learn something they will retain on an intuitive level.  The bigger question isn’t really about forklift safety though.  The bigger question goes to the idea of 22 rules. Continue reading

Watching the Border: Customer Confusion and Respect for Humanity

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly”]Steve Kroft from 60 minutes reported on the US border security with Mexico on Sunday, January 10th. Once again it was basically revealling the inability of the US government and Corporate America to create elegant solutions to difficult problems and the waste of time and dollars. What viewers saw was no different from other reports from 60 minutes but a couple of things struck me as I watched. Continue reading

Andon Calls and Muri

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I’m currently working my way through Mike Rother’s book Toyota Kata.  A formal review will follow in the future as I’m approximately half done but I can already say there are many great insights into TPS.  However, one of the insights has sparked up an old fire that I always seem to struggle with understanding as I have never been employed by Toyota.

Mike talks about how a Toyota assembly plant was staffed to handle about 1,000 andon calls per shift and they became very concerned when the calls dropped to 700 per shift.  Toyota found that this could only mean two things:  Continue reading

Undercover Boss – Going to the Gemba on CBS

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Genchi gembutsu.  Go to the gemba.  The importance of going to the ‘actual place’ to see the ‘actual thing.’  It’s something that lean practitioners value a lot.  CBS’s new reality show, Undercover Boss, premiering on February 7th after the Superbowl is where corporate leaders do just that – the voyeuristic ritual of reality shows goes lean? Continue reading

Performance Appraisals – A Better Way?

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As Bruce points in a couple recent post (here and here), it is performance appraisal season.  Bruce provided many great points on how they are used for evil instead of good!  But we all aren’t as lucky as Deming and can’t just conscientiously object.  In reality most of our jobs require us to perform some type of annual evaluation.  What can you do to take the “jackassery” out of them and avoid crossing over to the dark side? Continue reading

The Great Jackass Fallacy – Dan Pink and W. Edwards Deming

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Special thanks to reader Dan Mott who left a link to a TED video on a post from last week called Performance Evals Are Bad – The Great Jackass Fallacy criticizing the “carrots and sticks” approach to performance evaluations and merit increases.  According to career analyst Dan Pink (you can read reviews of and or buy his new book – Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us here), science has been confirming what Deming told us beginning in the first half of the last century — positive intent, an intrinsic desire to achieve  beats the extrinsic motivation model.  Dan summarizes the intrinsic motivators as: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  Take the time to watch the 20 minute video from TED Global 2009: Continue reading

Respect for People – Corrective Actions

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We recently came across a situation in a very long cycle time process. During the “automatic” process an operator is to check the status of the operation every 30 minutes and make any corrections for process deviations.   Now that we are focusing on this process, we created a plan to poka yoke the system so that we don’t have to rely on an operator remembering to check every half hour, Continue reading

Lean Haiku – A Raised Hand

Photo by Viqi French under Creative Commons Attribution

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I refuse to give up on something after one try so here is my second attempt at lean haiku.  If you missed my first try here it is with a brief explanation of my motivation.  This one is called a raised hand.

he raises his hand

nobody cares to answer

this place really blows! Continue reading

Ambiguous Visual Controls – Denver Airport

Photo by eflon under Creative Commons Attribution

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I wrapped up a week in a sister plant helping a great group of people improve their PM compliance.  I’m not kidding, this was a great group.  They were scope creepers so I had to herd cats a little bit now and then, but that’s a good problem.  This team was strate up wicked – biased toward action.  Thanks Robert, Kim, Ben, Scott, Paul, RJ, Mike, Mike, and Mike.  I had a great time.  I really didn’t want to be a pain in the a#s guys, but….  Inside joke.

Anyway, we report out, I go to the airport, check my bag (singular – for $20!), and head for gate A34 anxious to clear security, find a cold Fat Tire, and reflect on Continue reading

Trust

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Respect humanity is a key point of lean and trust is at the heart of the concept. How can you empower without trust? How can you build a team without trust? Will you act on suggestions and input from other areas without trust? But what does trust look like and act like in your business? Trust is a level of understanding Continue reading

Leadership for Lean – Humility

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In  a Q&A in Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge, Harvard Business Professor William George, author of 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis, talks about seven leadership lessons for weathering crisis.  It’s a good read.  One of the lessons is, “Face reality, starting with yourself.”

Lean thinkers will recognize this as hansei or self-reflection.  Professor George argues that leaders have to be humble enough to admit weaknesses and flaws that they see. Continue reading

Policy Deployment #2 – Command Goes Down, Control Goes Up

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Last week I posted about setting big goals for policy deployment.   Now that we have decided to “go to the moon” we need to get serious about figuring out exactly how.  Many people think that lean is a bottom up approach to business.  Think of it as being both top down and bottom up.  Continue reading

Two Spirals….

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Bruce’s recent post on recent post on SMART goals stirred my thinking about another part of annual planning sessions that I have always struggled with internally: The dreaded “headcount” line in the spreadsheet. The struggle part for me Continue reading