Lean Tips Edition #193 (#3106 – #3120)

For my Facebook fans you already know about this great feature. But for those of you that are not connected to A Lean Journey on Facebook or Twitter I post daily a feature I call Lean Tips.  It is meant to be advice, things I learned from experience, and some knowledge tidbits about Lean to help you along your journey.  Another great reason to like A Lean Journey on Facebook.


Here is the next addition of tips from the Facebook page:

Lean Tip #3106 – Think Differently

Ideas for change can come from a process or policy that you have come across that may be improved or appears to be no longer fit for purpose. Choose something you and others genuinely care about. Keep it simple; you are testing small scale change not trying to do ten things at the same time. You may decide to do a project against a known standard; but this will be a real-time, dynamic audit with the real possibility of making a difference in a short space of time rather than the traditional approach we have become used to.

Lean Tip #3107 – Be Clear and Focused

Have a clear vision and objectives so everyone understands what you are doing and why. Using SMART goals (which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) should help you achieve this.

Articulate your vision and try to find the hook that makes them want to get involved as well. For example, what new skills they may acquire and the rewards for participating, such as team recognition or leadership.

Lean Tip #3108 – Make a Change and Evaluate it to See if it Worked

Use a straightforward measuring process so there is no doubting the improvements made. It's important to know the baseline activity before you start so you have a number of points of comparison and keep measuring little and often. Two data points are not enough. Record your results on a run chart so you can see the changes taking place over time.

Lean Tip #3109 – Engage Your Team

Improvement is a team activity. Therefore, an essential step in getting started is to engage in dialogue with your team. Make time to talk about what matters to people and involve them in solutions. No one person has the skills or knowledge to come up with a solution on their own. Identify the benefits to the team, customers, and employees, which will help with buy-in. If you don’t have buy-in from your team, you will likely fail, no matter how good your idea is.

Leaders must actively support and make time for improvement processes, in order for it to take hold and flourish. Enable your team to openly share information and encourage people to take action where it’s needed. As a leader, you can create a culture where your team feels connected and empowered.

Lean Tip #3110 – Commit to Change 

Most importantly, you need to enjoy the experience. Lean makes change a real possibility, which is both empowering and satisfying for everyone. Finally, don’t worry about what you don’t know or it being perfect the first time. You will learn by doing and your skills will be developed as you go.  Celebrate your successes and your failures, as there is valuable learning in both.

Lean Tip #3111 – Take a Tour

Sometimes we learn best by first witnessing the success of others. See the benefits of lean in action. It is not difficult to find organizations that will allow you to see their lean implementations (referred to as the Gemba walk). Take detailed notes of what is highly effective in their Lean implementations, ask questions, and get as much valuable information as you can in order to help you formulate you own Lean strategy for implementation.

Lean Tip #3112 – Discard Conventional Fixed Ideas

Part of problem solving is thinking “outside of the box.” Encourage fresh perspectives and ingenuity in your team in order to develop innovative ways to forward Lean manufacturing without changing what is already efficient and successful. With such a rapidly evolving climate in manufacturing, sometimes conventional thought is what leads to the problem in the first place!

Lean Tip #3113 – Provide the Right Supplies, Tools, and Training

Although it’s often taken for granted that a shop floor has what it needs, I’ve seen facilities where employees have to rummage through dumpsters to get simple supplies like grinding discs. From bad documents to missing parts, dropped balls are rampant in almost every industry. By correcting this problem with the right materials, tools, information, training, and work environment, a wide array of inefficiencies will simply evaporate. Your employees will jump to support any good-faith efforts that eliminate the inconveniences they experience.

Lean Tip #3114 – Enlist Believers.

A system-wide change must be powered by team members at all levels of the organization, not just upper level leaders.

The best lean implementations are mandated and supported top-down and put in place bottom-up by enabling the people who do the work to redesign and improve their work.

Find and enlist an army of recruits who will work under the guidance of your leadership team. They will establish the systems and processes that enable both structural and behavioral change.

Lean Tip #3115 – Leave a legacy

Many executives are passionate about what they do and care about making a lasting impact on their organization.

Implementing a process improvement culture can make a real difference to business teams and to the success of an organization. Execs are well-positioned to leave a legacy with the support of engaged teams who are executing processes aligned to the business strategy.

Lean Tip #3116 – Encourage Peer Recognition

Encouraging peer recognition is an effective way to ensure that your employees feel recognized and appreciated for their contributions. Instead of an annual, top-down approach, peer recognition programs empower employees to recognize and reward one another on a much more frequent basis.

Crowdsourcing employee recognition makes celebrating the myriad achievements and contributions of all the members of your team much easier, more organic, more genuine, and much more realistic to accomplish.

Although peer recognition is one of the most effective methods to ensure employees know they're appreciated, there are many other complementary initiatives you can implement that dovetail nicely with it.

Lean Tip #3117 – Highlight Employees When You Can

Whenever you get a chance, highlight your employees. There are a few different ways you can do this. Many companies use social media to highlight employees who are doing something special. Those employees then share that information with their friends and family, so you’ll get more eyes on your brand. This is a win-win for you and your employees. You can also highlight an “employee of the week,” which allows you to recognize employees more often than an employee of the month.

Lean Tip #3118 – Never Underestimate the Value of Sharing Your Time and Building a Relationship With Your Team

They appreciate your genuine interest in their ideas and thoughts about their jobs. They like bouncing ideas back and forth with you and look for your sincere input on their projects and goals.

The role of mentor and coach is powerful in training your organization’s culture and expectations. It is also a significant source of experiential knowledge, history, work approaches, and on-the-job training.

Lean Tip #3119 – Provide Opportunities for Contributing Employees

Opportunities can take many forms. But, all of them are outside of the normal day-to-day requirements of their job plan.

Employees appreciate chances for training and cross-training. They want to participate in a special committee where their talents are noticed. They’d like to lead a team that is pursuing an important objective.

They are happy to attend professional association meetings and proud to represent your organization at civic and philanthropic events. They’d appreciate the green light relative to implementing an idea they have for increasing morale in your workplace.

They are eager to stop doing portions of their job that have become rote in favor of new goals and assignments that stretch their skills and build on their abilities.

Lean Tip #3120 – Recognize the Person, Not Just Their Performance

When we think about the content of a recognition message, we usually associate it with praising an employee's performance. For example: "Great job on exceeding our targets for the quarter!"

But, the problem with only praising performance and productivity is that it can make your message's content feel impersonal.

Ultimately, to boost the impact of appreciation, a recognition message should add a few words about the soft skills they brought to the table. In short, be specific.

"Amazing job exceeding your targets for the quarter! We are so impressed by your creative problem-solving and work ethic."

As you can see, recognition and appreciation messages at work are most impactful when leaders highlight what the employee did differently. When someone sees you and understands you as a person, it's a great feeling.


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