In the KaiZone Friday Favorites, I present my top ten favorite articles from the last two weeks in the world of Lean, continuous improvement and beyond. With leading content from the world’s foremost improvement authors and future Lean leaders, I do the research so you don’t have to!
10. Communicating with Respect by Alice Lee. “Understanding who your audience is and what motivates them, why they’re interested in a particular problem, and where their learning level is what helps you hone your approach. Give people too much, too soon and you lose them. Give people too little, too late and along the way they will get bored and check out. In both cases, your colleagues won’t feel a connection with you and may not feel respected by you.”
9. Often Skipped: Understand the Challenge and Direction by Mark Rosenthal. “One of the reasons to set a clear target condition is to get away from general “waste safari” improvement efforts, and focus the improver’s attention on what must be done to get to the next level. Without a sense of direction, it is easy for the improver to see every improvement opportunity (or none of them), and get locked up trying to find a way to fix them all.”
8. Eliminate the Need for Heroics by Karen Martin. “In the most extreme cases, organizations encourage fire fighting because they habitually reward the heroine or hero who saves the day and they do not reward the people working to prevent chaos. After all, chaos is exciting! It gets our juices flowing! But it’s all too easy to become an adrenaline junkie. Like any addiction, being hooked on adrenaline will bring you down.”
7. Learning from John Wooden: Everyone is a Teacher and a Coach by John Shook. “John Wooden was arguably the most successful, probably the most influential, and certainly the most studied coach in the history of US sports. His UCLA basketball teams won 11 national championships over a 13 year span. But, his influence is more than a matter of wins and losses. He spoke very little about “winning”. Winning – the final numbers of the scoreboard – was the result of a process, of doing things the right way. And it was the way he coached that made a difference and led to his phenomenal results.”
6. Reading the Story of the Gemba by Matt Elson. “One early lesson on my learning journey with the Toyota Production System was the concept of developing ”kaizen eyes”; the ability to see deeply and apply improvements to any process. My mentor said that we have to learn how to “read” the “story” of the shop floor. . . BUT, beware! Once you start thinking and “seeing” things with “kaizen eyes”, you can’t go back to “normal”…you see waste and problems everywhere!”
5. The CEO Must Remove All Barriers to Lean, and Some Barriers Are People. If One Person Must Leave the Company, Do So with Respect by Orry Fiume. “In the early stages of a transformation, a small percentage of the workforce will “get it,” like it, and want to run with it. Likewise, a small percentage will hate it and try to block it at every opportunity. The tendency of the large percentage of workers in the middle will be to watch from the sidelines to see who wins. But in a Lean transformation process, true learning comes from doing—the more people that are involved in the doing, the greater the number of early successes, which then fuel additional efforts and create positive momentum. By not allowing people to opt out and by providing air cover for early adopters, the CEO can send a clear message that everyone is expected on the field, contributing to the effort.”
4. So You Decluttered and Simplified . . . So What? by Bill Waddell. “The lean tools are great in their ability to free up time and capacity. That is the easy part of lean. Much trickier (and rarer) is the conversion of that capacity into sales growth. The problem is that converting newly freed up capacity – whether it is value adding capacity or managerial and staff capacity to support higher levels of value adding – requires accounting and sales to be part of the plan and they have by and large missed the lean message entirely.”
3. What Does a Lean Manager Do Differently? by Art Byrne. “The lean leader’s vision for driving a successful turnaround is always based on the question: how high is up? (And in fact, how can we exceed this?) The traditional manager may see this as an “inward focus“, but the lean leader understands it’s just the opposite. Delivering the most value to your customers starts with continuously improving your own processes.”
2. Every Termination is a Failure by Tracey Richardson. “Every termination (at the time this took place) had to be reviewed by a high level Japanese executive. The high level leader came in and stated the entire case with all the proper documentation records of the person up for termination. The Japanese executive looked at everything carefully lifted his head up and asked the leader “have you done everything possible to make this person successful”? The high level leader stated “yes I have”. The Japanese executive said to the leader, “then you have failed”.”
And to celebrate the 50th post in the oh-so-brief history of The KaiZone, this week’s Friday Favorite goes to . . .
1. Please Bear with Us while We Work to Maintain Our Standards by Jon Miller. “Maintaining standards is the most respectful and humble yet valuable of actions a leader can take. It is the first action before making bold improvements. It is also one of the most boring actions. Many leaders, me included, have formed the bad habit of chasing after the new and exciting at the expense of standards on which the health of the business rests. We pay later and dearly for our immature and selfish choices through endless fire-fighting and repair work.”
Do you have an article that you’d like to share with The KaiZone community? Hey, we don’t shy away from shameless self-promotion here at The KaiZone! Post it in the comments section below. Have a great weekend, friends!