The other day I received this picture from my twin sister her toddler. He was playing at the restaurant with some scrabble letters and formed Lean. Obviously my twin sister knows I’m a Lean professional and she whats-apped me the question: look at what my son spelled, you think it’s’ coincidence?
There are 26 letters in the alphabet, considering he had all 26 ánd considering he had one piece of each of the 26 letters, there’s a 1 in 426th (4.503.599.627.370.496) chance for spelling Lean…… so were ruling out chances (applying the art of elimination) guess it must have been coincidence……
Why my blog Lean, childplay? Triggered and inspired by the picture I just started writing.
The Soft Stuff Is The Hard Stuff
Lean Management and the success of Lean management is partly determined by management commitment. With emphasis I say partly because there’s a common mistake into thinking that managerial commitment is the most important factor. I would rather choose another word – involvement, instead of commitment as being the most important factor, managerial involvement. Managers participating personally on the shop floor. Active listening to the suggestions and questions of the employees, and explaining why Lean and continuous improvement leads to a better future. You cannot ‘Power Point’ yourself into Lean, its hard work!
Managerial involvement is a motivational driver for the shop floor to contribute to the state of continuous improvement for an organization. Managerial involvement is to inspire, discipline and connect people to create sustainable value for employees, customers, the organization and society. As you can imagine there’s no child play in this part of Lean management. It takes dedication, commitment, patience, people skills, perseverance and consistency to get to a state of Lean.
But what part is childs play? Remember my nephew choosing the four letters randomly forming a letter? We use this as a symbol for the daily tasks/activities we have. We choose to do certain things, and the way we execute them. Some of those activities are within our circle of influence. As you can read in my previous blog we can time management those activities and prioritize them. What if you also ‘Lean’ the prioritized activities? The ones you can control?
Often the shop floor relies too much on the managers to make the change. I have seen this so many times. Sometimes it’s because managers do not have the confidence to let go of control, or employees don’t have the confidence to make suggestions to improve. There are really millions of reasons why this happens.
To apply Lean you don’t specifically need to be a Lean six sigma master Black belt, Lean can be applied anytime anywhere! I will give you some tips which you can apply right away and improve your own process:
- Structure every activity: make sure every activity is done right the first time. If working in a team make sure everyone performs the same activity the same way. You can, within the team, deliberate on the best way of performing the task, implement this way of working and capture this in an operating procedure (which can be used to onboard new colleagues as well) This operating procedure should be written in clear language, preferably with pictures of the activity or screen shots. If you have more knowledge on applying Lean tools, you can also apply the 5S Other lean tools used to structure activities are PDCA and Visual Management.
- Clearly connect every customer and supplier of your process: Involve everyone when you want to improve a process, this will make the change easier and more sustainable. The upstream process is the supplier, and the downstream process is the customer. Identify both, the concept is pretty simple: a downstream process uses parts from an upstream process. This makes both parties indispensable. If you’re known with Lean you can use tools such as Kanban and SIPOC.
- Specify and simplify every flow: Reduce or eliminate waste in the process, look for the ‘low hanging fruit’ in your process (quick fixes on a problem) and introduce ‘stop and fix the problem’ (Jidoka) to prevent problems to keep re-occurring. Simplify the flow!
- Improve through experimentation: There’s no such thing a failure, Lean believes we learn from every situation. The role of the manager is crucial to create a state of improvement through experimentation. Lean practitioners don’t enumerate the precise tactics that they will use because they don’t know in advance which ones will be successful. Instead, they run many small tests and adjust their efforts after discovering what works (and what doesn’t). Done well, lean helps organizations innovate and improve more efficiently.
‘Don’t fear failure, fear the absence of progress’
Call to action…
You really have nothing to fear to apply the 4 rules of Lean. It really is childs play 🙂 Like Nike states ‘just do it’. And remember the goal is to improve using the Lean tools, the goals is never to implement Lean tools without improving!
P.S. if you’re a manager, this video vlog is a must see, enjoy!
About Peggy: LEANnovator, ProcessGeek and VisualFlow-er,
I’m a Lean Six Sigma master black belt at heart, a people’s people and bridge builder. I’ve worked at large multinationals in service and production industry. I am creative, analytic with a touch of geek. I have two lovely princesses, a wonderful husband and we live in sunny Curaçao. Want to read more Lean blogs? Please follow us at www.leancuracao.com.