Many years ago, newspapers lined the streets of almost every city in the world. People would gather at the "newspaper stands" and browse each page while sharing a story or two. Word of mouth and the rugged ink stained paper were the main drivers of news, suggestions and ideas.
Today we still have ideas and suggestions, but things aren't quite as simple as the good ole days. Today making a suggestion often involves filling out a tedious small slip with more information than you can even read, shoving it in a bin that nobody collects and then hoping it gets "approved." Here's the idea! Workers see it all, touch it all and often have the closest connection with a process. Why is this significant? That connection can act as the perfect vehicle when looking to identify issues, collect improvement suggestions and or come up with innovative new ideas. The best part is, you don't have to walk to a newspaper stand to do it.
The Kaizen template or improvement newspaper is a powerful tool that can be used with employees. They can suggest improvements, possible solutions and even create opportunities for improvements without necessarily having any idea of a solution. Sounds a bit crazy doesn't it? Well it is! We’ve all been there before, a problem you see all the time and no ideas on how to solve it. The Kaizen template enables employees to support improvements whether they have a fix or not. So how will this tool help employees? To start, the suggestion or person filling out the kaizen template will need to capture a few pieces of information and document the information on the kaizen sheet.
Here's the important thing to understand, no matter how much information you capture, it will do no good if it's shoved in a box waiting for review or hidden on a desktop only to become trapped in cyberspace.
Like any other lean tool, the kaizen template works best when it is made visible. Here are a few important things to keep in mind when using improvement newspapers for a suggestion system.
1. Make it Visible
Like we mentioned earlier improvement newspapers should not be contained within a network or hard drive, they need to be visible. Think for a second to a problem you’ve had before but couldn’t solve. Eventually you share with a friend and they share a possible solution. Immediately you think, “why didn’t I think of that?” When opportunities are visible everyone can see, understand and help each other. One advantage when using a computer to fill out the suggestion is that there will be no sorting through legible and illegible papers. You can fill the paper out and print it out, placing it in an area where everyone can see the idea and before you know it someone is there to support you in finding a possible solution.
2. Keep them Alive
About the era when tv was in full swing and computers began to emerge newspaper stands were laid to rest. Now we get quarter machines by selected restaurants and no more standing with our friends talking and sharing the latest news on the front page. Fortunately, Kaizen templates are far from dead. They are in fact one very effective way to obtain opportunities for improvement but they must be kept alive. Monitoring the suggestions during a huddle is one way to keep status up to date and ensure that each suggestion is moving forward. In a huddle you can address the needs of the suggestion and help ensure ideas continue moving forward. Possibly the most valuable aspect of this constant and continuous activity is that the people who make the suggestions will begin to understand that they are part of a team and their ideas mean something to others. When people get a sense of belonging, support, action and appreciation your possible improvements will increase sufficiently.
If you have ever used a new tv changer there is a bit of a learning curve to it. Directions in hand and a thousand different settings to program it will never be as simple as walking to the newspaper stand to get some information. The same principle should apply to our kaizen templates or improvement papers. Not everyone knows how to use excel and not everyone will understand the process right from the start. That makes it the perfect opportunity to train employees and go for a Gemba walk. The bottom line, make it easy for the people filling the papers out. The only thing that employees should be responsible for is filling out the template and doing their best to discover the root cause.
Although we may never see newspaper stands lining the streets again, kaizen templates or improvement newspapers could line the huddle boards of your organization. They could fill white boards, line the walls and flow from the mouths of team huddles. All while capturing innovative ideas from talented employees and driving improvement initiatives day in and day out. The best part about this great tool is that it won't even cost you a quarter.
If you would like a template for a Kaizen/Improvement newspaper to get started click on the button below and begin experimenting with different tools that will help transfer improvements from idea to action.
March is almost here and that means the ©GEMBA methodology is almost ready. Watch this update on the course progress.
Going to the Gemba is one of the most powerful principles of a lean journey. If you have not yet engaged in an initiative for daily Gemba walks we suggest you begin as soon as possible. At the Gemba we discover things that we simply can not discover at our desk (unless that is where the work is being done). The Gemba as you know is "where the work is done" it is "where value is created" and it is where "problems can be solved."
It is a powerful Skill to be able to treat the "Gemba" or a "Gemba Walk" as a Methodology in itself. Methodologies allow us to reveal issues and give us the possibility of solutions through teamwork and various methods. Here is one example of a methodology for "Gemba Walks."
Just Remember GEMBA
G- The G reminds us of the Overall concept that we all know, Genchi Genbutsu. Genchi Genbutsu means Go and See, we do this so that we can understand what is happening at the Gemba. This is a key principle and technique of any lean strategy. When we go and see what is actually happening we are better able to base our decisions on real facts, instead of hunches, opinions, guesses or assumptions.
E- "Engage" Engagement at the Gemba is very important. When we engage people at the Gemba it should be question based. The idea is to help the gemba stretch their minds and empower them to develop problem solving skills of their own. We are trying to understand what is happening in the current condition and not jump to conclusions. The 5 Why technique is a great way to understand why certain things are happening. Like any other problem though try to discover the "What" "Why" "How" and "Where". One last thing, take notes while engaging; some of the best solutions you will hear come from the people at the Gemba.
M- Muda, Mura and Muri, simply put being at the Gemba is a great time to observe what is going on there. You will have great opportunities to discover many forms of Muda, so introduce yourself to TIMWOODS while you're there. While at the Gemba you will get a sense of where people may feel overburdened and you will see processes that are not level. Take notes. Then you can attack all origins of waste later on.
B- Be respectful at the Gemba. This is a time to exercise humility and to serve others. We promise if you are respectful, humble, sincere and willing to serve, people will tell you where the pain is.
A- Finally analyze what you have collected. Be sure at this stage of the Gemba walk to include everyone at the Gemba. The individuals from the Gemba will be able to help analyze findings and often may add details to your initial discoveries. Including everyone will also foster a culture of teamwork and help develop a true lean culture.
The Gemba Methodology is a great format to follow when performing daily Gemba walks and it is rather easy for anyone to understand. One last thing to note after you have performed your Gemba Walk be ready and willing to support The Spirit of Kaizen. One way that you can do this is to offer yourself in service of finding solutions to the issues that are discovered. A Gemba Walk can be quick, easy and very effective in pinpointing opportunities for improvements, so start today and in time you will discover great and powerful ways to "transform" activities in each of your many Gemba's.
Don't forget if you need more information on the ©GEMBA Methodology or how to go to the Gemba,
Register for our course coming out in March of 2018, The ©GEMBA Methodology.
After a holiday break it can sometimes be hard to get the body up and moving again the first morning of work. Extra caffeine, long conversations and a fuzzy memory are some of the signs you may experience. For others though getting started again is simple; they just jump back in the groove like they never even knew there was a break. Here are three simple things you can do to jump back in the improvement groove after an "extra" day off.
How did they leave?
Most individuals and teams will start their holiday break off by making sure there desk area is in 5S condition and neater than they left it before. Many studies have shown that if you take the time to clean things up, organize and set things in order the morning you come back in will be much smoother. Think of it like planning for the day you come back. Just like Admiral William McRaven shares in the video below: "If you wanna change the world, start off by making your bed." If you leave your work area in a neat, tidy and in a sanitary condition you will return to an organized, more energized, calm and ready environment. Along with these benefits comes one other notable effect. By displaying a behavior of always maintaining a standard condition in your area, you in turn promote a culture that does the same.
Spend some time at the Gemba.
You may be tempted to hang out by the coffee dispenser and chug down one cup after another. While the caffeine will certainly give you a boost of energy, to much caffeine may leave you feeling anxious, frantic and disorientated. Don't get me wrong a little energy is good for everyone, but try taking one cup to the gemba. At the gemba you can review the process and refresh your mind while interacting and strengthening relationships with others. Take a piece of paper with you as you visit the gemba and jot down notes pertaining to: the energy of the value stream, the load of demand placed on the team and of course any changes in the process that may have occurred in the interim.
Last but not least, bring the team together. Take some time for icebreakers, sharing and quality time. Though from a production efficiency standpoint this might not make any sense at all, ponder for a minute the tactical approach. Meeting together in a morning huddle and taking 5 minutes to share one thing or begin with an icebreaker can be a nice transition that helps others feel as though they are cared for.
There you have it; three very simple things to get continuous improvement started again when you return from a holiday break.
***How do you reach out and re-energize teams when they return from a holiday break?***
All year long we strive for improvements. Squeezing waste from every corner of organizations, Posting new videos, or trying to eliminate that pesky root cause, whatever it is you do labor day is for each and everyone of us. Here are three important things to keep in mind on your day off:
Studies have shown that taking a day off can actually increase your productivity when you return to work. Taking a day off doesn't mean sneaking in an email here and there, it means rest. Spend time with your family, BBQ, but most of all enjoy the day. Trust us if you're like most hard working people you'll be going crazy by the first day back and you will get a lot of work done.
2. Use the labor day excuse
Believe it or not the first day back is a great time to ask someone you never talk to, "hey what did you do with your day off." This is a great way to get to know some of your co-workers, share pictures and laughs. If you're on the improvement journey it may give you an opportunity to pull someone new onto the team.
3. Share with your family
Sometimes we get so busy with life, work and everything else that we don't get anytime to share with the people closest to us how work is going. Labor day is a great opportunity to share with children, grandchildren, wives or friends how work is going for you. Just remember to listen too.
Whether you have the day off, or you're pulling some overtime we would like to wish each and everyone of you a wonderful labor day weekend. Enjoy!
*** We would love for each of you to share one of your labor day highlights in the comment section below. ***
By: Liliana Domingues
Liliana Domingues has been a star performer in Lean Strategies International LLC's white belt course online. She has recently completed her white belt and performed exceptionally well. As a stand out Liliana graciously accepted our request to share some of her wonderful activities which she completed online. If you would like to see more of Liliana's inspiring activities you can enroll in the Lean Six Sigma White Belt course online by clicking on any of the links in this description. Thank you Liliana for your wonderful performance, keep up the great work!
The following was part of an activity that Lean Six Sigma White Belt students are asked to complete online. Liliana has been a star performer online and has graciously let us post her answers to one of our activities (shown below). You can enroll online by clicking here. Without further adieu, here is Liliana's thoughts:
•In what ways have you experienced the waste of underutilized skills and talent?
Where I work, this is a well-known and visible form of waste. There are several cases of employees who were hired to perform tasks to which they are clearly over qualified. In the very beginning it’s ok, but they learn fast, they start performing their tasks extremely well and quickly. They start wanting to improve processes and innovate…, but there is a culture of “we have always done things like this” in place with little margin for change. And after a while they start getting demotivated and bored, so they start engaging into training (getting even more qualified). On the other hand, their good job is not recognized in terms of salary benefits or promotions and their talents are not used into new responsibilities or possible relocation to more challenging internal posts.
•How would you go about removing this type of waste?
First of all, I would say management can start by reviewing HR processes for recruitment (finding the right candidates with the competences needed for the jobs available) and specially nurturing and harness a culture of change, of constant improvement as a responsibility of all.
Managers have to find ways of keeping employees motivated and engaged by redistributing tasks and resources allocation whenever needed (high/quick achievers can be useful to help colleagues, give trainings, share good practices, develop new and improved work methods… they just need to be entrusted and to have an opportunity), by updating/improving internal rules, by empowering employees (if a colleague is over qualified, why not give him a new responsibility or involve him into the decision making process), making the reward/recognition system fair, and saying “good job”!
•Other ideas for commandments of team work:
* Share your good practices and ideas
* Motivated each other
* Have a positive approach
***DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE LILIANA YOUR COMMENTS***
PHENOM ENGINEERING, LLC SPECIALIZES IN DESIGN, PROTOTYPING AND MANUFACTURING. WE HELP INVENTORS, ARTISTS, HOBBYISTS, SMALL COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS TURN AN IDEA INTO REALITY - FROM A SINGLE PART TO A FULL MANUFACTURING RUN. You can contact Phenom Engineering via email at: PhenomEngineering@gmail.com.
In my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work established defense industry programs as well as starting up new products and factories. This has given me many opportunities to see problems and do something to fix them. I’ve used many Lean tools over the course of my career and I would like to explore these tools with real world examples of how they were applied and the results they produced.
One of the most important aspects of a successful lean journey is leadership. Lean brings powerful changes to each and every organization the strategy is implemented into. Any Lean practitioner who has seen a few projects or benchmarked various organizations has most likely witnessed a unique culture that somehow just happens naturally in lean companies. For this reason leadership often times takes on a more servant style of leading, afterall they exist to help the people they serve succeed.
Here are a few important concepts that will help leaders keep moving forward.
1. Pareto Leaders- As a leader you may start off in an improvement project, in fact you probably should. Experiencing kaizen and improvement events first hand will help you understand what happens in the events and experience first hand the spirit of kaizen. In many organizations as much as 80% of Kaizen is driven by those who are closest to the work. Finding out where those 80% of improvements are coming from can give you insight regarding the areas your mentorship is needed in. As a leader application of the pareto principle can also help you identify:
2. Genchi Genbutsu- Many years ago "the Gallow" would drop and everyone in the company knew that leadership had made a directive. We have all seen it and felt it, but in today's day and age the "dictator" approach doesn't yield such great results. Today Leaders are responsible for developing, training, discovering and mentoring future leaders. This most often times involves "Leader Standard work" and frequent Gemba walks where you can "Go and See" (Genchi Genbutsu).
- Often times employees are considered resources amongst machines and equipment. This sort of mindset will certainly place your lean journey at a stand still if your employees are just "resources." As a leaders one of the most important things you can do for your organization is empower others. Those people should feel empowered and prepared for success and if they stumble they should know exactly who to look to for mentoring and guidance.
- Training, Training, Training. Did we mention training? One of the most important aspects of developing the organization is developing the people who work their. Like any "Sports Team" every individual must be prepared to carry and support their weight. For this reason helping individuals develop their skills will certainly press your strategies forward. Establishing a standard onboarding process which includes basic training like learning foundational concepts of a lean strategy can help ensure all employees start of on similar ground. Even if employees are at advanced levels, we can all agree, review still helps.
- Building a solid foundation for any strategy is quite the task and as a leader it should be a top priority. One common mistake is passing the orders down from the top and interpreting value as the amount of direct labor your projects absorb. This is known as the underutilization of skills or more commonly the eighth form of waste. You need to build a solid support system amongst team members. Part of this process is creating a culture where people are confident that they are part of decisions being made. It will not happen overnight. Some things you can do to support your teams and people are:
3. Lead by example - Above all else lead by example. For many employees leadership is someone they look up to. Whether you carry the title of owner, C-level director or front line we all have different levels of "leadership" we are responsible. Setting a good example for those that follow is a sure fire way to influence others in a positive way.
There will be many different things that you can do for your organizations as the year progresses, but if there is one key element to driving effective change, it's the way we Lead, Support and develop one another. Effective Change agents whether in manufacturing or service commonly spring from a culture and leadership that supports the people not just the projects.
**What concepts, ideals, examples or behaviors do you appreciate most in a leader?