Together We Can - Values in Action!

#2 Together We Can, Values in Action!

In a peak (top) performer we see the kind of person everyone one of us has been at his or her best.  The peak performer is drawn toward certain values which underlie action.  He or she consistently values: achievement, contribution, self-development, creativity, synergy, quality and opportunity.  What do you value?

Peak Performers

Lean and Continuous Improvement

Should Smart Screens Replace Pen & Paper on the Shop Floor?

I was asked recently by Scott Smith of High Performance Solutions what my opinion was between the effectiveness of using Smart Screens or handwritten control boards for tracking metric performance on the shop floor.  My immediate response was handwritten!  However, after some further thought, my answer is, it depends.

I do believe there is a place for Smart Screens that automatically pull down and display certain operational information.  The use case for a Smart Screen in my opinion, is to provide overall system or process status in more complex processes provided it has visual indicators that differentiate between normal and abnormal conditions.  Furthermore, the screens should be capable of indicating whether the abnormal condition has been acknowledged and action is being taken.  Beyond that, I’m old school and advocate for pen and paper!

Why pen and paper, or at least handwritten on a white board, flip chart, control board or other visual display?  Well, screens become invisible over time and people walk by them without looking or really seeing them. Having a leader go in to the floor management system to see the metrics, understand them, recognize if achieving target or not, and then recording it using red/green markers engages them in a deeper awareness and understanding of how their operation is performing.  When missing target and recording the result in “red” it’s more difficult for someone not to take action to get things back on track.  In fact, this approach facilitates the documenting and displaying of what actions are being taken to address the issues.  Also the handwriting provides variation in appearance on the board which can draw attention to it versus a screen which is more or less static, always appearing the same. As a senior leader, you have no idea if anyone is looking at the screen nor if they are doing anything about it!

Perhaps a little extreme, but makes the point none the less, I recall a situation where I was taught this as the GM of the Lexus plant when a high ranking company official came to the plant to confirm our operation.  Given that it was a Lexus plant, we made a lot of effort to ensure the plant and the processes were always in “clean room” condition to ensure the mindset we wanted our team members to have towards building Lexus quality vehicles.  At each flow rack of parts there was a sheet of paper that contained a list of all the parts and how many boxes of each part should be on the flow rack based on the model mix for the month.  Members of the team had it in their standard work to check the flow rack list to the actual parts in the flow rack each shift.  Typically, these flow rack lists were rolled up and stuffed in the end of the flow rack.  After several uses, the paper became torn and tattered, not looking so good.  To improve the condition at the process, the team placed the flow rack list flat behind a clear piece of plexiglass so that you could just pull the paper out, do the check, and place it back in behind the plexiglass.  The paper always looked smooth and in good shape.  The senior executive took one look and instructed us to get rid of the plexiglass and go back to rolling up the paper and stuffing it in the end of the flow rack.  He explained that he liked the visual indicator that the checks were being done by easily seeing the torn and damaged condition of the paper!  Now that’s a visual indicator!

Another advantage of handwritten boards is they provide an opportunity to be much more interactive. A more senior leader can leave questions or comments for the floor leaders to consider or think about.  Leaving a comment or question indicates to the floor that someone is actually looking at the board and the information on it.  It’s also facilitates “good job!” comments when things are going well.

What are your thoughts or opinion, should Smart Screens replace pen & paper on the shop floor?  Leave a comment!





Together We Can - Values in Action!

#1 Together We Can, Values in Action!

“If I had my life to live over, I’d like to make more mistakes next time.  I would take fewer things seriously, I would take more chances.  I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.  I would eat more ice cream and less beans.  I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but fewer imaginary ones.”

Nadine Stair, age 81

Leadership, The Leader

Can Police Use Handicapped Parking Spots?

LeaderIn this post we’ll pick up again on the Leadership model where the main components are the Leader, Vision, and People by  examining another component of the Leader; that being Lead by Example.

So no, there is not a new law that permits the Police to use handicapped parking spot when going for coffee, but it sure gives a good example of how all leaders need to lead by example, at all times!  Someone saw this poor example of leading by example and not only took a picture of it, but published it on social media for all to see.   We’ve all heard the phrase “lead by example“, however, time and time again we see and hear, both very publicly as well as from the leaders we interact with daily, how they fail to actually demonstrate it.

TweetPolice handi-capped v3

As a leader you need to assume your team is always watching you and that you are under the microscope at all times.  Nothing goes unnoticed, particularly hypocritical double standards of one version for them and a totally different one of lower expectation for you!  How can you expect to enforce and uphold the rules and standards of your business and team if you don’t demonstrate them yourself?

Below are ten ways I believe that a leader can lead by example.  Although I follow and believe strongly in all 10 of these, I do find a few where I struggle for consistency, so I continue to work to develop my skills and behaviours in those areas to be a better leader.

Top 10 ways to lead by example:

  1. Always follow organizational rules, policy, protocols; you are not above them​
  2. Consistently demonstrate the behaviours of the culture you want in your organization​
  3. No double standards​
  4. No favourites, but that doesn’t mean treat everyone equally​
  5. Always be approachable, friendly, listen​
  6. Assume positive intent​
  7. Seek to understand first​
  8. Treat people the way you want to be treated​
  9. Never take people for granted​
  10. Say “Thanks, good job!” and mean it.​

Leading by example can be tough sometimes; as after all we are all human.  However, rest assured, the one time you let your guard down, it will be noticed.  Continue to strive to lead by example and improve your leadership with the ten methods above.  Be a positive model of leading by example to your team!

How do you lead by example?  Leave a comment.

If you missed the first post in this series, you can find it at What is Leadership?

Leadership, The Leader

Is taking vacation too stressful?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found going on vacation or taking a few days off can be a stressful experience! Trying to get everything in order before you go and then coming back to a full inbox, a day of meetings, and many demands can challenge the benefits of vacation.  Have you ever found yourself responding to the common question “Hey, how was your vacation?” on your first day back after vacation with “Vacation, what vacation?”  I have.  Sad, but true!  I am certainly not the role model when it comes to vacation for sure.  I typically stay connected taking calls and responding to emails.  This is certainly an area I’m trying to improve upon myself as I do believe everyone needs to get away and recharge.  Even a quick email or short phone call snaps you away from your vacation and family and in the long run reduces your effectiveness in your job and other parts of your life.  So, this is a case of do what I say, not as I do.  I am trying to improve in this area.  Regardless, here are some things you can do to help make your escape to vacation and your return to the real world a little easier.

Before you go:

  • TIP: When you book your vacation, block off in your calendar the last day before you go and the first day you return, then be very selective as to what meetings you book on those days, if any.  Give yourself the opportunity to clear your inbox, ensure delegation is set-up, take care of any priorities that need to be looked after when you are gone, and give yourself sometime to deal with the inevitable last minute before vacation “crisis” that surely will pop up.
  • Appoint a delegate to look after things for you. Advise your team who this is and how to contact them.  Turn on your out of office notification and put this contact information in the notification so that when others beyond your team try to contact you, they will realize you are out of the office and will know who to contact should they need to do so, rather than wait for your return.
  • Depending on your level of responsibility, provide someone you trust with your contact information should there be a urgent matter or emergency in which you need to be reached. This maybe your cell phone number or contact information as to where you will be staying.  This may or may not be your assigned delegate.  Let your team know you are not checking or responding to emails or texts while you are gone.  Be sure to leave clear instructions as to what constitutes an urgent matter or emergency.
  • TIP: I picked this one up recently from my current boss and found it to be a great add to vacation planning. Leave instructions with your team to summarize key issues or problems you need to be aware of or where they need your help immediately upon your return.  If you have an assistant they can consolidate all these items in one email and send to you upon your return.  If you don’t have an assistant, then you can assign this to your delegate.  The intent here is that this short list will allow you to quickly focus on the most important items immediately upon your return rather than trying to sort through all your emails or reacting as things come to your attention somewhat randomly throughout the day.

Upon Return:

  • Review the consolidated list from your team of the urgent matters they need your immediate assistance with. Use this list to set your priorities for your first day back.  Schedule urgent meetings or phone calls as necessary to address these issues.
  • Check-in with your delegate to see how things went and if there is anything you need to know about or follow-up on.
  • TIP: Create a “Vacation holding” file within your email and move all the emails received while you were gone, other than the last 1-2 days, to this file.  Then sort through and process the remaining emails from the past 1-2 days.  If something comes up that you need to search through the emails in the vacation holding file, you have them available.  After a week or so, if you haven’t found you need any emails from this folder you can go ahead and delete them.
  • Reflect on what worked well and what didn’t before, during, and after your vacation so you can tweak your vacation routine accordingly.
  • TIP: Book your next vacation!


Most of these are pretty common and nothing special, but hopefully you picked up a couple of new tips.

Please leave a comment and let us know any tips you may have to help others reduce their vacation stress!