Looking back and moving forward – A Leadership Journey

With another year ending and a new one beginning, it seemed fitting that I look back and reflect on the last year of my Leadership and Continuous Improvement blog.  I have to say it’s been both fun and rewarding.  It’s been a fun and fascinating journey into the world of social media with incredible learning and self-development along the way.  A great surprise has been the people from all around the world that I have virtually met along the way.  It’s been rewarding because I made a commitment to myself to give this a try for a year and in so doing had to maintain the discipline to post every week (with the exception of a few planned breaks), which trust me is not easy, but I did it!  It has also been rewarding to see the reaction and interest received from some of my posts.

So I will continue on my journey for another year and challenge myself once again to grow, develop, and learn more.  I hope you will join me again this year.  If you find my posts interesting and helpful, I encourage you to “follow” my blog directly.  Various social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook and others, use algorithms to determine what posts are seen in your news feed.  Don’t assume you will see my posts if we are connected on LinkedIn or Facebook.  By following my blog, you will always get notified of a new post which includes a quick link to that post.  I typically post an article 1/week plus a mid-week motivational quote.  Below is the link to my website:


Looking back over the statistics on the posts from 2018, below is a summary and link to some of the top posts.  I’ve also included a few posts that may be of help at the beginning of the new year to assist you in getting organized and ready to achieve more this year!

Top Posts:

10 Important Steps of Effective Gemba Walks or “Go See”

By far my most viewed post!  Many leaders have heard the term Gemba, but few actually do it or struggle to do it well.  In this brief post, 10 steps of having an effective gemba are discussed to help leaders engage at the shop floor level to identify and solve problems  with their teams.

Gemba Walks – Tip #1

A quick two paragraph post giving a simple but effective tip to follow when on a gemba walk.  This tip helps the leader be engaged while paying full attention and respect to their teams.

Gemba Walks – Tip #2

A brief half page post to raise attention to a common problem continuous improvement teams often make.  As a leader, watching out for this is super important to realize the full potential of your CI activities.

Stop repeating bad history…

Ever been surprised that one of your systems or mechanisms has failed….again?  Probably this is because at least one of these three components are missing.

A Leader’s Best Question

This is my favorite question to ask as a leader.  It’s three words!


New Year’s Getting Organized Posts:

Leader Standardized Work is for, well, EVERYONE!

You don’t have to work on the manufacturing floor to utilize Leader Standardized Work (LSW).  LSW can help any leader become more consistent and effective.  This post discusses how to set-up and sustain LSW.

Reflections Vs Resolutions – It’s That Time Of Year!

A brief post that discusses why New Years Resolutions generally fail and why personal reflection is a such an important step before setting new goals and objectives.

Effective Leadership Skills – Personal Planning

If a leader is not well organized both professionally and personally, they are likely not going to be effective.  6 important tips on personal planning are covered in this post.

Effective Leadership – Part II – 6 Steps to Manage Your Time Effectively

Time is finite.  We all have the same amount of time in a given day.  So, how come some people seem to accomplish so much more than others?  This post reviews some key steps in how you can manage your time effectively and achieve more.

10 Steps to Improve the Work-Life Teeter-Totter (Balance)

I believe true “work-life” balance is a myth and see it more as a teeter-totter that has it’s ups and downs.  By taking these 10 steps you can achieve a better work-life ride that you control.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com or find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/

Thanks for reading and following.  I look forward to continuing my journey in 2019 and welcome your thoughts and suggestions on topics and interests by leaving a comment!

Together We Can - Values in Action!

#18 Together We Can, Values in Action!

An old one but still relevant….

The world is made up of 4 billion of you’s and me’s.  When you and I think about the people around us, the world has more love in it.  When you and I control our temper or pause to think, the world becomes more reasonable.  We build the city of man brick by brick.  Have you put your brick in place today?

J.D. Freeman



Reflections Vs Resolutions – It’s That Time Of Year!

Resolution stick notesAs another year approaches the end, many people start to think about their New Years resolutions.  I for one have never been big on resolutions.  Resolutions are typically just a wish list that fades out within a few weeks of the New Year.  So other than for the fun of it, I’ve never really taken resolutions seriously.

I think there are two primary reasons that resolutions fade quickly.  Although they generally describe an end goal or objective such as “quit smoking”, they first often lack a foundation of reflection and second, there typically is no detailed plan on how the goal will be obtained.  The main topic of this post is reflection which I believe is an important first step in setting goals and it’s the perfect time of year to do so!  So before you jump in and accept a wager on obtaining your New Years resolution, take the time for reflection.  This process of reflection applies to your personal and professional goals.

Whether you have previous goals or not, before you create or begin new ones, reflection is a critical first step.  It is critical because it allows you to learn from the past, while considering what lies ahead.  It forces self-reflection and critical thinking to determine what is most important and to develop solid approaches to achieving your goals.  Reflection is not difficult, but you have to deliberately set aside time and focus to do so properly.

Reflection includes at a minimum the following considerations:

  • Was the previous goal(s) achieved as expected?
  • Evaluate your previous goals both quantitatively and qualitatively.
  • What worked well?  Why?
  • What didn’t work?  Why?
  • What were the barriers or problems experienced along the way?
  • Were there any surprises that were not anticipated, positive or negative?
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
  • Did you spend adequate and quality time on the most important objectives and priorities?
  • Did you utilize your highest energy and focus time periods for the most important things?  When are those times?
  • Did you review your progress frequently enough?  Deeply enough?  Objectively enough?
  • Why were these goals important?  Are they still?
  • When you look back on everything you wanted to achieve or set out to achieve, was it realistic?  What was not? Why?
  • What are your priorities looking ahead?  Why?
  • What challenges or barriers lie ahead?
  • What mitigation can you take to overcome any challenges or barriers?
  • What changes are coming and how will they impact you or your goals?

reflection pad.PNGSo with the Holiday Season approaching, it is a perfect time to sneak away from the seasonal festivities to your quiet place, with your favourite beverage, and make a point to reflect on this passing year and be thinking ahead to the New Year.

This is something I always do, which sets me up nicely to hit the ground running both at home and at work in the New Year.  I actually find it fun and look forward to it.  It’s always amazing to see how much has been accomplished and is exciting to think of what is still ahead to be achieved!

If you want to give someone a stocking stuffer idea for yourself, I recommend “The 5 Choices – The Path To Extraordinary Productivity” by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne.  I found this to be a great resource as I prepared myself for reflecting and setting my most important goals both personally and professionally.  Good and helpful read!

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com or find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/






Together We Can - Values in Action!

#17 Together We Can, Values in Action!

“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion,” said Arnold Glasow.  “You must set yourself on fire.”

Lean and Continuous Improvement

Are Stand-up Meetings Effective?

At Amazon we refer to our busiest time of year as “Peak”.  Each year as we prepare the teams for Peak, I recommend to establish a stand-up war room style of meeting.  As it is such a busy time and there are so many things that the teams have to manage and control, a stand-up war room style meeting makes sense to me.  You can review and cover a large amount of metrics and issues very quickly focusing on the most important while improving communication and engagement.

I’ve used stand-up meetings many times and found them to be an excellent way to stay on top of the most critical things, increase bias for action and ownership, while not taking up too much of the team’s time in meetings.  So why don’t more leaders utilize stand-up meetings?  I just don’t get it!  I think maybe leaders don’t use stand-up meetings because they can be difficult to get set-up and functional?  Or maybe this style of meeting just seems too simple to have any great effect?

Here are some of the advantages of a stand-up war room style meeting:

  • Use of flip charts and white boards make on the fly changes in format and material easy, quick and cheap
  • Open communication, more participation of the entire teamIMG_20181206_0903402
  • Meetings are more action based then reporting out of metrics
  • Team members get a better bigger picture understanding
  • Moving around the room keeps things moving and people engaged
  • Metrics are visual for all to see and understand where there are opportunities
  • Problem metrics stand out
  • There is more accountability of each team member
  • Great participation from all members
  • Faster, more effective meetings
  • Better focus
  • Engaging
  • Continual improvement in the process
  • Save time later by capturing risks, lessons learned, successes, new records, shout outs, actions, and new ideas

I had the opportunity to “stand” through what we call a Daily Deep Dive meeting that has been structured in the stand-up war room style at our YYZ4 Fulfillment Centre.  The team there refer to this as “The Command Centre”.  I found the meeting to be very effective and those in attendance also seemed to think so.  This is what some of them have said about this style of meeting:

It’s good to see all around and maximize human potential and deep engagement every day, especially outstanding individual and team accomplishments. Our new implemented visual daily standup meeting that I like to call it “powerful information command center” helped us to move from assuming, telling, blaming and reacting, To the essential measurable objectives, fact-base data, checking process consistency and opportunities to support people in process for Area readiness with communication, problem solving, organization alignment and holding each other accountable and Not unattractive or unloved wallpapers!

It is all about workgroup engagement and utilization of management practice and a Thinking system as we know Lean is a people system, not a technical one.

— Jeff Walters, Operations Manager, JLL —

At first, it was hard to adjust as we went through so many iterations of metrics and considerations of what should be discussed, but now it’s second nature.

— Agnes E. Pienio-Ganthier, LP Manager, Amazon —.

The Command centre really helped us to stay focused on key actions within stipulated timeframe as each action had an owner with an expected deadline. While we were celebrating successes each day, we were capturing Lessons Learnt along the way on one of our command centre walls. Most productive Deep Dive meeting format in my time at Amazon so far.

— Pawn Kukreja, Sr Operations Manager, Amazon —

The command centre has encouraged a higher level of engagement between departments as the audience is able to focus on the key points raised by the presenter that require immediate action. As a result, the quality of the information translated to leaders is enhanced by allowing appropriate stakeholders to quickly identify any necessary actions required to close a gap. This minimizes the requirement to parse through the noise to truly understand the root cause.

— Sharon Lai, EHS Specialist, Amazon —

At first, I thought the new format would extend the length of the production meeting. However, by sticking to a tight cadence that is actions-focused, the meeting is now more streamlined. Moreover, having everyone walk around the room together improved engagement and constructive discussions.

— Tony An, Sr Operations Manager, Amazon —

So there you have it!  Are stand-up meetings effective?  Well, straight from the leaders that are living this style of meeting at their busiest and most important time of the year, it certainly would seem like it!

What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of stand-up war room style meetings?  Have you found them effective?   Leave a comment with your thoughts.