Leadership, Lean and Continuous Improvement, Personal Development

Prioritized Leader Actions are for, well, EVERYONE!

Prioritized Leader Actions or Leader Standardized Work

This post is a revision from a previously popular post.

I’ve never understood why so few leaders use Leader Standardized Work (LSW). Talking with many leaders over the years, the explanation I hear most is that they don’t have standard repeatable work or tasks. Baloney! All leaders have regular actions that they must or want to take on an ongoing basis. Examples include budget reviews, team member 1:1s, Gemba (go to the workplace), submitting your monthly business expenses, and many others. So if the “standardized work” wording is a barrier to using LSW, in HPL’s new fall ‘Lunch and Lead’ program called “4-steps to Time Shifting – making time for the things that really matter“, I’ve rephrased it to “Prioritized Leader Actions” or PLA. Ultimately, I think it more accurately reflects the intent relating to leadership responsibilities. Leaders are too often ‘fighting fires,’ and I believe a significant cause of this is that they are not proactive enough! Yes, it’s only a name change, but unfortunately, I think the name LSW casts a negative perception on many to the point that they don’t even consider it. So, let’s talk about Prioritized Leader Actions (PLA)!

I’ve found PLA to be a great tool to help me be a more consistent and effective leader. I’ve used PLA for years. For me, it’s my little voice reminding me of the most important things I need to do or that I want to do to be successful when leading. These are my priorities. Regardless of your responsibility, there is an inevitable component of it that is repeatable; therefore, Prioritized Leader Actions are for, well, everyone! It’s not just a manufacturing thing!!!

Here are some key points I found helpful when it comes to PLA:

1. Set up PLA with a designated section for daily, weekly, monthly and Mid-long term (quarterly, semi-annual) based on the frequency of completion of the task or action.

2. Place tasks in the PLA that are important to YOU that you must get done and those that you want to complete, check, or confirm because they are essential to you or your business.

3. Set your PLA up on a monthly basis, refreshing it at the beginning of each month.

4. Have a method within the PLA to indicate which days you are on vacation and identify when you are out of the office on business. Doing so will help you plan more effectively when you complete tasks, or it will provide you with the opportunity to delegate if necessary.

5. PLA should be dynamic, not static. It’s OK to add and remove items from your PLA. However, as priorities change, new systems develop, metrics improve or degrade, you may find that you need to adjust what you’re doing or what you’re checking and confirming.

6. PLA is for you, not anyone else. It’s OK to show people your PLA, but I don’t advocate posting it. It’s more effective if you carry it with you at all times to help you execute it versus showing others. As a leader, you should also check your team’s PLA periodically.

7. If you’re not getting to something on your PLA, don’t beat yourself up; instead, find the root cause for not getting it done and determine what you need to do differently to achieve it. After all, the items on your PLA were put there by you because you either need to get them done as a core responsibility of your job or they are most important to you. Then, use it to improve your self-discipline, motivate you, or remind you to just do it!

8. PLA must be integral to your planning system and routine. It must integrate with your schedule, follow-up system, and to-do lists.

9. Print out your PLA for the month, update it daily as you complete tasks daily, and “pencil” in additional PLA tasks as you’re thinking of them throughout the month.

10. When you get busy, that’s when you need your PLA the most. Please don’t abandon it, then. Instead, use it to help you get the most important things done. Then, when you can’t do everything, use it to make an informed decision as to what will and will not get done.

I use an Excel spreadsheet for my PLA. To make things easier, I’ve added some conditional formatting for the visibility of weekends, business travel, or when out on vacation. I prepare the PLA for the month, print it out, and then use it daily by marking tasks using a pen. PLA is integral to my daily, weekly, and monthly planning system.

Check out our ‘Tools‘ page to download a template of my PLA to use for yourself. Then, modify it as necessary to make it work for you.

I hope you found this helpful. Are there any key points I’ve missed or, in your experience, you feel are most important?

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

Lean and Continuous Improvement, Uncategorized

Proof-of-concept Line Trail Guidelines

We (HPL) have been working with a few different clients recently where there has been a need for proof-of-concept line trials. To me, line trials are a lot of fun! Well, they can and should be. Think of them as a sandbox that we can build out our creative and innovative ideas and concepts to see if they will work in the real world. However, to be effective and result in meaningful outcomes, line trials need to follow a robust Plan, Do, Check, Act/Adjust (PDCA) process. A common mistake when undertaking line trials is an inadequate plan! A good rule of thumb is to spend approximately 70% of your PDCA time and effort (not including the actual trial build duration) in planning for the trial.

Given the importance of proof-of-concept line trials, HPL has created two documents to help plan and execute effective line trials, as follows:

Both documents are available for free download from our HPL website’s tools page using this link.

While recently reading “Leadership Moments from NASA, Achieving the impossible“, by Dr. Dave Williams, one of the statements in the end of a chapters ‘Leadership Insights’ stated:

Simulation creates an environment where failure is a safe opportunity for learning.

Although the quote was referring to space flight training and simulation, the same is very applicable to proof-of-concept line trials. Really, the only failure of a line trial is not to follow a proper PDCA process because something may negatively or falsely impact the trial. Even when the trial doesn’t produce the desired result, it should not be deemed a failure when line trials are made to be a safe time and place for those involved to experiment and learn. So even if a line trial results in a less than expected or disappointing outcome, as long as we’ve learned from it, it’s a great successful failure!

I hope you’ll find these two new tools helpful. Let us know what you think or if we’ve missed anything.

Tx’s Glenn!

Gemba, Lean and Continuous Improvement, Personal Development, Problem Solving

The conflicts of line trials

One of the things I’ve always loved is the simple kaizens (continuous improvement). I was reminded of this recently working with RAB Design Lighting when the team there was conducting some line trials. Having coached the team on the importance of detailed trial planning and real-as-possible process set-up, but also the need to be balanced with simplicity, low cost, and high flexibility, I was thrilled to see their creativity and ingenuity that met these two potentially conflicting criteria. See examples in the pictures below.


The two criteria mentioned above is important because you want a trial to simulate the real line conditions as much as possible, however, things will definitely change as you learn more. So you don’t want to invest time and money building/buying a lot of things that may not actually be used in the permanent line or that may require several iterations of changes to get just right.

When conducting line trails careful planning is necessary. Planning such as: Clearly defining the purpose of the trial is critical. Determining what are you trying to prove, disprove or discover. Setting up the line to simulate as close as possible what the actual real line will look and feel like. Protecting the trial from “noise” or other things that can negatively impact or distract from the purpose of the trial. Although some of these things maybe real, you should try and isolate them from initial trials if they are not directly related to the purpose. There is a time and place to allow real time disruptions and abnormalities but not in early trials. Identifying and defining the number of trial observers, their roles, responsibilities and tracking needs. Deciding on what metrics to track and measure throughout the trial and who is going to do that. Scheduling, taking into account breaks, lunches and shift end, is also important.

Trials are to experiment and learn. They can also be a great deal of fun along the way! 

Congratulations to Denis Arsenault, P.Eng. and the RAB Design Lighting team for the successful trial this week! I’m looking forward to the next one!

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

Leadership, Personal Development

Time Saving Tip!

One of the best time saving, and perhaps even life saving things I did was implement 50 minute and 20 minute meetings. The emphasis was on 20 minute meetings as the rule and 50 minutes an exception.

The old saying “the fish grows to the size of the fish bowl” applies to meetings. Most people schedule 60 minute meetings. Why? It’s the default setting in most scheduling apps. What happens? Meetings extend to the length of time that the meeting is scheduled! Funny how that is, eh!

The obvious benefit of 50/20 minute meetings is more effective meetings and staying on topic, however, the real reward is that you get 10 minutes between each meeting, for, well, whatever you need. That maybe a coffee, a washroom break, checking and responding to emails, making quick calls, conversations, preparing for your next meeting.

Try it! It’s simple but GREAT!

Leave a comment with your best time saving or personal planning tip.

Watch for High Performance Leaders Inc. time management and personal planning workshop coming this fall.

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com

Leadership

What’s your plan for working from anywhere?

Many are starting to return to their company facilities these days, finally!  However, many organizations are bringing their teams back gradually over a period of time.  Some have team members that won’t be returning to company facilities at all and will continue to be working remotely indefinitely.

What’s your 100% remote plan involve?  Leave a comment below.

I recently picked up some great advice from Darrell Keezer, Founder of Candy Box Marketing that I think was very insightful and may prove helpful to many.  Darrell said:

“it’s not about working from home versus working from the office…

…it’s about working from anywhere”

Talking with many leaders and clients recently, it does seem to be a common situation where it may be rare to have entire teams physically together at the same time.  Sometimes, this is because some of the team work independently servicing the client base.  Perhaps they always did, even pre-COVID.  Or it could be because some people will rotate in office days between team members.  In other cases, some team members will have new options of working remotely.  The point is, that post COVID, the definition of where the work is done has changed.  As leaders, we need to be prepared to lead our teams and provide the necessary tools and processes to create and maintain effective teams when they could be working from anywhere.

In addition, Darrell said that even if only 10% of your team is working remotely, you need to plan as though 100% were working remotely.  When team members work from anywhere, it is very easy to feel forgotten, be overlooked, disconnected, or even disadvantaged.  So we need to develop engaging ways utilizing both technology and human interaction initiatives to keep people engaged and connected.

“10% remote/virtual = 100% remote plan”

Working with a client recently,  we had a core group in the board room and several others that had called in on TEAMS.  Facilitating within the room, we were mapping out a current state value stream map.  We were hand writing on different coloured sticky notes and laying out the process on the wall.  We even set-up additional cameras directed at the wall so that those on the line could see what we were doing in the room and be engaged.  Guess what… They spent most of the meeting looking at my back as I placed and moved the sticky notes around.  It was impossible for them to see what was written on the stickies any way.  They were very disadvantaged and quickly withdrew from most of the discussions.

The next day, we made a change.  Essentially we assumed we were all remote.  We conducted the value stream mapping using a very effective on-line collaboration tool.  For those in the room, we projected the on-line view on the board room big screen and they followed along from there.  Those in the room did not have their laptops open so that we had full engagement within the room.  For those on-line they could see exactly what everyone in the room saw as we “shared” the view virtually.  We had another big screen projecting the TEAMS gallery view so those in the room also saw the faces and body language of those that were remote.  Those that were remote had a gallery view of the room so they could also see everyone in the board room.  This small change leveled the playing field between those physically in the room and those that were remote.  Engagement and active participation went up dramatically!

What’s your 100% remote plan involve?  Leave a comment below.

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com