Lean and Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement Tip – Don’t Forget WIFM!

When implementing a Continuous Improvement (CI) activity, it’s important to show your operators the “What’s in it for me?” or WIFM, to boost their motivation and engagement.  Here’s some simple but impactful metrics that address the WIFM for CI.

Sometimes when we undertake CI activities to improve a process, we as leaders tend to forget the WIFM aspect for the operators in the process.  Sure a big part of the intent of CI is to engage and empower our operators to have a higher level of involvement and ownership in the success and improvement of the business, but at the end of the day, CI also needs to have positive impact on what they do everyday.

Although we do want our operators to understand and care about our management metrics such as Safety, Quality, Productivity, and Cost, unfortunately sometimes what they hear is that we want them to work faster, harder, or go without.

An effective way to motivate and inspire operators to identify CI and drive improvements in processes is to establish key performance metrics that directly impact their process.  Typically these indicators are inputs or leading indicators that if improved will impact the outputs or results you are trying to improve at the overall process level.

Examples of some good input metrics that have meaning to the operators include:

  • Distance they walk in a shift
  • Total number of steps they take
  • Number of twists of their upper body
  • Number of reaches
  • Total weight lifted
  • Number of decisions made per cycle
  • Ergonomic burden score

Before your kaizen or CI activity, work with your operators to define the key metrics and measure them.  Then make them visible by listing the before condition on a flip chart, white board or other means of display.  Next engage with the operators to determine ways of improving these metrics through the kaizen or CI activity.  Track the improvements for each, or the after state, to clearly show the improvements being made that directly impact the operators every day.

What other metrics do you track of this nature to show your operators the WIFM and positive impact your CI activity is having on their process?  Leave a comment.

 

*Feature Image republished with permission by High Performance Solutions

Other Related Posts:

Do your processes “tick-off” your operators?

Do You Have What it Takes to Lead Continuous Improvement Teams?”

Do Your Continuous Improvement Teams Have What It Takes To Win?

 

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.

 

 

 

Leadership

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:

www.glennsommerville.com

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!

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.

Gemba, Lean and Continuous Improvement

Gemba by any other name is… go & see! Gemba is NOT just for manufacturing processes!

Many associate gemba as a manufacturing activity, but in reality it is an invaluable tool that any leader can use regardless of the industry, business, process, or function. Gemba means nothing more than going to the workplace to see. The workplace can then include anything where work is performed such as a construction site, ER room, automotive repair garage, control room, accounting office, school room, maintenance job, or food buffet line.

The purpose of gemba is to go and see the process, engage with the employees (team members, operators, associates, cast, staff, techs, etc) that are doing the work. It is to engage with them by showing an interest in what they do, how they do it and to assist them in being successful at it.   Our teams come to work and want to do a good job and it is a leader’s job to help remove the barriers that get in the way of our teams doing the best job they can. Over time, waste and inefficiencies seem to creep in or inadvertently get added that can cause safety, quality, productivity, or cost issues. By going and seeing, a leader is more likely to find these wastes and inefficiencies and can take action to correct them. Point and case; safety, quality, productivity, and cost applies to pretty much any business or process, so why wouldn’t go & see or gemba apply?

The principles are the same when doing a gemba in a non-manufacturing environment as they are in a manufacturing environment. It starts by going to the workplace and engaging with the workers there. Explain to them why you are there, that you are interested in what they do and want to learn about it. Watch what they do and ask questions to understand why they do what they do. Ask them what they think can be done to improve the process. Ask them about things you observe that capture your interest. No doubt, between you, you will identify several things that need to be improved. It is very important in gaining their trust and respect, to then prioritize a manageable amount of items to go after. Discuss these with the employee or team and set a reasonable timeline and approach to taking action.

Most jobs or positions have some level of standardized work or standards to which the process is to be done. This is typically how someone gets trained in the first place. For example, a maintenance technician typically has a detailed preventative maintenance (PM) routine or a standard operating procedure (SOP), while a control room will have defined standards of alarm limits or frequency of checks/recordings that have to be made. Regardless of the job, there will be defined tasks that have to be done, documentation to be followed, training material, or standards to be followed. These are key documents to request, check, and audit how they are being followed. This also leads to key insights as to the cause of safety, quality, productivity, or cost issues if they are not being followed. Even more so if they don’t exist. If they don’t exist, how are people being trained? How do you know it is being done the best way to get the best results?  This then should be your starting point to standardize the task, document it, and get all those doing the function to follow it.  Only then, once it is standardized and everyone is following the standard can you make improvements.

Gemba is an extremely powerful tool in a leader’s toolbox regardless of what you do. Don’t miss out on this just because you think this is a manufacturing tool!

Here’s some other gemba posts you may find of interest:

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

Gemba Walks – Tip #1

Gemba Walks – Tip #2

A Leader’s Best Question

3 Steps to Having Time for Gemba

 

Gemba, Leadership, Lean and Continuous Improvement, The Leader

3 Steps to Having Time for Gemba

A very common question I’ve been asked over the years is,

I don’t get out to the floor anymore, what can I do?

Most people understand the importance of gemba and going to the floor to see and understand what is happening.  However, many leaders as they continue to move up the corporate ladder or take on more responsibilities, struggle finding the time to do gemba.  They give priority to everything else and essentially hope they have time to go to the floor.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  If left to chance, it won’t happen.

Well, the solution isn’t glamorous or earth shattering at all, but with a little discipline and planning, there is hope.

 

1. Schedule time for gemba.  It starts by literally placing time in your calendar by scheduling an event or meeting weeks in advance.  In fact, make it a never ending recurring meeting.  Schedule them several times a week so that should you have a priority conflict, you still have time in your calendar that week to do gemba.  As an example, if you want to have time for a 1 hour gemba twice a week, I recommend scheduling a 1 hour “Gemba Walk” event three to four times a week for the entire year or longer.  When slotting these Gemba Walks, select times that increase the odds of them actually occurring.  Don’t swim upstream fighting the workplace currents.  In other words, step back and think of your typical week.  There are generally days and times that will be easier to do gemba than others.  Select those time slots and not the days/times when you know there is likely to be a high risk of other conflicts, priorities, or conflicting business conditions.

2. Make gemba part of your weekly personal planning.  As you do your personal planning for the coming week, ensure that you review your calendar paying particular attention as to when you have your gemba’s scheduled.  Check for conflicts and adjust as necessary.  This provides you the opportunity to decline meetings if gemba is a priority over them, or to reschedule your gemba to ensure it happens rather than accepting meetings regardless then wondering why you have no time to do gemba.  If you proactively scheduled more gemba time slots than you need you can make a decision to cancel some or leave them just in case a last minute issue arises during the week.

3. Add “Gemba Walk” to your Leader Standard Work.  Add the number and frequency of Gemba Walks to your Leader Standard Work (LSW) as this can be an added reminder for you to complete it, but more so to provide you with a record of how you are doing.  If you are completing this aspect of your LSW, great no action required.  However, if you look back at your LSW and see that you are frequently missing it, or perhaps always missing it on a specific day/time, then you can think about why and what you need to do differently going forward to increase your ability to attend your gemba.

The above 3 steps have been my approach which has worked well for me.  I find step 3 is important over the longer term because the business and priorities do change over time.  It’s too easy to get caught up in the day to day urgent things that have to get done and before you know it, weeks have gone by and you aren’t getting to the floor as much as you should.  Weekly review of your LSW and looking back over the longer term will highlight to you that you need to take some action to course correct.

If you are already successful at doing regular Gemba, please share your approach in the comments for others to learn from.