Lean

Dare to Intrude

I set my computer to open to the desktop when it wakes. Clicking the locked button only took a moment, but it was an unnecessary step that I took several times a day. This is what Lean Manufacturer Paul Akers calls a two-second improvement. You probably need your computer password protected, so that’s likely not an improvement you would make. But I suspect there are a thousand things like that that you could do that would eliminate unnecessary steps in your work.

The Answer is a Question – and Walking in Each Other’s Shoes

After visiting FastCap manufacturing, a visitor emailed back with the observation that everybody presented consisely and effectively at the company-wide morning meeting. He wanted to know – what’s the secret?

Paul explains that they teach and train their people to be pithy and consise. As soon as someone starts to give a ramblng response, they stop and ask someone else for their input. Another factor is that everyone leads the morning meeting at one point or another, so they all know what it’s like to have the responsibility of keeping the group on track.

Watch Paul explain it here. 

More Kindergarten Lessons About Learning

This from my engineer, researcher and Toyota Kata author buddy Mike Rother. Another learning experiment involving kindergartners. The Economist reported that proves (okay, indicates,) that when teachers, coaches and guides explain what you can do with something, it inhibits exploration and discovery. 

It’s such a fine balance! In Perfect Phrases for Managers and Supervisiors, I refer to Management by Throwing Spaghetti Against the Wall. Perfect Phrases for Leadership Development is all about guiding people to make their own discoveries. I recently heard a Kimberley Clark manager talk about how they don’t share best practices because they want their managers and workgroups to find their own answers. They guide them in doing that, but it still takes longer. It also results in managers and workgroups that learn to improve processes on their own.

I work with coauthors. I have my own ideas of how the books should evolve, but I know from experience that if I say too much, their input is more likely to be limited to what they think I’m looking for. If I don’t over-direct, they are more likely to come up with things I would have missed. 

So I hold back. I might ask questions, but if I do, they’re honest questions, not leading questions to get my coauthors to come to the same conclusions I did.

Of course, synergy comes from a side-by-side exploration. I have a head-start when I invite a coauthor to write with me on a book project I created. I like to give them a chance to do their own thinking and then I’ll share mine. Then we experience synergy – mutual discovery where we’re exploring side-by-side.

The Economist study did not explore what happens when the teacher and students discover what the toy can do together. I suspect if it had, the discoveries would skyrocketed. 

Circling the Line of Continuous Improvement

Linear goes straight. Intuitive circles. Continuous Improvement circles the line of improvement options. 

spiralContinuous Improvement is one of the guiding principles of lean thinking. How do you keep leaning forward? Lean strives towards perfection, while knowing that perfection is not a static state. That means everything is subject to curious inquiry. 

So this week, as I’ve been creating the perfect title for my presentation on lean communication, It’s a creative process, which means I need to allow lots of room for circling intuition. I invited input from many others. Paul gave input that hit home deeply. I created a title. Lee loved it with minor tweaks. Kelli had a very different idea altogether. Karyn took a new direction with it. And me? I am patiently circling the line of continuous improvement as I move toward the ecstatically – as opposed to statically – perfect title. 

Johnny Cash walked the line. At the moment, I’m circling it. And while part of me wished my temporary title team would just tell me I’m perfect already, I am willing to circle the line until the deadline arrives or I get so inspired by what I/we come up with, the only think I can say is WOW!

Circling the Line of Continuous Improvement

Linear goes straight. Intuitive circles. Continuous Improvement circles the line of improvement options. 

spiralContinuous Improvement is one of the guiding principles of lean thinking. How do you keep leaning forward? Lean strives towards perfection, while knowing that perfection is not a static state. That means everything is subject to curious inquiry. 

So this week, as I’ve been creating the perfect title for my presentation on lean communication, It’s a creative process, which means I need to allow lots of room for circling intuition. I invited input from many others. Paul gave input that hit home deeply. I created a title. Lee loved it with minor tweaks. Kelli had a very different idea altogether. Karyn took a new direction with it. And me? I am patiently circling the line of continuous improvement as I move toward the ecstatically – as opposed to statically – perfect title. 

Johnny Cash walked the line. At the moment, I’m circling it. And while part of me wished my temporary title team would just tell me I’m perfect already, I am willing to circle the line until the deadline arrives or I get so inspired by what I/we come up with, the only think I can say is WOW!