As we move towards the ‘new normal’, our need to adapt the way we execute our work will demand an increase in our continuous improvement and innovation (CI&I) activity.

 

As you do this, I would encourage you to follow the logic I use for future state design – THINK TO S.E.E – Simple, Elegant and Effective. 

 

When you approach CI&I, the focus should always be on simplifying how we do our work – it is much easier to make things more complicated than it is to simply them.   Solutions should be elegant or well-designed following design thinking methodology.  And finally, it is critical that processes are effective in delivering internal and external customer value.   

 

Developing and executing future state design using the THINK TO S.E.E approach does take more thought and effort, but the effort will have a much higher rate of return.   Quoting Mark Twain – “If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter”. 

 

If you would be interested in attending a virtual skill development session on the THINK TO S.E.E methodology, please let me know. 

 

Keep improving. 

Scott

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“All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. Originally a proverb, this phrase was made famous by Jack Nicholson in the movie ‘The Shining’.  The real meaning of the proverb is that if you focus only on repetitive work, work that has limited challenge or if you do the same work every day, you will get bored and demotivated.  In organizations, focusing solely on executing daily work can lead to reduced productivity and lower engagement.  

 

Everyone needs meaning and challenge beyond their daily work.   Getting teams involved in continuous improvement projects or problem solving will allow them to focus on activities that will contribute to the long-term success of the organization.   If teams can get involved in improving their own work and work areas, it allows for increased levels of ownership, productivity improvement and reduced levels of frustration.  All very necessary activities to prepare to move into the new normal.     

 

Please let me know your thoughts.

 

Keep improving

Scott

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For most of us, we are now in week 4 of the ‘new normal’.   It also appears that we may be in our current situation for the unforeseeable future.  One of the last things we typically think about in an uncertain situation is continuous improvement. 

 

As we get used to our new working environments, we develop habits, tools and methods that help make our work easier.  We also identify those things that make our work more difficult. In a continuous improvement culture, we encourage our team members to share and adopt these best practices.   As well, we also encourage our teams to identify the blockers in how they perform their work and possible solutions

 

As a leader, now is a good time to engage our teams in identifying improvements and best practice sharing in the ‘new normal’.  Ask a few simple questions – what have we learned? What are we doing that works well? What is blocking our ability to be more effective?  Remember to engage your team in solutions, get them involved with the implementation and don’t take all the work on yourself.

 

Please let me know your thoughts.

 

Keep connected.

Scott

 

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The Old Sugar Shack

 

There are plenty of tools out there to help us with continuous improvement projects or for problem solving, but it's not about the tools!  It's about the mindset.  The mindset to simplify, make things better, reduce errors or defects, and reduce waste.

 

It's that time of year, at least where I live, that we anticipate warmer weather soon.  We hope!  That means the sap will start running for the annual maple syrup season.  A friend, that owns a farming business, asked me to help him tap some trees and hook up the sap lines in preparation for the sap to start running.  Sure beats the old days when I helped empty the buckets!  Man that was hard work!

 

Snyder Heritage Farms has various products, one of which is maple syrup.  Although not considered a large farm, they tap 2,500 trees with 3,800 taps pulling approximately 250,000 litres of sap through 24,000 feet of small lines. The small lines converge with 10,000 feet of larger main lines leading to the evaporator which boils the sap down to produce about 5,500 litres of pure Canadian maple syrup in an average season.

 

 

Even though I had helped in previous years, I was given a brief training course by the owner, Kevin Snyder, on the standard work to install the taps and connect the sap lines.  Kevin gave me some key quality points to ensure the hole was drilled properly, the tap installed correctly, and the line secured tightly.   What impressed me most though was his continuous improvement mindset.  He had determined the most efficient paths to walk through the bush to minimize walking, placement of the tractor in proximity to where we would need to reload with taps while minimizing the walking distance to/from the tractor to do so.  He established working zones for each helper to maximize coverage while eliminating any duplication or cross over.  He had nail pouches to hold the taps, harnesses for the drills so they were easy to carry and to set aside when not drilling, while eliminating the risk of setting them down in the snow and then leaving them behind.  All these things make sense, but what struck me most was his mindset.  He was very focused on making the process as efficient as he could to both reduce the burden on the tappers and make them more efficient, while also improving the process to reduce defective tap holes, taps, and hose line connections that could impact vacuum pressure and reduce sap yield.  At one point I complimented him on all the improvements he had made and for his mindset.  Kevin's response as he trekked off into the snow covered bush to put in more taps was,

 

"When you're the little guy, you have to be efficient!"

 

It is true smaller companies need to be efficient, but so do larger companies!  Unfortunately, sometimes larger companies lose focus and forget the importance of the team's mindset by hammering out new tools while insisting the team find a "problem" to apply them.  Tools are important, but it's the mindset that is most important because mindset is what creates the drive for continuous improvement.  After all, not everything needs a tool to improve.  Sometimes, just pure observation, common sense, and know how is all that is needed.  Mindset coupled with tools can be powerful, but when you have a bunch of tools without mindset, everything looks like a nail waiting to be hammered!

 

Maple Weekend - 4th & 5th April 2020

 

If you are near the Kitchener-Waterloo area, Snyder Heritage Farms hosts "Maple Weekend" on 4th & 5th April from 10:00am - 4:00pm where you can bring your family out to their farm for an instructional tour of the sugar shack and how maple syrup is made, take a tractor ride to visit the maple bush, and enjoy freshly made pancakes and sausages.  It's a fun couple of hours for the family on a nice spring day, and of course, there's lots of fresh maple syrup!

 

Snyder Heritage Farm
1213 Maple Bend Rd.
Bloomingdale, Ontario

 

 

 

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LeadWell Series - Gemba Walks

 

Combining HPSC’s “build strong” and HPL’s “lead well” philosophies, the two companies collaborated to launch the “LeadWell Series” on 29 January 2020, to deliver short burst skill development opportunities for leaders.  Starting the series with the topic of “Gemba Walks”,  30 leaders representing over 10 companies participated in a gemba walk skill development segment, best practices sharing, and a gemba walk at Baylis Medical to practice their skills and to “go & see” the linkage between Baylis’s tier 2, 3, and 4 level leader boards. 

 

The LeadWell Series is intended to provide leaders with opportunities to improve their skills rapidly (3-4 hours) in areas of most interest and importance to them and then put them into practice at their operation immediately.  Topics are selected based on leader input and requests.  Each LeadWell Series topic is structured around

 

3 key pillars:

  1. Short burst skill development on a topic of leader interest
  2. Bench marking and best practice sharing
  3. A commitment to implement a best practice

 

What attending leaders are saying they liked about this “LeadWell Series – Gemba Walks”:

 

“Real-life examples”

“The guidance provided during the presentation of best practices for effective and ineffective gemba walks which framed the ‘go and see’ element of the event.”

“New ideas and concepts I can try right away”

“Interacting with other leaders to discuss do’s and do not’s, lessons learned, and strategies that have proven successful.”

“Seeing what everyone is struggling with despite the company they belong to.”

 

Special thanks to Baylis Medical for hosting and sharing their boards and progress with everyone!

 

Leave a comment and let us know what LeadWell Series topics you would be interested in?

 

 

 

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A highly engaged and motivated employee is the most formidable weapon that an organization can utilize to compete and win. An engaged and motivated employee is more focused on doing their work, more productive, and is more likely to have a better work and home life.  However, less than 30% of an organization’s people fit this category. Less than 5% of organizations sustain high performance over the long term. One of the limiting factors may be your management system.

 

Here are a few simple steps to start to build a strong management system.

 

First, it is important to understand the purpose of a management system. In simple terms, your management system is in place to make sure you are dong the right things for your customers (or clients or patients). It does this by connecting everyone in your organization to your vision, strategy and big outcome measures to allow everyone to understand how they can impact the vision and connect to the big outcomes. The management system engages our humans through solving their own problems. The most effective way to do this is through 'low tech, high touch' planning and measurement white boards.

 

Here are the steps to start building or improving your management system:

 

1. Identify your customer and understand what value they need from you.

 

I find in a lot of cases, there is not a strong understanding of who the customer is.   Your customer is who gets direct benefit or value from what you do. For example, in health care, the patient receives the direct value from the care they are given.   If my role is a support operation in manufacturing, such as engineering that develops product drawings, it is the people who build the product from the drawings.    If my role is production, I deliver value directly to the end customer for the product.

 

2. Understand how you can easily measure the value you provide to the customer.

 

Our customers are easy. They want simple things.  They want their stuff NOW. They want it PERFECT. They want it WASTE FREE. They may also want a good experience during the process.

 

I recommend you start with NOW as it is the easiest.    We should all have a plan to deliver what our customer's need when they need it.   My customer needs their drawings today to build their product.   My patient wants to continue to get better.  All you need to do is measure how well you delivered on your plan.   I would also recommend using a planning white board to show your commitment to your plan.

 

3. Graph your results to understand how you are doing.

 

What does a good day look like?  Did we have a good day? Typically it is getting done what we need to accomplish for our customer.  If you started with NOW, on your next white board - performance board - graph how well you are doing.   Measure for a few weeks so you can start understanding a longer term trend in performance.

 

4. Start understanding why.

 

Why did we not have a good day? If you did not have a good day and did not accomplish what you needed to do for your customer, start understanding the  reasons that are blocking your performance.  You should start seeing some recurring reasons.  For each reason, understand how bad it is by adding a bar or Pareto graph under your performance graph to track the number of occurrences.

 

5. Run some experiments to make it better.

 

Once you have a good understanding of the reasons why you are not having a good day, start running some simple experiments to fix the problem.  Below your bar graph, document the experiment and indicate when you started the experiment on your performance graph. This will allow you to see if the experiment had the results you hoped for.  If it did, adopt this as a new why to do your work. If it did not 't, try new experiments until you learn what does work.

 

6. When you are ready, add your other measures.

 

NOW, PERFECT, WASTE FREE.   Keep it simple and do not add too many additional measures.  Fewer measures are better, but it is important not to have a lonely number so you need to provide some balance.  For example, if you measure NOW, balance it by making sure you are also delivering what you customer needs PERFECT.

 

Remember - a strong management system is elegantly simple and is driven by the daily connections we make with our people. 

 

 

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I’ve never understood why so few leaders use Leader Standardized Work (LSW).  I’ve found it to be a great tool to help me be a more consistent and effective leader.  I’ve used LSW 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.  Regardless of your responsibility, there is a certain component of it that is repeatable and therefore LSW is for, well, everyone!

 

Here’s some key points I found useful when it comes to LSW:

 

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

 

2.  Place tasks in the LSW that are important to YOU, that you must get done and also the ones that you want to ensure get done, checked, or confirmed because they are important to you or your business.

 

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

 

4.  Have a method within the LSW to indicate which days you are on vacation and differently identified when you are out of the office on business.  This will help you plan more effectively when you complete tasks or provide you the opportunity to delegate if necessary.

 

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

 

6. LSW is for you, not anyone else.  It’s fine to show people your LSW, but I don’t advocate posting it.  It’s more effective if you carry it with you at all times to help you actually execute to it versus showing others.  As a leader, you should be checking your teams LSW periodically as well.

 

7.  If you’re not getting to something on your LSW, don’t beat yourself up, but rather find the root cause as to why you are not getting it done and determine what you need to do differently to achieve it.  After all, the items on your LSW 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.  Use it to improve your self-discipline, motivate you, or to remind you to just do it!

 

8.  LSW must be an integral part of your personal planning system and routine.  It must be integrated with your schedule, your follow-up system, and your to-do lists.

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

 

10. When you get really busy, that’s when you need your LSW the most.  Don’t abandon it then.  Use it to help you get the most important things done.  In a pinch when you just 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 LSW. To make things easier, I've added some conditional formatting for visibility of weekends, business travel, or when out on vacation. I prepare the LSW for the month, print it out, and then use it daily by marking tasks using a pen. LSW is an integral part of my daily, weekly, monthly planning system.

 

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

 

See more of Glenn's posts HERE

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I was reminded recently of the importance of Gemba or “Go See”. Or at least, I was reminded as to how few leaders actually do it or know how to do it well. In my opinion, Gemba is the most important tool a leader has. It provides you the opportunity to see what is really going on, to confirm what your team is telling you, to see what they aren’t telling you or they don’t see, to truly engage with your team, identify waste in the process, and is an important first step towards developing an improvement plan.

 

While observing a process with another leader recently it became clear that he was struggling to really see what was going on in the process. It was no wonder really. He was so distracted by everything else that was going on around the process. As a result of not really seeing, he and his team had made many significant changes to the process but were not achieving their targets because they hadn’t addressed the real problem.

 

Here are what I believe to be the 10 important steps for effective gemba:

 

1. Schedule time for gemba. A leader needs to spend focused quality time observing their processes. It will never happen unless you proactively block time in your calendar to do so. There are always other things that will steal your time, so invest in yourself first by having standing times reserved in your calendar for gemba. Then keep them.

 

2. Go see with a specific theme. If you are conducting what I call a leadership gemba – meaning you are going to check on your general operations and not a specific problematic process, go with a specific theme of what you are going to look for. For example, today my gemba theme is 'safety' and more specifically 'over-reaching'. This way you are focused and can train your eyes to see the themed area. This approach is far more productive and results in specific actions versus a long laundry list of “to-do’s” for your team, or even worse, a nice stroll with nothing really observed.

 

3. Introduce yourself and explain what you’re doing. Always introduce yourself to anyone whose process you are observing. Explain to them why and what you’re looking for. Put them at ease. No one likes to be spied on, particularly by the “boss”. Take away the concern right away and explain. It also shows respect.

 

4. Remain focused. When doing gemba don’t get distracted by other processes, people, or your cell phone. Remain focused on the task at hand. You don’t want to miss something. Typically it’s not a problem with the standard work that is creating a problem in the process, it’s either not following the standard work or the abnormalities that periodically happen that impact it. If you aren’t paying full attention all the time, you will miss these opportunities to see.

 

5. Remember TIM WOODS. When observing a process you need to look for all forms of waste. TIM WOODS is a good reminder of the various forms of waste.

 


 

6. Allow time to see the unseen. Gemba takes time as you need to give yourself enough time to observe multiple cycles of the process. Check that each cycle is completed the same way according to standardized work. In addition, you want to be able to see the abnormalities and periodic work that do occur in and around the process that otherwise are unseen and far to often go unnoticed.

 

7. Ask questions and request suggestions. Engage directly with the person in the process, when safe and appropriate to do so. Ask them questions about some of the observations you’ve made, such as “how often does this happen?” Seek clarification of your observations or assumptions. Most importantly, request their input. “If you could change one thing in this process, what would that be?” Ask their opinion on how to best improve the process.

 

8. Conduct on the spot trials. Try minor things right then and there to determine if there are better ways of setting up the process. Hold a tool, part, or indirect material for a few cycles to determine if there is an alternative home position that is easier for the operator. It’s a great way to get the operator involved early and demonstrate you are trying to help them.

 

9. Summarize your observations. Write down the opportunities you observed and estimate the associated time savings or burden reductions identified. This will allow you as the leader to determine how much improvement can be expected and to assist you in setting a target for improvement with your team.

 

10. Take action. Another great thing about gemba is that, unless you are dead, you will have to take action to improve the process. You won’t be able to stop yourself because you have seen the waste and you have many great ideas to make meaningful improvements. Whether it’s a quick action item or two, some “just do it” improvements, or a multi-day kaizen event it is critical that you take immediate action to obtain sustained improvement. If you don’t, you will lose the trust and confidence of the operators.

 

What would you add to this list? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts and experience in the comments below.

 

Related Posts:

 

     Gemba Walks - Tip #1

 

     Gemba Walks - Tip #2

 

     The best place for a meeting...is on the roof

 

     Teaching your eyes to see

 

     3 Steps to Having Time for Gemba

 

     Gemba by any other name is... go & See!

 

     Toyota's Worst Best Kept Secret & The Top Five Reasons For It

 

      Read more of Glenn's posts  HERE

 

    

 

 

 

 

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