Sunday, February 17, 2019

LEAN Porn: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine alerted me to a Netflix series called "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo". Football season is over (I referee college football) and lacrosse hasn't started (she referees college lacrosse), so my wife and I have this window in January and February to just chill, hibernate. On Saturday nights, I'll make dinner, start a fire and we'll vegetate in front of the massive "smart" tv. 

I suggested this series and lucky for me, she enthusiastically said, "sure, what the hell". Watching this show reminded me of the first time I saw "The Wizard of Oz" as a kid. If you have kids under 17 reading this, please usher them into another room before I continue.

For those of you not familiar with Marie Kondo, she is an award winning organizing consultant and author. Her 4 books on organizing have sold millions of copies, translated from Japanese to 9 languages, and she was named one of Time magazine's most influential people in 2015. Her methods are known as the KonMari method, which are inspired by the Shinto religion.

In her Netflix show, Marie shows up at people's cluttered, borderline hoarding-like homes and teaches them the KonMari method to restore peace and order. From the first minute, I was giddy....5S baby!!!!

When she shows up, Marie "introduces" herself to the home, sitting on the floor with her eyes closed for a few minutes (to the bewilderment of the homeowners). Sometimes we forget the spirit of 5S and focus only on the sort-set-shine-standardize-sustain. 5S is really about respect....respect for others who work or play in the area, respect for visitors and respect for the space.

Marie then leads the homeowners through the process, which I will call.....KonMari/5S!!
  1. Seiri (sort)-all items are categorized. Usually she starts with clothing. The first thing is to pull every piece of clothing out and dump it in a pile on the bed or the floor. Some people's pile looks like a mountain. Then, you do what we call in lean a "red tag" event. Hold up each item, one at a time, and ask, "does this item inspire joy?". If yes, it stays, if no, thank it for it's past contribution and remove it from your life. 
  2. Seiton (set)-for all of the items that spark joy, make sure they have their own place, and are stored in a way you can find them easily. Marie recommends storing items in drawers standing on end, and she teaches how to fold and store fitted sheets. Everything has it's place.
  3. Seiso (shine)-cleaning is a daily activity, not once in a while or after things get out of hand. Maintaining cleanliness is part of the daily routine. Seiso means the area will always remain clean and neat. At the end of the day, all items are returned to their "set" place.
  4. Seiketsu (standardize)-to me, this is the hardest part of 5S. It requires that I work to gain agreement with everyone who works or plays (or eats or sleeps) in the area. Marie does this by involving all of the family members, so they can see the value of the KonMari method. In 5S, standardize means developing a daily checklist that everyone who works in the area agrees to, and everyone knows what their responsibilities are.
  5. Shitsuke (sustain)-refers to maintaining the standards of the first 4. For 5S, think auditing. Auditing should not be thought of as punitive. In fact, auditing should be thought of as helping.

So, anyway, we probably watched 3 or 4 episodes of "Tidying Up" and immediately I'm thinking Emmy Award winner, no question, hands down. I thought, for the first time in my life, I would watch the show so I could cry when Marie won, heck, maybe Gloria and I could make a vacation out of it, and go to the award show and see her on the red carpet!!! I was going to wake her up to ask her, but I figured it could wait until morning. I guess lean porn isn't for everyone. 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Leadership: Mirror Mirror On the Wall!

Leadership/coaching can sometimes be one frustrating, soul searching way to make a living! It is less about having a parking spot close to the front door and more about taking responsibility for just about everything. It's less about having a big office and more about developing others. People don't need to be supervised, that is non-value added work. Our customers won't pay extra because employees are well supervised. Our customers don't really care, that cost comes out of our end.  

As many of you already know, one of my favorite quotes is "if you want results others don't get, you need to be willing to do things others won't do." Like take responsibility. For pretty much everything! Ever notice how when the New England Patriots win, all Bill Belichick talks about is how great his coaches and players performed? And when they lose, all he talks about is what a lousy job he did preparing them. When they lose, he's front and center. When they win, he's no where to be found. 

In reality, if we are managers, we only have one job! Develop people!! Our job isn't to mange meetings or develop our office or our computer. Like Belichick, our job is to recruit AND develop great players.

Quick story. I can remember many years ago when we needed to hire a supervisor. We paid plenty of money to place ads in a newspaper, enlist the help of a headhunter, etc. We screened resumes and applications, worked through interviews, came up with a few finalists. Interviewed again, checked references and hired.....George (the name has been changed to protect the innocent). George came to work, we introduced him to everyone, put him in the spotlight and rejoiced in the fact that we had landed.... George! We were so happy and so was he!!

Fast forward three years and I'm sitting in a management meeting, and the subject comes up...."what are we gonna do about George?" The discussion was that we should go to his office on Friday afternoon, tell him the bad news, escort him out the front door with a box of his family pictures, etc. change the locks on the front door and let everyone else know what we did come Monday morning. As I'm listening to this discussion, a really stinky thought popped into my head. One of the 4 tenets of the Toyota Production System was screaming at me...."continuously develop your people and partners." As an organization, we did SOME JOB of developing George, didn't we?!?! We developed him from shiny, excited, optimistic and energized to disgruntled, tired, "I just work here", "is it Friday yet? George made one mistake after another and maybe one mistake over his limit. We developed him in reverse.

Which brings up my other favorite quote..."if the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught." This situation wasn't George's fault, it was mine!!! Did I do everything I could possibly do (George didn't "report" to me) to work with him, help him? When Toyota says "continuously develop your people and partners" they mean continuously, not only when they screw up! We only had 70 of us in the entire company, how could I let this happen?  

Fortunately for all of us, I convinced everyone to call off the dogs and I (lead by example) started doing more of what we were getting paid to do, develop leaders, including George!

I believe great leaders and coaches are really, really good at looking in the mirror and taking responsibility for....just about everything!





Sunday, January 20, 2019

LEAN & the 4th Industrial Revolution: Part 3 Policy Deployment

This is the 3rd installment of a 3 part series thinking about a lean approach to the application of the building inevitable tidal wave of technology. Robots, co-bots, artificial intelligence and the internet of things to name a few. Part 1 was focused on the lean concept of jidoka (the relationship between humans and machine and respect for people), while Part 2 zeroed in on nemawashi (proceed slowly, consider many options, gain agreement, then implement rapidly, as well as the concept of fail fast & fail cheap).

Today's post, Part 3, suggests thinking about application of 4IR as policy deployment. In simple terms, PD is when I can randomly ask any person in your organization "what is important around here" and everyone gives you the exact same answer. (try this sometime!). PD is about getting every single brain in the business learning and using that learning to direct the business to a vision or target condition. For you Game of Thrones fans, it is about the vision turning into wildfire.

If you have read my column over the years, policy deployment has 4 non-negotiable critical elements that need to be done and on-going. Like hopping on 1 foot while juggling, chewing gum and singing at the same time. I'll review the 4 elements and apply it to the 4IR at the same time!!

  1. Make sure everyone understands the "why"-people will do what they deem to be important. The key word there is "what they deem". The why for the 4IR is the benefit of exponential leaps in productivity (sales per employee) as well as people doing more people work and machines doing more machine work. The 4IR means a better quality of life. Think about the ramifications of not getting on board! Imagine trying to compete today without computer technology and without cellphones?
  2. Learning-in order to move in a new direction, we need to open our minds to information and ideas and concepts we don't currently have. We need to invest in the masses here. We're talking about our collective intelligence, NOT a handful of subject matter experts. Share articles, books and videos with everyone. Arrange lunch and learns and book clubs. The more brains (hopefully 100%) the better! Remember that learning is harder than digging a trench and takes conditioning!
  3. Develop visible metrics and make sure everyone can tie their performance to moving those metrics. With regard to 4IR, the metric is productivity. Productivity is a reflection of how efficiently we're deploying our most precious resource...each other! Make productivity as visible as possible. Sales per labor hour, dooflickers per hour, pieces per minute, pounds per hour, gallons per hour, whatever. The thinking is that the better we deploy technology, the more the gains in productivity!
  4. And finally, the 4th critical element to PD is the ability to a actually DO, not talk about kaizen. A culture of continuous improvement that you've been developing pays dividends here. We need to have the ability to move the metrics, and we need every single person to contribute. 
Do those 4 things, and you've made wildfire!

Please feel free to send me an email at p4lean@icloud if you have questions or just want to brainstorm together!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Cody Parkey:5 Why NOT 5 Who

It's funny how when things go bad, our first instinct is to find out who's at fault. Well, often it's pretty obvious, right? Somebody didn't do their job. Well, once that becomes our line of thinking, we can do 5 why to drill down to root cause. Usually it comes down to that person was either stupid or they didn't care, and obviously they need to be written up or fired. 

Once we become enlightened, root cause is usually "we didn't teach them well enough" or "we didn't communicate the importance well enough". Either way, if the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught. In my 58 years, I've learned that humans are highly intelligent and highly motivated to do the right thing! If, for some reason, you have a few humans on your staff that don't possess these common traits, then I ask "who is the knucklehead that hired these people tat are dumb and don't care?"

Which brings me to Cody Parkey, the place kicker for the Chicago Bears. As is probably now known in the Arctic Circle, Cody missed a game winning field goal as the clock ran out in the NFC wild card game vs. Philadelphia last Sunday. Much of the feedback Cody got for his miss can be summarized as follows:
  1. Comparisons to Bartman, a poor gentleman who reached out to catch a baseball, thereby preventing the Cubs from being world champs.
  2. People pointing out the fact that Cody was hired to do only one job. "He's making millions of dollars to kick a #@!*(&^% football, the least he can do is do his $#^&*(&^ job!!
  3. Cody and his family received death threats because of the dark, dire predicament he put them in....no Bears football next week or the week after or the week after that.
  4. Videos on Twitter of people punching doors, kicking television sets, etc.
I watched the game, and between officiating and just loving the game, it was probably the 1000th game this season I watched. One thing I can assure the death threateners, the door punchers and television kickers is that the kicker for the Chicago Bears is highly intelligent and highly motivated. Unless we have a robot kicking field goals, or doing heart surgery or driving a tractor trailer or running a CNC machine for that matter.....mistakes will happen. 

Back to the 4 categories of feedback listed above:
  1. One good way to make Bartman, Cody, the referees, the weather all irrelevant.....score more! It's amazing how good we officials get when a team is scoring a lot!
  2. Surgeons, engineers, golfers, managers, coaches, football referees, you name it, all get paid to do one thing. Coincidentally, every single one of us fails to do our job periodically. If you ask some of the fans, we officials seldom do our job right. Nobody's perfect, including Cody.
  3. Whatever doesn't kill ya, makes you stronger. That was my Dad. Pretty sure the sun will come up and then set. I doubt people will know the difference in 2050. Give Cody and his family a break, the Bear's defense let the Eagles march down the field and score, didn't they? Are those defensive lineman too big to threaten? The NFL said the kick was tipped, why not threaten the 6'6" 365# left guard?
  4. Whatever you punch or kick, you'll just have to drag it to the curb on trash day, or replace it, or do some non value-added work, fix it.

The theme here, as managers, is to not knee-jerk to the 5 whos, which seems to be so instinctive (did it for years). Get to root cause! And Codey Parkey, chin up, I am rooting for you in 2019 and beyond.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Bad Quality: The Island of Misfit Toys

Quick rundown on the 8 wastes: Defects, Overproduction, Waiting, Motion, Over-processing, Inventory, Transport, Un-used employee brainpower. There might be a reason people usually cite defects first when you quiz them. 

Defects cause more of the other wastes. When we screw things up, we usually need to transport them somewhere using people's motion, creating sleeping money (inventory). Then we need to re-make something while our customer is waiting. Ouch, none of that is free.

Which brings me to the situation that is going on right now with the Island of Misfit Toys. The phone is ringing non-stop off the hook because of the screw-ups. Don't even get me started, but if this Santa guy would only go to gemba more than once a year, maybe he would have a better handle on what his customers want and definitely don't want. Some recent examples:
  1. Charlie-In-the-Box-is this some marketing idea gone bad? Do we ever check in with our customers, or just deliver them Charlie instead of Jack? Or did the new guy in labelling have a liquid lunch again?
  2. An elephant with spots-probably not a bad idea, but I think measles is what jumps in my head when I see this abomination of a toy. Was this a joke? Or, when we did the changeover from stuffed leopards to stuffed elephants did we forget the dooflicker again?
  3. A choo-choo train with square wheels on the caboose-no need to write this one up. Our VP of Purchasing saved us $0.07 per wheel for these square numbers. Did we bother to test them out before shipping? 
  4. And the last one, which I saved for last because if it wasn't so dangerous, it might be funny. Of course I'm referring to the squirt gun that squirts not water, but freakin jelly. How many kids are going to get punched in the face when they decide they're going to squirt grape jelly in someone's face? 

The real issue is the fact that Santa and his employees think it is perfectly ok for their customers (usually children aged 0-12 years of age) to be their quality inspectors. The other issue is that for the 40000 year in a row, there will be no raises nor any bonuses paid out due to the shipping costs and the rented warehouse space called the Island of Misfit Toys. 

Love to get the fat man's ear about a concept called quality at the source. The cost of quality is cheapest when defects are caught way early in the process, and wicked expensive when your customer does the catching. QATs is composed of 3 elements.....training, visual control and checklist documentation (no reports to fill out, that's over-processing).

Anyway, Merry Christmas. For those of you who ended up with a spotted elephant, our apologies and better luck next year.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

LEAN & the 4th Industrial Revolution Part 2: Nemawashi

Make sure everyone knows the plan!
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the 4IR & the Toyota Production System concept of jidoka, which, when you boil it down, means "respect for humanity". As this 4IR marches forward, with potential exponential leaps in productivity through technology (robots, cobots, artificial intelligence, the "internet of things"), we need to be mindful of the fact that we have an opportunity to exponentially improve human quality of life. People will be doing more people work, machines will be doing more machine work!


Part 2 is a quick discussion of the concept of "nemawashi". If jidoka is the "why", then neamwashi is the beginning of the "how". 



Nemawashi is a Japanese term that means an informal process of quietly laying the foundation for some proposed change or project by talking to all of the people concerned, gathering support and feedback. It is considered an important element in any major change and before any formal steps are taken, and successful nemawashi enables changes to be carried out with the consent of all. Another way to think about it is "laying the groundwork". 

More simply, I define nemawashi as "proceed slowly, consider many options, gain agreement, implement rapidly, with emphasis on the gain agreement part. The opposite of nemawashi is what Mike Rother, in his book Toyota Kata, Managing People for improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results, calls implementation mode. Implementation mode can also be thought of as jumping to solutions. For those of you who use A3 teams as your process for continuous improvement, most of the time spent is in truly understanding the problem at hand by collecting good data to help us get to root cause. As an A3 team works through the scientific method, dig deeply into define, measure and analyze. If this is done well, the improve and control is easy! 

Work to engage every single brain cell in your business. Don't rely on a handful of brains. Work hard to make sure people understand the why and give them a glimpse of the future, and make sure they take the journey with you. In considering technology to improve productivity for a given process, Principle 8 of TPS tells us to introduce it through "direct experimentation with the involvement of a broad cross section of people."

The more people engaged, the better the result! 

In Part 3, we will consider 4IR and Policy Deployment. 





Sunday, December 9, 2018

LEAN & the 4th Industrial Revolution Part 1: Jidoka

The Jetsons

  1. First, a quick history lesson. The first three "Industrial Revolutions":

The First (18th-19th centuries)-farmers became small urban manufacturers. Think iron, textiles and the steam engine. 

The Second (1870-1914)-electric power allowed small urban manufacturers to become large urban manufacturers, especially, steel, oil and electricity. Highlight was the development of the internal combustion engine.

The Third (1980s-today)-aka the Digital Revolution-the advances from analog electronic and mechanical devices to digital technology. People suddenly rely on computers, a cell phones and the internet.

The phrase 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' was first coined by Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum in 2016, and introduced the same year at the World Economic Forum. 4IR is characterized by "the fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres". In other words, The Jetsons. Think robotics, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. Think additive manufacturing and 3D printing on steroids.

Now lets talk about the lean concept "Jidoka". which is defined as autonomation or "automation with a human touch".  I suppose this very narrow definition comes from the story of how Sakichi Toyoda (Toyoda Automatic Loom Works LtD) in the early 1900s invented a self-stopping loom that avoided the hours and hours of untangling woven fabric. Watching people struggle to untangle fabric bothered Toyoda, and believed that work to be disrespectful to human beings. Which brings me to what jidoka really means: RESPECT FOR PEOPLE.


The goal of a lean strategy is to leverage operational excellence to create market disruption by methodically eliminating the 8 wastes. People do more productive work and much less waste (non-value added work). Companies successful in lean see huge improvements in productivity (often measured as sales/labor hour). The 4IR will be marked by quantum, exponential leaps in productivity (our ability to do more with the same human effort). More important, the 4IR can result in quantum leaps in human's quality of life. My friend Lenord Hahn of Ulbrich Steel alerted me to a 15 minute Ted Talk you may enjoy where Kai-Fu Lee discusses how artificial intelligence can save our humanity. More and more, humans will be doing fulfilling human work and machines will be delegated to repetitive, tedious tasks!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this discussion, which will talk about the 4IR and the concept of Nemawashi.