Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Best Day of the Week: Monday Monday!

Let's face it. Out of the 7 days of the week, Monday gets the worst rap. Try a little experiment. Ask a bunch of people how "they are doing" on a Monday. Chances are, you will hear, "eh, ok for a Monday". People never say TGIM (thank God it's Monday). Wednesday is now "Hump Day", which means Monday and Tuesday are all uphill, you hit the peak on Wednesday, and it is downhill from there to the all important TGIF. ("I'm free, I'm free!).

I would like to take this opportunity to argue that Monday can be one of the most exhilarating and stupendous of all of the 7 days for a lean company.

One of the things we learn early on as we shape our own lean strategy is how Taiichi Ohno changed forever the perception of how long it takes to make meaningful change happen. One of the most fun benefits of living in a company with a culture of continuous improvement is just how fast things change. 

Sometimes we get into a habit of putting things on hold, or moving action into the future, i.e. "we have a meeting planned for that next Tuesday." One question I ask my clients a few times a week is, "what can we do right now?" Every Monday is a great chance for us to calibrate our progress with regard to how well we are doing things "right now". If you use A3 as your vehicle to make slow, steady improvements, make it the standard work of your leaders to meet at the A3 board every Monday morning, the earlier the better.  

The average number of improvements on my client's A3 boards is 21, and they are all led by the people who actually do the work (not the lean champion, a boss or the "black belt"). Let's say there are a group of 8-10 "managers" meeting at the board on Monday morning. All I ask is that each manager "adopt" for that week 2 A3 leaders each, and sometime before the end of the day on Tuesday, go and see the A3 leaders they adopted. It won't take more than 20 minutes or so. All they need to do is ask the A3 leader to show them what they are doing, and ask what they need for help. Notice I didn't say "tell me what they are doing". Then, on Friday afternoon, make sure the group of managers re-convene at the board and update each other on the progress of their adoptees for the week. Make sure no manager has the same adoptee two weeks in a row.

Remember that people want to get caught doing what they think the boss thinks is important. By showing up at the board at the same time every Monday, A3 is suddenly important. By showing up to go and see your adopted A3 leaders, A3 is suddenly important. By switching up who the A3 leaders will be seeing each week, A3 is suddenly important. Things that are important get done. We don't just keep talking about things that are important.

I promise you that you will see the improvement activity accelerate. Tons of improvements will go on and off the A3 board. None of this activity will take hours and hours of your manager's time. The important thing is to do it week in and week out.....drip, drip, drip...load leveling the value added work of helping the people who do the value added work.

And it all starts on those exhilarating, stupendous Mondays!

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