Sunday, December 20, 2015

Goals Are Like Stars

"Goals are like stars. They may not be reached but they will always be a guide."

That, my friends was my Senior Quote from the 1979 Watertown (CT) High School Yearbook. Pretty sure I didn't have a quote of my own so the yearbook club gave me that one. But I like it. Also dig the leisure suit and fancy shirt. (plus the hair)

So, a new LEAN year is upon us, and I will be working with my clients to set a goal for the number of improvements their companies will make before December 31st of next year. Specifically, how many A3s will be closed? Some thoughts about goal setting:

1. A3 is like the hokey pokey-everyone can participate, and best learned by doing. (Not sure I want to watch a Powerpoint or read a book about how to do the hokey pokey. The idea is we want to involve EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE ENTIRE COMPANY in our effort toward flow (by steadily eliminating the 8 wastes). Potential improvements are almost infinite if you know how to look! Customer complaints, defects, excess motion and transport, running out of stuff, too much looking for things, injuries or near misses, etc. Is it really too much to expect everyone that draws a paycheck to make 3 improvements in 240 work days?!?!? 
2. I understand the logic behind SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goals, but I really prefer STRETCH goals. Sort of like the goals Franklin Delano Roosevelt set for American industry, especially the Ford Motor Company, when the U.S. was dragged into WWII.  In 1942, Ford produced a 550,000 piece B-24 Liberator Long Range Bomber every 63 seconds!
3. It's not really about the number. It's more about leadership's sense of urgency. If 100 people work in your business and the CEO sets a goal of 25 A3s, it tells everyone that lean is just not important. If the goal is 400, and lean activity is written into everyone's performance reviews, lean and getting better is VERY important. FDR had this urgency thing down..."we need a B-24 every 63 seconds!"
4. WARNING!! Whatever you set for a goal is about where you will end up next December. It's almost comical. If the goal is 50, expect to hit between 51-60. If the goal is 375, expect 365-385. It is scary how a highly visible goal drives behavior! Some of my clients make the goal visible by posting a list on their dashboard with everyone's name and how many A3s they've led and closed, as well as their % contribution to the company's annual goal YTD. In my own company, this list was posted on our company dashboard every Friday afternoon. It also included the names of people who had done zilch. Nothing like a small amount of peer pressure to help get everyone engaged. (People with zeros got help from their team leaders finding opportunities for improvement.
5. Remember the 50:50 rule. Half of the A3s should be employee suggestions, and half should be assigned "policy deployment" projects. Toyota measures morale by the number of employees suggestions. A3 is about picking your own team to help you accomplish your suggestion. Policy deployment is about leveraging your company's ability to do kaizen to achieve business goals. 

So, as a rule of thumb, if you did LEAN via A3 last year, add 25% and make that your goal. If you are just getting started, multiply  the number of people in the business X 3, and that is your number.If you'd like to try it and need help, give me 3 days to get you up and running. 

Happy Goal Setting and Happy New Year while you're at it!!

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