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December 8, 2011

How do you move a barn?

By Mark Sessumes December 8, 2011

Furthermore, what does moving a barn (click link for video) have to do with Lean?

Moving the barn

Moving the barn

  • Moving the barn is like moving an organization.
  • There’s a BIG difference between the tools and the ability to develop the various working parts to be successful.
  • There were tools involved – saws, rulers, welding equipment, hammers.  But that’s not the key to success.
  • Many different roles with different responsibilities.
    • Someone in leadership had a vision and compelling need.  They had to know where they were and where they wanted to go.
    • Leadership recognized the value of ‘people power’ , not simply cutting edge technology.  No cranes or trucks involved but there was innovation (or at least ingenuity).
    • Leadership created a plan with many parts – preparation, communication, coordination, schedules, execution, etc.
      • Someone had to build the hand rails.
      • Someone had to recruit the people.
      • Given the caps, overalls, and cowboy hats, I bet there was barbeque involved.  Someone had to prepare it.
      • Someone had to announce instructions using the bullhorn.
      • Someone had to run the video camera.
    • There were measures.  Someone calculated the weight of the barn and the number of people to know each had to lift their 90lbs.  They knew how many feet to arrive at the destination.
    • The announcer was coordinating the actions of the group.  He was also giving them recognition and encouragement.
    • People had to show up and participate.

TMAC’s emphasis in Lean deployment is the ability to identify and prepare the different roles to fulfill their respective responsibilities to move the organization along the journey to achieve the vision.  Tools are integral to the journey but in themselves are insufficient.  Working in ‘the white space’ beyond the punctuated activities related to training, events, and projects requires that we develop each role to fulfill their responsibilities.

  • Top Leadership – focus, inspire, and engage the organization.  From strategy development/planning to management systems to measurements, recognition/rewards, communication, etc.
  • Value Stream Managers – transform the value stream.  Create and implement the VS management system (not just a map), and actively manage the transformation to the future state across multiple improvement activities.
  • Supervision – change behaviors.  Designing new methods and creating a sum of daily habits conforming to the new methods are two different things.  Supervision focus on changing behaviors including but not limited to safety, standardization, simplification, scientific method, social responsibility, and self-discipline.  There are multitudes of mechanisms to accomplish each.  What do you use?
  • Workforce – participate.  Either in structured projects or equally importantly, outside of formal projects/events.  Getting them to show up, mentally, physically.
  • Coaches – guide and mentor the other roles.  Are you prepared to guide top leadership?  Do you know what they should do?

What are you doing to work in the white space?

October 18, 2011

Need more time? Lead smarter.

By Mark Sessumes October 18, 2011

Jim Croce, a popular singer and song writer from the late 1960’s and early 70’s, wrote and sang a song titled, Time in a Bottle. A few of the lyrics include:

Bottle with a pocket watch inside

Photo by hopeseguin

“If I could make days last forever, if words could make wishes come true……but there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them….”

It occurred to me how applicable this theme is in management and leadership, not just our personal lives.  As leaders, we often spend a great deal of time preparing plans of all types –marketing and sales, sales and operations, master production, new product introductions, and improvement initiatives.  And although we have the best of intentions to execute the plans, it seems as though ‘there never seems to be enough time to do the things we want to do once we’ve found them’.

In the book, Creating a Lean Culture by David Mann, an Organizational Psychologist, he identifies a 4 step approach to achieving the daily habits critical to building a desired culture.  And not surprisingly, it begins with Leadership.  Specifically, Leader Standard Work (LSW).  The other 3 steps include visual control boards, daily accountability cycles, and discipline.

Leader Standard Work provides the mechanism to think through the ‘grand plans’ and design a set of recurring rituals and routines that each manager must perform.  To make it practical, LSW incorporates a Lean theme of smaller batches, more frequently.  Instead of lengthy management meetings held monthly, LSW strives to conduct review activities for a few minutes every day or every week.  This establishes a cadence that is much better at creating lasting behavioral changes than lengthy, infrequent reviews.

Leader Standard Work isn’t a silver bullet but it provides a practical structure by which managers can plan and execute their daily lives and activities to support the grand plans they’ve spent great effort preparing.  LSW has shown to provide the structure and standardization needed to become more systematic in planning, doing, checking, and acting to create learning organizations.  Coupled with the Visual Control Boards, Daily Accountability Cycles, and Discipline, the 4 steps outlined in the book create a framework of an effective management system.

What has your company done to incorporate Leader Standard Work?  How has it worked for you?

November 11, 2010

Management Constraints vs. Physical Obstacles

By Mark Sessumes November 11, 2010
an illustration of the bullwhip effect

Image via Wikipedia

For the last 18 months, I’ve been working with a company that has been seriously pursuing a Lean initiative.  Often, I see companies that claim to pursue lean only to realize they’re just dabbling. They  haven’t adopted the principles of lean to guide all facets of the business – but that’s not what’s happening here.  . At this company, the way they measure  business and operations has presented a serious obstacle.  Left unaddressed, this obstacle will limit the companies’ ability to move forward in their lean initiative. Continue reading “Management Constraints vs. Physical Obstacles” »

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