As I approached the bridge, I could see floor trim scattered across the road and a man frantically trying to pick up the splintered fragments as cars zoomed by him. I quickly pulled over to offer my assistance to his plight. He looked at me, shook his head and in an exasperated tone said, “I think I need to go home and get back in bed… it’s been one of those days.”
Nothing Kills Progress Faster than “That’s Just The Way It Is”
“Kaizen (Continuous Improvement) is a strategy where employees at all levels of a company work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements to the manufacturing process.” — Lean Production
“Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing significant to say. ” — Andy Stanley
I overheard the following statement as I was walking through the grocery store:
“Just tell your daughter, life is only about doing things you hate.”
One of the things I love most about working in Manufacturing is seeing all of the creative ways people and companies find to measure processes and performance. I believe in the old saying that “Everything that can be measured doesn’t count, and everything that counts can’t be measured” which points to the human side of the company.
One of the hardest parts of leading any organization is hiring great talent. As organizations are hiring to keep up with growth, and are dealing with this challenge, we wanted to share a little insight into some ways that we approach this process along with a quick case study.
“Respect is earned, not given.”
I heard a man at the airport say to his colleague as we waited to board our flight. I did not take the time to listen to anymore of the conversation, I knew all I needed to know about their work environment. I had seen it too many times before.
About 8 years ago my wife and I decided to take our then 5 and 3-year old on a hike up the trail near Rattlesnake Lake in Washington State. The hike is a little over 5 miles with an elevation gain of nearly 1,500 feet.
Under normal circumstances, it would have been a challenge, but we did not fully anticipate the conditions of the trail. We arrived at the trail and found snow and ice on the ground. Not only that, the temperature was just barely above freezing. We didn’t have the appropriate footwear, outer clothing, snacks, water, etc. We had been hiking as a family nearly every week for almost a year, but most of our hikes were in the Seattle area with little to no elevation difference. To put it bluntly, we were not prepared for this hike.
Despite these conditions, the kids were troopers. There was little complaint out of them until we got a few hundred yards from the top. By conversing with other hikers, we knew we were close, but had no idea what exactly laid ahead of us. As we let the kids rest, my wife and I debated our options. We could turn around, but we knew that the “prize” was the view from the top. Either way, up or down, we knew we would have to carry the kids at least part of the way. We made the decision to persevere. We each took a child in our arms and climbed to the top of the mountain.
While working 2nd shift at Toyota I took the opportunity to eat lunch with my son at his school. As the kids were lining up to go back to class, another father had the following conversation with his son:
Father: Do you have any tests today?
Son: *nodded his head*
Father: You are going to get a 100%, right?
Son: *nodded his head again*
Father: That’s my boy, O’Doyle’s* only get 100%!
I was recently asked to give a talk to a group of manufacturing professionals on the topic of culture. Having been in industry for a couple of decades, I’ve seen a large variety of organizational cultures and the effects that an organizational culture has on its members, their general happiness, and their productivity.
We all know that culture matters. Drucker is famously quoted with the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” indicating that the best strategy and plan can easily be overcome by a poor organizational culture. Consider these statistics:
Gallup’s most recent State of the Global Workplace report indicated the following:
1) 85% of employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged
2) As a result of this, approximately $7 trillion of productivity is lost every year
You have probably heard these stats, and you are probably asking yourself what they have to do with "Continuous Improvement". The unfortunate truth is that all too often organizations associate Lean with the tools that it provides, not the cultural aspects that should accompany, if not precede, implementation of tools. They go hand in and.
In Lean Manufacturing, we reduce and remove variation of the operators by developing the “least waste way” of doing a task. We typically call this Standard Work (Work Content, Sequence and Time Components). Standard work is the best current model of doing the work in question, and when executed well, will produce consistent results. Results that you as a leader, and your customers can count on. This approach however, also applies to most any sort of job. If you run a customer service call center, don’t you want all your agents to answer the phone in the same way? If you are doing oil changes on automobiles, don’t you want a standard to ensure that you don’t let a car leave without oil in it? If you are serving cheeseburgers, don’t you want your customers to receive a consistent and delicious cheeseburger regardless of the time of day or night? This goes on and on.
Trust is a little word that carries with it a gigantic impact. Whether I am speaking about a personal, intimate, or work relationship, Trust is the single most important component you can have (or too often don’t have). Trust is hard to develop for lots of us, and most of us have been burned once or twice by trusting the wrong person. And as the saying goes, once burned twice shy. However, if you have your sights on leading, Trust is a non-negotiable component. So, what’s a person to do? Let’s talk about how we build and cultivate trust in the workplace.
Let’s start with the fundamental concept of trust: What does it mean to trust someone? For this entry, I am talking mainly about the workplace, but the concepts are the same whether it’s a personal or a professional relationship. Also, I am not a psychologist, so please read these from the perspective of someone who has watched, coached and led human teams for 20 years, not someone who wants a job as a college professor.
I do a lot of work on company culture for my clients. It is an amazing thing that most companies today have devolved to a place where the culture isn’t very healthy. According to Gallup in 2016, 70% of American workers are either Disengaged or Actively Disengaged from their jobs (for discussion purposes, disengaged means that they basically couldn’t care less). Actively disengaged means they are either consciously or sub-consciously working against you.
For the places that actually take the time to do employee surveys, it shows up in several key (and mostly universal) areas. The survey will show things like: