A Lean View on CLEAN

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Empty wood table top with blur sunlight in window building
In conversations with Wally Klatch about the concepts of CLEAN (reference earlier e-news article?) I found the ideas challenging and reflected a bit on some of my experiences working with organizations that needed to considerably or completely re-think process designs. In most Lean Kaizen and Value Stream Mapping efforts, we make a primary focus, the elimination of wastes and finding ways to create better flow in the subject’s processes.  Often, we will complete Spaghetti Diagrams to accompany the team’s initial “waste walk” and value stream mapping activities.  After we have established a clear idea of the current state – or what I call the “ugly truth” – about how the process is performing today, we embark on rounds of brainstorming to identify what can be done to improve the process. A blue-sky, frictionless value stream vision One of the exercises that I will challenge teams with is this: “Let’s start…
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Executives. You Make Insane Mistakes.
Internet go-to for all things related to perspective improvement, and prolific writer of sage business-attitude advice, Frank Sonnenberg has called us all out with his list of the “50 Insane Mistakes Companies Make.” And he’s absolutely right, except that companies don’t make them, their decision-makers do. In this Executive Excellence Series — by executives for executives — we’ll reveal how not to perpetuate ROI-killing bad practices. Punishingly bad business practices ooze out from those of us at the top of the leadership strata and trickle through management, glomming onto our best intentions and practices, smothering them in dysfunction and waste.  Quickly, they become part of the “(I know it’s wrong) but that’s just the way we do things” management mantra that results in teams working for a paycheck and Friday, so uninspired that hunkering down with their personal Facebook and Twitter accounts at work seems justifiable and more productive than,…
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Is “Consultant” a Dirty Word?
Rolodex In the mid 80s, I managed a Rolodex of about 500 clerical temps who labored at $5 to $7 an hour for Boston’s mega corporations. Each weekday morning, in a flurry of highly orchestrated phone and front office activity, I placed anywhere from 50 to 200 of these people in short- to long-term jobs. Each placement’s mission was to work hard, smart and effectively. To get it done! Mobile, Global, Digital Now, I help businesses, mega to mini, government agencies, and not-for-profits connect with one or more of the top Operational Excellence (OpEx), Business Process Re-engineering/Improvement (BPRI), Change Management and Lean practitioners in the world. Most of them have the word “consultant” in their title. When they are placed on contract, their mission is to work hard, smart and effectively. To get it done! Trailblazing and Building My 500 clerical balls of fire could most definitely tell their on-site supervisors…
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Does Resistance to Change Improve Outcomes?
In the early 90s, I had the great good fortune to be the Communications Director for the United States Sailing Association, governing body and logistics manager for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. I was simultaneously, and not surreptitiously, starting my own consulting firm and trained my replacement before transitioning from a salaried position to a consulting one. I supported the new Communications Director in a variety of capacities for a few years. Olympic-sized Goings On While I continued to support the various departments — all designed to foster sail training and competition, and help sailors of all ages find pathways to becoming Olympians if that was their dream — through communications outreach and co-editorship of the magazine American Sailor, I also had my new friend and colleague’s back. This Communications Director was a lightning rod for special projects which she took on unflinchingly and performed gainfully. We worked together to…
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The trouble with talent! Is that consultant you contracted with really a contractor?
If you hire contracted talent, you can learn from my mistake… About eight years ago, I learned the hard way how inconsistent the government classification of employee vs. contractor really is. For over 15 years prior to a very unpleasant incident with the state unemployment insurance division, I had helmed my marketing agency from offices in three different states with a crew of various employees and contractors. My administrative and customer service-facing colleagues were employees, and most of my graphic artist, web development, photography and video support people were independent contractors I brought on board virtually when I needed their support on a client project. The incident culminated from a series of decisions based erroneously on my experiences in the first two states in which I practiced. I opened the office in the third state specifically because it was booming, and there were very limited providers of business development services…
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How to Find the Time to Become an Adaptive and Agile Organization
Change is a resource hog. It involves time, money, people, strategy, risk, leadership, training, courage, commitment and governance. Picture each of these as a big boulder, in a big pile, burying and crushing the life out of your mission to become an adaptive and agile organization. To transform your organization, you have to remove each of these boulders, one at a time, and soon the pile will be gone, the crushing weight lifted, and change can begin. Let’s start by removing the boulder that is labeled “I don’t have enough time to do this!” Start with a Simple Time Management Strategy Use a prioritizing matrix to determine elements that are essential for transforming your organization to an adaptive one; do this by: Determining five to ten qualities that are critical to the success of an action, i.e. Impact Value Do-ability Return on investment (ROI) Create a list of elements to…
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The Argument for On-site AND Remote Contract Teams
While I haven’t been able to determine precisely how many staffing and talent outsourcing companies there are in the world–I’d estimate at least 100,000 worldwide based on numbers I found–the American Staffing Association’s 2015 fact sheets indicate that 16 million contract and temporary employees are placed in jobs annually in the U.S. alone. Using my estimation metrics, that is 1.1 billion globally. And we’re only calculating traditional, on-site, staffing. On the freelance side of the global workforce–again using the same estimation formula based on 53 million U.S. freelancers–it looks to be about 3.7 billion. It appears that there are three times the number of people freelancing, both on-site and remotely, as there are being placed on-site in temporary positions. I suspect the 1.1 billion is, in fact, part of the 3.7 billion. According to the 2015 report “Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce” (research by Edelman…
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So, What's the Next Industrial Revolution Really?
In researching the subject of Smart Operations–which is essentially the data-reliant OpEx that’s overlaying the Lean Six Sigma-dependent OpEx and facing outward as much as inward–I Googled “next industrial revolution.” The first two pages of the search returned mixed results (to say the least): The Atlantic says it’s Eco-efficiency Business Insider goes with the Internet of Things Forbes says Robots! TechCrunch.com contends it’s the Industrial Internet Explainingthefuture.com touts 3D printing Natcap.org professes it to be Natural Capitalism Others are chatting up nanomaterials, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, delivery drones, and even innovation as its own industry. I have my own opinion: it’s data-driven technology. See, we’ll be focusing on eco-efficiency, building bots, self-driving cars and drones, improving the functionality of all things internet, practicing natural capitalism, and maybe doing a lot of it with 3-D printing… But for every company in any of these and a billion other businesses, the industrial…
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Your Skills Are Who You Are
Neil Beyersdorf, a highly respected Quality/Risk/Change Management Consultant, Continuous Improvement Coach, and Operational Excellence Leader, shared this posted infographic on LinkedIn and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what it means. It’s wildly exciting to me because the World Economic Forum classifies these human qualities, how we operate neurologically, as “job skills.“ Skills. I’m old enough to remember when job skills were documented in resumes by listing every task and tool performed and used on the job – from word processing applications (then called software) to people management capabilities. Later, it became permissible to list these performed tasks and utilized tools in groupings disassociated with any specific job. Regardless of presentation, skills were acquired in school and from on-the-job experience. Now, skills are our core human qualities, our fundamental individual cognitive and personality traits. Who we are. We augment their usefulness to others in professional environments with education,…
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Change Management Experts: Our Children!
Okay, so a few weeks ago I got all excited about the World Economic Forum’s report on the top 10 skills in 2020 vs. those in 2015. I wrote a cerebral and lofty blog about the future of our value to business being who we are, not what we know. That blog crashed and burned. I decided to lighten up and write a just-for-fun piece about the differences in communication styles between Boomers and Millennials and beyond. It was designed to be a game in which commenters created a sentence that would communicate equally to all generations. No one did. Undaunted, I am now looking at this screenshot and am absolutely wowed about resistance to change being futile. Especially when the catalysts for change are our kids! Who Ya Gonna Call? I used to call people I wanted to do business with intending to set up a meeting. I believed…
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