By Kevin Meyer
As in past year's we're honored to be part of Curious Cat's annual management improvement blog review and will be taking a look back at four of our favorite blogs.
TimeBack by Dan Markovitz – Dan has become one of my favorite bloggers by showing how lean can be applied to personal productivity – something that those of us who passionately take on way too many projects need a big dose of!
- In The Value of Monotonous Rituals Dan discusses how a common practice, even a boring one, can drive productivity. Manually writing a to-do list forces analysis and decisions on those activities.
- On a similar note, Shrink the Change shows how accomplishing a very large and potentially boring activity should not necessarily be the goal if it is perceived as impossible – just getting better is more important.
- But be careful… after improving and improving you want to build some level of slack capacity into your process as 100% utilization can stress the system to its breaking point – especially human elements.
- You then need to manage, and of course improve, that workflow by rigorously looking at project and task inputs to ensure they don't overwhelm desired capacity – in effect a personal kanban.
Shmula by Pete Abila – The length of Pete's posts initially opposed my ADD-ish mind, but then I learned that the depth of his analysis coupled with a perspective unique from mine helped me learn more about lean.
- Let's start off with Pete's fantastic four-part series on lean at Starbucks [part 2 – part 3 – part 4], even if that's cheating a bit for a "best of" blog review. His in-depth thoughts of queuing theory, change management, and turnaround implementation are well worth the read.
- In Portfolio of Initiatives we are shown an interesting tool for evaluating strategic projects from a lean six sigma perspective, with a desire for action over traditional planning.
- Pete compares the Cigarette Sin Tax and Lean Six Sigma Deployments while discussing motivation theory. Understanding "how" to change a behavior or performance is essential.
- One of my pet peeves is companies that implement programs – solutions – without a real understanding of the problem or even if a problem really exists. Pete smacks this idea upside the head and goes a step further by taking a look at finding solutions to problems that may be hidden.
Gemba Panta Rei by Jon Miller – I've long respected Jon for his deep knowledge of TPS and lean theory, which is reflected in his posts. Always something to learn.
- I've always been a strong proponent of the power of people, especially in lean organizations, so How to Drive Fear and Inaction Out of Organizations really hit home. Problems are generally due to poor processes and hence provide an opportunity to learn and improve – not bash people into submission.
- This power of people, respect for people, should become part of a leader's gemba walk. Assess safety, information sharing, mutual respect, learning and development, and taking responsibility.
- One way to respect people is to not make them suffer through ineffective meetings. Evaluate meetings from a seven wastes perspective – overproduction, transportation, waiting, inventory, defects, overprocessing, unnecessary motion.
- In Never Start with 5S Jon describes how it is important to understand the problem before blindly applying tools – something I've also learned the hard way. As a bonus addendum, read one of his first posts in 2011 where he discusses the other side of the coin: how some tools are important to implement simply because they change the mindset and get you on a path to lean.
Lean Six Sigma Academy by Ron Pereira – Ron is, well, Ron. One of the most enthusiastic and passionate lean guys I know – which is why I'm having a great time working with him, and learning from him, at our Gemba Academy project.
- Some good advice for the new year in 6 Ways to Ensure Fear Doesn't Win – including one that has really upped my productivity over the past couple years: setting daily goals.
- Gurus really bother me, and they also bother Ron. For good reason – they're often pretentious and self-important. In the lean world we're taught to be humble and ask questions.
- Ron kicks off a series on hoshin kanri by digging into the roots of the concept – and comes up with tube logic of all things.
- As I mentioned, Ron is enthusiastic – to the point that he took on the job of soccer coach for his daughter without having played soccer. It was a learning exercise for him – and later us!