Archive for category Lean Principles
You may have heard about THE University of Dayton’s bracket busting tour through the NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball tournament and perhaps have seen the pictures of their President, Dr. Dan Curran crowd-surfing with the celebrating students in the streets surrounding the university. Perhaps a little background is necessary in order to understand the link of March Madness and Operational Excellence at UD.
My wife and I are in the small percentage of people who picked the University of Dayton to proceed to the sweet sixteen in the NCAA basketball tournament. Dayton, once considered a “bubble” team, (one that may not make the final cut of 64 teams) was seeded 11th in the South region and faces one of the toughest paths to the finals.
Their first game was against interstate foe, The Ohio State University Buckeyes. I can’t call this a rivalry game because of Ohio State’s policy of not scheduling games against in-state schools. The state of Ohio has had it’s share of talented basketball schools – Cincinnati, Xavier, Kent State and Dayton who have all participated in recent NCAA tournaments and have had some success. Even my alma mater, Cleveland State University made a trip to the sweet sixteen back in 1986, while I was earning my MBA, there. For some reason, Ohio State will not schedule a regular season game with another in-state school.
Ohio State has represented the cream of the crop when it comes to NCAA Division 1 basketball in Ohio. We’ve always rooted for the Buckeyes, because of their success and our loyalty to the state of Ohio.
So when the brackets were announced last week, my son, Noah, a freshman at UD was a little torn. After all, we had taught him that you should be loyal to Ohio State and he had grown up always rooting for them. Ohio State started as his first choice of schools to attend for his Engineering undergraduate degree – until we visited both Ohio State and Dayton. Dayton was always a close second due to his older sister having graduated from UD in 2009. After visiting both schools last year, Dayton won his heart and his mind. So when he texted us with the question, “Who am I supposed to root for in the first round?” He may have been thinking more about the Billion Dollar challenge than he was about school loyalty. He later texted, “I want Dayton to win, but I’ve always rooted for OSU. It’s so conflicting, haha”. We helped him make a quick adjustment in his thinking and he, my wife and I filled out our brackets with Dayton beating Ohio State and they did!
Next up, Syracuse, a team that at one time during this season was ranked number 1, having won their first 25 games of the season. Logically, Syracuse should end Dayton’s run in the tournament. It would be silly to pick Dayton, as the experts only gave them a 3.5% chance of making it to the Sweet Sixteen round. We picked them anyway and Dayton won.
Their victory set off a celebration in the streets around the campus, which brings me to my link between the NCAA tournament known as March Madness and Operational Excellence on display at UD.
The President of the University goes to gemba. Not only in the classroom, but he takes to the streets.
That’s right, University of Dayton president, Dr. Daniel Curran, instead of sitting at home and watching news coverage of the celebration, decided it would be best for him to be a part of it. He was not afraid to interact with the celebrating students. It looks like his presence was appreciated by the students, as they could be heard cheering, “Dr. Dan, Dr. Dan, Dr. Dan!”
This represents what many organizations are lacking when it comes to implementing a lean culture. Their leaders don’t want to go the gemba, where the work is done. They would rather look at reports on their computer screens and rely on their managers to go see what is going on. This is what keeps front-line caregivers and associates distanced from their leaders.
We’ve been to Dayton and have met and shook hands with Dr. Curran. He was at the freshman orientation pep rally and opening Mass this fall when my son started his college journey. My wife and I watched from the stands as Dr. Curran interacted with the students. When he spoke later about genuinely being interested in the success of the students, we believed him because we had seen the way he interacted with them.
Dayton practices lean management across the University. Mark Graban posted about their lean initiatives in their back office operations. http://www.leanblog.org/2014/01/a-lean-machine-university-of-dayton-uses-lean-to-improve-operations/
Mark also hosted a podcast with Paul Piechota, Director for the Center for Competitive Change at the University of Dayton School of Engineering. You can listen to the podcast at www.leanblog.org/194
In the podcast, Paul talks about the support from Dr. Curran and how they have adapted lean as a business strategy. Dr. Curran’s leadership is a constant message throughout the podcast.
UD’s quest to achieve operational excellence is not a tool-based approach, rather, it is grounded in guiding principles, starting with their roots as a Marianist university.
We had an opportunity to experience another principal of operational excellence (Respect for Every Individual) at UD recently when our son, Noah, called my wife in the morning a few weeks ago complaining of severe abdominal pain. His roommate had left for the day and there was no one around in his dorm for him to contact. He was lying on his dorm room floor writhing in pain. My wife called 911, who contacted University student services. An ambulance transported Noah to the local hospital where it was discovered that Noah was passing a small kidney stone. He was given some pain-killing medication and was given a ride back to his dorm where we met him after driving the 3.5 hours to ensure everything was ok. He is ok now, but it was a scary morning for him and for us.
While we were driving to Dayton, we received a call from Student Services checking to see that everything was ok and offering us housing for the evening if we wanted it. It is a service that they offer to all parents whose kids require medical attention. We assured them that Noah was ok and that we would not be staying the night, however, we were extremely pleased and thankful for the personal interest in both Noah’s and our well-being.
We were excited to see Dayton students and Dr. Curran celebrating their success by dancing in the streets last night. They will be facing Stanford, another bracket busting team, in Memphis on Thursday. We’re hoping they can continue their dancing in the next two weeks!
We are looking forward to the next few years as we continue to learn and benefit from and celebrate with UD’s President, Faculty, Staff and students.
Goooooo, Dayton Flyers!
In addition to sharing some of the continuous improvement activities that have been taking place at the Clinic, we’ve gathered an all-star line-up of Keynote speakers and other healthcare organizations who are leading the way in transforming healthcare through continuous improvement activities.
John Shook, Chairman and CEO of Lean Enterprise Institute.
Lean practitioners will recognize John’s name. Shook learned about lean management while working for Toyota for nearly 11 years in Japan and the U.S., helping it transfer production, engineering, and management systems from Japan to NUMMI and subsequently to other operations around the world.
As co-author of Learning to See John helped introduce the world to value-stream mapping. John also co-authored Kaizen Express, a bi-lingual manual of the essential concepts and tools of the Toyota Production System. In his latest book Managing to Learn, he describes the A3 management process at the heart of lean management and leadership.
On a personal note, I had the great pleasure of having John as the instructor for my Value Stream Mapping training course over 10 years ago, while working at Ford. What a treat it was to learn from the “guy who wrote the book”. His personal insights on his experience while working for Toyota are an inspiration to anyone in the Continuous Improvement community.
Dr. Patricia Gabow, recently retired CEO of Denver Health. Professor of Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine
Dr. Gabow will share her perspective on the role of Leadership in a lean transformation. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Gabow nearly two years ago when Denver Health earned the Shingo Prize Bronze Medallion for Operational Excellence for their Community Health Services division. Spending time with Dr. Gabow and her leadership team left a lasting impression. Under Dr. Gabow’s leadership and despite strong financial pressures on Denver Health, an inner-city safety net hospital, the Denver Health team improved access, improved quality, raised employee engagement, while lowering costs and remaining financially viable. Her positive attitude is contagious and she will share some of her lessons learned.
Alice Lee, Vice President, Business Transformation at Beth Isreal Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.
Alice will share her journey in transforming Beth Isreal Deaconess. Not satisfied with the great progress made to date, Alice has worked tirelessly to keep moving forward. I first saw Alice speak at the Shingo Prize Annual Conference in 2009 about the initial successes her team had accomplished in reducing wait times and improving patient flow. I met her several years later through our involvement with the Healthcare Value Network’s assessment team. She is an engaging speaker who has a driving desire to continuously improve.
Darryl Greene, Executive Director, Continuous Improvement, Cleveland Clinic
Dr. Lisa Yerian, Medical Director, Continuous Improvement, Cleveland Clinic
To close out the morning’s keynote addresses, Darryl Greene and Dr. Lisa Yerian will present Cleveland Clinic’s continuous improvement journey to date and our future destination. After six years of successfully introducing and sheparding continuous improvement, Darryl and Dr. Yerian have positioned Cleveland Clinic to move beyond what we call the establishment of our base camp, to accelerating our journey to excellence. Darryl’s thoughtful, deliberate approach to improvement has been infused with Dr. Yerian’s enthusiastic and never-ending desire to learn to create a dynamic leadership duo that will continue to cement Cleveland Clinic’s role as an international leader in healthcare.
And that’s just the first 4 hours!
After lunch, the gathering will be treated to a Leadership Panel discussion with John Shook, Dr. Gabow, Alice Lee and Dr. Yerian about IHI’s Triple Aim Initiative. The panel discussion will be hosted by Greg Surtman, Director, Business Development, Corporate College.
The afternoon will feature 15 breakout sessions to provide participants an opportunity to hear and learn directly from practitioners.
In addition to 10 presentations from Cleveland Clinic personnel, the program will include presentations from:
Shingo Bronze Medallion recipient – Denver Health; Baldrige Award recipient – Henry Ford Health System; Healthcare Value Network member organizations, Christie Clinic (Champaign, IL) , Parkview Health (Fort Wayne, IN), and Akron Children’s Hospital.
Day 2 of the event will provide an opportunity for participants to choose 3 of 6 Gemba visits to sites on the Cleveland Clinic main campus. Participants will have the opportunity to see U.S. News and World Report‘s leading Heart Center for the past 18 consecutive years; our Pathology and Laboratory Medicine’s new building that used lean principles in its design; our state-of-the-art Supply Distribution Center; our Emergency department that has effectively implemented a split-flow process to improve patient flow; our nursing floors where we have implemented a process to improve patient responsiveness and finally; have the opportunity to participate in a condensed version of the Cleveland Clinic Experience – a 3.5 hour enterprise alignment activity that over 42,000 Cleveland Clinic caregivers around the world have participated in.
It should be a great day and a half. We’re looking forward to seeing you!
Working at Ford in the early 1990’s, I had the privilege of learning about lean manufacturing from some of the best lean thinkers at the time. Looking to develop and implement a production system, Gifford Brown, our plant manager, sought the assistance of key ex-Toyota Georgetown powertrain leaders.
Russ Scaffide, John Allen, Dwight Clark and Bill Costantino joined the Cleveland Engine Plant 2 (CEP2) team as consultants and helped author and implement what was then called the Cleveland Production System.
The Cleveland Production System (CPS) became the forerunner to the modern Ford Production System (FPS), and its implementation at CEP 2 led to the plant being recognized with the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing in 1996.
My role (as a cost analyst at the time) in the development of the CPS, in addition to taking the handwritten model and creating the slide above, was to proof-read the documents that were created. I was new to manufacturing, however, my prior background at what was then Ernst & Whinney‘s National Marketing headquarters in Cleveland, included conducting secondary market research on potential client companies, their industries, officers, directors and our competitors. We used this data to support the writing of major audit and management consulting proposals, which we were also responsible for proof-reading – a valuable skill that I’ve used to learn as much as I can throughout my career.
Proof-reading the early documentation of the CPS gave me the opportunity to learn about this new way of thinking in manufacturing and because I had less to un-learn, I was able to pick up on the concepts quickly and contribute to the discussion.
The model – and its implementation – with Ford and UAW leaders responsible for jointly championing and teaching the individual elements, served as a visual reminder of our responsibilities. Our role was to take all of these lean tools, systems and principles and create value for the customer through continuous process improvement and the identification and elimination of waste.
Attending the initial training, then eventually becoming a trainer for the system, there was one thing that always bothered me about the model. The model placed itself at the center, rather than the customer. Our model seemed to put all of its weight on top of the customer and never seemed quite right.
I sought to reconfigure the model as a “Focus within a Framework”. I placed the customer at the center of the model, and then built the framework with the “pillars” of the system – People, Added Value, Just-in-Time, and Performance Measurements. Once the focus was placed within the framework, I then used the elements of the production system to create the web. As our plant was a supplier to Ford assembly plants around the world, I used the (new at the time) catch phrase “Worldwide Web” to attract the attention of attendees at a joint Ford / UAW quality conference in Dearborn in 1996.
My use of a spider’s web as an analogy for a production system came from several places. First, my favorite bedtime story to read to my kids was E.B. White‘s Charlotte’s Web. In the story, Charlotte, a spider, weaves words into her web to describe Wilbur, a runt pig who is in constant fear of being slaughtered as he fattens up. Charlotte seeks to save Wilbur by pointing out his better qualities in such “web posts” as “Some Pig“, “Terrific”, “Radiant” and finally “Humble”. I started to view a production system much like a spider’s web. (I’ll discuss the irony of the word “Humble” being the word that finally saved Wilbur in an up-coming post.)
The other influence on my spider thinking came from a student who I was supervising in my first job out of college at a major retail store. She was working in the evening and when asked about getting stock out of the storeroom and onto the shelves, commented “if it wasn’t for the customers, I would be able to get my work done.” This view of the customer as a nuisance fit nicely with the transformation in thinking required to move from mass (where the customer is sometimes viewed as a nuisance) to lean, (where the customer is nourishment).
In my web analogy, the contrast between the way that humans view flying insects as a nuisance and the way that spider’s view flying insects as nourishment emerged. In fact, a spider’s existence is dependent upon its ability to capture and hold onto insects that move in and out of its “Window of Opportunity”. Much like customers’ disposable income should be viewed as the lifeblood of any organization.
If the spider’s web doesn’t cover the entire opening, potential nourishment can fly through without being captured. If the web breaks, the ability of the spider to quickly react and fix the problem directly impacts the spider’s future viability.
An organization’s leaders are responsible for identifying the organization’s Window of Opportunity, providing a focus on the customer, and creating the systems that enable employees to create value to capture and hold onto customers. Quick reactions to breakdowns and weaknesses in the systems when identified, are necessary to maintain organizational stability and provide continued growth.
Principles – the focus and the framework of any organization – linked through systems and tools enable employees to create and provide increasing value to customers. Thus, our “Window of Opportunity” defines how well our Principles connect to our customers and our ability to create value through the continuous improvement in our systems and tools and the identification and elimination of waste.
Continual assessment of the effectiveness of our systems and adjustments when and where necessary will determine the amount of nourishment we receive.
Unfortunately, the model, which I found attractive and intuitive, never caught on as the CPS morphed into the FPS. However, the learning I obtained from creating it and thinking through all of the various messages it conveys have helped me as a frame of reference when assessing other lean organizations. It was especially helpful the following year when I moved to Cleveland Engine Plant 1 to implement the new Ford Production System in a plant that was in a slightly different emotional state. I’ll share that story in my next post.
Are you capturing your customer’s disposable income that is moving in and out of your Window of Opportunity? Are your systems complete and connected? Do you react quickly to signals your customers are sending, indicating their presence in your window? When your systems are weak or broken, do you respond immediately to minimize the loss of potential customers? Do you view your customers as a nuisance or nourishment?
Did you ever have one of those chance encounters with an individual that makes you sit down and really think about what just happened? It happened to me recently.
Our Neurological Institute has a “go to gemba” process where each of our administrators spend at least a week each quarter, making daily rounds in our in-patient unit to talk with patients and determine if we are meeting their expectations for care. I have found the interaction with our patients some of the most gratifying work that I’ve done while working at the Clinic.
Last week, while connecting with our patients, I had a chance encounter with a very interesting man. He took the time to let me know where we had fallen short in our care of a loved one. He was not upset or angry, he felt the need to share his experience and I seemed open to listening, so we talked.
As we continued our conversation, a familiar language started to emerge and I found myself actively engaged in a discussion of root cause, errors, defects, visual management, standard work, etc. We were talking lean.
“I work with dairy farmers,” he said. “I focus on preventing the diseases that you detect and fix.” We continued for a little while until he had to leave. I told him I would be back in the morning. He handed me his business card and I saw his Guiding Principle – “In Pursuit of Parlor Perfection for healthy, comfortable, well fed, pregnant cows.”
Being a student of lean, I recognized the principle of “Pursuit of Perfection” and wanted to learn more about how this principle has been applied in the dairy business. Over the next two days, we spent a total of nearly three hours discussing the opportunities he saw for us to improve our patient care processes and he shared with me the details of his consulting business where he helps dairy farmers focus on quality at the source and increase milk production through the reduction of disease.
Without a college degree or a lean certification or any formal lean training, he has mastered the application of lean principles, systems and tools as described in the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence.
His simple philosophy – listen to the cows.
He told me about how milking parlors are built for the efficiency of the farmer; however, their design results in decreased milk production from the cows (workers). Automation and technology take the farmer away from the cows and is creating a whole host of quality problems – from diseases, passed on through their milk and beef to humans, to increased costs due to inefficient milk collection techniques that cause cows to produce less milk.
We talked about the backwards way our current health care system places its emphasis on treating diseases, rather than preventing them. He told me about his application of lean principles such as lead with humility, respect for every “cow”, flow, scientific thinking, constancy of purpose, systems thinking, and value for the customer.
My head was spinning. I was drawing parallels with the tools of lean such as visual management, standard work, quick changeover, error-proofing, preventive maintenance, etc. Could the humble cow be the start of the Healthcare value stream?
I’ve made the transition from manufacturing to healthcare and have seen how the principles of lean apply across multiple, diverse industries, including lean dentists and lean government. This was the first time I was really exposed to the potential of lean – at the source – in the supply chain of the food and farming industries – before the production or processing stages – and recognized the connection to the healthcare industry – a strange customer of the current food processing business.
We traded contact information and vowed to continue our discussion. We’ve asked him to serve on our Patient Advisory Council and he’s asked me to help spread his message on disease prevention. It sounds like a good deal so far.
As my father once told me, “The more you know, the more you find out you don’t know”. I learned a lot last week and recognize that I have a lot more to learn.
Stephen R. Covey‘s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People“, first published over 20 years ago continues to influence many people and help us all become more effective. In 2010, Covey formed a partnership with the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence strengthening the awareness of successful principles-based organizations
“I have great respect and interest in what The Shingo Prize has been doing and in the transformational work underway at the Huntsman School of Business,” Covey said. “Companies that have implemented principles taught by The Shingo Prize have made dramatic and measurable progress in achieving operational excellence.”
Of the 7 habits mentioned in the book, perhaps the one that resonates most with me is number 5 – “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” To a lean thinker, this habit forms the basis for following the principles of “Lead with Humility” and “Respect for every Individual”. This is not a sign of weakness or lack of knowledge.
To “Lead with Humility” means we must admit that we don’t know it all. My father told me long ago, “the more you learn, the more you’ll find out you don’t know.”
Did you ever go from feeling like a genius one moment, to feeling like you just don’t get it in the next moment? When talking with a group of like-minded thinkers, the discussion just seems to flow and everyone is nodding their heads in agreement – sometimes jumping in to finish each other’s thoughts.
Leaving this familiar place and go into areas where our subject matter knowledge isn’t as developed can sometimes feel over-whelming. Change always comes with an anxious dilemma. How do I share what I know without coming across as a know-it-all, yet still influence the direction of a group when they are struggling to find their way? Welcome to the world of continuous improvement.
As lean practitioners know, the hardest part of our job is to balance our desire to just do it, versus our desire to teach others how to do it. We are sought out for our expertise, yet it is the lean leaders job to leverage the expertise of the people currently doing the job. To be able to lead people to where they need to be by asking questions, rather than providing answers is one of the most satisfying aspects of the change management process.
Transitioning from manufacturing to healthcare has been a great learning experience for me. There has been a lot of observing, listening, asking questions and where appropriate some talking. I’ve had the opportunity to lead some great teams that have yielded very good results. I’ve also been disappointed when I’ve transitioned off of projects and the team’s old behaviors resurface and the initial gains slowly start to evaporate. This is usually because not enough work took place upfront to understand the culture of the team. The work required to change the culture of a group by leading them out of their comfort zone to one of continuous improvement is always harder than changing a work process itself.
As I continue to seek to understand the field of healthcare and lend my expertise to making things better, there is a constant balancing act. A thought shared by fellow bloggers, Matt Wyre and Tim McMahon . At times it is exhilarating, others times, totally frustrating. In times of frustration, I often turn to this poem that I first came across in one of my MBA text books on organizational development.
He is quick, thinking in clear images;
I am slow, thinking in broken images.
He becomes dull, trusting to his clear images;
I become sharp, mistrusting my broken images.
Trusting his images, he assumes their relevance;
Mistrusting my images, I question their relevance.
Assuming their relevance, he assumes the fact;
Questioning their relevance, I question the fact.
When the fact fails him, he questions his senses;
When the fact fails me, I approve my senses.
He continues quick and dull in his clear images;
I continue slow and clear in my broken images.
He, in a new confusion of his understanding;
I, in a new understanding of my confusion.
Follow me on Twitter: @valuesstreamldr
I think she understood what I meant, but her raised eyebrow leads me to believe I have some ‘splainin ” to do.
The short-lived tagline of this blog used to say, “Where values are not aligned, it is there you will find waste.” My intent was to use a clever take-off from the Value Stream mapping process that allows you to see waste in processes by observing where the flow of products or services and information stop flowing. Many lean practitioners will tell you that Value Stream mapping is a valuable tool in their continuous improvement toolbox. It looks at work from the point of view of the customer and asks if the customer is willing to pay for the activity. If not, then the work is viewed as “Non-value added” and you should strive to reduce or eliminate the activity. A focus on process improvement, through the elimination of waste will result in a higher Value-add / Non-value add ratio of work, shorten the overall lead time from order to delivery, and improve the quality and productivity of a process. This ultimately leads to lower costs and higher value to the customer.
Experienced lean practitioners will also tell you that having the right culture in place makes a huge difference in how quickly and easily process changes can occur. Creating the proper culture is a key responsibility of leaders. As I discussed in a previous post, The Excellence Experience, leaders should first exude, then expect, then recognize and reward desired behaviors in order to build the foundation for an organization seeking to attain Operational Excellence.
So this morning, my wife told me that she didn’t like my tagline. “It focuses on the negative. You should never, ever, ever, link your work to a negative.” she said. After a brief pause, I acknowledged that she was right. She then didn’t tell me what it should be, rather, she gave me the first part of the tagline, “When values align…” and challenged me to fill in the blank with a positive statement. After some thought, and picturing the blog’s logo, I realized that culture has a multiplying effect on an organization’s improvement efforts, thus my new and improved tagline, “When values align…value multiplies!” I like this much better. What do you think?
If process improvement leads to added value, I submit that organizational alignment leads to multiplied value.
Critics can provide the best opportunities for improvement. Moving forward requires friction. Embrace critics and thank them for challenging your viewpoint and creating a learning opportunity for both of you. Just be sure to take some time to ‘splain yourself. Thanks, Lisa!
There’s a reality show on NBC that showcases a variety of performers who compete for viewers’ votes to keep moving forward. Weekly winners advance towards the grand prize of landing a headline show in Las Vegas. I have to admit that mixed in with some really goofy acts, there are some real diamonds in the rough who are really talented and discovered through their appearance on the show. This post isn’t about them.
This past weekend, my wife, Lisa and I did something we haven’t done since we’ve been married; we spent six hours together – just us, no kids, at the fair, enjoying the sights, sounds and food. It was a fun day, and we re-discovered the real talent developing in our future leaders.
We started our day with a trip to the 4-H booth building that I wrote about last week. The theme for this year’s fair was “Pride”. Some clubs exhibited pride in the projects they worked on and included quotes from club members on what they were most proud of. Other clubs interpreted the Pride theme by referring to their clubs as a Pride of lions.
There were so many references to key #lean leadership principles evident throughout the booths. Here are a few of my favorites.
Next, we went over to the livestock show barn where the annual auction of animals takes place. Kids who have spent the last year caring for cattle, pigs, sheep, turkeys, and other varieties of livestock, learn one of the toughest lessons in life and leadership – letting go. The reward for their hard work is a nice payoff for their investment of time and effort. My son’s girlfriend and her family have been raising cattle and turkeys for years and this year, her younger sister’s cows won Champion County Born and Raised and Reserve Grand Champion carcass. Listening to the auctioneer is pure entertainment as he works the crowd to gain that extra nickel per pound for the 4-H’er. This represents college tuition to many of the kids. They work hard for it and earn a nice reward.
Next up, the open class still exhibits where my daughter, Sara, (who only started knitting a little over a year ago), proudly displayed articles of clothing she has knit for her children. Sara’s projects earned her a First place and several other second and third place ribbons. She can now proudly call herself an award-winning knitter. Actually, one of her projects won a ribbon at last year’s fair, so she was already an award winner. You can see some of her work here and make a purchase if you’re interested.
While we were looking at the still exhibits, the Dock Dog competition started. You may have seen these competitions on television, where dogs leap 20 feet through the air off of a dock and into a pool of water chasing after their favorite toy. These dogs are fun to watch.
By this time we had worked up an appetite and there is no better food than fair food. My doctors at the Cleveland Clinic might think otherwise and I know that I will have some explaining to do at my Weight Watchers meeting this week, but the “Porktato” that we shared was a real treat. It starts with a large baked potato, topped with butter, sour cream and finally smothered with smoked pulled pork and barbecue sauce.
A lemonade to wash it down was welcomed on a hot, muggy day in Northeast Ohio.
After getting re-fueled, we visited the memorial site for the victims of the steam engine explosion I wrote about last week. It was touching to see how nicely the community has pitched in to keep the memory of these neighbors and friends alive.
Next up, the animals. Every year, there are two mother pigs with their litters of about 10 baby piglets nursing and playing in their pens. Stayed tuned for a future post on how my favorite bedtime story to read to my kids as they were growing up – Charlotte’s Web, played a big part in my understanding of lean. Sheep, goats, pigs, horses, dairy cattle, rabbits and poultry were all on display for everyone to see up close and personal.
The agriculture building is where we saw one of our favorite displays, the Medina County Beekeepers booth. A plexiglass display case houses a demonstration beehive, enabling fair-goers the opportunity to watch the bees work and challenges them to “find the queen”. Many years ago, I got started in beekeeping while helping my son’s with their 4-H beekeeping project.
A.I. Root developed many of the hive technologies that are currently used by beekeepers. While learning about bees, I discovered the secret to their success in keeping their hives vibrant and productive. They have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each bee in the hive (standard work) and their communication systems are outstanding. While working at Ford, a swarm of bees found their way to the back of our building. I assisted a co-worker who was also a beekeeper in capturing the swarm and then wrote an article for our monthly newsletter about the teamwork displayed by bees. I’ll post that here soon.
Finally, after getting some kettle corn and a milkshake (strawberry) from the 4-H milkshake stand, we settled in to watch and listen to a fiddling competition. Contestants competed in four categories – Youth, Junior, Senior and Open classes. Kids and seniors all played well, but it was the open class where some very good fiddle players showed off their talent. It was a real treat to sit and listen to them under the shelter of a pavilion when the skies opened up with a deluge of rain. The highlight came at the end of the competition when all of the players got together onstage for a jam session.
Yes, there are troubles in the world where competing values struggle to find alignment. This past weekend, however, we experienced a place where values aligned, talent was showcased and we confirmed that America does have talent!
My first understanding of lean can be traced back to a specific six hours early in my career spent helping my plant manager, Gifford Brown, prepare a presentation to a group of suppliers.
I had recently transitioned into the training department and had been teaching many of the lean tools classes that we offered to all employees. My supervisor and I were called to Gifford’s office and he started the conversation by indicating that he needed our help in capturing his thoughts to prepare the presentation, but before he turned us loose, he first wanted to educate us on the finer points of lean. My supervisor and I looked at each other hesitantly (after all, we were already teaching this stuff, what more could we learn?). For the next three hours, Gifford methodically explained lean to us.
He started with the concept of leadership expecting excellence from employees by empowering them with systems and tools that supported their desire to improve their own work. He explained the cultural aspects of lean that are necessary before the tools can be effective. He linked all of the lean tools into a systems perspective describing how they all interacted with and were dependent upon each other. This was pretty standard stuff that we had been teaching already as part of our overview of the Cleveland Production System, the forerunner to the modern Ford Production System.
What was different though was that Gifford went on to explain that there was no prioritization to the implementation of the tools. The starting point for implementation was first trusting, then involving employees, who would start to pull the tools they needed as they sought ways to improve their work processes.
The layout of the refurbished Cleveland Engine Plant 2 had been worked on for months to maximize the flow of materials and minimize waste. Gifford started to explain how the departments were laid out to support principles such as respect for people, flow, just-in-time, and value to the customer. Once the layout was maximized, a visual management system and a total productive maintenance philosophy was incorportated in equipment design to support quick changeovers, level production schedules and minimum in-process inventory. A zero defects mindset was established, where standard work was developed by the front-line workers and workplace organization was established through on-going 5s activities with all employees. Visual management systems highlighted abnormalities, PDCA problem-solving techniques were utilized by teams to address abnormalities and error-proofing devices were developed to address root causes of problems and eliminate or correct the errors that were leading to defects.
We had been teaching the tools all along. Gifford was now presenting the overall system in a fashion that didn’t stress one tool at the expense of another. Instead it was implement the tool that was most needed to continue the implementation of another tool at a higher level. Start and go as far as you can until you realize that you need something else in order to continue to improve. Your expectations and how you address abnormalities along the way will lead you to where you want to go. So when setting expectations, leaders should Expect Excellence!
I took pages of notes and walked out of the discussion with my head spinning – it made so much sense. I put together a presentation that tried to capture all that I had heard and then one week later, spent three more hours with Gifford editing and refining the presentation.
The slide on leadership expectations had a diamond clipart picture with the words “Expect Excellence” on it.
It has served as a continual reminder to me when trying to teach the principles of lean leadership.
Next post – Excellence in Action!