Monday, January 14, 2019

The Guide To Successful 5S Implementation

When I was first introduced to the 5S system, I thought "this is pretty lame". What a convoluted process for workplace cleaning!

The more companies I visit, the more I see this thought reinforced. Managers tell me they have done 5S ... many times. They say they have effective visual management systems in place and TPM is running well. Yet, when I walk through the plant, I see little evidence of managing visually. When I ask about signals, check sheets and standard work instructions I get the "deer in the headlight" stare.

In many lean implementations, the leaders try to implement more complex visual systems, like kanban, flow lanes, or production boards, when the discipline of 5S is not in place. After all, that's the fun part of lean!

But you have to learn to walk before you can run.

After several of these struggles as a manager and a few years as a consultant, I came to realize the true power of the 5S system.

5S is not about housekeeping. It is not just keeping the workplace organized.

Click here to discover the true power of 5S, and more importantly, how to IMPLEMENT this system in your organiation.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

It's Not What You Know
When you are a kid, just starting out, you think "what you know" will make you successful. It can be bigger than that ... read more


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Success, Productivity and Customer Service Hacks

The secret to success is surprisingly simple.

Granted, it requires discipline - you have to develop a discipline to feed and care for the system. Every time.

Yup, you have to do the work.

It's that discipline in actually doing the work that separates you from your competition. That's what grows your business. Customer perceived value.

Take my favorite stationary store. Here is an awesome example. I stop by with my mental list of stuff to pick up. Yet, invariably I forget the details. Exactly what printer cartridge, receipt printer roll or toner pack do I use?

Enter the card file. These brilliant folks keep a simple card file with every customer profile, account number and the supplies they commonly use. A low tech solution to exceptional customer service. That's why I keep going back. They demonstrate how they value my business and respect my time. They deliver perceived value beyond the product.

True, this information could be extracted from the POS system and built into a computer database. It may even become efficient. But that, friends, is part of the bigger problem. People are complicators.

Instead of spending thousands on software design and endless waiting for technicians to create an elegant solution, these folks simply adapted their rolodex to deliver results right away.

Just do it.

When I entered the restaurant business, the owners didn't even have a customer list. Can you imagine?

We all need systems. They can make our life easier. They don't have to be complex. They don't have to be on your phone.

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Success Hack: How to focus on what's important

I could never make a todo list work. It seemed all I was doing was making lists and remaking lists as priorities changed.

And I learned a long time ago that software won't solve any problem for you. If you don't have a system, a way that works for YOU, automating it with an app is simply adding a layer of waste. Design your system so it works old school first. Only then should you automate it to make it better. Never expect something to work just because it's on the computer.

When I started consulting, I ran across the Eisenhower principle. Have you heard of it? It worked for me in the same way 10/4 voting works for teams and time blocking works for getting things done. I thought I'd share it here, as I was sharing it with the members of my fast track success group. Sometimes the best solutions are the old school, tried and true methods.

In 1954, former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech, where he outlined this "Eisenhower Principle" to organize his workload and priorities. He said: "I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent."

He recognized that time management is more about being effective than being efficient.

Important activities have an outcome that leads to us achieving our own personal or professional goals. Urgent activities are those that demand attention and action, but are usually someone else's goals. By rationalizing which activities are important and which ones are urgent, we can overcome the tendency to focus on unimportant urgent activities (who is yelling the loudest). Then we can block out enough time to do what's important to achieve our own goals. We can move from constant "firefighting" to a position where we can grow our businesses, our careers and manifest our own success.

Start by listing each of your tasks on a separate sticky note. This simple act can be very liberating. Clearing your mind of details by writing them down and putting them into a system can be quite a stress releaser. Once your mind accepts that you won't forget the details, it relaxes, slows down and lowers your blood pressure. You likely know this already and that's a good reason to create a todo list in the first place.

 The next step is to take each one of those stickies and place them on a grid. Less urgent goes on the left, more urgent goes on the right. More important goes on the top, less important goes on the bottom.

Now it's time to get to work. First things first; Do what is both urgent and important. The fewer things you have to do, the easier it is to get them done. Forget multi-tasking. Do one thing at a time. Single tasking is extremely powerful and so is being able to filter out tasks and work on what will have the greatest impact in this moment of time.

According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your results come from 20% of the things you do. If you apply that 80/20 rule to itself, you'll discover that 64% of your results come from just 4% of your actions. This is the vital few. When you focus your actions on the right things, and you do them well, the results manifest themselves.

The stuff that is NOT urgent but IS important should be scheduled. Block out some time in the next few days schedule to do these tasks. These items are important to achieving your personal or professional goals so they need to be done. Make the time for them.

The stuff that IS urgent but IS NOT important to achieving your goals should be delegated. Who can do these tasks for you? Set up a followup system appropriate for the person you assign the task to. At first, set a reminder to check in on their progress. As the person demonstrates that they will reliably perform the tasks you delegate, you can back off on your own followup activities. Have them take the initiative to report back to you when the task is done (and set a reminder to call them if it is not done by the due date). The key to effective delegation is to clearly demonstrate that YOU will never drop the ball and it is incumbent on THEM to initiate followup communication BEFORE you do. If they can't (or won't) make that commitment, it's time to find more reliable support staff.

Things that are not urgent and are not important quite simply will not be done. These are just distractions. It's ok to say NO. Don't accept responsibility for completing tasks that fall in this category. When people see that you are clear about your objectives and boundaries  , they will often avoid asking you to do "not important", "non urgent" activities in the future.

Did you find this helpful? I use a web based task manager called On The List that has this functionality built in. Visit to give it a try.

I provide a newsletter for those interested in fast tracking their own success. Feel free to subscribe if you are interested in these insider tips.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Oppsss the wheels fell off your lean initiative?

Lean is a powerful tool for improvement. But beyond just tools, lean can introduce a way of thinking that will revolutionize results. The step change in throughput and profitability can be nothing short of jaw dropping.

Most people have heard of Lean Manufacturing. It was made famous by the success of Toyota.

In recent years, Lean thinking has extended into the office, health care, construction, engineering design and even government administration.

Most companies that try lean start by taking some basic training. Or hiring some outside consulting expertise. They learn some tools and key concepts that they can apply in their workplaces. They see a few wins as the participants find the "low hanging fruit". It’s almost too easy at first. I mean after all, this stuff is just common sense!

Then they hit a dry spell. It could be six months in, or years later. The wheels fall off. People fall back into old habits. They’re late to meetings, they don’t actively participate in problem solving, and they roll their eyes every time you say “gemba”. Action boards are no longer up to date, missed goals do not spur action. The excitement is gone. And so is your team's ability to meet commitments.

Now what do you do? Click here to keep reading …

Thursday, August 17, 2017

This Changes Everything

I was channel surfing again the other day - good thing my wife was not home - she'd have grabbed that remote right out of my hand.

I stumbled across this history story about, of all things, the automotive industry. It talked about how it all got started and, more interestingly, how this industry has changed the shape of the world.

Then I got to thinking about other products that have revolutionized and redefined our world and more importantly, our lifestyle. I starting thinking about how now, YOU can change our world …

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Looking at it backwards

Tuesday insights ...

I spent the long weekend reading a new book. May long weekend lived up to its reputation - rain, rain, rain. So while everyone declared "movie day" and headed to the big screen in the basement, I got comfortable on the couch with the kindle reader on the ipad.

An interesting quote from Aristotle in this book stood out in my mind -

the mark of an educated mind is being able to entertain a thought without adopting it.

That thought adequately described this book. Lots of ideas to challenge the mind - perhaps a few to adopt.

For years I've been advising folks that the best place to get started is by just doing something - like the Nike moto, Just do it. The deeper meaning here is that you will discover a way to solve your problem by simply jumping in and working on it. Many get stuck in analysis paralysis and they never get to actually working on the problem.

Well, it turns out there is a "Do Something Principle". This principle says that action drives inspiration and inspiration drives motivation.

That sounds backwards. Most of us commit to action only if we feel a certain level of motivation. And we feel motivated only when we feel emotionally inspired. If you want to accomplish something, but you don't feel motivated or inspired, you're screwed.

Turns out that's just wrong. If you want to learn to play the piano, but are not inspired to take lessons or lack the motivation to practice, just play. The more you play, the more you become inspired to learn. And that inspiration motivates you to practice and take lessons.

If you're trying to write a book, but you have writers block, just start writing stuff. The simple act of writing will inspire great thoughts and motivate you to get to work on the book.

It seems counter intuitive - even backwards, but it works. And that is the premise in this book - that the reason we don't get to where we want to be is that we are working at the wrong stuff and looking at things the wrong way.

So just do it. Get started on what it is that you want to do. By getting started, you'll be inspired to create a way to make what you want a reality. It all starts with taking action.

Want more information about this? Send me an email and I'll tell you where to get this book I'm reading.

NBI - Making sense of business improvement - Blogged