The Investment of Time

I’ve just come away from the first day of a two day conference. The theme of the conference is manufacturing efficiency and business excellence. Topics I am very familiar with so why would I invest time and money to attend? Aside from being one of the speakers.

For the learnings, yes it’s true, a lot of what was spoken about today I already “know”. But it’s the learnings of application and the experiences of others that really adds value. Every business has slightly different challenges and constraints to applying the tools and concepts. It is learning how they overcame those challenges that we can all learn from; and this is something we can never know enough about.

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars attending conferences to learn this though; every region that I have ever lived has had collaborative groups of both similar and diverse business types that meet to share experiences. Even if they are in your market, collaboration to some extent may be possible. I heard a quote today from a presenter on Disruption – “If you’re scared of your competitors, you’re doing something wrong.” This is a challenging belief as we are all generally brought up with the competitive approach to business of winners and losers.

So what next? Go out and find someone to learn from. If you can’t find someone, offer to share your experiences. By doing this you are likely to get reciprocation from those who visit you.

No Support? See Here

We’ve all been in the situation; your lean business journey is more of a challenge than you planned or expected. There can be many reasons why the challenge is this way; and the reasons don’t really matter for the purposes of this post. What matters is that we find a way to keep you going. Yes, it can be hard, it can be frustrating, some may even call it infuriating at times! So, the question is, is the result worth all of this frustration? Yes! But you may need some support.

One of the very best aspects of being involved in a lean community that I have found is the camaraderie and willingness to help others on their lean journey. Where ever you are both in location and in your lean journey there are others not too far away who can provide you with assistance on your journey. I’m involved with a couple of groups that get together regularly to help and learn from each other.

Site and plant tours are another way to learn from others and even get some support. The collaboration between lean businesses and their employees is something that I have found very rewarding and exciting to be a part of. And the best part is that this is all for free. Most businesses on their lean journey  encourage this collaboration as they know the involvement will only help them in the long term; whenever you share your learnings,  you are also learning. No matter what stage you are at on your journey there are others who can learn from what you are doing and there are things that you can learn from others.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start sharing.

When the Fear Keeps You Frozen

We’ve all been there; we know we should be doing that important task but we just can’t bring ourselves to do it. I’ve long been a practising procrastinator and have had to force myself out of the habit, yet some days it creeps back in.

What makes procrastination even better is when we finally get around to starting whatever the task is, it turns out to be nowhere near as difficult or horrible as we thought it would be. The fear or reason’s for not starting were all a figment of our over active imagination! Who would have thought…

Here’s my almost foolproof method of getting over the fear of doing something and get off the procrastination treadmill:

1) Make a list of all of the IMPORTANT things you’ve been putting off

  • I stress important because if it isn’t important then making it wait doesn’t really matter. What we procrastinator’s often to is work on the less important tasks at the expense of the important ones.

2) Plan time in your diary to start working through the list. Be specific, setup time to work on specific tasks. Don’t block out time for “Catch-up”, or “To do list”.

3) If you have a task that really has you frozen with fear you need to get it into perspective.

  • Write down how finishing the task will benefit you, your business or others
  • Write down the reasons why you don’t want to do it
    • Do you need help?
    • Do you need other skills?
  • Break the task down into small daily actions that you can do. Every problem or task can be broken down; and once you have, it surprising how easy the smaller actions seem.
  • Start

Once you have started, the rest is pretty easy. So get to it!

Remember the Basics

As we mature in our lean journeys it is easy to forget the basics and become focussed on the technical and complex problem solving.

Today I have been reminded to look back at the basics, keep things as simple as possible and focus on getting the basics right. 

By the basics, I mean the fundamental tools. While it can be good that as our journey grows we implement more sophisticated tools, without sustaining our practices of the basic foundational tools we may find sustaining the more complex tools a challenge.

The basic tools of 5S, TPM and Standardised Work are not set and forget, they are an integral part of your processes and must be continually reviewed, measured and practiced to maintain their benefits. Some businesses talk about “doing 5S” or say “we’ve done standardised work”; this shows they don’t understand what lean is; lean is not something you have done, lean is the way we think.