Lean Roadmap Newsletter
Becoming a World Class Enterprise 
19th Edition  
In this edition, we continue our discussion on How to Prevent Lean Implementation Failures - 10 Reasons Why Failures Occur. We will discuss, from the least critical (Reason #10), to most critical/fatal (Reason #1) why Lean implementation failures occur. Today we will discuss Reason #2:
  • Why Lean Failures Occur - Reason #2: Lack of Communication (Part III of III) 
Also, in this edition we continue with our Lean Leader Coach series:
  • The Lean Leader Coach - "Walking the Talk - Part II"

This series is intended to provide tools, tips, ideas, and coaching for leaders whose organizations are implementing Lean as their operating system.

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A3 Problem Solving
This is an introduction to the structured problem solving format known as A3 Problem Solving. Popularized by Toyota, the A3 format is used in Toyota for problem solving, proposal writing, and status reports.

This is a repeat of the previous A3 Webinar

Title: Introduction to A3 Problem Solving

Date: Thursday, November 5, 2009

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10 Reasons Why Lean Implementations Fail
Reason #2: Lack of Communication (Part III of III) 
Great two-way communication is the key to the empowerment and productivity of our most underutilized asset - our people. 
by Larry Rubrich
Considerations in Developing a Communications Plan
The power of any communications plan comes from people understanding the plan so they can take action in their area. A good plan includes both visual and verbal communication (we like a 50-50 split). Verbal communication must be simple and should not include jargon. A good test is this: if you presented the plan to a family member (assuming he or she is not intimately knowledgeable about the business), would the family member understand? Use metaphors, analogies, and lots of examples. Use multiple forums to present the information in both verbal and visual formats: cell or area meetings, bulletin boards, check stuffers, information centers, company newsletters, etc. If a P&L is presented at company meetings (highly suggested), don't let the CFO prepare a 50-line P&L. Shorten it to the highlights, maybe 10 lines. Show the line items that the team can affect. Understand that the first time you show it, 90% of the team will not understand it. Repetition of the message, over time, and good two-way communication (questions) will develop understanding.
In a World Class Enterprise (WCE) implementation, all communication is worthless unless management is prepared to back it up by being the models, examples, and leaders of the change we are communicating. The days of "do as I say, not as I do," are long gone. Tom Peters, noted author, said it well, "they watch your feet, not your lips." Management can destroy a WCE implementation by showing people that these activities are "someone else's" job.
There is only one thing for sure in every WCE implementation. Management will make some mistakes along the way. Because a WCE implementation cannot be done with a "cookie cutter," it is difficult to handle every situation perfectly. Two rules: First, deal with these mistakes or difficult issues immediately. Don't let the rumor mill or the WCE nay sayers have time to get cranked up with their "spin" on the subject - management credibility is at stake. Second, deal with these issues openly and honestly. The team is not expecting the top managers to be perfect-but they are demanding honesty and integrity.
Monthly Company Meetings
At a minimum, monthly "all associate company meetings" are a must in a WCE implementation. Some World Class companies, understanding the power of good two-way communication, actually have them every two weeks. To this monthly requirement, we often get "push-back" from managers. "We do quarterly meetings, isn't that good enough?" No! This reminds us of the supervisor who thought the company meeting was a waste of time when we were at 42% efficiency. By the way, company meetings were still occurring like clockwork even after the plant was at 100% efficiency. Again, the reason for having at least monthly meetings is very practical. Remember that the purpose of the communication plan is to provide information so people can take action on it in their area (the 400 people all pulling in the same direction). If it is reported in the quarterly company meeting that the company had a poor quarter, and this is the first time people have heard about it, just how is everyone supposed to help prevent that from occurring? It's too late! The reason we would like "real time" performance information about how a cell or the company is doing, is so the team can make immediate adjustments and prevent the poor month and/or quarter.  
Visual Communication
Communication is the key to developing teams and making them effective and successful. Communication is important among team members, between management and the team, and between the team and other members of the organization. Speaking is one way to share information. However, we do not always have time to get everyone together and tell them what is going on. There are faster, more effective ways to get the message across.
Visual communication uses specific methods and techniques to provide fast, two-way communication between teams, shifts, co-workers, and management. Visuals provide information that can be used to compare the goals of the team and the company so that performance can be measured. Focus the visual communication on the performance of the group compared to its goals.
Visual communication can be used anywhere in the organization. For example, visuals can show the performance of the plant against its productivity goals, the performance of a work cell against its quality and productivity objectives, and how well a specific part of the process is performing.
Visual communication may be used to identify missing tools or materials and is extremely effective in pull systems.  

Tool Board 
Tool Board

The only limit to the effectiveness of visual communication is a team's creativity.
The figures below are examples of activities that are typically visually displayed:  

Office Cross Training Matrix

Office Cross Training Matrix

Safety Board       Safety Board


Production Board  

 Production Board

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The Lean Leader Coach - Walking the Talk - Part II

This series is intended to provide tools, tips, ideas, and coaching for leaders whose organizations are implementing Lean as their operating system.
by Mattie Watson
In our last issue we explored the impact on a Lean Implementation when the Leader inadvertently breaks the Lean rules. In this column, we will examine the impact when Leaders intentionally violate Lean policies.
I once worked with a foundry where a serious quality improvement initiative was underway.  The Plant Manager was adamant that all quality problems were to be exposed and addressed.  Late on the last day of the month I was walking by the shipping department. The Manufacturing Manager was telling the associates "I don't care that these parts are rejected, let them go. We need the shipping dollars. I'll deal with the quality issue next month." Everyone in the facility knew in less than an hour what had transpired. Although the matter was addressed by the Plant Manager (and the parts did not ship), the work force was confused by the incident for months afterward.
This is the most serious obstacle to the Lean implementation. It's hard enough to keep positive momentum going when Lean is misapplied and a conflicting message is sent accidentally. When associates perceive an intentional misapplication, the Lean initiative suffers a nearly fatal blow. 
Lean requires changes in behavior on the part of everyone in the organization - especially the Leader. Associates watch the Leader's every move looking for behavior that is inconsistent with rhetoric. When it is, they will believe the behavior every time. When Leaders say they support Lean but deny it with their actions (intentionally or accidentally), they instill anger, frustration, cynicism, distrust, negativity, and lethargy in the workforce. Morale plummets along with productivity and quality. In fact, the organization does not simply revert to where it was at the start of the Lean initiative, it takes a quantum leap or two backwards.
The bottom line? When Lean implementations fail, it is because the Leader has failed. Either he/she failed to address the negative behavior of someone in the organization (sending the message that that behavior is acceptable) or he/she is guilty of the negative behavior themself. It would be better to not start Lean at all than to try and undo the damage caused by real or perceived duplicity on the part of the Leader.
In the next issue, we will share some tips on how to prevent the misapplication of Lean in the first place and what can be done if violations have already occurred. 

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Certified Lean Facilitator Training

Milwaukee, WI


This standard Certified Lean Facilitator training session will be hosted by Snap-on Tools in Milwaukee, WI.
You can attend just one class or start the journey to becoming a Certified Lean Facilitator by attending all 3 weeks.
Session dates are (2010):
Week 1 = January 11th
Week 2 = February 15th
Week 3 = March 15th
For more information and pricing, Click Here
For scheduling call Kelly at (260) 637-8064 or email kelly@wcmfg.com

Certified Lean Facilitator Training

Appleton, WI 


This standard Certified Lean Facilitator training session will be hosted by Goodwill Industries in Appleton, WI.  
You can attend just one class or start the journey to becoming a Certified Lean Facilitator by attending all 3 weeks.
Session dates are (2010):
Week 1 = January 11th
Week 2 = February 8th
Week 3 = March 8th
For scheduling, call Kelly at (260) 637-8064 or e-mail kelly@wcmfg.com
For more information and pricing, Click Here
Next Edition:
(All Editions will now be sent out on Thursdays)
  • Why Lean Failures Occur - Reason #1: Lack of Top Down Leadership and Management Support   
  • The Lean Leader Coach - "Walking the Talk Part III" 
Larry Rubrich
WCM Associates LLC
© 2009 WCM Associates
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