Monday, August 12, 2019

How Do Adults Learn?

By Al Norval (bio)

Adults learn very differently from children.

Children are sponges. Every day is a new adventure in which new things are learned. Somewhere along the way this all changes and we mature and become adults.


Adults on the other hand, only learn what they feel they need to learn. Adult learning is very practical. If I can’t see how this will help me now, then the true understanding and retention rate of the learning will be very low. I’m sure we can all remember the blah, blah, blah of college professors droning on about some mundane topic that was soon forgotten after the final exam was written.

So, what does this mean?

Adult learning focuses on solving problems. More concretely, realistic problems that people have right now.

When teams have problems, leaders have an opportunity to teach and use the problem to raise the capability of their Team Members. This is the power and magic behind kaizen.

We solve problems and learn in the very process of doing so. This is also the basis of Mental model #1 – Leader as a Teacher. Not to teach like a college professor but to teach Socratically by asking question to build the teams capability and guide the Team through the problem solving process.

Cheers

Al

In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Back to Basics – Visual Management
Back to Basics – Visual Order
Back to Basics – Employee Engagement
Back to Basics – Customer Value



Monday, July 29, 2019

Back to Basics – Visual Management

By Al Norval (bio)

This is the fourth in a series of blogs which get back to the basics of Lean. The purpose of these blogs is to get back to the basic principles of Lean and stop contorting Lean into something it was never meant to be.

What do I mean by Lean?

It’s the engagement of all people in driving continuous improvement through the elimination of waste to improve Customer Value. The result is the world’s most powerful business system.

In the first three blogs I’ve talked about Customer Value, Employee Engagement and Visual Order. Today, I’d like to talk about Visual Management. Why are this and Visual Order some of the first basics I’ve discussed? They are the very foundation on which almost everything else builds.

What is Visual Management?

It’s the ability, at a glance, to see and understand the current condition. We often talk about the Visual Management triangle.


The key learning is that Visual Management drives action. Good Lean organizations have simple visuals for all important things. Therefore it’s easy to see problems and quickly take action when they occur.

My friend and colleague, Pascal Dennis, recently wrote a couple of excellent blogs on the Four Levels of Visual Management, which I’ve linked to here. (Part 1) (Part 2)

I encourage you to read them, even if it’s for a second time, and think about what type of action each of these four levels drives. Then do a survey of your own workplace and reflect upon which of these four levels of Visual Management do you see.

Cheers

Al

In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Back to Basics – Visual Order
Back to Basics – Employee Engagement
Back to Basics – Customer Value



Monday, July 15, 2019

Back to Basics – Visual Order

By Al Norval (bio)

This is the third in a series of blogs which get back to the basics of Lean. The purpose of these blogs is to get back to the basic principles of Lean and stop contorting Lean into something it was never meant to be.

What do I mean by Lean?

It’s the engagement of all people in driving continuous improvement through the elimination of waste to improve Customer Value. The result is the world’s most powerful business system.

In the first blog I started right at the beginning with Customer Value. Makes sense since everything we do should add value to Customers. Then I moved onto Employee Engagement. Today, I’d like to talk about Visual Order which many of you may know as 5S. Why is this one of the basics? It’s the very foundation on which almost everything else builds. In my consulting practice, I tell my clients that if you can’t sustain a good 5S program, then how can you possibly think you can sustain anything else.


Let’s examine Standardized Work. Without a good 5S program, there would be no way to sustain or follow the Standardized Work without interruptions and disruptions constantly breaking the cycle. Looking for parts or supplies are just a few of the obvious wastes.

What do I mean by Visual Order or 5S?

It refers to a system of organizing the workplace based on 5 Japanese words all starting with the letter S. I’ll use the English equivalents for simplicity.

Sort – remove anything that doesn’t have an immediate need. This is often called a Red Tag process and doesn’t mean throw things out. For things used in-frequently they could be put into a special storage area. Other items will have uses elsewhere in the organization so a disposition process needs to be developed. Finally some items will be given away or scrapped.

Set in Order – The remaining items are organized with a fixed location that specifies what goes where. This is called a home position so we know where to find every item. These positions are them labelled so everyone can see.

Shine and Inspect – Take everything and clean it to a “like new” condition. While doing this look for potential problems. This Inspect part is often overlooked and is the critical step

Standardize – Develop standards for each of the first 3 steps, including the who, when, where, what and how to do each of them.

Sustain – Lastly, a process of training and audits is put into place to maintain the standards that have been developed

Why do I prefer the name Visual Order rather than 5S?

It’s really a way of visually organizing the workplace to make it easy to see abnormalities. As we’ll learn in the next blog on Visual Management, this is a cornerstone of visual controls. The need for everyone to be able to see the abnormalities so we can take action on them.

Once we have learned the techniques of Visual Order and have learned how to see abnormalities, we need to work on preventing the abnormalities from occurring in the first place. This often overlooked part of the Visual Order system, is critical to developing the thinking and problem solving skills of our team members. These skills once learned, can then be applied to other areas such as an office environment or even a virtual environment such as a computer drive.

As with many things with Lean, we can take the basics deeper and deeper. What once was a simple tool now becomes a critical way of thinking.

Cheers

Al

In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Back to Basics – Employee Engagement
Back to Basics – Customer Value
What is Courage & How does it relate to True North?



Monday, July 1, 2019

Back to Basics – Employee Engagement

By Al Norval (bio)

This is the second in a series of blogs which get back to the basics of Lean. As I said in my last blog, it seems to me that as Lean gets more mainstream, people are forgetting the basic principles of Lean and are contorting Lean into something it was never meant to be. The worst examples are where people take what they were always doing and re-label the same work as Lean. I’m sure we can all think of many examples of this.

What do I mean by Lean?

It’s the engagement of all people in driving continuous improvement through the elimination of waste to improve Customer Value. The result is the world’s most powerful business system.

Last time I started right at the beginning with Customer Value. Today I’d like to continue with Employee Engagement. Why is this one of the basics? If we are implementing Lean properly, the result will be a win for our Customers, a win for our Employees and a win for the Organization. If there is no win for the Employees, how can we expect to engage them in continuous improvement and drive more value to our Customers?

Let’s explore this a bit deeper. It all starts with the principle of “Respect for People”. This is not just respect in the way we talk to each other and the way we interact with our fellow team members. It goes far beyond that. It means using everyone to their fullest potential and allowing and in fact, encouraging everyone to become the best they can be.


Employees who are continuously solving problems according to the scientific method are continuously learning and continuously building their capabilities and skill sets. I’ll talk more about the Scientific Method in a later bog in this series. Suffice to say, the result is more valuable employees who can drive more value to our Customers.

This type of engagement of employees in solving problems following the scientific method is much different than what is normally referred to as employee involvement. Typically, with employee involvement I see organizations asking employees for their ideas or for feedback on an improvement idea management has come up with. Usually, employees are quite willing give their feedback and to toss these ideas back to their leaders. The Leaders then become the bottleneck in improvement due to the limited time they can spend implementing these ideas. Result – a slow rate of improvement.

The type of engagement I’m referring to is one where employees not only surface ideas for improvement but they are the ones to drive these ideas through to completion following a prescribed process in which leaders act as coaches and mentors. Imagine an organization where every employee is making an improvement, big or small, every day. Result – a faster and faster rate of improvement. Just think of the power in that organization! Just think of the advantage that organization has over its competitors as that kind of improvement is difficult to replicate.

As leaders what is our role in Employee Engagement?
  1. We need to provide employees with a process for solving problems
  2. We need to train employees and provide on-going coaching as they build their capabilities
  3. Most importantly, we need to provide time, every day, to work on solving problems
I believe that people come to work as fully engaged employees and our role as Leaders is to keep them engaged and not to dis-engage them. Sadly, all too often, this doesn’t happen. Result – dis-engaged employees and another employee involvement survey and program. Head for the hills.

Which organization would you rather work for? I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers
Al


In case you missed our last few blogs...please feel free to have another look…

Back to Basics – Customer Value
What is Courage & How does it relate to True North?
Lean, Leadership & Ethics, Part 1