Blog Library

Leadership for New Leaders

Leadership for New Leaders

Lesson
  I was chatting with friends at a gathering recently when I happened to ask the 30 year-old daughter of the host about her new job. “It is going well,” she said, “but I am having a hard time with one of my new employees.” She proceeded to explain how one employee didn’t seem pleased to have her as his new manager. “He has worked with the company longer than me and doesn’t seem to want to do what I ask.” Her husband joined the conversation and mentioned his similar challenges as a new leader at a different company. His company was larger, and he was benefitting from the leadership training they offered. I later realized the topic of leadership training was worthy of additional research and a helpful post,…
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When: Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

When: Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Review
  This post is a summary of the key learnings from the 2018 book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink. The book was an instant bestseller from the well-known author, and draws upon recent research from psychology, biology, neuroscience and economics. It is easy to read with many great examples and stories to demonstrate that Timing is really a science. This post synthesizes the main takeaways from each chapter of the book to save our readers some time!   Figure Out Your Daily When Are you a morning lark, night owl, or third bird? To find out, identify the midpoint of your typical night’s sleep- halfway between going to sleep and waking up. If the midpoint is before 3 AM you are probably a lark.…
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Developing High-Performing Organizations

Developing High-Performing Organizations

Lesson
Lean East was founded in 2010 with a mission to bring out the best in organizations by bringing out the best in people. We focus on introducing proven Lean Six Sigma improvement methods to service organizations in Maine and New England – in industries including healthcare, government, insurance, construction, and finance. Many of the clients we have partnered with have had a common goal – to improve their culture and performance and provide better customer service. Some client organizations want to improve their processes and provide more customer value with less waste. Others focus more on changing work culture, training their leaders and staff, and improving teamwork. One client wanted to improve in multiple dimensions and move the company from good to great. A common theme with all our clients is…
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The Toyota Way

The Toyota Way

Review
  Lean principles are based largely on studies of the Toyota Production System (TPS) from the early 1980s and influence manufacturing and service organizations across the world today. In 2001 the Toyota Motor Corporation summed up their philosophy, principles, and values in an internal document they referred to as, “the Toyota Way 2001.” The document expanded upon TPS with additional leadership and management practices that have made Toyota one of the most respected companies in the world.  Author Jeff Liker visited Toyota and summarized these principles in his 2004 book, The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer. The book covers Toyota’s history, successes, and ideas with many great Toyota case studies; this post will focus on summarizing Toyota's 14 Principles. How many of these principles are followed…
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Selecting a Lean Project

Selecting a Lean Project

Lesson
  The Lean East team has had several meetings in the past month with organizations new to Lean thinking. The leaders of these organizations want to improve processes and have learned that Lean principles work. But with all the problems and improvement needs in a typical organization, where do you begin?   When leaders ask us for input and support for selecting a Lean project, we share our simple project selection matrix. Here are the eight items we review and rate – each either passes or fails. We recommend prioritizing the projects that pass all, or nearly all, of the following criteria:   Important to the team and organization: Ensure the project you are considering is related to a critical organizational need. A successful project result needs to matter to…
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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Review
  Patrick Lencioni wrote The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable in 2002. The popular book is about imaginary company Decision Tech, and how a new CEO turned the company around. The CEO, Kathryn, molded her senior managers into a true team by addressing five dysfunctions she observed. Much of the fable focuses on a series of senior leadership retreats where Kathryn helps her team learn and address the dysfunctions. The book is a quick read and the easy-to-follow plot will appeal to readers of fiction. This Lean East blog post focuses on the final several chapters of the book (the non-fiction section) where the five team dysfunctions are summarized. Do any of these issues occur on your leadership team?   Dysfunction No. 1: An Absence of Trust…
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Understanding Key Performance Indicators

Understanding Key Performance Indicators

Lesson
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the vital few metrics that define success or failure for a process. KPIs vary based upon the process being studied and the definitions of success for the process. Good organizations understand their KPIs. Better organizations measure them. The best organizations seek to improve them every day. Read on to learn about Key Performance Indicators and how a team or department can use a balanced scorecard of KPIs to support improvement.     The initial challenge with KPIs is selecting them properly from the many possible performance indicators available. The second challenge is determining how to measure and share them throughout the organization. Our team has helped numerous organizations establish and measure KPIs. Here are some highlights from the Lean East training module covering the selection…
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Juggling Elephants

Juggling Elephants

Review
  The book Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way to Get Your Most Important Things Done--Now! was written in 2007 by corporate trainers Jones Loflin and Todd Musig. The short read tells the story of a man named Mark visiting the circus with his daughter. Mark meets a ringmaster there who shares the analogy of life as a circus. “Sometimes does it feel like you are juggling elephants?” he asks Mark. The circus performance in the book takes place in three separate rings under the tent. The ringmaster schedules the acts for the circus and introduces the audience to each performer. While one act is performing, another ring is typically cleaning up from an act or setting up for the next act. The goal for the ringmaster is to have a…
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The Power of A3 Process Improvement

The Power of A3 Process Improvement

Lesson
The Lean East team helps organizations learn how to use Lean thinking and tools to remove waste from their processes. We prefer to employ a “learn by doing” approach where we train and coach these methods while engaged in organizational improvement projects. If organizations already have an established improvement process we will work within that process and seek to improve it. But if the organization does not have a robust process in place (and most do not) then we recommend using the Lean East A3 Process Improvement tool.   Lean thinking Let’s define a few terms first. Lean refers to a philosophy and management strategy focused on customer value and respect for people. Lean is not about layoffs or running the organization on a shoestring. Lean is continually improving the…
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Team of Teams

Team of Teams

Review
  Retired US General Stanley McChrystal was frustrated. The US battle against the jihadist militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraqi and Syria) after the US occupation of Iraq was not going well. ISIS always seemed to be a step ahead of his forces. His forces took too long to process and act on intelligence – by the time the location of an ISIS cell was acted upon the location had long been abandoned. McChrystal was learning that the network structure of ISIS allowed them to adapt more quickly than US forces to avoid capture. While the US had overwhelming resources and a disciplined command-and-control structure, ISIS operated much faster – more like a group of separate franchises with a common purpose.   Command Structures The US Military in the…
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