Blog Library

Understanding Key Performance Indicators

Understanding Key Performance Indicators

Summary
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

Lesson
  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

Summary
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

Lesson
  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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Coaching and The Art of Possibility

Coaching and The Art of Possibility

Summary
  Much of our support at Lean East involves coaching leaders and teams as they improve their processes. But what is coaching? Here are six traits of good coaching and some examples from the book The Art of Possibility.   Six Traits of Good Coaching Coaches focus on people and drive results. Coaching is not the same as teaching or mentoring. Teachers impart their skills and wisdom to others. Mentors share lessons based on their experience. Coaches unlock potential in the participant and help them discover their own solutions. Coaches share alignment and establish trust. The mission and goal must be agreed upon by the participant and coach. The participant and coach also need to have mutual trust for one another. Learn more about trust at this post. Coaches ask…
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Five Ways to Engage Millennials

Five Ways to Engage Millennials

Summary
Millennials (also known as Generation Y) represent people born from about 1982 to 2000.1  These 17 to 35-year-olds are expected to represent 75% of the US workforce by 2025 and are technologically savvy and purpose driven. Yet business leaders have expressed frustration from this group of workers. How can they attract, hire and retain talented young millennials?   Leaders find millennials make challenging employees due to their sense of entitlement, impatience, and inattention to authority.2  Many millennials struggled to find good jobs during the 2008 recession and have been called “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents” by Time Magazine. Yet millennials are technologically savvy and purpose-driven. Companies that relate well to this age group can benefit greatly. Here are five ways you can engage the millennials who already…
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Radical Candor

Radical Candor

Lesson
  This is a summary of the 2017 book, Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. Ms. Scott describes leadership lessons she learned while working in Silicon Valley for Google, Apple, and start-up companies. Her former boss at Google (and an accomplished author herself) Sheryl Sandberg writes, “Radical Candor will help you inspire teams to do the best work of their lives.” Great bosses have strong relationships with their employees. Three simple principles for building better employee relationships are: Make it personal Get (sh)it done Understand why it matters Scott shares the concept of Radical Candor on a 2X2 grid with one axis how much you care personally about the person and the other axis how much you challenge directly, (i.e. “be brutally honest”). Scott names…
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Immunity to Change

Immunity to Change

Lesson
Immunity to Change: How to Overcome it and Unlock the Potential in Yourself and Your Organization is a 2009 book written by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. It has updated examples of their experience using their immunity to change concepts first introduced in their 2001 book, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work. This book was recently recommended by another experienced improvement consultant. Since I was unfamiliar with the book and change process, I decided to learn the process and share key points with my friends and colleagues. I typically work with teams and organizations, not individuals, and have not used the immunity to change process myself. It does provide a path to understanding root cause, so I see reasons why it could work well…
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Accelerating Change

Accelerating Change

Summary
  Organizational improvement is becoming more and more important every year as the pace of change in technology, consumers, and competitors is accelerating. Twenty years ago, companies didn’t have websites since people were still sending email on their dial-up modems. Google search engines didn’t exist. It is just ten years ago that Apple introduced the iPhone. Remember when we rented movies from stores instead of streaming them? It is becoming rare for me to visit a store any more now that I can read product reviews online, order with one click from my phone, and have the item at my door in two days for free. I am learning to adapt, but my children are growing up in a world where they expect instant gratification: any item or information they…
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Leaders Eat Last

Leaders Eat Last

Lesson
In our previous posts, we have discussed the importance of having a clear reason to change and explained that organizational culture and history matters when establishing a sense of urgency. Now we will look at some of the reasons why this is the case, truly “evolutionary” reasons related to our brain. Thanks to the trial-and-error process of evolution taking place over the past two-and-a-half million years, human brains have adapted to survive. In the 2014 book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, author Simon Sinek explains why a feeling of safety is necessary whether we are a caveman or an assistant in a large corporation. Sinek discusses five chemicals that our body has designed for evolutionary reasons that still impact all of us every day.…
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