Green and Clean: Servant Leadership

Green and Clean: Servant Leadership

Lesson
This past month has been a busy one for Lean East with several new clients. As I reflect on lessons from the past month to blog about, one theme has come up several times in my discussions with top executives. The discussion goes something like this:   Executive: “I don’t think this employee is going to work out.” Me: “What is the issue?” Executive: “I’m hearing complaints from the team about this employee. He/she isn’t keeping up with the work. When I look into their projects they are often falling behind.” Me: “What is the employee's expectation and how is it measured?” Executive: “They know they have to keep up and be responsive. When I sent the employee an email to ask about a recent issue they didn’t even email…
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Ten Lessons from Built to Last

Ten Lessons from Built to Last

Summary
Authors Jim Collins (author of the best-seller Good to Great) and Jerry Porras compared 18 sets of long-running and successful companies to learn what differentiated the visionary company from the comparison company. Their research identified key traits and habits prevalent in the more successful companies and formed the basis of their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. This post summarizes ten lessons of visionary companies from the book and, as a bonus, offers six suggestions for leaders to better align an organization.   You don’t need a great idea to start a great company. Few of the visionary companies in the book began with even any specific idea. Visionary companies often get off to a slow start, but set BHAGs (below) and continue to experiment with ideas…
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The Infinite Game

The Infinite Game

Summary
This month we summarize the 2019 book The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. This is Sinek’s third book and follows the 2014 bestseller, Leaders Eat Last. There are two kinds of games. Finite games have known players and fixed rules. As I write this sentence, I am watching the finite game of football. The game has two known teams pitted against one another with referees enforcing the rules. One team will win the game by having scored more points as the time expires. Infinite games are played by known and unknown players. There are no agreed-upon rules, and no finish line or clock signaling the end of the contest. There is, therefore, no way to “win” an infinite game; the best you can do is keep playing. Sinek notes that…
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Leadership Lessons from Extreme Ownership

Leadership Lessons from Extreme Ownership

Summary
This post shares the lessons from the 2015 book Extreme Ownership: How US Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Willink and Babin were Navy SEALs who led the most highly decorated special operations unit of the Iraq war. The book demonstrates how SEAL leadership principles apply to business. Each chapter describes a situation from the war in Iraq in the insurgent occupied Ramadi where Babin led a unit that reported to Willink. Stories from the battlefield demonstrate each principle, then the authors define the principle and share an example from a business situation that further demonstrates the principle. Many of the principles are well covered in other leadership books, but several are lesser-known. This post will describe the leadership principles themselves. If you enjoy reading…
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Develop Scientific Thinking with Lean Kata

Develop Scientific Thinking with Lean Kata

Lesson
This month we are happy to share a simple yet powerful tool that will benefit any organization. It is the Lean Kata approach for developing a culture of scientific thinking at all levels of any organization.     What does the word “kata” mean? Kata is the Japanese word for “form” and refers to a detailed, choreographed pattern of movements practiced alone or in groups. Anyone who has ever practiced the martial arts has performed katas in front of a sensei to advance and earn additional belts. The kata allows the trainee to memorize and perfect the movements being executed so they can easily make the movements later using muscle memory. The Lean Kata was developed by Toyota and has been well described in the Mike Rother book, Toyota Kata:…
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Maximize the benefits of a huddle meeting

Maximize the benefits of a huddle meeting

Lesson
Workers often complain that meetings waste too much of their day. Work time spent in meetings has increased over the past 20 years, and a Harvard Business Review survey found over 70% of senior leaders believe meetings keep them from completing their work. We at Lean East believe that one meeting is more important than others for a team – the team huddle. Our team has worked with many organizations over the years and supported implementing and improving huddles. A well-run huddle is likely the single most effective meeting a leader will have with a team. We will answer eight common questions about huddles to help leaders and teams maximize the benefits.   What is the difference between a huddle and a scrum meeting? Let’s begin by clarifying the difference…
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Ideas for Action from The Culture Code

Ideas for Action from The Culture Code

Summary
Daniel Coyle wrote the bestselling book The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups in 2018 as a follow-up to his bestselling book The Talent Code. Both books are well researched and highly recommended reads by Lean East. This post summarizes several of the “ideas for action” from the book into a basic leadership action plan. Culture is not something you are, it is something you do. Coyle focuses on three keys to building a cohesive, motivated culture – build safety, share vulnerability and establish purpose. The book shares his research on each of these areas and each section has ideas any leader can implement to improve their organization’s culture. Below are 20 ideas you can begin implementing today. Please share with others and leave a comment below if…
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Developing High-Performing Organizations

Developing High-Performing Organizations

Summary
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 Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Lesson
  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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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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