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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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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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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Five Ways to Engage Millennials

Five Ways to Engage Millennials

Lesson
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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Accelerating Change

Accelerating Change

Lesson
  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

Review
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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Establishing a Sense of Urgency

Establishing a Sense of Urgency

Lesson
People Don't Hate Change II Establishing a Sense of Urgency This is our second post reviewing why some teams and organizations struggle with change more than others. In our previous post, we share the need to create a burning platform – a clear reason to change. Unfortunately, many leaders struggle with this first important need. Consider these two scenarios: Leader A:         The leader meets with the team and shares recent performance results. The new initiative is not meeting goal, putting the future of the entire team at risk. A 20% cost reduction will need to be made, and each member of the team is asked to help identify and make the changes. Leader B:         The leader meets with the team and offers coaching and facilitation for team members to improve the process…
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