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Showing posts from December, 2010

In the name of lean?

If you search Google for the term 'lean' you can find a huge amount of resources about this subject. At its simplest it is a business improvement methodology / philosophy but this seems to get missed and so businesses head off looking for some mysterious set of tools that will transform their business when in actual fact it is more likely to be an attitude that delivers the improvements.
I once heard a highly respected business man state that 'lean is awful'. He was referring to the cost cutting and vicious approaches that are often associated with lean. He then went on to talk about doing business 'simpler, faster and better', which sounds like a really good summary of lean. Many things are done in the name of lean, many of which are just not accurate.
Some businesses get hung up on the methodology, don't try to shoe horn a solution just because it's from the lean toolbox. Use the right tool for the issue at hand, don't get hung up on the names an…

Don't live with inadequate data

So many businesses rely on their computer systems to provide accurate and meaningful information. In many cases their databases are riddled with holes, or even worse, incorrect information. Bad data often leads to the users creating sub systems to cope with the lack of confidence, which can create other problems including wasted time. 
If you find that the data in your organisation is unreliable then don't keep quiet. Ensure that the offenders know that their data collection / input methods aren't acceptable and keep supporting them until the situation changes.
Find out why the data is so bad. There may be an educational element, they may not fully understand what is required and some quick adjustments can make a big difference to the quality of data.
When you do have reliable information available to you make sure that the data is used so that people value good data. If you're not going to use the information to help drive your business forwards then what is the point of…

Kaizen - take some tiny steps

Kaizen is a term that is often bandied about within continuous improvement circles and by lean manufacturing experts. Kaizen is amazing, but quite often one of the more subtle aspects is often overlooked. Taking tiny steps is at the heart of the kaizen approach, a stance taken to help people overcome procrastination when projects or tasks look too complicated.

When someone is faced with a large task, a proposition that will take far too long to complete in their eyes, procrastination can kick in. When we take the same task and look for the smallest and simplest way to get the task started then the resistance to the work usually disappears. This is one of the most powerful uses for kaizen - find the tiniest step.

If new habits need to be formed in the workplace then you can use the same approach - find the simplest way and smallest way to perform part of the habit required. People gain momentum as their confidence increases and so what may seem a pointless tiny step could well be the s…