Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MBWA, Micromangement and the difference between the two

Following a recent post entitled "Management by NOT Wandering Around", I received the following comment:
Results results results
The stress of the current economic reality is driving our lean program into the ground. The boss is being beaten up daily by his bosses to show some kind of ROI on everything we do. So, instead of patiently watching as we are learning, we run around looking for any signs of measurement that can relieve the pain. Frankly, I would just as soon have him go back to management by teleconference
Ouch. It hurts to hear this.
This got me thinking about the difference between simply being visible and available in the workplace (which should be encouraging) versus micromanaging (which is quite demotivating).  And, having been micromanaged myself on a particular issue in the past few days, I feel the pain. 
Available listens; micromanagement talks.
Available encourages improvement; micromanagement demands instant results.
Available shows up regularly; micromanagement appears only during crisis.
Available shapes; micromanagement pounds.
Micromanagement often gets the short-term results it wishes, much as the whining child will often get the ice-cream cone.  But that's no basis for raising a family nor for running a lean operation.
Keep on learning. 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

When do email discussions lose value?

You know the drill.
You send an email to someone.  That person responds.
You go back and forth.
And nothing gets done except absorption of Internet bandwidth.
What is a rule of thumb to either call a meeting or pick up the phone and get something done??
I'm thinking three round trips of email, as a starting point.  But I could be persuaded it's only two round trips. 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Management by NOT Wandering Around

Ohno said go and stand and watch one thing until you see it break and can understand it.  Management by NOT wandering around.
Tom Peters said go and see everything.  Management by wandering around.
Despite the seeming difference, I suspect both gurus would agree if they actually talked. 
Both would urge each of us to get to gemba, the place where value is added.
The difference?  Ohno would be for deeper and narrower.  Peters is more concerned for strategy and scope.
Yet going and standing is a central way to do things.  Better
See what you can see today as you keep on learning.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Question to Discern Strengths

 Crucial in any Lean implementation is getting the right people in the right places, doing work they are well suited to do and do well.
In short, let people use their strengths and then get out of the way.
I recently came across a question Stephen Covey uses for this purpose:
"What do you love to do and do well?"
A simple, obvious question but one I seldom think to use.  When I do (and if I listen well to the answer), people light up and speak deeply. 
Try it as you keep learning.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Why is everything all lined up?

I walked past a work station last week and noticed something different. 
The base of the station had been rotated 45 degrees from the orientation it has had as long as I've worked here. 
"What's the story on the table shift?" I asked one of our associates.
She grinned and told me the story.  Bottom line was one of her colleagues had correctly and creatively observed that in the current work flow, rotating the table created more room.  "It really works like a top," she exclaimed, "much less congestion as we move material in and out."
Which got me thinking. 
We like things lined up.  Everything at right angles.  Evened off.  Matching. 
Usually, that's a good place to start.
But, once you see the vision of the value in a steady stream of small improvements (as this work team has), knocking something out of line makes even more sense.
Keep learning.