Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Getting to Sustainability

Hi folks,
Happy New Year 2017!  Hope everyone's year is getting off to a great start!

I want to "crossblog" a column we wrote for The Lean Post through The Lean Enterprise Institute!

Here is the link to the column on the Lean Post! The Lean Post - Getting to Sustainability  You can also check out other daily posts there!  Great way to share many examples of Lean Thinking!

Getting to Sustainability

Most folks think of GTS as a simple acronym for “Grasp The Situation.” This is a helpful way to think about problem solving (PDCA), because it conditions ourselves to go and see in order to effectively grasp the situation.  In order to solve problems or make improvements, first we want to determine the current state and measure it against the known standard or the ideal state. The key is to measure; without a measure it’s very hard to know exactly what to improve, or whether there is improvement. 
Ernie and I have found that there’s not just one, or two, but in fact six powerful GTS acronyms that we believe form the basis of we call Toyota’s “Engagement Equation” (we have a book on this topic coming out in May of this year from McGraw-Hill.) We have come up with this set of principles as a way to share a process of thinking we were taught by our trainers at Toyota that was the foundation of our cultural climate. It’s a cyclical process that steps through PDCA thinking all the way through to continuous improvement.  Every step is tangible and requires an action, followed by questions and fact based answers, through go and see. 
Get To Sustain (GTS5) is one of them.
Sustaining gains from kaizen thinking is one of the hardest, and certainly most misunderstood, aspects of this work. It’s misunderstood because the actual change takes place at the beginning of the journey. Sustaining the improvement requires ongoing tracking and auditing, which we can categorize as change point management, or the discipline behind true continuous improvement. Some companies would say sustaining gains is much more difficult than creating the gains in the first place.
That’s because of a pattern we often see with companies practicing lean: a challenge when trying to “normalize” lean thinking on a daily basis. In some organizations people are often excited to find how much progress they can make as they internalize the potential of the tools they are learning to use. They often achieve dramatic gains. But then…the daily work or line of sight to the KPIs yields less and less tangible new progress. The novelty of the new approach wears off, and it gets harder and harder to visualize those gains. What started with a bang gradually becomes a daily whimper, a journey with no end—and with no end to the hard work. This can often lower the morale of an organization, especially when resources are removed.
This is the crucial moment where companies generally face the choice (whether they realize it or not) between fully committing to the hard work of lean transformation—or simply experiencing it as a flavor of the month.
Look, we know just how very hard sustaining the gains from any continuous improvement work can be. In our experience at Toyota, standardization was really the key to any continuous improvement initiative we did. As Taiichi Ohno stated, “without a standard there can be no Kaizen.”  So, for example, the minor and major model changes at Toyota required a micro level daily PDCA tracking system that met the macro (monthly and yearly) status in order to roll out a new model without ever stopping the line (the standard for today). The standardization behind that is the “DNA” (discipline and accountability) to know what the expectations are and having leaders constantly monitoring gap to standard. Without this thinking it would be a daunting task to sustain with the daily/monthly gains of progress needed to meet the 5-year long-term goal.
Every company that has made improvements will find their progress challenged by both external and internal factors. Markets and supplier capabilities and above all customer expectations are constantly in flux, while the basic challenge of keeping key people on board, make the notion of sustaining the gains seem more like an illusion than a daily practice. I think in our personal lives we really have high expectations of standardization and routines. For example, when we go to a grocery store we expect a high level of standardization. We like the aisles labeled, prices visible, and we get used to where things are so it lessens the amount of lead-time it takes to do our shopping. If a grocery store didn’t maintain or look at better ways to display their goods and decided to change that standard weekly or just put it out there in the middle of the floor, it would create frustration, chaos and lengthen our time shopping. When it comes to our professional or work life we don’t often see the same importance of standardization as we do for or local grocery stores. I ask folks to individually be the “model home” on everything they can influence first, so that those actions can then become the “pull” for others to want to learn more, versus a push system of learning.
We’ve found one of the best ways to GTS5—Get to Sustainability—is through the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These indicators fall into two categories: lagging and leading. Lagging indicators are results-oriented, in that they appear after the fact. Leading indicators, on the other hand, measure what is happening in a process in real time: they let us know when we are operating out of standard and provide an opportunity to respond immediately.  An easy way to explain the difference in leading versus lagging indicators is to ask an organization this question.  Would you rather manage your problems or have your problems manage you? If you look for leading indicators you will be able to be more predictive; if you focus on lagging indicators you will stay in reactive mode.


So, how should you start identifying and using your leading indicators? The key is by taking a close look at your daily processes. Go to the gemba and ask your team members how their processes are going and where they might be having issues. Consider a regular “how’s your process?” (HYP) check: a daily touch-point for supervisors to go see if people are experiencing any emerging issues. This gives you the capability to engage with the process owner and develop countermeasures in real time so it doesn’t get to the next process.
And never forget that the most important element of getting to sustainability has to do with your people. As leaders your job is to develop people, and so it helps to create indicators that reveal any real-time threats to the healthy culture you need for continuous improvement. When we worked at Toyota, for example, we saw how senior managers reacted immediately to circumstances that might lead to potential morale issues. If machinery wasn’t working properly, they were as worried about worker frustration as they were about delayed production.


So it was common for our leaders, all the way up to the President, to walk up to a team member on the line and ask, “how’s your day going?” and then “how’s the family?” Ernie and I both remember Mr. Cho visiting our areas several times, just asking questions and offering to help in anyway possible. Our thoughts truly mattered to him and to Toyota, and that was the biggest secret of sustaining our unique culture.
Remember that Get To Sustain is really a journey that never ends. Whenever there is success based on a new countermeasure, we know that this will not survive unless we work constantly to preserve the gains that we have made and ensure we have the proper standards in place to meet the internal and external customers.
Learn more at the Richardson's Learning Session "Understanding and Implementing a Continuous Improvement Culture in Any Organization" at the 2017 Lean Transformation Summit on March 7-8 in Carlsbad, Cali. Learn more and register here.

Until next time, 
Ernie and Tracey Richardson

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Join us in January for an ASQ LED 1 hour Webinar

Hello everyone,
Ernie and I wanted to share with you an opportunity to hear about our up and coming book in May of 2017.   We will be sharing snippets of "The Toyota Engagement Equation" - We will go through parts of the equation and the actions behind them we learned in Production and Human Resources while working at Toyota.

If you are interesting in joining in please visit this link under January offerings.   You will have to register with ASQ LED.  That is all.

ASQ LED Webinar in January 2017

Hope to join everyone then, Happy Holidays

Tracey and Ernie Richardson!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The TPS Evolution - Generation 3

Happy Holidays everyone!  It's hard to believe we are closing in on the end 2016, what a year!  We look forward to 2017 leading and learning with everyone.

We apologize for not having a monthly cadence with the blog, but our book writing has taken precedence over our spare time the past several months, we look forward to sharing it with everyone in May of 2017.   We do have a 40% off pre-sales link on Amazon if you would like to grab one before they are full price click here!  The Toyota Engagement Equation

We wanted to end the year with a blog regarding TPS Generation 3.  We bring it up in the last chapter of our book as "our" latest version of what TPS (Toyota Production System) means to us now and how our customers have evolved us and our thinking over the years.

When we were introduced to TPS at Toyota back in the late 80's it represented the Toyota Production System, which was understandable at the time since TMMK was the first wholly owned plant for Toyota Motor Corp.  We were part of something very unique and the infamous TPS house allowed us to translate the tools of the production system into our daily activities.   Our trainers relentlessly coached us to think differently.

As we grew as people and as an organization we realized internal and even external to Toyota that organizations that were trying to replicate TPS, that it wasn't as much about Toyota persay as it was the thinking behind the systems at Toyota.   As time went on and some of the original trainers retired, a new group of trainers evolved and I often heard them refer to TPS (Gen 2) as the "Thinking Production System".   In it's essence it is really true, we were always asked to think deeply about all the "systems running" in the background that created our climate or culture.   There was a deep infrastructure reliant upon thinkers, as we discuss in the book E3 - we were always striving for the ideal state of Everybody-Everyday-Engaged!!  

As Ernie and I both grew in our roles after Toyota, spending countless hours studying how best to share and translate what we learned in those early years and how it allowed us to be the people we are today - that being 2 sponges!  We are always soaking up as much knowledge as possible, to help individuals think better not only for themselves personally and professionally, but also be the change agent or the "model home" for their organizations.   I know that was our goal at Toyota to always create a pull for learning through example, not a push.

As the years have past and we continue to grow as people and coaches we learned there may be a next generation for TPS for us.  (This is a Tracey and Ernie'ism!) - As we mentioned it is more than just Toyota in Gen 1, its also much deeper than Gen 2 with just "thinking".  We would like to share our thoughts for TPS Gen 3 --- The "Thinking People System"!!  Our sole purpose when we visit a client/customer is to begin to encourage people to think differently about what they do everyday.  So we feel its fitting to evolve TPS to fit any organization that have people, processes, and problems.  It can translate very well for you!   So when you refer to TPS you can think about its foundational background, build on that and go to the essence of its creation!  Thinking People~~!!

Until next time,
Happy Holidays and New Year
Tracey and Ernie Richardson

Friday, December 2, 2016

Public Session with LEI in Charleston SC (Jan 31 - Feb 2nd, 2017)

Hello everyone, 
Many ask us if we do public sessions, so I wanted to share that we will be part of the Lean Enterprise Institute's conference in Charleston, SC.  Here are the courses that will be offered! 

Charleston, SC - Charleston Marriott
January 31 - February 2, 2017


Key Concepts of Lean

Lean Management System

Capturing the Value of Lean

Gemba Walks - A Management Process for Leading the Organization

Special holiday discount (one week only) is being offered from December 5th to Dec 12th - $300 off per class ($600 for a 2 day class)!!  Sign up while you can.   

Ernie and I will be teaching Managing to Learn, Key Concepts of Lean and Gemba Walks !!  Come see us!! 

Until next time, 
Ernie and Tracey Richardson

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

PRE-SALES LINK Amazon books for "The Toyota Engagement Equation"

Hello everyone, sorry for my absence on the blog lately.  Ernie and I have been traveling quite a bit lately working with our clients, and when we are home we have been working diligently on our upcoming book in Q2 of 2017 - The Toyota Engagement Equation publish by McGraw Hill.

We are excited to share our Amazon PRE SALES link with you!!

Click here Pre-sales link to "The Toyota Engagement Equation"

Here is the cover design just released!  It should be available in May of 2017!  We are very excited to share our story with everyone and how we have translated the "thinking" we learned at Toyota in ALL industries!   Thank you, Tracey and Ernie Richardson

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Video clip from Lean Enterprise Institute Mining Gold with Kinross and Teaching Lean Inc.

Check out this short video clip by Chet Marchwinski with the Lean Enterprise Institute at the Lean Summit this past March in Las Vegas.   Chet is interviewing Kinross Gold who has been on a Lean journey now for several year, along with Ernie Richardson.

Interview with Kinross and Teaching Lean Inc at the Lean Summit in March 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Raised by Toyota - Q&A with Ernie and Tracey Richardson

Hello everyone, #crossblogging this month.  Spent a week on a Q&A interview with the Lean Enterprise Institute extrapolating our thoughts and experiences from our time at Toyota and how we translate them to other across all different types of industries.

Check out the link to the column on The Lean Post by LEI

Raised by Toyota - Q&A with Ernie and Tracey Richardson

Have a GREAT 4th of July weekend coming up!!