Friday, September 11, 2015

Lean Leadership "Unplugged" Webcast Recording

HI Everyone,
If you missed the live webcast today facilitated by Chris Burnham - Featuring myself, Ernie Richardson, Sam MacPherson, and Jamie Flinchbaugh.  We were discussing many aspects of #Lean #Leadership as a prelude to the Summit on Lean Leadership next month in partnership with Lean Frontiers next month in Atlantic Beach, FL.

Please check out this link to watch -

Come join us in sunny Florida next month!!!
Until Next time
Tracey Richardson

Thursday, August 6, 2015

PDCA, Fitness Apps, and Using Social Media to Improve Our Health

Happy August Everyone,
#crossblogging from The Lean Post

I often find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle with my travel schedule these days. When my husband and I are home, it’s much easier to follow the standardization techniques we’ve created for ourselves with regard to meal choices and exercise. Similar to lean thinking and practice, it’s a choice we’ve made to create a “business” lifestyle. We’ve decided how it is that we want to think about our health, just as how at work, a team will decide how they want to think as an organization about their business.
I remind myself that I become healthier by following the same attention to process with personal health as I do when applying Lean, which is mostly about understanding mindset and how to measure success. Am I focusing on process or results? If I want to lose weight, for example, when I step on the scale, what I’m looking at is simply a “lagging indicator”. It’s what I do next in terms of process that determines the result of what the scale will tell me the next time I jump on.
As I try to be proactive about my health, I find social media, technology, and apps to be helpful in this regard. Whether you have them or not, you’re probably aware of the Fitbits, Jawbone 24s, and countless other models out there that help us track data about ourselves and the choices we make on an hourly basis. Many of these apps have the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) process embedded within them if you look deeply.
When I look over my personal current state (grasp the situation), and see how am I doing against the standards I have set, it takes me back to my production days at Toyota when I had to track hour by hour where my team and I were against the standards we set as well. It’s fascinating to me how in depth you can get with your own behaviors if you are willing to track them. Some people are reluctant to do this because it may tell them something they aren’t ready to hear.
Take Fitbit, for example. (I’ve used three different apps to find the right one for me, comparing the different measurements offered to customers). If you are willing to play along, it will ask you to set standards for yourself so in a sense it’s allowing you to set you own takt time with the hopes that kaizen will be applied when those standards are met, raising your own bar. You can track and set goals for:
  • Tracey RichardsonSteps in a day (miles walked/ran)
  • Sleep (awake, light deep)
  • Water intake
  • Calorie intake
  • Calories burned
  • Food categories
  • Floors climbed (stairs- elevation)
  • Heart Rate (resting and during a workout)
  • Active Time
  • Weight (Current and target)
Think about it… within an organization we are always looking for process indicators to be more predictive to our outputs. Most organizations track lagging, results-oriented indicators. This means we are reacting to results that happened months ago. But are we able to make changes to that process that took place 3 months ago? What we really want to do is search to find the leading indicators to make change in the present before it ends up on the lagging report. 
The parallel I see with lean thinking and personal health decisions is about how we look at what we do. We have the ability to make change each day/hour in order to meet our goals. For example, if it’s 12pm and I only have 1,500 of my 8,000 steps allotted for my day, then I know I must change my process in order to meet the standard. The same goes for calorie intake. If my goal is 1,500 calories a day and I went to Cracker Barrel and had “Uncle Hershel’s breakfast”… then I may be way off my calorie ratio for the day! So what does this tell me? If I want to try to meet my standards, I must exercise or reduce my calorie intake for the rest of the day.
Health isn't about always being perfect. Just like in our organizations, we all have imperfect days. It’s how we change our process to meet expectations that is important. We all want to be able to have a nice dessert or treat from time to time… we deserve it, right? We just have to understand moderation. Just like in an organization, we don’t try to implement every improvement we want to make or new activity or behavior at once. It’s a process of changing our daily habits, changing how we think, and working toward the milestones we set in order to create new ones.
The other thing I like about Fitbits or Nike Run apps is the friendly competition they create among “friend” networks! If I see my friends are walking more steps than me, it’s an internal motivator to keep up or even do better. We all have some level of that competitive gene! For me, I’ll do whatever it takes to find fun in healthy practices and share them with others. In our business life, our “friends” are our competitors and we should always try to stay one step ahead of them to keep them in the rear view mirror. Just as apps show our competitive side, in business healthy competition can lead us to improve our processes for better profits and long-term sustainability. I personally love seeing the way lean thinking and practice translates in everyday life The more we can see it in our own lives, the easier it is to get buy in in our workplace. This is the same thinking we want in our work lives, whether we lead or are the ones doing the work.  
So challenge yourself to see the PDCA that is all around you in this new, technologically advanced world. I try not only to build muscle for the purpose of my own personal health, but to flex my problem solving muscles as well. It’s all about finding ways to translate personal behaviors into different choices – at work and at home. Always, focus on making sure you #movetheneedle! #lean #fitness #PDCA #Problemsolving #workout #measure
Until next time,
Tracey Richardson

Monday, July 6, 2015

Why do we like change in our personal life, but not at work?


Here is a post I made on that I am sharing here with my followers.

Why do we like change in our personal life, but not at work?

It's enlightening to me when Ernie and I ask during a session, "how many people have the latest smart phone version of their phone", we get an 85% hand raise from the participants.   We deepen the conversation with the participants by asking:
Tracey/Ernie: - "was the current version not working?"
The participants: the majority answer, "yes it was working".  
Tracey/Ernie:  "if was working properly why would you change?" 
The participants: "we wanted the latest technology"
Tracey/Ernie:  "so you are expressing to us that you like change?"
The participants: "Absolutely!"
So we grin and continue on with one more question for the participants, we ask - "How many of you have the same TV you had 20 years ago?", again the majority of hands show there has been a change.   Similar to smart phone and other electronic gadgets these days we tend to gravitate towards the latest and greatest.  So we have come to the realization that most people within this facet of life, love change.  Why is this?  
So we ask, "if you are so willing to change in your personal life, why is change in your work life so difficult?"   When new concepts of thinking are introduced to a business why are they looked at with such judgement? For example, we can use 5S - how many people remember their first experience with it?  Do you remember thinking of it as an "add-on?"   Usually the first response we get is, "we have always done it this way and it's worked well--I don't have time for this!".  Our response is "oh really, didn't we just establish change is good?"   We are so open to it when we are in control of it, but yet we aren't in other facets such as work.  It's fascinating to me what dynamics in our minds change.   We have shown we like it, now how do we tap into that source for work.   It's like re-framing our viewpoint in a sense.  We need a hook!
We continue to fuel the flame and ask, "do you do business the same way you did 20 years ago?"   We refer to our personal pasts and share "if we made the same model of Camry we made when we started (1988) would it still sell today?"  Probably not as well, right?   We try to make the point that change is a part of who we are as individuals (from the moment we are born) and what should naturally take place within an organization to meet the need of the ever-changing market.   The problem is it doesn't, we migrate to a comfort zone and for some reason we like to stay there, as in ~ "we make plenty of profit now, why rattle the tree?"  As we know from experience it takes a little shaking to get the fruit sometimes.  
We feel that if an organization takes the time to explain why change is important, then people may find the buy-in process a little more acceptable.  For instance if you are an Apple person, we may often watch the infamous Fall "announcements" about the latest and greatest Iphone.   We as the consumer then make the decision as to whether we upgrade or not--did they present a good hook?.   From what I see as a smart phone owner this tactic must influence the market well enough to encourage change, otherwise you wouldn't see a new one out each September.    
So the question is how do we tap into area of our brains that is so accepting of change and create that feeling within our work lives.   It's intriguing to us, we will continue to look for ways, how about you? 
Ernie and Tracey Richardson - @thetoyotagal

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SDCA versus PDCA- when to use them.

#crossblogging from a Linkedin in article I wrote this month.

I know many of us have been exposed to Plan-Do-Check-Action (PDCA), (note some earlier versions from Deming the PDSA (Plan- Do-Study-Act) cycle).  Both being a scientific, process oriented, approach to solving problems efficiently and effectively. 
Often times if we have a known standard in place and a measurable difference in the current state, I like to refer to that as a caused gap.   This means there are root cause(s) that need to be investigated and sought out at the gemba.  Basically a discrepancy in a process (doesn't have to be manufacturing).   Caused gaps use the PDCA process to get back to the original standard. 
Another usage of PDCA is for a created gap problem which is more strategic in nature.   A scenario could be I am meeting an expectation and looking or proposing or strategizing a new way or standard.  Raising the bar through continuous improvement bringing to life the visual staircase depicting kaizen. 
Here is a short video I did with The Lean Enterprise Institute using a visual to show caused versus created gaps:
During my tenure with problem solving I have come to the realization there are 3 commonalities when you get to the root cause analysis step.   Once confirming the true root cause based on facts you can categorize them into 3 bucket areas.  They will fall into either:
  • Lack of a standard
  • Not following a standard
  • Wrong standard (not valid to the customer anymore)
So can you recognize the similarity?  - Standards!   I share with clients if all our A3's are telling us we needs standards I wonder how many A3's or problem solving events could be reduced if we just set standards to begin with.  Imagine that theory.  
One of my early lessons from my Japanese trainers was Standardize-Do-Check-Act - (SDCA).  This was a process we often used when we knew there wasn't a established standard and by potentially setting one that it "could" remedy the problem properly by following the process.  It's not as simplistic as it sounds and you have to gain some experience to determine when you use SDCA or PDCA.  Both processes can move the needle for your organization if the time is taken to practice.   
When using SDCA you start out with standardization first, putting what you know to be the best known standard in place that meets the internal and external customer needs.   Once you determine the correct standard you continue the process by putting it into place with the "Do" phase and "Checking" the effectiveness of your change based on the performance measures before you change and after.  Otherwise how are you going to know it was the right standard, so you must stay true to the process just as PDCA.   When you have determined it's meeting the expectation then the "Act" is to make it the new documented policy or procedure and share it with other affected areas.  This becomes the benchmark for improvement. 
As you develop your problem solving muscle you can begin to make the determination when its best to use PDCA or SDCA.   Either process must be followed thoroughly without taking the short cuts that are often driven by results of solving it quickly, instead the process of efficient and effective problem solving.  
Until next time
Tracey Richardson - @thetoyotagal

Friday, May 22, 2015

What it Takes to Share One's Wisdom: A Q&A with Tracey Richardson

Hello Blog readers - Sharing a column from The Lean Post - out many other posts from Lean Thinkers here as well!!   

Sharing Wisdom Interview:

What it Takes to Share One's Wisdom: A Q&A with Tracey Richardson

Toyota veteran, LEI faculty member, and Lean Post contributor Tracey Richardson has written for the Post on problem solving, A3 thinking, leadership, lean culture, and visual management, among other topics. We sat down with Tracey to talk to her approach to both teaching and writing with the aim of learning more about her process of sharing lean thinking with others so that they might better achieve their business and organizational goals.
What led you to not just practice lean, but teach?
Having the opportunity to learn from Japanese trainers in the early days at the TMMK plant (1988), sparked a passion for me to go into training and development not just for Toyota but outside as well. I've personally experienced how successful the "thinking" can be, how putting people development (respect for people) first and foremost can be. I'm also a very hands on visual and kinesthetic learner, so getting to go to many gembas across industries and share with people all the dynamics around problem solving and culture is priceless. As my trainers would say, I'm giving back and also "sharing wisdom."
What seems to work best in teaching lean ideas and practices to people who are just getting started?
I try to lessen the "tool talk" and "lean talk." I think when the labels are more important than the process and thinking behind it, people can lose the true intent of why they are doing something. It often becomes more about outcomes, return on investments, measuring the wrong things.

"When you make a decision to change the way you do business, it should hold you accountable for certain leadership actions – new leadership behaviors that engage and empower team members to want make a difference in their daily work."

When you make a decision to change the way you do business, it should hold you accountable for certain leadership actions – new leadership behaviors that engage and empower team members to want make a difference in their daily work. If people have an ability to impact key performance indicators for the organization, then they suddenly have a new line of sight. They understand their role in the organization or what their role could be. In other words, folks need to be supported in visualizing their own gaps in performance and then they need to want to learn more. That's how I learned. I had a responsibility to the company to contribute to the job security for then entire company as well as myself.
In the beginning we didn't call it anything but our job. When I teach, I try really hard to help people understand that investing in people and teaching problem solving – these are the actions of leadership. It's about recognizing nonvalue-add activities and creating value in every dimension of each functional area from order to customer. That is truly Lean to me.
And what's been most valuable for you about putting what you've learned into writing?
I like to consider myself a practical instructor using past lessons to teach others to translate the learning into their world. I love the classroom. I try to hit all the learning styles and have fun doing it. I think writing can be just as impactful if I can grasp the readers' attention like I do in class. I truly try to write as I would tell a story in class. So far people have given me good feedback, but I'm always learning, so feel free to give me more so I can improve how I share!
What's the hardest about writing?
I'll be honest, writing is not easy for me. This goes all the way back to when I was a kid. It takes time for me to extrapolate what's in my mind and put it into words. When I'm in the classroom I'm very animated and theatrical. If you taped my arms down I don't think I could talk! My fear or difficulty with writing is that I will miss some key translation points because I can't always put the depth of my learning experiences into the right words. I'm thankful to other authors and writers who share their wisdom, and I'll continue share what I can. It's a process like anything else.
What are you looking forward to seeing in the lean community? What new opportunities and challenges do you see ahead?
This is a good question for all of us who are trying to improve how we teach others and share ideas. I think a really important thing to think about is how organizations measure how they are doing. We often find the scales are shifted on the heavy side of results-oriented indicators which are historical in nature. I'd like to see the lean community shift that a little – shift expectations a little – in the direction of leading more predicative indicators so people can make a difference before they get the "3 month report". It also puts the focus on processes and standards, which is important for continuous improvement to actually happen and be measured.
People get so focused on outcomes and not the processes that get them there. Embedding effective gemba walks along with good visual management – these are also important factors for longterm growth and sustainability. I think our challenges as a lean community reside in raw discipline and accountability to practice the right thing even when it feels uncomfortable. My trainers would tell me if I'm too comfortable everyday, then I'm probably not learning.
Tracey Richardson will be teaching "Managing to Learn: The Use of the A3 Management Process" at LEI's Washington D.C. workshopsJune 16-18th. Ernie Richardson will be teaching "Key Concepts of Lean" and bring a "virtual gemba" to the classroom using a Landcruiser simulation (to demonstrate the Toyota Production System, Standardized Work, 5S, Visual Controls, Kanbans, Work flow, Push versus Pull systems, and KPI integration). Ernie will also teach "Gemba Walks: A Management Process for Leading the Organization" workshop focusing on what a gemba walk is and isn't and how to run one by use of a real life gemba near the conference. Use the code "FACULTY" to receive a 50% discount on either workshop at the DC location only!
Until next time, 
Tracey Richardson

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lastest Podcast with Chris Burnham at Lean Leadership Podcast

Hello Everyone,

Wanted to share with you our latest Podcast w Chris Burnham at Lean Leadership Podcast.  Check it out.  Ernie and I share our Toyota experiences and stories of our time with our sensei's as well as today teaching others.  Enjoy!!

iTunes Link:

Until next time,
Tracey and Ernie Richardson

Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Lean Thinking" in NASCAR- if you look close enough it's everywhere you GO !!

Lean Tools in 

By Ernie and Tracey Richardson
Owners-Teaching Lean Inc.


So Ernie and I attended the 2015 Daytona 500 this year with a little different lens than usual.   We were fortunate to receive “hot pit” passes which gave us access to the garages, and pits during actual live racing.   We were able to get up close and personal with every aspect of the race from behind the scenes.   So of course we were doing what we are conditioned to do – look for examples of lean and how each team uses the tools to be more effective and efficient.  It literally comes down to seconds, preparation, execution, continuous improvement and a little luck to cross the line in front.

As we were walking through NASCAR team trailer area, we noticed various 5S examples of how the Goodyear racing tires were being mounted and staged before the race for each team to pull from based on certain track conditions and even unforeseen events during the race.

We noticed how visual management was being incorporated by the pit crew in order to differentiate the rear from the front tires (different tape color being applied) and how to align the lug pattern on to the studs in the quickest way possible during the tire changes.  If you notice the yellow lug-nuts are actually glued to the rim to save time by the tire change pit member.  An ideal pit stop time is around 12 seconds or less to be competitive.  These visual controls are crucial for standardized work.  

As we continued to walk down the pits we observed more examples of visual controls,  problem solving and data collection which allows the teams to understand the relationship of tread wear and proper air pressure. The relationship of these are necessary in order to meet track conditions before and during the race.   If you notice the various numbers that are visually displayed on the outside tire tread its telling the pit crew what the specific tread depth is on various areas of the tire in order to grasp the situation before its placed on the race car.

If you notice in the 2nd picture these tires had been removed from the car at one of the pit stops and immediately were measure by depth and pressure to understand how the tire is performing under the current track conditions and allows them to adjust the next set if necessary.   You could consider this a leading key performance type indicator that is predictive to future tire wear and the handling capabilities for the car/team.  PDCA throughout the race.

As we were visiting various pit areas we noticed the use of a Kanban and pull system with the gas replenishing process.   They come to the pit area in a Kanban of 4, then placed next to the pit wall for quick access and usage by the fuel replenishing pit member often called the “gas man”.   When these two are emptied it creates an open spot giving direction to the pit support crew to fill both slots for the next pit stop.  When all 4 are used the support crew refills the cart to restart the process.  It’s practicing just in time.  
Another data collection point in the gas refill process is weighing the gas can before and after the pit stop to determine exactly how much gas went in and how much the race car is consuming during the race to understand when the next pit stop is necessary and to determine fuel mileage for the team.


Lastly, on our tour of pit row we noticed a wheel hub mounted on the side of a pit box for the tire changer to actually practice their standardize work of placing the lug nuts on and off in a specific pattern in order to master the timing and body placement during a pit stop tire change.   Tire changers are one of the essential parts of a pit stop, it can often make or break a team in how they come out and are placed after a caution or green flag pit stops.

It was very enlightening to get this special opportunity to see the things we teach in our sessions used so well with discipline and accountability for standard work with each of these teams.  We learned lean is everywhere if you just take the time to look for it.  NASCAR is a prime example of holding each member accountable for their actions and to always be looking for ways to continuously improving their processes.   Unlike most companies there are many more “leading” type key performance indicators allowing them to be predictive of their outcome, versus lagging and after the fact.   The next time you get to watch a race look for the lean tools in action they are there!  Keep the lean movement going—Green flag thinking!!!
Until next time
Ernie and Tracey Richardson