Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Yes-- we look for Lean examples, Standardization, and JIT even on our vacation time!

Well Ernie and I were able to work in some vacation time to Hawaii this month (Jan).  It was my first trip there and Ernie's second.  We visited 2 islands (Oahu and Maui) and I have to say it was amazing and I hope to return one day-truly paradise for me.   I wanted to dedicate a blog post to "lean even on vacation" to illustrate no matter how much I try to get away from it, it's really just intrinsic to who I am (we are).  It was also a way to share a bit of our fun with a lean flare.

So as we arrived at HNL airport we noticed the awesome visual control system in the rental car garage as we exited.  They had people/movement detectors connected to flashing stop signs to let a driver know when someone was walking across giving them a leading indicator to stop in time.  There were several blind spots so this was a very good visual management countermeasure for safety.

Once we arrived at our hotel in Waikiki we made our way to the elevators and recognized technology that assisted with level loading process to help prevent wait time by a guest.  We have seen different versions of these with our travel but this one never allowed us to wait past 10 seconds--very efficient.  Once you enter your floor then it display which "specific" elevator door you should get on.   There were 8 different elevators in this area.  I would be nice to yokoten this idea putting in place in larger hotels everywhere :).

We saw various examples of 5S, but one I don't believe I have witness before was the "sweeping" of the beach.   Since we were acclimating to HST time, we had the pleasure of watching the sunrise over Diamond Head.  We noticed there was a beach sweeper (similar to an ice rink cleaner removing the marks and refreshing the ice).  The beach sweeper removed all the foot prints and sand artistry made the day before.  I was impressed and said "they 5S'ed the beach"--a fresh beach each morning to walk on.  I jokingly said, it looks like "vacuum marks" on a carpet.

Next we were honored to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial.  What an emotional experience.  We found that there was lots of standardization here.  The U.S Navy was a integral part of the entire process.   There were only 1300 tickets given out each day, and there are hourly trips outward to the memorial with a specific amount of people allowed each trip with a return of folks ready to leave, loading and unloading had a process to follow.   As we sailed out silently we were only allowed to use our phones while sitting with only use of the camera function.   Out of respect, we were instructed to have minimal discussions and if so very quietly.  No texting, or phone calls from the memorial, most were very compliant.

Diamond Head Crater was an amazing hike, we also realized some rules and standards for the National Park.   The park had hiking rules:

1. You had to stay on the trail (otherwise it could create further erosion issues)
2.  There were certain areas of the park that were off limits since it's owned by the U.S Government
3.  FAA is present inside the crater for communication with the US Coast Guard, Civil Defense and Emergency Services.
4.  No one is able to begin the hike past 430pm since the park strictly closes at 6pm.

We had the pleasure of getting an hour to swim with dolphins- a bucket list item for me.   Part of their protocol included us sitting and discussing our outcomes of the visit and also to learn about the dolphins, their personalities and environment.   They actually said the dolphins will choose us.   We were given a level of Job instruction training in regard to feeding, holding, petting and swimming with them.  We all wanted to be in a safe environment including the dolphins since we were in their "home".  It was interesting to learn hand signals to direct them as they followed a process.  Their trainers were amazing, and it was a very unique experience--one very standardized in all areas especially safety.

On this trip we experienced for the first time flying Hawaiian Airlines.   What an interesting airline.  We have been used to flying Delta all these years and they are an affiliate of Delta airlines but their standardized work was a bit different.  It was interesting to see a different process and learn as we went through it.  

1.  The Kiosk process was all inclusive, you not only signed in and printed your boarding passes but you also weighed and tagged your check bags.
2.   Only about 1/2 the staff was needed since everything was done by the customer.
3.  On the plane the refreshments were a foiled 4 ounce drink that was given to everyone, and the trash collected within 7 min making it a very efficient process/service- no cart necessary in the aisle. 
I'm sure it may be different for their longer flights, but their island to island flights were practicing lean in many ways. 

Another excursion of ours was whale watching, this was an experience to say the least.  We learned a lot about whale population and routines throughout the year.   The boat we were on had specific standardized work for us all to follow.

1.  No one was allowed to walk around until we were clearly out of the harbor area.
2.  When you stood up to observe you had to have a 3 point contact to walk around safely due to waves/swell.
3.  When aboard the boat you refer to the back of the boat as the stern/aft, the front as the bow, the left side as the port, and right is starboard.   
Honestly, it was difficult to remember it all, but part of their process.    If we spotted a whale we had to refer to the area of a clock they were at with the front of the boat being 12 o'clock.  This was necessary for quick reference not to miss a shot if all possible.   The whale are definitely unpredictable and on their own schedule, but so majestic!  Priceless!

How many have eaten a pineapple grown in Hawaii?   I am not a pineapple fan, but grew to enjoy them while there.   There is nothing sweeter than these and you can find them added with many different foods on the islands.   While visiting the Dole plantation we learned there was a specific process for cutting a pineapple.  They had a demonstration every hour to share their standardized work and also free pineapple.  They taught us how to minimize some of the waste by not eliminating all the core which many do (tribal knowledge I suppose), and how to lessen the acid once freshly cut.  It was a process we hope to replicate in the future. 

Tribal knowledge can be a good thing if "shared wisdom" is involved.    We met Una who was a local on Maui his entire life.   He learned his carving skill (standardized work) from his father, and has know passed on his knowledge to his children who now carve with him as needed based on demand.  We were blessed to get to see him finishing a piece we purchased as a keepsake along with a symbolic whale tail which can mean strength.   We learned that standardized work with the Hawaiian Koa wood is very specific and timely in order to produce high quality items.  It was very interesting to hear about the Job instruction training between him and his father and with his own children. 

Lastly was a great example of standardized work and job instruction training involving myself in regard to a paddle board lesson (my very first).    For 4 days we were unable to rent a paddle board due to the swell and currents.   Once it calmed and shifted I was able to take my first paddle board lesson.  Little did I know there was so much involved in sustaining this process (meaning not falling off into the water).  I had witnessed many folks even on the rough ocean days paddle with no issue and made an assumption that it would be fairly simple.  Boy was I mistaken, until you experience the facts about a process, don't make an assumption.  Go See! 
First my instructor and I started on the dry beach practicing what I would do when I got into the water.   So we did this for about 10-15 min preparing.

Once I was able to remember some essential standardized work steps we went out into the ocean to begin the process.

1.  First was to just get on the board and sit properly, paddle correctly and practice turning.

2. Secondly, to get a feel of the water and currents and learn where to go and not to go do to the shallow waters, rocks and reef.   Once I developed confidence sitting and paddling I was reminded of the standardized work process and asked to paddle on my knees as I felt comfortable doing. 

As you can see my instructor directly behind me, telling me what key points I am not following exactly and how to improve.  It was a great example of JIT.   When you are out there its hard to remember all the nuances, it was great to have the reminder in the ear as I was learning and doing simultaneously!  I spent a little while getting used to paddling and turns and was told when I was ready I could stand.   Now mind you, there was a specific process for this that created the most sustainability for staying on the board. 

So I followed the standard work process to the best of my ability being my first time.   I got the board moving and began to stand.  I will admit it was very awkward and have a whole new respect for paddle boarders and the leg muscles it takes along with upper body.  Wow! 

As you can see I did my best to replicate the process they taught me, I was a bit shaky but was able to recreate the process and stayed on my feet without falling off (a goal).   From this point I was up and down continuing to learn to sustain the process.  I was out for almost an hour and my fun was over, but I felt my body was spent and my legs were pretty sore for the flight home.   A good workout to say the least.   As I reflected it was a all about my instructors training technique and my ability to listen.  Something we can all improve on. 

Overall we found a lot of examples of lean, standardized work, problem solving, waste awareness, level loading, safety, 5S and many other lean aspects.  It was a great trip and I thought I would share a bit of our experience over our 10 day trip!   Hope you enjoyed!  Remember lean is all around us, just look closely!  Have fun with it!  We do!! 

Until next time
Tracey and Ernie Richardson

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sustaining New Year's Resolutions - Any different than sustaining Lean?

Happy 2016!!  Last year seems like a blur, we worked with some of our regular clients and gained several more across various industry.   It was a great year for LEArNing for all folks we were involved with.  We enjoy turning on light bulbs and will continue to do the same in 2016.   #movetheneedle day by day.

So for my first blog post of 2016 let's talk about New Year's Resolution's.   How many of you have one?  There are always various motivating factors involved with selecting one or several perhaps.

Here are some of the common ones out there I have heard:

  1. Join a fitness center and work out 3-4 times a week
  2. Begin walking/jogging/bicycling
  3. Weight loss program
  4. Stop smoking
  5. Spend more time with family
  6. Be more efficient
  7. Don't procrastinate
  8. New hobby
  9. Clean eating
  10. Save more money
Let's take the gym as an example.  I think fitness centers and gyms everywhere really look forward to the increase in January membership sales they attain through people wanting personal change.  I saw this meme on social media and had to grin.  Although a bit exaggerated there is some truth in it.  I even witnessed a marketing tactic by Planet Fitness at the Time Square event in New York City this past new year's eve event.   Great strategy to plant a seed in millions of minds!

So when we develop a plan or strategy for ourselves at the beginning of the year, how do we sustain it?  What mechanisms will we put in place to keep us accountable for our actions?  What if our work-load increases, or some other "un-planned" distraction takes us away?   Some statistics have shown that 62% of people tend to revert back to their comfort zones or previous ways after just 4 weeks of setting their goal. 

 I've often wondered what creates the "hook" for the folks that can create a habit (or new lifestyle) and get over the hump of the "push versus pull".  What I mean by that is often when we are creating a new habit it's a push.  You may have to remind yourself to go to the gym or go even force yourself when you really don't want to.   A "pull" is when you go because you want to, and you feel bad if you don't, not just mentally but physically.  Really, it has become part of your lifestyle and not necessarily labeled anymore.

So what is the magic behind the "push-pull" transformation?  I think each persons reasons or decisions are different in motivation.   For some it could be a health related issue the doctor has encouraged you to improve.   It could be setting an example for your children-- there are many that motivate us.  Most people have to see a "what's in it for me" to create the hook to sustain the activity to allow it to become part of a "lifestyle" not an "add-on".

As we translate this to lean and our work life there are some parallels.   So one of the first questions we ask is "why are you doing lean?"  "What problem are you trying to solve?-- because lean is a countermeasure."  We see organization's start out with great hopes perhaps after a conference, class or a new promotion.  We want to make a change, or impact for ourselves and others, but we often forget the "what's in it for me/them" hook.   Just as the gym example we have to know why and how this will begin to happen. 

If I'm a leader and I say - "Let's do lean, it's going to be great--here is what I need you to do", then I'm more or less "selling or telling", so would even say convincing.   If I don't engage in why it is important and involve the team and getting their buy-in then the stake doesn't go very far in the ground.  It's not deeply rooted and normally the "add-on" or "flavor of the month" will fade until the next "resolution" comes by and we give it a whirl but to no real outcome.  We find ourselves continuing to "push" because we never created the "pull" mechanism. 

I've often heard and even said that everything has a process.  Some processes are more complex than others but there is always a tangible to visualize I believe even in material and information flow.   If I look at process versus results then perhaps the process I used at the gym (cardio, weights, yoga, or cize) allows me to start seeing the results --which are the scales and the mirror.   Most people focus too much on the scales and mirror and not enough on the process that makes that transformation.   Similar to lean, the processes you use to engage people each day collectively create the results as an organization that translate to your mirror and scales from a business perspective.   

So for me lean thinking translates to so many things we all do in our personal lives.  We just have to find "why" we want to do or change something in our lives and find the hook that keeps us there.  I think if we ask the right questions of ourselves we can find what is necessary to go from push to pull.   So those of you that created a resolution--where will you be 4 weeks from now?  Create your own path through understanding why you need to be on it.  

Until next time
Ernie and Tracey Richardson