Monday, December 3, 2012

How do you Greet the day?

"Energy and Persistence conquer all things"  

Benjamin Franklin

We talk a lot in lean about attitude and culture, about developing that perfect mix of happy employees that feel a calling (feel challenged) to be better.  To develop these employees requires a multitude of facets, but I think the most influential is the attitude management puts forward.  I know what you're thinking, this conversation is heading towards corny and we have all heard we should smile more...but let me stab at this discussion anyway.

The best organization's i've seen, be it lean, be it large, be it small, have a leader with one common trait.  I would call it a common factor in building a great company, doesn't mean there are CEOs, Presidents, ect. out there who don't have it, but those that do seem to have an easier time.

What's the common factor? Whats the one thing that great leaders share?..Energy!  Like an excessive amount of energy, pom-squad type energy, annoying 5-yr old hopped up on Mountain Dew type energy...a lot of it!

You could easily argue with me and say it's not necessary...go ahead (I don't have data to back me up), but if you think about the logic it just makes sense!  In our organizations  we are all trying to bring about change, and we know it takes a LOT of energy to bring change around...those that give up early don't get far.  That energy also has to be contagious, from the front line supervisors, employees, middle management, all have to be poised and ready to GO!  So yes, these events can happen without a driving energetic force at the top, but the odds are much less.  And having someone at a lower level with a lot of Energy and Drive is only going to bring an organization so far.

So if you are that CEO, President, Director, whoever, that feels sluggish in the morning, crawls into work at 9AM, and hides in your office for most of the day...maybe that's why your lean implementation isn't going so well (or whatever goal your are going towards).  So find a way to Greet the day, with energy and gusto, and I promise your employees will follow suit.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

How can we Innovate in a Manufacturing Environment?

I sat through two guests speakers the other day, both discussing innovation, but with two very different approaches.

The 1st had developed a program to teach companies how to be innovative, broken the process down into steps and went with the concept of "fail fast, fail cheap".  A very logical approach, and very "engineering minded", of do this and you will be an innovative/creative organization.  The speaker/instructor worked for Proctor & Gamble and developed many new products during his stint there. 

The 2nd discussed innovation as thinking outside the box.  A true creative type, working as a print media designer for companies like John Deere, the NBA, ect.  Much less formal and more "it came to me" and rely on past experiences to come up with new design.

So, two speakers, one pushing innovation as a step by step process, and one pushing it as a broad "think outside the box" approach.  Which is more important and which applies better in a manufacturing company that needs to come up with innovative ideas to survive?

I would argue that both approaches are important, but that neither is grasping the whole picture.  On one hand, creativity has to have limits, we can't live in perpetual brainstorming for all our lives, but at the same time Creativity is not a wholly written process.  In fact, I would say the less guidelines, due dates, criteria we (the leaders) give the happier we will be with the results.

I'll admit it's a hard process to figure out, one that takes a lot of trial and error to do right, but we all have to figure it out...just like lean, each company is different.

But I also believe that much like lean, Innovation can be handled systematically and when innovation is needed it can be conjured from the depths of your employees minds.  Again, each company has to determine how that happens for themselves, and setting strict guidelines on where and how to innovate is probably going to lead to failure.