Lean Yellow Belt Training (part 2)

Core values of Lean: respect the people, challenge the people, people will fix the process. 70-80% of people want challenge. They want to feel good at the end of the day, they want to wake up in the morning and they want to do something bigger than themselves. But if you don’t give initiative, if you don’t challenge them – you are going to get to mediocrity. This is the second part of Lean Yellow Belt Training (Module 1) by Charanjit Singh (CJ) Bawa, Lean Coach and QCDMS Consultants founder.

Whenever I’m doing a process and I don’t get it until I’ve talked to the person who does the job. That’s why we call for a process walk, that’s why we ask – go, walk and talk to the person.

Avatar Movie… A Lean leader or any leader should lead with the purpose, lead with an objective. People will follow you. You have to be very passionate, if you want to really make a process improvement.

Lots of people ask me why I am so passionate. If you are not passionate – forget it, nothing is changing. So what have I learned from this movie? The hero has to live in two bodies, he was sent in a body of the avatar to go there and lie, deceive, do whatever to get them out, get the mineral, sell the planet for billions of dollars. That’s the plot, but he realizes that’s wrong. And then he connects with the people.

“If you are not passionate – forget it, nothing is changing”

Charanjit Singh (CJ) Bawa

I loved the animals were connected to the humans, the humans were connected to the plants, everything was connected in this movie. This is what happens in organization, when we do process reviews or any kind of review, we forget that we are all connected. Especially when you are making a change, make sure “If I’m going to do this, how it’s going to affect there?”. Always remember that everything is connected, it’s a glass house and I have been through those processes reviews where people say “Why am I doing it? Let her do it”.

One thing I don’t like about process reviews is when they only improve the pieces but the net result is still the same. The file used to take 210 days, the file is still taking 210 days. What have you improved? “We have improved our process. We reduced our touch time” – great but you haven’t given value back to the client.

I always suggest for a big process to do mapping and then find the pockets of improvement. Be flexible, think, put yourself in other people’s shoes, even if you are a consultant in an organization, put yourself in their shoes and think how would they think.

Start at the bottom, this is called Gemba Walk – a process walk in Japanese. Walk the process for yourself. How many people have done the process walk? You must have done process drives. You hop onto the truck. So what was your experience? What happens, what changes, when you walk the process?

“I actually understand the issues these guys are facing with, in the end,” says one participant. “And the guy made it on purpose to drive superfast, so I’m going to fail. This way we have to operate computers, and let’s say the speed limit was 15 miles per hour and he would drive at 50 or 80. So, yeah, we’ve learned a lot.”

Another participant recalled the yesterday’s meeting, “I think we did something yesterday…”

That was not a process walk, that was a process talk. I had you in the room, but I didn’t go to you, I didn’t shadow you, I didn’t follow with you. Generally, that’s what I do, when I go to a clinic – I put a patient on myself and ultrasound or x-ray: at least they will pull my shirt up and will do it without rays just to show me whatever steps they have to go through. That’s a process walk. I bothered this guy for two days – his process is complex and I couldn’t understand this process so I had to bother him for two days.

You are a savior to them. They like “Are you here to save me?”, “Are you going to pull me out of this dungeon?”. That’s hot, if you have engaged them, if they trust you, they will give you every button, every click they make.

I was the assistant superintendent in transit maintenance. Nobody had ever showed up at two o’clock in the night to see the panes when all the dirt comes and people respect you for that. Forget about the change. People just respect you. They will start listening to you that “Oh, he’s not just talk, talk, talk”, he came at 2:00 a.m. in the morning.

Other thing I’ve learned was to build on team’s strength. You cannot fix everything, you never can. it’s not humanly possible. If I’m doing a process of you and you are the six people, rather than CJ is making changes which will be one or two changes, you guys can make 12 changes together. That’s what I have learned.

When we do Lean process reviews, nobody goes empty-handed, everybody takes action items. It’s not about just fun, fun, fun, two days of food and two days of drink and you didn’t take anything. No, no, no. You are taking three things with you and when you distribute it, people love it.

Be honest, share openly, good, bad and ugly, whatever is in your mind, speak openly in front of people. People read, we are humans we can read lies, we can read body languages.

I was doing another project in library and I tried at the start of the project with objective to come out with a simple statement which connects everybody. So when you hold a book, you want a book, you put a hold. The book may be available in that library and you live close to this library, right? You’re getting my point? The different libraries, right? 17 or 18 libraries and we were trying to reduce the time of the whole process, how to get the book faster. So the biggest problem we found out was… the truck goes every day… people didn’t even knew what time the truck was coming and they were missing the trucks. It cuts 24 hours right away when you missed the truck and it throws the average out.

Lean data is very simple at games of averages, you can reduce lead time very easily by focusing on the higher numbers. Do you know what was the purpose of that project or objective? Catch the truck. Nothing else. They cut down lead time by 50%. The truck will come at 9:05. They would start at 8:00 and have all the books ready for that library. That’s it. That was the change.

I didn’t tell you the other changes. The problem was the book would change seven carts. Somebody said, “Book will never leave one cart”. That’s it. That was the process change. Four months changed into one day and they did their own time inventory.

The changes are so simple and please do not go into a process with thinking ‘a solution in your mind’. Half solution is in your mind. You are wasting our time if you already know what you want to do. So I was doing IT process review one day and a manager came to me, “CJ, I wrote this policy six years back, this is what you have to do”. I said, “If you did it six years back why haven’t you implemented it yet?”. “No, no, no, no one would listen,” he replied. I said “Okay, we will not look at this policy till the time solutions come out, at that time we will look out if they have matched what you wanted or not”. It was totally different what people wanted from what he wanted.

“You are wasting our time if you already know what you want to do.”

Charanjit Singh (CJ) Bawa

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