How to lose your team?

No problem…It is so easy to lose your team. Try one of the following:

  • Hide schedule
  • Hide documents
  • Show them that you are better than them
  • Do not appreciate their efforts
  • Use their effort to get appreciation for yourself
  • Ignore their suggestions
  • Ignore their personal problems
  • Give them orders only
  • Do not hold meetings to discuss
  • When you have to hold a meeting, keep talking
  • If you want to let them talk, then look in your mobile phone
  • Never say we. Say “I” for achievement and “you” for instructions
  • Do not share future vision with them
  • If someone make an error, get nervous and show everyone that you do not respect him
  • Show them that you like some of them and hate the others
  • Never show them their progress
  • If you have a meeting with your team, arrive very late with reason

It is so easy to lose your team. Never do that.

Do not forget your objective…

It is obvious that when you have an objective that you are not supposed to forget it; however, in many cases people do forget their objectives. Example:

  • A service provider who wants to enjoy showing the customer how knowledgeable he is rather than serving the customer in short time
  • An organization which is successful by offering lower cost product gets in love with the new technology which will not add value to the customer but will raise the cost
  • A planning manager who make plans to make the work easier for employees rather than best serve customers
  • An auditor or control manager who wants to hide his colleagues mistakes
  • A lean practitioner who get trapped in 5S and forget that the goal was waste elimination
  • A manager who wants to produce more regardless of demand
  • A manager who is proud that a new software or new process has been implemented because it is doing the function without measuring the performance
  • A manager who is very focused on employees satisfaction and forgets shareholders satisfaction
  • An employee who is doing favors for his colleagues rather than doing his job
  • A person who uses social networks to share personal information he usually does not like to share in real life
  • A presenter who focuses on preparing good power-point slide and does not prepare his speech

Always ask yourself about your specific objective and never forget it. Do things that help you achieve your objectives. Do no let technology, sympathy, curiosity, personal interests, …etc drift you away from your objective.

Why do I like Continuous Improvement?

I really like Continuous Improvement. Why? Let me tell you:

  • it makes people excited everyday
  • it is gradual, so, resistance for change is low
  • it comes from working people themselves, so, they will not resist it
  • people love it
  • people energy is high and continuous improvement opens the door for that huge energy
  • it does not cost much
  • you get people’s mind for free and that makes you get their hearts as well
  • it generates great simple ideas
  • it is a great work environment
  • it enhances team spirit
  • it makes people love their work place because that is where they make achievements
  • it generates great results
  • it is not difficult
  • it is not easy to copy by competitors

Try it.

Creating MUDA

MUDA is a Japanese word which means waste. Lean practitioners used to use the word Muda when talking about waste. In Lean culture, we try to identify then reduce or if possible eliminate Muda. There are seven types of Muda as classified by Toyota Production System founders. Those seven types are: motion, transportation, rejection, inventory, waiting, over processing, and overproduction.

However, sometimes we not only ignore Muda but we actually create Muda and then try to work very hard to be successful with the existence of this Muda.

Examples:

  • Bad education system results in graduates that does not accept team work, does not accept transparency, does not know how to work for  a team goal, does not believe that standardization is good, does not think that organized and clean workplace is prerequisite to successful organization, and does not have many essential skills for his profession. This can be classified as Muda of rejection where the product of the education system does not match the specifications. What happens? We re-educate people at companies and organizations on those basic skills and behavior. So, we created the Muda and then trying to live with it.
  • A violation of the rules of a business process results in the manager changing the process so that there are many approvals,  more paper work, and less flexibility. Another violation will be followed by more approvals, more paper work and less flexibility. The end result is a very slow process, dissatisfied customer, and more employees to do the Muda paper work. If we care about the customer we would spend money on marketing. So, we created the Muda and are trying to live with it. If a process violation was dealt with in a firm way, then no one else would violate the process and we would not have to change he process itself.
  • Someone has some information that other people in the organization needs but he does not want to spend few minutes to make these data available to everyone. For examples, HR procedures, service procedures in the organization, Maintenance or shipping dates. Then he work hard to finish his daily work because he/she receives too many calls everyday about the procedure or the data. She/he created Muda then are suffering t live with it.
  • A service provider asks for original documents from the customer. Later, they  request the same document for another transaction. They then suffer from the amount of documents they have to keep. They created Muda and then are trying to live with it.
  • A manager does not want to delegate any decisions to his subordinates. Then he is very busy because he has to take care of everything. He created the Muda and he is suffering from it.
  • An IT manager is developing a sophisticated software that is not needed and then his team os too busy and everyone is compaining that they do not do his requests. He created a Muda and is making his team and internal customers suffer from it.

Why should you learn Marketing?

You are not a marketer and you have never been part of marketing or selling team but let me tell you that you need to learn marketing. You may think that it is not related to your work but actually it is. Everyone needs marketing by one way or another. For example:

  • When the manager decides to implement new work methods he needs to market this idea. He needs to study his product (new work methods), know the needs of his customers (employees, share holders, and customers), and know the promotion tools. He may need to segment his customers to know which segment will accept/reject his new methods and how to convince them.
  • When an employee get an idea, he needs to market it to his managers. He needs to understand the forces in the market (organization). He needs to know the buying behavior (who takes the decision, who influences the decision maker, and who will be affected by his idea).
  • If you have a very small business such as grocery store, I suggest you learn marketing. You need to know how customers evaluate grocery stores in your area. You need to know the time they buy specific items. You need to know what offers attracts them. You need to know what products they like/dislike. You need to what promotion tool works with them.
  • When an IT engineers develop a web application he needs to understand the real needs of his customers and he needs to know what makes them use this application or reject it.
  • When you want to write a memo, you need to know the content that will allow you to sell your opinion or your request. You should understand your customers (receiver of the memo). You should know what words and style will affect their perception of you and your message.
  • If you are working on a production line and you come in contact with any customer, you should know that the next step process is your customer. You should learn some marketing to know how to satisfy his needs.
  • If you do shopping, you need to know how marketers try to affect your decision.
  • If you want to encourage others to participate in volunteer work, you need to know how to promote the idea.
  • If you are doing internal service in an organization, you need to know your customer needs and try to fulfill them.
  • If you are an HR specialist/manager and you think that you are the last one to learn marketing, let me tell you that you need to understand your customers (employees) and understand their needs. You need to know what words irritate them and what words has a certain perception for them.

Marketing teaches you that you should know your specific customer and how to know his needs. Marketing tells you how to specify your price. It tells you how to promote your product. It tells you how an where to sell your product. Your product may be your decision, your idea, your web application, your memo, your project, or your volunteer organization. Your price may be the reward you offer others for doing something such as: Biscuits, cup of tea, money, product, day off, salary raise, recognition, knowledge, happiness, social life, or an opportunity to do something. Your promotion tools may be your phone call with your colleague, or your chat with someone in corridor, or your formal memo, or your speech in a conference, or your email to subordinates or managers. Your marketing research tools may be a meeting, internal surveys, interviews, informal talk with subordinates/managers, or statistics.

Overproduction

Overproduction means producing more than demand. It may be acceptable to have an inventory of final products equal to few days of production but you are running into trouble when you keep producing regardless of the level of inventory.

Why do we overproduce? It is easy to think that we are doing our best by producing and it is not our mistake that the goods are not sold. It is easy for manufacturing manager to be proud of the production figures. It is the habit of production people and managers to produce. It is not easy to think whether producing more is better for the organization, it is difficult to change habits, it is not easy to estimate the costs of overproduction, it is not possible to know the future demand. So, we take the easiest path which is producing and producing. We simply ignore overproduction costs and assume that demand is going to increase suddenly to very high levels.

Effects of overproduction?

  1. It may be positive to produce extra 10% today to sell them tomorrow but it is negative to produce 100 units today to sell them after 6 months.
  2. Overproduction means cost of holding inventory. Normally, inventory holding cost is estimated as 25% of the inventory value but as we overproduce that cost increases dramatically i.e. for additional 10% of inventory, the cost may increase to 30% or 35%. Why? because this 10% may force you to build a new warehouse or an open storage area. This 10% will force you to use special transportation equipment. This 10% makes the piles very high. This 10% makes the risk of deterioration higher, the risk of damage higher, the risk of loss higher. If you overproduce, you will have one of two choice. First, to follow all safety and storage rules which means very high cost. Second, try to accept some deviation from safety and storage rules which means increasing risk of accidents and product damage.
  3. Overproduction leads to overproduction because by overproduction you are not putting enough pressure on Sales and marketing but when you stop the plant when you do not have any orders, you are forcing sales and marketing to find new orders now not after few hours.
  4. Overproduction leads to chaos because you are working with the normal procedures but actually you are doing non standard efforts and special equipment to store the overstock. This leads to a mess in the storage area unless you have a too big store which is actually a permanent loss.
  5. Overproduction leads to more Work In Process because some process will have to stop for sometime because the storage space is full. When we overproduce we have to produce any product regardless of the demand of the downstream processes which directly increases Work In Process. This also increases chaos.
  6. Overproduction may make shipping rate slower due to the overcrowded yard
  7. Overproduction may end up with plant stoppage for few days or weeks while producing with the demand rate will rarely lead to plant stoppage for long period. When you adjust your production to the actual rate of demand, then you will not have excess inventory, so, you will keep running and will not have to stop for long periods. But when you keep running the plant regardless of the actual demand, you one day will reach the situation when you say enough is enough and you shut down the plant until you sell part of the inventory.
  8. By overproducing, you hurt your cash flow, but by pull production your cash flow is good at all times because you are not paying and not getting paid.
  9. By overproducing, you are not flexible to market demand because you have specific goods, but by producing with the rate of demand you are flexible to market requirement changes because you have raw material which you can transfer to any product.
  10. By overproducing, you are covering your quality and equipment problems which means that your quality and maintenance system are not good and they never be good. When you hide problems, you will never solve them. You are tell your people: Relax…if you made it wrong, you have enough time to make right..if the equipment stops, you have enough time for repair…Relax. What results are you expecting?

Can you imagine that we are making all those problems because we want to produce more? You will argue that we will sell that inventory but let me tell you if you overproduce, you will always overproduce and you will always have large inventories. If you do not overproduce you will by probability of about 90% avoid all those costs and problems. If you overproduce, you may get the benefit of selling that inventory if the demand increased to unexpected levels. So, if you overproduce you will incur all those costs but you may by 30% probability or 20% probability sell that inventory soon.

Overproduction is just not rational. It is a habit. It is a decision of lazy managers. It is illusion of success.

Management starts from Elementary School

One may think management is learnt at business school but if we think about the main basics of management we’ll find that they are taught at the elementary school.

  • Manager should be organized. we learn to be organised at the elementary school. We learn how to get our desk organised, our room organised..etc.
  • Manager should motivate his subordinates by smiling, saying nice words, being friendly., saying thank you… We learn to say thank you at the first years of our education. We learn to appreciate others efforts at the Kinder garden…
  • Manager should keep the workplace clean. We learn at school to keep our class clean, our room clean, our body clean…
  • Manager should be creative. We learn creativity at school when we participate in different activities such as science fair…
  • Manager should take care about the safety of his subordinates. We learn the value of safety and security at school. We learn how to go to school safely, how to keep away from dangerous places…
  • Manager should be honest. Being honest and telling the truth is one of the first lessons we learn at school.

If we fail to teach the kids those simple principles, we fail to create managers of the future and we fail to create a successful workforce.