THE PLEXUS BLOG

Rob's latest thoughts and wonderings.

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What is 'Going to the Gemba' ?

I have mentioned it a lot of times, but what the hell does it mean?  What am I talking about?  The ‘Gemba’.  This is a term used widely in the Lean world and it is one of the cornerstones to a successful lean journey for a business. If it is that important it deserves it’s own post and explanation, so here it goes. The best way is to start with the definition.  Gemba is a Japanese term that when translated into English means ‘the real place’.  This provides a b...

July 20, 2021

I am too busy (to improve!)

Hold on for a bit as this post is a combination of a few recent posts.   Why am I doing this? Mainly because the message needs to be constantly reinforced about how crazy, short sighted this statement “I am too Busy” is in relation to continuous improvement in a business. Throughout my consulting career I have heard this statement or the many variants on the same theme “we are just too busy to look at Lean (it can also be Lego Serious Play) or anything to do with it”.  Let...

July 5, 2021

What Is The Role Of A Leader When Starting A Lean Journey

Yep, let’s state the obvious - the role of a leader is crucial when starting a Lean journey.  The trick is, asking ourselves, do we truly understand the role of leadership when it comes to Lean? In true form, I am going to try and keep this as simple as possible and break the key responsibilities of leadership into two key elements.  These are: Setting the platformRole modelling the expectations Let’s look at the first element - Setting the platform.  By this I mean, does...

June 21, 2021

Lean Tools versus a Lean Mindset - is there a difference?

When I was first introduced to Lean many years ago I was handed a small document that summarised Lean.  On the cover it was the 5S cycle, in the few pages after that is described briefly the 8 wastes and a bit about stand up meetings.  That was it. There was no mention about continuous improvement, people or the focus on improving your job everyday.  This particular Lean programme was driven by a focus on the tools. It took me a while to understand the difference and why this “L...

June 4, 2021

How do I measure the success of a Lean Journey?

On the surface this question has a simple answer - have you improved your throughput / turnover in your business for the same amount of time and effort?  That is the measurement that indicates better productivity and better business performance. Many experts will be getting out calculators and working out how to measure the flow of the business, how long it takes to achieve a specific step in a process or even the time for a whole process.  All of these are useful and notable measures....

May 20, 2021

What can Lego® Serious Play® be used for?

Lego® Serious Play® (LSP) enables individuals and teams to explore topics deeper and faster than many other methodologies.  I went into some of the theory of how LSP works in a previous blog post.  So we know it works and why. But what type of scenarios or situations can LSP be actually used for? Great question! Let’s dig a bit deeper into the range of scenarios where LSP can be applied. The answer is relatively simple. As long as you have an open question that you want to explore ...

May 7, 2021

How Does LEGO Serious Play Work?

The simple answer to this question is easy.  The process of a basic LEGO Serious Play (LSP) workshop follows the same pattern.  A group is first asked an open ended question by a trained facilitator. Then each person responds by building a model that represents their answer, the blocks are used in metaphors and contributes to their story.  Once the build is complete (usually 7-8 minutes), each person is given time to tell their story, their interpretation to the original question...

April 20, 2021

How to Start a Business Improvement Journey

Recently I have written about many aspects that are critical to start your journey focused on business improvement.  Topics shared have focused on leadership, setting the direction, staff engagement and creating a positive work culture. These are critical elements to begin what I would call a business improvement journey. This week’s blog is about providing an overview of all of these elements into a logical sequence.  First a quick reminder, the move towards business improvement is ...

April 6, 2021

Creating An Awesome Workplace Culture

I have spoken a lot recently about staff engagement and it got me thinking. What is the difference to engagement and creating a positive workplace culture? So I have gone away to look at a few perspectives and this is my summary of thoughts. Before I went further into exploring the elements of a workplace culture.  I took a quick look at the definition of culture.  I personally find it useful to pause and reflect on some of these words we throw around, mostly without giving it too much...

March 23, 2021

What Pisses You Off?

“So what pisses you off ?” That was my opening line to a new group I was working with a few years back.  They were a team who could not see past the controls and policies of the large organisation they worked for.  Their team leader gave me an insight before I met them, stating they found it difficult to identify areas of improvement, and felt hamstrung with all the ‘rules’ that impacted on their tasks. So I asked the simple question “So what pisses you off ?”.  Then e...

March 9, 2021

The 3 questions you need to ask yourself about employee engagement.

I mention it a lot, talk about it and refer to it many times when I write about Business Improvement, implementing Lean programmes and Lego Serious Play.  What is ‘it' - staff engagement. It dominates the conversation many times because simply it is the make or break of the consulting work I do.  So what the hell is 'staff engagement'?  What does it really mean? Let’s understand it a bit more rather than let it become a cliche term that we use but not really do anything about....

February 22, 2021

Why having a 'True North' is mission critical

The term “True North” might be a bit of a business cliche these days.  However it is a cliche for a reason - it is still key for a successful business. You might be saying that this is obvious.  Yet a survey conducted last year by Te Waka (Waikato’s Regional Economic Development Agency) showed that less than 50% of small / medium businesses don’t have a plan.  Even fewer had a plan to plan!! For leadership - this might be one person or a leadership team, having a clear def...

February 11, 2021

The four challenges you need to take business improvement seriously!

There are many aspects to managing or owning a business.  Finance, people, supply chain, sales, marketing, training, quality management - the list goes on.  Over the years I have heard many leaders describing their situation as unique or complex.  Well today I am calling it - that is bullshit! You are only making it complex by keeping it in a chaotic state for you and your team. Is it hard - yes, absolutely.  Keeping teams engaged, making sure they are doing what they should ...

February 1, 2021

How to start your ideas in 2021

You have just come back from a great break.  You really did earn this one - last year really did take its toll on you.  But that was so last year, now you are really looking forward to the opportunities you have.  The enthusiasm is high, your picture of the end goal - crystal clear. As you are driving into the office, you do ask yourself - “so how can I get the team behind this?” Before shooting off both hips with ideas and enthusiasm, just pause and think how are you going to...

January 14, 2021

My Client Journey

It has been a crazy few years for Belinda and Tony.  Ten years ago they started out with a vision to create luxury pools and spas.  Every job was different but all jobs demand quality and attention to detail demanded by their high end clientele.  Their customers had high expectations and they knew it. As the business expanded, they reviewed the processes, improved the product, improved their customer service.  The results were impressive. This meant that their reputation had ...

January 6, 2021

Lego Serious Play - Case Study #2

A local government agency.Being a new internal service, the manager identified the team was still building an identity for themselves. It had been a few months into delivering the new service, but they had yet to spend time to create a common goal, a defined purpose that brought the team together and this was holding them back from maximising their impact. The manager knew this had to be dealt with before they could maximise their potential. That’s when the manager turned to Lego Serious Play....

December 2, 2020

Leading for change is hard

Why do many small and medium businesses (SMEs) fail when they try and change something or begin something new?  Where do they go wrong when they want to bring something such as Lean Thinking into the business? In my space as a consultant I see and hear these stories all the time.  “It didn’t work, so I can’t see it working this time around”. Or a nice little comment “Oh yeah, we tried that, it didn’t go far, it just wasn’t for us”.  Overtime I have reflected on why...

November 20, 2020

The $170,000 Opportunity

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and employment there are 499,944 small businesses in New Zealand who employ 0-19 employees.  This makes up a significant part of the economy in this country, employing over 1 million people. That is over a quarter of working aged New Zealanders. I have mentioned the statistics that surround SME’s over the past few years, but with the impact of Covid-19 has had on the economy, it is one that is worth repeating.  Before 2020, New Zealan...

November 4, 2020

So your team does't like change..... really?

My team doesn't like change so starting Lean here won’t go well. I am always curious about this comment, mainly because I am wondering about who is actually resistant to change - leadership or the team?  At the end of the day, Lean is a change programme.  The difference, the really big difference is that when done well, it is people led.  Team driven change. Outcomes are a better business through improved efficiency.  Because the team has taken the lead, they are less stres...

October 20, 2020

Primary Drivers of Productivity

So what's important for frontline staff when SME's are focused on improving their productivity?  Well a bunch of researchers in the UK asked this very question and the results, well to me they weren't that surprising. Operational process change - 80% very importantEmployee development - 100% very importantCultural change - 70% very importantImproved Management Information - 80% very important This is compared to organisational change and investment in technology which both came out 60%...

October 5, 2020

Lego Serious Play - A Case Study

How do you get a bunch of Electricians interested in strategic conversations?  That was the challenge put to me by an owner of a local electrician business. The business has a good reputation and has been growing from strength to strength. However the owner recognised the need to engage the team around the values of the business. But how do you get a bunch of tradies excited about conversations that will express what they thought were important values?>  These guys are the happiest ...

September 18, 2020

What Would I Do? - Episode Two

Another recent experience occurred recently where it prompted me to think once again, “what would I do?”.   From a customer perception, this situation wasn’t a terrible howler like the first example in this series. This interaction could be one that as a customer, be brushed aside and justified as acceptable actions. However, I think this is a great example of an industry that has seen some massive improvements and changes in the way it delivers its services, yet there is always ...

August 26, 2020

Brick by Brick - Episode Three

Today's episode is another great conversation, this time focusing on the real challenges of a small & medium business in NZ. Damian brings to the table some of the challenges he has running an electrician business based in Hamilton, NZ. During the conversation we explore how the small frustrations such as filling in the timesheets can be managed by looking at the big picture. In this case it is about staff engagement, empowering them to set and manage the standards, expectations and ultimately t...

July 16, 2020

Stuck in 2nd Gear

You know this feeling, pushing hard down on the accelerator while the car is stuck in second gear.  Sure, you can go at full speed, well maybe but only for a short time before the whole engine gives in.  The situation is only sustainable for a short time.  The only solution is to fix the problem - making sure the engine is working properly so it can perform to its maximum potential. Leading an organisation follows the same philosophy.  By just trying to work harder when all t...

June 29, 2020

Brick by Brick Podcast Episode Two

Today's session is a great conversation around what business owners can do to prepare, train and support first time leaders. We explore issues such as communication, organisational culture through trust and even discuss the challenges of learning disabilities that are faced by many staff.  Rae MacDonald is a trainer based at Responsive Trade Education in Hamilton. They are a Private Training Establishment that provides three core programmes to 'Build people's knowledge and skills' within th...

June 8, 2020 Posts 1-25 of 32 | Page next
 

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