THE PLEXUS BLOG

Rob's latest thoughts and wonderings.

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Creating a Learning Environment

Making mistakes is awesome, Learning is even better! Parents around the world understand how important it is for their children to learn through making mistakes.  We all did it learning to walk, understand calculus (I’m still struggling with this) or driving!  No matter what age we were, we made mistakes growing up.  Some of these were minor, some were significant or even embarrassing. The important message here is that we all had the opportunity to make a few mistakes so we can...

April 20, 2022

What is the Role of Leadership in a Continuous Improvement Journey?

At the heart of Lean and continuous improvement is the development and growth of its people.  Creating an environment where team members develop the skills to improve the job and also improve themselves.  It is all about establishing a positive culture that revolves around learning and developing its people.  With this philosophy, allow your leadership to understand their role and expectations.  They may have been great at their job, technically sound and understanding of the...

March 29, 2022

Smart Business….. Measure for Success, Your Success

This really is an extension of the previous blog, mainly because it is so important to understand how and what to measure as part of a business improvement journey.  Many businesses get it wrong, very wrong and use measures, data, information as a big stick, if you don’t hit targets that it becomes a punitive exercise.  Many businesses don’t even use key measures at all, well apart from the profit and loss statement. Measures, data, information - I do get a bit worried when heading...

March 14, 2022

How to Measure the Performance of your Business

AKA What makes a Smart SME Episode 3.A top performing sports team measures its performance.  In the elite world this goes to the individual performance measures, the errors made by the team, what part of the game was better or worse, the list literally goes on. If this helps sports teams to measure performance, why not a SME?  This moves well away from the Profit and loss of the business as I am a firm believer that this is a measure of the results, a by-product of the business perform...

February 21, 2022

What Makes A Smart SME….. Episode 2

In the first part of this discussion, I touched on a few things that in my opinion help create the environment of a Smart SME. Why is this so important to all of us? Simply, SMEs (Small and Medium sized Businesses) make up the lion's share of the economy.  Just drive around any industrial and commercial space in your town.  Most of them are family owned businesses that very rarely exceed 50 people. We need to not only understand the factors that create a sustainable, growing business, ...

February 4, 2022

What is a Smart SME?

Two things are going to dominate my conversation during 2022.  For me they come hand in hand.   The first and main theme is Smart SMEs (small & medium businesses). Personally I don’t like the term 'enterprises' but hey the acronym sticks!!   In New Zealand, we have continued to lag behind in our productivity and performance of SMEs.  It has been this way for decades.  There are a number of factors that contribute to this outcome.  Indifferent adoption of...

January 18, 2022

What is Lean Visual Management?

Visual Management in the workplace. This is a term used many, many times during a Lean journey.  It is used so much that it can also become white noise, a cliche term.  So if it is used a lot, what does it actually mean? What does it look like? The answer, like many aspects of Lean, is simple in concept but can be made complex depending on the situation and the problem it is there to solve. For me I like to break down the term visual management into two distinct areas:How the workplace...

December 13, 2021

Strategy and Tactics

Strategy and tactics - two critical elements of executing your plan and being a successful business. The great news is that one feeds into the other, they do and should relate to each other. The strategy is your true north - the vision you, your leadership team and possibly your team have developed as a long term vision and direction you are heading as a business.  I have discussed how important this is multiple times in previous blogs and posts on LinkedIn.  Without a vision, the coll...

November 23, 2021

Seven Signs that you need a bit of Lean in your Life

For a long time now I have spouted the benefits of a Business Improvement approach to a small and medium business (SME). Using Lean as a central element driving the improvement activity, there are multiple benefits to a business. Better work culture and a more profitable business are just two examples. However this is only useful if you know that there is an answer, that there are possible solutions available to the challenges you are facing.  The reality is the fact many business owners, c...

October 14, 2021

Control What You Can

The last two years have shown us all that the world, let alone the business environment is not a predictable place.  This has always been the case but now it seems magnified to the extremes. Owning and operating a business is hard enough, let alone in such an environment in which the volatility constantly interrupts plans, daily operations, work flow - the list can and does go on! As a business owner, particularly a small or medium business where there may be more susceptible to these fluct...

September 29, 2021

How Does Lean Improve Productivity?

Improving the Productivity in Small and Medium Businesses (SME’s) is what gets me out of bed every day.  In New Zealand, SMEs have some of the world's worst productivity statistics in the OECD. There are many factors that impact productivity, therefore there is no silver bullet that alone will make a significant impact. But wow! What an opportunity for New Zealand Businesses! That is what excites me everyday.It doesn't take long for people who I come into contact with to realise I am pass...

September 16, 2021

Is Lego Serious Play a Team Building Activity?

Before writing this blog, my immediate answer to that question was NO.  LEGO Serious Play (LSP) is so much more powerful than just having fun together as a team, playing crazy games and having a few drinks at the local pub. My ‘Why’ is all about being crazily passionate about helping small and medium sized businesses create a culture business improvement - helping them become awesome at what they do. Everything I do stems from that ‘why’. This is about excellence, high performance, ...

August 31, 2021

What are the 8 Wastes of Lean?

It is mentioned in just about every blog post I write. It is the first thing a person will learn when discovering Lean, especially if they work with me. It is one of the key cornerstones of Lean thinking - so what the hell is ‘it’?  Simply, ‘it’ are the 8 Wastes of Lean. It is a simple way that people can learn to ‘see’ where waste is in a business, a process, when delivering a service or creating a product.  But before we dig deeper into what these mystical wastes are, a q...

August 18, 2021

Can Lean work for single (small) business owners?

I get asked all the time if Lean is just for manufacturing or can it be applied to any type of business.  Of course the answer is yes! Less often a question arises - Lean might be all very well for a decent size business, but what about the solopreneur? Or even the Mum and Dad business, a small start up perhaps?  What does Lean look like in these situations? To answer this question, let’s go back to the basics and reflect on what Lean is all about. For any business, company, organisa...

July 30, 2021

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 Posts 1-25 of 46 | Page next
 

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