THE PLEXUS BLOG

Rob's latest thoughts and wonderings.

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How to put your improvement plan into action

Turning talk into actionThe previous blogs in 2023 have been all about the preparation and engagement of the idea of Operational Excellence.  It has been about engaging the team around understanding what it is, adding in some of the theory and what it could look like for any company or organisation.Once all that is in place, it is all about turning those ideas, vision into tangible action.Translating the words, conversations and discussions into real actions and outcomes.  Actions that...

April 23, 2023

Creating the Vision for your business

If you have read the previous three blogs for 2023, it has taken you on a journey to explore the topic of Operational Excellence and understanding what this actually means. This is critical to be able to translate this into a clear decision to start a journey to establish a culture of excellence.  Once this decision is made, then understand the role of a leader to make this process as successful as possible. A lot of stuff happens at the beginning and it needs to.  This right leadershi...

March 12, 2023

What is the Role of the Business Leader in Operational Excellence?

It is one thing to understand what Operational Excellence is and the potential benefits by starting this journey. Also having a clear idea of the requirements and the preparation needed to achieve the desired results.  But where is the leader or owner in all of this? More specifically, what do they need to do to prepare themselves and define the role they will play in determining the success of Operational Excellence?In my humble opinion, the biggest factor in how successful a business is r...

February 16, 2023

The Process to Start an Operational Excellence Journey

It is one thing to understand what Operational Excellence is, it is an entirely different challenge to take the leap of faith and bring this into your business and begin the journey. After all, the failure rate in this space is very high.  The percentage of businesses that fall short is significant.  So why go through this pain when the odds are seemingly stacked against you.I begin with a simple word that could be easily glossed over. The word is ‘journey’.  I use it here qui...

January 30, 2023

What is Business and Operational Excellence?

Occasionally you come across a term that you are sure at one point meant a lot.  Yet it has been used so widely, in so many contexts that it has become just a white noise statement.  What I mean by this is the idea has been overused, twisted and applied without too much understanding of what this actually means. Despite this confusion or misunderstanding leaders, managers, owners are quick to jump on the bandwagon, not fully understanding what they are getting themselves in for.  ...

January 15, 2023

Clarity is Key to Culture

When I get asked what are the some of the most common issues that affect the performance of a small and medium business (SME) in New Zealand, the two of the most common challenges I respond are: Lack of Clarity Culture of apathy (amongst others) Luckily there are actions a business can take to minimise the impact these issues can cause. Most of the solutions don’t take any implementation of any complicated software or equipment, the investment is based around time. Let’s start with the ...

December 5, 2022

What an SME can learn from a BBQ Competition

Occasionally you get an opportunity that you can’t say no to.  This was the case for me recently when I was asked if I was interested in being a judge at a BBQ competition.  This wasn’t any old local fry up, but a collection of the very best BBQ experts from New Zealand, Australia and the USA. Who can pass that opportunity up (besides my vegan partner!). Fair to say the experience was awesome. At home I do take my BBQ cooking seriously, to the point where I experiment, improve and ...

November 10, 2022

Is Lean Just A Bunch Of Tools?

When I was just starting out as a consultant, doing my own thing I was at a family wedding chatting to a friend who was asking me what I was up to.  After explaining my new business, the reply was “Oh yes Lean, but you know there are many other approaches”.  I left the conversation there, being new to business, this was a different response and I wasn’t really prepared for it.  Over the years I continue to think about what that person said and why. Knowing the organisation h...

September 15, 2022

How do you start a Lean Thinking journey

My experience with companies motivation to start a Lean journey is one of two reasons:They are smashing it and are starting to get some speed wobbles so they are needing to bring back some structure and organisation back into the workplace.They have realised after one too many firefighting sessions that they have reached the point of exhaustion and are using Lean almost as a last effort to regain some control over their business. The common theme across these two scenarios is that there is a deg...

August 9, 2022

Why Should We Use Stand Up Meetings

Stand UpsHuddlesTool BoxesDaily Accountability Meetings The time when high performing meetings get together and meet for a brief amount of time to talk about all things performance.  They are called all sorts of different names, personally I am not worried about that and teams I have worked with have used all of these terms (and probably others), what is important is that this time is critical to their overall success. To run successful stand up meetings is a dose or science combined with a...

July 18, 2022

Don't Make Your Business Complicated

We humans are funny creatures.  For some crazy reason we love to try and make things - processes, work, tasks harder than they really need to be. I am making this comment as I reflect on conversations and observations I have had with many different businesses recently. In many of the situations the process we were looking at was seemingly simple.  But the reality was quite different. Steps required to complete tasks were convoluted, many checks and balances that was ultimately slowing ...

June 27, 2022

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 Posts 1-25 of 57 | Page next
 

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