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Individual Lean, Root Cause of Success


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Dan Markovitz, founder and owner of Time Back Management discussed applying the principles of Lean to everyday life. These principles are the basis for his new book, A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance.

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Individual Lean, Root Cause of Success

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast Transcription Implementing Lean Marketing SystemsIndividual Lean, Root Cause of Success? Guest was Dan Markovitz Related Podcast: Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsBIODan Markovitz is the founder and president of TimeBackManagement. He focuses on improving individual and teamproductivity through the adaptation of lean concepts. He’s afaculty member of the Lean Enterprise Institute, and teachesclasses at the Ohio State University’s Fisher School of Business.Dan’s book on improving personal performance by utilizing leanmanufacturing techniques – A Factory of One: Applying LeanPrinciples to Banish Waste and Improve Your PersonalPerformance – was published by Productivity Press in December.The book demonstrates how to apply lean principles to theindividual. It delivers key concepts such as visual management,flow, pull, and 5S. Dan provides these concepts to the individualresults in the same kind of benefits: greater efficiency, lesswaste, and improved focus on customer value. Transcription of the PodcastDan Markovitz: I have been trying to get visibility for the bookand for my writing, and I have to say I have been really pleased.For a long time, it seemed as though people were not terriblyreceptive to the notion of bringing Lean to an individual level.They said, "Yes, thats kind of nice." But they were thinking moreabout Lean in terms of large services, or processes and systems,I should say. What I am finding now that it is out in print is thatmore and more people seem to be getting it.They begin to understand, "Hey, wait a minute! Lean doesnt justapply to systems and processes, it applies to the individual. Wecan use the same tools at an individual level, and realize thesame benefits." That is really rewarding emotionally. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsJoe Dager: Thats great, and let me introduce you. Welcomeeveryone! This is Joe Dager, the host of the Business901 podcast.With me today is Dan Markovitz. He is the Founder and Presidentof TimeBack Management. As you just heard, he focuses onimproving individual and team productivity through theadaptation of Lean concepts.Dans latest book is "A Factory of One" was published inDecember. His latest articles are on the Harvard Business Reviewblog, and Dan is also a regular contributor to the AmEx OpenForum.Dan, I would like to welcome you, and at the beginning you gavea great introduction. People are using Lean for their personal usenow and that has to please you.Dan: It sure does. I have been preaching this message for along time, and it is good to see people finally picking it up. It isimportant because I see so much wasted individual performanceand potential squandered in inefficient systems and work habits.So it is nice to see people picking this up and improving.Joe: Well, what does "Factory of One" mean?Dan: Coming up with this title was actually a real dilemma. Mypublisher wanted something clever like "Individual Lean" or"Personal Lean," and that pretty much put me to sleep, and I amthe author of the book. What I wanted to do was come up withsomething that was a little more resonant. It occurred to me oneday when I was actually working with a company, and a client ofmine, that people are factories, too. We are really small factories,but we are factories.We think of factories generally something like Toyota, where youare making cars, or you are making jet engines, or you aremaking Pop Tarts, or toasters. But the truth is, a factory is a Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsplace where raw materials are transformed by some magic into aproduct or a service that people want.Whether it is a car or it is a marketing plan, or it is an advertisingcampaign, or whether it is a piece of music, we are factories. Wetake inputs of all sorts - customer desires, ideas that we have,requests from friends whatever it happens to be, and we workour particular magic, and out comes something really great,something we can be proud of.And that makes us factories. Because we are factories, we cantake advantage of the same Lean ideas that Toyota developedover the years.Joe: Is it like the GTD, Getting Things Done or a Franklin Coveyapproach? What is the "Factory of One"?Dan: You know Joe, thats a really good question. The truth isthere is overlap between something like GTD or Stephen Coveys"7 Habits" kind of thing, or really any other kind of personalproductivity. There are definitely areas of overlap. But there alsoare some real differences. For one thing, I believe that thoseapproaches dont encourage you to look for root causes. A perfectexample is this. Stephen Covey or Julie Morgenstern or any ofthese other time management people will say, "OK, dont checkemail in the morning, but when you do check email, this is howyou should do it."OK, that makes sense right? What I would say is, those ideas aregood, but why are you getting so much email in the first place? Ican make you really, really fast with handling email, but makingyou fast at dealing with something thats garbage is still a totalwaste of time.It seems to me that it is better to figure out why youve got theseproblems in the first case, looking at the root causes to root themout, try to eliminate them, and make things more effective. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsI think that to me is one of the major differences. The otherdifferences I think are that, what I am trying to do is takeadvantage of a common understanding and a common vocabularyof Lean ideas and concepts and tools, and saying, "Hey, youknow all those things you have been using before? We can usethem in an individual level."There is nothing wrong with picking up GTD lingo. Thats great.But if you have spent the last three years, say, on a Lean journeyin your company, learning about flow and learning about 5S, andlearning about standardized work, why should you now have tolearn something like a GTD context, 30,000-foot levels, nextactions and all that stuff?Why not just keep using the same language and tools and ideasthat youve been using in the production process? It seems to methats easier.Joe: Well, weve seen a transformation of Lean into service workand into knowledge work with Agile and Scrum and into hospitals.Now youre leading the cause to take it to the individual level, Ibelieve. What have you found out? What are some of thecommon things that have worked well? Then maybe throw a fewnegatives in there.Dan: In terms of whats worked - let me actually start with thenegatives for a minute. I think its sometimes easier to start thatway. What I think is really dangerous is to transfer and nottranslate the concept. A real simple example of this is 5S. A lot ofpeople in a manufacturing environment will start with 5S. Theyllsay, "This is the foundation." We can have a good discussion andargument about whether 5S really should be the foundation andthe first step for Lean. But thats another story.But what people will do is say, "OK. 5S, that means weve got toput tape outlines on your desk and show you where your staplergoes and show you where your computer goes." Or, "It means..." Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsKyocera, actually, in the United States theres a big article onthem in The Wall Street Journal. They have basically a 5S deskcop who walks around to peoples offices and says, "You canthave more than one photo on your desk and it can only be 5"x7"and you cant hang your sweater on your chair." That is a transferof 5S principles from the factory to the office. Its not atranslation, its a transfer. But its insane.Joe: Yes, I get that all the time about my dresser and mybedroom from my wife.Dan: Now, your wife - if youre in a relationship, your spousehas the final say on what value is and what waste is. Im notgoing anywhere near there. I dont even do that at home with myown wife, because I want to stay happily married. But itsinteresting, this is a lot of what Mark Graban - who, of course,you know - of Lean Blog calls LAME, when Lean is misguidedlyexecuted. "Im going to walk in with my little tape outlines toensure that it looks like a factory." But thats crazy, becausethats a transfer, not a translation.To me a translation means saying, "OK. How do we take thefundamental principle and the goal and make it meaningful in anoffice setting?"Lets come back to our 5S example. What a knowledge workersdealing with really and working with is information. The goal hereis not worrying about where the stapler sits. The goal isunderstanding where the information is so that we can make iteasy for people to access the information and to spotabnormalities.Theyre not working with wrenches and screwdrivers andhammers, we dont need a shadow board or the equivalent of ashadow board. What we need is a place for them to be able to putthe information so they could get it more quickly. And they cansee if theres something wrong. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsThe nurses at the Covenant Healthcare System in Texas didsomething that was just a fantastic example of this. They foundthat they were spending - they did a survey - 51 percent, about6.1, 6.2 hours per 12 hour shift working on paperwork, puredocumentation.No one goes into nursing saying, "You know, I want to become anurse so that I can fill out forms." They go into nursing becausethey want to take care of patients. They were spending 50percent of their time filling out paperwork. They were generating2.2 million pieces of paper a year. God only knows what theywere doing electronically, but 2.2 million pieces of paper a year.So they said, "This is crazy. Why dont we take this principle of5S down to a level of our work, down to our knowledge work."They simplified and standardized and set in order all the formsthat they worked with.They cut both the number of pages and the amount of time prettymuch in half, down to about three hours, which is still staggering,but OK, three hours of paperwork. They cut it down to about amillion pages a year.What theyre dealing with is not where their stapler is. Theyredealing with where their signature goes, and where the doctorsorders go, and where the patient follow-on care goes, on thepiece of paper so that they can find the information quickly.Thats translating 5S to the knowledge environment. Thats thekind of thing that, to me, is really, really exciting, because thatsthe kind of stuff that hasnt been looked at.Joe: Think of applying Lean to sales and marketing and the firstthing they want the salesman to do is be data collection points forhow theyre going to improve efficiency and effectiveness. I seesales guys spending a lot of time filling out their contact updates.Anymore a sales guys job seems to be 50 percent of the time Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsfilling out paperwork. I struggle with that because to me that isnot Lean.Dan: This is an interesting dilemma I think we run into. Becausewe now have the computing power, the processing power to domore work, to get more information out of data we collect, werenow encouraged to collect more data, whether or not its reallynecessary. I think you can make a pretty good argument saying,"Gosh, weve got these wonderful tools, and it makes sense forour sales and marketing guys to be collecting some of thisinformation." I think you could have a good discussion. But thenit requires us, I think, to say lets use the Pareto principle andfigure out what...Im sure only of the data theyre collecting, 80 percent of thevalue comes from 20 percent of the data. I would guess that youcould get rid of a huge chunk of the work.At one company I worked in, in one of my previous careers, wehad our IT department. Were going back now to the days ofAS400 computers and everything was all central processing. So ifyou ever wanted a report run, youd fill out a form and give it tothe IT guys and theyd write a program. And theyd spit out areport on the big guy, the dot matrix screen bar paper.Joe: How old are you, Dan?Dan: Listen, we werent using punch cards. Im not that old. Thisis great, because people would say were going to a salesmeeting, for example. I really need to know what our inventory isand what the standard costing is, what the inventorys beenwritten down to, so we know how to close it out and so on and soforth. Theyd ask information about the effectiveness of certainsales programs, or whatever. Theyd write the request, and the ITdepartment would dutifully do their job. Theyd write theprogram, theyd run the report, and theyd start generating thereports on a daily or weekly basis, whatever the request was. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsOf course, no one told them to stop. You would see these reports.They would generate this every single week, hundreds of reports.Of course, the reports all had really clever names like PR13679A.You didnt really know what was going on. Youd have to workyour way through all the column headings to understand whatyou were looking at.They would just keep coming out and coming out, and no onewas looking at them. Of course, the IT department, their job wasto provide a service, and they did, and they provided it very well.The problem is that after a while, the data, the signal to noiseratio started going down because there was so much crap beinggenerated that no one ever needed.When I was with the company, we said all right, lets collect everysingle report we look at. It was hundreds. Literally, they weregenerating hundreds of reports each week. We said OK, whichones do we really need? We dont need this, dont need this, dontneed this, and don’t need this.Anyway, we ended up cutting out about 80 percent of thereports. Were down to 35 or 37 reports a week that peopleidentified what they wanted, out of the hundreds that we startedwith. That, to me, is another example of 5S.Joe: You mentioned at the beginning that you use the typicalLean principles in doing that, and the Pareto you mentioned. Doyou find people are more familiar with that now than what theyused to be?Dan: I think so. If theyre not more familiar with it, I thinktheyre more ready to hear the message. Again, with the dataexplosion that weve seen over the last 10, 15, 20 years, I thinkpeople are increasingly feeling, everyone I know is feelingoverwhelmed by the amount of information that comes at them,by the amount of work theyre expected to do to process thatinformation or to provide the inputs for that information. I think Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemspeople are willing to say wait a minute, maybe theres a differentway or a better way. I think there may be either a greaterknowledge of these ideas, or just a greater willingness to look forhelp and say weve got to do something different.It occurs to me, as you asked that question, Joe, if you thinkabout Toyota, all the way back in the day when they werestarting, they didnt go around saying, "Lets invent somethingcalled Lean." They had a problem. They had no money, and theycouldnt buy raw materials and they couldnt store inventory.They had to do something to reduce the cash burden. Theystarted developing the whole Lean production system.It occurs to me that perhaps on an individual level, were seeingthe same thing. Were running into a constraint of peoples timeand attention and ability to process information. Were going tohave to come up with different ways of managing thatinformation so that we can still do our jobs.Joe: When I picked up your book, and I kind of looked at it as apersonal Kaizen or PDCA type thing. Its going to be continuousimprovement on how I do things, lets say. One of the things thatI always think about in PDCA is that they always say that 50percent of your time should be spent on planning. We cant dothat as people. Can we?Dan: Thats a good question. Im not sure. I guess I dont know.I guess the easy answer would be whats the cost of not doing it?Your questions are really thought provoking for me, Joe. I haventthought through all of these ideas. But it occurs to me that weoften dont value or we dont recognize the cost of not planning.In the knowledge working world, its hard to quantify waste. Itshard to quantify inefficiency. I think we have a tendency to justlook at this stuff as thats the cost of doing business. Thats justthe way things are. Its not ever going to change. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsIf you worked in a manufacturing plant, and you saw five percentor 10 percent scrap rate coming off of the production line, youdsay theres a real problem. Our car doors, 10 percent of them arecrap. The glass that were manufacturing, 10 percent of it wehave to throw out. Thatd be totally unacceptable.We have no problem at all in accepting the idea that 10 percentof your day is total waste. I could go into chapter and verse aboutthis, but lets just think really simply. How many times have youbeen in a meeting that started 10 minutes late, which had 15minutes or 10 minutes of nonsense in it, and ran 20 minuteslong? Of course, when youre running late to the next meeting,the people in the next meeting are waiting 10 minutes, 15minutes, until the meeting actually starts.This is a colossal amount of waste, but we never actually quantifyit and we never value it. We never say gosh, this should be orcould be fixed or addressed.Joe: I go back to Kanban; one of the Personal Kanban things isto build slack time, which is seldom done. Theres an expectationthat were going to get X amount done, but theres really notactual slack time built into peoples schedules, is there?Dan: No, theres almost never. I think actually Jim Benson, ofPersonal Kanban who really was very, very influential in helpingme craft some of the thoughts in some of the chapters in mybook, I think he really did a great service by drawing the analogyto a freeway in operations research. It says that any systemthats operating at more than 80 percent to capacity or so isgoing to break, whether its a production line or whether its afreeway. Youre going to overload it, and its going to break. Ithink Jims absolutely right when he says we have to look athumans the same way.If you fill your life over 80 percent capacities, youre going to fail.Youre setting yourself up for failure, and because you work in an Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsorganization in which everyone...its a system, youre going to besetting them up for failure as well, because youre not going to beable to meet your commitments.Theres going to be a problem with the computers one day.Theres going to be a problem where a client or a customer callsyou up, and now you have to spend an hour talking him or herdown off a ledge. Or youre not going to be able to come to workbecause your husband or your wife or your kid is sick and youhave to go to the hospital, and then everything breaks.I think youre absolutely right. The notion of building in slack, wehave to build in slack, because we just cant operate at perfectefficiency all the time. It doesnt happen. The world is too chaoticfor that.Joe: Let me take that negative approach then, and throwsomething back at you. How much slack is enough, and wheredoes that start becoming wasteful? All this stuff, its hard to getyour arms around it. Im trying to say I can Lean it, I can do this,but how do I really grasp it and understand it and get it?Understand how to do it?Dan: If you think about Taiichi Ohno, the first thing he hadanyone do was stand in a circle, right, and just watch. Dont doanything. Just watch, watch whats happening and watch whatpeople are doing. I think to a certain extent, we have to stand ina circle and watch ourselves. Its probably unrealistic to ask acolleague, "Could you watch me for the next three hours?" Thatwould be an interesting exercise as well.I think the first step is to watch what were doing and figure outhow were spending time, what were doing. How much of ouractivities are actually value-creating and how much of it is justbusy work? How much is form and how much is content? Howmuch is waste and how much is value? I think thats the firststep. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsI think that ties into the next idea, which you had talked aboutearlier, this notion of PDCA. What if we try an experiment? Thehypothesis is that if we leave a certain amount of slack in ourschedule, or if we work in a certain way, things will go moresmoothly. Then continue the circle to PDCA, I think that mightlead to more effective work.The other thing that occurs to me, Im on a roll here. One lastthing is that what were talking about on an individual level, ofcourse, cascades eventually to an organizational level. Youveprobably been in an organization that said, "Yeah, weve got 37strategic priorities this year."You cant have 37 strategic priorities in a year any more than youcan have 37 strategic priorities for the day. I think the companiesthat really excel are the ones that dont try to do 37 things, theytry to do three things.I think it was John Toussaint at ThedaCare, tells the story abouthow they had, when they were doing their Hoshin Planning, theyfirst started with, I dont know, six things or seven things. Thenthey went down to five things for the year. Then they went downto three, and now I think John Toussaint says, "If we can do twothings great each year, that would be enough, because its just sohard to do."Joe: I think that it is. To jump back a little bit, when you weretalking about the reflection upon yourself, have you ever heard ofanyone just videotaping themselves and going back and lookingat themselves for an hour?Dan: That would be creepy, wouldnt it? Its hard enoughlistening to myself on a podcast. I dont like hearing my ownvoice. I dont know if I could watch myself.Joe: I just wondered. Because its amazing what you see whenyoure looking from, lets say, the outside in. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsDan: You know, I am working with the Lean Enterprise Instituteright now to develop a workshop, a half-day workshop based onthe principles in my book. One of the ideas weve been tossingaround is, if we did something onsite, meaning not an openworkshop but we did it at a company, could we video one or twopeople for, lets say, I dont know, three hours or something, andthen compress it by time. Youd go super-fast or something, soyou can see it in three minutes or five minutes. What would wesee? Because we couldnt, of course, have people watch it in realtime. No one wants to sit for an hour in a workshop watchingsomeone. But I bet that you would see that a lot of the waste, alot of the ineffective work modes that we have would really cometo the fore and be visible. I think wed really notice something.Boy, that would, Joe, dont mind me. Im just going toset up a camera in your office. You dont mind that, do you?Joe: On the other hand, what would be the difference betweenwatching a golf swing or watching a worker at work? We do Timeand Motion studies.Dan: When you talk about that, I wonder what would happen ifyou made people sit through, if you videoed people in meetings.This is another area, people involved in processes they dontnecessarily recognize as a process. I worked with one companywhere they were very consensus-driven. They still had the DNA ofa small startup company where everyone can sit around oneconference table and make a decision, except now there areseveral thousand people. So everything has to be made in agroup decision, but they dont actually have a process forreaching consensus.So you see them go into a meeting and talk about a whole bunchof ideas. This is a meeting in which theyre supposed to come upwith an idea. Then they come up with what they think is aconsensus, but then they didnt agree afterwards. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsTheyd meet the next week, and theyd say, "OK, so we alldecided to do X." Someone would say, "I didnt hear that."Someone would say, "I thought we decided to do Y." Andsomeone says, "I thought I heard Z."I wonder what would happen if you had people watch thosemeetings, watch themselves, and watch the way they interact,and watch the way they dont focus on their goal, and watch allthe digressions and the inefficiencies. I wonder if that wouldcreate a change in...Joe: Behavior.Dan: The way they...yeah, behavior. Because as you say, its allabout grasping the situation and sometimes you cant grasp itunless its objectively in front of you. Like you say, an athletevideotaping a golf swing or a baseball swing or whatever it is.Joe: Everybodys common thing about productivity, especiallyfrom a knowledge work standpoint, is that here you are doing it,you have your task, you have your schedule at hand, and eitheryour boss comes in or youd pick up the phone and the wholeworld changes.How does Lean apply to something like that?Dan: I think that one thing people have to do is, again, if westart looking for root causes and we start looking for patterns, Ithink Lean is important for that. Its grasping the situation. Howoften do we get these interruptions? Why are we getting theseinterruptions? How might we be able to handle theseinterruptions better? That can change. That can either reduce oreliminate a lot of the interruptions. A perfect example of this wasa pathologist I worked with at a hospital. Her lead times inprocessing cases and reading slides was going up and up. Herboss was displeased with that. She was getting more Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsexperienced. You would think that it would take her less time toread cases.I sat in her office with her and I just watched kind of the Ohnocircle approach. I watched, and it turns out that every little whilesomeone would come in to say hello. Then sometimes, severaltimes during an hour, a technician would come by with a pile ofslides, new cases for her to read. Hed say, "Hey, Marsha, Ive gotsome new slides for you." And shed say, "Oh, great, thanks. Justput them over there, and shed gesture over to the cadenza or atable or whatever, and then hed drop them off.There was interruption after interruption. She was involved in acommittee, and sometimes her co-committee chair would ask herabout the next meeting and whatnot. Every time she wasinterrupted, she would pick her head out of the microscope andshed talk to the person. Even if it was just for five or 10 seconds,shed put her head back in the viewfinder and shed start readingthe case from the beginning. She worked in a cancer center, andyou dont want to make a mistake.She never got to work uninterrupted. We looked at that. I said,"Hey, gosh, how could we get rid of these interruptions?" And shesaid, "Well, you cant."I said, "Well, what about, for example, taking these slides, andlets use something really fancy, like a cardboard box outsideyour door with a little paper sign that says "Leave cases here"?Then you can create, as part of your standard work a cadence,that every hour, say, or whatevers the right time, every 90minutes you open your door and you pick up the new cases thatcame in, and log them and do what you need to do. We did thatand she was able to reduce her interruptions dramatically.Some of the interruptions that we get, I think, are totallyavoidable or removable. For sure youre going to haveinterruptions. Youre going to have things that mess up your Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  17. 17. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsschedule because there really was a problem with the product.There really was an upset customer who youve got to dealwith - the invoicing was screwed up and now your customersirate and ready to fire you.There are these exceptional cases. But I think that theres anawful lot of deviation or interruptions that we can avoid just bylooking at the system and understanding what the causes are.Joe: So youre saying if you really sit back and take a look atthem, that you have much more control over the situation than,typically, applying that Pareto principle? You have a lot of control.Dan: Yeah, I think often we do. I think oftentimes there is a lotmore room for improvement than we realize. We just haventbothered looking. We just say, "Oh yeah, I get interrupted all thetime." "Oh yeah, I get these problems." But we dont reallyunderstand why because weve never stopped to really grasp thesituation. The other thing, where I think Lean is really important,comes in the notion of visual management. I hear people sayingall the time, "You know, I feel like Im always reactive. Im notproactive. Im always being tactical. I can never be strategic."They cite the same thing that you talked about - an email comesin thats kind of important or my boss comes in and says, "Wehave to do X, Y, and Z." I think what I see is that because we areknowledge workers our work tends to be invisible. It tends toreside in bits and bytes of electrons of data sitting in our emailinbox, sitting in a document somewhere on our computerdesktop, whatever.But its not real visible. Its not like an engine assembly in front ofyou. Its not like a fan blade that youre working on in front ofyou. As a consequence what happens is that its very easy to pullmy attention away from what Im working on. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  18. 18. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsI think visual management, the notion of taking the work thatyoure doing and somehow making it more visible, making itmore visual, enables us to better judge whether we should beresponding to this new problem rather than the thing that wewere working on.Again, the simple example, Joe, would be, I am working onsomething and then an email comes in, and I look at it and I say,"Oh, boy. Im going to handle this," and I get distracted by that.The problem is I dont know what Im supposed to be working on.Because my work is relatively invisible, I dont really have theability to say which is truly more important, this new thing thatcame in or this old thing that I was supposed to be working on.What happens is were always distracted by the squeaky wheeland we start giving it the oil or the grease, instead of saying,"Gosh, this wheel maybe squeaking, but Ive got much biggerissues to take care of."I think ideas that you see in something like Jim Bensons PersonalKanban, thats one way of making the work visible. Youve gotthe physical representation of it on a white board and now youcan say, "These are the three things that I am working on now.This is my work in progress. Oops. Here comes something new.Well, is it more important than these three things? Yes or no?" Ifthe answer is yes, well then, great, change. If the answer is no,well then, figure out how you are going to handle it.Stick with what you are doing and then figure out how you aregoing to cue up that new thing, or hand it off to someone else orignore it or whatever.Joe: I always heard more important than a pencil, an authorsbest tool is the door. I always thought that made a lot of sense,OK? Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  19. 19. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsDan: Its a remarkable piece of technology that we are stillunwilling to use, the door. If you close it, its a remarkablesignaling device.Joe: You always hear these open door policies, but that doesntnecessarily mean that you can never close your door, right?Dan: Yeah, you know, the open door policy is obviously true.You dont set up a moat, and a barbed wire fence, and crenulatedwalls with turrets protecting your office. But at the same time,that doesnt mean that you have to be available all the time andevery minute. The truth is, your customers arent. The truth isyour boss isnt. The truth is no one is, and I think setexpectations about what a reasonable response rate is orturnaround time is. I think thats really important. Oftentimescompanies dont do that.They just say, "Oh, you have to be responsible to everything allthe time." But you cant do that. I mean, if your job is areceptionist, then sure, that makes a lot of sense. You have to beavailable anytime someone walks through the door, great.But most of us are not working in jobs like receptionists, and sowe need time to actually wall ourselves off and focus and solvethe bigger problems. If the job is designed for you to both solvebig problems, and people expect you to be available for instantresponse, I would say that job is poorly designed and is settingthe person up for failure.Joe: Does Leader Standard Work coincide with the "Factory ofOne"?Dan: I think so. I think thats an element of it. If you think abouta leader as producing, lets just say the person is not a front lineemployee, right? Its a VP, senior executive, whatever. He or sheis producing an environment and an organization that can deliverthe product or service, the results that the company or the Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  20. 20. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemscustomer needs. What tools can we put into effect to enable aleader to do that? How does 5S apply to his or her world? Howwould Standard Work apply to his or her world? I think itabsolutely fits in. Its just these things take a slightly differentshape. The principles are the same, but it takes a slightlydifferent shape when youre dealing with what a leader would bedoing on a daily basis rather than the head of the accountspayable department.Joe: If someone could only take one or two things from you bookwhat would you want them to take from it?Dan: I would want them to take away the idea that their ownwork style can be improved. Thats really important. I thinkpeople tend to think of the way they work as somethingimmutable and unchangeable. Understanding that they way theywork can be improved is really important. Second thing Id likethem to take away is the notion of experimenting. People areloathed to make any changes, and theyre afraid to suggestchanges to the company, because they say, "I cant do that, wedont work that way."To have the mindset of I want to try and experiment. I have ahypothesis that if we did X, Y and Z, things would be a lot better.Lets try it for two weeks and see what happens.If people took that away, I think what wed see is a great dealmore creativity in the way we work. Wed see enormousimprovements across all kinds of job functions, across all kinds ofcompanies, and all kinds of industries, because people wouldntbe shackled by tradition.I guess the last thing that I would like people to take away, andthis is a real global kind of thinking, is the difference betweenvalue and deliverables. Im actually working on an article aboutthis. The form in which we deliver things is not necessarily themost effective way to do it, and the form is not the value. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  21. 21. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsI always talk about performance evaluations in this sense, andJoe, I dont know enough about your background, but everyone Iknow whos ever done performance evaluations hates them, justdespises them. Theyre enormous time-sucks. Theyre not terriblyhelpful for the person doing it or the person receiving it.We think that, well, heres the performance evaluation. I have tofill out this form and have this kind of conversation and talk aboutthese six things. Thats not what your customer, in this case yourdirect report, wants. The direct reports wants, in terms of value,help in figuring out how to improve and how to advance withinthe company. He or she wants help in solving problems.Performance evaluations are just one form, and a terrible form atthat, for delivering that value. What we could do is createsomething so much more valuable that really is less onerous andless hurtful than a performance evaluation.I know John Shook over at LEI has talked often about how youcan use A3s as a performance evaluation. You define what thetarget condition is and countermeasures to approach that andyou go on.Joe: And you work on the process versus the person.Dan: Exactly, exactly. To me, understanding what the value isand distinguishing between the value and the deliverable, I thinkis incredibly important. I think people would find that if theyfocused on that more, theyd actually have more time to createvalue, to do stuff thats really important to them individually, totheir boss, and to the company.Joe: How does Lean fit in to, lets say, the appreciative inquiryapproach? Ive done a lot of research in that area in the last fewmonths and quite a few podcasts. It seems that Lean is viewedfrom problem solving and appreciative inquiry is a little morepositive change orientated. How do they meld together? Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  22. 22. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsDan: Im not all that familiar with appreciative inquiry, Joe, so Iwould probably defer to you on how to blend them together.From what I understand of it, I think the notion of saying, takinga positive approach, where its not a name, shame and blamekind of thing, but rather hey, theres a problem, what can we doto improve the current situation? What can we do to get to thetarget condition? Looking at this as a joint journey I think movesthe discussion away from the assignation of blame and fault, andinstead moves it towards a cooperative, problem-solvingexercise.Joe: I think thats one of the issues of Lean, and when we applyit to, lets say to a person, is that we really have to distinguishand sell the person on the fact that its about the process, its notabout you. Its about the role and how to improve the role. Itsnot about John, Dick, Suzie or something. Its about the processof it and how to improve the process. That seems to me a bighurdle of applying Lean to your personal life.Dan: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. As humans, we all fallprey to the fundamental attribution error, in which we assignblame to individuals rather than to a process or to theenvironment or to the system. We tend to do that, I think, on anindividual level. We say theres a problem with me, theres aproblem with her. I think youre absolutely right. How toovercome that and get people to think about it as a process, Ithink that if we start applying Lean individually, by ourselves, itmakes us more sensitive to that.If Im looking at the way that I work, instead of saying, "Boy, Ireally stink at this, or this is really hard for me to do," we can tryto say, "What is it about the system that makes it difficult for meto accomplish this?" It starts to move our focus from ourselves toa process, to a system, to an environment. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  23. 23. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsThen I think that translates well when we start looking outside ofour own four cubicle walls or four office walls. I guess its threecubicle walls. We become trained now, or we become accustomedto the notion of looking at a system, rather than looking at anindividual. When were looking at ourselves, were looking at thesystems that we have and the systems in which we work, andtrying to identify ways in which to improve those.Joe: I think you explained that well. I look at the fact that fromthe times that Ive talked to Michael Bally, he always said thatKaizen is an individual thing because youve got to be able to takecare of yourself before you can help others.Dan: I think hes absolutely right, absolutely right. I always sayin order to lead it; youve got to live it. In order to lead Lean,youve got to live Lean. And that means not just using tools butreally having the mindset of lets look at systems and lets look atprocesses, and lets try to continuously improve all that stuff. Ithink its required for us to be able to be effective leaders.Joe: Whats coming up in the future for you?Dan: As I mentioned, Im working with LEI. Im developing aprogram, both that will be open, just as they do with all theirother training - all their other workshops are open in variouscities - and hopefully will be able to deliver as well to companies.Im developing a workshop for the upcoming AME conferencein - is it October or November, in Chicago, where Ill be leading ahalf-day workshop on this topic as well. These are two areas thatIm very, very excited about.The other thing that Id like to do that Im working on is trying toexpand some of these ideas that you and I have discussed, to asI mentioned earlier, some of these processes that exist that werenot really even conscious of. The process of coming to decisions,that to me is a really...or consensus, for example. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  24. 24. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsThat, to me, is a process, and it can be improved. We just dontoften look at it as a process. We just think OK, weve got to makea decision. Yes, but in order to make a decision, theres aprocess. Every company is a little bit different, but we dont lookat that as a process.I believe what happens often is companies take too long to do itor they dont do it well. What Id like to do is help people start todefine some of those less obvious processes, and identify ways toimprove them. Those are the three things that Im working onright now.Joe: How can someone get a hold of you?Dan: You can go to my website, of course, You can follow me on Twitter, and Itweet under the handle @timeback. You can send me an email, They can contact you, ofcourse, and you can serve as my shill and forwarding arm. I alsorespond to smoke signals, Semaphore, and bright flashes of lightin the night sky, sort of like Batman.Joe: I want to thank you very much for your time. I appreciate itvery much, Dan, and look forward to having more discussionsabout it.Dan: Joe, its been a pleasure. I do appreciate you giving me tothe opportunity to speak with you on this podcast, and I lookforward to working with you going forward as well. Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901
  25. 25. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Lean Marketing Systems Ph: 260-438-0411 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: Web/Blog: Twitter: @business901 What others say: In the past 20 years, Joe and I have collaborated on many difficult issues. Joes ability to combine his expertise with "out of the box" thinking is unsurpassed. He has always deliveredquickly, cost effectively and with ingenuity. A brilliant mind that is always apleasure to work with." James R.Joe Dager is President of Business901, a progressive company providingdirection in areas such as Lean Marketing, Product Marketing, ProductLaunches and Re-Launches. As a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt,Business901 provides and implements marketing, project and performanceplanning methodologies in small businesses. The simplicity of a singleflexible model will create clarity for your staff and as a result betterexecution. My goal is to allow you spend your time on the need versus theplan.An example of how we may work: Business901 could start with aconsulting style utilizing an individual from your organization or a virtualassistance that is well versed in our principles. We have capabilities toplug virtually any marketing function into your process immediately. Asproficiencies develop, Business901 moves into a coach’s role supporting theprocess as needed. The goal of implementing a system is that the processeswill become a habit and not an event. Business901 Podcast Opportunity Expert Status Individual Lean, the Root Cause of Success? Copyright Business901