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Lean Newsletter Archive, April 2010

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Helping Companies AND Individuals Improve

Notes from Jeff
Dear Subscriber,

I have a major milestone in my life this month. I turn 40. Of course, things don’t change immediately when you hit a particular age, but they do change over time. As I grow older, I grow wiser and can see deeper into issues. I gain more experience every day, and have an increasing wealth of knowledge to draw from. I am also far less likely to get worked up about a problem than I was at age 20. Now I just focus on solving it.

Physically, though, age slowly takes its toll. I have mentioned in my Gotta Go Lean Blog a few times that I play basketball to stay in shape. My style of play has always been one of hustle more than skill. I’ve still got a lot of energy, but after a few games, the 20-somethings I play against start to gain the advantage. They never seem to slow down.

So, I had to do something different. I started spending time practicing my shot, and asking for advice from the best players. I’ve been doing this for a few months, and have gotten noticeably better. In fact, I hit eight three point shots in a row the other day, and thirteen out of fourteen free throws. My focused effort has paid off.

That’s the message for this month’s newsletter. I challenge you to identify one of your skills that needs work, and spend the month doing something about it. I’m not talking about just ‘working on it’. I’m talking about sitting down and making a coherent, written plan, and then spending the time to put the plan into action.

Along the same line, I’m rolling out some ‘Boot Camps‘ this month. These are short (generally one day) training sessions intended to teach a single core continuous improvement skill, and help trainees put it to immediate use. Learn more in the ‘What’s new?’ section.

And as always, best wishes on your Lean journey.

Jeff's Signature
Jeff Hajek

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What's new?

We’ve gotten back to the core of Velaction’s website this month, and added several more entries to the Lean dictionary. It is quickly closing in on 300 terms! We try to give a continuous improvement spin on each one, so they are more than just simple definitions. They also tell you what the term means to your Lean efforts. If you haven’t looked over this great tool, please check it out and let us know what you think in the comments section below each entry.

If you’ve been a frequent visitor of the site, you might also notice some of the subtle changes to layouts, buttons, spacing, and other formatting. We keep refining the site to make it easier to use as well as make it more visually appealing. Again, we’d love to hear your feedback about the site.

Finally, Velaction is launching a few Boot Camps. These are intensive training and coaching sessions for small groups of frontline leaders, mostly supervisors and managers. We are currently finalizing sessions on:

Featured Article

Lean Leadership Soft Skills

Learning the technical aspects of Lean takes time and effort. But, what few people recognize is that it is much harder to develop the soft skills of continuous improvement. The following list contains some of the greatest challenges-and opportunities-for many Lean leaders.

  • Granting Authority

The single biggest mistake that leaders make in a Lean company is failing to grant authority to their team members. That doesn’t mean giving team members blank checks to do anything they want. It just means that employees should have the freedom to solve problems and make improvements. When team members or junior leaders feel safe trying things out on their own, they get more job satisfaction, and bosses’ jobs get easier-a win-win situation. Of course, leaders must trust their teams to give them more freedom. One way for leaders to gain faith in subordinates is to provide them with proper training. (See our Lean Boot Camps for one training option.) More…

Featured Product

We mentioned our 5S and Visual Controls Lean Lego(R) Exercise in our last newsletter. It is now ready for sale, and is this month’s featured product.

This exercise pits teams against each other in a race to build a Lego go-kart. The catch? Two teams receive written instruction and two get step-by-step pictures.

Why buy this kit?

  • It reinforces a key concept of 5S. People will think about the lesson from the exercise when they are making improvements to their work areas.
  • It is ready to go. Trainers can read the included Leader’s Guide, and be running this exercise in minutes.
  • It is fun. Trainees love playing with Legos, and they love competing. Do both, and they are sure to remember the exercise…and the lesson.
  • It stands alone. The kit doesn’t rely on any other materials, so it can be added to any Lean training program.
  • It’s durable. Instructions are laminated and bound, so they won’t show their age. Use the kit over and over.

What’s included?

  1. A Leader’s Guide to get you going quickly
  2. Four (4) Lego go-karts
  3. Two (2) written student instructions
  4. Two (2) step-by-step visual student instructions
  5. Plastic bins for the kit and the go-karts
  6. A great learning experience

Jeff Hajek
Founder of Velaction
April 6, 2010
ISSN: 1946-5386
Published the first Tuesday of each month.
Jeff’s Blog
Gotta Go Lean Blog Take a look at Jeff's Gotta Go Lean Blog.
Featured Blog Posts

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Job Stress and Lean…and Rainbows?

9 Steps to Developing a Daily Management System

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Podcast: Frontline Lean Leadership with Tim McMahon

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Jeff Hajek is the Founder of Velaction Continuous Improvement, LLC, a company dedicated to making your job easier and more rewarding in a Lean environment.

If you liked this issue, you'll love Jeff's practical, easy to read, to the point training materials that help you find win-win solutions so you can quickly overcome Lean obstacles.

You can find out more about Jeff and the wealth of other free resources that he offers at www.Velaction.com.

Jeff is also the author of Whaddaya Mean I Gotta Be Lean? Building the bridge from job satisfaction to corporate profit. This unique book provides a blueprint for not only surviving, but also thriving in a Lean company. Plus it's like two books in one. The first half provides an overview about how to find job satisfaction in a continuous improvement culture. The second half addresses over a hundred problems that people face when they are asked to do more with less. Whaddaya Mean? is available at www.Amazon.com or at Velaction’s Lean Store.

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