What To Know Before You Hire A Lean Consultant: Business improvement series
The management consulting industry can be a difficult task, it comes with its disadvantages, but the pros out weigh the cons. In my experience, over 90 percent of the Lean consultants out there don’t know how to transform a culture. The largest need in the small and medium-sized organizations in America relative to Lean is developing the Leadership and culture for the Lean tools to be successful. 
4 Ways to Hold Your Employees Accountable: Business improvement series
The ability to hold people accountable is a skill that can be learned and practiced by leaders at all levels of the organization. However, in our experience, it often isn't. This is unfortunate for many reasons.

Leaders need to hold all people accountable in order to motivate the top performers. Accountability instills fairness, which is a fundamental for improving morale. If your not holding people accountable for their actions, your top performers will eventually lose interest and end up pushing away.

What good are your efforts if they are overlooked and don't result in real change.  People want to be held accountable just as they want others around them to be held accountable. So how do you do this? It's not that as hard as you may think but it is a skill that requires the willingness to learn and practice.

Here are a few of the fundamentals of creating true accountability within your organization:
Do You Have the Leadership Mindset to LEAD Change? Business improvement series
Mindsets are developed over time and they are the unwritten rules that influence behavior. What is important to understand is that leaders create the unwritten rules by their behaviors, which may or may not be consistent with the expectations they communicate.

Edgar Schein is the author of Organizational Culture and Leadership and in his book he writes about changing culture and mindset through embedding mechanisms.
3 Leadership Changes that Bring Optimal Results: Business improvement series
Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing what you have always done and expecting different results."

This couldn't be more relevant when it comes to sustaining the improvement process. 5S events and auditing systems are not enough. In order to improve, behavior has to change in every member of the company. First, changes must come from leadership.
Super Bowl Level Coaching for Business Improvement: Business improvement series
No team gets to greatness without an effective coach.  However leading a team takes more than just claiming to be a good coach and what is required can be more daunting than most want to admit.

In fact, The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness (CMOE) conducted research that clearly shows that when it comes to coaching, the vast majority of managers are better at talking about it than doing it. This helps explain, at least in part, why so many organizations have problems sustaining change.
4 Best Practices You Must Have For 5S Success: Business improvement series
With so many different paths to reach 5S it can be difficult to map your journey. There is not a real 'cookie-cutter' answer that works for every company. However, after working with many companies over many years our consultants have identified several commonalities that lead to the greatest success.

How to Avoid The Common 5S Mistakes: Business Improvement Series
As a plant manager who oversaw two distinct and rather successful Lean transformations, I’m almost ashamed to admit that I missed some pretty fundamental issues relative to 5S. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now clearly see that my understanding of this basic tool was remedial at best and detrimental at worst. It is now evident to me that my limited knowledge of 5S certainly impacted the rate of progress and possibly the degree of improvement attained.

After many years and implementations completed, I’d like to provide you with the advantages of the lessons I have learned so that you and your organization can travel to a higher level at a faster rate.

7 Keys to Effective Leadership Coaching
Kissinger, the great thinker, advisor and visionary understands a leader needs a different set of skills than an industry expert or knowledge worker.  Just having the most authority or the most industry knowledge is not enough to be a good leader.

"The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been."

— Henry Kissinger

Leadership skills can be developed.  In fact improving leadership in an organization is a well-leveraged investment.  Every   improvement in the quality of leadership can result in great increases in company productivity and profit.   

An effective way to bring change is through leadership coaching.  Today's coaching goes beyond the counseling or training model which attempts to correct or manipulate behavior.  Coaching is not, as people mistake it, setting expectations and holding people accountable. While those are essential leadership activities, coaching goes beyond.
5 Steps For Beginning a Lean Heathcare Process
When considering a Lean transformation, you may clearly know what the end result should be, efficiency, cost savings,  happier patients, empowered staff.  However, the steps to reach those goals may not be so clear. Here are five steps you must take to embark on a Lean journey in healthcare.
3 Reasons Organizations Underperform
If your organization is like most, it only performs at its peak sporadically; in specific departments for a few hours or days at a time. Your people think and act phenomenally during periods of crisis or intense focus but return to the status quo once the pressure subsides. You’ll see employees at their best while working on a serious quality issue or jumping through hoops to ship the plan at the end of the month. But what about the rest of the time? How much of your organization’s capacity is engaged when there’s no crisis or impending event? Results vary, but it’s safe to say that most businesses perform well below their potential most of the time. This is a common crisis with enormous consequences.
When Employees Say All the Right Things... and do the wrong things
It’s Wednesday morning and you are on your way out to the factory to see how the latest improvements are sustaining. You have been thinking about this since last Friday at lunch when the Kaizen Team had their report-out. You just couldn’t believe the impact they had on productivity, throughput, floor space, work in process, and overall organization. You wanted to be out there first thing Monday but as the Plant Manager, you had to attend a quarterly strategy meeting.

As you walk up the new work cell, you are surprised to see it has six people instead of four as the team reported. You are also disappointed to see that some the WIP is back in the area. As you look a little closer and start asking questions you find that many of the improvements that were made last week have disappeared. You are disappointed to say the least. You see Phil, the department supervisor, and make your way over to speak with him. He can see the disappointment on your face and looks a little nervous as you start to speak.
Five MUST Leadership Qualities For A Successful Lean Transformation
Peter Drucker wisely wrote, "Only three things happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.”

Great companies are created from great leadership. What makes a great leader? A great leader is one that is actively engaged, visionary, enabling, encouraging, humble, and practice what they preach.  Here are three questions to evaluate your own leadership.
5 Steps to a Lean Transformation for Healthcare Providers
Improving patient care while reducing costs has become a priority for all health care providers. Surprisingly, the way to achieve these improvements is similar to the systems originally created to improve manufacturing processes for industry giants like Toyota.  With the similar goal in mind, of reducing inefficiencies and improving the overall value for their customers, these two unlikely industries are implementing similar practices.

Although originally developed for the manufacturing industries, the key goals of Lean production — eliminating waste, respecting employees and continually improving — are being applied to healthcare providers and hospitals. Here are five steps to a Lean transformation in the healthcare industry.

Let us first start off with a quick reminder on what exactly lean is. According to the Lean Enterprise Institute, lean means “creating more value for customers with fewer resources.” Lean strives on eliminating waste to create a more efficient and successful company. Lean can be applied to all areas of the workforce and to all types of jobs not just manufacturing. So how does one apply this to the world of healthcare specifically? Well, there are a few ways.

3 Lean Principles to Improve Productivity
Paul J. Meyer, founder of the Success Motivation Institute, described it best when saying “productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Productivity is not something that just happens, leaders must set forth a plan, demonstrate motivation and engage the entire organization.

Establishing productivity initiatives can be much more challenging than just adding the words to your annual goals.  Below are three practices you can put in place to begin the road to increasing productivity.

1.      Understand the difference between value added and non-value added activities

Let's first review what is value added and non-value added activities. Value added activities change the process, character, form, or fit of a product or service. It is also something the customer would be willing to pay for. Whereas non-value activities do not change or effect the product or service and is something customers would not be willing to pay for. Are your employees doing more non-value added or value added activities? An exercise you can try is to go walk around your organization and determine if the first 20 people you see are currently adding value – typically less than 20% are at any given time. A surprising statistic, so make sure you know if everyone is on track. This isn’t to say you have a people problem, but look for the processes that are causing people to not be able to add value. You might find someone searching for a tool or information; you might find someone doing rework; you might see someone waiting for something. Go look and see.

2.      Increase Visual Management

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people tend to be “visual learners”. They strive on being able to see what needs to be done versus just being told. Try setting up a type of “performance board” for the employees to look at. This will allow employees to identify the problem, act upon it, and then eliminate the waste more efficiently and effectively. Think of it as a scoreboard for a sports game, people look at it to see how well their team is doing and where they need to be in order to win the game.

The scoreboard is also a visual tool for managers to quickly asses what it taking place in the organization and what needs to be changed. When management takes actions, based on what is on the board, they also send a visual message of what is expected. See below for an example.

3.      Measure the things that matter with KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators)

In order to improve productivity, it is important to be able to measure exactly what it is you’re trying to improve. Key Performance Indicators drive improvement by using facts instead of guessing and help to prioritize goals. An important first step, is to choose what performance you want to measure. A few that you can choose from are safety performance, quality performance, delivery performance, and people performance. Is your company mostly concerned about the quality of your service or products? Or are you more concerned about how your products are being delivered? These are important questions to ask yourself when measuring your company’s performance and when deciding what your goals should be. Also make sure your results are accurate and precise, rather than using estimates and guesses. It's hard to fix a problem that you don't fully understand due to poorly collected data. Precision is always important when it comes to KPIs because we are most interested in how the data is trending.

Walt Disney once said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Don’t just talk about how poorly things are going but instead do something about it. Measure the performance of your employees, help them to visualize what needs to be done so they can create an action for it, and eliminate the waste. A successful business is a productive business. How productive is your business? 
Operational excellence, increase productivity