What is Perfection?

By: Peter Hines, S A Partners

Ever since the classic Lean Thinking book1 talked about perfection as a principle in 1996, I have wondered what this really meant. What is perfection?

Here, the Shingo approach helps us with a definition: “Perfection is an aspiration not likely to be achieved but the pursuit of which creates a mindset and culture of continuous improvement. The realization of what is possible is only limited by the paradigms through which we see and understand the world.”

In my own mind this chimes well with my own experiences since the early 1990s with a simple tool like value stream mapping and engaging teams to want to implement and embed future state maps. What I found is that simply telling or even facilitating a team to develop a future state map rarely resulted in a sustainable change. Why? I believe this was because many in the team did not understand why they were doing this, what they were trying to achieve and most importantly that the future state that they were defining was even possible.

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The Power in Pursuing Perfection

By: Abel Gomez, Opex Academy

Nowadays, a large number of companies are establishing principles of excellence as the path for their companies. Every day companies from various types of industry call me and ask to join all those who have taken the path of enterprise excellence based on principles. Although many have understood that such principles are the basis of competitive organizations, many still battle as to how to interpret them on a daily basis. It is not that simple for them to define what the application of the principles looks like on the floor – at the gemba – where things happen every day.

Although little-by-little companies understand the importance of involving and committing every member of the organization to create the golden dream of sustainable continuous improvement, there are still many concepts that are hard to understand and translate in simple and accessible terms – even among CEOs to whom the new era of excellence based on principles is not a common theme. In fact, many mistake the path to excellence for tools and systems that are totally misaligned from the true goal. So often, this misalignment creates situations that go against principles – particularly seeking perfection.

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How Can We Respect Every Individual?

By: Gwen Engelen, Solving Efeso

As a Shingo Certified Facilitator, among my clients I promote the 10 Shingo Guiding Principles that inform ideal behaviour to realise enterprise excellence. One of the 10 principles is “Respect Every Individual.” But why is it necessary to respect every individual? And what kind of behaviour do we have to show so that people truly feel respected? And finally, how can we drive this behaviour so all leaders, managers and associates actually show respect, each and every day?

Why is it necessary that we respect every individual? The answer to that can be found using an easy exercise I have learned form the Shingo Institute: you only have to ask yourself, what happens when you don’t? And what happens when you do?

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Invisibility

By: Bruce Hamilton, GBMP

A chance reading recently provided a thought from Henry Thoreau that I think is worth sharing. Thoreau said:

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

The quote caused me to reflect on an incident some years ago at a film manufacturer:

I had been asked to visit with a team of engineers and scientists to troubleshoot a process problem on the production line. While I had no special technical understanding of this process, the project manager felt that another pair of eyes might help to discover the cause of impurities deposited on their finished product: polarized film.

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Is it Wrong to Always be Right?

By: Val Liberman, UL LLC

We like to be right. To have correct answers, to solve problems of others, to be seen as experts on a variety of topics. This pattern starts early – long before we ascend corporate ladders and assume positions of influence and leadership.

Starting in elementary school, we begin the laborious task of storing large amounts of information: mathematical formulas, historical facts and figures, names of countries, states and capitals, the list goes on. All of this stored information lies dormant until, one day, it is suddenly summoned with the words: “Close your books and get your pencils. It is test time.” We then start the painful retrieval process with one main purpose: to match the correct answer, to be right. To be right is to win, to advance, to triumph. The alternative? Unthinkable.

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How Daily Interactions Demonstrate Humility

By: Robert Miller, Arches Leadership LLC

I have always tried to not think of myself as being “above” or “more important than” or “better in some way” than the people that I work with. But not long ago I had an experience that really caused me to stop and reconsider my daily interactions with others. In an effort to improve, we conducted an online Shingo assessment (in its beta form, we called it SCOPE – a refined version will be released in 2015 as “Insight.”) The assessment essentially asks every associate to compare their daily experience with the ideal as defined in the Shingo Model and the ten Shingo Guiding Principles.  The perspective of leaders, managers and associates in each dimension of the Model are compared for opportunities to improve.  To say I was not prepared for the results is an understatement!

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