18 Jun

LEAN Empowerment!

Lean EmpowermentHow do you create an ’empowerment zone’?…a place where people can take ownership of their workplace. This includes being able to influence decisions and actions related to your work as well as the look and feel of your workplace.

Socrates said “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” LEAN tools are the quickest and most sustainable way to empower teams to take back ownership of their workplace .

A good example of this is a recent project we did using the 5S Workplace Organisation and S.M.E.D. tools to help the team take ownership of their workplace.  It is a story many have heard before…ineffective multi-level communication leading to lack of accountability and teams performing below their potential.

Step 1 was to get the team to be able to influence decisions made regrading their workplace layout and equipment maintenance through visual communications. Using 5S’s they planned their workplace layout, cleared out all unnecessary items and plotted where everything should go. By demarcating ‘parking bays’  with yellow floor tape they ensured that support services always placed the bins and palettes in the same place resulting in reduced clutter and always having materials in place. Red tags were used to identified equipment faults and to generate job cards for the maintenance team to plan repairs. Action lists showing work to be done are displayed on their notice board and are discussed and updated daily.

Step 2 was to have the team create their own benchmarks regarding performance. Continually competing against yourself and focusing on beating your previous best creates a ‘winning culture’. Beating the world record is the eventual target. The team are busy creating process maps for each changeover and are already looking at ways to improve the initial times logged. They have also developed housekeeping, lubrication and operations maintenance  schedules.

After a week the team has identified 18 improvements, which they want to implement in their workplace. They have prioritised them, posted them on their notice board and have an execution plan for the first two. Operator and maintenance teams are talking to each other about equipment improvements and discussions are being held with support services on how they can assist in improving the overall performance. The team is starting to take charge…a great thing to see.LEAN logo



01 Jun

Infinity Teams

LEAN logoInfinity teams are teams focused on being the best. DivFood have had some good wins with their teams in May.

IMG_0319IMG_0277The printing Infinity Teams are focusing on using Quick Changeovers and Workplace Organisation from their 20 Keys process to improve their productivity and changeover times.  Here the team show their process map after reviewing deck changes. The innovations they came up with will be tested on the line before being put into ‘best operating practice’.DivFood Fire Team


After implementing their 5S workplace organisation plan in their workplace. The teams are using the process to create a cleaner and safer working environment as well as to take ownership of their work area.



The DivFood fire team after winning the “Best Fire Team” of 2015. This is the second year in a row. Incredible dedication, focus and team work. Well done!

19 Feb

The ‘Glue of life’

trustStephen Covey said that TRUST is the glue of life. The power of trust comes from it’s ability to inspire and influence. It strengthens relationships and is an essential ingredient in effective communication. All of these things are required if you are to be a good leader. People will only follow those that they trust.

There are 8 basic steps in building trust as a leader…none of them mutually exclusive.

  1. Never compromise on matters of principle or standards of excellence, even on matters of minor importance.
  2. Be persistent and never give up.
  3. Have a clear vision of where you are going and communicate it often.
  4. Know what you stand for and set high standards – don’t be afraid to tackle problems despite the risks.
  5. Spend less time managing and more time leading – lead by example.
  6. Bring out the best in others – hire the best people and delegate responsibility – but stay in touch.
  7. Have confidence in yourself and those around you – trust others.
  8. Accept blame for failures and credit others with success – possess integrity and personal courage.

A good test of whether you are trust worthy is to answer the 4 questions linked to the ‘Nature of Trust’ as discussed by William Shoemaker (6 August) at https://thehubcpn.wordpress.com/.

  1. Do you keep your promises? Often promises or commitments are made flippantly and in the heat of the moment. Consider your promise before committing to it. It is often useful to manage expectations by agreeing to a time line and stating any conditions, which would make it difficult to meet your promise.
  2. Are you open in your communication with everyone? I worked with a team who had a communication style of ‘brutal honesty’. Although open and honest this style often led to conflict. Be open in your communication but agree on a communication style with your team and associates. Even suspicion that the communication is less than open will make the listener doubt the message.
  3. Do you always act with honesty and integrity and without hidden agenda’s? Being transparent in your actions not only creates trust but more importantly allows others to focus on their own tasks without having to wonder about what else is happening.
  4. Do you always meet your obligations to look out for other people’s interests as well as your own? People are reluctant to follow instructions or decisions where the outcome will be unfavourable to them. Your decisions and actions will be followed and generally not questioned if others feel that you have their interests at heart.

I have worked with over 500 teams in Africa and Europe and found that one of the most important elements in developing high performance teams is teaching them how to build trust.


17 Nov

Create Enquiring Minds

Process MappingThe tools for developing the thinking skills of your employees will be under your nose, at your fingertips, or even hanging on your wall. You can begin to build or improve employee thinking skills and job performance with little or no cost to your business. Generally factories have a wealth of charts, pictures, graphs, processes etc. on the walls but most employees mumble when asked what these visuals are. Employees have little say on what information is displayed so no feeling of ownership and little interest. Here a team is busy creating a map to help them visually display the process they follow during a product change on their line. They used it to come up with ideas to improve a changeover process resulting in a reduced in time (56%) and reduction of start-up waste of 73%.

A number of people responded to our last newsletter asking for more information about using the brainpower of your teams to solve problems. It’s easy to talk about getting teams to think but how is it done in practice. First you must realise that you are trying to change a culture and that is going to take time. There is no quick fix. Some hints on how to simplify the process are…

  • Make thinking visible.
    • Encourage team members to write down or draw their improvement ideas or problems. It may help to have a standard idea form and problem form.
    • Use photo’s – remember a picture says a thousand words. Use arrows and captions to explain the photo.
    • Use notice boards to display the ideas and problems. The more people who see the notice board the better.
    • Allow everyone to write their comments on the ideas displayed this way you can brainstorm over shifts.
    • Reward or recognise ideas that deliver sustainable results or financial benefits.
  • Challenge the team. Get them to solve specific problems starting with relatively simple ones progressing in difficulty.
  • Teach teams simple problem solving tools
    • Make a habit of asking questions. (5 Why analysis)
    • Use a Matrix – not only is it good for gathering and sorting information but it also inspires creative thinking and problem solving.
  • Involve the team in practically testing and communicating their ideas.

Given the chance people naturally try to improve their lives and make their work easier. All your teams need are the tools to help them improve and lots of support. The results will be amazing and sustainable.