Creative Safety Supply

What is Kaikaku?

3 min read

When most people think of Lean ideologies and methodologies, they think of kaizen and continuous improvement first. However as one moves deeper into Lean, you begin to add new vocabulary and processes to your Lean tool bag. Today’s word of the day: kaikaku.

Most that know or have heard of kaizen think of it as a slow continuous improvement that is necessary to sustain a successful operation. Kaikaku, on the other hand, translates to “radical improvement or change.” While the two can coincide together, they do possess stark differences in their approach, vision, and subsequent results. Here is a comparison of the two:

Kaizen Continuous Improvement

  • Planning and execution timeline of hours to weeks
  • Smaller projects
  • Smaller staff and resources required
  • Faster results with small, individual contributions to the bottom line
  • Tactical

Kaikaku Large-scale, radical change

  • A lean initiative or event with a planning timeline of weeks to months, but execution can range from hours to weeks
  • Generally larger projects
  • More staff and resources required
  • Results are seen slowly, however with larger, coinciding and various contributions to the bottom line
  • Strategic

kaikaku can determine success or failure Both kaizen and kaikaku require a skilled, vested group of individuals that believe in the organization they are trying to improve. However, which approach your organization decides to implement will depend on their overall skill set and readiness for the change they are about to take on. The challenges both kaizen and kaikaku present are cannot be overlooked and must be addressed by management, prior to implementation.

The Challenge of Kaikaku

  • Increased resources and time: The amount of resources necessary for a successful kaikaku implementation is much larger than a normal kaizen event. Senior management must be engaged in the process due to the significance of the change about to occur. This will require them to set aside other tasks and make major decisions that could ultimately decide the fate of the organization, if gone wrong.
  • Takes creativity and capital: Kaikaku is supposed to lead to a revolutionary change that drastically improves the bottom line and/or value stream of the organization. This takes creative minds that can think outside the box, but also the capital to allow them to implement their creative ideas. Typically, a Lean process is supposed to do more with less, but in the case of kaikaku, it sometimes takes a little capital to provide the large scale change you’re looking for. However, the benefits are usually large with kaikaku, so the return on investment is worth it and seen faster than normal.

Swinging for the Fences

The risk/reward factor is significantly higher with kaikaku, over kaizen. If you’re a sports fan, think of baseball and the difference between a home run hitter and one that hits for a high average, with lots of base hits. The home run hitter goes up swinging for the fences every time. The reward is high because if they connect, the result is a minimum of one run for the team. The risk is that they strike out and your team now has an out for the inning. However, the one who hits for average is up there just trying to make contact and get on base. The reward is low because they may just get a single and never get further than first base, but the chances of them getting out is also low.

The baseball analogy might not click for everyone, but the point is; you can use them both to win. Baseball like all team sports, takes a team to win. Therefore, intertwining your singles and home run hitters can lead to tremendous success is done correctly.  The same could be said about kaizen and kaikaku.


In order for your organization to have success with kaikaku, you have to appreciate the importance and value kaizen has. If not, your organization’s ability to sustain the “radical” change, may fall flat on its face. When dealt with a problem or situation that requires a revolutionary change (kaikaku) to happen, you may not always get the initial results you were looking for. However through continuous improvement (kaizen), you can continue to push towards the results you were initially looking for.

The Ten Commandments of Kaikaku

By: Hiroyuki Hirano

  1. Throw out the traditional concept of manufacturing methods
  2. Think about how the new method will work, not how it won’t work
  3. Don’t accept excuses; totally deny the status quo
  4. Don’t seek perfection; a 50% implementation rate is fine as long as it’s done on the spot
  5. Correct mistakes the moment they are found
  6. Don’t spend money on kaikaku
  7. Problems give you a chance to use your brains
  8. Ask “why” five times
  9. Tens person’s ideas are better than one person’s knowledge
  10. Kaikaku knows no limits

Communication Needs Feedback

4 min read

Building a culture for your Lean processes to thrive on can be very difficult without the right tools and skills within the population of your facility. Lean is no different than safety or any other process your organization implements, it takes a culture that believes and thrives on the ideas your processes are founded on. Behind every culture though, is the understanding and appreciation for communication. Successful communication is made up of key ingredients, one of those being feedback.

provide feedbackFeedback is Key

Feedback is essential to improving communication. For many, the thought of open dialogue results in a spike in their anxiety levels, but this is more of a result of not having the skills to have an engaging conversation that allows for feedback. When you can understand and implement feedback into your everyday conversations around the workplace, you are able to add insight and more importantly, improve the conversation, allowing for it to be a foundation for future conversations.

Neglecting to give feedback is neglecting yourself of an improvement opportunity, Feedback helps one understand one another and allows them to interpret one’s behavior through effective dialogue. It allows us to continue our learning process by learning how others interpret our words. When we receive feedback, we understand what effect we are having on the conversation, which allows us to correct our behavior or tone if needed. This type of information gathering is what separates a constructive conversation from meaningless words.

It is important to understand that communication is a two-way street which requires a mutual understanding of the message being transmitted. Feedback is the linkage between what the communicator is trying to say and how the recipient is receiving the message. As the communicator receives feedback, they can then evaluate the effectiveness of their message and determine what changes, if any, need to be made.

Effects of Feedback

  • Turns a meaningless conversation into a meaningful one.
  • Helps sustain and improve the communication process.
  • Lets the communicator know if their message is being received properly.
  • Pushes the conversation flow and topic of what’s being discussed.
  • Completes the communication process or starts it over for further discussion.

The benefits of a culture built on engaging communication dependent upon feedback is clear, but getting there is a challenge. People need to be comfortable and trust one another, to properly benefit from feedback. To help, here are some key elements to keep in mind when trying to establish a culture that thrives on one’s feedback.

1. Relationships need trust

Whether it’s obvious or not in your workplace, some people have better relationships with one another than others do. Some good, some bad. Those relationships are built on trust and how well they communicate with each other is dependent upon their trust level with each other. Those with higher trust levels are going to be more willing to give feedback with one another during a conversation. Creating an environment where everyone is on the same trust level is difficult, but you can take the steps to help promote it.

Tips to help build trust:

  • Organize gatherings– Pizza Fridays, bagel Mondays, brainstorming meeting, these are just a few examples of ways to bring employees together. Once together, employees have the chance to get to know one another better and start the trust building process.
  • Let others know it’s ok to say no– Giving feedback is not about being a “yes man.” Saying no is actually a good way to show that you are listening and not just nodding your head.
  • Don’t rush to judgement– Sometimes you are not always ready to provide feedback. That’s ok. Bad feedback can be just as bad as no feedback at all. If you are not ready to provide the critical thinking necessary for constructive feedback, then postpone it until you are. This shows others that you want to put the effort in, but just need more time to do so.

2. Make it a positive experience

We’ve all had the boss or supervisor that felt they could get the best out of their staff by publicly criticizing them to make a point. This is about the worst way possible to build a culture that hopes to thrive on communication and feedback. Feedback is meant to help the recipient improve themselves or the situation at hand. Public criticism may provide a short-term impact, but if you want to build a culture that feels comfortable and open to give public feedback, keep it positive while in the open. There is a time and place for criticism, even negativity, but it’s behind closed doors.

3. Make it the norm

Providing feedback should not be a special event. Only providing feedback during special events can make people feel uncomfortable and take some of the sincerity away if it seems planned out. Feedback needs to be an organic part of the culture that everyone is comfortable doing and being around. Once the behavior appears to be the norm, more will be willing to participate and contribute to the feedback process.

Keep it up

Everyone takes feedback a different way. Our previous experiences play a big role in our current roles. This is something we should all be conscious of, when receiving and giving feedback. Don’t be discouraged by one’s emotional state. Continue to provide feedback, but adjust your method to get the best out of your effort, while providing them with the content they need to improve.

It also helps to provide feedback in ‘I-messages.’ Meaning, you say “I think,” rather than “you should.” This takes the perception away that you are being accusatory or judgmental in your feedback, which takes away from its purpose.

 One last thing

Your body language is extremely important during the course of a conversation. Body language is also considered feedback and can be just as negative as positive. Keep this in mind when you’re in a conversation and try to stay as neutral as possible with your body language. Let your words and critical thinking ability provide the feedback to be the most effective.

Vocoli Takes Suggestion Box To New Level

3 min read

Has Vocoli saved the suggestion box?

The traditional suggestion box has long been thought of as a thing of the past. The dusty wood box that no one can usually find, sitting with a couple of broken pencils and some half doodled pieces of paper, has been in desperate need of an upgrade for years.

Vocoli, a product of a Brighton-based Web development firm Massachusetts Technology Corp, was launched in September and is attempting change the way you think about suggestion boxes.

Any company founded on the will to continuously improve needs voices to push it along. Often times, these voices tend to get choked out in a dusty box. They get forgot about, left for too long, and by the time they make it into the hands of someone who can make a difference, it’s a lost cause. In attempts to spark innovation, collaboration, and maybe most importantly, participation, Vocoli is a cloud based, virtual suggestion box that allows employees to submit suggestions, comments and ideas from anywhere, anytime, from essentially any device.

Vocoli is a pay-for-service software that allows organizations to offer a fully interactive platform for employees and managers to rate ideas, add comments and input additional data on how a particular idea impacted operations.

Vocali suggestion boxVocoli Benefits

Create Campaigns

A nice feature with the Vocoli software is the ability for leaders to target specific organizational challenges and allow the team to collaborate on finding a workable solution.

  • Set campaign start and end dates
  • Set reward amounts for motivation
  • See number of related ideas and pre- and post-campaign.

Social Collaboration

Contributors will have an option to improve each other’s ideas with the organization’s collective knowledge.

  • Discuss and rate ideas before submitting to management
  • View the latest and trending topics
  • Incorporate comments into the submission
  • Up- and down-vote to bring the best conversations to the top.

Established Workflow

Never lose a great idea again!

  • Program administrators can assign department heads to review ideas and then accept or decline them
  • Dashboard tools help quickly keep ideas progressing through each step of the process
  • Mange the idea process with reminders to department heads, follow-through and status tracking
  • Ideas can be set aside for further evaluation and clarity from the author.

User Friendly

Employees want something that’s user friendly and allows them flexibility. The interface Vocoli offers is easy-to-use, allowing contributors to focus on their creativity, instead of how to figure out how to use it.

  • Customizable screens to meet your organizations needs and audience
  • Desktop, tablet, and mobile compatible from any browser, anytime, anywhere.
  • Users can upload documents and images to clarify and support their ideas
  • Contributors can share credit with others
  • Save an idea and finish it later.

According to Boston Business Journal reporter Sara Castellanos, the company has about a dozen customers after the first few months and anticipate further growth in the upcoming year. Their target market, according to their CEO Richard Kneece, is for companies with more than 100 employees, but their site claims the benefits could help any organization.

We are trying to create an avenue.. to allow somebody who has these ideas to submit them in an organized way.

-Richard Kneece

Tools like these can be an encouraging sign to your employees. A sign that you care about their opinion and value their input on serious challenges facing your organization. Employees that feel like they are a contributing factor in the progression and continuous improvement effort, are more likely to put forth and more importantly, sustain the effort needed to make programs like these a valuable asset to your organization.

Engaging your employees is a critical part of your operations. The first one to put out a suggestion box years ago was forward thinking and innovative for the time, but over time, it became misused and abused. The Vocoli software is innovative and forward thinking as well, overtime, we will see if it can help to sustain improvement in organizations and keep them moving forward as well.

SDCA Cycle for LEAN

3 min read

continuous improvement meeting for the sdca cycleSDCA (Standardize, Do, Check, and Act) with LEAN principles. The SDCA cycle is simply a refinement of the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, and Act) cycle. The goal of both processes is to stabilize production. Many companies use this process to improve their product or service. Here is what your company may want to know about this process.

1. LEAN Marketing with SDCA

Marketing cycles can be improved with iterative processes. Customer value is most often the focus of LEAN marketing with SDCA. When companies use LEAN combined with SDCA, they often have a greater degree of success.

2. Keep in Mind that Standardization Requires Tenacity

Improving a process, even with automation, is never easy. Once a process is standardized, it can become the foundation for a subsequent improvements or kaizen activity. No kaizen process can be established without some sort of standard work first. When companies follow this process, they can accomplish things faster, easier, better, and cheaper.

3. SDCA Ensures the Entire Organization is Following Procedure

SDCA process involves auditing to ensure that the procedures followed are standardized. The process requires every employee across the organization to adhere to the principles that will yield standardized work. If the procedure is not followed, there may be countermeasures to restore the process to normal after the reason for failure or lack of adherence is determined. Some of the most common reasons why procedures are not followed is because of willful disobedience, and insufficient training.

4. Employees Need Patience to Successfully Execute SDCA

Most experts require that employers experiment with standardized work for a period of time before best practices are implemented in writing. This will ensure that the process is repeatable by whomever reads the instructions and follows the process. When everyone can be instructed on how to consistently execute th process, then the process may be disseminated across the company. This is why it requires patience to successfully execute SDCA.

5. Andon Teaches Employees to Respect the Process

If the process is not sufficient or it’s not consistently repeatable, some employers apply andon. The andon pull will solicit leaders attention and call them to escalate the process when necessary. Problem solving begins the andon process. If you respect the process, then you’ll have better results and better lean leaders.

6. Pay Attention to Sales SDCA

When you consider sales SDCA, you’ll recognize the areas where you can improve in your processes. This is an important part of creating a valuable product that has a high degree of consistency with the public. Tactical execution or SDCA may involve the help of a creative team, but its not the wisest decision. These processes are often more inefficient.

The SDCA Cycle for LEAN

The SDCA cycle for LEAN is necessary in any organization that values perfection. Companies like General Electric, and Motorola have implemented these processes and have improved their productivity levels and reduced their error levels significantly.

Even Toyota has benefitted from this process by producing a vehicle that outlasts most vehicles on the road. The vehicles have longevity that is not present with and other type of process available. Every company should strive to improve their processes and produce products that outshine and outlast the competition. This is what the SDCA cycle for LEAN can do for your company.

Study the basic principles of SDCA and learn how the process works for your company. Keep in mind that it will require patience and perseverance to implement the process. When the objectives are completed and the process is perfected, your company will run smoother, and your productivity levels will improve. A better product should yield more sales and increase revenue, and that’s what business is all about. Isn’t it?

What You Can Do to Improve Your Coaching in Business

5 min read

When it comes to coaching techniques in business, many companies utilize different methods to encourage their employees and quicken the learning process. Sometimes, a faster approach may lead to less understanding and more room for error, and coaches can be overly critical of their employees’ performances. Struggling to keep the momentum going while addressing problem areas, many coaches lose sight of the real end goal of teaching their employees core values. If you’re a coach, then you may face the same struggle on a daily basis. improve-coachingHow can you foster an atmosphere of mutual respect while still commanding authority as a coach in the workplace? There are several ways to improve your role as coach, and each will help your employees learn better, work more efficiently and achieve their best work without suffering unintended negative consequences. Whether hosting a seminar, writing a memo, giving compliments or addressing problem areas, you as a coach need to stay focused and on target with your overall intentions. Employees generally learn best when given a clear set of instructions or when presented with a series of related, focused material. The relationship between you and the people you coach depends on mutual respect, and respect is fostered through useful dialog. When addressing someone with an opportunity for improvement, you should stay focused to avoid overwhelming someone who’s trying to learn. For example, a discussion on the need for greater clarity in expense reports might focus on the use of appropriate terminology and effective use of spreadsheets. Avoid throwing in excess information or unneeded criticism along with your other points. People sometimes have a tendency to address a series of issues all at once, which can lead to an unproductive discussion. Rather than seeing the errors and working out ways to solve them, employees find themselves becoming defensive and instead tuning out much of what’s being discussed. In order to instill positive change, you need to stay on topic and avoid extraneous information. The same holds true in other situations. Discussing a company policy change should remain focused on the topic at hand and avoid additional, unrelated information. This isn’t to say that a routine discussion on dress code changes can’t also include additional policy updates. But a conversation with employees that addresses varying topics such as policy updates, information on parking spots, new software and improved methods for everyday job function will more than likely result in decreased comprehension. In a multitasking world, it’s easy to throw a lot of information at people all at once, but doing so almost inevitably leads to confusion and the demand for further instruction. You should keep your instructions and discussions centered on specific topics to enhance comprehension and productivity.

Avoid Negative Body Language and Tone

Body language and tone play a crucial role in interpersonal communication. When you’re addressing problem areas or discussing difficult subjects, try to do so in person. Written communication can be interpreted incorrectly, and email communication in particular can lead to misunderstood intent and negative reactions. As a coach, you can communicate more effectively in person by being open and neutral. Think of the quality customer service you’ve received in the past during difficult situations. No matter how tough the situation, you’re more likely to respond positively if you’re presented with a concerned and respectful demeanor. Similarly, keeping your body language and tone in check will help smooth over tough situations. Make sure you stand with your arms unfolded and keep your facial expressions neutral or positive. Crossed arms and frowning automatically make people more uncomfortable and defensive, and defensive behavior prevents growth opportunities. Likewise, avoid negative, blaming language and use a professionally friendly tone. Just remember to stay professional at all times. You may be tempted to overcompensate by adopting too familiar of a tone and body language, but as an authority figure you still need to garner respect and trust. To maintain the balance, keep a cool and professional distance while still emanating an inviting tone and body language.

Shift the Focus to a Mutual Understanding

When it comes to discussions concerning problem areas, many coaches automatically approach employees with the negative attitude of blame. The most effective way to raise someone’s defenses is to blame him for a problem. Even if the problem can be specifically assigned to one person, blame never resolves issues. Pointing out flaws only leads to miscommunication and ineffective resolution. In fact, most employees will be so discouraged by blame that they may cease to perform altogether, leading to serious setbacks in overall operations. As a coach, your job is to shift the focus from negative criticism to constructive feedback. You may find this idea challenging at first. After all, how do you address someone who consistently performs at a sub-par level without sounding negative or condescending? If an employee deserves negative feedback, then shouldn’t he get it? In reality, no one deserves negative reinforcement, and no one benefits from it. The only end result for negative reinforcement is decreased morale and an inefficient workforce. How can you foster a positive environment while still addressing problem areas with employees? Your role as coach provides you with a golden opportunity to instill better work ethics while improving work performance. Start with the simple switch from a “you”-based critique to an “I”-based feedback system. Rather than demanding of an employee how he failed to meet an assignment’s deadline, ask him instead how the system might be improved to generate clearer instructions. Redirecting the conversation to a place of mutual understanding will create a twofold effect: The employee will recognize his error and work to address it, and you may learn a more effective way of managing employee deadlines. By working towards a shared goal of improving company operations, you and your employees will understand each other better. Improved understanding plays a key role in effective leadership and operations.

Ask for Feedback and Suggestions

Coaches sometimes forget that the people they coach may offer valuable information. In an effort to instruct, you may overlook a person’s contributions and fail to collect information and suggestions that could enhance the company’s overall operations. Everyone can improve, and everyone offers a perspective worth sharing in an effective organization. If you find yourself at odds with an employee, try asking for their specific feedback. As discussed earlier, conversations between you and the people you coach need to stay on target, and this is especially important when it comes to requests for feedback and constructive criticism. Effective coaching depends on learning how an employee operates, and you can gain insight into the way someone thinks by asking for her opinion on various points of operation. For example, if one of your employees consistently refuses to use the software programs needed for her Free Kaizen Guidejob, then take the time to discuss the situation with her. Ask her why she uses an alternate method. You may find that her way leads to a smoother transaction and more efficient use of company time. When you ask employees for their honest feedback, you instill a sense of trust in their abilities. In turn, this creates a more valuable workforce because people are more willing to innovate and use their minds creatively for the good of the company. The last thing you want to do is create a workforce full of bland people who mindlessly follow orders. Innovation leads to a better workplace community, and you can foster innovation by recognizing strengths and offering opportunities for improvement. Your job as coach is to produce a cohesive working unit to promote continued success for the company. Doing so requires you to seek and acknowledge company feedback, implement solid changes and generate useful, productive conversations where workers feel valued and appreciated.

Be Thankful This Thanksgiving

2 min read

A Time to be Thankful

Thanksgiving Day is full of food we rarely ever consume, watching football of teams we hardly care about, yet seemingly play every fourth Thursday in November, and family members we only see on the holidays. Yet at some point during the piling of calories onto our plates we find time to express what we are thankful for. This is usually a spontaneous answer, half full of emotion, and half full of just wanting to get back to scarfing your face. This Thanksgiving though, take the time to be thankful for something else –your employees.

Thank your employees While we should always be thankful for those who make our organizations run smoothly and effectively, Thanksgiving provides a unique opportunity to thank them personally and with a purpose. They are the backbone of your continuous improvement journey, a little appreciation and recognition can have a significant impact on their contribution and engagement with the path your trying to “carve.”

Here are a few simple ways to thank and recognize your employees this Thanksgiving season:

  • Write them a personal thank you note. Thank them for all they have done and that their work has not gone unnoticed. Make each note personal, avoid copy and paste techniques. This takes the personal factor away, reducing the meaning and/or intention. Also, personally deliver the notes rather than just dropping them in a mailbox. This creates an extra opportunity to thank them and shake their hand for a job well done.
  • Engage each employee. Ask them about their upcoming holiday plans or how they’ve been lately. This is a great conversation starter if you are sincere and offers an opportunity to thank them in person, for the work they contribute to your organization. Employees can sense when you are not being sincere, so make sure you mean what you say and show that you truly care about them. This can go a long way when trying to get employees behind a new task or change in operations.
  • Have a pizza party. Or any kind of party for that matter. I’m not saying go all out, but a few pizzas around the break room are an easy way to show your appreciation and let the team know you are thankful for what they do.
  • Send them home early. This may or may not be possible in all situations, but it’s a nice way to show your appreciation and say thanks. This is undoubtedly the busiest time of year for your employees, outside of work. A few extra hours away from the office could make a huge difference in their lives and could help boost their productivity when they return. If you can’t let then all go early, try having some come in a few hours late to mix it up.
  • Get involved in the community. Start a toy drive, food drive, blood drive, some kind of drive that shows your employees you care about the community that helped the company grow. This gives employees an opportunity to get involved as well and take a break from the norm around the workplace.

Regardless of what you do, something is better than nothing as long as it is meaningful. Believe it or not, employees do care about things other than a paycheck. They still want to be appreciated and know that they mean something to the organization they leave their families for everyday.

Free Kaizen Guide



Jim Womack’s Top Misconceptions of the Lean Movement

3 min read

This fall marks the 25th anniversary of the Lean movement which continues to revolutionize the manufacturing industry and is now spreading into other industries as well. Jim Womack, former MIT researcher and well-known founder of the Lean movement was a keynote presenter at the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) in Toronto last month.

Womack was introduced by CME president Jayson Meyers, who said he is “someone who has changed the world” by launching the Lean revolution. In response, Womack stated “all I have done is repackage stolen goods, I just tell stories.”

He’s done more than just tell stories though. Womack has authored three books and wrote countless essays regarding Lean. His book titles include:

  • The Machine that Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production
  • Lean Thinking, Lean Solutions
  • Gemba Walks

The growth of Lean over the last 25 years has prompted several non-manufacturing industries to adopt Lean techniques and processes. It’s popularity and progress has actually come as a surprise to Womack.

I’m surprised we’ve made as much progress as we have, with so much misunderstanding of what we [the leading Lean gurus] have been saying.

-Jim Womack

Jim Womack’s top misconceptions of the Lean movement:

Misconception No. 1: “People heard that Lean is a cost-cutting exercise.” Womack wanted to make it clear that the methods his team studied at MIT were geared towards producing more output, with less waste. This was meant to be less time wasted, space, operating costs, capital expenditures, and worker injuries. “People think it’s a headcount reduction system, people heard the less, but they didn’t hear the more,” Womack added.

Misconception No. 2: “People thought it was a book about factories.” Womack felt his first book The Machine that Changed the World, in regards to the Toyota Production System was interpreted to be more about factories than anything else. He went on to point out that his book included chapters on managing customers, how to listen to your market, and running your entire enterprise on Lean principles. “You have to read the other four-fifths of the book,” Womack said if you want to understand that Lean is not just about production.

Misconception No. 3: “Most people think Lean is a within-the-walls activity to fix your company.” In fact, as Womack points out, Lean is at its best when your supply-chain partners team up to reduce inefficiencies and maximize flow as well. “It is impossible for you to get very far when the people in your value stream don’t get any better,” Womack said.

Misconception No. 4: “Lean is an improvement process production can do — management doesn’t have to do anything. Management can ‘check the box’ and move on.” Womack went on to add that lean required continuous co-operation at all levels, with upper management building two-way communications and trust with staff, restructuring to support decision-making at lower levels, shepherding investment in Lean projects, and generally championing Lean initiatives.

Lean isn’t going away, at least not in the foreseeable future, but it is up to those adopting Lean’s methods to truly embrace it’s methodology if they want to have success. There is no reading between the lines with Lean. The proof is in the work laid out by pioneers like Womack and organizations like Toyota who have shown that Lean does equal success.

I am a modest optimist. I think people and societies learn more slowly than they should. In the long-run battle for competitiveness, the winners will be those organizations that get better, faster than anyone else.

-Jim Womack

Information used in portions of this post were from a post on by Rick Spence.

What is Accountability?

3 min read

If you’re concerned about accountability, you should learn more about the responsibility every individual has in the workplace. In general, a person is accountable based upon their choices. They are accountable when they choose to enter the medical profession, and they’re accountable when they select a job in any profession that involves or requires the safety and well-being of others. Learning about accountability is necessary and easy with these few simple rules.

What is True Accountability?

Accountability is not simply the act of making the best decision about what to do when someone you’re interacting with does not hold their end of the bargain. Accountability is more about helping people take responsibility for their obligations. In a fair and just world, people are holding each other accountable for their obligations and ensuring that they have the means to meet these obligations. When someone speaks of accountability, this topic should be the main focus of the conversation.

Accountability will account for the culture of an organization, the interpersonal aspects of the leader, and the systems also. With systems, performance management systems, key indicator reports, ad-hoc meetings, and one-on-one conversations are all the concern. Accountability emerges in the culture of an organization when there are impediments or obstacles in place to meet obligations. Leaders need to develop a culture that encourages people to accept accountability in everything that they do.

Leaders in organizations should work to build a culture of accountability. It should foster characteristics that are strategic in the performance area. Accountability should be in the reports and in the organization. Leaders must uphold a higher level of procedural justice to change “perceptions of fairness.”

Communication should always flow upward in an organization through what is coined “upward communication.” This concept along with creating a safety climate will help people create an environment where meeting obligations is paramount.

Keep in mind that accountability is considered interpersonal. Every leader should be accountable to their peers and upper management. Leadership accountability will reflect every leader’s individual personal values and leadership style. It will be highly left up to how the leader interprets the best practices to determine how accountability practices will be delivered and received in the workplace. When executed properly, the leaders can have an achievable part of organizational life.

Other Ways of Incorporating Accountability Into the Workplace

Accountability can also be used with other practices such as feedback and recognition, collaboration, credibility, and vision. When accountability is used with these types of best practices, then it can help elevate leaders to a better point in life. This practice is not difficult, but it does require some effort.

Accountability is Vital to Success

Accountability in the workplace is a growing concern in the public sector, private sector and the nonprofit sector. When people are in leadership roles, they must ensure that company liability is kept to a minimum. This means that everyone in the organization must learn to acknowledge and take responsibility for their actions, policies, and products. This should be done regardless of role or employment position in the organization.

Free Kaizen GuideIn general, leaders should keep in mind that accountability cannot exist without proper accounting practices. In organizations, people have been revoked from office when they were not implementing sound accounting practices. This could occur in any type of organization from business to political.

Ethical accountability is also necessary to improve laboratory environments and also when conducting any field or social research. Every company should put together a set of principles and practices to ensure that the company holds the highest ethical standards. When accountability is the focus, most companies will operate more efficiently and effectively.

Can the “Cloud” Improve Business Processes?

3 min read

Cloud computing has emerged as the latest technology to help companies, but what are the benefits of this technology? Companies all over the world are using it to create a mobile workforce and to lower expenses. There are so many benefits to this new technology that any company with an IT department could use this technology to improve business processes. Here is what you need to know about this new technology that’s sweeping the nation.

1. Cloud Computing and Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS)

PaaS cloud solutions will provide enterprise-level quality at a fraction of the cost of an in-house solution. Most companies need platform solutions to improve the functionality of their business. When they are hosted in the cloud, the cost of the platforms decrease and more startups find the services affordable.

2. Cloud Services Can Meet Customer Demands

As customer demands increase, scalability becomes more of an issue. Cloud computing makes scalability easier and requires only a simple sign-up and payment for access for a new employee. The process usually requires a few minutes to purchase access for a new employee and a nominal monthly fee to sign up. Once the user ID and password is established, it will be easy to connect and use the service for most employees.

3. Cloud Computing Can Reduce Storage Costs

If you want to decrease storage costs, you can do this by reducing your payment from $5 to 25 cents. Companies are switching to cloud computing for cost savings and also for disaster recovery. If disaster strikes, companies want to have an alternative method to have access to their files in storage without it interrupting their business processes. Because of this, many companies have chosen cloud computing to access their files from any location in the world. This service protects companies and helps them remain competitive.

4. Cloud Mail and Collaboration Services

Cloud mail can be accessed from any location in the world. This improves productivity and efficiency of any organization. Employees can also collaborate and hold meetings even with people in remote locations. Cloud should be a priority for any company for this reason.

5. Web-based and Content-Rich Applications

Your company should provide web-based and content-rich applications to their employees and even their customers to improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability. These applications are essential to companies all over the world who want to save money and increase revenue.

6. Cloud is Essential to Cobol Apps

Cobol apps can improve the functionality of any company. Every company that develops Cobol apps notices a change in productivity and the robust nature of the private cloud. Many companies do not recognize how much more efficient they can be with the use of the private cloud.

7. Telecommute

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When employees can telecommute, they are more apt to be more productive and miss fewer days of work. They’ll have access to all types of information while on-the-go, which will allow them to make faster decision-making. When you can reduce your overhead expenses, it’s easier to get a new business up and running or keep an existing business going without using too much capital. Most businesses also find that employee morale improves with telecommuting. There are so many benefits with telecommuting that every company should incorporate the option for working mothers, remote workers, and for people who are physically ill.

The Cloud Can Improve Your Business

The cloud can improve your business over time. Since the market is constantly evolving, more companies are looking to cloud computing to improve functionality and also productivity. Check with your local cloud computing provider and learn how the cloud can enhance your business.

A Restaurant Experience Worth Mentioning

3 min read

We’ve all had a bad experience at a restaurant. It’s nothing we or the restaurant ever hope for, but it’s the risk we take each time we venture out for a meal. We generally choose a restaurant for one of two reasons, the food or the atmosphere and set our expectations accordingly. For my most recent dining experience I went with the latter and made my way to Buffalo Wild Wings. There were multiple sporting events on that I wanted to watch and they were all on at the same time. Seeing how I only have one television and they have more than I can count, it seemed like the right choice at the time.

A Three Hour Wait!

Long restaurant Wait Apparently, so did everybody else in town. After circling the parking lot for about 15 minutes looking for a parking spot, I was greeted by a hostesses inside to tell me the good news. A three hour wait! Yes that’s correct, our estimated wait time was as long as the game itself! She did say it with a smile though.

After putting my jaw back in place from it dropping to the floor, the hostess asked for my phone number. I gave it to her without hesitation and proceeded to wonder what I was going to do. That’s until about two minutes later when I received a text message saying that I had been added to the Buffalo Wild Wings waitlist.

Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t even have to be there and I could be notified that my table was ready through a text message. In fact, inside the text message was a link to a webpage that showed my place in line and how long I had been waiting.

Lean in a Restaurant?

Why not!

In working with and writing about the wide word of Lean, I was immediately drawn to this new method of handling large amounts of guests in a restaurant. I started running through the process and thinking about all the ways this simple, yet powerful new tool could be interpreted by a Lean enthusiast.

  • Less Waste: No more writing down names on paper and then having to call them out when a table is available. Gone are the plastic alert buzzers that require additional equipment and power to run them. All that’s needed, is what the restaurant and customer already have, a computer and a cell phone.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience: With up to the second information at the palm of your hands, you know exactly where you are in the order and how much time you have until your table is ready.
  • Keeps Continuous Improvement In Focus: Being able to track your customer wait times electronically with no additional software should provide the restaurant with critical information.  This should help improve wait times in an efficient and accurate manner.
  • Improved Communication: It’s a two-way system which allows the customer to text the restaurant back or if you would like to call, the phone number is included in the original text.

A Better Way To Dine

Not sure if it was the right thing to do, but my guest and I decided to walk down to another restaurant showing the games and grab an appetizer while we waited for our text message. We continued to hang out at the neighboring restaurant while monitoring our status on my cell phone. As we moved towards the top, we walked back over. Sure enough, after walking back into BWW I received a text message that our table was ready. We ended up staying there for the rest of the game and most of the following, but if it wasn’t for this new service, we more than likely would have not come back at all.

The technology the restaurant used was from Firespotter Labs called NoshList Premium. After doing a little research, it turns out this service is now being used by over 1600 restaurants nationwide. Other chains include Red Robin and Gourmet Burgers.

The full list of features include:

  • Unlimited Two-Way Texting
  • Table Number Assignment
  • Large Party Functionality
  • NoshGuest Autofill
  • In-App Statistics
  • Designated Local Phone Number
  • 30-Day Exportable Analytics
  • Weekly Email Summaries
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