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Taking Lean Personal

7/25/2014 4:00:00 PM
Article by Dave Grubb

Many of us spend countless hours searching for ways of reducing waste. Have you ever looked at your own day-to-day activities? How often do you ask yourself if there is a more efficient way of preforming your daily tasks? How often do you ask yourself if you really need to do a particular task that you do routinely? How often do you ask yourself if a specific activity is simply a habit, without adding value?

Obviously, all managers want to believe they are productive, but even the most productive and disciplined have opportunities for improvement.

One of the common pit falls for managers is tolerance of interruptions. You want to be approachable and not seem rude. One of your managers stops you on the way to a meeting; they have a quick question for you. The manager is looking for information he could find elsewhere, advice about an issue on his mind, or he just wants to chat. The unnecessary chat causes you to be five minutes late for your meeting. Everyone in that meeting waiting for your arrival has wasted five minutes, as have you. If that meeting includes six people, the total waste is 30 minutes or 6.25% of a workday.

By giving him information, he could have, and should have, found elsewhere you allowed your manager to waste your time and invited him to do it again. It would be far better for everyone if you would point him in the right direction and politely tell him you have to be on time for a meeting.

Some questions are best not answered. Years ago, I was spending the majority of my time at a new acquisition and would be away from my office weeks at a time. My staff would call me for advice and if they did not reach me, they would leave a voice mail. I would call them back as soon as possible and help them resolve their issues. Eventually, I realized I was their crutch and they were losing time waiting for me to call and I was losing time calling for issues they could (and should) resolve on their own. I began to group my calls at the end of the day and soon they were making their own decisions before I called and we would discuss their decisions and not their questions. Over time, the calls became less frequent. They gained the confidence to make their own decisions, they grew and matured far faster than if I had been there with my open door.

Review the value of what you do each day. How many meetings are valuable? Look at ways you can improve their value, or even delete some. Take time to prepare for meetings. Have an agenda and follow it. Set time limits for meetings.

How many reports do you get that are not adding value? How can they be revised to improve value or can they simply be deleted?

How effectively are you using technology? Tablets are amazingly powerful tools when used to their full potential. If you use multiple devices, do they all communicate with each other on a common platform?

These are just a few of many opportunities most of us have to improve personal productivity. Be as objective and critical of waste in your own “processes” as you are of the processes on the shop floor---and encourage your managers to do the same.

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