Mapped out the current process using hundreds of sticky notes (this took the entire first day). Different colored notes and sections of the wall were designated to different sections of the process.
Identified waste in the current process (time spent re-working, correcting, waiting on turn-around, etc.) and grouped together waste items according to different types of work.
Mapped a new process using the discoveries we had made.
Formed action plans for putting the new process into place.
We recently had a great chat with Debbie, an IT Manager at a leading healthcare service provider, about how her distributed team has benefitted from using LeanKit.
In use since 2010, LeanKit quickly helped her IT team improve their turnaround time on critical work by over 50%, simply by keeping activity transparent and paving the way for process improvements.
Prior to using LeanKit, team members had to dig their way through several systems to get a rough picture of what was going on. To stay on track the team used an assortment of old-fashioned tools many of us are all too familiar with: whiteboards, notebooks and spreadsheets, email being the primary form of communication. Taking one giant step towards innovation, now the team can see their work in progress, collaborate and communicate all in one place – their LeanKit board.
This case study illustrates how easy it is to achieve success just by trying new things – LeanKit was part of a pilot lean initiative that brought about effective change for a very positive impact. Debbie explained that LeanKit helped improve team morale by bringing people together and cultivating a collective understanding of the work at hand.
Read the full story and learn more.
As the flow of work and information moving across your board increases, quickly locating the items that require your immediate focus can be a challenge.
This is precisely why we’ve added new filtering options to your LeanKit boards. You can instantly zero in on work that’s high priority, or blocked, effectively filtering out the noise by hiding or dimming everything else on the board.
Make Key Data Stand Out
Filtering is especially helpful when you’re using a board for a complex process, sharing a board with team members or managing a lot of cards.
Here are a few of the ways you can apply filtering criteria to highlight specific items and help focus your view:
• Quickly identify blocked and high priority work requiring immediate attention
• See when work is due, e.g. today, tomorrow, this month, with the due date filter
• Choose to show only your own work, or s specific team’s, with the user filter
• Identify unmoved or unchanged cards with the activity staleness filter
• Isolate a certain type of work with the card type filter
Data filtering is a powerful way to zero in on what’s important while still gaining all the benefits of visually managing your work. Try it out today!
If the video does not appear you can view it on our YouTube channel here.
Dr. Phil has the most awesome one-liners. “No matter how flat you make a pancake, it’s always got two sides.” This is so true. “If you’re gonna debate me, you better not let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird ass.” I can’t interpret this one, but I’m sure it was spot on at the time. Although Dr. Phil’s home-spun one-liners can come across a bit cryptic, sometimes he punches you in the face with a line of truth you’ll never forget.
One such Dr. Phil-ism I will always remember kept running through my mind during my first ever Continuous Improvement Event, and that is, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”
Because it’s hard to acknowledge that you are accountable for your own situation, many people remain stuck in a pattern of doing something, says the doctor. By acknowledging the thing you want to improve, you take the first step towards improvement. Although the doctor was talking to a married couple when he said it, it also applied to the company and the relationships between us, the team members. The acknowledgement of that which must be changed is a primary building block of a successful marriage AND a successful business.
Dr. Phil’s words would prove true over and over as we pushed for change from deep inside the company in the aftermath of our Continuous Improvement Event. Here’s how it all went down:
Before coming to LeanKit, I worked with a retailer as an E-Commerce Marketing Manager. The company was conservative in its expenditures and had traditionally taken a slow but steady approach to its growth. When the executive team committed to “going Lean,” it was no surprise.
So, when I was asked to join a cross-functional team to help improve the company’s Print Ad Proofing Process, I jumped at the chance. While our print ads generated millions in revenue, we were wasting millions of dollars in overhead producing them. Those were dollars that the company could have passed along to our customers!
For four days, representatives from Advertising, Merchandising, Procurement, Store Operations, IT and other departments sat in a room together amongst whiteboards and stacks of post-it notes working to tease it all out. Each person came armed with his/her special bits of knowledge, and before we knew it, the walls were covered in post-it notes showing dozens of ‘value streams’, or workflows that each represented a part of the larger process.
Here’s an oversimplified account of how we created a new process:
The ‘Ah-ha’ Moment
We knew this thing was huge, but seriously? We had never visualized the entire process, so it was enlightening to see just how huge it was! It involved hundreds of people and a tremendous amount of resources from inside and outside the company working for several months just to produce one print ad. Our company produced dozens of print ads each year, so you can imagine the potential savings.
Mapping, re-mapping and re-re-mapping the process took lots of work, but the savings opportunities we found through our discussions made it worthwhile.
Now, would anyone actually follow the new process? Would we be able to effectively influence (and manage) this change?
Acknowledging the Need for Change
Many of the changes hinged on the cooperation of other teams – especially those that had been less-than-receptive in the past. The new process required people to hold others accountable, something many departments had failed to do because it was easier that way. Rolling out the new process was going to be “like nailing jello to the wall.”
But, like a great marriage, success in business takes a willingness to acknowledge your flaws and motivation to do the work necessary to continuously improve. The words of Dr. Phil, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge,” makes so much sense in terms of continuous improvement. If you don’t take the time on the front-end to examine your processes and ask tough questions, you can’t even begin to see what you aren’t acknowledging, much less acknowledge it and take steps to improve.
Now that we could tie the new process back to a number (calculated based on time and money used to produce an ad), even the most resistant teams were forced to acknowledge that a change was needed and actually started to embrace the new process! Those who were were once our biggest opponents had become our most vocal advocates.
Once everyone saw the benefit in slowing down to go faster, our process improvements began gaining traction as people found the changes actually saved them time in their daily work. Multiply that across hundreds of people, year after year, and you not only have massive savings for the company, you could also end up with a more fulfilled team and happier customers in the end.
Photo of Dr. Phil from MakeMeLaugh.com
At LeanKit we have the entire team blogging and creating great content for the internet to devour. The following photo essay shows how that process started.
To set the stage – what we ended up with was a board with two sections:
Section one represents topics our content writers India and Jeff picked based on what they thought people would want to learn. If a team member wants to write on a different subject, they can add their topic on a card in section two.
Each card number is tied to a predetermined prize. Writers have a better chance of getting a prize that doesn’t suck if they pick a topic from section one. Some of these “premium” prizes include a life-sized cardboard cutout of the blogger for the office or a $100 VISA gift card. If people choose to write on their own topics they will probably end up with a piece of swag we picked up at a conference or a framed picture of yours truly for their desk. But they also might win a $50 Amazon gift card.
Contributors attach their blog to the card when it’s ready and then tag me in a comment on the card letting me know it’s done. At that point I send it over to Jeff to correct grammar, spelling, and work his magic so people will be able to find the blog on the internet.
Once he’s done, I post it.
Now what you’ve been waiting for… Here’s a short photo essay on how we got everyone on our team to start blogging for LeanKit’s blog.
How to Make Blogging Fun for Everyone – A Photo Journey
drinking in the middle of the day thinking of ways to get everyone on the team to blog.
BOOM! This idea will work…
Running as fast as I can to create the Write Blogs, Win Prizes board.
Most likely listening to the Pied Piper of R&B, R. Kelly, since this is The World’s Greatest blog board.
Here’s what the board looks like.
That is the opposite of the face people will have if they receive any of these prizes.
Outside of Honey’s, our neighboring candy store. Someone is going to win a $25 gift card and hopefully use it to buy me a few milkshakes!
Jeff was the second one to turn in a blog. He won a life-sized cardboard cutout of himself for the office. He chose this photo so when people walk into our office, they’ll high five his cutout. Keep up with us on Twitter to see how the cutout turns out. It’s in production now.
There are now three distinct generations in the workforce: Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. Each of these generations was raised in a different period of time, has a different view of the workplace, and communicates differently. With nearly 80 million Millennials entering the workforce, it’s time to pay closer attention to how they’re changing the way business is conducted.
How Millennials Are Helping us Work Smarter
Two key characteristics stand out. The first is that they want a better life-work balance. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to work hard to get the job done, but it does mean they want – and indeed expect – the flexibility to work wherever and whenever they want.
And the second is just how tech-savvy they are. According to a May 2013 SHRM online survey, two-thirds of Millennials judge their employers by their technological knowledge, to the point where companies that don’t embrace a newer breed of technology and tooling may be at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring and retaining the newer generation of employees.
This message was driven home when I recently met with Alex Naddell, Partner at Vaco Technology and a passionate advocate for LeanKit. As a leading staffing and consulting organization, attracting the best talent is critical to Vaco’s success. During a conversation about what led Vaco’s Techology Group to implement LeanKit, Alex candidly responded that the younger employees coming onboard simply don’t want to work with old-style project management tools. (Read the full case study)
Spreadsheets, legacy project management systems and physical whiteboards (your granddad’s tools) just aren’t appealing. Millennials want tools that make their work more engaging and accessible. When you have to take a photo of the whiteboard before you leave the office so that you can work from home, it just doesn’t cut it.
Younger workers prefer to communicate and collaborate using technology. To be effective in their jobs they need 24/7 access to project information that is both up-to-date and that they can update on the fly. A spreadsheet is NOT a collaboration tool. And physical white boards are well… stuck on a wall somewhere adding little value when you’re away from your desk or working from a coffee shop.
LeanKit is more than a visual project management tool. It’s an enabler that helps organizations meet the Millennials on their own (virtual) turf. It’s a fresh approach to work management that inherently understands how Millennials view the world and uses that knowledge to engage them.
If you want to make sure your organization doesn’t get left behind, take a look at how you do things through the eyes of the Millennials. Be willing to embrace change and try something new.
First widely popularized by Mike Judge’s cult classic Office Space, the phrase ‘didn’t you get the memo’ is most often said to those who find themselves out-of-the-loop. The movie itself does an excellent job of illustrating how static and impersonal communication breeds dissatisfaction, distrust, frustration and can eventually engulf your office in flames. Of course not all team communication should be designed to constantly give a warm fuzzy, but by improving team communication and thus team collaboration, you can help avoid creating cultural vacuums that lead to disgruntled employees, stark internal hierarchies and many other problems in your office space.
How Better Communication Can Save Your Office
Thanks to teams of scientists working ‘round the clock and marvels of modern technology, the traditional memo has become a relic of the past, reserved for those governed by rigid communication policies such as politicians and lawyers. It can be said that the memo still survives somewhat within contemporary methods of communication such as email; however, we are referring to a style of communication that the memo was born out of: dry, impersonal, static, easily ignorable, and conducive to confusion.