Mar 25, 2011

Lean assessment basics

I spent a “Learning Friday” morning with some colleagues from the Michigan Lean Consortium at a session about lean assessments led by Debra Setman of Johnson & Johnson. Debra’s been involved lean assessments for 20 years at hospitals, manufacturing companies, IT organizations and J&J, and had a brisk, interactive, and fact-based introduction to them.

Debra says she doesn’t even like to call these 2 ½ day visits “audits” or “assessments.” They are coaching opportunities for the visiting team and learning experiences for the site being visited. The key is to have valid and consistent criteria that can be used to characterize a level of lean … what should we call it? Implementation? thinking? … for the purpose of sharing recommendations and recognizing strengths.

J&J uses a maturity model, starting with Stability, Flow, Pull, and Integration stages (as defined by J&J) of a number of categories of lean practice and thinking. For “Site Leadership Attitude,” for example, the evidence of a site’s stage of maturity is:

Stability: Excited and proactive about lean in the lean pilot area (LPA)
Flow: Excited and proactive about lean throughout the site value stream
Pull: Excited and proactive about lean throughout the value stream and at the key external partners
Integration: Excited and proactively involved with lean throughout the extended value stream. Servant-leader mentality exists throughout.

Debra emphasized that your organization could have different categories and definitions, depending on your company’s goals and understanding of lean. In fact, as requested beforehand, several people brought their own examples of assessments. Mike Taubitz from Lean Journey LLC had a simple Yes/No inventory checklist. Murray Sittsamer of The Luminous Group shared a fairly quick and easy scoresheet on a “worst practice” to “best practice” scale for a number of lean hallmarks.

It’s easy to get the criteria underlying several recognized awards-related assessments:

The Shingo Prize

The Manufacturing Awards of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence

The Baldrige Award is more oriented to classic quality objectives than lean, but many companies like using it for evaluation.  It has versions for education and healthcare.

For assessing your personal lean maturity level, you can review the AME/SME/Shingo Prize Lean Certification criteria that have been adopted by NIST and by many companies. There are a lot of related documents on the SME website: (Go to the two lower boxes in the right-hand column for the links.)

What’s the value for the company of going through an assessment? Michael Bremer asked that question on the AME LinkedIn group -- you can add your thoughts to if you go to “AME just sent out a call for applications for its Manufacturing Excellence Award -- What do you think are some of the benefits a company gets when it applies for the award?

Not giving you the usual lengthy article about the presentation today -- if you want more information contact me at Karen.m.wilhelm …. At …. or dsetman … at ….

Mar 1, 2011

LinkedIn marketing secrets and strategies

Marketing events through LinkedIn groups

A problem AME Region leaders talk about is how to improve attendance at workshops and seminars. (Most other professional and training organizations are struggling with the same thing, so substitute the name of your group wherever I've used "AME.")

LinkedIn groups and communities...
...Make it personal...
attract, don't drive, people...
...through relationships and trust...
...influence a network of professional connections...
allowing them to...
...pull what they need.

Let's explore using LinkedIn groups to lift workshop activity. Before you start, get all the details about the event, the marketing messages, and registration process onto a website. That's your anchor for what comes later. Test it -- often.

Most of us have heard that to sell something you need to show WIIFM: "What's in it for me?" Social marketing adds emotion -- WIIWM:  "Who's in it with me?" Groups are all about who's in it with me, so consider emotion in your discussion of an event.

Some thought starters for you:

Where's the pain, and does this workshop help people remove its cause?
What do you strongly believe in, and how does the workshop relate?
What's going on now -- are you talking to the speaker about what's going to happen in the workshop? Tell us about it. Ask for ideas.
Move the discussion to the group page by asking the speaker to get into the mix.
And build networking into the event. Let people registering know about the group, for advance workshop-related discussions, and talk about it at the event to encourage post-event discussion about what people did and what they learned.

As a leader in AME, you should be part of the AME LinkedIn group, and support a regional subgroup, if you have one. The group includes people who are dues-paying AME members, and many more who are not who but have chosen to affiliate themselves with us. They may know a lot or a little about AME, lean, Toyota, jargon, etc. They are likely to be in manufacturing, but many are in other industries. We have thousands of people here who can be influenced to see that AME is a network of people engaged in the pursuit of perfection and ready to listen, chat, and help. We need to see the smiling faces of AME leaders and hear what you have to say. When you are recognized as a real person who believes in AME, your invitation to an event means a lot.

The value of a group grows when members ask questions, share experiences, get help with problems, and help one another on the discussion page.

If you were at a party of business meeting, you might drop a hint that you were involved in an upcoming workshop, but you wouldn't ask someone to read a brochure and get out their checkbook. Framing a discussion as a straight-out marketing message is just as out of place. Even twisting a marketing pitch into a question and adding a link is cheesy - a link pulls the reader away from the page and defeats the purpose of discussion.

So what would be a good question?

Greg framed one nicely: "Chad from ATTC Mfg is preparing a Jishuken event at the upcoming AME workshop at ATTC in Tell City, IN. Would anyone like to share their Jishuken best practices?"

What I liked:
1. Greg talked about Chad, not himself, and gave Chad credit for his work.
2. He asked an open-ended question, with real curiosity.
3. He left time to add details later in the discussion.

What I wished:
1. I couldn't remember what Jishuken meant, so asked Greg if he'd like to expand on it in a follow up comment.
2. Chad, other region leaders, and other folks participating in the event would come to the page and start discussing it among themselves. This would take some behind-the-scenes orchestration, but would bring others into the act. Even if it didn't, the workshop would start off with people who were better acquainted and primed to start learning and sharing. It would also be cool to have people stay with the discussion after the workshop. How could Greg encourage them to do that?
 3. That there were more members in the Great Lakes subgroup. If the discussion had been placed in the 3,200-member AME group, the chances for involvement would be greater. That tells us that we either have a lot of work to do in growing our regional groups. It's a learning process.

In her question a few weeks ago, Ellen Sieminski moved up the "pull" value stream by asking the group about workshops they would like to see at the October AME Conference. She got eight good suggestions for designing the product to fit the needs of the customers.

A significant few
Should she be disappointed that there are only eight responses? The rule of thumb of community behavior is the 90-9-1 rule -- or perhaps the Pareto distribution -- if roughly 10% of the group's members are visiting (or lurking), that's 300 people. If one tenth participates somehow, that's 30. Too few? It's 30 more than would be acting if we did nothing. Those eight people we heard from have been nudged a little to attend now that they have read the question and chimed in with their ideas.

Member email updates
Questions that appear in the groups will appear as email updates members have opted to receive. Those who don't hang out regularly on the group will have a chance to see the message. Some percent of those will open and read the email, some fraction of those will click to the discussion, and some fraction of those will take another action while they are on the group page.

We don't have to depend on members making the effort to visit the group page on LinkedIn. The group admin can send an announcement to the members as often as once a week. For a group like AME's, with a natural reason to promote AME events, I think it's OK to be more direct in an announcement email. If the admin is an AME leader, it's an opportunity for him or her to show commitment to the organization and say why the event is noteworthy. We've underutilized announcements. Leaders, we could develop a strategic schedule of them.

LinkedIn also offers a couple of other tools: Events and Ads. We'll take them up in a future post.
Copyright @ 2005-2014 by Karen Wilhelm