Welcome to a new post on the Lean Tank! Today we are adding an important name to the lean thinkers that make up the global lean awareness think tank. Ladies and gentlemen, Jon Miller!
Jon co-founded the lean consulting and training firm Gemba Research in 1998, which merged with Kaizen Institute in 2011. Jon served as CEO and board member of Kaizen Institute Consulting Group for 4 years. Jon has led dozens of lean transformation projects in a wide range of industries. He has helped thousands of people across 20+ countries understand and apply Toyota Production System principles. Jon co-authored the Shingo Prize-winning book, Creating a Kaizen Culture. He contributes to a variety of publications, including over 1,000 articles on his Gemba Panta Rei blog. Today Jon advises clients on their lean journeys and supports content development efforts at Gemba Academy.
There are two articles on the Gemba Academy Blog authored by Jon Miller that I would like to share with you here. The first is Jon’s response to New Year’s Resolutions, more specifically: how he stopped making New Year’s Resolutions and the three lean habits he replaced the NYR with. Are they easier to follow? Read on and decide for yourselves.
Daily kami board. It is a process audit board, tracking activity towards long-term goals, loosely based on the kamishibai board (kami for short). It is made out orange and green post-its stuck back-to-back. Orange side visible indicates not done and green indicates done. The pockets are just slits cut into notebook paper, backed with tape so the cards don’t fall through. On the cards are written the “standards” or actions that move me towards my goals every day. They include things like exercising, writing, taking a walk with my wife, and a catch-all category of “chip away at long-term projects” which reminds me to work on home improvements, family financial planning or other things that are timely and top-of-mind. Each of these actions is in support of one or more specific personal long-term goals. For example the daily walk supports both my fitness goal and marital harmony. The day starts with all cards orange and they are flipped to green as they are completed. A few items are not daily but M W F, and are flipped to green on all other days when no action is needed. The board has been updated a few time over the past year, but remains simple and even pencil-and-paper device.
Visible standards. These are hand-written or printed sheets of detailed instructions for when the kami card action requires it. The weekly exercise routine is printed and posted in the garage. Writing assignments are posted above my writing desk. There is no written standard for the daily walk, we try to find an hour around midday, based on weather, errands we need to run, and other priorities, and set the route. The purpose of the posted standard is to reduce time thinking and deciding what to do, but also to have a standard that can be scribbled on, adjusted and improved upon over time. For example, last year I began lifting weights again, and I injured my shoulder. What I learned from this is that I am no longer a young man, but also that my lifting form was bad, according to YouTube and the latest in sports medicine. Working with a trainer at a gym would have saved me the pain. But the physical pain is a reminder of the importance of realistic and fact-based goal-setting. It vastly improved the “visible standard” for exercise and made the routine more sustainable.
Hansei journal. Every night before going to sleep I write down a few sentences in a notebook. These are reflections on how I did that day with the kami items. The best days are when I can confess my failings, be brutally honest and think of a change to the kami or the content of the standards. The hansei process has also identified where motivation was low because the goal and purpose was not clear. During American Football season, the motivation to watch games is high and these 3-hour blocks several times per week can interfere with working on some of the kami items. Adjustments to the kami will be made between February 8 and next September…