High Performing Contract - August 2010
Muda Walk for a Month is Coming
There has never been a better time to attack waste and increase productivity. One study estimates that 57% of the time in construction is waste! Reducing waste can make you more competitive. The Fourth Annual Muda Walk for a Month is coming this September. This event is not just about driving out Muda (Japanese for waste), but is to create a culture of continuous improvement. High-performing contractors thrive on continuous improvement. Last year one contractor had all of his project managers participate in this event and they discovered many improvements.
How it works - during September I will email participants the weekly theme to use while doing a Muda (waste) walk in one’s company. The walk may be at a job site, in the shop, office or even a service truck. During the walk, participants will look for ways to eliminate waste and improve operations. The Muda Walk challenge is to do a walk at least one hour a week and best if it is done one hour each day. That may sound like a hard commitment to make, but those who invested the time in past years have reaped useful rewards. I ask that participants log the problems and improvements, and share them with me at the end of the month.
This is a free service, but participants must sign up by Aug 27, 2010. The first week of the Muda walk will start on August 30th. Send us a request to register.
New this year – Muda Walk for a Month Blog
Leaders are always working on changing behavior of employees to focus on the company’s strategy. Behaviors determine results. There are two basic ways to do this:
- Try to force the behavioral change through micro management and pressure, or
- Focus on changing the way the employees think so they will want to change.
Forcing behavioral change can yield quick results, but usually can only be sustained by constant attention and pressure. Over time it may result in actual cultural change, but often when the pressure is slackened, people return to former behaviors.
Changing the way employees think is much slower and difficult to accomplish. It requires leaders to not only be clear on what behaviors are desired, they must also show why it is important to change and answer the “what’s in it for me” question. It is just as important for the leaders to role model desired behaviors. How leaders act is a very powerful signal to employees on how they should behave. When employees see a disconnect between what leaders say and how they behave, they will typically select to follow actions over words.
Edgar Schein, the author of Organizational Culture and Leadership, writes about changing culture and employee mindset through what he calls embedding mechanisms.
The primary embedding mechanisms are:
- What leaders (are observed to) pay attention to, measure, and control on a regular basis
- How leaders (are observed to) react to critical incidents and organizational crises
- Observed criteria by which leaders allocate scarce resources
- Deliberate role modeling, teaching, and coaching
- Observed criteria by which leaders allocate rewards and status
- Observed criteria by which leaders recruit, select, promote, retire, and excommunicate organizational members
Employees pay great attention to these primary embedding mechanisms. These behaviors create the company’s unwritten rules, mindsets, and culture. Schein also suggests secondary embedding mechanisms, which will help but not change mindset or culture alone. These need to be consistent with the primary embedding mechanisms. The secondary embedding mechanisms are:
- Organizational design and structure
- Organizational systems and procedures
- Organizational rites and rituals
- Design of physical space, facades, and buildings
- Stories, legends, and myths about people and events
- Formal statements about organizational philosophy, values, and creed
A change in employee mindset and culture will not come from a change in the organizational chart or posters on the wall. Mindset and culture change will only come from a change in leaders' behavior.
If you want sustained results from implementing change in your company, you must change behaviors, and to do that you must walk the talk.
What to do about it?
If you are senior management - look at what you want to change in your company’s behaviors and examine your own behaviors. Do your actions reflect the desired behaviors? What do you need to change?
If you are not an executive manager – you are, or can still be a leader. Do you walk the talk for what your executives are asking? Do you do what you commit to do? Do you role model the desired culture for the company? What do you need to change?
Information on Edgar Schein provided by Steve Lage PDG Consultants, Inc.
We don’t want satisfied customer – we want loyal customers! Per Jeffrey Gitomer, the challenge to create loyal customers is not just about serving customers. It includes the following (I’ve added my comments in italics.)
- Understanding customers.
- Being prepared to serve customers.
- Helping an angry customer immediately.
- Asking customers for information.
- Listening to customers. And listening again and again.
- Being responsible for your actions when a customer calls.
- Living up to your commitments.
- Being memorable.
- Surprising customers. I call this delighting the customer. Some surprises we can do without.
- Striving to keep customers for life. This means consider the big picture when addressing customers concerns. You may allow the customer some slack knowing that they have been a loyal customer for years and you hope to keep it that way. Don’t be like the bank that figured small savings accounts were not worth their time so they told a child they would not allow him to open an account with his piggy bank of pennies. This led to his parents pulling out their accounts including tow business that were several million dollars in the bank’s accounts.
- Getting unsolicited referrals from customers…regularly! Loyal customer do refer peers to the companies they support. How often do yours refer you?
What are you doing to get and keep loyal customer? What more can you do?
Source: Jeffrey Gitomer - Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless
Employee Focus - Communications Breakdowns
“With all the new technology from iPhones to Skype, one would think that communication problems would be all but eliminated. Not so.
“In business and personal life we still have frequent communication failures. Perhaps we have them even more often because we communicate more often in more ways. Some of the causes for communication failures may stem from some faulty thinking about high-tech communications. Here are five bad communication assumptions.
“1. Just because an email, voice message or text has been sent does not mean it was received by the intended person. Email and text often disappear into cyberspace and phones don’t always record the message left.
“2. No news is NOT good news. When we send a text or email and do not receive a response, we often assume it was received and will be understood or acted upon as instructed. Given the problems of the message not actually received, no response back is a yellow flag.
“3. Different browsers may show a web page differently. You may think your web page is seen the same by all viewers but not so. Text, pictures and even the actual web page layout may appear differently depending on the browser used.
“4. The text you typed may not be the text received. Many people use the T9 mode on their cell phones to speed up texting. This mode guesses at the words being typed based on common usage. It may guess the wrong word resulting in an entirely different message.
“A similar thing can happen with auto correct spell-check. If you mistype a letter spell-check may guess at the word and automatically inset a different one. Finally, if you are (like me and) not skilled at typing, you may make some silly or even serious mistakes. You could mean to type something like “Everyone in the office needs to have the new references in their desk.” But in reality it reads, “Everyone in the office needs to have the new reference sin his or her desk.”
“5. We sometimes receive messages that appear to be from someone we know, but it turns out to be a spam or a virus sent email. Spam operators are very ingenious at sending disguised email. I discovered recently that someone had somehow used the ‘send me an email function’ on my website to email spam mail to others using my email address.
“So what can one do to combat these problems? The solutions are not complex but require attention.”
Read the rest in SNIPS magazine.
Source: Communication problems remain too common, by Dennis Sowards, SNIPS, July 2010
Try this approach for setting up and using key performance measures:
Pick a measure that represents what is important – quality, cost or schedule. The measure should align with the area’s business goals. Consider weld defects, PPC, on-time delivery, percent rework, tasks done on scheduled, etc.
Make it visual. Post it so employees can see it, not hidden in a computer. What gets measured gets results.
Mark it with the word “GOOD” and an arrow showing the desired direction.
Keep it current. Updated as the measure changes - hourly, daily, weekly, monthly.
Review the results weekly in team meetings. Discuss what it means and its impact on the company. Don’t blame people, but look for root causes. If going in the positive direction - seek to replicate and if going the wrong way to determine countermeasures.
Start with one measure and add more when you get the first one right.
You may be interested in attending one of these events by Dennis Sowards:
- Sept. 2, 2010 – Lean Works in HVAC Service – Webinar – Sponsor: SMACNA Open to both members and non-members
- Sept 23, 2010 – Lean Construction – It can work for you - Phoenix, AZ, Sponsor: PIPE & 469 JAC, contact Cathy Mayeux at 480.966.0377
- Oct. 11, 2010 - Lean Principles Based on Kaizen Blitz - at the Industrial Contractors Forum of the SMACNA 2010 National Convention, Phoenix AZ.
- Oct. 21, 2010 – Gaining Customer Loyalty by Design - Phoenix, AZ, Sponsor: PIPE & 469 JAC, contact Cathy Mayeux at 480.966.0377
- Oct. 29, 2010 – Lean in Construction and Lean applied to Service at PHCC National Convention, Las Vegas.
- Nov. 17, 2010 – Lean in Service Webinar – sponsored by PHCC.
Thought for the day
I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have it.
- Stephen Leacock
For more information about the High-Performing Contractor assessment process contact Dennis Sowards at 480-835-1185
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