"Some lean & personal things I learned last year..."(#42)

Inspired by Michael Balle's recent Obeya article sharing his mistakes, here are a few of mine from 2018. Less is more so, to keep it short, I've listed 6 things I learned last year:

1) Lean in & listen to the softly spoken fella

April brought a conversation with an older Toyota group Plant Manager in Anjo, Japan about how to spot tomorrow's manufacturing leaders. His view was that being curious about other functions like Engineering, Quality or Materials and talking to the people who work in them is key. This may well be the seed that grows into a broad-scanning tree. In a word; collaboration. Think about it, someone working on line starts talking to the Engineer who's fixing their jig or the QA person loitering with an 8D. Fast forward 5 years & if that individual has become a Team Leader they have a mature support network. Good communication & strong collaboration support Kaizen.

2) Maybe there are some things you can't prepare for

My daughter left home to go to University in September & I was unprepared for the bereft feeling. For years I've been pedalling a narrative (one that I firmly believe in) that goes a little like this: "I'm not raising children, I'm raising adults who can make their way in the world & contribute a bit to society" Fast forward to the couple of weeks after dropping her off & I should have felt happy that we've raised a happy, confident, independent young adult. I was of course, but mostly, I was bereft.

3) Still, 20 years in, I over-teach sometimes

Through spreading my time too thinly I caught myself over-teaching at some points in a vain attempt to deliver more 'value' quickly. Madness, I know. In compensating for setting a bad coaching schedule (gaps too long between sessions) I tried to cram and briefly forgot some basic lessons. Chiefly: the Shigeo Shingo recounted rice bowl story from the headline picture to this blog. Also, I need to slow down...just because dots can be joined, it doesn't mean they should be at this point in time! I'd shaken both of these habits but must try harder.

4) It's great to be the Kohai again

In starting a new business & joining an entrepreneur hub I'm growing muscles that I previously haven't used. The joy comes from being surrounded by people much younger than me with infectious levels of energy.

5) Beware badges of honour

My friend Simon, in a moment of exasperation, once said that talking to me could be like "taking the top off a beehive". In years gone by I've worn this spikiness as a badge of honour; well intended to challenge stale thinking, but inconsiderate at times. I'm still a direct man but in trying hard to read the situation better, it comes from a better place. A little way to go yet.

6) Thanks to Fujio Cho

In an echo of Cho's "go see, ask why, show respect" six word nugget, I've formed my own to kaizen myself in the coming year "less ego, don't judge, speak less". These are the things that matter deeply to me & I'm looking to improve them and lead by example.

Happy New Year


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