Chaotic to Clean

As we reflect on the state of our lives and homes a lot of the time the word that comes to mind is chaotic, well at least for me it does. Then we begin to reflect on why our lives seem so chaotic, and that’s no hard question to answer. Most of us are balancing tight schedules whether it be work, school, a family, or activities we are involved in, it tends to seem like downtime is never a thing.  So how do we keep organized during these chaotic times so we aren’t spending our free time searching for items and reorganizing places we can never seem to keep organized? Well, a good way is to 5S your spaces. Now, you can’t dive in headfirst and do it to every room in your house all at once, but you can start with one area and go from there. Let’s say you start with your closet.

So first you will need a little background on exactly what 5S is. 5S is an organizational tool where you sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. Each one of these “S’s” has a distinct definition:

Sort – Sort items in the area to figure out what is not needed and eliminate it. In your closet, this would be separating your clothes, shoes and other items to figure out what you wear, what you don’t wear, and what doesn’t belong in the closet. Then get rid of the things not used or not in the right spot.

Set in Order – Organize items that remain after sorting. Arrange items neatly and make sure there is “a place for everything and everything in its place”. In your closet, that means putting all your clothes in easy to find spots and designating an area for each type of clothing.

Shine – Clean the area that you have previously organized. In your closet, that means dusting, vacuuming, and completing any other cleanup you can think of.

Standardize – Set regular cleaning and maintenance to be done. For your closet, this could mean every time you put your clothes away make sure everything is in its spot and the closet is clean.

Sustain – Make this process a habit and conduct audits to make sure the process is working. For your closet, this could mean every month you go through and asses if everything is in place and if not rethink the process.

Following these steps and performing a 5S on your closet could save you a lot of time in the morning and maybe allow you to get that extra 5 minutes of sleep. The closet is also just the beginning. This tool can help you with any other area or process at home, work, school, or any other place. So, next time your feeling overwhelmed, try using this tool to organize the area causing you stress.

https://comoorganizarlacasa.com/en/ideas-to-organize-your-closet-before-and-after/ideas-to-organize-your-closet-before-and-after-5/

First Week of Track B.

As we start the first week of track B, the Office of Continuous Improvement would like to welcome back all the students for summer classes. It has been a very busy summer, and we are happy to report that track A ended successfully. Now that track B is starting, we want to remind everyone that we are available to help you start off this term on the right foot. The best way to start off these classes successfully is to set up a smart study plan. There are many strategies and tools out there that will help you with your organization. These tools have the potential to speed up and improve your work.  The Office of Continuous Improvement would like to be a tool in your tool box and assist you in accomplishing your summer goals.

The Office of Continuous Improvement has many tools and methods you can implement in your work. The office has a library of books that can help you maximize your work efforts while minimizing the time wasted. We also have tools like the personal Kanban, and other visual tools which will help you organize what you have to get done. A personal Kanban is an organizational tool that helps you track what you need to do, are doing, and have done. You can refine this system further by color coding the notes. I personally use pink for most important, purple for the least, and blue for the rest. To bring it a step further you can add due dates to your notes to keep it better organised. This is just one of the many tools that the Office of Continuous Improvement uses on a daily basis. 

 

If you want to learn more about personal Kabans or other organization tools for your work please feel free to stop by. We have books available in the lean library that can help you on your Lean journey. If you want some basic organization tips, the book “How To Organize Your Office” will be a great tool. This book brings up Kabans, as well as other visual tools available to use. Another book that can be a great help on how to get started being organized could be “How to De-Junk Your Life: Keys to Taking Control, Getting Organized and Getting It All Done”. These books among many others we have can help you get situated into a productive routine that can save you time. I have personally implemented parts of both of these books in my life to improve my productivity. We are located in room 136W, Wadsworth hall and you can also reach us at improvemnt@mtu.edu. 

 

A Lifesaving Tool

With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, I imagine many of you are planning or have already planned a vacation during this holiday. Maybe it’s to your lake house or to visit family or maybe to go camping. Nevertheless, planning a vacation can be a very stressful task and you could run into many issues in the process. So, if we know these issues are going to arise, why don’t we get one step ahead and plan for them? I mean, we have all these Lean tools at our disposal to pinpoint these issues before they arise.

A great Lean tool to use to sort out issues involved in planning a fun family vacation is an affinity diagram. An affinity diagram is a tool used by groups to gather and sort ideas, opinions, and issues when brainstorming. It gives structure and helps initiate action when brainstorming about a topic. In this situation, it will also allow your family to brainstorm ideas with you so everyone’s issues can be accounted for. The first step in creating the affinity diagram is to have your family brainstorm as many issues as possible that could occur when planning a fun family vacation. Then, have them write down each issue on a sticky note and place them all in a central location.  There should be one issue per sticky note and they should be placed at random in the central location. An example of this can be seen in the figure below.

Brassard, M. and Ritter, D. (2016). The Memory Jogger 2: Tools for Continuous Improvement and Effective Planning. 2nd ed. Methuen MA: GOAL/QPC.

The next step is to sort the ideas that are similar to each other. Put these ideas in a vertical line with one another, so you can distinguish between the different groupings. An example of this step can be seen in the figure below.

Brassard, M. and Ritter, D. (2016). The Memory Jogger 2: Tools for Continuous Improvement and Effective Planning. 2nd ed. Methuen MA: GOAL/QPC.

The last step is to come up with category names for each grouping so that you can pinpoint the similarities within them. Place the category name above each grouping. This can be seen in the figure below.

Brassard, M. and Ritter, D. (2016). The Memory Jogger 2: Tools for Continuous Improvement and Effective Planning. 2nd ed. Methuen MA: GOAL/QPC.

As you can see from the figure above, the issues that you could encounter when planning a fun family vacation are now clearly laid out and can be more easily addressed. Now you will be ready for almost any issue that appears during the process. Affinity diagrams can be used in many situations other than this one and are a very good tool to have in your back pocket. So, next time you are planning a vacation, brainstorming good movies options, or trying to figure out what could be wrong with your dishwasher, try using this tool. It could be a lifesaver in your situation!

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

There are 100 days with leaves on the trees at Michigan Tech. At first glance that sounds like a lot because it is about 27% of the year, but when you think of what that entails you can clearly see how little that is. For the most part spring, summer and fall are crammed into these days and they go by so quickly. Then we are back to winter and snow. This is why we need to be smart about how we utilize our time this summer to get the most out of it that we can.

In order to get the most out of these days I am going to use one of the best tools in my belt, lean. The way to do this is through the use of a SMART goal. A SMART goal is a tool to use to ensure your hard work is paying off. It does this through being specific, measurable,attainable, relevant and timely. 

 

http://www.newfoundbalance.com/new-year-new-goals/

My SMART goal for this summer is to get at least an 85% in my finance class by working on my independent studies for at least 6 hours every week starting in July until it finishes in August. I will do this by visiting the professor’s office hours every other week and doing all the practice problems i can make. I will be able to do better in the class because I will be keeping my studies on track and creating a study group with other students in my class. A study group will help me be able to work out problems and bounce ideas off others. This is my SMART goal because it is specific about what I want, has check points that I can measure my progress with, is a reasonable goal that pertains to my degree and has a timeline that I can follow. 

A smart goal can be a useful tool to anyone trying to make the most of their time this summer and can help you spend less time on unimportant activities. When you make your smart goal remember to ask yourself is it as specific as possible? Will you be able to track its progress? Can you reasonably reach this goal? Why do you want to reach this goal? When should it be finished?  If you want to learn more about smart goals you can read about theme here or come visit us in the Office of Continuous Improvement in 135 W Wads, or email us at improvment@mtu.edu.

 

Safety and Lean

One of the most important aspects of any workplace is the safety of its workers. When most people think of safety in their workplace they envision long boring safety videos and training every so often, but shouldn’t we empower our workers to want to be safe? This is one of the ways that lean can be brought to safety to further improve it. Actually lean has a lot to offer safety in all of its different aspects.

One of the biggest things lean does to change the environment of safety at the workplace is the safety professionals will treat the workers as their costumers. This is different from the average environment because normally safety professionals will view the upper management or board of directors as their customer. When shifting it from “what does management want in safety” to “what do the workers want in safety”, it allows the workers to have more control of how and what they are learning about safety at their workplace. It enables them to learn in a way they want to, and makes them more apt to be engaged during those training sessions.

Another way lean changes the environment of safety is it can help to make safety more apparent and visual. This can be done through the use of visual management. By creating visual cues and diagrams of the right and safe way to do something it will give the employees something to refer to and model after. Visual management in this situations also allows anyone who is walking around to determine if the act is right or wrong or safe or not. This allows for anyone to identify an unsafe action and help to correct it before it turns into an injury.

Another aspect that goes along with Visual Management that can improve the safety of workers is the 5S workplace organizational tool. During a 5S, an area or process gets sorted, set, shined, standardized, and sustained. This improves safety in many ways. Some of these ways include the removal of clutter, ensuring spills get cleaned up quickly, having necessary tools close to where they are needed, and the elimination of unsafe practices through standardization. All of these aspects of 5s help to ensure workers are doing their jobs in the safest way possible.

These are just a few ways that lean can change the environment of safety in the workplace for the better. Lean has a lot to offer safety and on the other hand safety has a lot to offer lean. These two concept go hand in hand and when used together can drastically improve the well-being of the workers and the culture of a workplace.

A Lean Community

This week I had the privilege of attending the First Annual Copper Country Lean Conference at Michigan Tech. Now I’m not going to lie I went into this conference not expecting much and was prepared to just be talked at all day but, it ended up being so much more.  Ever since starting this job, I have become significantly interested in Lean and Continuous Improvement. It has helped me figure out how to study in a way that benefits me, plan out trips, and organize almost every aspect of my life. However, until the conference I never really understood the meaning or feeling of being involved in a Lean Community. I mean, I understood that there were people around me who were also passionate about Lean and that I could be considered a part of the Michigan Tech Lean community, but during the conference I was able to see what that truly meant.

At the conference there were people from all different industries and from all across the Keweenaw and further. These people had different jobs, degrees, and interests, but there was one thing everyone had in common, their interest in lean. Some people had been practicing lean for years, while others had just begun their lean journey, but it didn’t really matter. During this day everyone networked and shared stories of how lean has impacted them, or how they plan to integrate lean into their lives. Ideas were being bounced around and contact information was being shared. It was crazy to me how one thing, Lean, could connect so many people who have so many differences.

It’s when I saw all of these people interacting, sharing stories, and really being engaged in the conference I realized how much Lean really can connect you with others. It also showed me how important it is to develop your “community of practice” with in Lean. If you have that group of people eager to share their knowledge with you it allows you to grow as a lean practitioner and expand your own understanding of lean through theirs. So, this week I really felt what is was like to be a part of a Lean community.

https://sobrevivirrhhe.com/2013/07/23/busca-compara-y-si-encuentras-algo-mejor-lean-community/

 

Day 7

Now to all the Leadershape graduates, you know what Day 7 is, but I’m going to explain it for the people who have never attended. Day 7 is the day to take the first step to implement your vision. The first attempt to try to make a change in the world and bring about your dream. Now I know this is a bit different than what is usually talked about on this blog, but bear with me while I show the similarities between Day 7 and Lean.

How do you know what you need to improve? There may be many answers to this but to me it is when someone has an idea to do something better. At Leadershape, participants go through a process of finding out where they have weak points, what they want, and how to bring that about through a series of team building activities. The participants go through a personal Lean process in order to become better people and to hone their vision. They have to identify the waste in both their life and work, then plan to eliminate it. This is seen clearly in one of the activities that was simulating a production line. In this activity people had to work as a team to pass the ball to everyone as many times as possible while not passing it to the people directly next to you. Then, once they have figured out how to do this, people come in to try to disrupt the flow. By going through this, the students learned how to be efficient and use Lean thinking under pressure. Lean is about the implementation of Continuous Improvement and is necessary for a vision.

Image result for throwing balls in a circle

Image: http://www.ballsandballoons.com/originofaname/

My day 7 had a lot coming to it. I changed my mind over and over on what I should do and what I could do. My vision had a core value of wanting to help women. I wanted to change the world, but struggled knowing that I couldn’t just jump to the final solution. I eventually decided to work without an answer, and to fix mistakes as they come around. I took my first step with Women’s Leadership Council. While it was a small step, it was one in the right direction. By taking on a leadership role with them, I was able to help young women in the community. One of the activities we planned was aimed to help girl scouts get their science badges. This event took a lot of planning and was guided by the principles of Lean. We split up the events and looked at how to plan the event using swim lanes and dividing the work between the members. It was a tedious process but through the implementation of Lean, my Day 7 went smoothly.

I hope that with the use of Lean and Continuous Improvement, everyone can create their own successful Day 7, changing the world for the better. If you have any questions about Lean or Continuous Improvement please feel free to stop by the Office of Continuous Improvement in 135W Wads, or email us at improvement@mtu.edu.

Farewell, Rylie!

Like Dominique, my time in the Office of Continuous Improvement comes to a close as I graduate and embark on my next Journey in Indiana. My time here in the office has been one of profound growth – both for me as an individual and a professional. These last three years have opened my eyes to the importance of change and networking. The greatest part about this job is the people that I may never have met otherwise.

Nearly two years ago I put out a simple question on LinkedIn, and since then I’ve referenced this experiment numerous times. This question I asked of Lean practitioner’s everywhere was “What is Lean to you in a single word?” The outpouring of responses was overwhelming. In 5 hours I had 150,000 views and over 400 comments from practitioners all over the globe.

Not only did the response volume shock me, so did the responses themselves. These 400+ people chose their single word as it applied to their own experience, their own journey with Lean. This experiment taught me the importance of gaining buy-in from others, of ensuring all voices have been heard, and the importance of having an open mind to hear what others have to say.

I made a word cloud from the responses – I encourage you to not only glance it, but try to dissect it yourself. Try to imagine the world that these voices have come from; what could have possibly lead up to that single word? Challenge yourself to see why YES, these words do apply.

Early in my time with the Office my boss, Ruth Archer, challenged me to develop an elevator pitch for Lean and Continuous Improvement. She said it would help me share with others what Lean and CI was in a nutshell. Honestly, I’ve tried to accomplish this task, but as I continued to learn more about CI, the task of creating an elevator pitch became more daunting. Now that I’m in this phase of transition, I’ve decided to contribute my word to the word cloud – my elevator pitch for what Lean is to me, and what it’s becoming.

What is my single word?

My word is gateway.

Lean is a gateway into opportunities that you will likely never get elsewhere.

It is the gateway to introductions of people you may never meet anywhere else in the world.

It’s a gateway into ‘why’

  • Why do we do it this way?
  • Why did I feel or respond to that thing that way?
  • Why can’t we do this thing instead?

It’s a gateway into ‘how’

  • How did we get here?
  • How do we move forward?
  • How should this be instead?

Lean is a gateway into ‘where’

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to go next?
  • Where do we want to end up?

Lastly, Lean to me is a gateway into tomorrow. Lean supports us with what we need for success by allowing us to improve today so we can be a little better, a little more perfect, a little more ready to take on tomorrow.

 

When I took this job back in the spring of 2016, it was just a job. I was a broke college student who wanted to work on campus. As I began training my confusion was through the roof – I couldn’t believe this whole world of Lean could exist without me ever knowing it. As I completed training and began taking on projects, I began to learn more about myself. I learned that seeing waste and implementing countermeasures was second nature to me. I learned that I love to help people and restore things so that they can be the best that they can be. Lean and this job has provided me with the autonomy that I needed to be able to find myself and prove to myself the potential that I have as an individual. Lean will come with me wherever I go, its become so much more than just a job.

I’m thankful everyday for the experiences I’ve had with the Office of Continuous Improvement and its employees; I can’t wait to share these experiences with the rest of the world.

To all of the Michigan Tech faculty and staff that I’ve had the privilege to work with and get to know, thank you for a great three years!

Thank you to all of the volunteer facilitators on campus, you may not always know or feel it, but the selfless amount of energy, time and knowledge that you give up and offer to those you may not even know amazes me daily, and has made me strive to be better myself for the benefit of others. Thank you.

 

 

 

Farewell, Dominique!

I am saying farewell to Michigan Tech as I graduate and move on to medical school at Michigan State University  in pursuit of my M.D. (Go Green!). My time in the Office of Continuous Improvement has been absolutely fantastic, as I was part of something bigger that makes an big impact.

For the past year and a half, Lean and Continuous was not only part of my job; it became a part of my life. The lessons that I have learned, and continue to learn, are lessons that I apply everywhere. The Lean Principles are now ingrained into my own thinking, and I will continue to learn and apply them.

As I continue in my career, I will be an advocate and implementer of Lean, wherever I go. I especially look forward to being its advocate someday in the hospital setting, as a doctor.

 

I am so extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn and grow here in the Office of Continuous Improvement. Thank you to everyone I have worked with for making it such a great experience. It has been a privilege to work with everyone.

 

Thank you, and wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

Summer Adventures

This summer I made the decision to stay in Houghton, take classes, and explore the Keweenaw during the warm weather before I start my last year here at Michigan Tech. With the Keweenaw and the U.P. in general being such a beautiful place during the summer I started to think about all the things I wanted to do and see this summer and I began to become overwhelmed by all the possibilities. I knew there was so much to do and I didn’t want to leave out anything so I thought, what is the best way to make sure I remember and accomplish everything I want to this summer? In the end I decided on an affinity diagram.

An affinity diagram is a tool that is used by groups to gather and sort ideas, opinions and issues when brainstorming. When creating one you first pick a topic; in my case summer adventures. Then you and whoever else you want to be involved, in my case my friends, each take a stack of sticky notes and write each idea on a separate sticky note. You then put them all in a central location and then categorize them into groups based on similarities. This way you have a chance to write down all of your ideas before deciding if they fit in with everything else.

I decided to use this tool because I figured as the semester progressed every time my friends or I thought of an activity we wanted to do this summer we could write it on a post-it note and stick it on a piece of poster board. This way we won’t forget anything we think of and we can see what everyone is interested in. At the end of the semester we will look at all the ideas and categorized them by which are similar and then rank them to figure out what we are going to do first. This will help ensure we have a fun productive summer.

As you can see affinity diagrams can be used for things as simple as summer adventures or things much more complicated. I love taking the opportunity to use lean tools outside of work and in my personal life. It helps me to see the real value of lean and continuous improvement. I hope you guys take the opportunity to use lean tools in your lives too!

Image result for affinity diagram

https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/affinity-diagrams-learn-how-to-cluster-and-bundle-ideas-and-facts