Category Archives: Aspire Programme

Failing to Plan or Planning to Fail?

Written by Jason Gledhill, Head of Reliable Maintenance at Lauras International

Plan-Effective-Meetings

[Source: quotesgram.com]

Those people fortunate enough to be a child in the 80’s will undoubtedly recognise the opening narration of the hugely popular A Team…

“In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them….maybe you can hire The A-Team.” [Source: IMDB Quotes]

Every week the A team were portrayed as acting on the side of the good, helping an oppressed community against a band of thugs and bullies. The programme inevitably ended with an outlandish finale with over-the-top violence (in which people were seldom seriously hurt), spectacular explosions, and jeeps being overturned.

John “Hannibal” Smith would create a complicated plan and rely on BA “I pity the fool!” Baracus, Templeton “Face” Peck and the crazy pilot “Howling Mad” Murdock to deliver its success. The ability of the team to form weaponry and vehicles out of old parts formed a focus for the last 20 minutes of the program.

How do you think Hannibal relayed his plan to the rest of the A Team?

  1. Did he keep it in his head and not tell anyone about it?
  2. Did he write it down and give it to everyone as a memo? (No e-mails back in the 80’s)
  3. Did he just tell one of the team and expect them to relay the plan between each other?
  4. Did he have a meeting with the rest of the A Team and the people who hired them?

Undoubtedly he chose option 4; and judging by the results, where the underdogs – the A Team – overcame overwhelming odds and beat the bad guys every week, without injury to themselves or the people who hired them, Hannibal’s meeting must have been highly effective.

Just take a second and ask yourself “How effective are my meetings?”

  • Do you always get the results you desired?
  • Does everyone involved in the meeting see them as value adding?
  • Do people turn up prepared?
  • Do all the actions get recorded and delivered?

If you’ve answered no to any of the above, your meetings aren’t as effective as they could be. 
So here are a few simple tips for effective meetings:

  • Have your meeting standing up
  • Lock the door after the start of your meeting
  • Keep score of the issues raised, actions assigned, actions completed on time and reviewed
  • Track how many actions have a who, when and what

And remember:

  • To value the input of each delegate
  • Make sure only one person speaks at a time
  • Never belittle anyone else’s ideas
  • 70% agreement = 100% commitment for decisions

If you would like to utter Hannibal’s immortal words “I love it when a plan comes together” then get in touch for your FREE ‘Effective Meetings Tip Card’ – call 0333 456 1988 or drop us a line to place your order contact@laurasinternational.com. 

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What would Claudio do?

Written by Adrian Oliver, Engagement Leader, Lauras International

iStock_000010821364_Large“Leicester City have just won the Premier League!” Go on say it again, “Leicester City have just won the Premier League!” The league table does not lie, the best team always wins in the long run. They are the best team with the best results. What an amazing achievement of sustained effort over the season, 36 games.

With 2 games left the players and management team are able to now relax and have a well-earned rest. A bit of downtime during the summer before they get ready for next Season…

Did you watch their 37th game against Everton? That was not the display of a team taking it easy. They ran their opponents into the ground, had 30 shots versus their opponents 9 and won the game 3:1. Claudio Ranieri, the Leicester City Manager, prior to the game has been credited with motivating his team to perform well, celebrating winning the league but then focussing his team on getting ready for the next season and proving to the world that they are worthy champions: the best.

Like Claudio, we need our teams to be performing at their best each time they enter the competitive arena, be that the football field, sales negotiation, or manufacturing line. Here are six simple steps for motivating our teams to perform at their best every time…

Six Simple Steps to Motivating Teams

Finding the right type of motivation for our teams and then applying it is a critical tool for any leader to have in their toolkit. Get this right and we can deliver truly exceptional results. Get it wrong and things can go the other way. The time we spend with our teams is our most valuable time as a leader as it enables us to influence performance.

But how good at this are we? And do we practice these things in our daily roles, every day…?

  1. Do we hear ‘continual whinging’ about a problem – or do we truly listen to what our people are telling us?
  2. Is it easier to develop the solution for the team and then get them to ‘select the colour’ – or do we get them involved with the problem-solving?
  3. Do we demand answers when things go wrong – or praise them for a job well done?
  4. When the Boss calls, what’s the first thing that drops off our list? Do we ring-fence time in our diary each day for our team?
  5. Does that report that needs to be done before going home for the day preoccupy us when talking to our teams – or are we fully focussed on them as people?
  6. If we’re feeling frustrated, do we head to the shopfloor to catch someone doing something wrong – or do we walk the shopfloor at regular times so that people know when they can share a fantastic idea with us?

From Line Managers to CEO’s we should secure time to be with and motivate our teams. To fully converse and engage with them. Listen to what they have to say and provide effective feedback. This is the gift that only we as Leaders can give, and it might surprise you to see what you get back in return.

Something to think about isn’t it?

If you find yourself pausing to contemplate how well you and your team of managers do this then maybe it is time to re-sharpen your Leadership tools. What would Claudio do? How do you become Champions?

What does a ‘Standard Day’ look like for FLMs?

Written by Senior Consultant, Nathanial Marshall.

FLM_ShopfloorHow many fires have you put out today? Do you feel that the days are flashing by and you’re not getting anywhere? Shouldn’t you be adding value as a Front Line Manager?

Operators often tell us, “The managers are never out here, they are just sat in the office.” FLMs are equally frustrated with a feeling of no structure to their day and with little time to spend understanding the issues to drive performance because of “other things cropping up”.

This is why we recommend the ‘Standard Leader Day’ – a structured approach for a shift listing all the key value adding activity that an FLM should complete in their shift and an estimated time for each.

Having a standard approach will help FLMs structure their day, understand the issues on their plant and engage with their people. When followed properly it becomes instrumental for driving improvement and challenging the norms.

It doesn’t have to be restricted to FLMs, it should ideally be in place for all levels of management within the business and most importantly, it has to be audited regularly. If the ‘Standard Day’ is not being achieved, ask yourself and your management team why? What else is happening in your day that is more important?

It will drive meetings to be more effective, ensure you are only at the meetings that are essential to your day, and highlight when other functions are not supporting your operators as they should. It allows the FLMs to challenge back to their own manager. “If you want me to take that on, which of the essential items in my Standard Day would you like me to drop.” It also allows and encourages positive challenge in both directions.

Probably the most important element is to walk the plant at least 3 times a shift. The walk around should:

  • Follow a structured approach
  • Be planned at set times
  • Check speeds, output, and product specs, and
  • Most importantly, facilitate engagement with operators.

The walks allow you to have presence as well as just being “present”. The more you do them, the more open the operators will become and this increased engagement will help support your future improvement initiatives.

For more tried and tested tips for improving your Manufacturing operations –
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A 3 step process to save time

Written by Nathanial Marshall, Senior Consultant at Lauras International.

StopWatchRecently, whilst running an improvement workshop, there was a delegate who turned up late every day. After a myriad of excuses and some not so light insults from his colleagues, I attempted to get to the bottom of why he was failing to turn up on time. He stated that he doesn’t have enough time to do everything he needs to do in the morning, leaves the house late and thus misses his bus.

I first suggested that he set his alarm earlier in a morning. That did not go down well at all. He craves his sleep and wanted to ensure he was fully rested for his days carrying out improvement activities in the workshop. Then I thought to myself, why not get him try to utilise one of our improvement tools in his morning routine?

Using Cycle Time Reduction (CTR) he would be able to get up at the usual time, complete his morning routine in full, leave the house on time and arrive at work promptly for the start of the workshop. Everyone is a winner!

Firstly, I got him to make a list of all the tasks he completed in a morning, how long each one took, and when they started and ended relative to the time he wakes up.

We then mapped these out visually on a Gannt chart.

I asked him to look for any critical paths i.e. any activity that needs to be completed in sequential order. Once he had identified these, we could look to see if there were any activities that could be completed whilst he was busy with other parts of his routine.

Unbelievably, we found he took his shower, prepared his lunch and then put the coffee machine on to boil. So we looked at how we could reduce the time spent on this sequence and identified an easy 8 minutes he could get back…

By putting the coffee machine to automatically boil ready for the time he finishes his shower, he could shave a vital 3 minutes from his morning routine. Fixing his lunch and packing his bag the night before would save another 5 minutes.

Making these small alterations (and a few others) to his process, our delegate was able to arrive early every day for the rest of the Workshops.

CTR can be used on any manufacturing process (continuous or non-continuous) to reduce the amount of time taken for that process to be completed. For example, it might be used to reduce the time taken for a case packer to complete its cycle or reduce the time taken for a plant to changeover between products. Applying CTR on your production line can provide significant throughput improvements.

It is a simple 3 step process

  1. Define the current cycle
  2. Map the current cycle
  3. Optimise the current cycle

For more on this tool and how to apply it, check out our Improvement Toolkit >

Leveraging diverse talents and individual strengths

Written by Steve Roger, Global Managing Director of Lauras International

iStock_000010821364_LargeErica recently shared a great blog on how manufacturing professionals can find ‘hidden zones‘ by exploring their strengths and weaknesses. This week, I’d like to examine this subject in some further detail…

A key requirement to enabling the delivery of manufacturing improvement is to measure where we are. The common statement made is “what you don’t measure, you can’t improve”.

This is often a key aspect in audits or using KPIs to measure and drive performance.

Following these audits, the focus is often on improving the “weak” areas: a valid and essential approach if the “weak” area is not at the certain, required level. However, to continue to focus on weak areas to match performance in other stronger areas may in fact be a mistake.

In studies (Corp Leadership Council) of 20,000 people across multiple organisations, the results revealed that when people focused on their strengths, performance increased by 36% – whereas when they focused on a weakness, performance dropped by 27% (CLC 2002).

All manufacturing organisations have individuals with diverse talents and strengths. Leveraging and building on the strengths of the individuals within a team actually minimises the impact of the “weaknesses” in other members, and typically fosters both greater engagement and greater commitment.

Often the barrier to Continuous Improvement is individuals resisting changing their behaviours. Encouraging individuals to focus on what they do well, and can do more of, results in positive outcomes and increased motivation -which often makes individuals more receptive to adopting new behaviours.

Ultimately, being open about and understanding the strengths of different team members helps a team to better leverage their collective strengths. If you’d like help with identifying, measuring, and managing your  team’s strengths – get in touch and start improving your manufacturing performance today.

Where is your hidden zone?

Where is your hidden zone?

Written by Erica Bassford, Head of Aspire at Lauras International

Four eggs in egg cups

During a recent management training course I was asked if an individual should focus on improving their weaknesses first or developing their strengths. It’s a bit like ‘which comes first, the chicken or the egg?’

You are only as strong as your weakest link. If your weakness is something you need to use in your day to day life, being your weakest link is probably having a significant effect on your overall effectiveness. Our strengths, on the other hand, form part of our Unique Selling Point (USP). Continually developing our USP to ensure it remains unique is important, isn’t it?

We all prefer to work on what we enjoy and what we enjoy is almost always something we find relatively easy or we are good at it. Investing in your weakness, therefore, is likely to be more time consuming, more frustrating and will require more effort.

There is no straight answer but what is clear, our first task is to understand ourselves not only from our perspective, but from the perspective of others. We all have ‘hidden’ zones, things people see in us that we are blissfully unaware of. For example, jangling change in your pocket, or saying ‘Umm’ repeatedly during presentations. Once we truly understand our strengths and weaknesses we can make an informed decision on what to invest our time and effort in, and can look for alternatives to help. One of the best ways to overcome our weaknesses is to work with someone who has that as their strength, learning from them. An alternative may be to delegate or even outsource a task that require us to use our weakness.

In truth we will need to develop both our strengths and weaknesses but for the most efficient outcome we not only have to fully understand ourselves, but also the strengths and weaknesses of those around us. Need help with your chicken and egg? We can help you build your unique development plan then work with you to excel.

For more on our Aspire coaching and mentoring programmes for Front Line Managers, get in touch.

5 ways to identify opportunity

Written by Jeremy Praud, Head of UK & Europe

Taking cost out of your manufacturing operation so that your unit can stay competitive will help you win your contracts again when they come up for tender – but how do you know what is the right amount of cost to take out, and from where?

Here are 5 ways to identify opportunities to take cost out:

1. Make sure your plan covers all 3 areas of major spend.

Direct Labour, Raw Materials and Packaging, and Overheads are the 3 major areas of manufacturing spend.  Your manufacturing ‘Overhead’ spend is probably mostly on Engineering, Salaries, and Energy. Does you plan cover all these areas, or are you missing a whole area of opportunity?

2. Measure your plans against ‘True’.
Your standards were useful for the costed submission that won your factory the work last time – but they’re no good for knowing what you can do in the future. Ensure you have an opportunity matrix that identifies opportunity against maximum run speed of the bottleneck, not the standard speed.  Don’t fool yourself that you’re doing well if you have a positive material variance, when the standard allows for 8% waste.

3. Set the right technology benchmarks.
You’re never going to achieve 100% – unless you haven’t followed point 2. So what is possible? 75%-98% depending on what technologies you are using. Could you achieve 98% with a technology change?

4. Understand how much of the gap you can close. 
40% in the first year is possible.  Have you allocated the resource to get you there? Is your improvement team skilled and efficient and able to close the gap?

5. Align capital plans and non-capital plans.
Invest your capital allowance for improvement in equipment that is going to increase the bottleneck rates or reduce headcount.  Investing in replacing performing equipment is simply trying to run away from root-cause problem solving, and increasing your depreciation to simply stay still in terms of unit cost – which could leave you in a nasty place in the future.   

 

Check out this video to see how we help FMCGs identify Improvement Opportunities with an onsite assessment.