081: G is for Gemba [ABC’s of EYB]

081: G is for Gemba [ABC’s of EYB]

So you might be listening today just to find out what the heck a Gemba is. If that’s you, welcome to the show and I’m glad you’re here.

Gemba is a Japanese word that is used in Lean Manufacturing to basically mean the place where the work is getting done.

There are phrases like “gemba walks” and “go to the gemba” which are all about getting out of the office or conference room and physically going to where the issue is or the opportunity lies.

Now I’ll be honest. I don’t really care for the word or those phrases. Not because I don’t believe in the concepts (which I wholeheartedly do and that’s why we’re talking about it) but because early on the first times I heard them it kind of came across as condescending, almost lowering ourselves to venture out the the shop floor. I know that’s not what was meant, but it felt that way.

Anyway, back to Gemba.

I picked that for today’s episode because I think the concept is a real important one for any business and any problem solving endeavor especially.

The idea is that sometimes we can sit at our desk or in a room or talk over and over about something, maybe even with pictures, and find ourselves spinning our wheels or, even worse, going down the wrong path.

There is certainly a need for the desk and meeting work at times, but nothing takes the place of seeing the thing with your own eyes.

I’ve seen this several times just in the last week. And more often than not, there was something I was able to spot looking at it in person that I wouldn’t have even thought of if I was just sitting at my desk looking at a drawing.

I don’t know what your industry or product or service is, but look at it this way. Maybe for you, it could be the idea that you really need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, almost as a stranger approaching your brand for the first time.

What do they encounter when they visit your website? Is it intuitive or confusing. Does it guide them where you want them to go? Why or why not? Spend some time checking it out.

Or maybe you’ve got quality issues with your product and you’re trying to find out where they originated. The more you can trace those steps in the process and identify potential issues the better. You can maybe do that remotely or walking through some document. But you will miss out on so much of what you’d observe if you were physically there watching it.

So, whatever issue your trying to solve or opportunity you’re trying to discuss, make sure you are devoting enough time to be where it’s created or to see from the customer’s side of things.

Let me know what this might look like for you. Shoot me an email at shawn@shawnwashburn.com

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.

081: G is for Gemba [ABC’s of EYB]

080: F is for Fun [ABC’s of EYB]

I’ll make today’s episode short and sweet.

Have more fun at work… it’s OK.

Your people aren’t coming in each day and doing their work because they’re robots.

They want to be able to work and make a difference. But they also want to enjoy their time there.

So, as much as possible, look for ways to add some fun or humor to the job.

Don’t make meetings so boring. Ask people fun questions in meetings or add some humor to spice up the serious stuff.

Plan special lunch events where your team can compete or just have a good laugh.

Add some kinds of competitions or games creatively into your organizational structure and schedule.

Get creative.

Bottom line is that work can be fun, if you allow it to be. Yes, there are things to get done and they need to be done a certain way and there are deadlines and budgets and all of that.

But I think that the rule that I’ve seen with each of my kids when they were growing up still applies to us as adults.

All parents have been there with this. Books all over your young child’s floor. You ask them to clean them up and put them on the shelf. Nope. A little while later you ask them. Nope. You tell them that they can’t do the thing that they want to until they do it. Nope.

Then, finally, you pull out the nuclear option: make it a competition.

You tell them you don’t think they can clean them all up in 30 seconds. And Boom!!! Book problem solved, floor cleaned. Because you made it fun.

It’s the same way for us now. That part of us didn’t go away, it just got smashed into submission with the idea that work has to be stuffy and serious.

It doesn’t have to be that way. The more fun you can add into your workplace I believe the more productive your people will be and the more they’ll enjoy their work.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.

081: G is for Gemba [ABC’s of EYB]

079: E is for Encouragement [ABC’s of EYB]

I believe that there are few things more powerful than words. Both for good and for bad.

We’ve no doubt all been the victim of words that were directed at us to attack us, devalue us, make fun of us, maybe even destroy us. For some of us, we can still remember words like that that were spoken maybe even decades ago.

It’s because words carry a lot of weight.

Today, we’re going to talk about the power of positive words, specifically in the form of encouragement.

Encouragement is up there with Curiosity as one of the topics I love the most.

I’m sure a big part of it is just how I’m wired. I love to receive words of affirmation (check out episode 19 for more on this) and I also love to encourage others.

I think true encouragement, pound for pound, has one of the biggest returns on our investment of time or effort.

That’s because, even if you’re not a big words of affirmation person, all of us long to know that we matter, that we have value.

When we encourage others we are communicating that in one way or another.

With those in our workplace, it can take on a lot of different variations. It could be just noticing how clean someone keeps their area or how diligent they are with their work. It could be genuinely talking up someone to others, letting them know something awesome about them. It could be even just thanking a colleague for going the extra mile to get that project completed or for stepping across responsibility lines to pick up slack for someone who was out.

I think there is incredible value even in just saying good morning to people, especially if you can use their name and even better if you don’t normally talk to them.

Like we said, we all want to belong, to matter, to know in our heart that there is a reason why we woke up this morning and are going through another day.

What I love about encouragement is that you never have any idea how valuable your words can be. When you told Bill that you just wanted to tell him you really value his character and integrity, you had no idea that Bill was really struggling that day behind his ever-present smile. You didn’t know that he was doubting his worth, frustrated with some of his projects and even feeling invisible at times.

All you set out to do was share something that had been on your heart and that you didn’t want to just stay there. And yet, those few words had a powerful impact on Bill.

That’s how true encouragement works. It is like the grease that keeps our rusty joints going sometimes, that cup of cold water to a weary team member who really needs it.

If you’re not a natural encourager, don’t worry about it. Just start by being a noticer. And as you make note of things that you see, try sharing those thoughts with your people. That’s one key that I see. Just sharing what is already on your mind, even if you assume that they already know it. They probably don’t. So just say it.

Don’t leave those valuable words just taking up space in your head. Encourage someone today. It could make all the difference.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.

078: D is for Decisions

078: D is for Decisions

If you did something 35,000 times in one day, do you think it might fatigue you a little bit?

According to some sources, that’s how many conscious decisions we make each day.

Seems ridiculous at first. Because I think we tend to group decisions somehow and we only recognize decisions that are in a certain group.

For example, we made the decision of where to go for lunch. We decided what to wear today. We decided to punch it through the yellow light instead of trying to stop. We bought that thing on Amazon. We decided to move a deadline until Thursday, to let someone go, to accept a new client, to send that text.

You get it, right. If I asked you what decisions you made today, those are the types of ones that would tend to come to your mind.

But meanwhile, under the surface, there are thousands of decisions we make that don’t even cross our mind. I think some of them we make out of habit or out of common sense. Like, we didn’t run that red light or we brushed our teeth or we said hi to someone at the store. There are tons more like these that happen and that our brains have to deal with even if they make the decision rather effortlessly.

Either way, decision fatigue can become a real thing. When we find that we need to be able to make a really big decision, our brains might just be so worn out from all the other decisions that they have trouble processing or carrying that load.

I think this shows up in our workplaces as well. And certainly there are decisions that your people will have to make every day that there’s just no getting around.

But I believe there are plenty of areas where we can help reduce decision making in order to help our team be mentally ready to make wiser bigger decisions.

One way can be to make sure that work flows and processes have all the information needed and are eliminating as much ambiguity as possible. It starts at the question, basically. If something is clear enough, it reduces or eliminates the questions and thus does the same for the decisions.

If you think about all the micro decisions that we may be asking the people in our organizations to make without thinking about it, we’re adding to this decision fatigue, leading to slow downs in projects and lack of efficiency as brains just get overloaded.

So the easiest way you can start to dig into this is to sit down with some people on your team and begin to brainstorm on this idea. What clarity could you add to instructions or what choices could be taken away that wouldn’t have a negative impact but could little by little reduce the number of decisions your people have to make each day.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. You can shoot me an email at shawn@shawnwashburn.com

And if you want help with the decision on whether to leave a review on Apple Podcasts or iTunes, I’ll help you out and say “yes you should!”.  I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.

077: Freedom!

077: Freedom!

We’ll rejoin our ABC’s of Engineering Your Business Tomorrow, but I wanted to just take a few minutes as we finish out our 4th of July weekend here in the U.S. to say how much I appreciate the freedoms we have here and those that have sacrificed to give them to us.

It was a beautiful weekend here in Cleveland and everywhere the last few days you could see red, white and blue, parades, cookouts, fireworks, gatherings and people enjoying themselves.

It just reminded me that freedom is such a funny thing. The longer it’s been since you weren’t free (or if you never known a time that you weren’t free), it’s hard to really grasp and appreciate the feeling of being free.

For an inmate who finally smells the air outside of a prison he has spent the last ten years in, he feels it.

For those who have been freed of a debt that was owed, they feel it.

For those who have to come America to escape oppression in their own country, they feel it.

I realize too that there are still those for whom freedom still feels out of reach in one way or another.

We need to collectively work to not only fight for the freedoms we personally enjoy but also for those that still are fighting for their own freedoms.

I hope you were able to enjoy some of what makes the 4th of July special here in the States and that we can collectively honor all who have gone before us who have paved the way to buy those freedoms by continuing to recognize and fight for them today.

Join back in tomorrow as we dig into the topic of Decisions and how decision fatigue can be such a drain on your team and their efficiency. Catch you tomorrow.

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.

076: Ode to Automation

076: Ode to Automation

We’re taking a break from our ABCs of EYB series today to do another Ode to the Office.

If you’ve ever been involved with automating anything, especially anything physical like a machine or process, then this one is for you. I tried to shed some light on both the dream of automating and the reality of automating.

For those who haven’t walked this road, the dream of automation is a machine or self-contained process that will magically drop in, do everything 10x faster with 10x better quality and save the day.

The reality is that, yes, that can be true at times, but it will also bring with it it’s own set of issues to deal with as everything is worked out. It just happens. As long as everyone knows that, then it can be a wonderful thing.

Now, I give you Ode to Automation

Ode to Automation

Robots, conveyors, sensors and more
Are all there assembled right there on your floor
You’ve waited for months for this day to arrive
And now all that you’ve dreamed of is coming to life

You plug in the cord and you push the start button
And then, hmmm,  scratch your head as the thing just does nothin’
Puzzled, your team tries to find out the problem
Your hopes that were high quickly sink to the bottom

Then all of a sudden it begins to start moving
Your team’s whole morale is now quickly improving
The grippers and slides are now doing their thing
As the servos and cameras are all in full swing

You smile as you look at this sweet automation
Tomorrow you plan to take your long vacation
But just as your mind is almost to the beach
You hear a loud whoomp and a thunk and a screech

“That didn’t sound good”, you hear somebody mutter
“It was running so well, like a knife through some butter”
But welcome to life now with your new machine…
Either scratching your head or then living the dream

If you’ve been enjoying the podcast and haven’t left an Apple Podcasts or iTunes review, I’d love it you’d take a minute to do that. You can head to shawnwashburn.com/apple to take you right there. Thanks for spending some time today to help you and your business thrive.