Workshop: Applying Lean Principles To Increase Organizational And Operational Effectiveness

Attendees will go back to the workplace with the ability to:

  • Recognize where and how to apply lean principles, systems, and concepts, to increase value and eliminate waste in your daily work
  • Increase process improvement effectiveness through the PDCA cycle
  • Identify work activities as being “value-add,” “incidental,” or “waste” and understand impact on workflow


  • What is Lean?
  • Value and Waste
  • Plan/Do/Check/Act Process Improvement Process
  • Problem-solving
  • Kaizen
  • Gemba Walks
  • Spaghetti diagrams
  • 5S Visual Workplace
  • Process Maps

Development for anyone who has responsibility for improving their work processes, whether in manufacturing, healthcare, finance, human resources, or any other type of organization.

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Leadership Development Tennessee

Two exceptional development workshops coming to Tennessee in August

Leading The Multi-Generational Workforce: From Baby Boomers To The Latest Generation Z on August 20th

Designed specifically to increase the effectiveness of your team leads, supervisors, functional managers, and anyone else who has a front-line responsibility to lead your company’s most important assets: YOUR PEOPLE.

What skills will attendees learn?

  • The business need for diversity, including generational diversity
  • How to establish best practices in hiring & onboarding to appeal across generations & increase employee retention
  • How to develop effective leadership techniques to optimize the performance of your multi-generational workforce, including how to maximize employee motivation

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Leadership in the Trenches in Knoxville on August 21st and 22nd. 

Perfect hands-on development for your team leads, supervisors, and anyone else who has first-line responsibility for your most important assets…your people.

What skills will your attendees learn?

  • The difference between managing & leading
  • What is leadership credibility & how to develop and sustain it
  • Situational leadership & determining which style is most effective for individuals and the team
  • How to more effectively listen to ensure understanding
  • How to provide performance-based feedback
  • How to maximize individual performance through effective performance management
  • How to develop and lead high-performance teams
  • How to proactively resolve conflict

Click Here For A Brochure With More Information

Click here to register

Achieving a Shared Vision – Executing the Plan

In previous articles, I have presented ways to create a proper organizational vision, then gain individual and team alignment to achieve that vision. I have presented how clear strategies and goals that your team can relate to assist in accomplishment of your vision. The final piece of the puzzle is successful execution of those strategies and goals.

Clarity of Strategies, Goals, and Success Measurement

It is important that you, as a leader, do a solid job of helping each team member understand how what they do on a daily basis impacts goal and strategy achievement. If an employee feels that all they do is “keep the floors clean”, then how can you expect that employee to give you his best efforts. Instead, that employee needs to connect “keeping the floors clean” to something bigger, such as “preventing product contamination to ensure top quality”, or “maintaining a safe working environment to prevent accidents and injuries”. This makes it easier for that employee to connect what he does to achievement of broader organizational goals.

The Role of Consequences

As a leader, you must make sure that consequences for employee behaviors are aligned with goal accomplishment. In other words, for every positive behavior there should be a positive consequence, and for every negative or undesired behavior there should be a negative consequence. Also, keep in mind that no consequence for undesirable behavior is the same as a positive consequence or reward for that bad behavior. Consequences should support the behaviors necessary for goal achievement and should be consistently applied. Your performance management process should include both goal achievement expectations and the behaviors required for successful performance. Your rewards and recognition processes should be designed to support achievement of your organizational goals, strategies, and ultimately…your vision.

Following Through

On a final note, if you simply announce your vision, strategies, and goals, then walk away and expect things to just happen…you will be sorely disappointed. The sad reality is that many managers (notice I refrain from calling them leaders) announce their plan and expectations, walk away, and when they return and find poor progress towards stated goals, they like to make a lot of noise and crap on everybody. I refer to this type of manager as the Seagull Manager. You know you are a Seagull Manager when people “duck” when you show up.

Instead, follow up frequently on goal achievement by developing clearly understood milestones and measurements of success. Make sure your team clearly understands the milestones and measures, and that they are made aware of their progress routinely. You want to be a positive presence among your team. You want your employees to feel that you are accessible and available to help solve problems. You want to develop your team to solve their own problems. And finally, you want to celebrate the small successes along the journey. If you celebrate enough small successes, you will eventually have the opportunity to celebrate big successes and achieve great things!


Achieving Organizational Alignment

Achieving organizational alignment towards achievement of the vision starts with one person…YOU! It is your job to communicate a clear vision, and to inspire your team to accomplish the goals and objectives required to achieve the vision. The driving force behind your shared vision is your purpose. When your employees know and understand the “why”, they will be more motivated to focus on the “how”. Especially, when your employees can “connect” how your “why” helps each employee accomplish their own personal goals and ambitions.

Starting with You

When you have a particular challenge to overcome, or let’s say a “hill to charge”, when you shout CHARGE, you want your team to already be charging that hill. You want them to feel inspired by you and motivated to achieve organizational goals. If you shout CHARGE, and your team is behind you instead of in front, or even worse, deserting your ranks, you are not an effective leader. In fact, you may perish as the result of “friendly fire”.

The key to your leadership success, and alignment of your team to achieve great things, is how they perceive you as a leader. I call this this your level of “Leadership Credibility”. Does your team trust you and feel you are honest? Do they feel respected by you? Do they feel that you are competent and can help them solve problems? Do they feel that you are inspiring and forward looking? Do they feel that you “have their back”? If so, your team will charge the hill for you and will share your vision of success.

Connecting the “Why” with “WIIFM”

To achieve organizational alignment towards a shared vision, it is imperative that you be able to connect “Why” achievement of the vision is business critical to “What’s In It For Me” or (WIIFM). In other words, if I help you achieve your business goals and ultimately the organizational vision, how will I benefit? Organizations often fail to achieve great things because they have failed to help their employees understand how their efforts can result in individual goal accomplishment and success. We just assume that employees will make that connection, when we should be working hard to translate organizational success to individual success. Your goal, as a leader, is to ingrain the mindset in your team that you are all in this together. You succeed together or fail together, but regardless…you are together, aligned, and focused for success. The minute your team feels that it is “Us versus Them”, you are doomed to fail as a leader unless you can change that mindset.

Once your team connects the “Why” with “WIIFM”, your goal is to help them understand how their individual and team roles impact success. You do this by developing strategies that translate easily into team and individual performance goals, or the “How”. Then you make sure your performance management and rewards and recognition processes support positive behaviors and performance while discouraging undesirable behaviors and performance.

Achieving alignment towards a shared vision and goals takes time, patience, and perseverance, but foremost it takes effective leadership.

Creating A Shared Vision

If you took a walk through your facility and asked your employees one simple question, “What is our Vision?”, what do you think their answers would be? Would you get a common answer among the team members? Would you get several different answers? Would you get a “deer in the headlights” look and a lot of head scratching?

The fact is that most organizations of any size have created “Vision Statements”. Unfortunately, many of these Vision Statements are just nice fodder for framing and hanging in the lobby of the office. Vision Statements are often used for external marketing when their best use is to generate internal focus of purpose and effort.

So, how do we take that nicely framed “Vision Statement” and convert it to a truly shared organizational vision?

Start at the Top

Start by challenging the senior leadership within your organization. Ask them if your stated vision clearly communicates the organization’s desired destination. Is it challenging enough? Does it provide clarity of purpose? Is the vision clearly communicated in a consistent manner throughout your organization? Are your business strategies and goals in alignment with achievement of the vision? If the answers to any of these questions are “No”, then work with senior leadership to resolve the issues.

Get Everyone Involved

Having an organizational vision and having a shared vision may be two different things! Do your employees know the organizational vision and do they understand it? Do they understand the connection between their individual and team roles and accomplishment of the vision? Are your organizational rewards and recognition processes in alignment with accomplishment of the goals that will achieve the vision?

If the answers to any of these questions are “No”, then start with small employee focus groups to discuss and better understand the discrepancies. The more employees feel involved in the process, the more commitment they will have in ensuring the success of the process.

Remember, you want your employees to be inspired by your vision. The first step in providing inspiration to is to ensure understanding and provide “connection” to achievement of the vision.

The Role of the Leader

If you were to sit down with any successful business leader, you would most likely hear about a journey and how they did not become successful by accident. Hard work, persistence, and perseverance are of course important, but in order to achieve organizational success, you need to be a leader who understands and fulfills your true role within the organization. The formula is really very simple in concept but can become complex in practice, depending on the size and culture of the organization. In essence, to be a successful leader you need to possess the ability to create a shared vision, align the organization to achieve that vision, and ensure execution of the plan to achieve the vision.

Creating the Vision

The first step in creating a shared vision is to be clear about what you wish to achieve. Your vision should be the desired destination of the organization. The vision should provide clarity of organizational purpose, values, goals, and direction. With a clear destination, you provide your team focus. For people to be truly inspired, the vision needs to be big. It needs to be challenging and needs to generate within you and your team a “call to action”.

Achieving Organizational Alignment

The driving force behind your shared vision is your purpose. When you know and understand the “why”, you’ll be more motivated to focus on the “how”. Unless you instill a sense of purpose in your team, you will have a difficult time getting them aligned towards achievement of the vision, and you definitely will struggle in getting the best performance from them. It just makes sense that the clearer you are about where you’re going, the easier it will be to galvanize your team to work towards it. A clear vision will also help your people to determine their own departmental objectives and to collaborate with others, as they will know that they’re all working towards the same goal. When communicating the vision, avoid doing so from just your point of view. Keep in mind that your team will be more motivated to share your vision if they can connect achievement of that vision with satisfaction of their individual goals. Also, communicate multiple purposes and you will increase the odds that each member of your team will be equally inspired by the vision.

Executing the Plan

Once you have settled on a shared vision, the next step is to establish strategic goals. Remember, the vision is the destination, and the strategy helps to determine the path to get there. Thus, a clear strategy helps to bring a sense of practicality to the vision, so that it seems attainable. Goals should be both measurable and specific so that there will be no ambiguity about whether or not your team is hitting them.

Achieving Results

When people of similar interests come together and share a common vision, the collective energy automatically shoots up. Your role is to set the stage for team and organizational success, get the team on board and focused, and follow through to ensure goal attainment.

Developing A Mindset Of Process Improvement

Technology, labor, distribution and consumer demographics have all dramatically changed in the last few years. As such, business processes need to be constantly evolving to adapt to these changes. Organizations are continually looking for leadership that can control the mechanics of a redesign project as well as align them with an overall business strategy.

It can seem overwhelming to disrupt the status quo at your company, but with the implementation of smart business process improvement strategies, you’ll be able to make changes as seamlessly as possible.

Before you can improve business process, you must first understand it. The business process is simply a series of tasks that you and your team perform repeatedly to create a product or service for your stakeholder, sponsor or customer.

A business process starts with an objective and ends with the achievement of that objective. A business process can often be broken down into smaller processes, allowing for divisions of labor.

Business process improvement (BPI) aims to reduce waste and/or variation in processes to achieve the desired outcome by using existing resources in a better way. The ultimate goal of BPI is to bring out a drastic change in an organization’s performance.

Some common challenges that commonly act as roadblocks for business process improvement are lengthy setups, resistance from teams, not measuring results and under communicating the BPI Initiative. It is important to develop a mindset of process improvement from the top down at your organization. Engaging your staff in the processes will make the transitions easier and help your team feel like they have a vital role because they do!

Business processes have one thing in common: they’re all designed to streamline the way that you and your team work. When everyone follows a well-tested set of steps, there are fewer errors and delays, there is less duplicated effort, and staff and customers feel more satisfied.

Processes that don’t work can lead to numerous problems. For example:

  • Customers may complain about poor product quality or bad service.
  • Colleagues get frustrated.
  • Work may be duplicated, or not done.
  • Costs increase.
  • Resources are wasted.
  • Bottlenecks can develop, causing you to miss deadlines.


Business process improvement implementation is a project that requires planning and management. This ensures well-organized improvement processes without any conflicts. Many companies struggle for years because they overlook the necessity of evaluating and improving processes. Business owners and team leaders in any company should have a mindset of process improvement, regularly evaluate structure and be ready to implement change where inefficiencies exist.

The Heart of Process Improvement

Organizations, like people, need to maintain fitness. This is where business process improvement (BPI) comes in. Many companies launch process improvement programs such as Total Quality Management, Business Reengineering, Lean, and Six Sigma. These processes can result in significant benefits, including lower costs, faster time-to-market, and better customer experiences. The problem, even for companies that do a round of BPI is that after the initial round, they give up and let their organization get flabby again. Maintaining a healthy business requires diligence and something that many business owners overlook, which is an engaged team.

Engaging employees is a vital part of improving any process within a business. Employees that are unhappy and underutilized can become the biggest roadblocks to success. One of the keys to an effective BPI is transforming the culture of the company, where leadership within the organization is focused on enabling the full potential in others. It’s about allowing employees to be their authentic selves so they can leverage their strengths and unique perspectives.

Allowing employees to become leaders and mature within new expansive roles and responsibilities creates an environment of efficiency. Employees want to feel valued and challenged; they want to be trusted and given the freedom to explore and learn within the job.   Employees that stretch themselves to grow and take on more advanced assignments should be given the opportunity to further accelerate their advancement. The bottom line is that leaders must continuously create new opportunities for their employees – or their workforce will not be innovative enough.

Today’s leaders must constantly focus on the growth of their teams and strengthening the capabilities of individuals that can make the team more effective. This creates an environment of continuous innovation and initiative. The people who work within an organization are at the heart of the company and need to be included in the processes for improvement. When employees hearts are engaged, they will engage their brains on their own and exceed expectations.