Agile Leadership

How Can Lean Be Applied To Manufacturing And Service Processes?


Lean methodology has proven to be effective in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of both manufacturing and service processes. Its focus on eliminating waste and optimizing value creation resonates with project and program managers tasked with delivering results most effectively and efficiently. This article will explore how lean can be applied to manufacturing and service processes and the benefits of adopting this methodology.

According to a paper published in the International Journal of Production Economics, organizations implementing lean methodology experience an average productivity increase of 25%.

As a lean practitioner, you may have questions about lean methodology’s benefits and how to measure its effectiveness. Some specific questions you may have are:

  • How can lean methods be applied in the service industry?
  • What are some common issues organizations face when implementing lean methodology?
  • How can I measure the effectiveness of lean techniques in my organization?
  • How can I create a culture of continuous improvement within my organization?
  • What are some best practices for implementing lean methodology?

A good metaphor for how lean can be applied to manufacturing and service processes is a sculptor chiseling away at a block of stone. Just as a sculptor removes stone to reveal a beautiful work of art, organizations can use lean methodology to chip away at inefficiencies and waste, showing an optimized and efficient process.

Lean in Manufacturing Processes

Lean methodology has been a staple of manufacturing processes for decades. It has enabled organizations to optimize operations, improve product quality, and reduce lead times. In a manufacturing process, there are several areas where lean can be applied:

  1. Value stream mapping is a vital aspect of lean methodology. It enables organizations to visualize their entire manufacturing process and identify waste areas. By mapping the value stream, organizations can identify areas to optimize operations, eliminate waste, and increase value creation. Value stream mapping is an ongoing process that requires continuous monitoring and improvement.

  • Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing is a critical component of lean methodology. JIT is a manufacturing strategy that emphasizes producing products only when needed. This approach enables organizations to reduce inventory levels and minimize waste. By making products only when required, organizations can avoid the costs of carrying excess inventory.

  • Continuous improvement is a core principle of lean methodology. It requires organizations to evaluate their manufacturing processes and continuously identify improvement areas. Organizations can identify opportunities to optimize their processes, eliminate waste, and increase value creation by implementing a continuous improvement process.

Neuroscience research suggests that lean methodology can improve cognitive function and enhance workplace productivity. By reducing the cognitive load associated with inefficient processes, individuals can focus their attention on higher-order tasks and make more efficient use of their mental resources. This can lead to improvements in creativity, problem-solving, and decision-making.

According to a survey published in the International Journal of Lean Six Sigma found that lean methodology implementation resulted in a 32% reduction in lead times and a 25% reduction in costs.

Lean in Service Processes

While the lean methodology has been a staple of manufacturing processes for decades, it has recently gained popularity in service processes. Its focus on optimizing value creation and eliminating waste resonates with organizations looking to improve service delivery. In a service process, there are several areas where lean can be applied:

  1. Process Mapping: Process mapping is a critical aspect of lean methodology in service processes. It enables organizations to visualize their entire service delivery process and identify areas of waste. By mapping the process, organizations can identify areas to optimize operations, eliminate waste, and increase value creation.

  • Agile leadership is a critical component of lean methodology in service processes. It requires organizations to be responsive to changing customer needs and expectations. Organizations can quickly respond to customer needs by adopting an agile leadership approach and adapting their service delivery processes.

  • Standard work procedures are a core component of lean methodology in service processes. They provide a standard approach to service delivery, enabling organizations to minimize waste and optimize value creation. By implementing standard work procedures, organizations can ensure consistent service delivery.

A study published in the Journal of Operations Management found that lean methodology implementation positively correlates with quality and delivery performance improvements.

Benefits of Lean Methodology

There are several benefits to adopting lean methodology in both manufacturing and service processes:

  • Increased Efficiency – Lean methodology enables organizations to optimize their processes, reducing waste and increasing efficiency. Organizations can reduce lead times, minimize inventory levels, and optimize service delivery by implementing lean methodology.

  • Improved Quality – Lean methodology enables organizations to identify areas of waste and inefficiency, resulting in improved product and service quality. Organizations can ensure their products and services exceed customer expectations by focusing on value creation and eliminating waste.

  • Enhanced Customer Satisfaction – By adopting lean methodology, organizations can improve their product and service quality, enhancing customer satisfaction. Customers value organizations that are responsive to their needs and deliver high-quality products and services.

Lean methodology is a powerful tool for organizations looking to optimize their manufacturing and service processes. Organizations can increase efficiency, improve quality, and enhance customer satisfaction by focusing on value creation and eliminating waste. Project and program managers, as well as professional meeting planners and corporate professionals, can benefit from adopting lean methodology in their organizations.

To effectively implement the lean methodology, organizations must first understand their current processes and identify areas of waste. This requires mapping the value stream and identifying opportunities for improvement. Once the areas of debris have been identified, organizations can implement continuous improvement processes to optimize their operations, eliminate waste, and increase value creation.

If you want to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your manufacturing or service processes, implementing lean methodology can help.

Take action today by conducting a value stream mapping exercise to identify waste and inefficiency in your processes. Involve your employees in continuous improvement and give them the tools and resources to make meaningful contributions. Standardize work procedures to ensure consistency and quality and implement visual management tools to make it easy to identify and address issues in real-time. If you need help implementing lean methodology in your organization, contact us at the Leonard Productivity Intelligence Institute to identify opportunities for continuous improvement.

Agile Leadership

Top 10 Books Every Agile Leader Should Read


Strengthen Your Agile Leadership Skills with These Must-Read Titles

“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs, from “Team of Teams” by General Stanley McChrystal

Just as a skilled conductor leads and synchronizes a diverse group of musicians to create a harmonious symphony, an agile leader guides and unites their team to achieve shared goals and deliver value. The conductor must be attuned to each musician’s strengths and needs while adapting to any unexpected changes or challenges during a performance. Similarly, an agile leader embraces change, fosters collaboration, and empowers team members to innovate and adapt in a dynamic business environment. Ultimately, the conductor and the agile leader skillfully orchestrate their teams, ensuring everyone is aligned and working harmoniously to produce exceptional results.

The Agile Manifesto, a foundational document for agile leadership, was created in 2001 by seventeen software developers who gathered to discuss lightweight development methods. This meeting marked a turning point in the software industry, leading to the widespread adoption of agile methodologies and principles.

While agile leadership may seem modern, some of its principles can be traced back to ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War,” which emphasizes adaptability, flexibility, and the importance of understanding one’s environment in achieving success.

A study by the Project Management Institute (PMI) found that organizations that embrace agile principles have a 71% success rate for projects, compared to a 62% success rate for traditional project management methods.

“Complexity is the silent killer of delivering the right outcomes on time.” – Jez Humble, from “Accelerate” by Nicole Forsgren, Jez Humble, and Gene Kim

Agile leadership is a crucial component of any successful agile organization. Whether you’re a seasoned agile leader or just starting your journey, these top 10 books on agile leadership offer insights, strategies, and experiences that will help you excel in your role.

Top 10 Books Every Agile Leader Should Read

This indispensable collection will equip you with the knowledge, strategies, and practical techniques to overcome the unique challenges faced by agile leaders.

Workplace Jazz

These must-read books will help you:

  • Master agile principles and methodologies, paving the way for a successful agile transformation within your organization.
  • Develop a resilient, adaptive leadership mindset that embraces change and fosters collaboration.
  • Create high-performing, customer-focused teams that can effectively navigate uncertainty and complexity.
  • Learn from the experiences of successful agile leaders and experts, avoiding common pitfalls and supercharging your leadership skills.
  • Build a culture of continuous improvement, encouraging your team to experiment, learn, and grow.
  • Communicate effectively with stakeholders, managing expectations and ensuring alignment with your organization’s vision and strategy.
  • Scale agile practices across multiple teams and departments, ensuring seamless coordination and collaboration.
  • Measure success using the right KPIs and metrics, driving data-driven decision-making and delivering tangible value to your customers.

Reading these top 10 books on agile leadership will provide you with valuable knowledge, skills, and strategies to improve your leadership capabilities. Embrace the agile mindset and empower your teams to reach new levels of success.

Don’t let your organization fall behind in today’s rapidly changing business landscape. Invest in your growth and your team’s success by discovering the wisdom and insights found within the Top 10 Books for Agile Leaders. Equip yourself with the tools and techniques to become your organization’s agile leader and unlock your full potential today!

Agile Leadership

Why Agile Leadership Is Important


Agile management came about due to the realization that middle management was holding workers back more than helping them succeed. What is agile leadership? It is a style of leadership that aims to make employees more productive. 

The Benefits of Agile Management 

Agile management encourages better business results. It does this while wasting less resources and time. The leadership model empowers teams, helping them tap into their workforce’s complete power. 

Companies that operate under this type of leadership are more able to respond to outside factors. An agile approach lets companies visualize ways to improve their business model. It does this by allowing workers to experiment using enhanced products. 

Agile management helps leaders be more responsive at every level. It also supports better communication and increases worker confidence. Under an agile management mindset, there are opportunities for continued learning. Employees will also enjoy more autonomy. 

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The Principles of Agile Leadership 

The principles of agile management include: 

• Working toward better overall engagement levels
• System improvements 
• Working to please every client 
• Managing the company’s system instead of workers 
• Collaboration

How to Develop an Agile Mindset 

One of the most important features of an agile mindset is to realize that there is no black and white. Every decision is based on context. When you are facing uncertainty and changing conditions, you won’t find answers in a leadership book. 

It’s important to form a mindset that will direct you toward making decisions that align with your personal values and principles. Agile values inspire managers to collaborate with their teams and empower them to make decisions. As an agile leader, you’ll need to consider failures as chances to learn. You’ll also want to nurture trust and mental security in your company. 

Welcome an Agile Company Culture 

A company’s culture begins at the top. Leaders are not exempt from the corporate culture. Be the model for your company’s agile culture. 

A major part of becoming an agile manager is to develop a positive culture. Make sure that culture invests in the people who operate the company. 

Determine What Makes Your Company’s Culture Unique 

Companies like Google and Apple have cultures that are unique to them. Other companies are unable to recreate their dynamic because every culture is different. 

To ensure that your company’s culture thrives, focus on the people, quality, development and values. Agile managers ask their workers to help them create and build the company’s culture. Ask your workers questions like: 

• What does the company value?
• What is the best way to make decisions? 
• What is the purpose of the company? 

Agile managers develop high-performing teams. These teams are successful in complex and unknown environments. As an agile leader, you’ll need to embrace flexible principles to increase competitiveness. 

A High Priority 

Many companies are turning to agile leadership. This management model can help a company’s leadership team form fresh mindsets. Agile managers help companies move quicker, push innovation and adapt to a changing atmosphere. For guidance on developing your agile management skills, contact me at the Productivity Intelligence Institute. 

Agile Leadership

Agile Leadership In Turbulent Times


In the 1990s, software developers were getting frustrated. They found that the needs of their clients often changed during the development process. What they thought would be the final product needed to go through time-consuming revisions. In 2001, a group of developers introduced Agile as a way to streamline this process.

Why Change Is Difficult to Navigate

Your brain is a predictive machine. It constantly processes information about the world, trying to guess what will happen next. During seasons of calm, events unfold in ways you expect. You can follow a daily schedule, make your appointments and deliver products on time.

You feel surprises in the limbic system, one of the oldest neural structures in the evolutionary chain. This system deals with unexpected stresses in the same way as an encounter with a dangerous animal. Your fight-or-flight response flips on, making it difficult to make rational decisions. Many leaders stick to ineffective strategies in times of crisis because it gives them the simple comfort of familiarity.

From Assembly Lines to Agile Thinking

Assembly lines transformed manufacturing in the early 20th century. A step-by-step process would lead to a consistent product on the other end. It is still an effective methodology if you know the exact results you need.

However, the landscape is quite different for modern entrepreneurs. Technology changes quickly with new devices coming online every day. Employees’ needs and expectations have transformed in the wake of the pandemic. Consumer trends also change at a faster pace as people receive updates on social media.

Rather than resisting shifting expectations, Agile thinking acknowledges that change is the norm. If you can embrace change in unusual times, you will be ahead of competitors relying on older strategies that used to work.

Marks of Agile Leadership

Open versus closed thinking: A leader with a closed mentality assumes that the status quo is the way things are always supposed to be. An Agile leader knows that processes work until they stop working. Such changes do not represent failure but the need for reevaluation and growth.

Horizontal versus vertical leadership: Agile leaders depend on their team members to make projects happen. They know the gifts of their employees and assign tasks that use them. This horizontal arrangement gives more ownership to team members than a top-down structure.

Adaptive versus fixed processes: In computer programming, the Agile process breaks the final product into small segments. Each team member holds responsibility for a few of those pieces. When the team must address changes, they can bundle them into the process at a more manageable scale. Regular reflection and reporting allow the team to embrace changes before the project moves too far forward.

Putting Agile Leadership into Practice

Embracing Agile leadership involves a shift in the way you understand your organization. If you are looking to adopt an Agile model at your business, you do not have to do this work alone. At Productivity Intelligence Institute, we seek to help entrepreneurial leaders acquire the tools for success in a changing landscape. Feel free to reach out for a consultation.

Agile Leadership

Agile Leadership vs Servant Leadership


How Agile Leadership and Servant Leadership Fit Into Your Organization

There are hundreds of ways to manage employees, and you want to choose the right management style for your organization. However, with so many options, deciding on any single approach can be very difficult. Lately, agile team leadership and servant team leadership have become extremely popular in innovative organizations.

Each leadership style has its advantages, but which one is right for your team? Do your managers need to adopt a new style of leadership? Is there still value in the traditional way of doing things? You need your workers to be as productive as possible, and you don’t want the wrong management philosophy to hold them back. Therefore, you should check out this overview of agile leadership, servant leadership, and traditional leadership to make an informed decision when choosing management styles for your organization’s teams.

How Does Agile Leadership Benefit a Team?

An agile leader strives to decentralize power and eliminate unnecessary obstacles to their team’s success. Under agile leadership, managers still provide firm direction, but they avoid micromanaging team members and try to stay out of their way whenever possible. This management style emphasizes adaptability, open communication, and experimentation, and it works well in teams where members are capable of thinking for themselves. Moreover, for agile teams to work, there should be a lot of trust between team members and managers. Members of agile teams typically feel less stress and are more willing to provide valuable input that can help the team pursue their goals more efficiently.

How Does Servant Leadership Benefit a Team?

The role of a servant leader is mainly to facilitate coordination between team members. They often organize daily scrums, which are 15-minute meetings where team members quickly check in and address emerging problems. During the daily scrum meeting, servant leaders only step in to maintain focus and moderate the discussion. They also act as a liaison between their team and the rest of the organization. This leadership style is especially effective in teams with specialized roles that work on very complex problems, and members of a servant leader’s team should have a ton of experience and be highly capable of self-direction. Under such circumstances, a traditional manager might not understand the work enough to provide helpful top-down leadership. Instead, they’re more likely to get in the way. 

Should These Methods Fully Replace Traditional Management Styles?

Servant leaders and agile leaders can streamline processes and increase productivity when team members are capable of self-direction. However, not every team will benefit from these leadership styles. Sometimes, a top-down approach is necessary to sustain your team members’ focus and achieve specific goals. Teams that contain many entry-level workers or focus on basic and repetitive tasks won’t gain anything from agile management or servant leadership. In fact, the level of autonomy involved in these methods may confuse workers and decrease productivity. Thus, a traditional management style may be more suitable for such teams.

A One-Size-Fits-All Approach Will Hold Your Business Back

While an agile leader may be helpful in one context, they may hold a team back in other situations, and traditional management won’t get the best results from a team of experienced professionals who know how to work autonomously. You may be tempted to latch onto the trendiest management style and apply it to your entire company. However, your organization’s needs are more complex and varied than any single management philosophy can handle. 

Instead, it’s better to mix management styles within your organization to effectively facilitate each team’s unique goals. Running a business isn’t a simple affair, so you should never try to fit your organization’s operations into one narrow framework. With that in mind, next time you’re thinking about how to run a team, make sure to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks of each management style before coming to a decision. Your workers will be happier and more productive as a result.

Agile Leadership

What are Agile Leadership Principles?


The idea behind agile leadership comes from the realization that in many cases, managers wind up holding their workers back instead of helping them achieve success. What is agile leadership and how can you bring it into your management style? Here are four agile leadership principles. 

1. Use Action Instead of Words

Lean agile leadership is about more than promoting change, it’s about embodying change. Managers should direct their employees by example and work on developing their skills to inspire others. Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.” 

When you embrace agile leadership, you’ll become a humble manager, one who is compassionate and kind. To become an inspiring leader, you may need to make personal changes before guiding others.  

Keep in mind that the human brain has a hunger for relevant information. The brain is forever trying to predict the next thing. It also recognizes patterns so that it can predict what will happen next. When you embrace agile leadership, prepare for uncertainty with meticulous planning. 

2. Practice High Quality Thinking 

Agile leaders practice high quality thinking to deliver meaningful action. Consider problems from different sides, and be sure to accept help from employees who are close to any issue that you’re working on. This will keep you in touch with what’s going on in the workplace. 

To bring high quality thinking into your management methods, set aside time to think and focus on the most important work tasks. It’s time for companies to make sure that agility is at the heart of their business’s culture. Research shows that once teams become agile, they work more quickly. 

3. Embrace Feedback 

Lean agile leadership requires you to embrace effective feedback. For most people, receiving feedback is a negative thing, but leaders who ask for feedback and use it in a meaningful way show courage and lead by example. Agile leaders make sure that they are noticeably responding to the ideas presented by their coworkers. 

To be an agile leader, provide helpful feedback that is respectful and accurate. Feedback is a great way to figure out what is working in the company and what needs to be modified. 

4. People Want Fulfilling Work  

Agile managers focus on developing a common purpose, one that they share with their workforce. Be sure to create a vision of meaningful change. Take the time to get to know your workers. That way, you’ll understand what’s important to them. This will allow you to unify your team. 

A big part of becoming an agile leader is to give your employees control over their work tasks. That way, they’ll have a sense of belonging on the team and within the company. 

Be the Change 

Agile leadership principles will help you be the change that your business and employees need. When you embrace lean agile leadership, you’ll provide your workers with the kind of support that will help them achieve more. If you need help developing agile leadership skills, then contact me at the Productivity Intelligence Institute. 

Agile Leadership

Agile Leadership In Transportation


Predictability through improvisation – what project management can learn from jazz.

Rob Tieman is the Director of the Project Management Office at the Virginia Department of Transportation. Gerald Leonard is a Strategic PMO Advisor for the government, Juilliard-trained musician, and author of Workplace Jazz.

Together with Pete, they explore how insights from jazz have helped improve project predictability and workplace culture.

Workplace Jazz
One of This Year’s Top 10 Must-Read HR Books