Tough Times Require Lean – ISE July 2020

Excited that my article on how lean can help us create new and better ways to work and care for customers and team members is in the July issue of ISE Magazine! Super proud to be able to tell the story of how Noah Goellner and my friends Hennig are fulfilling their purpose by using lean and creativity to make their community successful, and to give lots of other ideas about how organizations can use lean and their creativity during these challenging times. Lean isn’t just for removing waste, reducing cycle time and solving already known problems. It’s the way to create forward to a better future. Hope you enjoy the article! I always enjoy writing for ISE Magazine!


If You Help One Person…It’s a Success!

Are you feeling discouraged that even after so much work, your organization hasn’t had a full lean transformation? And that you’re a failure if you haven’t been able to ‘make it happen’? Don’t be. Often, we get so caught up in the ‘ends’ the ‘BIG’ results we (or someone else) tells us is the only measure of ‘success’, that we lose track of the purpose: making things better. And that the way to make things better is to help people. So, instead of focusing on the ends, focus on helping people: the ‘means’. One person at a time. Single piece flow. Because when you help someone work in a more effective and efficient way, things will be better for the people they serve (their customers) and for them. And when you help one person, you’ve changed the world for the better. And that’s a huge success. So today, please focus on the process. Not on the results. Remember, ‘How we get there is as – or more important – than where we are going’. At work…and in life. Who will you help today?

A Little Gardening PDCA!

I’m not a gardener. I’ve never wanted to grow a garden, but last year I was inspired by visiting a client who had a HUGE organic garden in her back yard. So I decided to give it a try. I bought seeds and used old flower pots to plant a small container gardener on a table. (We have lots of bunnies and I want to share the space kindly with them.) Guess what? Nothing grew. I was disappointed (but not too surprised, because I’m not a gardener), so decided to try again this year with a little PDCA!
1. I’m not traveling, so I can water every day as needed!
2. I have a new table with a perforated surface so water doesn’t pool at the bottom of the pots on the table after it rains!
3. I’ve changed my attitude! Instead of thinking to myself ‘I’m not a gardener’ I’m thinking to myself ‘I’m learning by doing!’ I learned a lot by doing from last year, and I’ll learn more this year! And as I pay careful attention to the process every day, I’ll learn even more! Maybe I’ll even have some radishes, green beans and spinach to eat too!
So, if you want to do something, and you hear that little voice in your head saying “I’m not a _________ “ … stop! And tell yourself instead, “I’m learning by doing!” Then get going!

I’ll keep you posted on how my tiny garden is doing!

Always Start with Customer Needs!

I’ve had a lot of questions and discussion lately about process improvement and value stream mapping. And one thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes, in those discussions, starting from deeply understanding customer needs – what should be happening from the point of view of each of your customers – is missing! It’s easy to get caught up in internal process…what we are doing now…and what would make things easier and better for us! But if those things don’t help get your customer what they want, when they want it, right the first time – flow value to the customer – then they are missing the point! So, when starting to work on an improvement, or creating a value stream map, please first ask yourself: what should be happening for our customers? And then, if you find you don’t know (and most often we really don’t) please ask them! It’s easy to be focused on ourselves, but improving for our customers means starting with – and focusing on – them!

Why I Practice ‘Right-Sized-Pricing’ … and You Should Too!

Why do we keep hearing the same updates over and over again?

Do you know why I love having clients?? One of the biggest reasons is that they inspire me every day with (among many other things!) their learning and insights! Yesterday, here’s what Suzannah DiMarco from the #ACWay team at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology said: “Why do people just keep giving the same updates over and over again each day? Because they don’t have an easy, visual way, to see at a glance, what’s happening and their progress!” Great observation and reflection! So, if you’re in a situation where you keep hearing the same updates and information stated over and over again, take a look around and ask yourself, “Is there an easy way for people to ‘see’ this at a glance?” And if not, create one! Thanks, Suzannah for helping all of us ‘see’ more clearly!

Resistance is…HUMAN!

Resistance is one of the most common topics I’m asked about in coaching. And people are often surprised when I say resistance doesn’t bother me. Why? Because resistance is simply part of human nature…and as coaches, since we are coaching people…human beings…we should expect it! Since I expect some kind of resistance at the beginning of asking people to work and think in new ways, I’m not surprised or disappointed when it happens. And I don’t take it personally. I know that part of human nature is to balk and dig our heels in when someone asks – or tells – us to do things differently. So what do I do when people are resistant? It depends. Sometimes I stay with them and lend them courage as they try the new way…sometimes I just give them time and space to process the request…and, sometimes I ask for leadership help. Whatever the choice, though, I always remember, the person I’m coaching is a valued and valuable human being…and that resistance is simply….HUMAN! What do you do when you encounter resistance? I’d love to know!

Go See. Ask Why? Be Kind.

In the Toronto airport waiting for my flight home. Lots of delays so I’m using my time to reflect and think! One of the things I’ve been thinking about is just how much I enjoy ‘going to see’ (in person and remotely)! After visiting new clients – or the wonderful people who aren’t clients but invite me to see their organization – people are often surprised, saying something like: “We expected you to tell us all the things we were doing wrong…but that didn’t happen! You helped us see all the good work we’re doing!” So I’ve been thinking about two things:

1. Why do we think so negatively? Assume that we’re going to be told what’s wrong…because when I visit people, normally I see that they are doing the best they can with the time and resources they have! And that they are doing a great job! And…

2. It also reminds me that when we ‘go see’ it’s important to remember to look for the positive, and speak kindly, especially when offering suggestions for improvement!

As I always say, “How we get there is as important as where we are going,” so please remember ‘go see, ask why’ and be kind to yourself and others!

The Love and Kindness Project Foundation

Excited to let everyone know that I’ve started a foundation! It’s called The Love and Kindness Project Foundation, and it’s the home for all the ‘love and kindness’ work that I’ve been doing. At The Love and Kindness Project Foundation, our mission is very simple. It’s to:

Foster projects that create love and kindness in the world.

So, if you want to order Love and Kindness Buttons, a Plant Kindness – Grow Love Yard Sign, start your own Helping Circle, or make a donation to support creative projects fostering love and kindness, visit us at:

The Love and Kindness Project Foundation

And don’t forget to order your copy of Big Karma and Little Kosmo Help Each Other! All proceeds go to fund the creative projects at The Love and Kindness Project Foundation!

Big Karma and Little Kosmo Help Each Other!

It’s an exciting time at KRC! My family book, Big Karma and Little Kosmo Help Each Other, is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon: As a ‘family book’ it’s meant to be read by adults and children together! Then answer the questions at the back of the book and turn your ideas for helping others into action! Draw a picture of how your family helped, post it on social media #BigKarmaLittleKosmo and email your address to Big Karma and Little Kosmo will send you a present to thank you for helping! All book proceeds go to my new Love and Kindness Project Foundation! (And thank you to Karen Light for the wonderful illustrations!)

Karyn Ross Consulting

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