Our Competitive Advantage
The following guidelines and insights provide us a competitive advantage and must be standard work procedures for all instructors.
You really want to be here sharing this information.
You are excited and completely prepared; this is going to be a great day.
You are prepared and ready to deliver the material
You have notes, but rarely need them.
You know your stuff but will never assume the participants know it as well. Never tell them “you already know this…”
You have identified relevant and current examples which will make your point.
One troublesome area is describing the three core business strategies. Some instructors have used poor or even incorrect examples and then struggled to explain their lack of common sense.
Know the online materials which are part of the course. Using the “Flipped Classroom” is a competitive advantage.
All materials discussed in the class should be in the binders or referenced as available online. Experience indicates that introducing new materials is often more damaging to the flow of the learning than any perceived value. It’s time to practice what we preach and reduce variability.
You are a story teller and will share your experience and accomplishments
Be a story teller and weave in many short stories from your experiences. This is our competitive advantage. You must be able to tell good stories which make the point.
Do not tell stories which are fun to tell, but do not apply to the topic you are covering; save those for the bar.
Have examples from all industries and types of organizations. You should have these prepared before you start. Your first example should be non-manufacturing. Set the tone that you are well rounded.
Talk about the good companies you have been associated with. Don’t disclose confidential information, but people want to hear the names. Talking about some generic company is not effective. You need to routinely mention a positive example with a company name.
Rarely go negative, but when an example will drive home the concept, then go with companies like Circuit City, Volkswagon, and others who have made the news. Know your audience and don’t embarrass anyone.
Help others tell their stories.
Ask lots of questions, you are a lawyer seeking to uncover the truth
Set the tone and ask questions from the very beginning.
Know the names of everyone and use their name when you ask them a question.
Leverage silence; give people time to think and respond.
When someone struggles, then toss the question to the room. Don’t just make yourself look smart by answering your own question. This is not about you.
Don’t ask boil the ocean questions. Stick to the topic on the slide.
You inject movement and energy into the room; get out from behind any barrier
You don’t need or want to hide behind some barrier.
Walk the room; you don’t need any notes, so go out and explore the other side of the room.
Stay away from the screen. You don’t need to point at the words or bang on the image to force people to see.
Engage everyone with relevant questions which generate discussions.
You leverage different types of media; get everyone to participate
Use best practices for flip charts.
Pre-write what you can. Keep the words big.
Get participants to be the scribe.
You can make this fun for everyone, so don’t hog the spotlight.
You listen to everyone; adjust discussions to fit your audience
Know who is in the room. The size of company, types of products or services, level of experience, etc.
Adjust your examples to match the audience. Don’t keep talking about high tech; mix it up. Of course, certification courses must teach the body of knowledge, but your examples should be relevant.
Non-certification events have much more flexibility for hitting the specific needs of the participants.
Engage any experts in the room; get them to share their knowledge.
You call breaks and encourage participants to network
Watch the clock and call a break about every 60 to 75 minutes; set expectations on when you will restart.
Manage time effectively and don’t cheat participants by skipping or shortening breaks because you have lost track of time.
Encourage networking during the breaks and collect feedback on how the event is going. Talk with everyone and get the quiet people introduced to others.
Everyone must go home with a new friend. This is another competitive advantage.
You work well when partnering with another instructor
No working on other stuff when your partner is up front. You are excited to be here and nothing else matters.
You need to help your partner and also need to watch the participants to ensure people are not getting lost.
Collect ideas for improvements to all aspects of the course; a second instructor is a exceptional opportunity for making continuous improvements in skills and materials.
You are a great guest of the facility; clean up before you leave
Don’t leave a mess and talk to your host before you leave.
Specific for TA
Sequence of Topics
Do not bring up topics too soon; know the things coming up later in the course.
You are stealing the material which the other instructor has prepared for.
You look like an idiot when the topic comes up later and everyone remembers how you rambled on earlier.
Start very strong on the first slide. You only get 1 chance to form a first impression. If you need notes for the first slide, then you are not ready and should not be teaching!
Be crisp and clear on the first slides in all sections. Then get into the rest of the materials.
Example 1: Some instructors have wasted 20 to 30 minutes on the very first slide and then looked like fools when all the remaining slides became a repeat of stuff they already said.
Example 2: The 7 types of waste cover slide has all 7 types, but you are not supposed to spend 30 minutes talking about each one. Introduce the topic and then get on with the next slides which cover each type of waste.
Brainstorming works when people have ideas to share.
Do not open new sections with brainstorming to determine what people know – it has proven to be a disaster in numerous classes.
Example 1: People knew nothing about six sigma and a brainstorming exercise caused massive confusion, frustration, and fear. Yes, fear of participating was created because several people had no idea what six sigma was.
Example 2: At an APICS conference, the presenter asked people what they knew about a “flipped classroom”. The answers where all over the map and it caused confusion, frustration, and fear. It would have been so much better just to give the definition and get on with the presentation.
Spirit of Topics
Know the spirit and desired timing of the section before you start. Adjust your message to meet the desired learning objectives in the time allocated.
Some extensive topics are meant to be short introductions; so don’t dive deep. You are not prepared if you don’t understand why you are in the room!
If you fall behind because you are talking too much, then stop talking and call a break. Use the break to figure out why you are talking too much and fix your problem.
Example 1: One topic on data accuracy includes the need for an accurate bill of materials. It is not another chance to explain how a bill of material is used; they already know that.
Example 2: Poorly prepared instructors have taken way too much time on topics meant to take 90 minutes or so. This has thrown the entire day or even multiple days into chaos.
Example 3: A discussion on six sigma during a lean course was presented as if the students where supposed to be doing six sigma as part of their project. We are not expecting people to apply six sigma; we are expecting them to understand it is a tool they need to know about and might use when appropriate.
Example 4: A discussion on new product development during a lean course lead to confusion as many did not know why it was part of the class. We teach new product development because it is value stream which many organizations need to improve. Success at eliminating waste in other areas will often drive the need to speed up new product introductions as you now have excess capacity; you do not want to cut jobs vs. growing the business.
Charts and Tables
Explain the labels, axis descriptions, and other parts of charts and tables “before” you start talking about the information.
Explain the material on the charts and do not expect people to know it. Be cautious as some of the elements on the chart will be covered in the upcoming slides.
Examples, Exercises, and Learning Surveys
These are critical aspects of our educational events and are part of “flipping the classroom” to improve knowledge transfer.
- Examples are meant to be instructor led, but seek to use a scribe if appropriate. Generate discussion by getting participants to contribute.
- Exercises are meant to be done by participants; the instructor needs to give people time to work the exercise, but should walk the room and help those that are struggling. Generate discussion by having participants explain what they did.
- Learning Surveys are a chance for participants to do the talking and for you to help clarify topics they are not clear about. Do very little talking. Even the chance to clarify should be turned over to another participant.
Example 1: One instructor did 90% of the talking during the learning survey when they should have done 5%
Example 2: Instructors have raced through these items because they lost track of time during the presentation and tried to recover by short changing the students.
Handouts and Online
You should be totally familiar with the handouts and the online materials.
Handouts in the binders are meant to be pulled out and used. You are expected to discuss the material, use the form, or whatever. This is an active part of the class.
Other items are online; you are expected to mention that the item is online and is something they will want to read later.
You must be able to tell the Bob Dylan story. Be a story teller and hold the punch line.
Then, you must be able to generate discussion about the dangers of not talking with your customers.
Example 1: Do not simply tell people that there is an article about Bob Dylan that they should read.
We assess progress through the presentations that participants give throughout the course; you do not need to grill people before they get a chance to give their presentation.
You must be sharp during presentations.
Do not say everything is fine, if it is not fine. You are not helping when you lie about the quality of their work.
Example 1: In the morning before presentations start, don’t ask people about their projects. Find some other topics and also seek to get people networking with other participants. Talk of projects is coming soon.
Example 2: Many value stream maps are awful and instructors praise people who have not followed the instructions.
High Flexibility Scheduling
This is one of our competitive advantages.
It is how you manage a sustainable organization. We are not teaching what traditional organizations do.
A core tenet of HFS is how the master schedule is not at the item level. It is at the generic item or model level and you use a planning bill to drive MRP. Don’t screw this up.
Drop the old CPIM terms that do not apply:
- It is a supply plan; not a production plan.
- It is a master schedule; not a master production schedule.
Example 1: Do not go back to old CPIM charts and concepts; most of the class does not know about these and they don’t need to be confused.
Example 2: Today’s software does materials and capacity at the same time; don’t go back to the old fashioned two step process.
Example 3: Do not talk about HFS as only for manufacturing; each process applies to all types of organizations. Hospitals, schools, fire departments, financial organizations, and consulting firms can all benefit by planning and scheduling resources.
The 5S System
Know how 5S is systematic.
Know that steps 1, 2, and 3 are the initial implementation and the fun part.
Know that steps 4 and 5 are keeping the gains. Steps 4 and 5 are not explained very well by 95% of lean experts.
Don’t go overboard on 5S being the most important or some sort of prerequisite for lean. We don’t teach it that way. See our lean transformation program if you are confused about what to do first.
TA Career Limiting Moves
Don’t Box Yourself In
Never, ever, say that “lean is not just for manufacturing.”
Experience indicates that people who have to say this come from strong manufacturing backgrounds and just seem to be reminding themselves about something we already know.
Let your examples show you can apply lean to all areas.
Even when talking “operations” do not use manufacturing examples. Processing an insurance claim is operations. So is handling a customer call if you are a call center.
Don’t Skip Breaks
Skipping a break because you have lost control of time just makes things worse.
Example 1: The entire class needed a break after an instructor was talking for 90 minutes and it did not seem like they would ever end. At this point, no one is listening and no one is learning anything.
Control Your Passions
Chill out concerning the Theory of Constraints; most people have never heard about it.
Chill out about APICS and ISCEA; most people do not care.
Don’t make big claims about the power of takt time. It’s not that big of a deal for most of the projects being done in our classes.
Don’t go overboard on Lean Accounting; it is pitched as too good to be true and has not provided much value to anyone.
Be very cautious about “lean never ends.” Some know this and are fine. Others do not know it and you are scaring them off. Do not scare off people we might be able to help.
It’s not about you and your passions. get the participants talking.
Work on Relationship Management
You need to be developing those relationships.
Learn more about future opportunities with each organization. What else might be needed? Who else might we help?
Connect on LinkedIn
You are expected to provide feedback on all aspects of the course.
Detailed opportunities should be developed for the sections that your partner is teaching; this is not the time for you to read emails or take a nap.
How much better are you today, than you were last year?
It’s only common sense to be working your own personal development plan. Where do you need to improve?
This should include workshops, books, and simply watching others; both the good ones and the bad ones.