Useful Tools for a Lean Leader
As a lean leader, you’ve probably realized long ago that applying lean methodologies to your own work is one of the best ways to ensure that the organization as a whole is on the right track. You can save a lot of time by trimming the waste in your daily processes, and nowadays, one of the best ways to do that is to rely on modern technology, and the many tools it provides.
There are certain applications that will become an indispensable part of your daily routine once you start using them, and it’s important to get a good grip on all those tools as the leader of your organization.
The best part, many of these options are Free!
Applications like Slack can take team communication to the next level, and ensure that your team members can express their ideas quickly and concisely. They may not have a place in your specific organization, depending on the type of work you do, but they may still be useful on at least some levels. For example, ground floor workers most probably don’t need to spend the day updating their colleagues about their progress online. But managers and other leaders can definitely benefit from that significantly.
Track your time
Have you ever wondered just how much time you spend on each task on your computer? Time can be difficult to track when working with multiple applications, but if you use an automated time tracking tool, such as RescueTime, this will no longer be a problem. The way these applications work is that they measure the exact time you spend with each application – down to the millisecond – and present the data to you in a graphical format. This also includes sites you’ve visited, so you can additionally know if any process that involves a lot of web work is being a bottleneck in your daily operations.
This can also be a useful tool when you’re doing a job that you bill by the hour for, although this is probably not going to be very relevant for many leaders out there. Still, it’s a good thing to keep in mind when your company offers consulting services, even if you’re not the one providing them yourself.
Organize your data
Everyone knows by now that Excel is a great tool for storing data, but it can do much more than that. Used correctly, Excel is a powerful database that can show you some interesting relations between tables and sheets. It might take some time to get the hang of using it correctly like that – and you may even need additional assistance if you’re not very tech-savvy in the first place – but it’s something that can bring a huge change in the way your company works on a day-to-day basis.
There is much more you can do with those sheets as well, such as automating the data insertion and processing, but this is more specialized knowledge that requires a separate article to explore in detail. It’s definitely something you’ll want to look into if you’re serious about implementing lean into your organization though, so give it a try if you feel like you know your way around the computer.
If you don’t have access to Excel, you can download a free software, called OpenOffice Calc.
Industrial Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) is a relatively new concept that’s starting to take solid ground. It’s about using microelectronics in our everyday life, in everything from your fridge to your car. The idea is also finding applications in industrial environments, and many organizations have started to make their machines interconnected and even intelligent to some level. For example, assembly line machines may be able to communicate with each other, allowing each machine to pick a task from a pool to perform, optimizing the operation of the production line as a whole. It can be a bit of a costly investment at first, but it’s definitely worth the consideration in the long run. Expect to see more and more software programs in the future related to IoT.
Control your tasks with kanban boards
One of the more popular tools for minimizing the number of tasks in your queue (to stay focused on keeping tasks moving forward), many companies are creating kanban boards. These boards help teams and individuals make difficult decisions about what to focus on, and these tasks get placed into the Work In Progress (WIP) column to be worked on. Nothing new can be added to the list until something is completed, or the tasks are reprioritized. There are two popular software packages you can try out, Trello and KanbanTool.
We’re barely scratching the surface here, as there is a lot more you can do with modern technology to get the most out of your organization’s work. As long as you’re curious and keep looking for opportunities to reduce waste and keep everything moving in a direction of constant improvement, you should be able to see some amazing results with relatively little effort thanks to modern tools.