How To: 3 Tips on Lean Multitasking

How To: 3 Tips on Lean Multitasking

During these times of economic turbulence, organizations are challenged to do more with less as hiring is frozen and unpalatable decisions such as cutting back are thrust upon management. This change may result in more individual responsibility, which is due to recognition of the ability to multitask. The ability to multitask in an organized, lean fashion is your key to maintaining a balanced workload and accomplishing all that you plan to do.

In my position as a lean logistics manager, I follow these three rules to manage my duties in a controlled manner:

1. Define Your Expectations

These expectations include those set by your management, as well as goals that you hold for yourself. Use of an A3I ("I" for "individual") document is effective in outlining overall department goals and how individual employee objectives will help meet those goals. “The widespread adoption of the A3 process standardizes a methodology for innovating, planning, problem-solving, and building foundational structures for sharing a broader and deeper form of thinking that produces organizational learning deeply rooted in the work itself" (John Shook, Managing to Learn, 2008). For more information on

PDCA-Kreis (Qualitätsmanagement)
Image via Wikipedia

the A3 process and lean leadership, visit the Lean Enterprise Institute website. Understanding the role that you play in your organization and defining expected accomplishments will allow you to better tailor your daily tasks to what really matters. We call these tasks "value-add."

2. Dictate Your Schedule

PDCA Board PDCA Board - Marketing

The second step of managing your time is to fully understand what you spend time on each day. Create a standard work schedule, including start and end times for each of your daily tasks. Refine this schedule as many times as necessary until you have a final, realistic overview of your day. Then prioritize the elements. Standard work reduces waste and keeps you on auto-pilot throughout the day. "The core idea of standardized work is to determine the most efficient (as in: “muda-free”) work sequence and to repeat it exactly in the same way so that operators avoid unnecessary motion and wasted effort" (Michael Balle's Gemba Coach column, 2010). An effective tool for planning standard work is a weekly PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Adjust) board. This board can exist physically or digitally. The photo above is from our Corporate Development department. Create a grid with the days of the week scrolling across the top and your tasks down the left hand side. Assign a certain number of target hours each day to each task. As you progress through your day, mark the actual time you spent working on the task. Check, then Adjust. The "target" vs. "actual" will help drive future schedule planning.
An example of leader standard work:

Lean Leader Standard Work Lean Leader Standard Work

3. Set Realistic Goals

While we all have high ambitions for our future in the workforce, keep in mind that overcommitment can cause poor delivery in terms of expected goals. When taking on additional responsibilities, be clear and realistic with yourself and your colleagues in terms of the necessary time to complete your task. It may make sense to delay a certain project until next quarter. Remember, that on which you place your seal of approval will ultimately affect your reputation, so be sure to take time to do the job right and well.

Keep in mind that if you're feeling pressure from multiple individuals in your organization, it is most likely a direct reflection of your perceived value to the company. Implementing standard work processes and maintaining an organized schedule will ultimately increase your quality of work and productivity.

Written by John Szoke, Lean Logistics Manager at LeanCor

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Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

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LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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