Sometimes we are inundated with e-mails especially from some of the “Groups” we subscribe to. Today, one e-mail in particular caught our attention and led us to read a post titled “6 Deadly Job Networking Mistakes” that eventually brought us to a well written article by Gill Corkindale titled, “6 Networking Mistakes And How to Avoid Them“.
If you or someone you know is looking for a job, this article is definitely worth reading. Finding a job is never an easy task, however, learning to network can make it less of a burden when people are in a position to help each other. STAR was used as an acronym in the article to help job seekers create stories, or STAR stories.
The concept of creating STAR stories appealed to us as we work with people to help them see, solve, and share problems.
The ability to see problems and resolve them quickly is one of the core competencies, or skills, that are emphasized and exercised daily in every lean organization. The best Lean organizations also emphasize sharing the new knowledge with the team and throughout the company. (The basic tenets are: See it, Solve it, Share it, and Teach others to do the same.)
The STAR process adopted from the article can provide a very simple approach to knowledge sharing and provides a very straightforward strategy. As presented directly from the article …
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Achievements and Results; it’s an easy way to tell a concise story that lets your talents and achievements speak for themselves. An example might be:
Situation: The customer services division of your company was losing customers, had falling revenues and a conflict-ridden team
Task: To stem the loss of customers, improve customer service, restructure the team and develop new products
Achievements: You held on to key accounts, resolved the conflict, rebuilt team morale and increased the visibility and positive reputation of the department.
Results: Increased revenues (figures), a high-performing customer service team, innovative products (examples) and happy customers.
A STAR story should take no more than five minutes to relate and should include enough detail to pique your contact’s interest without overwhelming him or her.
The acronym can certainly be applied to most problem solving events that we are challenged with on a daily basis. The simplicity of the approach makes it easy to adopt and prevents the process from becoming overly complex. The intent is to make improvements in real-time. The objective is to keep the process simple and task oriented. They are not intended to become “projects”.
Describe the situation, understand the tasks to be completed and planned results, execute the actions and report achievements, and report actual results.
Situation: Lost time decanting parts into smaller container for use at the machine. Operator reach is excessive and can be reduced – potential repetitive strain injury, fatigue factor.
Tasks: Eliminate decanting sequence and excessive reaching for parts. Reduce operator fatigue and potential for stress-strain injury (decanting requires periodic bending, reaching, lifting (below and above waist level). Use drop-side container and stand to convey parts directly to operator. Time to be saved: 25 minutes per shift.
Achievements: Change to part conveyance using gravity feed and slide was achieved while line was still operating, no down time incurred, and no operational cost increases. Demonstrated commitment to improve safety – eliminated risk of injury and eliminated ergonomic impact of decanting operation. Reduced floor space required to store parts at the operation – 6 square feet. Eliminated potential to damage parts during decanting operation (dropped parts – typically up to 4 per shift).
Results: Completely eliminated decanting operation. Gravity feed is used to convey parts directly and in closer proximity to the operator – reduced reach and no lifting required. Actual time saved per shift was 30 minutes. Employee less fatigued and able to focus on immediate tasks at hand. Productivity improvement of 60 parts per shift.
Typically, any variances between planned and actual outcomes are subject to further review. Both positive or negative variances to expectations indicate that the process is not fully understood or the problem solving process is itself at fault. Understanding the variance is a new learning opportunity in itself and is part of the discovery process.
Lean STAR stories
Sharing the lessons learned or documenting new knowledge may be uncomfortable for organizations that are just starting their lean journey. For some people who are relatively new to lean and problem solving in real-time, this can be a very stressful and intimidating process. Following the STAR acronym presents a user-friendly approach to documenting and sharing that can easily be learned by anyone.
Some companies are very adept at preparing lessons learned and maintaining best practices. Larger corporations may even assign the task of documenting and sharing this information to intermediate or senior level staff. For a company just starting their lean journey, the “sharing” process is not a normal part of daily operations and may be awkward and unorthodox in actual practice.
The objective of lean is to develop the problem solving skills throughout the organization – at ALL levels. Lean organizations are learning organizations and adopting this approach will help any company to learn more to and also to become better teachers. Turning people into Lean STARS will give everyone a story to tell.
Until Next Time – STAY Lean!