Lean Thinking – Eliminating Waste in Email Management

What Is Lean Thinking?

Lean Thinking is a used to make any process easier, simpler and faster. Lean thinking is most well known in the manufacturing and engineering industries, but its principles are applicable in every business. In fact, most businesses in various industries use lean thinking to improve their processes and bottom line.

How Lean Thinking can be implemented in E-mail management?

We usually receive many emails daily, which consumes our effort and time. So normally we postpone taking action on the emails, which results in WIP.
Many unread emails waiting in our inbox take up space and make the mailbox look cluttered. Due to our busy schedule, we may forget to reply to the emails waiting in the WIP.

A cluttered mailbox filled with unwanted and unread mails is similar to a cluttered workstation or table.

Eliminate Waste in Email Inflow

Whenever I receive an email, I ask “Is this email value-adding for me?” An email should either give me required information or knowledge related to my interest or in any way useful for my work for it to be value-adding.
If it is not value-adding, I take steps to stop receiving those emails immediately. I, either unsubscribe or inform the person to remove me from CC. By this step, I eliminated more than 50% of the inflow of emails. I do this step continuously.

Eliminate Waste in Email Outflow

Some emails go to and fro many times between people. This takes more time and effort of the people involved, which is a waste. Mostly it is due to a lack of clarity in the information being shared.
To solve this, I usually ask, “Do I need to have this conversation via email?” So mostly, I have one-on-one discussions either in person or via call. This eliminates the time in checking and drafting emails and send the required information with less effort.
If the information needs to be sent via mail, I double-check before adding anyone in CC or BCC. In this way, I try to eliminate waste being sent to my colleague’s mailbox.

Implement 5S

I categorize the emails and move them to the respective folders or categories. Being organized reduces the searching time for a particular email in the future.

Implement One-Piece Flow

After these basic steps, I follow a one-piece flow strategy. Instead of processing emails in batches, I try to process the emails as I receive them.
It is not like I check my mailbox every second. But I take action on all the emails I see whenever I open the mailbox.
I receive different types of emails. Management emails, client emails, reports, inquiries, automated update emails, reminder emails, marketing emails, newsletters, etc., require different types of action. The action can be anything like just read to get information, reply, forward, delete, schedule the reply time, etc.
I follow this process because I believe that “If I do not have time right now to decide on an email, then I won’t be having time to process a batch of emails together later.”

Eliminating waste continuously and implementing one-piece flow helped me to manage my emails effectively.

Nowadays, I don’t have my mailbox filled with numerous unread emails (WIP) waiting for the action to be taken. This helped me save storage space and prevented me from missing any emails.
Applying Lean Thinking will make any process easier, simpler and faster. Have you made any improvements to reduce your effort and time in managing emails?

by Mr. Sibi Maran

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How Lean six sigma can be implemented in Work from Home Scenario

This blog will help you Continuous Improvement in your organization in the WFH scenario.

During this pandemic situation, work from home has been replaced by work FOR Home. It is an undeniable fact that we as employees are finding it difficult to dedicate our 100% time to our organization in work from home scenario.

However, discussing with some of the Top CXOs and Senior Managements they reveal that work from home has made them more organized and has given them better traction of their work and their team’s work harder than before.

Find Your Work from Home Success Story

Introducing the system

Lean 5’s “Five S” is a method to create a safer, cleaner, and better-organized workplace, using five Japanese words:

  • Seiri – “Sort”
  • Seiton – “Set in Order”
  • Seiso – “Shine”
  • Seiketsu – “Standardized”
  • Shitsuke – “Sustain” (sometimes “Sustained Discipline”)

These are few Key points which can help you make  #leansixsigma & other Continuous Improvement activities more productive in WFH scenario.

1. Implement 5S in your Computer & Desk.

1st things 1st. improvements start from you. Make sure you don’t spend time on searching files in your machine or your desk. Take a picture of your “5S ified” desk & share it to your team.

2. Detailed Process Map

Map the process in detail whichever you are focusing to improve. Doing #gembawalk is hardly possible, so bring the process to your table in detail. Also do not forget to involve the process owners & members while mapping.

3. Email management

Carefully decide whom to address the mail & whom to mark CC. It takes at least 1 min to read a mail and 5 mins to refocus on the work you were doing before you checked the mail. Let us say if you read 20 mails per day out of which 60% of the mails might be not relevant to you. In this case you have wasted your valuable & effective1 hour of your work.Carefully decide whom to address the mail & whom to mark CC. It takes at least 1 min to read a mail and 5 mins to refocus on the work you were doing before you checked the mail. Let us say if you read 20 mails per day out of which 60% of the mails might be not relevant to you. In this case you have wasted your valuable & effective1 hour of your work.

4. Metric

Measure everything that results in customer satisfaction. You cannot improve if you are not measuring it. Make things measurable and identify those as #KPIs (Key performance Indicators)

5. Daily Management

Convert all your KPIs to Daily monitoring KPIs.
Daily feedback mechanism is important for traction of the improvements as well as motivation. Even a body builder does that quickly after taking a set of pushups by assessing his muscles looking at the mirror.

6. #Meeting planning

Schedule your meeting appropriately. The meetings have to be scheduled in the right sequence with right team members so that you don’t have to invite the same team member again for the discussion after a different meeting

7. Asking the Right questions.

Please take at least 10 mins to prepare for the follow-up/review meetings such as What to ask, Whom to ask, who all needs to be present when asked, in what sequence and most importantly How to ask.

8. Documentation & Follow-up mechanism.

Document the discussion and action plan & track the progress using 5W1H follow-up mechanisms.

9. Monitoring Mechanism

Create your KPIs using visual board. Please click link for a sample.
Thank you Sibi Maran for the dashboard

10. Recognition

When a team member performs well, he/she deserves an appreciation and needs to recognized. In WFH condition his/her family can be invited on the screen and the whole family can be appreciated all together for supporting him/her.

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