Is Your Smartphone Sabotaging Your Success?

Is Your Smartphone Sabotaging Your Success?Smartphone’s have become more than just a luxury for many people and businesses today. They give you easy access to essential communication tools like email, text and, of course, voice. In addition, you can access most types of documents on them through the Internet, and do many other activities that can help make working much easier.

All this convenience, however, comes with some problems as well. Research performed by the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, has found that people who use their smartphone during meetings are very likely sabotaging their own success. Whether the phone is used for texting, checking email, surfing the Internet or taking calls, most people agree that it shouldn’t be done. Despite this fact, however, many people continue to do it.

Details of the Study

When evaluating just how important it is to put the smartphone away during meetings, look at the following information about the study:

  • 86% think it’s inappropriate to answer phone calls during formal meetings
  • 84% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during formal meetings
  • 75% think it’s inappropriate to read texts or emails during formal meetings
  • 66% think it’s inappropriate to write texts or emails during any meetings
  • At least 22% think it’s inappropriate to use phones during any meetings

Study Provided by: Keven Kruse –

Based on this information, it is clear that the use of smartphone’s is widely frowned upon, and it can have some very negative implications for those who use it.

Why Put the Phone Away

When people pull out their phones in meetings, regardless of their intention, it will come across as if you have a lack of respect for those giving the meeting. It can also cause people to think that you don’t have a sufficient attention span to be able to stay engaged with the meeting at hand. Of course, none of these things are opinions you want others to have of you.

Even if the meeting is being put on by a peer, or a subordinate, it is never a good idea to pull out the phone, unless it is absolutely essential. Even if the person giving the meeting isn’t someone who you report to, other people in the meeting will also have a negative opinion of what you’re doing. This could include your boss, or someone who might pass on their opinion.

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What to Do When you Must Use the Phone

While it is always best to put off taking phone calls or texts until after a meeting has concluded, there are times in today’s business world where it is essential to respond quickly. If you get an important call, text or email during a meeting, make sure you follow some basic etiquette in how you respond.

Rather than simply pulling out the phone and responding, step out of the room so the others aren’t distracted. If it is possible at the moment, apologize to the individual who is hosting the meeting and let them know that you have to respond to the call, text or email. Once out of the room, handle the message quickly, and return. After the meeting has concluded, go to the individual running the meeting and apologize again, offering a brief explanation of why you had to take it. You don’t have to go into full details, but make sure they are aware that you valued their meeting and didn’t intend to disrupt it.

Do Office Desk Treadmills Improve Productivity?

treadmill-workWhat if employees could lose weight, improve health and become more productive at the same time? A treadmill desk offers these benefits and more. Many people have read about them before–they have been in the media a lot lately. Let’s take a closer look and see why office desk treadmills improve productivity.

Office desk treadmills are hot. Google now offers them to help keep employees healthy. Other well-known firms like AOL, Twitter and Facebook are joining the trend. You cannot open a business or health magazine without reading about the benefits. Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic was the first person to combine treadmills with working at a desk. He got together with Steelcase, the office furniture maker, and the first models were available in 2007. Many at that time had a maximum speed of 2 miles per hour.

What are the Health Benefits for Office Desk Treadmills?

There are solid health benefits to office desk treadmills. In America, over 85 percent of workers sit all day at their job. Experts say all that sitting is dangerous:

  • In comparison to sitting four hours or less per day, sitting more than 11 hours each day results in a 40 percent increase in the risk of passing away in the next three years.
  • Even if workers exercise on a regular basis, the more they sit, the shorter their lifespan.
  • The musculoskeletal system experiences distress from long periods of sitting.

A one-year study in Obesity, a monthly journal, reported that it only took employees 5 minutes to adjust to using a treadmill desk in the office. No participant had significant objections to using them. Further, subjects demonstrated more daily physical output and less time in sedentary activity. Workers considered “obese” lost more weight than slimmer co-workers and improved their overall daily physical movement.

stepsPart of the appeal of treadmill desks is that anyone able to walk can benefit. The American Heart Association found that walking over 10,000 steps every day can bring down initial heart attack rates by over 90 percent and reduce the rate of stroke by 70 percent. Similarly, the National Institute of Health found that walking could bring down cancer rates from 30-70 percent. The American Diabetic Association reported that 10,000 steps each day can reduce the rate of Type II diabetes by 50 percent.

The problem with sitting is not just that is not vigorous exercise. When sitting, metabolism drops to almost zero. Before she got a treadmill desk, Author Susan Orlean told NPR Radio that sitting all day put her body into a kind of stupor–she suffered from a mid afternoon slump from sitting. It went away when she invested in a treadmill desk.

Does Productivity Increase with Office Desk Treadmills?

Do-Office-Desk-Treadmills-Improve-ProductivityThe trend seems clear. Healthier workers are more productive. Experts believe that treadmill desks make workers more healthy, alert and refreshed. The end result is more focus and increased productivity. However, what does the hard research say about productivity? In the Obesity journal study mentioned earlier, after one year overall performance exceeded the pre-study level. An article in HealthLeaders discussed studies by both the University of Maryland and the Mayo Clinic. They showed that radiologists were more accurate and precise when reading scans while utilizing an office desk treadmill.

Salo, a financial staffing company, took part in a study that lasted half a year. Several employees took turns working at different treadmill desks for an average of three hours a day. At the end, they had record revenues during the time they were evaluating the desks. In addition, employees had lower cholesterol and reduced body weight. Office desk treadmills are more than a fad. They are rapidly being adopted by cutting-edge and traditional companies alike.

Study after study shows people who adopt treadmill desks lose weight and increase their overall health. Health employees directly affect the bottom line. Success magazine reported that small businesses save up to 5 dollars for every dollar they invest in wellness. The savings come from reduced medical outlays, absenteeism and accidents on the job. Integrated Benefits Institute, a research company focused on health and productivity, reported that US companies suffer productivity losses totaling more than half a trillion dollars every year. One of the key reasons for low productivity is poor employee health. Employers are beginning to realize they need to take an overall approach to employee engagement and productivity.


Ready For A Treadmill Desk?

When evaluating office desk treadmills, consider that it takes a certain amount of time to adjust to the new movement. While the basic walking motion is easy, it takes longer to get used to moving a mouse and typing while walking in place. Over time, however, productivity increases. The Obesity journal study showed overall productivity went down at first as subjects acclimated, only to rise above pre-study levels at the end. Give an office treadmill desk a reasonable trial, and experience improved health and higher productivity.

A Creative Mind is A Productive Mind

As each day comes and goes we often find ourselves just going through the motions as a means to get through them. We wake up, go to work, come home, and repeat. It’s a cycle that’s tough to break and while it may seem robotic from the outside, to you it’s just another day. Unfortunately, these types of mental slumps all but shut down our ability to spark creativity.

One of the biggest factors in our continuous improvement journey is our ability to think outside the box and be creative with our decision making. We get so caught up in our daily practices that we often forget how important it is to keep an open mind and free ourselves from the walls that hinder our creative thought.

“Be Creative”

Be Creative on your Path to Continuous ImprovementBreaking down these walls however, doesn’t come easy. You need the tools to in place and the willingness to let yourself go at times. I find it odd that we often are told to “be creative.” If it was only that easy! It’s not a switch that we can just turn on when we clock in. There is no magic button we can press to instantly become creative, but we can arm ourselves with the tools necessary to help inspire creativity.


Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential you can start to change the world.

Paulo Coelho, lyricist and novelist

Ideas To Help Bring Out Your Creative Spirit

  • Get outside: Sometimes you just need to get out. Instead of eating lunch everyday in the break room or even worse, your office, take a walk outside. Nature as a way of inspiring us and opening up our minds to new ideas. Next time you’re working through a problem and feel like you’re in a mental rut, take a walk and clear your mind of any obstacles that lay in your way. 
  • Capture your ideas: Ideas come at all times of the day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and thought of a way to solve a current issue, only to fall back asleep and forget it by morning. Keep a notebook by your side at all times or for those with smartphones, download one of the many free note taking apps out there. I am currently using Evernote and have found it to be an amazing tool to capture my thoughts and creativity.
  • Collaborate instead of isolate: Don’t ever be afraid to bounce ideas off your co-workers. Not only will this expand your creative thought process, but it will also inspire others to do the same. Harvesting a culture that feels comfortable collaborating with one another is essential to continuous improvement and the creative spirit of the team.

Be You

In order to put yourself in a position to be creative, you have to ultimately just be you. Everyone is different when it comes to what makes us tick, but we all have the potential to be as creative as we allow ourselves to be. You should never be afraid of an idea or solution to a problem that may seem out of the ordinary. Thinking out side the box and thinking through those out of the ordinary solutions is what sets a apart those who continuously improve every day and those who struggle to get over the hump.

Telling people how to be creative is easy, its only being it that’s difficult.

John Cleese

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Meetings Can Be Wasted Time

Meetings can be a source of wasted time if not organized and conducted properly. Most organizations waste up to 20% of their payroll on bad meetings based on employee wage and time spent in meetings.

Meetings can be described as wasteful if any or all of the following things occur within the meeting:

  • Meet and there is no discussion
  • Meet and discuss but no dicission is made
  • Meet and decide but no one follows through

5S-guide-and-posterMaking Improvements

To ensure you are getting the most benefit from your meetings, you should assess, plan and organize prior to even scheduling one.

Before even considering holding a meeting, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Is a meeting needed?
  • What is the purpose and outcome expected?
  • Is a meeting the best route to complete the task?
  • Is there consequences if there is no meeting?
  • How will the meeting be evaluated to see if it was a success or a failure?

Some meetings can be eliminated altogether.

Tips Provided by LeanKaizen LTD:

  • Reoccurring Meetings – Meetings that are held simply because they have always been held, should be evaluated for a continued need and eliminated if it is determined there is no longer a need for it.
  • Follow-up Meetings – Meetings to discuss a previous meeting, usually because the previous meeting was so poor that it needs reworked should be eliminated and more emphasis put on making the original meeting more effective
  • Informational Meetings – Meetings solely to distribute information most likely can be eliminated by finding more efficient alternatives for information to be distributed.
  • Ill Prepared Meetings – When the meeting leader is not prepared and tries to just “wing it”, the meeting should be cancelled or rescheduled to a later time to allow for proper preparation and organization. If the leader is regularly ill prepared, then a new leader should be appointed.
  • Unimportant or Redundant Meetings – When the decision has already been made or when the topic is not important enough to justify everyone’s time, the meeting should be eliminated.

Organize a Successful Meeting

Before scheduling a meeting, make sure you have enough time to plan the meeting. Create an agenda and distribute the agenda to the meeting participants so they have time to plan and prepare for what is to be discussed. Ensure the meeting is held during a time that is available and convenient to all attendees.

Why Did We Have This Meeting?

Virtually every item on an agenda can be placed in one of the following: Discussion, Information or Decision. If the item or topic does not fit into one of those categories, it should be strongly considered for elimination.

Some legitimate reasons for holding a meeting would be:

Tips Provided by LeanKaizen LTD:

  • Need for Group Input – You need the interaction of opinions to create an idea plan or project
  • Need for Group Dynamics – Group dynamics are essential to accomplish the purpose
  • Time Limitations / Tight Deadlines – Time restrictions limit other options and a prompt decision is needed
  • Complexity – The subject is sufficiently complex and warrants further discussion and evaluation

Running The Meeting

When organizing a meeting remember to always start the meeting at the scheduled start time and do not continue to wait for late people. Be sure to stick to the times laid out in the agenda and do not run over the scheduled finish time. If there is a substantial amount of material that is left uncovered at the time the meeting is scheduled to end, schedule another meeting to cover that material, do not try to cram it all in the initial meeting if it causes the meeting to go late.

Resource: Special thanks to LeanKaizen LTD for some great bullet point tips.

Decluttering Your Workspace With 5S

Lean, Kaizen and 5S are not just for manufacturers

Cluttered Cubicles Go Lean With 5S Rules5S can create some hard divides between those who love and appreciate the peace and calm that order bring and those who, while not necessarily “loving” chaos and disorder, still feel more at home amidst piles of paper, missing tools such as staplers and rulers, etc.

The following video is an example of how many employees might feel when the corporate leadership decides that everyone must accept the new business philosophy of the day for their workplace – 5S.

Kyocera has dictated that their employees MUST clean up their act and implement the new 5S standards within their cubicle space. It’s a love-hate relationship, as you will see in the video:

Cluttered Cubicles Go Lean With 5S Rules
See how employees at Kyocera’s North American headquarters in San Diego declutter their cubicles by following a workplace organization practice known as 5S. WSJ’s Julie Jargon reports. (Oct. 26)

What do you think? How would YOU handle the dictates at work to suddenly bring order into the chaos of your own cubicle?

Would you like it? Would you comply? Or would you still persist with old, perhaps unproductive habits as were depicted int he video? Let us know below by writing down and sending us your thoughts.

Kaizen Event Implementation – The Manual

Kaizen Events and how to implement them

Because Kaizen is usually an event in itself, discussing the meaning and implementation of kaizen in a business setting, this book is both aptly titled as well as targeted. Making the kaizen event even more “kaizen-like” in it’s makeup is the direction of this writing by Geoffrey L. Mika.

The 292-page book begins with the history of kaizen, laying an impressive foundation and understanding of the roots of kaizen, meandering through about 30 pages discussing and presenting the various elements of kaizen.

Only then, after having built out a good understanding of the ins and outs does Mr. Mika then begin to actually get into the initial purpose of the book – to outfit the reader with a strong and useful manual for implementing a kaizen event.

Kaizen-event-implementation-manualKaizen Event Implementation Manual
Geoffrey L. Mika, published 2006, 228 pages

Originally used by Toyota, kaizen is a results-oriented tool that fosters continuous improvement. In the United States, kaizen is usually an event of from three to five days in duration.

It is comprised of intensive improvement activities directed at specific areas of a business. The main goal of kaizen is the elimination of non-value-added activities (waste) through the implementation of one-piece flow, working to takt time, and instituting a pull system.

The mantra is to manufacture only what is needed by the customer, when it is needed, and in the quantities ordered. Kaizen has been shown to collapse lead times, dramatically reduce work in process, and reduce scrap and defects while minimizing the need for capital expenditures. Its successful results across industry are real, proven, documented, and confirmed!

The first step to implementing kaizen in any organization is to provide training on the Toyota Production System (TPS). The “Kaizen Event Implementation Manual,” Fifth Edition begins with this never-before documented training material, but goes further to explain why the TPS tools, including kaizen, must work in tandem with a new way of thinking to bring about cultural change. By thinking “lean” and applying kaizen, everyone in the organization is empowered to eliminate waste, in all of its forms, at all levels, all the time.Flexibility, simplicity and the quest for constant improvement become the driving goals.

Lean Office – Tour a ‘real lean’ office (version 2)

This is a great case study on how an office environment can be influenced by the Lean philosophy. View a ‘real’ example of an office that operates with end-to-end flow.

The people at Duggan Associates do a good job of showing us how applicable lean can be in an office environment, where, as they show, the “product” is actually the capture and transfer of the information they handle for clients and themselves.
This is an excellent application of the lean philosophy and how it can change a business model, whether you are in manufacturing or not!

Source: Duggan Associates