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Last Updated on November 12, 2017

Stop Thinking Out Of The Box, It’s Time To Go High Def

Stop Thinking Out Of The Box, It’s Time To Go High Def

Whenever I hear someone say “think outside the box”, I start to wonder why there is a box in the first place. Personally, I don’t think inside the box, I don’t think outside the box, I don’t even know where the box is!

We constrain our self when we box ourselves in. When we do this, we fail to see solutions outside of the status quo. If you have boxed yourself in… simply get rid of the box. For me, Lean Six Sigma helps to remove the box.

Think of watching a movie in high definition (HD), can you recall what an image looked like prior to HD television? Similarly, looking at the world through the lens of a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt or Master Black Belt provides us a high-resolution and clear image of a problem.

    Lean Six Sigma is a skill that will not only improve our metacognitive capacity, but a skill that will improve our earning capacity as well. Some of the most successful businesses in the world use this as well. This one skill set will not only transform the way you think, but it will also make you extremely marketable to top organizations looking for change agents and problem solvers.

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    What is Lean Six Sigma?

    Lean Six Sigma is an unconventional problem-solving approach that forces you to literally think outside the box. Some of the most successful people to walk this planet have used it. Jack Welch used it to transform General Electric and powerful companies such a Toyota and Amazon use it and similar approaches every day to radically improve their organization.

      Lean Six Sigma is a customer focused and data-driven problem-solving method with the goal of improving quality, cost, and speed. It uses the DMAIC problem-solving methodology, where you:

      • Define the problem
      • Measure the baseline
      • Analyze the process and find the root-cause of the problem
      • Improve the process and implement best solutions
      • Control the process and sustain the gains

      Lean Six Sigma not only allows us the ability to solve a problem, but it educates us on what a problem is. A problem is essentially a gap between how we view reality and what reality actually is. It is a framework for understanding our paradigm and our mental models within the world we live in.

      Now that you have a basic understanding of what it is and why you should learn it, let’s take a look at my top 4 tools and techniques within Lean Six Sigma.

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      Learning to See by Mapping Out Your Process

      The first thing we must understand is that we must see the process and stop operating blind. You can learn to see by mapping out your process.

      By mapping out the process from point to point, we find it easier to uncover waste. Furthermore, by mapping out a process we start to see an accurate picture with a higher resolution.

      5-Why

        Are you ready for a technique you mastered at the age of five, yet you forgot how to use? Simply (and annoyingly!) ask “Why?” over and over again.

        The 5-Why technique is an extremely powerful and valuable tool allowing us the ability to peel away the layers of symptoms to get to the core of the problem.

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        Remove Waste

          Waste in a process is whatever the customer defines it as. Once the customer defines his or her value, we must then prioritize our value-added activities.

          First, immediately eliminate all non-value added activities that do not serve a purpose. Second, look at reducing the amount of non-value added required activities. These are things that add no value, yet are required by law or regulatory guidance.

          One simple way to do this is to ask, “Why are we doing this?” and “Do we still need to do this?” Third, optimize those value-added activities, which are the things that are already working.

          Pareto Principle

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            Using the 80/20 rule (based on the Pareto Principle), we can identify the 20% of actions causing 80% of the problem. Or looking at it from a different angle, we can identify the 20% of actions bringing in 80% of the profit. Named after Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto Principle uses a Pareto chart, which is simply a visual aid for identifying “pain” or “opportunity” areas.

            Seeing Beyond the Problem

            Lastly, I recommend Blooms Taxonomy of Learning to determine if you are actually seeing a problem in HD. This is a good tool to use to make sure you are using your metacognitive skills and not simply regurgitating information.

              Here are some questions to ask yourself:

              • Can you define or describe the problem?
              • Do you comprehend the meaning of the problem?
              • Can you apply the information you have?
              • Are you able to break down objects into similar parts and analyze those parts?
              • Can you rearrange or assemble ideas into a new whole?
              • Are you able to evaluate and judge information based on evidence?
              • Can you solve the problem, create something new, and describe your thought process to someone with no understanding of the problem?

              I hope all these techniques I introduce to you can help you start to see a problem in HD and get rid of the box that stops you from coming up creative solutions.

              More by this author

              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

              How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills for a Sharper Mind 10 Brain Training Hacks to Increase Your IQ, Focus and Creativity How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily How to Avoid Micromanagement with Swarm Intelligence (Step-By-Step Guide )

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              Published on June 18, 2018

              What Foods Have the Most Brain Vitamins for Enhanced Mental Strength

              What Foods Have the Most Brain Vitamins for Enhanced Mental Strength

              Your brain is the house your mind lives in. The brain is the most high-powered organ we have and requires the right amount and type of fuel to work properly. When we don’t give our brain the right fuel, it slows us down, dampers our focus, makes us more unhappy and unmotivated.

              If you want to maximize your brain power so as to increase your focus, think more clearly and live a happier and longer life, then pay attention because this article will give you the top nutrients you need to maximize your brain power and what foods to include in your diet in order to get them.

              Here are what your brain needs and where to get them:

              1. Omega-3’s

              Your brain is made up of 60% fat so if you want a healthy and optimally performing brain, you need to ensure you’re giving your brain the right building blocks and fat is one of the most important. Fat has been vilified over the years as being the big villain of health, but in reality, high-quality fat is not only good for you, it’s essential for your brain power and health.

              Some of the most important fat to give your brain are Omega-3’s. Omega-3’s such as DHA are the essential nutrients that form the outer layer our brain cells. In fact, not getting enough omega-3’s in your diet can affect normal brain development and cognition. It has also been shown to be implicated in premature brain aging and cognitive decline.[1]

              Getting healthy sources of omega-3’s from your diet is critical for optimal brain power.

              Best sources:

              Walnuts, chia seeds, sardines, salmon, flaxseed, eggs, fish oil

              2. Magnesium

              Magnesium is an essential mineral that is critical for brain activity and has been known to calm the brain and nervous system to the point it has been called “Nature’s Natural Valium.” Magnesium is essential for hundreds of metabolic processes within the body and brain yet it is still the second most common nutritional deficiency in the world.

              Magnesium helps the brain by:

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              • Providing antI-inflammatory benefits
              • Lowering stress hormones
              • Increasing neuroplasticity
              • Relaxing the nervous system
              • Helping to lift depression
              • Reducing anxiety

              Best sources:

              Almonds, spinach, cashews, avocado, black beans

              3. Vitamin B1: Thiamine

              Many B vitamins are known to be beneficial for brain health and well-being but for this article, let’s focus on some of the critical B vitamins.

              B1, also known as thiamine, is needed for a large number of metabolic processes in the body including the processes that manage your energy. Your brain uses tremendous amounts of energy throughout the day. Having low levels of thiamine can rob your brain of the vital energy that it needs.

              Thiamine can boost your mood, energy, and alertness by providing the energy your brain cells need to work effectively and keep their strength up.

              Low levels of thiamine have been associated with:

              • Nerve damage
              • Nerve inflammation
              • Fatigue
              • Loss of short-term memory
              • Confusion
              • Irritability

              Having enough vitamin B1 (thiamine) is essential for optimal brain performance and health by providing your brain the energy is needs to get through the day.

              Best sources:

              Seaweed, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, lentils, black beans

              4. Vitamin B6

              Vitamin B6 is critical for helping to improve your mood to make you feel happier but is also important to combat mental fatigue. B6 is a critical component of building the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine.

              Serotonin is known as your happy neurotransmitter and is vitally important for improving your mood. Norepinephrine helps your brain stay focused and alert.

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              Symptoms of B6 deficiency include:

              • Irritability
              • Loss of focus and concentration
              • Fatigue
              • Memory trouble
              • Muscle pains

              Best sources:

              Grassfed beef, pistachios, tuna, turkey breast, avocado

              5. Vitamin B9

              Vitamin B9 is known as folate. Folate is especially important for normal brain development. Folate is an important component in creating many neurotransmitters that the brain uses to communicate and regulate our immune system. Folate is also a natural antioxidant and studies have shown that it can help preserve brain function and memory.[2]

              Low levels of folate can be detrimental to the brain. Low levels of folate have shown to lead to increased degeneration in the cerebral cortex as well as cognitive impairment and decline.[3]

              Symptoms of low levels of folate include:

              • Lowered immune function
              • Chronic fatigue
              • Increased irritability or anxiety
              • Brain fog

              Best sources:

              Spinach, beef liver, broccoli, asparagus, romaine lettuce.

              6. Vitamin B12

              B12 is essential for many aspects of our health and wellbeing including building strong bones, hair, skin, nails, immune system and heart health. B12 is also extremely important for your brain and mental wellbeing.[4]

              B12 is necessary for many aspects of mental performance including being able to memorize and stay focused. It also plays an important role in producing serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine is your motivation and reward neurotransmitter.

              Having low levels of B12 can have some serious consequences including:[5]

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              • Brain fog
              • Memory loss
              • Depression[6]
              • Anxiety
              • Confusion
              • Depression
              • Hallucinations and Schizophrenia (severe cases)

              B12 is commonly found in many animal products and meats, so vegetarians and vegans should pay special attention to their B12 to make sure they are getting enough of it in their diet from plant sources or supplementation.

              Best sources:

              Beef liver, sardines, wild salmon, eggs, nutritional yeast

              7. Vitamin C

              Vitamin C is a very powerful and important antioxidant for your brain. Your brain consumes a lot of energy and oxygen in order to do its job. Antioxidants like Vitamin C protect the brain from the wear and tear of doing its job.

              Vitamin C is also needed to produce important neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are important regulators of your mood, so without Vitamin C to produce these important neurotransmitters, your mood may suffer.[7]

              Best sources:

              BroccolI, citrus fruits, bell peppers, watermelon, spinach

              8. Vitamin D

              The “sunshine” vitamin is arguably one of the most important vitamins that many people miss out on. Vitamin D is usually associated with bone health and heart health but it’s been shown in research that Vitamin D may play a critical role in your brain performance. Several studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D can impair cognitive function and performance.[8]

              Fewer people are getting outside in the natural sunlight leading to more cases of vitamin D deficiency than ever before. The best part about Vitamin D is that you can get it for free or extremely cheap. Just a few minutes a day of natural sunlight can make a big difference in your Vitamin D levels.

              Best sources:

              Natural sunlight or find a Vitamin D supplement.

              9. Vitamin E

              Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are critical to help our bodies fight off oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a metabolic process that occurs in the body that wears and tears on our cells. Antioxidants fight against this wear and tear to keep our cells youthful and optimally functioning.

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              Vitamin E is an often overlooked vitamin for brain health. It prevents oxidative stress from damaging an important component of our brain cells, DHA. DHA forms the outer membrane of our brain cells and Vitamin E works to prevents oxidative stress from damaging our brain cells to keep our brain young, energetic and high-performing.[9]

              Symptoms of Vitamin E deficiency include:

              • Cognitive impairment
              • Diarrhea
              • Muscle weakness
              • Balance issues

              Best sources:

              Almonds, kale, Swiss chard, parsley, olives

              10. Zinc

              Zinc is essential for neuron growth and performance. The highest concentration of zinc is located in your brain, particularly in your hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in regulating your limbic system, the region that regulates emotions. Neurons require zinc in order to communicate effectively to one another.[10]

              Low levels of zinc are associated with:

              • Attention and focus problems
              • Lowered immune system
              • Acne or rashes
              • Diarrhea

              Best sources:

              Pumpkin seeds, grass-fed beef, cashews, mushrooms, spinach

              Keep your brain sharp with brain power foods

              Your brain works hard and it takes plenty of nutrients and fuel to keep it working well. Getting the amount and type of vitamins, minerals and nutrients can make the difference in feeling energized or feeling sluggish throughout the day.

              How would you fuel a Ferrari? You wouldn’t put the cheap gas in a Ferrari. It’s a high-performance machine, so you need to put in high-octane fuel to ensure optimal performance.

              Eat a wide variety of foods that include a vast array of the top brain nutrients to ensure your brain is getting plenty of the resources it needs to work efficiently. If you want more brain power, make sure you give it brain power foods.

              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

              Reference

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