Lean Frontiers: Are they differences in getting middle management on board from getting executive management support?
Are there differences in getting middle management from executive management on board for 1) developing the lean enterprise and 2) direct engagement on their part? What are the differences, if any?
Posted on May 9, 2015
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Jon Miller

Ask the behavior change experts, not the lean experts

By Jon Miller, - Last updated: Thursday, April 9, 2015
The question "How do you undo traditional management behaviors to change to behavior as a lean manager?" is an important one for the success of lean endeavors. However this is not really a question for lean experts. This is a question for behavior change experts. Lean experts can (although we rarely do) attempt to define a set of agreed lean behaviors, but it is not our place to explain how behavior change happens. I have suggested to people who asked this to read Charles Duhigg's book The Power of Habit. In essence, habits are formed or re-formed through a reinforcing cycle ...

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller: Value-added Percentage, and other Parlor Tricks

By Jon Miller, - Last updated: Monday, February 9, 2015
"What should be the target value-add percentage in a process?" This is a very interesting question. Oddly, value is one of the least discussed and understood topics in lean. Perhaps this is because there is so much good that can be done simply by tackling the vast amounts of obvious waste in most of our organizations and processes. Even a poor definition of value is good enough, as long as it sheds light on the opportunities to covert wasted time and effort into more valuable ones. Value is subjective. Humans define value. How we define value is time-bound. Humans are very bad ...

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller: Visual Management, Visual Control and Shop Floor Management?

By Jon Miller, - Last updated: Sunday, October 19, 2014
The question from an aeronautics COO is "How do you explain the difference between visual management and visual control and what is the role of shop floor management in it?" I spent some years as a Japanese-English translator as well as interpreter. In some ways I feel it is my duty to go back through the entire vocabulary of lean and right the wrongs due to poor translation, for they are legion. For now that will have to be a labor of love undertaken piecemeal. This question of visual management vs. visual control is another quirk of translation. In Japanese the word ...

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller: From whom do you wish to learn?

By Jon Miller, - Last updated: Thursday, May 1, 2014
In lean we have a credentialing problem. At least in the United States, practically anyone can become a lean author, expert or consultant. Ironically, lean lacks good standards for credentialing. This problem has been covered up by the vast amount of low-hanging fruit that it is easy to hang up a lean shingle not fail too badly for a while. Enduring success on the lean journey however, the scientifically unverified advice goes, requires guidance by a sensei. If we strip the word sensei of its unnecessary mystique, it means "teacher". The role of the teacher is to help the student learn ...

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller: No Time for Kaizen? Check Your Assumptions

By Jon Miller, - Last updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014
The Lean Edge: How do you make time for improvements? As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because they want time to climb, backpack, canoe, etc., and I'm reluctant to ask them to work more hours and sacrifice time for these activities. Any advice?"   In 20 years of trying ...

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller: Get a good diagnosis

By Jon Miller, - Last updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014
"How do I start with lean?" Loaded question. If you were a doctor and a new patient walked in and asked, "How do I get healthy?" what would you answer? Free advice has consequences. Pay to be asked some good questions. The might include... How will you be able to recognize lean culture? Why does your management want a lean culture? What behaviors does the management recognize today as non-lean? What level of personal commitment does the leadership team have for this (to do, not just fund and delegate)? How will customers sense that you are becoming lean? How will customers reward you for being lean? What is ...

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Jon Miller

What is the true value of a work cell?

By Jon Miller, - Last updated: Monday, December 16, 2013
"Twenty years later, have workplaces moved to multi-process cells or do you still find many isolated operators?" The answer to this question is not either-or, but a "Yes" to both. Progressive workplaces are moving closer to cells, and we still find many isolated processes a.k.a. islands. Agile development, scrums, sprints and so forth engage in cell-like continuous flow within non-production environments. Hospitals and clinics are being designed for patient flow, moving the care to the patient continuously rather than delivering islands of care among oceans of waiting time. Discrete manufacturing processes are increasingly being reconnected to flow like it's 1913. But ...

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