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
Author Archive
Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: A good goal to start with is a 70% value add process

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Monday, February 9, 2015
In the past several months I have had this question come up actually in different industries. So how should one determine or "calculate" value add percentage within a process (micro)? This can be subjective depending upon what you are measuring and how, but I know, based on my Japanese sensei's, you can weave through a process and determine its value add and non value add content/percentages if you are conditioned to see it and categorize it. In manufacturing type work, by nature, can be easier to "see". In M & I flow (for example) the ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: A checklist of key competences to have the right people in the right place at the right time

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, November 9, 2014
I like the question and I will try to answer from a duo perspective. One being a person who was hired and developed under specific competencies at Toyota and secondly through the lens of the trainer/leader. You know I think its important to not only look at how you promote into a KPO position but also what is the filtering process to bring team members into an organization before they even have an opportunity for promotions. Think of it as a leading indicator that is predictive for people capability. In my humble opinion ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Visual control is micro, visual management macro

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I will answer your question regarding visual control versus management based on how some of my Japanese trainers, coordinators and leaders articulated it to me and how I personally practiced it during my time at the TMMK plant in hourly and salary positions. This question comes up all the time and it can turn into semantics very easily, similar to asking someone what are the 5S's. I think there are 20 different versions out there, the explanation and purpose of it become crucial. So I like to look at visual control as the "micro" side of the ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Every termination is a failure

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
This is always an interesting topic to discuss, because there are so many contributing factors weaving us through an exhausting web to find the actual root cause(s).    I remember a story during my time at the TMMK plant years ago, I will leave names and specifics out to protect the innocent. A higher level leader had all his ducks in a row to terminate a person after several failed attempts to change attitude/behavior towards their job and meeting company expectations.  This leader felt in their minds that all avenues for success had been exhausted.   It is difficult to terminate ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Watch out for conflicting KPIs

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014
This question/situation reminds me of the power-point slide we have all seen where the arrows are going in different directions. Since I'm not there to see it leaves me to make some assumptions because I do not have the ability grasp the situation, get the facts and ask why. At times when I'm at a conference I hear similar stories about lack of "buy-in" or getting the right people on board with my initiatives or desires for improvement. When I'm faced with this situation I always fall back to the essence of ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Kaizen is not an event, it’s about Everyday-Everybody-Engaged

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
I always like to discuss the concept of Kaizen in my sessions. I feel it's often very misused and even misunderstood in the Lean world. As far as that goes you can say the same about Lean I suppose. There are so many different definitions and articulations of that concept out there across different industries. I always say Kaizen without value to the organization can be wasteful action and potentially harmful to a culture. For example- counting how many kaizens we have "turned in". This is when I ask for ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Learn the thinking, not just the doing, why, how, where, what, when?

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, May 24, 2014
Looking through the lens I see lean through, I think the word "sensei" can be subjective.    I think each and every one of us can have a different definition of what a sensei is based on our own experiences.    These differences doesn't necessarily make any of us right or wrong, just perception I suppose; and what our current knowledge base is compared to others on the journey.   For example I could have a client who has studied for 5 years and internally to their company they might be considered a sensei based on their 5 years of ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: If you don’t have time to do it right first time, when will you have time to do it over?

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Friday, March 28, 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?" When I see this question ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: As a leader at any level 50% of your job is to develop your people

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Friday, March 7, 2014
So being raised at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), I had the pleasure of seeing our temporary worker program evolve over many years to meet the needs of the company in an ever-changing market. I was also fortunate to be involved in certain areas of curriculum and training in the mid 2000’s for the program. Internally the term “variable workforce” is often used which implies exactly what it is, but for the most part it’s often called the “temp-to-hire” program. There is a purpose often with a good outcome if goals are met, unlike some ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Outsource to increase value

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, November 24, 2013
There can be several ways to determine when outsourcing is an option for an organization. How I share my thoughts about it to others is based on my experience inside and outside of Toyota. I believe there must be a need to outsource a process, service or product. So what is that need or criteria? This means there should be an overall "value-add" to the company business indicators in making this decision /change. Just to outsource without increasing value can be considered just a manpower reduction, and unfortunately many industry would consider that a Lean activity -(Less Employees Are Needed). Manpower ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: One of the most overlooked forms of waste is the “under-utilization” of people and their ability to “think”

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I often like to start off by discussing the scientific method (PDCA) by differentiating the "process" from the "tool" side of it. These are two very different things. When I visit clients or do public sessions my experience from grasping the current state that more people (various levels and industries) see it as a tool. Some would argue to say it is, my preference and how I was taught is to fully understand the thinking process behind the tool. So if you are trying to move your organization to see through the ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Let’s first figure out what we’re trying to do

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Monday, August 5, 2013
When I see or hear this question, I pause and attempt to grasp the situation of what does a "major lean" transformation mean to an executive or the "process owner" of the lean journey. By answering this question it helps me understand their own ability to grasp the magnitude of what they are attempting and their role in it. Not many stop to ask this question and assumptions are made. When I'm at various organizations or conference sessions I think one of the commonalities among these folks is asking - How do I get my leadership onboard? ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: The importance of seeing through the same lens

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, July 6, 2013
When I internalize this question and visualize it, I see that infamous PowerPoint slide we all have used or seen that shows arrows moving in various directions with no rhyme or reason. We usually refer to it as rather chaotic or difficult to sustain any order when everyone is dancing to the beat of their own drum. I think its very important for organizations that are somewhat decentralized to understand the importance of "seeing through the same lens" or having a "guiding beacon" to always attempt to know which direction to point the arrow. ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: If you develop people results will follow!

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, June 1, 2013
So how "lean" is a lean start-up? What an intriguing; yet, difficult question to answer- there are so many tangents of this in my opinion. For me I suppose it has a lot to do with how you or your organization defines Lean itself. It's amazing when I ask this question across various industry's the answers I get that are so far away from the true essence of Lean, no wonder its only a short-term "project" for many- start up or not. I think this within itself drives the thinking of an organization and how ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Hoshin Kanri’s aim is to establish line of sight

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Thanks Joel for your question, I think it is one that many can benefit from. Based on my experiences with various industry I feel that this is a key area that is often discounted, and somehow organizations think through osmosis that the people just somehow know what they should be doing on a daily basis that cascades upward to "something" but not always a defined strategic business plan. I often ask the organizations I visit what their true north is and/or business indicators and to my surprise a common response is the"deer in headlight" look. If they ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: First translate purpose correctly by answering what-how-why – What am I doing, how will it be done, and why is it important?

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, April 14, 2013
It's funny (it's really not), no matter where I go to teach or what industry I'm in, there is always several folks in the group that define Lean as "less employees are needed"; this is a joke of course, but is it?   Art refers to it as something <mean>, I've heard many different types of analogies in my tenure as a trainer, I always ask why do we have to call it anything?  Is it necessary, could that be part of the program that labels get formed based on misunderstandings of intent? Who can really say!   To ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Train to the what-how-why model when you make changes then there is more time to spend on proactive problem solving than reactive

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2013
This was a thinking process I had to get used to at Toyota, we never got to "settled in" before something changed on us.   At first it was frustrating, but then as the purpose was explained it became the "norm" then it was expected for us to do this without being told, you know, like our "job" imagine this :).  This was something that was evolutionary because you never were complacent to just be happy with maintaining, if you did, you were expected to "purposely create a gap".  Think about that, what type of organization makes a problem ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Group leaders have to compute their team’s productivity standards

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
As the ole’ saying goes “you can lead a horse to water……”, well you can give a person a measure but you can’t ensure it’s going to be totally value added.   I think most people understand the concept of managing by the numbers or objectives it’s more common than not; if you tell me what you need and you are my boss then I will normally do what is necessary to get you that number especially if it’s tied to my performance evaluation, bonus, wage increase, or promotion (*note just because I meet numbers doesn’t always mean I deserve a ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: You are always leading and learning!

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, January 6, 2013
(a) What is the role of the KPO to serve the organization? When I see this question it takes me back to when I was taught the essence behind the Quality Circle Program and how they began at Toyota (back in the 1950’s) based on Taiichi Ohno’s vision of developing his people. I remember when I was in my assimilation hiring process (learning Toyota history) they discussed the fact with us (new hires) that the program wasn’t designed to necessarily save the company money (ROI) in the very beginning; it was more so to develop people in problem solving, and ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Ringi-sho is the formal approval process linked to hoshin kanri

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, December 29, 2012
I will have to admit when I saw the word Ringi in this question, it brought back many memories of my time at Toyota (TMMK).   It's not a word I've used or heard much since my time there, even though the thinking behind it could be more common if expressed differently. As others have mentioned above Ringi or (Ringi-sho) is not necessarily a Toyota creation, it is a Japanese term which when translated (with help from John Shook) means: A high-level formal authorization/approval process, usually for major policy matters, major projects and represents formal agreement (through nemawashi) of the authorizing parties (always including finance).  It ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Understand the value stream from order to customer

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Monday, December 3, 2012
This is a good question and one that doesn't facilitate itself for such a linear answer. I think all the responses so far have talked about many different ideas based on all our experiences out there with various industry and gives our readers some good perspectives to build on. I suppose being part of Toyota in the beginning (1988) when we were setting up the systems at TMMK we realized Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) wasn't necessarily part of our manufacturing plant (meaning onsite), they were a separate entity as Jeff and others ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Start with Production Control and Empower People through Standards

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, September 22, 2012
Hi Andrew, I will answer to my personal experience in regard to this question.  I think its a good one, it can bring out many dynamics that fall under that umbrella of thinking "flow vs batch" so I will try to cover several of them within my answer.   When I was first exposed to the Toyota Production System (TPS) "thinking" in 1988 at Toyota Motor Manuf. KY (TMMK) I made an assumption that if you weren't practicing one piece flow then you weren't effectively practicing TPS.  Now to explain that statement I was in a 2-week assimilation class before I ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: In my time at Toyota, nemawashi was as common as the word kaizen

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Nema- what !? This is a frequent response I get when I use this term with clients or individuals who are on their lean journey.  I would like to take a minute to  just explain the word and its meaning because I feel many misuse this term/concept and sometimes getting everyone to see through the same lens is very helpful.  The Japanese often used metaphors like, "prepping the soil" or "digging around the roots" for successful planting or trans-planting, some have also said "laying the groundwork".  I often describe it as gaining consensus or building support with others, sharing of ideas, engaging and involving people at the ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Involvement and engagement of people at their process(es) where the work is being done must be a priority

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, July 14, 2012
It's always music to my ears when I hear a company is willing to invest time in people development from the executives to the floor level of the organization.  I believe that the training of the concepts or values are just the beginning of the lean journey, the more difficult task is the sustainment, improvement and growth of leaders and their practices to ensure the company is doing business in a way that meets customer expectations through people engagement in the value stream of order to customer. As we have all heard throughout time in the TWI realm that "repetition is the motherhood of all skills", ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Without work standards there can be no kaizens

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, June 23, 2012
This is a very interesting and complex question but one Im drawn to answer based on my experiences at Toyota on the production floor, a current instructor at Toyota, and as a consultant over the past 14 years.  I've had the opportunity to be very close to this situation with a couple of my clients who could be categorized as silo based organizations. It's difficult at times to have a linear approach to such a nebulous type situation in trying to change a way of thinking that has been in place possibly for many years.   To say there are 5 major ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: We all individually had standards we followed as well as the team collectively and upward

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Tuesday, June 5, 2012
I think from my 10 years at Toyota (TMMK) standards were the basis for everything we did, including 5S.   It really was the key to our success and the infrastructure for the culture.  Having the unique opportunity to be a team member, team leader and group leader within the company it was important to understand that we all individually had standards we followed as well as the team collectively and upward. As some have stated, standards were there for us to understand when an abnormality occurred so at an individual level we understood the expectations and what resources it took to ...

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