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
Archive for 'Uncategorized' Category
Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: To bring on board: go to the gemba to engage, frame and give the right incentives!

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Tuesday, May 19, 2015
In most organizations I know, executive leadership and middle-management have very different perspectives and mindsets: Executive leadership aims to change things in order to get better, mostly financial results – higher sales, better profit, etc. Middle-management is focused on maintaining the status quo in order to make things run on a daily basis Most work-level employees just hope to get through the day without being blamed, which is no easy challenge considering the number of things that can easily go wrong with any value-adding job.   Lean thinking impacts each level greatly, but not necessarily in the same way.   At executive level, the ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Top leaders must go to the gemba to develop leadership in their middle-managers

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Saturday, May 9, 2015
The differences between top and middle management are not only in “developing a lean enterprise,” but they are in different positions in all regards. Let’s start with the assumption that a lean transformation is underway because the company is not already lean. In a traditional organization the top is responsible for results, usually to someone else like owners or a board of directors. They are looking at the enterprise level and trying to figure out the knobs and levers they can control to get the enterprise to deliver the results they are judged by. In reality they have only indirect ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: The challenge is to change our thinking and we have learned that this is done by changing behavior

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, April 13, 2015
As Jim Huntzinger notes the question is really about behavior change, which is related to a change in our thinking. There was a reason Womack and Jones called their book Lean Thinking. Lean thinking is a broad concept. It starts with a long-term perspective. Lean leaders believe in their bones that the pathway to building an excellent organization is rooted in developing people. What people have the unique capacity to do is think creatively about how to change the organization to pursue a vision of excellent customer service. The elements of pursuing excellence include ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Huntzinger

Jim Huntzinger: Each generation matters in sustained behavior change

By Jim Huntzinger, - Last updated: Monday, April 13, 2015
Another aspect which most organizations fail to consider, let alone take action upon or develop the infrastructure to achieve, is a succession plan. This holds true for this particular question. The responses thus far, I believe, have this somewhat embedded in their responses on how to deal with undoing traditional management behavior and developing behavior of a lean manager, but organizations also, and definitely for longer term success, must consciously and deliberately work on their lower level people within their organization so that, as a direct result, as they ascend in the organization they are already exhibiting, practicing, ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Go to the gemba to learn to learn

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Monday, April 6, 2015
Can we talk about behavior without talking about intent first? Mainstream management theory was born out of applying bureaucratic behavior (in the noblest sense) to business. Bureaucracy was a XIXth century effort to balancer aristocratic behavior (my every whim has to be obeyed, or else...) with rational behavior: a hierarchy of goals pursued by a hierarchy of actions. A manager in the food chain gets instructions from higher up, figures out how to carry out these instructions in his or her local conditions, and issues instructions for his subordinates. Information makes its way back up to the top through reports ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: How a Toyota leader defines Lean Leadership!

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015
I heard one of the better definitions of a lean leader from one of the Presidents of the Toyota Technical Center, Mr. Yamashina, and I published it in The Toyota Way: Always keep the final target in mind Clearly assign tasks to yourself and others Think and speak based on verified, proven information and data Take full advantage of the wisdom and experience of others to send, gather or discuss information Always report, inform and consult in a timely manner Analyze and ...

Continue reading this entry »

Steven Spear

Steven Spear: Accelerated learning of what to do and how to do it

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Certain organizations “punch above their weight,” generating far more value (that accrues to everybody, not just customers or just shareholders, etc.), faster, and more easily. This despite them having access to the same technical, financial, and human resources as all their counterparts——and thereby enjoying the same advantages and suffering the same constraints.(1) The difference? They know much better what to do and how to do it, so operate on a frontier of speed, timeliness, efficiency, effectiveness, safety, security, and so forth others barely perceive. As with all knowledge, the source of ...

Continue reading this entry »

Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Realizing there is space for change

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Interesting question (especially the first one) and one that all consultants and internal improvement leaders wrestle with (or should be wrestling with). In my experience, any type of personal behavior change starts with awareness that the current behavior may not be the most effective choice to yield whatever result is desired. Getting clear on the target condition is key. Then identify the gap and root causes for it. Then experiment with potential countermeasures. You know the drill. In my experience, many “traditional managers” don't realize that alternative forms of management exist. So I typically begin in a more fact-based, ...

Continue reading this entry »

Mark Graban

Mark Graban: The focus should be on improvement, in a balanced set of measures, not just a single number

By Mark Graban, - Last updated: Thursday, February 26, 2015
Percent value-added is an interesting thing to measure in a process or a value stream, but we have to be careful putting too much emphasis on that metric. Let's say I am managing an optometrist clinic where the average appointment length is 60 minutes. There are three value adding steps: 1) the assistant doing an initial exam, 2) a machine that does an eye check, and 3) the optometrist exam. Those three steps take a total of 15 minutes, so the % VA time is 25%. The waits in between the three process steps are where a Lean thinker would look ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: More than before and less than it will be in the future

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Percentage of value add for a process should be more than before and less than it will be in the future. Continuously improving toward the customer need. Constantly creating an environment where all people in the process are thinking and experimenting on ways to improve. Celebrating the improvements you have made and anticipating improvements to come. Ensuring the use of the trilogy of business management tools: Strategic Deployment, cross functional process improvement, and managing for daily improvement.
Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Begin where you’re at, seek 50% gains with every improvement, and never stop

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Tuesday, February 10, 2015
It truly does depend on the setting, industry, etc. In manufacturing production, there's no reason to not get well above 50%. In offices, 40% starts being respectable unless the org has implemented cross-functional work cells, technology solutions, sustainable pull systems, work segmentation, etc. (Most pre-improvement office value streams hover in the 5-10% range.) In many patient care settings, you can get above 50% fairly easily. Bottom line: Begin where you're at, seek 50% gains with every improvement, and never stop.
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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: Warm heart, cool mind

By Peter Handlinger, - Last updated: Thursday, November 13, 2014
The previous posts have clearly given a good framework around which to establish a basic set of competencies. I would like to add that any person moving into a ‘facilitating’ role needs to exhibit what I call a ‘warm heart, cool mind’ behavioural pattern. The reasoning for this is simply that the overriding mission/purpose for anyone in a Kaizen Promotion Office is to develop people (as opposed to showing off their technical proficiency at problem solving). And to develop people you need a warm heart to establish the rapport so that learning and transfer of skills can take place. Technical ...

Continue reading this entry »

Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Technical proficiency and leadership acumen – can you nail the problem statement first time right?

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
This is a great question and one that nags at me a lot. However, instead of answering the question directly, I’d like to share some fodder for considering whether a KPO is an effective structure for supporting Lean transformation. I’ll begin by sharing some real-world experience… At the Lean Coaching Summit in July, I had the opportunity to watch over 100 people attempt problem solving (one workshop and two extended concurrent sessions). Most of the participants said they were “leading” Lean at their companies. Only 2 of the 100+ nailed the problem statement out of the gate. At least 1/3 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Mark Graban

Mark Graban: hiring inexperienced employees for the Kaizen Promotion Office is a recipe for failure

By Mark Graban, - Last updated: Sunday, November 9, 2014
The other posts answering this question have made me reflect a bit on a troubling trend in healthcare: hospitals far too often filling their KPOs (or process improvement departments) with very inexperienced employees. They are often inexperienced with or brand new to Lean and/or they are also new to healthcare. I'll go out on a limb and say that this is a recipe for failure. What NOT to do is to put your youngest, most inexperienced people into a KPO. I don't see how a KPO member can effectively teach and mentor others if they have no experience with Lean or ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Strong coaches are there to develop internal leaders and coaches

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Sunday, November 9, 2014
Building on what Tracey said, think of the process of getting to be in a TPS promotion role at Toyota as a funnel with many people applying, a smaller number selected to join the company, and then a winnowing based on performance inside Toyota. People are coached and also watched carefully to understand their strengths and weaknesses. They are given opportunities to build on their strengths and overcome their weaknesses and some do that better then others. Some people have the ability to do a technical job really well, but may lack leadership skills. Others can ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Visual control as a technique and visual management as a system are essential to lean practice

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Saturday, November 8, 2014
Overall, I suspect we collectively underestimated the importance of visual control. Back in the day, many of the questions I remember from Toyota sensei where about: is this situation normal or abnormal? How can we tell? As a movement, I believe we have correctly spotted the emphasis on problem solving, but maybe not so much problem finding and problem facing – what Tracey told me Toyota calls problem awareness: how can we see we have a problem? Visual control should probably be called visual autocontrol – visual signs so that all team members can see at one glance whether they’re doing ok ...

Continue reading this entry »

Lean Frontiers

Dave Meier: Make visual what matters!

By Lean Frontiers, - Last updated: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
When I was at Toyota we called visual management the “visual factory.” I never really heard visual control or visual management (or it was just another way of saying what we did) until after I left Toyota. It didn’t really matter what we called it as long as we understood what it meant. I think maybe the term “control” was a bit offensive to people and it was softened to visual management (and the term factory was abandoned when we moved into offices and service industries without factories). Sometimes people call it visual workplace, or visual awareness as well. We all know ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: Visual is the key – 70% of our sense receptors are dedicated to vision

By Peter Handlinger, - Last updated: Monday, October 20, 2014
To me it is less a question about whether it is 'visual management' or 'visual control' but more about the 'visual' component. Dealing with the semantics of management versus control, if pushed, I would liken the 'control' to a closure of the feedback loop of an activity whereas the 'management' component a broader description of the tools used and more importantly what one does with them (Jon, Jeff and Samuel have given great explanations of this aspect). I really do believe that Steven's response requires more airtime - coming from the engineering world I am constantly amazed at the triumph of commercial expediency reverse engineering itself into supposed 1st ...

Continue reading this entry »

Steven Spear

Steve Spear: All tools are based on key capabilities

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Monday, October 20, 2014
In answering the question about the use of particular tools, it helps to anchor in the fundamentals first and then elaborate on the use of tools in pursuit of those fundamentals second. In engineering, for instance, we start with Newtonian mechanics and then introduce tools like finite element analysis for testing the integrity of structures, or we introduce concepts of feedback and control before introducing matlab and other tools for simulation.  Likewise, in finance, we introduce concepts of discounted cash flow, option theory, and risk diversification before constructing models based on those concepts.  In these professions, grounded in causal theory, we ...

Continue reading this entry »

Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: visualize normal from abnormal and target problem solving

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Monday, October 20, 2014
I agree and think that there may be subtle differences (or similarities) between visual control and visual management. But the second question on floor management development system and its role, can be better explained by what Toyota calls the 4 phases of FMDS. Visual Management is the entirety of phase 3: Visualization of abnormalities and target problem solving. The official name for phase 3 is just “Visual Management”. This is the only phase with laser sharp focus, and straight and to the point title. The other phases sound a bit more superficial in their description: ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Visual control means displayed information is acted on

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Sunday, October 19, 2014
Often we talk about the difference between visual displays and visual control.  Visual displays mean information is shown, while visual control means information is acted on.   One type of visual is the metric board where we represent the actual versus target, another is the andon which physically warns us of an out of standard condition, while a third type is a physical indicator of the state of the operation versus standard such as a kanban square.  In all these cases we are seeing the actual versus the standard and as Jon says we need a system of response to contain the ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: Set the expectation every one must train others

By Peter Handlinger, - Last updated: Monday, August 4, 2014
Other than having a good look at the practice of recruitment and succession planning criteria it is assumed that this person is already in the position. Clearly incompetence is not going to benefit the business or, in the longer term, the incumbent so the short answer is clear - remove. But before this process is establish it might be an idea to go back to basics and have a look at these measures (I know they are as old as the hills but still very relevant): 1. Can't do 2. Can do under supervision 3. Can do on own 4. Can train others It would be useful to set as a ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Talk to them until they change or leave

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, August 3, 2014
Difficult question, and I’m not sure I have answer. I guess the place to start is clarify what “competent” means. To my mind, a competent person: Agrees on basic job role and responsibilities: not always obvious, for instance, the salesperson in a company I know considers his role is to respond to request for quotations from customers, whereas his CEO would like to see him do some cold calling as well. The sales guy simply won’t hear about it? Does it make him incompetent even though he does fairly well at replying to customers when they contact the company? I think ...

Continue reading this entry »

Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Sit down with resisters and ask “Why?”

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Sunday, August 3, 2014
I'm with Orry re: the "mandate Lean" message. And I've never seen a large-scale transformation where one of the senior leaders simply couldn't get on the bus and needed to find a new home. However, there are all types of resistance for all types of reasons. And "mandating" can be done with finesse, reason, data, etc. or it can be heavy-handed, command-and-control, etc. So I'd need more details to understand the nature of the resistance and what led to it before I could answer any more specifically.   BTW, for what it's worth, I always sit down with the perceived resisters and ...

Continue reading this entry »

Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: No cement-heads – ever!

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Saturday, August 2, 2014
Orrie’s response to the question of incompetence reflects deep & rare learning. I can only add supporting comments. I’ve found that transformation obstacles generally bubble up in the following sequence: Technical – weak standards or adherence to standards for core activities Organizational – team structure, org structure etc. People – competence, motivation, mental models etc. Systemic – governance obstacles, e.g. rewards & recognition structure, core beliefs & values, relationship between senior management & Board etc. (Yes, they overlap somewhat) The People category sometimes entails bozos (or as some people say, cement-heads). Harsh terms perhaps, but a fact of life, ...

Continue reading this entry »

David Meier

David Meier: Respect doesn’t mean that pamper or coddle people. Attitudes issues are adressed one on one

By David Meier, - Last updated: Saturday, August 2, 2014
Sheesh I am not sure where we got the idea that respect for people means we all stand around and sing Kumbaya! It certainly does not mean that you are unable to address performance issues! Here are a few statements from Toyota about respect- -"We respect people by challenging them." (giving people legitimate challenges to improve and use their thinking and ability to make the process better). People like challenges, but they also like to succeed and the reward of success is sweet. -"Respect does not mean that we pamper or coddle people. Living the Toyota way of life is difficult." (paraphrase ...

Continue reading this entry »

Orry Fiume

Orry Fiume: The CEO must remove all barriers to lean, and some barriers are people. If one person must leave the company, do so with respect

By Orry Fiume, - Last updated: Friday, August 1, 2014
The problem that you cite is a common one. Below is an excerpt from an article that I wrote for the Journal for Organizational Excellence a few years ago. The at the beginning of the article explains that Lean is a Strategy, not a manufacturing tactic or cost reduction program. This excerpt is the part of the article that discusses things the CEO must do to increase the likelihood of a successful transformation: Mandate Lean. Perhaps the most important Lean “intervention” by Wiremold’s CEO was to make it clear that opting out of the Lean strategy was not a choice ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: It’s respectful to the entire workforce to ensure standards of performance are maintained

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: Friday, August 1, 2014
Performance management is important in every company. When there is standard work it is even easier to coach on performance. One outcome of performance management is improved performance. One is termination. It is respectful to the entire workforce to ensure standards of performance are maintained.
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: What will happen to lean after you leave

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Friday, August 1, 2014
The definitive test of lean is what you leave behind after you leave the team, department or organisation you are responsible for. Can they continue their problem solving and continuous improvement journeys or will they revert to past behaviours? Business results from lean here and now are great but sustained results on into the future depend on the capabilities you developed while you were in charge. You can tell very quickly as you talk to the team. Would they want to go back to the way things were before lean? Can they describe the “ah ha” moments when they really ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Every one loves innovation but hates innovators

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Friday, August 1, 2014
Everyone loves innovation, but everyone hates innovators. What you describe, I fear, is a normal, same old, same old situation. Lean is mostly about technical improvements and self-reflexion but has little to say about the political aspects of change. Every change, any change is bound to challenge the status quo and people are ready to do so to varying degrees. The pace of change that accompanies any lean approach to management is clearly much faster than organizations are used to, and many, from shareholders to shop floor operators will feel overwhelmed by this, particularly at middle-management level. As in all ...

Continue reading this entry »

David Meier

David Meier: Do Lean with people rather than to people

By David Meier, - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014
This sounds like a classic case of doing lean "to" people rather than with people. But let's go back to the original question- the fact of the matter is that the challenges of getting lean grow as you proceed. People think that if you get lean life is supposed to be easy. The opposite is true. Use the famous "low hanging fruit" analogy. After the "low fruit" (easy stuff) is picked what is left? The difficult challenges. The low hanging fruit were items that were in place to compensate for the underlying issues. Take them out and the issues emerge ...

Continue reading this entry »

Arthur Byrne

Art Byrne: How much respect do you show your people?

By Arthur Byrne, - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014
He should a] get someone to help him that understands what to do and how to go about it. The right outside consultant and a strong internal KPO would help a lot. And, b] he should examine his own behavior and approach. Does he show respect for people. Does he communicate well to all stakeholders. Is he hands on and leading or does stay in his office and issue orders. Does he create a culture where it is ok to fail or is a culture of fear. Is he approachable and liked by his workforce or standoffish where people aren¹t sure how to take him. My guess is ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: It must feel lonely at the top!

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014
It must feel lonely at the top. If we approach this as a lean problem, then let’s work on that gap. He feels alone and wants other people related to the organization to be with him. Let’s consider many supporters as the desired state. Let’s consider getting such great results that the question of "how" never arises as the desired state. Using 5 Why’s, we can begin to attack both questions: 1) why does he not have more supporters of the methodologies (that he believes in) and 2) why is the performance not great enough to stand ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Lean creates disruption as it challenges the status quo

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Friday, July 4, 2014
I think the answer to this short question will be a very long list of items to do or to stop doing. But at the same time, I believe we should be very cautious to make such a list past item #1. Item #1 in my view would be to perform a diligent genba assessment, finding then the causes and the root causes for the current situation. Only after item #1 has been concluded, we can continue the list. Perhaps the immediate next items will include raising awareness, or creating a burning platform, or bringing in a lean sensei (or psychologist or coach or etc.). Having said that, assuming ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: A CEO might be a good at lean but poor at leading change

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Friday, July 4, 2014
The reality is that if you are making a major change in an organization you are bound to create some enemies. You will be clashing with the interests of some people who either have an opposing viewpoint, or some personal issue with you succeeding, or perhaps fear you are going to make their lives more difficult. Lean has the potential to be very disruptive. Reducing inventory is designed to surface problems, but surfacing problems means that people may fear they will be blamed, or even if they are not, fear incompetence in addressing the problems. We are ...

Continue reading this entry »

Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Kaizen every day, everywhere, by everyone

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
I think Toyota had some pressing reasons to make Kaizen part of their culture. But I can’t think of any one more evident than the elimination of waste itself. Perhaps that was what compelled Toyota into making Kaizen, a culture. It is a shared value and belief. It is everyone’s expectation. Kaizen every day, everywhere, by everyone. At Toyota Japan they call it Kaizen Teian, which is impossible to properly translate into English. Teian can be interpreted as a proposal that has been already implemented, it is done. (in English, ‘proposal’ always means something for ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Kaizen events are mainly a tool to open the minds of the leadership

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, June 2, 2014
I have personally been involved, along with my associates, in leading kaizen events for over 15 years. We never used a very rigid format. They could range from 2 days to 5 days. I had associates who were formally taught by shingijutsu and preferred 5-day events and were exceptional at leading them. They were quite exciting and were especially so in the early days. There was action. People were engaged. There were results. Management was excited. We still lead events and I never feel they are a bad thing. But I have ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: No real lean without a sensei

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, May 4, 2014
I believe the “sensei” idea was introduced in Lean Thinking for a reason: we seek new words when the current vocab doesn’t quite capture the specific thing we’re trying to describe. Sure, the word “sensei” originally means teacher in Japanese. Certainly, consultants will try to turn it into something they can put on their business card (regardless of whether they’re legitimate or not). Absolutely there’s an amount of unnecessary mystique around the word – but I feel this is because there is a specific “sensei” function in lean that is neither ex-Toyota nor teacher, coach, consultant, but unique to lean ...

Continue reading this entry »

Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Sensei means professor

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Saturday, May 3, 2014
I am not sure what is just semantics when we differentiate a consultant from a sensei. Is consultant a title and sensei a role? Is that a matter of posture? In Japanese, sensei means simply professor. I strongly believe that a sensei can be a consultant and perhaps vice versa. In fact, some of my Toyota senseis became consultants after they retired. Now, how good a consultant were they? Some Toyota senseis who were very respected in Toyota and even had direct learning from Mr. Ohno, became very poor consultants according to their clients ("according to their clients" is the key piece of information ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: A sensei lights the fire of the kaizen spirit

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Thursday, May 1, 2014
A dictionary definition of a “sensei" is simply someone older then you as age is respected in Japan. It also is a formal title for a teacher of some sort. Most relevant it is a title to show respect to someone who has achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill. This definition says it is earned, not granted by a job position like professor or consultant. And a sensei is dedicated to developing mastery in others. It is typical that lean consultants are expected to do some ...

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Next Generation Lean Practice

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Question:  How do you make time for improvements? 
I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work when they’re already completely busy doing their regular work. You may be making too much of a distinction between regular work and improvement. That might have sufficed in the 20th Century, when efficiency and cookie-cuttering the mass model seemed to be two universal business goals. A “Generation” is approximately the period of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their children. The original Lean movement in the West began in the 20th Century about a generation ago, ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Finding Time For Improvements

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Making time for improvement is a choice. The single most important thing a CEO can do is set an example by making time in their diaries. The successful lean pioneers I have known all spend a day a week out in the organisation and talking to customers. This sounds hard to do but if you think about it the place where the most expensive discretionary time exists in any organisation is near the top. How the top behaves shapes the priorities for everyone else. Just ask yourself how many Executive level projects your organisation is pursuing, typically between 50 and ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean is the strategy!

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
The CEOs I know that have visible success with lean don’t see lean as something you do when you finally get around to it. They see lean as their strategy. There is an interesting Ohno comment about visiting the gemba doing more harm than good is work standards are not visible. Certainly, one of the main risks of managing by walking around is focusing on what people are doing right there and then and… doing their job for them. This is a crucial aspect of leadership every army knows about (and trains for): don’t manage down, don’t do the work of ...

Continue reading this entry »

Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Kaizen is the work

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Monday, April 7, 2014
Building on Dave’s excellent insights, who has time for the hugely wasteful & mechanical ‘five-day kaizen events’? Dave’s suggested 1-hour-per-week Quality Circle is not only more time-efficient, but reinforces the central TPS principle: Kaizen is the work. Absent of this core principle, is Lean any more than a set of tools? If we accept it though, Lean comes to life and allows us to take on more & more complex challenges. With respect to freeing up time, especially for senior leaders, I’ve found the trusty Yamazumi (stacked bar) chart to be very helpful. Yamazumi works for quick change-over, job balancing ...

Continue reading this entry »

Lean Frontiers

Dave Meier: In Toyota improvement ideas and efforts were expected but voluntary

By Lean Frontiers, - Last updated: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
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? First off I want to say that when I worked at Toyota it was ...

Continue reading this entry »

Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Conitnuous improvement is more than repetitive improvement

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
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? Hi Edgers, I believe an improvement in the true lean context is continuous (as opposed to ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Mark Graban

Mark Graban: No time for improvement? Then find time

By Mark Graban, - 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?" It's a very common complaint ...

Continue reading this entry »

Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Start the conversation

By Karen Martin, - 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?" When clients say they have ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: The key is to learn to level the workload for improvement

By Jeff Liker, - 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?" I believe the key to ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How do you make time for improvements?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Friday, March 28, 2014
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?
Steven Spear

Steve Spear: How do temps fit in with See, Solve, Sustain, Spread

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Sunday, March 23, 2014
Whether or not temporary workers are a benefit or a hinderance to an organization depends on how senior leadership chooses to employ them. First, we have to recognize that certain sectors have large fluctuations in work load——isn’t HR Block the single largest employer of temporary workers each tax season——that flexing headcount is unavoidable. Second, let’s recognize the dynamics by which exceptional performance altitude is achieved. It depends on having a steep ‘climb rate’ fueled by broad based, non-stop, high speed learning. It is in the learning that the link to positive or negative use of temporary workers comes in. Learning depends on seeing ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: A variable employee base (temps) is necessary to provide stable employment through the major ups and downs of the market

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
First off there is no real “lean stand” on this issue and perhaps no lean stand on much of anything as lean means so many different things to different people. Second, speaking strictly about The Toyota Way the two pillars are respect for people and continuous improvement. In order to accomplish respect for people as partners in the business, and invest the time it takes to develop their capabilities to do the job and improve how they do the job, Toyota depends on continuity of employment. It gives them a stable employee base to develop and gives the employee ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Start with the person and learn with them

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, March 16, 2014
Let’s look at this differently: let’s not start by wondering how to most efficiently organize temp labor, but let’s start from the fact that temporary workers are persons, just like any one else that works in the firm. Temporary workers are an essential part of the lean system because they help us be more flexible to volume variations no one knows how to handle internally. Temporary workers add value. Temporary workers are either forced by the circumstances of not having a full time job and then accepting a temporary position in the hope of getting that job, or, and I’ve ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Starting The Leadership Journey

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, February 24, 2014
Let me add to all the excellent advice to start by building the problem solving capabilities to improve the processes or value streams that create value for customers. The one lesson I have learnt time and time again is that lean cannot be "done for you", you have to do it and lead it yourself. As the natural inclination of management is to reach for an expert to solve a problem this lesson is not easy to learn. So you will be well advised to think as much about the path to develop the capabilities of top management as you ...

Continue reading this entry »

Dave Brunt

Dave Brunt: lean transformation framework

By Dave Brunt, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
With our colleagues at the Lean Enterprise Institute we at the Lean Enterprise Academy are constantly assessing how to articulate our approach to Lean Transformation. We use a house as a visual to articulate Lean Transformation and our view of what it takes. John Shook recently shared a video about this which you can watch here: http://www.lean.org/LeanPost/Posting.cfm?LeanPostId=135#.UvTSDf2KPLQ Firstly WHAT? A lean organisation attempts to create flow of value through systematic PDCA by all team members (Purpose.) Implementing this is “situational” – the way this is achieved is not a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all solution, but instead is about taking a balanced view of ...

Continue reading this entry »

Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: First aks yourself: “how not to start with lean”, then go find a good sensei

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The question on "how to start with lean" allows for a wide range of answers and perspectives, probably most or all of them correct. Without more background information, I guess a safe answer would be to find a good sensei. An easier question would have been how not to start with lean. Perhaps understanding that could be as helpful. Top places I believe you should never start: 1) learning how to use the "lean tools". They may all have their benefits and merits, but once we learn how to use them, we run the risk of using where they are not needed. ...

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Do You Want Type-I or Type-II Lean?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014
Question:  How do I start with Lean? I think Michael Ballé is right to suggest you begin by asking, "What kind of Lean are we talking about?"  Specifically, you might first decide if you want Type I Lean or Type II Lean.  That decision will influence the spirit and everything you subsequently do to deploy Lean in your organization. Type I Lean is associated with increasing the efficiency of already-existing concepts of product, production and service. Type II Lean is associated with the broader topic of endeavor toward all manner of challenging objectives (which can include increasing efficiency). Examples: An automobile company.  Type I Lean ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Is it lean learning we’re talking about? Or lean squeezing?

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Saturday, February 8, 2014
It depends. What kind of lean are we talking about? First, there’s lean lite – you want to improve the operational performance of this or that process. In this case, find a consultant you can work with, do a model case, usually through mapping the existing process with a team and drawing out a future state process and then implementing it. Then, being convinced of the effectiveness of this approach (unless the consultant is completely useless, it always works), you can convince your management that if you replicate the savings you’ve had throughout the organizations, you’ll get real, visible, bottom-line improvements. ...

Continue reading this entry »

Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Start with a demonstration activity and engage the leadership team

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Saturday, February 8, 2014
While I agree whole heartedly with all of the responses so far, I'm going to offer an alternative viewpoint from pragmatic perspective. Many of the organizations I've worked with that have made significant progress on the Lean journey, didn't begin with the ideal: "what problem do you want/need to solve?" In several cases, they had no idea what Lean was; they simply knew that they wanted to improve their performance. So I've often started with a "demonstration activity" to get their feet wet, expose them to Lean thinking, and show them the world they could head into. In most of ...

Continue reading this entry »

Steven Spear

Steven Spear: Start with a ‘model line’ so that leadership can learn to see and solve problems

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Becoming an exceptional organization, one capable of short term reliability and longer term responsiveness and agility requires building skills that accelerate feedback, correction, and learning. The reliable mechanism is starting with a ‘model line’ incubator in which leadership is connected to creating and harnessing a problem seeing problems solving dynamic and then using that incubator as a developmental tool to propagate those skills broadly. PERFORMANCE LEVELS AS FUNCTION OF LEARNING RATE We get entranced by the difference in "performance altitude" between those who are exceptional and those who are typical. In doing so, we overlook the fact that superior altitude was ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: One of the first aims should be to develop people to use a systematic process for improvement

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Many, many people have been in your situation. The top wants lean, which they have some understanding of from somewhere, and they want you to go get it. “Develop a plan. Find a consultant.” You are correct that there are almost as many flavors of lean as there are consultants. And who knows what flavor your management got exposed to from the conference they attended, or the board member, or the COO who had an experience in a previous firm. Who knows what they expect? Operational excellence? Quick wins in cost reduction to please the owners by the end of ...

Continue reading this entry »

Daniel Markovitz

Daniel Markovitz: Start by identifying a specific problem to solve

By Daniel Markovitz, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Start with lean by identifying a specific problem to solve — preferably one that has a serious impact on the company’s ability to serve its customers. One company I know that has made incredible strides started its journey with the president (upon seeing their D/C filled to the ceiling with unshipped goods), setting a corporate goal for same-day shipment of orders. Once a problem has been identified, I believe that introducing the A3 as a tool to solve that problem is a great way to start. Doing an A3 correctly necessitates going to the gemba; engaging in conversation; showing respect; ...

Continue reading this entry »

Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: What problem are we trying to solve?

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Very good question. Here are some thoughts for posting How Do I Start with Lean? I'd suggest you begin by asking the most basic & difficult question: "What problem are we trying to solve?" Growth? Profitability? Throughput? Quality? Safety? What are possible causes? Malignant market forces? Core technologies at risk of becoming obsolete? Empty new product pipeline? Decaying factories? Apathetic, stagnant or hostile work force? Dysfunctional mental models? You can begin your analysis with analytical tools, but please, get out of your office and confirm your analysis by seeing root causes with your own eyes. Thereby, you'll begin to develop a deeper understanding the chessboard, and of root causes ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: continuous flow is the key to improving quality

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I find that creating continuous flow cells is still 1) as powerful as ever and 2) as difficult as ever. Lean tools, in my experience, have been used to improve the productivity of existing lines or cells, but people balk at creating cells wherever it’s not obvious. Sadly, they miss the opportunity to radically diminish lead-time. In one high-tech company, after several years of doing lean, the CEO finally rolled-up his sleeves and tackled the issue of making parts in one continuous flow, from pressed parts to finished, polished products. This involves many technical challenges, such as precision machining (oil ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: TPS experts within Toyota will always want to drive in the direction of the ideal of one-piece flow

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, January 6, 2014
Experts within Toyota on TPS will always want to drive in the direction of the ideal of one-piece flow. They believe in this quite passionately. In a Toyota assembly plant this looks like a super long continuous flow line. The plastics plant look like a process island of molding machines though there is a clear flow of raw materials to finished bumpers that are built in sequence to the assembly line. The body shop is mostly flow lines as is paint. The stamping plant is another set of process lines to build up a major ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Cells are rare in service environments because Flow is hard to achieve

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Sunday, December 15, 2013
Cells—and a looser version that I refer to as co-location—are still rare in the service and knowledge work sectors. Part of the reason is that individuals, work teams and departments in these environments typically juggle many processes that support many value stream. To create flow and, therefore, reap the benefits of cellular structure, the first thing that has to happen is what I refer to as “work segmentation.” People have to be available to do the work in a process or value stream that a cell supports. Until an organization organizes work into “swim-lanes” and realigns staff accordingly, flow is ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Think of outsourced value in terms of capability and capacity

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Friday, November 29, 2013
One company I know manufactures high-tech equipment with fairly sophisticated human-machine interface screens. One day, we were with the CEO in the local Apple store wondering how come we used a piece of kit worth twenty times an iPad with less functionality. As the CEO followed that thought, he also discovered there existed an open-sourced interface software that served as a standard for human-machine interface in the industry. The company had been so wrapped up in building its own no one had ever noticed. So, definitely, yes, outsourcing makes a lot of sense for any module not part of your core ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Rother

Mike Rother: “I think I’m making progress” – Pablo Casals

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Question:  How do you understand what to in-source and what to out-source? How about this as one criteria for keeping work inside or outsourcing:  Is it something you want to get better at for competitive advantage? Mike      
Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: People feel good when work we sent away starts coming back

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Splendid answers, Steve, Jeff, Sammy and Jean. I'd simply add the following. The implicit deal between Lean companies & their employees is something like this: "You do the work that needs doing, & help us to improve, and we'll give you job security, continuous learning & challenge." As we get better, we free up human & machine time, floor space, capital etc., which all adds up to more capacity. We are able to do more with less. How do we deal with this extra capacity? Do we 'cash in' by down-sizing? If so, the high speed problem solving & learning Steve and Jeff describe, is likely to ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Is it part of your strategic value? Is it something you do weekly/daily? Does it require specialist knowledge?

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
In the office functions I feel the first test of outsourcing is three questions: is it part of your strategic value? ( keep it inside) Is it something you do daily/weekly and links with other processes?( keep it inside) Does it require highly technical knowledge and changing laws ( consider outsourcing) So on a practical level, payroll processing is often outsourced. It is not often strategic, does not tie to many other processes, and has state by state as well as ERISA laws. On the other hand, material procurement is highly strategic, tightly linked to other processes and it ...

Continue reading this entry »

Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Insource when you can, outsource when you need capacity or competency

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Core competencies and problem solving capabilities as Jeff and Steve mentioned seem to be good indications that there are multiple reasons why Toyota would insource or outsource. I frequently had to do insourcing/outsourcing/nationalization of parts and components. That included feasibility studies on components ranging from wire harness to stamped/machined parts to roofing, etc, etc.. In some cases, the studies would point out that Toyota would need to hire more people rather than using the existing capacity. In other cases we learned the floor layout wouldn't allow adequate placing of the oven needed to cure the glue for the roof trimming. There were also ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Outsiders can be insiders if they commit to intense learning partnerships

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, November 11, 2013
Automotive companies differ in how they define their core competencies, what they outsource, and their philosophy of how to deal with inhouse versus outsourced products and services. For example, Toyota makes their own plastic bumpers, makes a substantial number of their own seats, and makes some key components of hybrids such as batteries and switching circuits. As Steve Spear points out the structure of what you make in-house versus outside is less important then how you manage processes within specific units that do specialized work and across these specialty units. Many organizations have terrible trouble with cross-functional ...

Continue reading this entry »

Steven Spear

Steve Spear: It’s not about formal boundaries between firms, but about the dynamics of improvement

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Monday, November 11, 2013
In trying to understand what to in source and what to out source, it is first important to recognize what we are trying to accomplish: create the possibility for high speed problem seeing and problem solving as the engine for improvement and growth. The key point is that exceptional performance levels are won by exceptional rates of internally generally improvement. Improvement, in turns, means finding where problems are occurring and concentrating time and resources on them to convert the ignorance at their core into useful knowledge that separates us from the pack. In effect, those who win do so by ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: How can we enhance intense collaboration?

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Monday, October 21, 2013
I’ve been puzzled for years by how the Toyota Way 2001 document organizes topics around Respect and Teamwork. Respect is about 1) Respect for stakeholders, 2) Mutual trust and mutual responsibility and 3) Sincere communication. Teamwork, on the other hand is about human resources development 1) commitment to education and development and 2) respect for the individual and realizing consolidated power as a team. Hmmm – thoroughly confusing. How come individual development and respect for the individual are teamwork? And how come respect for stakeholders and mutual trust are parts of respect? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I’ll eat ...

Continue reading this entry »

Karen Martin

Karen Martin: A3 to instill system thinking in the DNA of the organization

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Here again is an issue that has both a philosophical element to it (we're one company, not a series of departments), but it also speaks to the real, pragmatic needs organizations have for getting results. Applying the scientific method across disparate silos requires that the functions/departments first have consensus (and perhaps a sense of urgency) that the problem is worth solving and that the time is "now" to solve it. A wonderful means for driving the conversations that lead to both consensus around priorities and actual results is value stream mapping. In our book that's coming out in December, co-author Mike Osterling and I address how we use value ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Basic skills of active listening, facilitating, modeling behavior, giving and receiving feedback and more are all necessary to lead any people for anything and are critical for leading teams to improve processes.

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
In The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership the first step of the model is self development. Even that one step involves more then learning the scientific method. Toyota Business Practices, their scientific method for problem solving, is intended to not only solve problems but develop people to learn to follow the foundation of the Toyota Way--Challenge, Go to gemba to see first hand, kaizen methods, teamwork, and respect. These each involve a set of skills. As the leader of an improvement process learns these skills are all essential to successfully leading a team of people toward ...

Continue reading this entry »

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 ...

Continue reading this entry »

gmo

Lean Summit UK 2013 – 5th & 7th November

By gmo, - Last updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Lean Transformation: Frontiers and Fundamentals 5th - 7th November Wokefield Park, Reading, UK As part of our mission to help organisations with their Lean journeys the Lean Enterprise Academy is holding its annual UK Lean Summit at Wokefield Park near Reading. Our first UK Lean Summit was held in 1997 and since that time we have held a Summit each time we have felt that there was something important for the Lean Community to hear. 12 Presentations 8 Discussion Workshops 3 Lean Masterclasses The purposes of the Summit is as follows: To raise consciousness of the latest developments in Lean Thinking and Practice To provide insight into practical ways to get started, deepen ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: IT needs to turn its purpose on its head first

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Friday, September 6, 2013
True, I can’t think of any lean transformation I’ve witnessed firsthand where IT is part of the solution, not part of the problem – apart from a few specific examples I’ll address further on. I’ve been wondering about that, and if we take a careful step back, there is a possible structural reason for this. To my mind, the deep value change that lean thinking involves is the following. Senior managers believe their job is to 1) set strategy or dictate policy, 2) organize the business to realize this strategy and 3) implement the necessary systems to support this organization. Typically, ...

Continue reading this entry »

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? ...

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Start witht he IT implications of a model line, and get expert coaching

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, August 5, 2013
My first reaction is that if this is a new lean effort, e.g., less then 2 years into it, specific action by IT can easily do more harm then good. This happens when the core processes have not been well defined, and therefore their information needs are not well defined, and IT starts developing "lean software" that is a distraction and not what the value-added workers need. For example, IT jumps in to develop an electronic kanban system when the company does not have the discipline or understanding to run even a basic manual kanban system. This ...

Continue reading this entry »

Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean thinking spreads only as fast as each individual manager learns to think lean

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, July 14, 2013
This is a difficult question to answer because it begs, in the way that it is formulated, an answer that doesn’t exist (to my knowledge) in lean. Let’s face it: lean is not scalable. Or put it in another way, if any one knows how to scale lean, let’s patent it and sell it and make a quick buck. The key to spreading lean thinking (and obtaining the associated performance improvement) is to develop the kaizen spirit in every person. The only known way any specific person can learn the kaizen spirit is to be coached on the gemba by a ...

Continue reading this entry »

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. ...

Continue reading this entry »

Theme by Matteo Turchetto|Andreas Viklund