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 9 mai 2015
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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Walk through the process

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: dimanche, juin 24, 2012
The first activity I would suggest is just walking a quote through until the order is completed, invoiced and recorded. Talk to the people about what their steps are.  Ask what they spend their time doing.  Ask how long it takes to do the main purpose (the value add) of the task, and then how long to do the task overall.   Ask which parts of the task are done in the IT system and what tasks are also done on spreadsheets. Ask how many emails are created to do the job.  I bet you will be worn out!   And ready to take action.
Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Don’t reorganize! Learn to pull instead

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: dimanche, juin 24, 2012
Full disclosure : I wrote a book on re-engineering almost 20 years ago and I wish there was a recall procedure for published books :). As the book was put on the shelves I had reached the conclusion from evidence that a re-engineering project would stop the company working for about two years as every one tried to figure out their role and play musical chairs and the new “re-engineered” organization would work brilliantly for high-running products but very poorly for every thing else, which typically would be disastrous for market share. At the time I was writing it, I was pondering ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Without work standards there can be no kaizens

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: samedi, juin 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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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Changing the structure doesn’t change the work – don’t reorganize, teach teamwork

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, juin 23, 2012
I often think that questions like this suggest a misunderstanding of the problem.  Simply stating the problem is we have silos and we want to turn the organization sideways to focus on business processes is not a  good problem statement.   Presumably there is a process that cuts across silos and the silos need to work together to solve specific problems to achieve specific objectives. The reason they currently do not work together to solve those problems is because of the history of the company, what they were taught, how they are evaluated, and how they have been led.  Organizations often ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Work standards are both individual and collective

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: samedi, juin 23, 2012
I was in a plant this week where assembly operators filmed each other and compared how they work on the same station stopwatch in hand, and get to an agreement on the standard way to build a specific part. On most aspects they agreed there was a “best way” in the stopwatch sense, on some they agreed to disagree as each individually preferred to do this gesture this way or that. As they went through the exercise repeatedly, they also highlighted many opportunities for kaizen to improve the workstation to make the job easier. I’m not sure the source of ...

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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: mardi, juin 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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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: It depends on how many people you really need to make the effort on this specific improvement to take place with its adequate adjustment of standards.

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: dimanche, juin 3, 2012
Maybe the core question ends up being:  whose role is it to improve? The question seems too simple now: When we say we are improving specifically the "standards", and if by that we mean improving standardized work and its three documents, then very often that is done by a team as small as 2 people, the team member and his supervisor (or many times a process engineer), who can document, do time taking, record steps on paper, etc. On an extended definition, I think that in most cases, when we say we are improving standards, it is implied that there has been an improvement in the process first, so ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Standard work is the best way that is currently know to do the work

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: jeudi, mai 31, 2012
Standard work is the best way that is currently know to do the work.  As decided by the people who do the work.  To get the best possible standards, the people doing the work might have involved customers and suppliers of their work to better understand what is needed.   The standard will evolve over time as the work content changes, the understanding of waste improves, and the supplier and customer needs change.   The real question I think is "why have a standard?"  And as the question implies, the purpose of the standard is achieve repeatable results irrespective of who does the work which improves downstream quality and results.  Additionally, ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Standards might stem from an individual’s suggestion or it could be the result of a group discussion

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: mercredi, mai 30, 2012
In the Toyota Way the purpose of standardized work, or any standards for that matter, is to provide a baseline for kaizen.  If 5 people do the job differently than any individual with an idea will only apply the idea to her own work.  The individual will learn something, but the group will not.  In order for a group to learn they have to agree on a standard and then when a new idea is tried and confirmed it becomes the new standard.  If only one individual was doing the job they might be able to learn in their head ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: PDCA is the missing element

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: mardi, avril 10, 2012
I'm not sure we are not doing anything about it.  But perhaps what we are doing is not working.  Perhaps the PDCA element is missing. As people say, the problems of today are all solutions from yesterday. One example is the home ownership catastrophe.  Smart people created several avenues to allow millions of people to buy their own home.   Home ownership was solved for people who otherwise would never afford to buy those much-more-than-I-can-afford-mansions.  Those smart people were celebrated by the home buyers, builders, banks, and even the US government.   The great solution for home ownership almost became the great depression of the century. Perhaps it is not that we ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Where is the blueprint for a manager who wants to create a learning organization?

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: lundi, avril 9, 2012
Learning is hard. Particularly in adults, learning requires a determination to learn. This means controlling one’s intuitive “first response.” Learning requires what is called “frame control”, which is a mindfulness about our mental models and knowing how to actively play fit-to-fact with new info or situations. Grown up minds are simply not designed for learning as we know what we know, and believe what we believe. In other words, first “what we see is all there is” – it’s hard to realize that the way we see a situation is only our own perspective on whatever is going on: part of ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: We look at single variable explanations in isolation to get us the quick fix

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: lundi, avril 9, 2012
The best way I can explain this is with an analogy to physical health.  We know what it takes to be healthy--exercise and eating right.  Yet America, as the wealthiest in the world, is one of the unhealthiest.  Obesity runs rampant and the large majority of Americans are overweight and out of shape.  We could ask the same question.  Why are we letting our future deteriorate without doing anything about it?  But we are doing a lot.  The wellness industry and diet industry and diet drug industry are investing  tens of billions of dollars if not trillions.  But we cannot ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Our business & professional schools teach us to think in a way inimical to learning

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: lundi, avril 9, 2012
Why Are Learning Organizations So Scarce? A billion dollar question... There are many root causes, which my Lean Edge colleagues will no doubt explore at length. Here's one that I find compelling: Our business & professional schools teach us to think in a way inimical to learning. Here are some of the mental models I picked up at engineering and business schools: 1) We are very smart and successful 2) We can manage from a distance, by the numbers. Corollary: What can front line people possibly teach us? 3) Everything wraps up nicely -- just like an MBA case study. 4) Problems are bad things -- smart, successful managers like us shouldn't have problems! 5) ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: A good leader will show the way, a lean leader will have the follower find it

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: jeudi, mars 29, 2012
I think the ability to influence other people and the skills needed to do so would be somewhat similar to both types of leaders, provided they are both good leaders. Perhaps a distinguishing trait between the two leaders can be perceived by observing how they interact with their followers.    While the lean leader will frequently challenge their followers beliefs and paradigms, the good traditional one will put a lot of weight in the praise and motivation. Maybe implicit in the lean leader's approach is the opportunity to learn and develop the thinking.  A good leader will show the way, a lean leader will have the follower find it. In the ...

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Dan Markovitz: A lean leader achieves objectives by developing workers’ capabilities to deliver those results

By , - Last updated: mercredi, mars 28, 2012
Leaders are lauded for delivering results. Wall Street in particular prizes predictability above all. But reaching goals or benchmarks doesn’t speak to the sustainability of the accomplishment. “Chainsaw” Al Dunlop fired people at Sunbeam (and other companies he “led”) left and right on his way towards reaching profit targets. Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling of Enron cooked the books to hit its numbers. In neither case were the results sustainable. By contrast, a lean leader builds the capacity of the people and the system, so that the results — and the ability to continue to deliver results —  transcends the leader’s ...

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Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: To fully and deeply commit to the PDCA cycle, all day, every day

By Peter Handlinger, - Last updated: dimanche, mars 25, 2012
If you had to force a one liner statement from me in answer to the above question I guess it would have to be “To fully and deeply commit to the PDCA cycle, all day, every day”. But what does this mean practically in terms of behaviour and results? Some very clear guidelines have been offered in the previous sections. Also, many references to Toyota have been made and, having spent 14 odd years in Toyota, I can recognize many of the behaviours described. Of course, whilst at Toyota we did not understand the meaning of Lean – but were schooled ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean leaders make people before they make parts

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: mercredi, mars 14, 2012
Management is essentially about getting people to do what you want them to do, like having an extra pair of arms to implement your ideas, whereas leadership is about getting people to fight your battles for you. These are two very different approaches to any organizational role. In that sense, whether lean or not, leadership is about how you interpret your job, and then how successful you are at doing what you had in mind. There are endless studies and books about “leadership” and no one has quite put the finger on what it is that makes some leaders great. On ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Toyota Teaches its Leaders

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: dimanche, mars 11, 2012
Question:  What distinguishes a Lean leader from a very good traditional leader, in behaviour and results? I think there's little difference between a good Lean leader and a good traditional leader. Both want to transcend themselves. What we may actually be asking here is why does Toyota seem to have a disproportionate number of them? One factor is the way Toyota leaders acquire their leadership ability. Traditionally we try to select for leadership skills -- making the assumption that they are inborn -- while at Toyota leadership skill and mindset are taught in daily practice. The pattern Toyota wants you to ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Sorry, no buzz word

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: mardi, mars 6, 2012
Sorry but in all honesty I am not a fan of providing “sound bite” sized answers to complex questions. I fear these short so-called answers or buzz words often do far more harm than good and don’t advance the state of lean thinking very much. I believe that hard questions deserve some hard thinking and reflection. If Lean Leadership could be reduced to a catchy phrase or a basic formula (e=mc²) it would have been done long ago…In order to play along with the game however I will draft an attempt at a shorter response and then a longer one ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: A lean leader celebrates disclosing problems and other people’s abilities to solve them

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: samedi, mars 3, 2012
A lean leader celebrates disclosing problems. A lean leader celebrates other people's abilities to solve problems. A lean leader follows standard work themselves and expect it from everyone in the team.   A lean leader creates time for improvement and starts every meeting with "what have you improved since we last met?" A traditional leader celebrates good news.  A traditional leader promotes fire fighters. A traditional leader believes people have to be managed.  A traditional leader evaluates how closely the plan was followed. A traditional leader sets targets based on internal capability.
Jim Huntzinger

Jim Huntzinger: Lean leaders spend the time developing the people with different knowledge, wisdom and experience to change and evolve the system and culture of the organization

By Jim Huntzinger, - Last updated: samedi, mars 3, 2012
To carry forward the points Jeff makes about differentiating between a lean leader and a traditional leader, we can also look at this from a systems view.  As Dr. Liker aptly describes a traditional leader with all the adjectives that we are familiar with; and often, these types of leaders do make changes with very good results. The longer term issue is these types of leaders rarely make the deep system changes needed to sustain the high level results.  So as soon as they depart the organization so do the high level results.  The have not spent the time developing the ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: A Lean Leader strengthens the business by developing people through coaching process improvement at the gemba

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, mars 3, 2012
A Lean Leader strengthens the business by developing people through coaching process improvement at the gemba. When we think of a traditional leader with adjectives like charismatic, decisive, visionary, inspiring, tough, bold, and transformational.  This is a western interpretation of the leader as the individual who changes the game, turns the company around, makes the tough decisions, and gets results, results, results.  When we see results, and especially when we see a turnaround in the performance of a company, it is the CEO who gets interviewed and talked about.  It is understandable that Western leaders have big egos since they are ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Satisfy the Customer in the Long Run for Sales and Profits

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: dimanche, février 26, 2012
I think we are falling into the trap of discussing “production tactics” as a root cause solution without really understanding the problem. Apologies in advance but I would have to back track first and clarify the situation in greater detail before I could answer the question. I will provide some context for what I mean and some thoughts on the short term and long term in terms of actions required. For starters I’d like to point out the Toyota Production System aka “Lean” sets out to satisfy the customer and provide maximum profits for the company in the long run. ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Never Waste a Good Crisis

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: vendredi, février 24, 2012
Falling sales always provokes deeper thinking about what it talks to survive. The starting point is to define the business problem behind these falling sales. Structural shifts often coincide with cyclical downturns of the economy. For instance in the USA health insurance companies are now switching their patients to local district hospitals charging much lower rates. Big expensive teaching hospitals are struggling to adjust to this structural change, which is happening much faster than expected and is unlikely to be reversed. In the UK big cuts in public sector budgets are having a dramatic and lasting effect on public procurement ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Takt time is a thinking device to combine flexibility and productivity

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: jeudi, février 23, 2012
As time goes by fact becomes legend and legend becomes myth. Takt time is one of the core concepts of lean, which origins are now misted in myth – uncertain and unknowable, but thought-provoking anyhow. Legend has it that Ohno hit upon Takt time thinking when trying to improve productivity. Toyota was assembling trucks for the US army, and Ohno realized they’d spent three weeks in the month getting all parts in and then producing like crazy for the last week they started again. He figured out that rather than be an end-of-month company, if they were a end-of-day company ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: What’s Your Strive Vector?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: mardi, février 7, 2012
Question:  Is there a lean way of dealing with falling sales? Conventional lean responses to falling sales -- like adjusting production to customer takt and giving rebates to help levelize demand -- reflect a view of Lean and Continuous Improvement that will be too narrow for sustained competitiveness. We tend to apply Lean inside our comfort zone, honing our existing ways of doing something. Unfortunately, if we don't also establish challenging target conditions outside our comfort zone and current competencies we won't even perceive the obstacles that would lead us to the learning vectors, innovations and competencies of tomorrow, much less work ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: You must balance the principle of “build to takt” with the principle of “heijunka,” and the principle of “respect for people.”

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: mardi, février 7, 2012
I appreciate this question from Jean-Baptiste Bouthillon who himself has become a serious student of lean and had to make decisions like this for his construction company.  I will start with his assumption that "production must follow the takt of customer demand."  It is always dangerous to take an ideal principle and turn it into a prescriptive statement.  "The ideal is working to achieve production to takt" is different then "thou shall always build to takt."  The ideal is a True North direction that you are working toward and you want it engrained into your DNA as it is a ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Assess along purpose (results), process (means), people (learning) framework of a lean management system

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: dimanche, janvier 22, 2012
Lean adds new perspectives to the traditional ways of assessing executive performance, namely Results and People skills, and adds a third process or value stream dimension. These mirror the purpose (results), process (means), people (learning) framework of a lean management system. The lean logic behind this is that you need knowledgeable people running tightly integrated end-to-end value streams and projects to deliver results that will be sustained. In other words, good people running a good process generate good results. This also provides the right basis for redesigning these products, value streams and business models as circumstances change. A lean assessment starts ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Evaluate efforts to improve performance indicators and develop self-competencies

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: samedi, décembre 17, 2011
What an interesting question! And difficult to answer, as every organization has its own traditions and practices on the topic. If we’re talking evaluation and not incentive, the one thing I’ve learned the hard way in lean transformations is that you can’t simply focus on results because you’ll tend to give the hardest projects to some of your best guys. If a hospital evaluates its obstetricians on complications at childbirth, it will unwittingly punish the top specialist that gets all the hard cases. Results on key indicators are nonetheless important. What we tend to do first is to separate financials from ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: What are they trying to achieve, what is the process to get there, what concrete actions are they taking

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, décembre 17, 2011
The obvious answer is that it depends.  Any of us who have had Japanese sensei had heard that a lot.  So what does it depend on.  First, it depends one the strategic business purpose of the organization--external.  Second, it depends on the organization's goals for people and culture development-internal.  Third, it depends on the current maturity of the organization to meet the business objectives.  In other words I would want to know what the executive is trying to achieve, how they are thinking about the process of getting there, and what concrete actions they are taking--the hows.   It is critical ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: How can lean survive

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: mardi, novembre 29, 2011
The best chance for lean to survive a change in top management is if it is seen to be delivering significant results, not just point improvements in key processes but bottom-line results for the organisation as a whole, which would be reversed if support for lean disappeared. Top management may be instrumental in leading the lean actions that deliver these results, but they are often led by managers lower down the organisation fed up trying to manage broken processes. In this case support from top management is essential to use the freed up capacity or cash to reduce costs and grow ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean is a CEO practice to improve performance

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: mercredi, novembre 23, 2011
The first thing his sensei told my father when they started working together was that the great weakness of TPS was that it rested entirely on the plant managers. Years later, this statement turns out to be confirmed, time and time again. If there’s one thing we’ve learned is that lean is a practice – and well, a practice. I’ve been discussing this issue with other CEOs and one different way at looking at lean is that it is a personal practice for the CEO to have a direct influence on his or her company’s performance. This practice is based on, ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: How do we continue to learn after current leaders move on?

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: jeudi, novembre 10, 2011
Good insights from Steve, Mike et al -- thanks. Here are my thoughts, for posting. How Does Lean Survive a Change in Top Management? Succession planning is indeed the key, but perhaps not in the conventional sense. As Mike suggest Lean thinking entails meta-cognition. Meta-cognition entails 'knowing about knowing' and answering questions like: How do I learn? What do I know? What do I know well? What do I not know very well? Great leaders tend to know themselves thereby, and can make conscious decisions. (The Lean Business System is fundamentally about wakefulness.) Leaders need to ask these questions of their organization: How do we learn best? What do we currently know, and not know, well? Most ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Developing the next generation of leaders

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: mercredi, novembre 2, 2011
As Steve pointed out succession planning is the key, except that succession planning means different things in different organizational contexts.  Many large companies pride themselves on succession planning and have elaborate IT systems and human resources has developed formal career paths.  In a lean organization, if Toyota is any guide, these types of systems are only superficial for screening.  One of the problems with trying to transform a traditional organization to lean is in fact the way the senior management was developed.  They are often focused only on results and pay lip service to developing leaders who can follow a ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: How do you select the next CEO for continuity in excellence?

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: mercredi, novembre 2, 2011
The inability to maintain continuity with a firm's efforts around continuous improvement, operational excellence, and broad based product and process innovation has to be tied, in part at least, to poor succession planning and process. Be it the CEO or board, there must be some criteria of critical skills and capabilities that leadership candidates must posses to be deemed likely at success.  One couldn't imagine a contender who either lacked some demonstrated competency in finance, marketing, strategy and the like or who had no plan to acquire those competencies before taking over. Unfortunately, the skills relevant to achieving operational excellence are too ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: True North is key because building capability feels like failure on the spot

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: lundi, octobre 31, 2011
“You’re the problem” told the Toyota coordinator to the shop manager when the latter complained about the level of the operators he had to work with. It took the manager a full year to understand what the sensei meant, and come back with “okay, I’m the problem – not the operators. What should I do?” His sensei then got him to start a training dojo. It took that manager a year to accept that he was the problem. It’s taken me fifteen to reach the same conclusion: if lean is rarely carried out beyond cost-cutting programs, we’re the problem. So: what ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: A Vision is Necessary, but Not Enough

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: dimanche, octobre 9, 2011
Question: What would you say is the role of True North in Lean Thinking? For my answer, please click on the compass. (if you cannot see the compass, please paste the following URL into your internet browser: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mrother/Handbook/1-Direction.pdf )
Jeff Liker

True North: Find the gap to the ideal state to stretch yourself

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: dimanche, octobre 9, 2011
"True North" is used quite a bit around Toyota, though the hard-core TPS folks do not like it preferring "ideal state."  Either concept has a similar meaning which is that you should understand the gap between the ideal and the actual so you can see how far you need to go.  Toyota Business Practices, which replaced practical problem solving, has an explicit step to define the ideal state.  Then the gap between the ideal and the actual is broken down to manageable steps and an explicit target for the kaizen activity.  Then root cause analysis proceeds for the gap relative ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Success is the ennemy of future success

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: vendredi, septembre 23, 2011
Building on Steven's thoughts, True North entails developing a clear picture of a) Ideal condition, and b) Target condition. As Steven suggests, at the process level, this means answering questions like: "Is the process behaving as expected?" Corollaries: Do I understand my process?  Is our hypothesis sound?  If not, how do we adjust it? "Is there creative tension in our management process? Corollaries: Are problems visible?  Are we challenging ourselves or simply resting on our oars? True North works much the same at the broad strategic level. In my view, its purpose, at each "level of magnification", is to create discomfort, and reflection (hansei) thereby. Wakefulness, if you will Success is the enemy of future success. Perhaps ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: The True North “Ideal”: A source of tension for continuous improvement

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: mercredi, septembre 21, 2011
In Toyota thinking, there are at least two indicators that a problem is occurring that needs to be resolved. -- The first is a sign that the process is not in control and that the process is understood imperfectly. -- The second, the 'True North Ideal,' as we called it in "Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System," is a source of relentless tension for improvement and innovation--even when the system is capable and in control. 1- Specification, Built in Tests, and Problems as sign of gap between expectations and actual experience. "Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System <http://hbr.org/1999/09/decoding-the-dna-of-the-toyota-production-system/ar/1> " begins ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean and Operational Excellence

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: mardi, septembre 13, 2011
It is a mistake to think of lean as just one of the many tools in the Operational Excellence portfolio. Operational Excellence is really a catch all label for many different "best practices". Lean on the other hand is a very specific set of interlocking practices, tools and behaviours derived from a very clear reference model. Lean grew out of years of practice and experimentation at Toyota and at companies in other sectors that have followed their example. It did not come from applying theoretical insights to business practice. Correctly understood, lean is a much more fundamental and comprehensive approach to ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Lean provides the “hows” to the pursuit of perfection

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: dimanche, septembre 11, 2011
In our recent book, The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement, we start the book by talking about the pursuit of excellence.  We came to the realization that talking about "leaning out processes" gives a mistaken image.  It is a mechanistic view of the world that gives the impression that lean is like going through a field with a weed whacker and cutting down the weeds.  Actually that is a good analogy because if you do this to your weeds they will simply grow back, and if you go around with tools and "lean out processes" entropy will set in and ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean is unique, lean is different

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: jeudi, juillet 21, 2011
This is the all or nothing question, so I’ll go all in! Lean is unique, lean is different. I have to confess I published four business books before specializing in lean. None of them very good, I fear. In youthful folly I believed in the value of reading the business books literature, cherry picking the best insights and trying to put it all together again, trusting that the assemblage would contribute to… something. As I’d discovered TPS early on, there was a smattering of lean in all of them: Deming, JIT, etc. But until I wrote The Gold Mine with ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Lean Can Be a Great Integrator

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: jeudi, juillet 21, 2011
Question: Did the writers of books about Excellence and what makes great organizations get it right to begin with and does lean add anything new? Recently, as I was watching an improvement team working at a 3-person U-shaped assembly cell at an automotive supplier, I was reminded of the importance of lean-specific knowledge. The improvement team’s task was to distribute the assembly work among the three operators in the cell, i.e., to determine the handoff points between the operators. As the improvement team discussed and sketched options I noticed that every one of their work-distribution scenarios was linear. That is, the only operator ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Excellence books hit the spot but miss the gemba

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: lundi, juillet 11, 2011
In my view, the "Excellence" authors basically got it right.  (I continue to refer to them.) But the "Excellence" books are (necessarily) academic. The Lean movement has brought these ideas into the messy world of practice -- a great and continuing contribution. Imagine a messy changeover kaizen in an Indiana stamping plant.  The team stands glaring at you with their arms crossed. Can we cut changeover time in half?  Can we teach these jokers how to sustain & make further improvements? Our revered and scary gemba -- where the proverbial rubber hits the road... Best regards, Pascal
Mark Graban

Mark Graban:”What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

By Mark Graban, - Last updated: vendredi, juillet 8, 2011
I sometimes hear people say that lean concepts and philosophies are just a restatement of Dr. Deming's teachings or it's all copied from Henry Ford or it has been lifted from Benjamin Franklin. But it could be argued that each new "restatement" leads to incrementally improved definitions and understandings of core principles from the past. One hospital laboratory director I worked with had been studying Peter Senge's "The Fifth Discipline" with his managers, but when introduced to lean and the Toyota Production System, he found a framework that allowed him to "operationalize" the concepts of systems thinking so they could ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Dispel the myth of “lean will not work here”

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: vendredi, juillet 8, 2011
In our newest book,  The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement, the bulk are seven case studies of organizations very different from auto--health care, iron ore mining, heavy machinery, nuclear submarine overhaul and repair,  product development, nuclear fuel, and more.  Each tells the story from the sensei perspective of the process they went through to help the organization understand lean and develop the skills to make significant improvement.  Success ranged from a model line to a model mine to a model department.  These were all large organizations and none so far led to a transformed total organization on the way toward ...

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Dave Brunt

Dave Brunt: What are the most difficult industries and activities to introduce lean to and why? In your experience, where have you found lean most difficult to introduce? What specific barriers have you come across? How have you overcome them?

By Dave Brunt, - Last updated: mercredi, juillet 6, 2011
There is no doubt that there are many challenges that we face when we introduce lean - in fact we can come up with lots of examples in all the Ms - Man/Woman, Method, Machines, Materials, Measurements etc. However the lean community can cite examples that span economic sectors and different countries - varying from exemplar organisations outperforming their industry through to good isolated examples in business units. Given that there are examples across the economy, I wonder if there are some situational issues that make implementation harder in some instances. Here are some thoughts: Is there a business need? Ohno ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Who struggles more with lean

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, juin 25, 2011
I remember two distinguished CEOs from the auto industry telling me that it was impossible to get their sales and marketing people to go lean. Although my colleague Dave Brunt and I have never given up this quest they have a point. In our experience the hardest people to convince are those whose natural temperament is doing deals, the traders and negotiators who are always looking forward to the next deal and have no patience for the discipline involved in improving processes. Although Dave has had some extraordinary success with what are now some of the best Toyota dealers, it ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Engaging the public sector in improvement is vital to the national interest

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: mardi, juin 21, 2011
Like Art, I've found government to be the most challenging environment for Lean thinking. Root cause: the customer usually has no alternative provider & therefore can be ignored -- (sadly, but more or less safely). In my experience, government workers span the gamut of capability & engagement. Some are terrific & would excel in any environment. Others simply don't care.  The attitude of the latter seems to be, "Where you gonna go...?" But engaging the public sector in improvement is vital to the national interest. It's a big competitive advantage, in fact. Greece exemplifies the effect of a vast, disengaged public sector. (Who is going to invest in Greece?)  But Greece is not ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: The boardroom is hard to convince, because it needs learning both lean and finance

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: mardi, juin 21, 2011
At the latest lean conference in Paris one of the presenters was the producer of French TV’s most successful sitcom. We learned that what makes a sitcom work is the consistency of the characters. Since many authors work on sequential episodes, if there are many episodes between the one you’re currently writing and the last one showing, chances are character affecting events will have happened in the episodes still on paper in between you will not know. Not only this creates rework, but it also weakens the characters, and so, the attractiveness of the show. By applying lean concepts of ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Whoever Experiments Fastest, Wins

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: dimanche, juin 19, 2011
Question: What are the most difficult industries and activities to introduce lean to and why? Here’s a thought: The more similar a company’s business is to Toyota’s, the more it can try to copy and implement Toyota’s visible tools rather than practicing and developing the PDCA skill that is essential to Lean. PDCA = the scientific method. Scientists know we often advance to new solutions and levels of performance through disproof. Why? Because a refuted hypothesis (when things don’t go as expected) reveals a knowledge threshold and helps take us beyond our current ability and thinking. Even the best-developed plans should ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: Healthcare is least likely to benefit from lean or any other operational excellence approach because healthcare professionals are not trained to think systematically about systems

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: vendredi, juin 17, 2011
Healthcare is the sector least likely to achieve process excellence with any meaningful breadth or speed because of three key impediments, one internal to healthcare,  one about the environment in which healthcare organizations operate, and one about the way in which ideas about process excellence are presented. Internal Problem: Training in Functions without Systems Thinking The internal problem is that healthcare professionals are trained, promoted, and evaluated in narrowly defined functional specialties--specialties within imagining, within surgery, within medicine, within nursing, etc.  There is good reason for this focus within specialties--mastery of the advanced science and technology requires time, practice, and effort. However, missing ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: How to Judge the Success of Lean?

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: vendredi, juin 17, 2011
Lean is a journey and to my mind the best way of judging success is by how much people have learnt so far and how ready they are to take the next leg of the journey. I often meet people who tell me that “Lean has changed their lives”. While this certainly makes writing books worthwhile it also presents an opportunity to ask some probing questions. Can they show me how lean has changed the way they work with their colleagues and the things they are working on? Are they for instance really working together in teams, defining their own standard ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean is an attitude

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: dimanche, mai 29, 2011
I’ve now lived through several heartbreaking cases where the chief executive of a lean company or division leaves (retires, company gets purchased, etc.) and all lean gains are lost in six to twelve months, sometimes faster. The company reverts more or less where it was before the lean transformation took off, sometimes worth. If this serves to show something, is that lean is a management method. Compared to that there are also countless cases of disappointing lean programs. Actually, I personally have still to see a lean initiative not driven by the chief exec succeed – and I’m looking! The best ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: How to Measure Lean Success

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: samedi, mai 28, 2011
Question: How would you define lean success? Manufacturers have made many improvements in quality and productivity. There’s no question that our factories are better than they were 20 years ago, and that significant progress toward world-class manufacturing status has been made. But the world doesn’t stand still. A question for me is how organizations can keep improving and adapting - systematically - along unpredictable paths, as a part of what they do every day. Capability development So I agree with Jeff Liker that there is no end point to lean success, only transformation leading to continuous improvement toward your vision (which, by ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Learn lean and have fun!

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: vendredi, mai 27, 2011
Any change takes thought leaders and when others see great results they will follow.   Unfortunately we often do not know what to look for in terms of results, or we are too far from the action to see results other than in a report out or meeting notes. Another risk is having the initial launching efforts so diffused that there is activity all over, but no real point of focus to demonstrate success. The third risk is when the efforts for change are lead by a charismatic leader who has some success and then is promoted or leaves the company, and the standards for day to day improvement is ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: there is no end point to lean success, only transformation leading to increased performance

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: vendredi, mai 27, 2011
Great question!  We thought we might sneak in over the fence unnoticed with that one.  The reality is an Industry Week survey like that one, that purportedly measures achievement of results, is purely subjective and depends highly on what the "anticipated results" are as the question suggests.  It tells us little about the actual success of the lean programs.  We were using it as it was one easy to understand factoid that shows companies are struggling with their lean programs because of the way they view them and approach them so it was convenient.  Let us assume that they are ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean problem solving and teamwork

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: vendredi, mai 27, 2011
There is more to problem solving and teamwork in a lean organisation. This was brought home last week during another Gemba walk through a plant making fast moving consumer goods. As we snaked our way past a maze of hoppers, ovens, pipes and packaging lines it became clear than nothing was visible at all, to me or to the managers accompanying me. I kept asking what was today's plan, were they behind or ahead, what were the biggest problems and what actions were they taking to address them. The managers I was with could only answer these questions by going ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Individual responsibility to solve problems with colleagues from other fucntions

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: vendredi, mai 13, 2011
As I understand it, teamwork has a specific meaning within TPS: it’s about individual development through solving problems with others across functions. So, on the one hand, individual responsibility remains (one problem is owned by one person), but on the other this person cannot solve the problem alone but must collaborate with colleagues, and more specifically, colleagues from other functions. Interestingly, this definition doesn’t refer to “team building” – there is no notion of activities targeted towards developing a stronger team spirit. Also absent is the motherhood that “there is no “I” in the word TEAM” and that strong egos should ...

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Jim Huntzinger

Jim Huntzinger: Be Like Coach – What underlies the Team

By Jim Huntzinger, - Last updated: vendredi, mai 13, 2011
I believe Pascal really hits the point well.  I also love his Coach Wooden reference so I will reference Coach as well.  The underlying principle and practice is the focus on developing the individual as a precursor to developing the team.  You cannot have a strong team without strong (well –developed) individuals – or, at least, cannot sustain any reasonable level of teamwork without well-developed members.  This was the objective of the TWI Program – developing the skills of individuals so that they can better contribute to the larger organization.  This is also why it laid the ground work for ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Team members have clearly defined & interconnected roles, which in turn, depends on shared purpose

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: mardi, mai 10, 2011
What is teamwork? In my view, a team is an organized group of people with a clearly defined goal. "Organized" means team members have clearly defined & interconnected roles -- which in turn, depends on shared purpose. In the absence of latter, our discourse inevitably devolves into random opinions, factoids and, often, recrimination. "If only those bozos in... would do their jobs!" Shared purpose shifts our thinking to: "Just how are we going to achieve that objective?" (Or "target condition" -- tip of the hat to Mike Rother) What sort of objectives are most compelling & effective? Objectives that are just beyond the capability of the team. (I've found that it's better to ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: What is Lean Teamwork?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: mardi, mai 10, 2011
Question:  Lean focuses on individual problem solving, yet stresses the importance of teamwork. What would be your definition of teamwork in the lean sense? (Who says Lean focuses on “individual problem solving”?! I’ve never seen an individual solve a problem solely by him- or herself. Think about it.) You can say a team is a group of people working on a shared objective. In regard to teamwork in the lean sense, I think something Toyota does that sports teams do, but many business organizations do not, is deliberately teach team members a common and systematic means for achieving objectives. A kata. So we ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Teamwork is not “work teams”

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: mardi, mai 10, 2011
I had in interesting experience about fifteen years ago when we were doing research for a book about Japanese manufacturing in the U.S. (called Remade in America).  We were studying a Japanese auto supplier with overseas plants in the U.S.   One question we had was how the Japanese would bring teamwork to the American culture.  At the time there was a lot of discussion about the use of work groups in Japan--work groups that were part of quality circle programs, natural work groups on the shop floor with team leaders, collocated cross-functional teams in product development and so on.  In ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Ain’t No Such Thing as Sustaining

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: vendredi, avril 29, 2011
Question: How can lean results be sustained over time? It's been difficult to maintain lean improvements. Our efforts have generated many successes, but not so many sustainable ones. We tend to involve dedicated lean experts, who become a constraint. When they turn their attention to the next improvement project, the one just completed degrades. Overall improvement progress is slow and the cultural change to continuous improvement is minimal. We should get something out of the way right off: There's no such thing as sustaining. There is no steady state. And, frankly, as long as we think there is we may not ...

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Mike Orzen: 3 signs of sustainability

By , - Last updated: dimanche, avril 17, 2011
Absolutely! All the examples of companies who have sustained lean thinking (and operational results) have common elements: 1) Principle -based leadership that acts as a rudder to create a constancy of purpose and alignment throughout the organization (note this is not based on a specific person); 2) Management systems that drive the right behavior; and 3) a culture of continuous problem solving, accountability, and shared responsibility. Who else besides Toyota is doing this successfully? Autoliv, Denver Health, Goodyear, John Deere, and Gulfstream Aerospace to name a few. Are they perfect examples of a Lean Enterprise and do they always get it ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean is never sustainable, but one person can become better and better at it

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: vendredi, avril 15, 2011
Where do lean results come from ? increased Sales are supported by a firm understanding of PROTECT THE CUSTOMER within the company. Delivering products without defects on time has a remarkably rapid effect on sales. Sales are further developed by improving the engineering of the product or service in order to better satisfy customers, but the first step is to teach the organization to protect the final customer by protecting each internal customer. Secondly, Cash improvements come from the inventory reduction resulting from stabilizing and leveling customer demand and pulling the process. Both techniques are about the second big step in the ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Sustaining Lean

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: lundi, avril 4, 2011
As CFO, one method I used to sustain lean thinking was to ask "what has improved since our last meeting" during each of our monthly metric meetings.   Each person on the team was empowered to make change within their jobs or with others.  And we had a cadence....for instance we had an arbitrary Takt of 1 per week.  So as well as discussing what had changed, one team member who was our "counter" would share "it is week 15, we have 18 improvements" or "it is week 32 and we have 28 improvements".   When we were starting to fall behind, we would spend more time that session talking ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: Why Lean Fails: Operational Excellence Treated as Tool Based Vocation, Not Principle Based Profession

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: dimanche, avril 3, 2011
Lean efforts are aplenty.  Rare are successful ones—characterized by sufficient improvement in the ability to create great value by delighting customers with best in class products and services, offered reliably and responsively to change, done affordably and profitably.   Nearly unheard of are sustainable successes—characterized by success over years and waves of market change and leadership succession. Why? The few world-class organizations that compete well on ‘operational excellence,’ reflected in quality, variety, time to market, affordability, agility, and many other positive attributes—manage the complex operating systems on which they depend based on few principles, adherence to which allows short term reliability and ‘high ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Resist your machine thinking!

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, avril 2, 2011
One of the most common questions we are asked is how to sustain the gains once we have improved the process. A lot of work went into getting the process right in that carefully planned kaizen workshop, and it is certainly wasteful to see it slip back to where it was before the change. Unfortunately, the most common outcome of process improvements is slipping backward. Why does this occur? The problem is actually a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to sustain the gains. It goes back to our old friend machine thinking. When you make an improvement to a machine, you expect it to operate in the new ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean Saves Capital

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, avril 2, 2011
Lean is undoubtedly about doing more with less, including less capital. Saving capital may be one of the early consequences of lean but a full realisation of the potential for designing capital saving equipment and systems only comes much later along the lean journey. Quite rightly early lean efforts are initially focused on improving customer satisfaction by performing every action right first time on time. This in turn allows many activities to be eliminated and the remaining steps to be linked together, saving cash tied up in unnecessary inventories and reducing costs by using less people. Very often this also ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Cap Ex is the key to understanding the life journey of a site – learning to think differently about investment is a make-or-break aim of lean

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: samedi, mars 19, 2011
In the end, it’s all about Cap Ex. I’ve found that the best way to understand the past and future of a site is to find out what is the investment cycle on its main piece(s) of equipment. Auto industry, for instance, works around programs which last from two to four years, according to whether the car sells or not. In other industries, you can work the same machines until they collapse and the market wouldn’t notice. Flow industries are so dependent on one huge central investment, nothing much else matters. Not surprisingly, lean thinking affects investment decisions in many dimensions. ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: The lean philosophy for new technologies is simple, thin and flexible

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, mars 12, 2011
Toyota thinks long-term about capital expenditures.  Not every expenditure has to have a specific payback and some may be pilots that are expected to have a long-term payoff.  For example, there were a lot of expenditures in the case of the first Prius for battery technology in a joint venture and for integrated circuits that did not have an immediate payback, but were investments in a core competence for the future.  Building a new plant, like the plant in Mississippi in the U.S. is also a long-term investment.  A new plant is considered a "child" and only has one simple ...

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Mark Graban

Mark Graban: The lean approach to capital expenditure, inspired by Toyota’s philosophy and practices, is also thankfully being applied in healthcare

By Mark Graban, - Last updated: vendredi, mars 11, 2011
The traditional approach to increasing capacity (beds and equipment) in healthcare is "more, more, more." More space, more money, more people. This is one reason for our rapidly increasing healthcare costs. Hospitals don't always do a good job of maximizing the use of existing resources - they often just build more space instead of improving flow, reducing variation, and reducing hospital length of stay. I remember meeting a Chief Medical Officer at a hospital in Puerto Rico. They had long patient delays in the emergency department and the CMO, through her political power, forced through the construction of 9 more E.D. ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Toyota’s Challenge for the Lean Movement

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: lundi, mars 7, 2011
The main lesson from the Toyota affair is that the lean movement will now have to live on it's wits and not on the coat tails of Toyota. It will grow and prosper if it deconstructs the many lessons learnt from Toyota and turns them into actionable practices, frames of reference, learning pathways etc to enable other organisations to build their own functional equivalents and achieve demonstrably superior performance. Simply copying Toyota's practices misses the point and does not work without understanding and internalising the thinking behind them and adapting them to the circumstances facing organisations in different industries and ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: the Toyota Way has worked as it’s supposed to, helping the company to face its challenges

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: dimanche, février 27, 2011
I had the great fortune and privilege of knowing and corresponding with Robert King Merton before he passed away, one of the great thinkers of American sociology, and he often steered me to look at how people defined any given situation. His general point was that the way people frame reality has real effects. Although no Toyota car has ever been found accelerating on its own, when the US transportation secretary tells the public to stop driving their Toyotas until they’re safe, regardless of how crazy that statement sounds in total absence of evidence, it has real effects: it creates ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Hubris is a dangerous enemy

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: mercredi, février 16, 2011
Here's another posting that builds on those by Jeff and Steve: "As Jeff Liker writes, an iconic company, synonymous with safety and quality, has been brought low by plaintiff lawyers and an opportunistic government. My sense is Toyota's reputation will recover quicker than expected, whereas the government's has suffered yet another heavy blow. Harpers February 2011 issue has an interesting piece entitled "A Super Bowl Spot for Uncle Sam -- Can Madison Avenue Make Us Love Our Government?" http://www.harpers.org/archive/2011/02/0083294.  Short answer: not if they keep doing this sort of thing... In any event, I believe there are valuable lessons here. Hubris -- excessive pride or self-confidence, arrogance -- is a dangerous enemy. "He ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: Relentless pursuit of perfection means just that – self-critique and facing one’s problems

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: mercredi, février 16, 2011
Toyota has long committed itself to the "relentless pursuit of perfection" by cultivating and sustaining relentless, internally generated improvement and innovation.  The results were legendary: movement from terribly unproductive in the late 1950s to on par by the early 1960s, a productivity leader by the late 1960s and a quality leader too by the early 1970s.  Subsequently, it set an unmatchable pace of introducing affordable, reliable new models, brands like Lexus and Scion, and innovative product technology like the hybrid drive, all the while increasing its organizational scale, scope, and complexity with aggressive efforts to localize its production (and later ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Toyota’s response demonstrated the Toyota Way at its best

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: dimanche, février 13, 2011
The events that led up to the Toyota recall crisis and all the false accusations about Toyota's ethics, concern for safety, and specific defects that cause sudden unintended acceleration were nothing short of bizarre.  As we look back at this ten years from now it will be interpreted as an Audi-like witch hunt that seems to happen mostly in the United States.  It had many of the same elements:  no underlying defect causing runaway cars, news investigations that stage sensational-looking acceleration events, ambulance-chasing attorneys licking their chops, and a foreign auto maker that was free game for the government and ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: A Little Lean Doesn’t Go a Long Way

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: vendredi, février 11, 2011
Question: Why is it so difficult to see the financial benefits from lean? I wonder if in many cases the answer is as simple as this:  We haven’t yet progressed with lean to the point where you can see the results financially. One can argue that lean means working on improving every process every day, even if only in small increments. Each process and product would always have a target condition, on the way to an overall vision, that the process owners are striving to achieve by working through the obstacles step-by-step with PDCA. But instead, we’ve tended to give responsibility for lean ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: The Financial Consequences of Lean

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: jeudi, février 3, 2011
Why is it so hard to see the financial consequences of lean? Failure to answer this dilemma has derailed many lean initiatives. This is not such a problem if top management really understands the significance of focusing on getting everything to flow right-first-time-on-time to customers. Like top management at Toyota and Tesco, they know that good processes lead to good results. Alternatively if you have an experienced Sensei who knows where the gold lies buried and who has worked on similar situations before, there is a good chance that they can help you to deliver the kind of results you ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Real lean results will show up in bottom-line and cash

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: mercredi, janvier 19, 2011
If I'm honest, I have to admit this is not an issue I've encountered firsthand. I hear many people complain about the fact that their lean program does not deliver budget-level efforts, but I have to wonder what kind of lean we're talking about. Withe the CEOs and Operations VPs I work with, lean delivers in terms of bottom-line and cash in the one to two year horizon. or put it more precisely, the companies I work with show percentage points improvement in bottom-line and significant cash gains in between one to two years time. Since the effort is personally driven ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Lean opens new avenues for business results, but it sometimes hard to know in advance what those benefits will be

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: mercredi, janvier 19, 2011
First, I want to reinforce Orry's points that there are short-term gains and long-term gains.  The most obvious short-term gains that many companies will accept are labor reductions and then only if you send these people out the door on layoff.  That is self defeating and will kill the incredible potential for operational excellence to change the business strategy.  In reality, even in companies that reduce labor significantly in percent terms it usually happens in scattered areas of the company so for the bottom line it does not have a big impact on total cost of the company.  Unless you ...

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Orry Fiume

Orry Fiume: Rather than cost accounting, look out for cash improvement

By Orry Fiume, - Last updated: mardi, janvier 18, 2011
This is a question that has been asked in every Lean Accounting workshop that I have conducted over the past 10 years. Probably the single biggest reason why we can’t see the gains in the Profit Statement is because most companies still use full absorption standard cost accounting.  In this system any deviation from standard is treated as a variance. As we implement Lean we satisfy some of our current demand from existing inventories, resulting in improving inventory turns…which is a good thing.  However, since our people are not producing product, by design, that shows up in the financial statements as ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: Perfection is achieved by discovery

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: mardi, janvier 18, 2011
The challenge common to all organizations is achieving exceptional performance to gain and sustain competitive advantage.  Achieving superlative results in terms of quality, productivity, reliability and responsiveness demands that improvement and innovation--both small scale and large--be as regular a part of work and delivering product and service to market. A capacity for relentless betterment is a prerequisite for success because nothing designed by people--product, service, or the processes behind them--is designed perfectly.  At best, the initial design is adequate.  Perfection is only achieved if an organization is capable of discovering towards it relentlessly. Therefore, the only way an organization can compete by ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: The essence of the Toyota Way is respect for people and continuous improvement

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: mercredi, janvier 12, 2011
I read Mike Rother's response and he gives an excellent  detailed explanation beyond which I will undertake.  I think there are two problems suggested by the question  First, the definition of lean as "eliminating waste" is inherently limiting.  Second, there is an implicit assumption that everything one should do should eliminate waste, and no activities should be undertaken that actually are not considered "value-added activities." These are both limiting assumptions.  Here are some examples of wasteful activities one would eliminate if we make these two assumptions: --all maintenance, especially preventative maintenance -- any inspection --any material handling --any accounting I could go on but you get ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: The Lean Movement is Changing

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: lundi, janvier 10, 2011
How does a lean organization ensure it provides value?  By continuously improving. How does a lean organization do that? By having its members practice every day how to continuously improve, so it becomes habit and culture. A Shift in the Lean Movement There seems to be a new thoughtfulness in some quarters of the Lean community, and I’m impressed. More and more people are asking why so much education, training and consulting and so many books and articles have produced so little change in what managers and organizations actually do. And thanks to developments in brain research there is a growing awareness for ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Waste Elimination Is The Ultimate Development Practice

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: lundi, janvier 10, 2011
Most companies would argue that they’re intent on developing their people, and to do so they invest a substantial part of the budgets in training of all sorts, from technical skills to managerial practices. Mostly, this training is conceived on the university model: an expert specifies the best known way to do something, trainees learn it as well they can and then are tasked to apply it. Because of obvious organizational constraints, training is separated into classroom training with a trainer, and then, hopefully practical application left to the participants. In such training conception, the trainees manager is not particularly ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean Training and Waste

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: lundi, janvier 10, 2011
The power of the very tight lean definition of waste as only those actions that directly create value for customers is to throw a spotlight on all those actions that clearly do not create any value at all and should be stopped, and to raise questions about those actions that might be necessary to enable the value creating work to be done, such as planning and procurement. This is also true over time looking into the future. We can also distinguish between work that creates value today and work that will create value in the future, in for instance designing future ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Training is even MORE important in the lean organization!

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: mardi, janvier 4, 2011
Training is even MORE important in the lean organization!  As we move work away from a function and toward a process, the lines currently drawn between employees begin to shift.  For an example, in one company (as in many) the credit check for new employees was done within the accounting department.  However, to reduce the time to meet customer needs who were ordering spare parts, the credit check process had many hand offs and waits leading to extended lead time.  It turned out that most of the spare part orders were of low dollar value.  So the credit checking access ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Aim For Delightful Value

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: lundi, janvier 3, 2011
We need to reflect on Value, at least as much as we do on Waste. The latter is comparatively easy to see on a manufacturing floor. "Look, there's a week's worth of WIP in Final Assembly.  There are 25 scratched units at the Primer line.  Line 6 is down for 20 minutes because of a part out..." Waste is somewhat harder to see in, say, a design studio, but with good visual management we can make it visible. "Look at our design funnel -- we have 20 Designs in Process at Stage 1 but our max level is 10.  And we just released 3 months worth of drawings ...

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Is lean about waste?

By , - Last updated: jeudi, décembre 16, 2010
First, I disagree that lean is a "production practice." But that's not really the question, so I'll move on. I agree with Art's description - many people see different things in it. It wouldn't be fair to say that lean is NOT about waste elimination, but it's equally unfair to say it's all about that. As Anais Nin said, "we don't see things as they are. We see them as we are." But let's get back to waste and it's role. Waste is the flip-side of the coin of value. Assuming that lean is just about eliminating waste means that value is ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: the Way of Waste Elimination (ie: waste elimination as a heuristic)

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: mardi, novembre 30, 2010
Clearly, there is more to lean than waste elimination. And then again, maybe waste elimination IS the whole point. Let me go out on a limb here. Why would a french sociologist consider Toyota to be a role model? I was all set to follow the traditional path of critical analysis and join the club of naysayers. So: what changed my mind? It's not like it's an ideal company. it's not even as if it's a radical new organizational design. What it does have is an orginal intent: a project to be better than it is, all the way down to ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Our Evolving Understanding of Lean

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: mercredi, novembre 24, 2010
Question:  Do you agree with the characterization of Lean as eliminating waste?  Why or why not?” I think the characterization of Lean as "eliminating waste" is too narrow. The question above, from Jerry Weinberg in the software development community, is an opportunity to expand our thinking. Agile software development is about providing customer value through iteration and, you know what, that's not too different from what Toyota is doing. If you want to get a process to function as described in a standard, or bring a Heijunka leveling pattern to operation, or make a Kanban system work as designed or achieve your ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: Excellence is the common goal. Discovery, be it called improvement, innovation, or invention, is the means

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: lundi, novembre 22, 2010
Arguing the merits of lean versus six sigma versus agile versus any other quality method creates a distraction of debating labels and the artifacts associated with each rather than understanding the fundamentals that allow some organizations to achieve levels of performance unmatchable by others. The truth is there are very few organizations that have achieved exceptional levels of performance based on a capacity to continuously improve and internally generate innovations broadly, consistently, and with tremendous speed and velocity. That handful certainly includes Toyota, which converted itself from a second or even third rate automaker in the late 1950s into an exceptional ...

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Mark Graban

Mark Graban: Lean is about continuous improvement and respect for people

By Mark Graban, - Last updated: lundi, novembre 22, 2010
As helpful as Wikipedia can be, it's also not the definitive source on many topics. In this case, the description of "Lean" is sorely lacking the people element. Lean and the Toyota Way are about both "continuous improvement" and "respect for people." Taiichi Ohno wrote that these were "equally important pillars." Equally important - let's emphasize that. Too many organizations focus on just the "continuous improvement" piece, even if "continuous" means a series of infrequent kaizen events to them. We have to focus, also, on the people side of things. One could argue if you focus ONLY on the people side, ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker:continually assessing what customers want, striving for perfection in satisfying customers and in every aspect of our production and service process, developing in people the ability and motivation to detect and solve deviations from perfect one-piece flow, leaders who are developing in people the ability to continuous improve, and a long-term value of the enterprise on satisfying customers and contributing to society.

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: lundi, novembre 22, 2010
As you know Wikipedia is a kind of public free-for-all in how different topics get defined and analyzed and this person got there and took the time to write something so I give them credit. In a book I and coauthors just completed that will be out in the winter, entitled:  The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement, we argue that we may have misled the public through definitions of lean that focus on waste reduction.  If I may use a quote from that book: "At the risk of sounding disrespectful, what do all these people think they are doing by leaning ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Are Lean IT and Agile Compatible?

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: lundi, novembre 22, 2010
Lean IT results from the application of lean principles to information systems and the IT function. Changes made to IT are directly related to changes made and learnings discovered while converting manufacturing to the Toyota Production System or “lean”. Via an evolutionary spiral that began in earnest in the early 90’s, the elimination of waste in all processes at the shop floor yielded huge improvements in lead time and quality. This was accomplished through the use of continuous improvement thinking by all employees who were trained in lean principles and adopted a lean attitude. Then, over the past decade, this ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Respect for People

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: dimanche, novembre 21, 2010
Question:  How do you define respect for people within the lean approach? I think "respect for people" is often interpreted as be nice. I‘d like to comment on another perspective, as suggested by this illustration from Toyota Kata: In studying Toyota I often got the impression that respect for people means that it's disrespectful of people to not utilize their human capability to learn and to grow. That is, each person’s working day would ideally include some challenge, and each person is being taught a systematic way of meeting challenges. I’m not suggesting that all of our work needs to be a challenge, nor ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: LEAN = KAIZEN + RESPECT

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: lundi, novembre 8, 2010
Respect-for-people has been there all along in TPS thinking and is clearly mentioned in the early 1977 paper on the Toyota Production System and kanban, yet this aspect of the lean system has never received as much interest as, say, kanban cards. One common explanation is that, outside of Toyota, any company’s culture will “fight” more strongly people-related ideas than technical tools, but maybe it’s the other way around; Maybe tools make it easy to experiment with and deploy whereas general “fuzzy” concepts are hard to operationalize in practice. The question, I believe, is what does “respect” mean in operational terms ...

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