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
Archives by Tag 'innovation'
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 ...

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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: Monday, November 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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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: What to learn from Toyota for those who already haven’t … Improvement and Innovation needed now more than ever

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Monday, July 12, 2010
BACKGROUND: WHY LOOK AT TOYOTA?  BECAUSE IT CAME FROM BEHIND TO DOMINATE ITS COMPETITION! Understanding the tremendous commercial success of Toyota, rising from an uncompetitive auto maker in the 1950s and 1960s, to the most dominant in the world by 2000s, and understanding the vast benefit that has come to some that have diligently sought to emulate Toyota--sharp reductions in time and cost, with vast improvements in quality and responsiveness, is reason for others who have not yet to look more closely. Toyota's success, after all, is rooted in its ability to generate and sustain broad based, high speed, relentless improvement and ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Lean is an Innovation in Thinking Which Will Foster Many Other Innovations

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I agree that many people get confused on the relationship between lean and innovation.  Steve Spear explained very well that underlying this is a confusion about what innovation is.  In reality the greatest innovators are disciplined thinkers who try incremental experiments one by one learning from each.  Thomas Edison was famous for his discipline and for learning from all his failed light bulbs before finally finding something that worked.  The something that worked represented accumulated learning from years of smaller experiments that proved incremental principles and that showed what does not work.  Unfortunately when we see the results of a ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: An Innovative Way of Looking At Innovation

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Peter Drucker once said: “since the purpose of business is to generate customers, only two functions do this: marketing and innovation.” This doesn’t seem to leave much place for lean, since lean starts with operational effectiveness – in effect the ‘industrial smile” with engineering at one end, sales & marketing at the other and production down in the middle (all problems, no glory). Nonetheless, the lean approach extends way beyond manufacturing and into engineering and contributes in specific and unique ways to innovation. Innovation is a vast word, and we can take it to mean three different things. First is the ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean Insights before Lean Innovation

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I have always thought that innovation rather than simply quality, delivery and cost was the real purpose and ultimate result of lean thinking; innovation in terms of the products and services we design, in how we relate to customers and in how we find new ways of working together to create value. The experience with lean is that it leads to new capabilities which in turn open up new business models that turn the tables on the competition and reshape whole industries. In other words lean insights can lead to lean innovations. There is no short cut. Think of it this ...

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Jim Huntzinger

Jim Huntzinger: Innovation, The Scientific Method

By Jim Huntzinger, - Last updated: Sunday, May 16, 2010
I see applying lean and innovation as one in the same. While innovation seem to be commonly thought of spontaneously emerging from some mad scientist-type locked in some secret lab somewhere, most innovation actually comes from a much more mundane source.  And in a lean environment it certainly does come from a common source.  And this source is operators, supervisors, engineers, and managers. Since innovation is most often an evolutionary and iterative process, it is critical to have a structure which, not only helps people to behave and think in this manner, but one that also gives them the infrastructure to physically ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: What’s the Difference Between Innovation and Lean?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Sunday, May 16, 2010
Question:  What's the difference between innovation and lean? We've tended to define "lean" as eliminating waste, but that concept is way too limited. We've tended to think of "innovation" as new solutions and levels of performance that come from periodic leaps by certain creative individuals. Like the famous inventors we learn about in school. This concept is also way too limited. What is innovation? If you look closely, those lone inventors we see in our mind’s eye are actually standing on the shoulders of hundreds of other individuals who went through thousands of PDCA cycles, which culminated in and made feasible “inventions” like the telephone, ...

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Steven Spear

Steven Spear: Innovation is the reward of mastery

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Friday, May 14, 2010
There is a conventional wisdom that 'lean' and other efforts towards process excellence and 'innovation' conflict, the former about standardization and rigidity, the latter about free-flowing creativity. There are reasons for those wisdoms, but they miss the significant complement between rigor in design and speed in improvement. Lean grew out of efforts in the 1980s to understand Toyota's success catching American auto makers. People found approaches, particularly in the shop floor environment that allowed select organizations to operate with far greater stability and far less chaos than was the norm elsewhere. That stability and order led to far better ...

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Dennis Sherwood

Denis Sherwood: How would you develop innovation from lean and vice-versa?

By Dennis Sherwood, - Last updated: Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I ran an innovation event with a manufacturer of pumps a couple of weeks ago, which went very well, with a huge number of powerful ideas. This organization is a devotee of lean, and although there is a very large overlap between lean and innovation, it’s often hard to see how to exploit this in practice: how would you practically develop innovation through lean and vice versa?
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