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 'kaizen'
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 ...

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Joel Stanwood

Joel Stanwood: Key competencies to hire a team leader for the Kaizen Promotion Office?

By Joel Stanwood, - Last updated: Sunday, November 9, 2014
What would you say the most pertinent competencies are for a team member to be promoted to join an internal Lean team (Kaizen Promotion Office) whose responsibility is training and facilitating Kaizen?
Jeff Liker

What about Kaizen events

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
As with all lean tools and techniques their effectiveness depends on how they are used. I helped to introduce Five-day Kaizen events into the UK and later to Europe and they proved to be very powerful in demonstrating the potential for improving work and eliminating waste. In particular they helped lean pioneers learn what really goes on at their front lines so they could become more effective lean leaders. I also remember falling asleep in a dreadful report-out from several Kaizen events in one hospital, the last of which was about the process for changing a lightbulb! I kid you not, ...

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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 ...

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Tracey Richardson

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

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

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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 ...

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: Kaizen events: good thing or bad thing?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Monday, June 2, 2014
In what cases do kaizen events help and when do they hinder? How to best use kaizen events to leverage results and support the lean culture?
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 ...

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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 ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: hoshin kanri links the kaizen activities of leaders and work groups at all levels so they are working toward common goals

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013
In "The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership" we have a 4 step model of leadership development.   We place Hoshin Kanri fourth, after self development, developing others, supporting daily kaizen, and finally hoshin kanri.  What hoshin kanri can do is link together the kaizen activities of leaders and work groups at all levels so they are working toward common goals.   In a sport, for example, basketball, a game plan can do that.   But imagine the perfect game plan with a bunch of novice players going up against professionals.  It will be a blow out.  The novices do not have a chance ...

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Joel Stanwood

Joel Stanwood: What practical advice would you offer to companies as they establish their Kaizen Promotion Offices?

By Joel Stanwood, - Last updated: Friday, January 4, 2013
Building the KPO What practical advice would you offer to companies as they establish their Kaizen Promotion Offices?  At the beginning their Lean journey each company faces questions such as: (a)    What is the role of the KPO to serve the organization? (b)   How do we best leverage the KPO for leadership development? (c)    What is optimal size of the KPO organization? (d)   What is right mix of internal / external hires? (e)   Who should the KPO lead report to? (f)     How is the KPO best organized in order to sustain Lean both inside/outside of the plant?  (i.e. sales, distribution, marketing, product development ...

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Tracey Richardson

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

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

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: The company learns as long as the CEO learns at the gemba by supporting kaizen

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, July 22, 2012
The CEO of a construction company once told me that the day he was bored with the gemba, he’d better sell the firm. This, from a CEO who has more than quadrupled the value of his company in the past five years. This CEO has figured out that the company continues to learn as long as he continues to learn, and the gemba is where true fact-based learning happens. Senior management has a disproportionate impact on the firm because of its role modeling role. Chris Argyris, the influential organizational theorist that formulated “double-loop” learning pointed out the distinction between “espoused theory” ...

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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: Monday, November 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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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Is There a Difference Between Problem Solving and Kaizen?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Sunday, October 31, 2010
Question:  What's the difference between problem solving and kaizen? In a recent post here on The Lean Edge, a friend and colleague suggests there is a technical difference between problem solving and kaizen, stating: “Are you closing a gap to a known standard that was previously being met or are you raising the standard of a capable process? Each situation requires slightly different techniques and thought processes.” He also points out that: “In product development in contrast objectives might include making lighter engines which burn more cleanly and have less noise or vibration. Each department is different in this regard.” Many people have said ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: JOB = WORK + KAIZEN

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Thursday, October 14, 2010
Bob Woods, in The Gold Mine, argues that he’d change every manager right away for someone better – if he could. Since that’s hardly practical, he then says you’ve got to start developing those you’ve got. And then the chances are that, in a short time, they’ll become better than anyone you’ll find on the job market. It’s certainly is an interesting conundrum, but which also hinges on another: how good are we at developing people in lean? One common temptation is to try and teach the whole lean shebang: the TPS, the 14 principles, the toolbox and so on. For ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: the right IT system will bring us closer to one piece flow and support kaizen

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Friday, September 3, 2010
If we think of the material and information flow diagram then IT is dealing with the information flow.  When we physically transform a process by moving things around we are acting on the material flow. When we transform the information presented to help make decisions we are dealing with IT whether it is in the form of an empty space on the floor, a card, or something from a computer. The concept of value stream mapping is to design the material and information flow intentionally based on defined principles to achieve a clear business purpose.  One principle isthat one piece flow is the ideal.  Another is ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Creating a Kaizen Culture

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, July 26, 2010
In my experience a Kaizen culture is set by example, is enabled using a common method and language and is nurtured by recognising achievements, telling stories and building upon the resulting learning. In 1993 I was fortunate to be involved in creating what is still one of the best examples of a Kaizen culture at the Unipart Group of companies in the UK, who make and distribute automotive components. From the beginning the initiative has been led by the Chief Executive, who teaches regularly in the company university, reviews progress on the shop floor of their many operations and attends ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: What type of Kaizen?

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Sunday, July 25, 2010
Kevin Meyer and his organization were kind enough to invite me to his company a couple of years ago to introduce the basic concepts of the TWI Job Methods (JM) program. JM is a very easy way to introduce some of the fundamental concepts of improvement to most any organization. JM falls short of capturing the entirety of Kaizen or the Toyota Production System (TPS) and that was never its intent. However as I like to tell people it is an easy first step for a lot of places looking to improve and develop internal resources. The exact date of the ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Pull creates an architecture for kaizen

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I visited three factories this week: one that is thinking about starting with lean, two that have been doing kaizen for three to four years: there is clearly a world of difference between doing kaizen and not. However, the two factories doing kaizen are interesting to compare. In both cases, senior management is driving the lean effort. In company A, the CEO himself is choosing problems and conducting the kaizen workshops. In company B, the group’s operations VP is driving the lean program. Both the CEO from company A and the ops VP from company B work with a sensei. Both ...

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Jim Huntzinger

Jim Huntzinger: Right-Designing: Freeing up Kaizen Capacity

By Jim Huntzinger, - Last updated: Wednesday, July 21, 2010
My response is not necessarily kaizen in complete context, but I will address a certain aspect which, unfortunately, consumes a significant amount of kaizen effort. I am assuming several assumptions – clear objectives already existing or are being processed – customer requirements in volume, features, and functions.  And that the process, as articulated by Mike Rother in Kata (current condition and target condition – reference Mike’s slideshare referenced in his post) is what is driving the overarching work of the manufacturing engineers I address below. While TWI is a great structure to develop kaizen and a daily and normal function structure, it ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: What About Using TWI ‘Job Methods’ for Kaizen?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Monday, July 19, 2010
Question: What are the upsides/downsides of using TWI "Job Methods" as our approach for kaizen? Just last week I got an email and Powerpoint presentation from a small plant that introduced its first assembly cell. Most of us know the excitement that comes with first efforts to eliminate waste. Not only do the processes operate much better than before, but our eyes also become opened to the potential! At the beginning of a lean effort, eliminating waste works and is exciting. But after a while -- four or five years into a lean journey seems about right -- those of us who ...

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Kevin Meyer: Any upsides/downsides to relying on JM/TWI process deconstruction as kaizen? Yes it works… but I can already see the limitation with non-documented processes

By , - Last updated: Sunday, July 18, 2010
A few of the thinkers and authors on this page have actually been in my operations, and I've used Michael's The Lean Manager as required reading in our lean book club.  We're a multi-site process (extrusion/molding) medical contract manufacturer, four or five years down a successful lean journey that has made us more agile and competitive, with great 5S, value stream organization, daily accountability, etc.   But one big struggle has been basic kaizen - creating the culture and finding the time.  Over the past couple years with help from Art Smalley we've successfully dived into TWI.  Now it seems like ...

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