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 'key'
Tracey Richardson

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

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

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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?
Peter Handlinger

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

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

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: All tools are based on key capabilities

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

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Jeff Liker

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

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014
The Lean Edge: How do you make time for improvements? As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because they want time to climb, backpack, canoe, etc., and I'm reluctant to ask them to work more hours and sacrifice time for these activities. Any advice?" I believe the key to ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Managers must be teachers: training is a key responsibility of a lean manager, and operators standards and standardized work training tools

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Monday, March 25, 2013
As you mention job instructions, I’m assuming that you’re referring to Operations Standards Sheets. This lists de specific standards that must be met in order to achieve standardized work – safety standards, training standards, equipment operations and maintenance work standards, quality of materials, components and operations standards. I’m not sure how often these would change. Sure, kaizen might lead to modify these standards, but this would involve other departments in many cases, and certainly engineering – and isn’t likely to happen that frequently. On-the-job training is a fundamental part of the supervisor’s responsibilities. The objectives of such training are, firstly, to ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: The key differentiator is what leadership thinks it need accomplish: redesign of processes others use to conduct their business or acquisition of capability that they can cultivate, propagate, and engage energetically

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: Friday, January 4, 2013
What role a kaizen promotion office plays depends on what problem you are trying to solve.  Is it to make a single change in process design and performance or it is to change the ramp-slope at which an organization discovers its way to greatness? For the former, organizations might want to stabilize otherwise chaotic processes--both those that are physically transformative and also those that are administrative.  Doing so has the obvious benefits of moving from the low performance plateau of disarray to the higher performing plateau of increased  efficiency and effectiveness. In that ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Revenue growth is a key part of lean thinking

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Sunday, December 9, 2012
This is an excellent question. I work with sales teams in at least 80% of the improvement work I lead, so it can and must be done. I agree with several of the Lean Edge team that part of the reason why Lean has been slow to capture the imagination of sales teams lies with Lean’s early, erroneous spin as solely a “manufacturing thing ” versus a broad and deep business management strategy that applies to all facets of an organization and to all industries. But I believe there are at least there two additional root causes. First, the financial focus ...

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Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: Is nemawashi checking the relevance of a solution and enriching it with key field actors, or simply promoting / enforcing it ? It is both – and which one is applied is dependent on your intent.

By Peter Handlinger, - Last updated: Monday, August 27, 2012
Nemawashi is a double edged sword.  Both edges work equally well. Which edge to use is entirely dependent on the intent of the person initiating the engagement. I first came across the practice of nemawashi during new model launches. Especially during the (then) traditional sit down meetings to review project progress. Before we started to discuss and agree on the way forward, there was a tendency to every now and then “Shanghai” someone publicly. This, of course, leads to a spiral of retribution … and if that weren’t so debilitating on relationships and more importantly on getting the job done, it ...

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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: Monday, October 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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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: Saturday, March 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 key to Jidoka: small span of control and a disciplined method of problem solving

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Saturday, August 21, 2010
"Jidoka" is not a single thing you implement.  It is one of the two main pillars of TPS.  Just-in-time is a complex set of tools, principles, and disciplines and Jidoka is certainly nothing less.  The original concept came from Sakichi Toyoda's loom that stopped itself when there was a quality problem, which also separated the operator from the machine, allowing operators to run multiple machines and do more value added work.  In modern Toyota plants it is often translated into the andon system of line stopping and quick response to problems one by one.  I think of it is building ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Jidoka is the key to on-the-job learning

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Thursday, August 5, 2010
I remember visiting Toyota’s French plant and standing in front of andon board: the call lights kept flashing on and off. An operator would call the team leader, who would sort the problem out within the imparted time before the fixed-point system would stop the line. “Management reactivity,” I said. “Nope,” they answered, “operator training.” “This isn’t used to get management to react faster to problems?” I insisted? “Operator training they repeated.” And so on. It took me a while to understand I was projecting our usual management models on Toyota’s practice. In my worldview, management’s role was to be there ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Waste elimination (in dire straights) as a key to competence increase (and saving the day)

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, July 11, 2010
How about a 40% production cost reduction and a few million Euros cash flow improvement in less than a year? I’m not sure this is the best lean success story I’ve come across, but it’s the most recent. One plant of a large global group produces components for the tier one plants, and was losing its bid for the next generation product and facing shutdown because of a price difference of 20% with Low Cost Country competition. The group recognized that once you lose production, you lose development, and once that has happened, it’s really hard to bring work back, ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: a “problems first” attitude is the key to sustaining learning leadership

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The first answer is leadership, the second leadership and the third… leadership. But a very special and specific kind of leadership. Of all the quirks of the lean thinking the one that has always fascinated me is “problems first.” In practice this means we are not so interested in successes (the right results from the right process) because there is nothing to learn there – we are only interested in problems, failures, and things that don’t work as expected, because there is much to learn. “Problems first” also means that any employee can come up to a manager and discuss ...

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