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 'lean'
Lean Frontiers

Lean Frontiers: Are they differences in getting middle management on board from getting executive management support?

By Lean Frontiers, - Last updated: Saturday, May 9, 2015
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?
Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: How a Toyota leader defines Lean Leadership!

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

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: What should be the target value-add percentage in a process?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Monday, February 9, 2015
What should be the target value-add percentage in a process?
Michael Balle

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

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

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Orry Fiume

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

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

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How does lean deal with sheer incompetence?

By , - Last updated: Friday, August 1, 2014
"I understand "respect" and I agree that, as managers, we never listen enough to people nor spend enough time on their development - the point is well taken. But what do you do about sheer incompetence? People who don't do the job, aren't open to listen to anything and become defensive or passive aggressive any time you try to address an issue with them."
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: What will happen to lean after you leave

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

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David Meier

David Meier: Do Lean with people rather than to people

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

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Samuel Obara

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

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

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: What would you do if you were a CEO and you tried lean the right way and were passionate about it but you seemed to be failing at every turn getting all your stakeholders angry?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Friday, July 4, 2014
What would you do if you were a CEO and you tried lean the right way and were passionate about it but you seemed to be failing at every turm getting all your stakeholders angry?
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?
Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: No real lean without a sensei

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

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The Lean Edge

What is the role of a sensei in lean?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Thursday, May 1, 2014
What is your experience of working with sensei, and what advice should we give executives seeking to learn lean deeply regarding senseis?
Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Next Generation Lean Practice

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

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean is the strategy!

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

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: This is honestly more about leadership than lean

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Be forewarned - this response may come off as a somewhat brutal but I was frankly appalled by parts of the above question. Maybe I am just getting old and cranky? If so you have my apologies in advance. In order to explain my extremely visceral reaction to the submitted question I will address the statements made one by one for clarity. For starters you state that “As CEO of my company I have a grasp of Lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I am CEO, I find it hard to ask my people to make ...

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The Lean Edge

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

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Friday, March 28, 2014
As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because they want time to climb, backpack, canoe, etc., and I'm reluctant to ask them to work more hours and sacrifice time for these activities. Any advice?
The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: What is the place of temporary workers in lean?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Friday, March 7, 2014
Indeed, we know that Toyota works with temporary workers and engineers, but how does that fit with TPS and people development? What is the lean stand on temporary work?
Dave Brunt

Dave Brunt: lean transformation framework

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

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Samuel Obara

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

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

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Mike Rother

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

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

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Michael Balle

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

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

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How do I start with Lean?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
"How do I start with lean? My management has decided we must become a lean culture, and I've tasked to put a plan together, but there are so many different offers on the markets, books, consultants - what do you call them - senseis? That it's hard to know where to start without making costly blunders in the very first steps."
Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Lean Conformance vs. TPS Performance

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Tuesday, January 7, 2014
The main question asked here is "have workplaces moved to multi-purpose cells or do we still see isolated operators on the shop floor (現場 / Genba)"? The statement implies that was what “Toyota” was teaching us 20 years ago.  Well that last part I sort of doubt it. In reality that is partly what the observer was learning or partly what the instructor was relating at the time. Unfortunately that is not the right frame for implementing TPS with success. I will probably not answer the question in the way the person posing this might have expected so apologies up ...

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We learn to practice lean and take personal responsibility for solving problems by using the scientific method time and time again. What else does it take to learn how to cooperate across departments and functions?

By , - Last updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
We learn to practice lean and take personal responsibility for solving problems by using the scientific method time and time again. What else does it take to learn how to cooperate across departments and functions?
gmo

Lean Summit UK 2013 – 5th & 7th November

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

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Sandrine Olivencia

Tom Ehrenfeld: Don’t cherry pick lean principles, lean is a complete business system

By Sandrine Olivencia, - Last updated: Friday, June 28, 2013
There’s a massive amount of energy behind the lean startup “movement” today, which I find both exciting and a bit worrisome. Today I still see a gap between the loud buzz of the Lean Startup “movement” and broader cultural and widespread acceptance. N.B. when I say Lean Startup, for the time being I see this as the Lean (Software-based-Venture-chasing-Home-run-seeking) Startup. A subset of the overall startup world, to be sure, and not an unimportant one. Yet I’d like to see the learning from the Lean Startups gain broader traction. Has this community been able to codify the key principles in ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Reflections on the Lean Startup

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Monday, June 24, 2013
I think there is a lot to like about the book The Lean Start Up and certainly something to learn from it as well. The book has done extraordinarily well in terms of sales and recognition. There are some shortcomings of the book when it comes to actual Lean practices but I think it is more interesting to look at why the book is successful. For those not familiar the book is organized in the following manner: Part 1: Vision 1) Start 2) Define 3) Learn 4) Experiment Part 2: Steer 5) Leap 6) Test 7) Measure 8) Pivot Part 3: Accelerate 9) Batch 10) Grow 11) Adapt 12) Innovate 13) Epilogue: Waste Not There is a lot ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Let’s focus on similarities and not differences and see Lean as a whole

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Sunday, June 2, 2013
Great question! I'm happy to have a venue to share some thoughts I've been having myself about this subject. At its core, Lean Startup and "the original Lean" (as I call it) have a lot in common. And, in some ways, the Lean Startup movement has surpassed most companies' attempts to adopt Lean principles, practices, and tools. BUT... and it's a big but...I feel the movement is producing a fair amount of confusion in the marketplace due to the word "Lean." And I don't think it serves anyone well to have two separate "Lean" movements. There's a lot to learn in the Universe and it seems to me ...

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How lean is the Lean Startup?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
"How lean is the lean startup? The lean startup movement is growing fast, now highlighted in the HBR yet no one in the lean movement seems to comment or connect - how do you feel about the lean startup? What can we learn from it?"
The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: Is highlighting problems stressful and increased pressure on workers?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Saturday, April 6, 2013
"In a Lean environment we want to be able to see deviations as a starting point for improvement. This requires a transparency that in office environments is often seen as 'increasing pressure on the workers'. What are your thoughts on this? What is a good way to find the causes of this ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Standard Lean Logic Flaw

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2013
This question unfortunately reminds me of the old adage in problem solving that vague fuzzy problem statements lead to poor causal analysis and then in turn poor countermeasure selection space. Any results will usually be limited in nature if they are evident at all. In this post I will point out some problems induced by the above definition of standards, the flaws in the logic at least with respect to actual TPS practices, and what I instead suggest. I will try and utilize some generic examples for contemplation and clarification. The question above in this month’s LE question implies that the ...

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How do you change a standard?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Standards are often described as 'the best way known to perform a certain task'. Using Job Instructions, people are trained to work according to standards. Kaizen can then be used to improve standards. In this case the 'best way' has changed. Does this mean everybody needs to be retrained ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Lean engineering tools can be lifeless or brought to life with exceptional leadership and teamwork

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Saturday, March 16, 2013
With my associates at Liker Lean Advisors we have been working with product development organizations for the last ten years ranging from $1 billion businesses to Fortune 50 businesses.   As in all of my published work we believe in an organic approach, rather then an mechanistic tool-based approach.   There are many tools that Jim Morgan and I talk about in The Toyota Product Development System, such as a chief engineer's concept paper, value stream mapping, know-how databases, the big room (obeya) for project meetings, and the use of A3 reports.   These are all tools which can be ...

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Joel Stanwood

Joel Stanwood: How should we take Lean into Product Development?

By Joel Stanwood, - Last updated: Monday, February 18, 2013
A consumer-products company has recently begun its Lean journey by focusing on Lean fundamentals starting on the shop floor (standard work, 1-piece flow, pull, work to Takt).  The company is simultaneously refreshing its product portfolio.  Although the cross-functional New Product Development ("NPD") team members may have little experience working in a Lean environment, the team nevertheless desires to (1) deploy rapid NPD processes and (2) prioritize its product pipeline to take full ...

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Jeff Liker

Daniel T Jones: Lean and Productivity

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Let me add another perspective to the excellent posts by my Lean Edge colleagues. For me the lean approach to productivity is distinguished by a wider as well as a deeper perspective, reaching beyond the shop or department to the whole value stream, ideally all the way from raw materials to the end consumer. This engages everyone in thinking about customer value and how their work contributes to delivering that. But we are missing a trick if we just look inwards as lean folk often do at the metrics and actions that improve the quality and physical productivity of internal processes. ...

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The Lean Global Network: Is there a lean way to measure productivity?

By , - Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Many companies compare production hours to standard hours. Several still use indirect/direct ratios. Is there a specific lean way to measure productivity?
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean Academies and KPOs

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Every organisation needs a home for developing its lean capabilities. They may differ depending on circumstances and will certainly change focus over time. The first and most ambitious exercise I was involved in from 1993 was to create the first corporate university in the UK to develop lean capabilities across the Unipart Group of Companies in auto parts manufacturing and after-market distribution. “Unipart U” as it became known was truly innovative and drew directly on the Operations Management Group at Toyota, who at that point was providing Unipart with technical help on lean. It remains one of the most successful ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: The culture transformation through personal engagement is the only chance of success for a “lean transformation”

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: Saturday, January 5, 2013
The role of the KPO is to launch the lean understanding in the organization by piloting and proving concepts and then later supporting the pull from the rest of the leadership for support/mentoring. Ultimately the KPO is the source of all future leaders in the organization as part of the organizational development efforts. I strongly support the idea of all the KPO team members sourced from within the company and using external coaches to develop this team. Why? Because the internal people know the business best and the lean concepts are not difficult to learn from external coaches. Additionally, this dramatically reduces the cost of the lean start-up ...

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Arthur Byrne

Art Byrne: If a company is approaching lean as their strategy and implementing it aggressively [no dabbling allowed] and it thinks it can benefit from using Ringi

By Arthur Byrne, - Last updated: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Like most of the rest of you I never heard of Ringi before so I figured that I never used it. Then I looked up a definition, “a process where all those involved in implementing a decision have a say in making that decision in the first place”. Thinking of it that way, the way we always organized our kaizen teams more or less incorporated this approach. We always had value added operators from the area we were working in on the teams. We also had the leader or supervisor of that area on the team plus a member from ...

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Lean Global Network: Can you clarify the role of “ringi” in lean?

By , - Last updated: Sunday, December 23, 2012
"What is Ringi? The Lean Edge has discussed Nemawashi, but could you clarify the practice of Ringi? How is this linked to A3? How widespread is its use within Toyota? Should that practice be adopted by lean thinkers?"
Jeff Liker

Daniel T Jones: Why is lean in sales so hard?

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Thursday, December 20, 2012
I have struggled with this question ever since we compared the striking differences between car distribution in Japan, Europe and North America in the “Dealing with Customers” chapter of The Machine that Changed the World. I spent the next decade researching every aspect of car distribution in the International Car Distribution Programme (www.icdp.net) and helping the grocery retailer Tesco to pioneer lean in grocery distribution and sales. My colleague Dave Brunt spent time as the lean champion at the Porsche sales company in the UK and has more recently had considerable success in coaching lean dealers across the world, based ...

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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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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Lean in Sales starts with Genchi Genbutsu and PDCA

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Monday, December 3, 2012
Interesting notes from different perspectives. The little I know about sales and its TPS practice comes from joint efforts when they were teamed up with us, production engineering, in my old days at Toyota. 1)      They did genchi genbutsu to its full extent.  A few examples:  Once, we went w/ sales people to the port of Santos in Brazil to follow up cars arriving from TMC to be sold in the Mercosur market.   Also, when in Japan, their first several weeks on the job included selling cars door to door.  Another example when I ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Lean is sometimes a bad name…

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012
I have a couple of different thoughts on the matter of this month's question and why lean fails to inspire so many people including sales teams. Some points are simple matters of history. Others pertain to how the Toyota Production System has been perceived and described in the United States and other countries around the world. I will elaborate on my thoughts below. For starters I agree with the assertion that “lean” has mostly failed to catch the imagination of sales teams and other parts of most companies. Sure exceptions exist but I am talking about the majority of cases. Normally ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: If we focus on eliminating the wastes associated with the selling process first, we can capture the imagination that lean and sales are great partners!

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: Monday, November 26, 2012
Lean failing to capture the imagination of the sales team…what a question!  Our sales team loved the fast lead times. Our sales team loved the improved quality. Our sales team loved rapid pace of new product offerings. We loved to leverage the web for selling.  But just as every other department outside of manufacturing, the improvement cycle was not grasped without some tangible structured introduction of the power of eliminating waste in the process.  The sales team was certainly interested in activities that would make the sales job easier:    getting marketing ...

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Arthur Byrne

Art Byrne: If the CEO sees lean as a business strategy, he/she will involve sales from day one

By Arthur Byrne, - Last updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012
the answer to your question has to go deeper than just trying to explain “why lean has failed to capture the imagination of the sales team”. The issue isn’t so much sales but rather a lack of understanding of lean. If you think of lean as “some manufacturing thing”, and probably 95% of all companies and CEO’s view it this way then this should not be surprising. Heck, lean is most commonly called “lean manufacturing” so even manufacturing companies are confused about what lean really is. Lean is a business strategy. You can think of it as a time based ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: The lean system comprises three ‘loops’ in fact: Design, Make, Sell.

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Hi all, Good question. Building on Orry's points, the Toyota Business System is about growth -- and not simply efficiency. And you can't grow unless Sales is engaged. The system comprises three 'loops' in fact: Design, Make, Sell. As it happens, one of my favorite Toyota senseis, Shin-san, was a sales & marketing executive! Most Lean transformations focus on the Make loop -- and sub-optimize therefore. A chaotic, lumpy sales profiles will force even the most splendid Lean factory out of its 'sweet spot.' We'll have to  buffer with inventory, lead time or capacity. Engaging Sales, as Wiremold did, entails uncovering invisible governance obstacles. Incentive structures are perhaps the most ...

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Joel Stanwood

Joel Stanwood: Why has the Lean movement largely failed to capture the imagination of the sales team?

By Joel Stanwood, - Last updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Most management teams who testify to having implemented Lean will describe financial impact in terms of shop floor efficiency improvement – direct labor productivity, overtime reduction, inventory velocity, floor space utilization, etc. Paradoxically, in terms of company economics, the most alluring promise of Lean is to boost sales, delivering ever higher variable contribution margins while delighting customers and winning in the marketplace. Yet the language of Lean to unlock the growth engine of the company rarely enters the sales vernacular, and in general, sales professionals are far less likely to ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Lean Versus Historical TPS

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Monday, September 24, 2012
I think this is a pretty interesting question and reflects the current status of Lean in many companies I visit. I often make the distinction that modern day Lean and the actual historical development of the Toyota Production System (TPS) are two pretty different animals. I will try and explain my opinion, provide some examples, and answer the question in the following paragraphs. For starters if you study most of the books, training, and examples about Lean you quickly see that it is mostly assembly type of examples. That is not surprising as the assembly part of a Toyota facility is ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Keeping Your Lean Transformation Focused

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Question:  How do we ensure constant focus and momentum in our Lean transformation? This may be one of the most discussed questions in the Lean community these days. Over the last 15 years there have been a lot of improvements, but lots of stagnation and slipping back too. In your question you mention you’ve been focusing on training people in visualizing, analyzing and solving problems. Interestingly, depending on what you mean that can be part of the issue. We find that reacting to abnormalities alone isn't a sufficient and sustainable approach to improvement. Better... What's the process team's next target condition, how ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Five years into lean

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Five years of lean progress should be rewarded with a vision of how the organisation is going to use the new capabilities of their staff and their value streams to exploit new opportunities that competitors will struggle to follow. By then I would expect top management to be setting the direction for lean, middle management to be focused on streamlining their value streams and the front line to be deeply engaged in problem solving. At this point it should be possible to rebuild the IT architecture of the organisation to mirror and support their lean processes. Then it is time ...

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Klaus Petersen: How do we ensure a constant focus and momentum in our Lean transformation after these years and what are the pitfalls we must avoid ?

By , - Last updated: Saturday, July 14, 2012
We have been on the Lean journey for 5 years where we have been focusing on training people in visualizing, analyzing and solving problems. We have spend a lot of efforts in training managers to support the journey which they have done. How do we ensure a constant focus and momentum in our Lean transformation after these years and  what are the pitfalls we must avoid ?
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: Thursday, March 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: Wednesday, March 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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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: Wednesday, March 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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Jean Cunningham

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

By Jean Cunningham, - Last updated: Saturday, March 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: Saturday, March 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: Saturday, March 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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Jan van Ginkel: What distinguishes a Lean leader from a very good, Traditional Leader, in behaviour and results, in one, clear statement?

By , - Last updated: Saturday, March 3, 2012
What distinguishes a Lean leader from a very good, Traditional Leader, in behaviour and results, in one, clear statement?
Jeff Liker

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

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Sunday, January 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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Eric Buehrens: What is the right lean way to evaluate executive performance?

By , - Last updated: Friday, December 16, 2011
What is the right lean way to evaluate executive performance?
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: How can lean survive

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Tuesday, November 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: Wednesday, November 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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Pierre Vareille: How can lean survive a change in top management?

By , - Last updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011
As we all know, Lean depends upon full support and real engagement from top management. However, this involvement cannot last forever, whereas Lean is a long multi-year or -decade journey. So the one-million-dollar question is: how can we make Lean survive a change in top management?
The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: What is True North?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
"What would you say is the role of True North in Lean Thinking? How do can we define the concept, and it what way does it contribute to lean results? Can lean be done without True North?"
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean and Operational Excellence

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Tuesday, September 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: Sunday, September 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: Thursday, July 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: Thursday, July 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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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: Did the writers of books about excellence and what makes great organizations get it right to begin with and does lean add anything new?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Friday, July 8, 2011
Did the writers of books about excellence and what makes great organizations get it right to begin with and does lean add anything new? many great management books such as The Fifth Discipline or Good To Great say things that are quite similar to general positions in the lean movement. So what would be specific to lean that contributes to performance improvement
Jeff Liker

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

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Friday, July 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: Wednesday, July 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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Jamie Flinchbaugh

Jamie Flinchbaugh: “Lean won’t work in MY field”

By Jamie Flinchbaugh, - Last updated: Monday, June 27, 2011
What is the hardest field to apply lean? It doesn't seem to matter what field you're in, they all think theirs is the hardest. And they can back it up with evidence. One of the most frequent questions I get is "who else in my industry is doing lean?", because no one wants to be first, and no one wants to be last. There is a wide range of answers to this question in the series so far, and all of them valid. I'm not sure which is the hardest, but every field of work and every functional application brings its ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Who struggles more with lean

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Saturday, June 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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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: Tuesday, June 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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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Lean Government

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Friday, June 17, 2011
In response to this month's question the phrase “Lean Government” is something I think we will start to hear more of over the next few years and many no doubt will chuckle at the term as oxymoronic in nature. With deficits are large as they are in the United States and other countries budgetary cutbacks are inevitable. When forced into doing the same amount of work (or more) with fewer resources then systematic improvement becomes paramount in terms of importance. Otherwise quality, delivery, and other dimensions tend to suffer. In other words cost cutting is accomplished but not cost reduction ...

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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: Friday, June 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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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: What are the most difficult industries and activities to introduce lean to and why?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Friday, June 17, 2011
In your experience, where have you found lean most difficult to introduce? What specific barriers have you come across? How have you overcome them?
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: How to Judge the Success of Lean?

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Friday, June 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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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Lean Success

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011
We have discussed the topic of why so few companies really show substantial progress when it comes to lean implementation quite a few times on this web site. I won't rehash all those topics in detail since they are available for those interested in a variety of different posts by different authors. For the last decade or more I have been lamenting about this topic in speeches, articles, interviews, and client discussions, etc. At least I am not the only one unhappy with the state of lean these days. One of the best ways to improve is to study failures ...

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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: Sunday, May 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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Jamie Flinchbaugh

Jamie Flinchbaugh: How would you measure lean success?

By Jamie Flinchbaugh, - Last updated: Sunday, May 29, 2011
The question asked was "what counts as 'lean success'?" Albert Einstein once said: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. I see most people making mistakes when trying to evaluate success. They try to measure lean success as if it is a program. What's the easiest way to measure a program? Activity! Yet we should not confuse activity with productivity. Lean programs are measured by means such as the number of people trained or the number of improvement events held, yet these activities do not a lean journey make. They are only inputs. And even ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: How to Measure Lean Success

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Saturday, May 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: Friday, May 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: Friday, May 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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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: what counts as “lean success”?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Friday, May 27, 2011
Jeff Liker and Mike Rother wrote a piece for LEI called "Why Lean Programs Fail ." They cited an IndustryWeek survey that said only 2% of companies achieved their "anticipated results." Can the Lean Edge authors share their thoughts on how you would define "lean success?" Do companies not achieve anticipated business results because they expect too much too quickly? Is a company only a "lean success" if they have fully transformed their culture? (download article)
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean problem solving and teamwork

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Friday, May 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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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: What is Lean Teamwork?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Tuesday, May 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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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: What does “teamwork” mean in lean?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Lean focuses on individual problem solving yet stresses the importance of  teamwork. What would be your definition of teamwork in the lean sense?
Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Tools, Rules, Principles, and Lean Wallpaper

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I have had a long and somewhat tortured fascination with regards to this topic and other similar questions. In terms of background when I returned to the United States from Japan in the mid 1990's after working for Toyota Motor Corporation it was difficult for me at least to recognize many of the efforts that were supposedly modeled after the Toyota Production System (TPS).  Some of it was frankly bewildering. The Lean movement has gone through many phases and efforts and I am certain that this will continue. I have commented in speeches, articles, and other areas over the past ...

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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: Friday, April 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: Monday, April 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: Sunday, April 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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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: Can the performance achieved by applying lean thinking be sustained over years?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Saturday, April 2, 2011
Can the performance achieved by applying lean thinking be sustained over years? Toyota seems to have been able to maintain a culture of relentless kaizen since the 1960s and over several Presidents' change, but has any other company? How can lean results be sustained over time? Has any company done it?
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean Saves Capital

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Saturday, April 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: 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 lean philosophy for new technologies is simple, thin and flexible

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Saturday, March 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: Friday, March 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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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: What is the lean approach to capital expenditure?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Friday, March 11, 2011
"What is the lean approach to capital expenditure? As Toyota announces a new plant in high-cost Japan, it also claims that the overall investment is 40% lower than an existing equivalent size plant. How is this possible? What is the impact of lean on the investment cycle?"
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