Lean Frontiers: Are they differences in getting middle management on board from getting executive management support?
Are there differences in getting middle management from executive management on board for 1) developing the lean enterprise and 2) direct engagement on their part? What are the differences, if any?
Posted on 9 mai 2015
Archives by Tag 'lean'
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Toyota’s Challenge for the Lean Movement

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

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: Are Toyota’s troubles really over? What lessons should we learn from this?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: dimanche, février 13, 2011
The US Department of Transportation has cleared Toyota of any safety issues beyond those identified and dealt with before the safety crisis. Yet Toyota has recognized internal difficulties in both growing too fast and not listening to customers enough. What should we learn from the whole episode?
Mike Rother

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

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

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: The Financial Consequences of Lean

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

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Michael Balle

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

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

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Jeff Liker

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

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

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: Why is it so difficult to see the financial benefits from lean?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: mardi, janvier 18, 2011
Why is it so difficult to see the financial benefits from lean?
Mike Rother

Mike Rother: The Lean Movement is Changing

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

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean Training and Waste

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

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Jean Cunningham

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

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

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How do we develop people?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: lundi, janvier 3, 2011
How do Lean organizations develop their employees if Lean considers expenditure of resources other than for creation of value to be wasteful?

Is lean about waste?

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

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean Beyond Waste

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: jeudi, décembre 9, 2010
The premise behind this question and the Wikipedia definition reveals three common misconceptions about lean. First lean is not limited to production activities. Although the original insight to streamline the flow of work as well as improve the way each step is performed was developed on the shop floor, it has long since been shown to have widespread application to other processes. Indeed over time the principles of lean process design we articulated in Lean Thinking have transformed all kinds of activities from supply chains to service delivery and administration to flows of patients through hospitals. They are even helping ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: The Lean Elephant

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: lundi, novembre 29, 2010
I think it is best to be honest and admit that most characterizations of lean (or the Toyota Production System) are all lacking in general. In one sense the question posed is simple enough but the answer is not really all that easy. Depending upon what angle or approach you take you can come up with some different points of view on the topic. I'll summarize a couple and then close with some advice. If you read any of the old Toyota Production System (TPS) handbooks or books and speeches by Taichi Ohno you'll quickly find that there historically is no ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Our Evolving Understanding of Lean

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

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Mark Graban

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

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

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Are Lean IT and Agile Compatible?

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

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: LEAN = KAIZEN + RESPECT

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

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How do you define “Respect”?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: jeudi, novembre 4, 2010
We're taught the lean approach is about "continuous improvement" and "respect for people." Most lean material is about continuous improvement. How would you define "respect"? What practical experience could you share with companies that use respect as an operational business practice?
Mike Rother

Mike Rother: How to Set Objectives with Lean

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: lundi, novembre 1, 2010
Question:  How do you set objectives with lean? In some ways the answer is easy. To set an objective with lean you simply go to the process level and answer the question, “Where do we want to be next?” What’s difficult is not so much setting a lean objective, but putting it in a way that allows it to serve as a useful, workable target condition. Doing that requires you to deeply grasp the current condition of the process. Let me give you an example. At the plating process in a factory that makes bathroom fixtures, an objective of “100% production reporting accuracy” ...

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Setting objectives through lean

By , - Last updated: dimanche, octobre 31, 2010
How do you set objectives with lean? I won't start from the beginning, because there are already so many quality posts here in response to the question. I will try to add to it with a couple of the more subtle points that I hope help you in turning these thoughts into action: 1. Work on the really hard problems I notice that many organizations have problems that they write down and those that they don't. The problems that have known solutions are written down. Those that people have no clue how to solve are not written down. But we must. We will ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Lean methods make gaps visible

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: mardi, octobre 26, 2010
Lean methods make gaps visible -- in particular, the gap between What Should Be Happening & What's Actually Happening. These gaps fall under the categories Steve Spear described: a) Target vs. Actual, b) Target vs. future or anticipated actual, and c) Target vs. Ideal Moreover, gaps may comprise end-of-pipe results, as well as, the process by which the end of the pipe result was achieved In fact, in Strategy Deployment, one of the most worrisome scenarios entails: Great end-of-pipe results -- lousy process! (I call this "The Gods have smiled upon us...") In any event, Lean methods make many gaps visible -- but how do we decide what gaps to ...

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How do you set objectives with lean?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: mercredi, octobre 20, 2010
Onjectives setting is a critical part of running a business - how do you do it with lean? How does that differ from traditional management by objectives?
Mike Rother

Mike Rother: How to Teach Lean Thinking and Acting

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: lundi, octobre 11, 2010
Question: I’m being told to delegate more lean issues to my line managers, but many of them do not rise to the challenge, resist or ignore the improvement work we're trying to do. What would be the lean way of dealing with this? I agree completely that just delegating will not change anything. Human perception, which determines behavior, relies heavily on past experience. Perception is changed through new experiences. In that last sentence lies the opportunity for change, and an answer to your question about how to get your line managers to rise to the challenge of continuous improvement. Skills and mindset can ...

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How can I delegate if my managers don’t “get it”?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: lundi, octobre 11, 2010
"My company has started a lean program and I am the manager of a pilot site. I have worked on many issues with the lean sensei, who is now pushing me to delegate more in order to sustain some of the gains we've had. However, I feel that most of my line managers are not up to the job - many of them do not rise to the challenge, resist or ignore the improvement work we're trying to do. What would be the lean way of dealing with this situation?"
gmo

Lean Summit 2010 – 2nd & 3rd November

By gmo, - Last updated: lundi, septembre 20, 2010

Dear Lean Edge Reader,

Join us at my next Lean Summit to debate how we take lean into the Executive Office, how we can create a management system for end-to-end value streams and how we can unlock big gains in service delivery organisations, including healthcare. A combination of pioneering examples, inspiring stories and ample opportunities for discussion make this a unique opportunity to push forward the frontiers of lean thinking. Be prepared to be stunned by the amazing story of how a former colleague on IMVP, Anthony Sheriff McLaren has built a new car and car company from scratch using lean principles – watch out Ferrari! Full details at www.leanuk.org.

See you there.

Daniel T Jones

Chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy, UK

Email: Dan@leanuk.org Tel: + 44 (0)1600 890590   Web: www.leanuk.org

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: How Can Standoffs Between Lean & IT be Avoided?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: samedi, septembre 11, 2010
Question:  How can ugly standoffs between lean and IT be changed, and what would be the first steps in such a journey? If IT is about data and standardizing and Lean is about facts (go and see) and continuous improvement, then collisions between IT and lean are predestined. But, you know, collisions aren’t necessarily bad, as long as they are viewed as challenges. A lot of things we take for granted today arose out of problem solving triggered by seemingly unsurmountable dilemmas and obstacles. I think the answer is simple, but not easy... everyone in the organization works within a context, a ...

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Godefroy Beauvallet

Godefroy Beauvallet: Is there a “Lean Way” to look at one firm’s IT? Can IT be made to change towards lean? What would be the first steps in such a journey?

By Godefroy Beauvallet, - Last updated: vendredi, septembre 3, 2010
Lean is about creating a performance mindset, being aware of problems, and having problems solved locally as a way to develop people through problem-solving and fostering a "kaizen spirit". If one frames Lean that way, it seems hardly possible to practice it in any modern firm without getting across information technology questions: most of the work load nowadays is achieved using information systems (from emails to forms-filling); we use IT to report data, calculate indicators and analyze performance; alerts are often generated by sensors, sent through networks and treated by computers; amounts of data that can be used to analyze problems ...

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: What about Jidoka?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: mercredi, août 4, 2010
"For about ten years now the Lean movement has been a whole lot of JIT and a “whole little” Jidoka. Both concepts are fundamental to TPS, and can be implemented in many different ways. Please share your stories of implementing Jidoka (any process is fine), including how it was done, why it was done, and the effects it had locally or at the organization level."
Mike Rother

Mike Rother: The Evolution of Lean

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: mardi, juillet 13, 2010
Question: What would be our best success stories to illustrate what lean is all about? You’re asking that question at a moment when the lean community itself is trying to answer it. Our thinking about lean, and our definition of it, are evolving. However, trying to answer the question by looking at success stories is too surface-level. Besides, we learn from mistakes, not from successes. To gain a better understanding of what Toyota has been doing to generate its successes, try to discern the intentions behind Toyota’s visible practices and to reflect on where our own efforts have fallen short. Not in a ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Lean Success Stories – The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: lundi, juillet 12, 2010
I appreciate the reality that people need to see success stories about Lean or any topic for that matter in order to further their interest with the topic and move onto action. We are all somewhat risk averse by nature I suspect due to the way we evolved. For example you go over there and eat the purple berry on the bush and if you survive then perhaps I'll give it a try! Implementing Lean or any improvement methodology has a bit of that conservative bias to overcome. If you are interested in some Lean success stores then I recommend reading ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: Lean is about making clear and explicit the best known approaches to achieving success

By Steven Spear, - Last updated: dimanche, juillet 11, 2010
Sales and marketing may seem a far cry from the production shop floors on which 'lean' was first observed.  Nevertheless, that type of work lends itself to exactly the same disciplines of rigorous discovery that allowed Toyota to come from beyond, over take its rivals, and run away from the field. There is a mistaken notion that the essence of 'lean,' as an approximation of the Toyota Production System, is the stabilization of processes, heretofore chaotic, as an endpoint in and of itself. Not so when practiced by the masters.  'Stabilization,' or more generally 'specification' is both a means of making clear ...

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Mike Bosworth: Lean Success Stories

By , - Last updated: dimanche, juillet 11, 2010
“For someone involved with sales and marketing, like myself, lean is intriguing but not defined enough for a lay person without hearing more success stories. What would be your best success stories to illustrate what lean is all about?”
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Convincing Executives to go Lean

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: vendredi, juin 11, 2010
The best way to answer this question is to summarise two contrasting real stories – one that got it and one that still does not – at different ends of the same sector. The successful case began with a question from a senior Director – “How could these lean Toyota ideas help my business?”  “Let’s take a walk and see” was my answer. As we walked it because clear there was waste everywhere. This very quickly led to a meeting with the CEO who was intrigued and gave us the go ahead to begin some experiments to demonstrate the potential scale ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Lean Has a Short Half-Life Without Intense Involvement Of The CEO

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: jeudi, juin 10, 2010
One thing we know about lean is that you learn it by doing it, not by sitting in the office.   With all of the different types of organizations I have worked with I must admit that it has been rare to go with the CEO to the gemba.   They have not participated in kaizen activities, our meetings are in offices and board rooms, and in other cases I personally never met the CEO.  For the most part our contacts have only gone as high as the vice president level (engineering, continuous improvement, quality, operations).   That is a problem.  We have ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Convincing Decision Makers that Lean is Not a Program

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: samedi, juin 5, 2010
Question:  How can you convince decision makers that lean is not just a program? Knowledge about Lean tools like cells, kanban, etc., seems to produce continuous improvement only if the surrounding management system is intent on striving toward a customer-oriented vision and is teaching people a systematic routine for how to do that. Lean Industrial Engineering produces one-time benefits, but it can do more. It can generate continuous improvement when applied within Lean Management. That's the argument I think. Do you want continuous improvement or one-time improvements? A Different Task Changing how you manage an organization is a different undertaking than implementing tools or programs, ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean Is Not For Every One

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: vendredi, juin 4, 2010
Rather than think about how to convince others to be lean, let’s try a different thought experiment: what does it take to be a lean leader? First, you need someone who has reached a senior position and is still committed to self-improvement and learning, and be willing to learn about the lean principles in depth. Secondly, this person must be ready to commit to going to the gemba at least twice a week. Thirdly, they must profoundly believe that if they train their people better and empower them to solve their own problems (and help them doing so), they can ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: How do Lean practitioners connect with the CEO?

By Pascal Dennis, - Last updated: mardi, juin 1, 2010
Building on Orrie's point, connecting with CEO means understanding upstream & downstream of the factory. Marketing, Design, Engineering, Order Fulfillment, Customer Service & the like. The CEO's gemba, and Value Streams, comprise all of these. How often do lean practitioners go see them? It's hard work, admittedly, to go see such gembas -- understand what we're seeing.   But if we don't, we'll suboptimize & CEO's will tune us out -- (rightly). A few small examples: In Marketing, Brand management would greatly benefit from the clarity & simplicity of Lean thinking. Marketing execs, for example, have found Strategy Deployment to be invaluable in aligning Design activity with emerging portfolio gaps. Moreover, Lean fundamentals like STW, visual management ...

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Orry Fiume

Orry Fiume: Lean is a Business Strategy

By Orry Fiume, - Last updated: mardi, juin 1, 2010
The way we approached it at Wiremold was to realize that what we call Lean is not an improvement program, not a manufacturing tactic, not a cost reduction tool, but is a strategy.  The purpose of any strategy (lean or otherwise) is to createsustainable competitive advantage. Lean does that by allowing an organization to differentiate itself in the market place through operational excellence.  We realized that if we could reduce the lead time in the market for giving quotes, delivering product, introducing new products, etc, so that we were substantially better than our competition (90%+), we could achieve a competitive ...

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Sandrine Olivencia

Tom Ehrenfeld: How do we convince others to be lean?

By Sandrine Olivencia, - Last updated: lundi, mai 31, 2010
How can we convince decision makers that lean is not a program to justify, but a way of doing business to achieve superior performance?
Jeff Liker

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

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

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean Insights before Lean Innovation

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

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Mike Rother

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

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

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Dennis Sherwood

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

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

Rob Austin: When Is Lean Too Lean?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: jeudi, avril 22, 2010
"Lean" sounds efficient, and I like that. But I worry that it also sounds like "no backup inventory" or "no backup system." I've heard stories about what sound like too-lean operations disastrously disrupted when unexpected problems caused severe delays and there were no backups.  So what is the relationship between lean and robustness in the face of unexpected problems? Can a lean system also be resilient?
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean, Quality and Cost Cutting

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: jeudi, avril 22, 2010
I have met many of these folks too who talk about lean but whose heads are stuck in the old cost cutting mind set. Organisations that employ them, whether as internal or external consultants, deserve what they get – traditional cost cutting! A great shame and a missed opportunity. On the other hand I have also met good lean folk who know all the tools but who do not have an A3 plan to guide their actions. And I often encounter quality folks who imply that improving quality is somehow more virtuous than the grubby task of eliminating waste, which ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Quality = Sales is the hardest lean lesson for management

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: mercredi, avril 14, 2010
Thanks for asking the question – the difficulty in getting senior executives to focus on quality has to be my number one frustration with teaching lean (number two being people engagement). I have been puzzled for years how come all our Toyota teachers always started with quality, but somehow we never took that onboard as we did lead-time reduction or spot waste elimination. To my mind, the question is: why can’t we capture senior management’s interest on quality? The first issue appears to be the mindset of price = volume. In Ohno’s terms, I’m increasingly convinced that this is a misconception. ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Does Lean Forget Quality at Times?

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: mardi, avril 13, 2010
This topic strikes a chord with comments I have made in the past regarding the state of Lean at least in the United States. Unfortunately I do feel that the Lean movement is often guilty of under emphasizing quality at times. Of course this is just a broad characterization and I am not speaking about my colleagues here on this site or directly about any company in particular. Let me try and explain my viewpoint. The Toyota Production System for many years was depicted as having two pillars. One was the famous Just-in-Time Pillar and the other was the less well ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Is Quality Central or Peripheral to Lean?

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: dimanche, avril 11, 2010
The most stunning accomplishment of Toyota over the last fifty years is their turnaround from making “junk” to virtually redefining quality in the auto industry.  They were influenced to the core by W. Edwards Deming and quality is evident everywhere in the company.  The objective of the Toyota Production System is presented as Quality, cost, delivery, safety and morale and any metric board in Toyota will include quality indicators. Every “lean consultant” or lean training course I know emphasizes quality.  In this sense I disagree with the questioner who claims lean focuses only on cost and efficiency.  On the other hand ...

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Mike Micklewright

Mike Micklewright: Why Is Quality So Rarely Central In Lean?

By Mike Micklewright, - Last updated: dimanche, avril 11, 2010
I see so many internal Lean “experts” using “Lean” as a means to increase efficiencies and productivity, and therefore, reduce costs.  They still do not see the connection to quality.  They see quality and the reduction of variation in significant product characteristics as something that is outside of the Lean scope and something that should be handled by the quality folks independently of the lean effort.  What a shame!  If you agree with this observation, why does this exist and what can we do to change this perception?
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Essential Lean and Six Sigma

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, avril 10, 2010
The fundamental power of the ideas behind Lean and Six Sigma are too important to be lost sight of as the improvement movements that champion them compete for attention. These ideas came together in a unique synthesis at Toyota in the 1960s as it was developing its business system. In my view they need to come together again as the rest of the world strives to realize their potential. What the Quality movement, of which Six Sigma is the latest incarnation, brought us is the idea that this is how we can use the scientific method to solve social as well ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: The Lean and Six Sigma Marriage

By Art Smalley, - Last updated: lundi, avril 5, 2010
I have witnessed plenty of Lean versus Six Sigma zealot arguments over the years at various client sites and at different conference settings. I think Tom is trying to stir the pot with this question :-) Somehow I seem to manage to find a way to offend both camps with my standard responses which I will outline below. I'll start my answer however with an interesting side story. Back around the year 2000 I was part of an effort in McKinsey & Company to look at what Fortune 100 companies were using for improvement methodologies. At that time we estimated that ...

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Sandrine Olivencia

Tom Ehrenfeld: How do Six Sigma and Lean fit together?

By Sandrine Olivencia, - Last updated: dimanche, avril 4, 2010
How do Six Sigma and Lean fit together? Is one part of the other? Does one program cover more than the other? Or should the two not be compared in the first place? Please help define each of these programs, and explain how to think about both of them in the most productive way. Finally, elaborate on how whether other programs conflict or complement lean, and how to think about those as well.
Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: The Laws of Lean Organisations

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: lundi, mars 15, 2010
It is not too far-fetched to think of lean as the science of getting useful work out of an organisation. But in this case the organisation does not exist in isolation – it has to serve its customers, work with its partners (employees, suppliers, distributors, shareholders etc) and find its place in the physical, economic and social environment in which it operates. This changes over time and so the laws of lean organisations will also change as societies face new challenges in the future. This is how I would summarise the “laws of lean”. The first lean law states that the ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean Service Delivery

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, février 27, 2010
Taiichi Ohno is reported to have said that the shop floor is a reflection of management. In my experience this is so true. Unless management can articulate a convincing case to change it is easy to get stuck in fire-fighting mode. Good people trapped in a broken process without a clear purpose will never improve. Well intentioned efforts to change the culture or even to redesign processes will run into the sand if the purpose or the performance gaps that need to be closed and the financial consequences of doing so are not clear. This means management seeing lean not just ...

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Mike Rother

Rob Austin: What advice can lean offer about breaking the dysfunctional cycle of “fire fighting”? How do you shift the focus from urgent rework to systematic improvement?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: jeudi, février 25, 2010
I know of a service delivery organization plagued by administrative difficulties. Many service requests are mishandled. People within the organization who handle things effectively become known, and then everyone goes to them for help, which causes them to become overwhelmed; usually they either burnout and quit (or move to another job), or they become ineffective as a result of being overwhelmed. The reward for doing good work is that you get buried by an overwhelming volume of additional service requests. One problem this organization has is that its people don't have a habit of making problems visible. When you point out a ...

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Jacques Chaize: How is Lean to be Maintained in the Long Term?

By , - Last updated: mercredi, février 10, 2010
"We've been working with lean for several years and have had significant results, both financially and in terms of changing behavior. Still Tom Ehrenfeld's earlier question on finding a good balance between pushing people to progress and supporting them in difficult situations remains very relevant. We seem to regularly backslide in our lean efforts, and then have to climb back up again by exerting pressure. The question is: how is lean to be maintained in the long term? Even Toyota seems to be struggling these days, does it ever become part of the culture?"
Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Toyota Recall and the Lean Movement

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: samedi, janvier 30, 2010
According to some reports there have been issues of unintended acceleration over a decade and Toyota should have responded much earlier.  According to my Toyota sources they have reports of unintended acceleration all the time and need to focus on systematic causes that they can actually verify and fix.  When customers complain about unintended acceleration the dealers check a code on what they work on (e.g., fixed pedal) and then if there is some pattern (e.g., a larger than expected number) Toyota will investigate. When they investigated earlier incidents they were not finding specific engineering design problems but complex interactions ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Learning to Lead a Lean Transformation

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: vendredi, janvier 15, 2010
Question:  How do you help people see the depth of personal commitment it takes to lead a lean transformation? Thank you Peter Senge for your question. Generally speaking I currently coach leaders in practicing through three increasing levels of capability, in a behavior pattern I call the improvement kata.  The levels are awareness, able to do it, and able to coach it.  For some details on how, please see pages 243-6 in the book Toyota Kata (foreword by Tom Johnson, by the way!). --> Comment 1: "Discover," is the right word I think.  People can't learn how to lead such change from books, classroom ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean leadership is knowledge leadership – lean is for people with the ability to learn

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: vendredi, janvier 15, 2010
Lean is not always that hard. Sure it's work: difficult to think that any method  to perform better would not be. But more importantly, not all people take to it equally. A few find lean to be just work: challenging, but quite natural. Many will never get it. Peter Senge hits the nail right on the head as to the difficulties encountered with adopting the lean approach: 1) the learning component of lean is often underestimated, no matter how much the sensei insist upon it; 2) lean learning is based on acknowledging one’s mistakes and taking responsibility for the fact ...

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Peter Senge

Peter Senge: In transformations such as the lean management movement suggests, how do you help people discover the depth of personal commitment it takes to lead such changes?

By Peter Senge, - Last updated: mardi, janvier 12, 2010
In integrating lean and systems thinking in a genuine learning-oriented culture the part people consistently miss is the 'personal mastery' element, meaning not only personal vision but the willingness to examine deeply our taken-for-granted habits of thought and action and how we may be part of the problem. There are two types of problems embedded here: people who espouse the fad with no real deep commitment and people who are genuinely intent on transforming work cultures who lack the knowledge (and larger learning community) about how to build their own skills and challenge their own habits.
Mike Rother

Rob Austin: Can lean help operational managers realize specific targets on schedule?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: mercredi, janvier 6, 2010
As a financial manager, what I'd really like from operational managers is a commitment to realizing specific targets--cost reduction, productivity improvement, whatever--on a schedule. Then I want to see people work to deliver those results on schedule.  Can lean help me get that?

Tom Johnson: Lean as a shared vision

By , - Last updated: mercredi, janvier 6, 2010
If people resist overtures to adopt lean, the first thing to do is ask "why?"  Ask them to define what lean means to them. Get them to specify the purpose that they think lean fulfills.  Then ask them to define what they now do and the purpose it fulfills.  If they believe that the purposes of lean and of what they now do are different, why?  If the purposes are the same, which approach do they think is the better one to achieve that purpose?  Why?  If they think lean might be a better approach, what keeps them from adopting ...

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Jeff Liker

Dan Jones: Lean has to be “win-win-win”

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: mercredi, janvier 6, 2010
There is no doubt that employees very much prefer to work in a lean organisation. When you hear them say “we would never want to go back to the old ways” you know that at least this part of the organisation is serious about lean. If lean is misused as a fig leaf for crude cost cutting you know it will go backwards in a hurry – it is difficult to misuse lean for long. But that does not mean that employee involvement is all there is to lean – or that it is all plain sailing – far from it. ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Can You Teach Lean without Bullying People?

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: lundi, janvier 4, 2010
Question:  Can you teach the lean ideal of respecting people without actually bullying them? It depends on what you mean by respecting people and by bullying. Toyota lists the five principles that underlie its managerial approach and business methods as Challenge, Kaizen (improvement), Genchi Genbutsu (go and see), Respect, and Teamwork. Interestingly, outside of Toyota lots has been written about the last four, but the principle that Toyota lists first -- Challenge -- has been overlooked. Yet based on my research, what Toyota is doing is very much about challenge, which can be defined as "a test of one's abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean is about facing one’s problems and learning to solve them

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: jeudi, décembre 24, 2009
Lean management is teaching the right people to solve the right problems the right way. None of this is easy. Senior management must agree to teach, not tell; middle managers must agree to learn. This is not easy and win/win doesn’t necessarily mean nice/nice. First off, it’s important to note that regardless how tough the managerial debate can become no serious lean practitioner has ever had a cross word for a frontline operator. In fact, many of the harshest discussions with middle-managers are about teaching respect for value-adding operators. The lean premise is that the people who add the value, who ...

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Sandrine Olivencia

Tom Ehrenfeld: Can you teach the lean ideal of respecting people without actually bullying them?

By Sandrine Olivencia, - Last updated: mercredi, décembre 23, 2009
From a distance, lean looks like such a nice, humanistic improvement approach—one that treats people with respect and generates knowledge from the ground up. That’s all well and good, but the practice of teaching, and doing, lean invariably involves conflict, frustration, and, to be honest, what seems like a fair amount of bullying from superiors to prod their employees to “get it.” Isn’t the reality of doing lean far more frustrating and conflicted than one would think? How do you get people on board in a meaningful way? How do you teach the gospel of respecting people without bullying them ...

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Orry Fiume

Orry Fiume: lean as a long-term strategy

By Orry Fiume, - Last updated: dimanche, décembre 20, 2009
The primary reason why managers think lean is a program to reduce costs is because over the past 20 or so years, companies have been hearing about its various implementations (JIT, etc.) in the context of “eliminating waste”. There is an implicit, if not explicit, understanding that eliminating waste equates to eliminating costs (i.e., cost cutting). However, at The Wiremold Company we understood that the real reason for adopting lean was to create sustainable competitive advantage...and that is strategic. If a company cannot differentiate itself from its competitors, the only thing it can do is compete on the basis ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Lean Ain’t Just Cost Cutting

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: vendredi, décembre 18, 2009
Question:  How do you avoid lean becoming just cost cutting? How do you get people to embrace the philosophy? When we started investigating Toyota 20 years ago we looked at Toyota’s outcomes -- reduced waste -- and labeled that “lean production“. That's what we've been trying to implement, and what then leads to lean as ruthless cost cutting. We missed Toyota’s less visible thinking, intentions and behavior routines that produce the outcome of reduced waste. Is Toyota simply cost cutting? Try this on for size: Toyota corporate guidance in the current harsh economic climate is:  “No permanent layoffs ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean is about better managing costs, not cutting costs

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: lundi, décembre 7, 2009
The fundamental insight is that in any cost structure there is a kernel of costs which are common to all competitors in terms of materials, components, labor, equipment, overhead etc. and then around these costs, an additional layer of costs which are due to the firm's operational method - waste, in the lean sense (costs you incur unnecessarily because of things we don't know how to do, poor planning decisions and wasteful activities this generates). "Lean" is lean in the sense that it tries to progressively take the unnecessary costs out of the system. Lean usually approaches cost management with ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: lean is not “mean”

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: dimanche, décembre 6, 2009
In some ways the word "lean" was an unfortunate choice and in other ways a brilliant choice.  The intention was that a lean person is healthy in a holistic way--muscles in the right place, all organs functioning properly, able to hold up to intense exercise and even hostile environmental conditions.  It is a great metaphor for what the flexible, adaptable, solid to the core company should be like.  Company executives that treat lean as mean and use the tools to shed people, the source of the company's health, are either delusional or do not really care about how the company performs in ...

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