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 'sensei'
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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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Sensei means professor

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Saturday, May 3, 2014
I am not sure what is just semantics when we differentiate a consultant from a sensei. Is consultant a title and sensei a role? Is that a matter of posture? In Japanese, sensei means simply professor. I strongly believe that a sensei can be a consultant and perhaps vice versa. In fact, some of my Toyota senseis became consultants after they retired. Now, how good a consultant were they? Some Toyota senseis who were very respected in Toyota and even had direct learning from Mr. Ohno, became very poor consultants according to their clients ("according to their clients" is the key piece of information ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: A sensei lights the fire of the kaizen spirit

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Thursday, May 1, 2014
A dictionary definition of a “sensei" is simply someone older then you as age is respected in Japan. It also is a formal title for a teacher of some sort. Most relevant it is a title to show respect to someone who has achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill. This definition says it is earned, not granted by a job position like professor or consultant. And a sensei is dedicated to developing mastery in others. It is typical that lean consultants are expected to do some ...

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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?
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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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Start witht he IT implications of a model line, and get expert coaching

By Jeff Liker, - Last updated: Monday, August 5, 2013
My first reaction is that if this is a new lean effort, e.g., less then 2 years into it, specific action by IT can easily do more harm then good. This happens when the core processes have not been well defined, and therefore their information needs are not well defined, and IT starts developing "lean software" that is a distraction and not what the value-added workers need. For example, IT jumps in to develop an electronic kanban system when the company does not have the discipline or understanding to run even a basic manual kanban system. This ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Pick you sensei with care, the sensei manages the learning curve

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013
If you want live music for a party – do you decide how large the orchestra should be, or do you worry about picking the right conductor? There are two ways to look at this question: the taylorist-lean way and the Toyota-lean way. In the taylorist-lean way, the problem is quite mechanical. You’ve got a number of sites and processes, you want to apply the “waste-reduction” machine to each of these processes, and you need kaizen officers to do so. The question is then a matter of size and payback – how many kaizen officers do you need to hit every ...

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