Question of the moment
Is there a difference between visual management and visual control?
How do you explain the difference between visual management and visual control and what is the role of shop floor management in it?
Posted on October 19, 2014
Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Visual control is micro, visual management macro

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I will answer your question regarding visual control versus management based on how some of my Japanese trainers, coordinators and leaders articulated it to me and how I personally practiced it during my time at the TMMK plant in hourly and salary positions. This question comes up all the time and it can turn into semantics very easily, similar to asking someone what are the 5S's. I ...

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Peter Handlinger

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

By Peter Handlinger, Co-author of "The One Page Report...Of Course" - Last updated: Monday, October 20, 2014
To me it is less a question about whether it is 'visual management' or 'visual control' but more about the 'visual' component. Dealing with the semantics of management versus control, if pushed, I would liken the 'control' to a closure of the feedback loop of an activity whereas the 'management' component a broader description of the tools used and more importantly what one does with them (Jon, Jeff and Samuel have given great explanations of this ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: All tools are based on key capabilities

By Steven Spear, Author of 'The High-Velocity Edge' and 'Chasing the Rabbit' - Last updated: Monday, October 20, 2014
In answering the question about the use of particular tools, it helps to anchor in the fundamentals first and then elaborate on the use of tools in pursuit of those fundamentals second. In engineering, for instance, we start with Newtonian mechanics and then introduce tools like finite element analysis for testing the integrity of structures, or we introduce concepts of feedback and control before introducing matlab and other tools for simulation. ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: visualize normal from abnormal and target problem solving

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Monday, October 20, 2014
I agree and think that there may be subtle differences (or similarities) between visual control and visual management. But the second question on floor management development system and its role, can be better explained by what Toyota calls the 4 phases of FMDS. Visual Management is the entirety of phase 3: Visualization of abnormalities and target problem solving. The official name for phase 3 is just “Visual Management”. ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Visual control means displayed information is acted on

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Sunday, October 19, 2014
Often we talk about the difference between visual displays and visual control.  Visual displays mean information is shown, while visual control means information is acted on.   One type of visual is the metric board where we represent the actual versus target, another is the andon which physically warns us of an out of standard condition, while a third type is a physical indicator of the state of the operation versus standard ...

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller: Visual Management, Visual Control and Shop Floor Management?

By Jon Miller, Author of 'Creating a Kaizen Culture' and the 'Gemba Panta Rei" blog - Last updated: Sunday, October 19, 2014
The question from an aeronautics COO is "How do you explain the difference between visual management and visual control and what is the role of shop floor management in it?" I spent some years as a Japanese-English translator as well as interpreter. In some ways I feel it is my duty to go back through the entire vocabulary of lean and right the wrongs due to poor translation, for they are ...

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The Lean Edge

Is there a difference between visual management and visual control?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Sunday, October 19, 2014
How do you explain the difference between visual management and visual control and what is the role of shop floor management in it?
Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Every termination is a failure

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
This is always an interesting topic to discuss, because there are so many contributing factors weaving us through an exhausting web to find the actual root cause(s).    I remember a story during my time at the TMMK plant years ago, I will leave names and specifics out to protect the innocent. A higher level leader had all his ducks in a row to terminate a person after several failed attempts ...

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Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: Set the expectation every one must train others

By Peter Handlinger, Co-author of "The One Page Report...Of Course" - Last updated: Monday, August 4, 2014
Other than having a good look at the practice of recruitment and succession planning criteria it is assumed that this person is already in the position. Clearly incompetence is not going to benefit the business or, in the longer term, the incumbent so the short answer is clear - remove. But before this process is establish it might be an idea to go back to basics and have a look at these measures (I know they ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Talk to them until they change or leave

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, August 3, 2014
Difficult question, and I’m not sure I have answer. I guess the place to start is clarify what “competent” means. To my mind, a competent person: Agrees on basic job role and responsibilities: not always obvious, for instance, the salesperson in a company I know considers his role is to respond to request for quotations from customers, whereas his CEO would like to see him do some cold calling as well. ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Sit down with resisters and ask “Why?”

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Sunday, August 3, 2014
I'm with Orry re: the "mandate Lean" message. And I've never seen a large-scale transformation where one of the senior leaders simply couldn't get on the bus and needed to find a new home. However, there are all types of resistance for all types of reasons. And "mandating" can be done with finesse, reason, data, etc. or it can be heavy-handed, command-and-control, etc. So I'd need more details to understand ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: No cement-heads – ever!

By Pascal Dennis, Author of Getting The Right Things Done, Lean Production Simplified, and Andy & Me - Last updated: Saturday, August 2, 2014
Orrie’s response to the question of incompetence reflects deep & rare learning. I can only add supporting comments. I’ve found that transformation obstacles generally bubble up in the following sequence: Technical – weak standards or adherence to standards for core activities Organizational – team structure, org structure etc. People – competence, motivation, mental models etc. Systemic – governance obstacles, e.g. rewards & recognition structure, core beliefs & values, relationship ...

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David Meier

David Meier: Respect doesn’t mean that pamper or coddle people. Attitudes issues are adressed one on one

By David Meier, - Last updated: Saturday, August 2, 2014
Sheesh I am not sure where we got the idea that respect for people means we all stand around and sing Kumbaya! It certainly does not mean that you are unable to address performance issues! Here are a few statements from Toyota about respect- -"We respect people by challenging them." (giving people legitimate challenges to improve and use their thinking and ability to make the process better). People like challenges, but ...

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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, Co-author of Real Numbers: Management Accounting in a Lean Organization - 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 ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: It’s respectful to the entire workforce to ensure standards of performance are maintained

By Jean Cunningham, Co-author of 'Real Numbers' and 'Easier, Simpler, Faster' - Last updated: Friday, August 1, 2014
Performance management is important in every company. When there is standard work it is even easier to coach on performance. One outcome of performance management is improved performance. One is termination. It is respectful to the entire workforce to ensure standards of performance are maintained.
The Lean Edge

How does lean deal with sheer incompetence?

By The Lean Edge, - 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."
Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: What will happen to lean after you leave

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - 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 ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Every one loves innovation but hates innovators

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Friday, August 1, 2014
Everyone loves innovation, but everyone hates innovators. What you describe, I fear, is a normal, same old, same old situation. Lean is mostly about technical improvements and self-reflexion but has little to say about the political aspects of change. Every change, any change is bound to challenge the status quo and people are ready to do so to varying degrees. The pace of change that accompanies any lean approach to ...

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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 ...

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Arthur Byrne

Art Byrne: How much respect do you show your people?

By Arthur Byrne, Author of "The Lean Turnaround: How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company" - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014
He should a] get someone to help him that understands what to do and how to go about it. The right outside consultant and a strong internal KPO would help a lot. And, b] he should examine his own behavior and approach. Does he show respect for people. Does he communicate well to all stakeholders. Is he hands on and leading or does stay in his office and issue orders. Does he create a culture where ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: It must feel lonely at the top!

By Jean Cunningham, Co-author of 'Real Numbers' and 'Easier, Simpler, Faster' - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014
It must feel lonely at the top. If we approach this as a lean problem, then let’s work on that gap. He feels alone and wants other people related to the organization to be with him. Let’s consider many supporters as the desired state. Let’s consider getting such great results that the question of "how" never arises as the desired state. Using 5 Why’s, we can begin ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Watch out for conflicting KPIs

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, July 6, 2014
This question/situation reminds me of the power-point slide we have all seen where the arrows are going in different directions. Since I'm not there to see it leaves me to make some assumptions because I do not have the ability grasp the situation, get the facts and ask why. At times when I'm at a conference I hear similar stories about lack of "buy-in" ...

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Samuel Obara

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

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - 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 ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: A CEO might be a good at lean but poor at leading change

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Friday, July 4, 2014
The reality is that if you are making a major change in an organization you are bound to create some enemies. You will be clashing with the interests of some people who either have an opposing viewpoint, or some personal issue with you succeeding, or perhaps fear you are going to make their lives more difficult. Lean has the potential to be very disruptive. Reducing inventory is designed ...

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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?
Daniel T Jones

What about Kaizen events

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
As with all lean tools and techniques their effectiveness depends on how they are used. I helped to introduce Five-day Kaizen events into the UK and later to Europe and they proved to be very powerful in demonstrating the potential for improving work and eliminating waste. In particular they helped lean pioneers learn what really goes on at their front lines so they could become more effective lean leaders. I also ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Kaizen every day, everywhere, by everyone

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
I think Toyota had some pressing reasons to make Kaizen part of their culture. But I can’t think of any one more evident than the elimination of waste itself. Perhaps that was what compelled Toyota into making Kaizen, a culture. It is a shared value and belief. It is everyone’s expectation. Kaizen every day, everywhere, by everyone. At Toyota Japan they call it Kaizen Teian, which is ...

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Tracey Richardson

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

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
I always like to discuss the concept of Kaizen in my sessions. I feel it's often very misused and even misunderstood in the Lean world. As far as that goes you can say the same about Lean I suppose. There are so many different definitions and articulations of that concept out there across different industries. I always say Kaizen without value to the ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Kaizen events are mainly a tool to open the minds of the leadership

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Monday, June 2, 2014
I have personally been involved, along with my associates, in leading kaizen events for over 15 years. We never used a very rigid format. They could range from 2 days to 5 days. I had associates who were formally taught by shingijutsu and preferred 5-day events and were exceptional at leading them. They were quite exciting and were especially so in the early days. There was ...

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The Lean Edge

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

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

Tracey Richardson: Learn the thinking, not just the doing, why, how, where, what, when?

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, May 24, 2014
Looking through the lens I see lean through, I think the word "sensei" can be subjective.    I think each and every one of us can have a different definition of what a sensei is based on our own experiences.    These differences doesn't necessarily make any of us right or wrong, just perception I suppose; and what our current knowledge base is compared to others on the journey.   ...

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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 ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Sensei means professor

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - 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 ...

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller: From whom do you wish to learn?

By Jon Miller, Author of 'Creating a Kaizen Culture' and the 'Gemba Panta Rei" blog - Last updated: Thursday, May 1, 2014
In lean we have a credentialing problem. At least in the United States, practically anyone can become a lean author, expert or consultant. Ironically, lean lacks good standards for credentialing. This problem has been covered up by the vast amount of low-hanging fruit that it is easy to hang up a lean shingle not fail too badly for a while. Enduring success on the lean journey however, the scientifically unverified ...

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Jeff Liker

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

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - 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 ...

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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, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - 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 ...

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Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: Finding Time For Improvements

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Making time for improvement is a choice. The single most important thing a CEO can do is set an example by making time in their diaries. The successful lean pioneers I have known all spend a day a week out in the organisation and talking to customers. This sounds hard to do but if you think about it the place where the most expensive discretionary time exists in any organisation ...

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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 ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Kaizen is the work

By Pascal Dennis, Author of Getting The Right Things Done, Lean Production Simplified, and Andy & Me - Last updated: Monday, April 7, 2014
Building on Dave’s excellent insights, who has time for the hugely wasteful & mechanical ‘five-day kaizen events’? Dave’s suggested 1-hour-per-week Quality Circle is not only more time-efficient, but reinforces the central TPS principle: Kaizen is the work. Absent of this core principle, is Lean any more than a set of tools? If we accept it though, Lean comes to life and allows us to take on more & more complex ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: This is honestly more about leadership than lean

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - 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 ...

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David Meier

Dave Meier: In Toyota improvement ideas and efforts were expected but voluntary

By David Meier, - Last updated: Wednesday, April 2, 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 ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Conitnuous improvement is more than repetitive improvement

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Wednesday, April 2, 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 ...

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller: No Time for Kaizen? Check Your Assumptions

By Jon Miller, Author of 'Creating a Kaizen Culture' and the 'Gemba Panta Rei" blog - Last updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014
The Lean Edge: How do you make time for improvements? As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because ...

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Mark Graban

Mark Graban: No time for improvement? Then find time

By Mark Graban, Author of the 'Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Satisfaction,' winner of the Shingo Prize in 2009. Creator of leanblog.org, and Senior Fellow at the Lean Enterprise Institute. On twitter as @leanblog. - Last updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014
The Lean Edge: How do you make time for improvements? As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Start the conversation

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014
The Lean Edge: How do you make time for improvements? As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because ...

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Jeff Liker

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

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Sunday, March 30, 2014
The Lean Edge: How do you make time for improvements? As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: If you don’t have time to do it right first time, when will you have time to do it over?

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Friday, March 28, 2014
The Lean Edge: How do you make time for improvements? As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because ...

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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 ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: How do temps fit in with See, Solve, Sustain, Spread

By Steven Spear, Author of 'The High-Velocity Edge' and 'Chasing the Rabbit' - Last updated: Sunday, March 23, 2014
Whether or not temporary workers are a benefit or a hinderance to an organization depends on how senior leadership chooses to employ them. First, we have to recognize that certain sectors have large fluctuations in work load——isn’t HR Block the single largest employer of temporary workers each tax season——that flexing headcount is unavoidable. Second, let’s recognize the dynamics by which exceptional performance altitude is achieved. It depends on having a steep ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: A variable employee base (temps) is necessary to provide stable employment through the major ups and downs of the market

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2014
First off there is no real “lean stand” on this issue and perhaps no lean stand on much of anything as lean means so many different things to different people. Second, speaking strictly about The Toyota Way the two pillars are respect for people and continuous improvement. In order to accomplish respect for people as partners in the business, and invest the time it takes to develop their capabilities to ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Start with the person and learn with them

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, March 16, 2014
Let’s look at this differently: let’s not start by wondering how to most efficiently organize temp labor, but let’s start from the fact that temporary workers are persons, just like any one else that works in the firm. Temporary workers are an essential part of the lean system because they help us be more flexible to volume variations no one knows how to handle internally. Temporary workers add value. Temporary ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: As a leader at any level 50% of your job is to develop your people

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Friday, March 7, 2014
So being raised at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), I had the pleasure of seeing our temporary worker program evolve over many years to meet the needs of the company in an ever-changing market. I was also fortunate to be involved in certain areas of curriculum and training in the mid 2000’s for the program. Internally the term “variable workforce” is often used which implies exactly ...

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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?
Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: Starting The Leadership Journey

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Monday, February 24, 2014
Let me add to all the excellent advice to start by building the problem solving capabilities to improve the processes or value streams that create value for customers. The one lesson I have learnt time and time again is that lean cannot be "done for you", you have to do it and lead it yourself. As the natural inclination of management is to reach for an expert to solve a ...

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Dave Brunt

Dave Brunt: lean transformation framework

By Dave Brunt, Co-author of "Creating Lean Dealers" - 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 ...

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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, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - 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 ...

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Mike Rother

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

By Mike Rother, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - 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 ...

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller: Get a good diagnosis

By Jon Miller, Author of 'Creating a Kaizen Culture' and the 'Gemba Panta Rei" blog - Last updated: Sunday, February 9, 2014
"How do I start with lean?" Loaded question. If you were a doctor and a new patient walked in and asked, "How do I get healthy?" what would you answer? Free advice has consequences. Pay to be asked some good questions. The might include... How will you be able to recognize lean culture? Why does your management want a lean culture? What behaviors does the management recognize today as non-lean? What level of personal commitment ...

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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 ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Start with a demonstration activity and engage the leadership team

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Saturday, February 8, 2014
While I agree whole heartedly with all of the responses so far, I'm going to offer an alternative viewpoint from pragmatic perspective. Many of the organizations I've worked with that have made significant progress on the Lean journey, didn't begin with the ideal: "what problem do you want/need to solve?" In several cases, they had no idea what Lean was; they simply knew that they wanted to improve their performance. ...

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Steven Spear

Steven Spear: Start with a ‘model line’ so that leadership can learn to see and solve problems

By Steven Spear, Author of 'The High-Velocity Edge' and 'Chasing the Rabbit' - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Becoming an exceptional organization, one capable of short term reliability and longer term responsiveness and agility requires building skills that accelerate feedback, correction, and learning. The reliable mechanism is starting with a ‘model line’ incubator in which leadership is connected to creating and harnessing a problem seeing problems solving dynamic and then using that incubator as a developmental tool to propagate those skills broadly. PERFORMANCE LEVELS AS FUNCTION OF LEARNING ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: One of the first aims should be to develop people to use a systematic process for improvement

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Many, many people have been in your situation. The top wants lean, which they have some understanding of from somewhere, and they want you to go get it. “Develop a plan. Find a consultant.” You are correct that there are almost as many flavors of lean as there are consultants. And who knows what flavor your management got exposed to from the conference they attended, or the board member, or ...

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Daniel Markovitz

Daniel Markovitz: Start by identifying a specific problem to solve

By Daniel Markovitz, Author of “A Factory of One" - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Start with lean by identifying a specific problem to solve — preferably one that has a serious impact on the company’s ability to serve its customers. One company I know that has made incredible strides started its journey with the president (upon seeing their D/C filled to the ceiling with unshipped goods), setting a corporate goal for same-day shipment of orders. Once a problem has been identified, I believe that ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: What problem are we trying to solve?

By Pascal Dennis, Author of Getting The Right Things Done, Lean Production Simplified, and Andy & Me - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Very good question. Here are some thoughts for posting How Do I Start with Lean? I'd suggest you begin by asking the most basic & difficult question: "What problem are we trying to solve?" Growth? Profitability? Throughput? Quality? Safety? What are possible causes? Malignant market forces? Core technologies at risk of becoming obsolete? Empty new product pipeline? Decaying factories? Apathetic, stagnant or hostile work force? Dysfunctional mental models? You can begin your analysis with analytical ...

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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."
Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: continuous flow is the key to improving quality

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I find that creating continuous flow cells is still 1) as powerful as ever and 2) as difficult as ever. Lean tools, in my experience, have been used to improve the productivity of existing lines or cells, but people balk at creating cells wherever it’s not obvious. Sadly, they miss the opportunity to radically diminish lead-time. In one high-tech company, after several years of doing lean, the CEO finally rolled-up ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Lean Conformance vs. TPS Performance

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - 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 ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: TPS experts within Toyota will always want to drive in the direction of the ideal of one-piece flow

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Monday, January 6, 2014
Experts within Toyota on TPS will always want to drive in the direction of the ideal of one-piece flow. They believe in this quite passionately. In a Toyota assembly plant this looks like a super long continuous flow line. The plastics plant look like a process island of molding machines though there is a clear flow of raw materials to finished bumpers that are built in sequence ...

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Jon Miller

What is the true value of a work cell?

By Jon Miller, Author of 'Creating a Kaizen Culture' and the 'Gemba Panta Rei" blog - Last updated: Monday, December 16, 2013
"Twenty years later, have workplaces moved to multi-process cells or do you still find many isolated operators?" The answer to this question is not either-or, but a "Yes" to both. Progressive workplaces are moving closer to cells, and we still find many isolated processes a.k.a. islands. Agile development, scrums, sprints and so forth engage in cell-like continuous flow within non-production environments. Hospitals and clinics are being designed for patient flow, moving ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Cells are rare in service environments because Flow is hard to achieve

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Sunday, December 15, 2013
Cells—and a looser version that I refer to as co-location—are still rare in the service and knowledge work sectors. Part of the reason is that individuals, work teams and departments in these environments typically juggle many processes that support many value stream. To create flow and, therefore, reap the benefits of cellular structure, the first thing that has to happen is what I refer to as “work segmentation.” People have ...

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The Lean Edge

Twenty years later, have workplaces moved to multi-process cells or do you still find many isolated operators?

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Sunday, December 15, 2013
When I discovered lean twenty years ago, Toyota was mostly teaching us to move from muti-machine single process halls to multi-process cells that flow a complete product (it was the days of moving machines around during the night). As you visit gembas, has this transformation happened or is it still rare? I must admit that I still come across many plants with single process machines to a hall and a ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Toyota Insourcing For Competitive Advantage

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Friday, December 6, 2013
I honestly don’t know if there is a specific “lean way” for organizing value through out the supply chain. Lean is a pretty subjective term these days and I find as much difference of opinion on the topic as I do agreement. I expect a lot of different responses on this topic depending upon differing backgrounds. Speed, quality, value, feel good, profits, etc. take your pick and state your beliefs ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Think of outsourced value in terms of capability and capacity

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Friday, November 29, 2013
One company I know manufactures high-tech equipment with fairly sophisticated human-machine interface screens. One day, we were with the CEO in the local Apple store wondering how come we used a piece of kit worth twenty times an iPad with less functionality. As the CEO followed that thought, he also discovered there existed an open-sourced interface software that served as a standard for human-machine interface in the industry. The company had ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Outsource to increase value

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, November 24, 2013
There can be several ways to determine when outsourcing is an option for an organization. How I share my thoughts about it to others is based on my experience inside and outside of Toyota. I believe there must be a need to outsource a process, service or product. So what is that need or criteria? This means there should be an overall "value-add" to the company business indicators in making ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: “I think I’m making progress” – Pablo Casals

By Mike Rother, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - Last updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Question:  How do you understand what to in-source and what to out-source? How about this as one criteria for keeping work inside or outsourcing:  Is it something you want to get better at for competitive advantage? Mike      
Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: People feel good when work we sent away starts coming back

By Pascal Dennis, Author of Getting The Right Things Done, Lean Production Simplified, and Andy & Me - Last updated: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Splendid answers, Steve, Jeff, Sammy and Jean. I'd simply add the following. The implicit deal between Lean companies & their employees is something like this: "You do the work that needs doing, & help us to improve, and we'll give you job security, continuous learning & challenge." As we get better, we free up human & machine time, floor space, capital etc., which all adds up to more capacity. We are able to do more with ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Is it part of your strategic value? Is it something you do weekly/daily? Does it require specialist knowledge?

By Jean Cunningham, Co-author of 'Real Numbers' and 'Easier, Simpler, Faster' - Last updated: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
In the office functions I feel the first test of outsourcing is three questions: is it part of your strategic value? ( keep it inside) Is it something you do daily/weekly and links with other processes?( keep it inside) Does it require highly technical knowledge and changing laws ( consider outsourcing) So on a practical level, payroll processing is often outsourced. It is not often strategic, does not tie to ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Insource when you can, outsource when you need capacity or competency

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Core competencies and problem solving capabilities as Jeff and Steve mentioned seem to be good indications that there are multiple reasons why Toyota would insource or outsource. I frequently had to do insourcing/outsourcing/nationalization of parts and components. That included feasibility studies on components ranging from wire harness to stamped/machined parts to roofing, etc, etc.. In some cases, the studies would point out that Toyota would need to hire more people rather than using ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Outsiders can be insiders if they commit to intense learning partnerships

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Monday, November 11, 2013
Automotive companies differ in how they define their core competencies, what they outsource, and their philosophy of how to deal with inhouse versus outsourced products and services. For example, Toyota makes their own plastic bumpers, makes a substantial number of their own seats, and makes some key components of hybrids such as batteries and switching circuits. As Steve Spear points out the structure of what you make in-house ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: It’s not about formal boundaries between firms, but about the dynamics of improvement

By Steven Spear, Author of 'The High-Velocity Edge' and 'Chasing the Rabbit' - Last updated: Monday, November 11, 2013
In trying to understand what to in source and what to out source, it is first important to recognize what we are trying to accomplish: create the possibility for high speed problem seeing and problem solving as the engine for improvement and growth. The key point is that exceptional performance levels are won by exceptional rates of internally generally improvement. Improvement, in turns, means finding where problems are occurring and ...

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Anne-Lise Seltzer

Anne-Lise Seltzer: Is there a lean approach to organizing value throughout the value chain?

By Anne-Lise Seltzer, Sociologist of organizations - Consultant for Lab & Cie and partner of SOL-France - Last updated: Monday, November 11, 2013
Automotive companies tend to outsource all except body and engine, and service organizations such as banks and insurance companies are now arguing they should do the same in order to become lean. Is there a specific lean approach to where value should be in the supply chain? Is there a unique Toyota way of doing so?
Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: How can we enhance intense collaboration?

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Monday, October 21, 2013
I’ve been puzzled for years by how the Toyota Way 2001 document organizes topics around Respect and Teamwork. Respect is about 1) Respect for stakeholders, 2) Mutual trust and mutual responsibility and 3) Sincere communication. Teamwork, on the other hand is about human resources development 1) commitment to education and development and 2) respect for the individual and realizing consolidated power as a team. Hmmm – thoroughly confusing. How come ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: A3 to instill system thinking in the DNA of the organization

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Here again is an issue that has both a philosophical element to it (we're one company, not a series of departments), but it also speaks to the real, pragmatic needs organizations have for getting results. Applying the scientific method across disparate silos requires that the functions/departments first have consensus (and perhaps a sense of urgency) that the problem is worth solving and that the time is "now" to solve it. A wonderful means for driving the ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Dynamics of Problem Solving

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
This particular questions asks why it is so hard to cooperate across functions to solve problems by using the scientific method. Not the exact wording but close enough for short discussion. Problem solving via any method (scientific method or otherwise) is not all that simple when you stop and problem solve the process of problem solving. At least I have never found that to be the case. Solving actual production ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Basic skills of active listening, facilitating, modeling behavior, giving and receiving feedback and more are all necessary to lead any people for anything and are critical for leading teams to improve processes.

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
In The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership the first step of the model is self development. Even that one step involves more then learning the scientific method. Toyota Business Practices, their scientific method for problem solving, is intended to not only solve problems but develop people to learn to follow the foundation of the Toyota Way--Challenge, Go to gemba to see first hand, kaizen methods, teamwork, and respect. ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: One of the most overlooked forms of waste is the “under-utilization” of people and their ability to “think”

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I often like to start off by discussing the scientific method (PDCA) by differentiating the "process" from the "tool" side of it. These are two very different things. When I visit clients or do public sessions my experience from grasping the current state that more people (various levels and industries) see it as a tool. Some would argue to say it is, my preference ...

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The Lean Edge

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 The Lean Edge, - 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?
leanedge event announcement

Lean Summit UK 2013 – 5th & 7th November

By leanedge event announcement, - 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 ...

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Steve Bell

Steve Bell: Leading your team in the practice of collaboration and experimentation

By Steve Bell, Author of "Run, Grow, Transform" and co-author of "Lean IT: Enabling and Sustaining Your Lean Transformation" - Last updated: Saturday, September 7, 2013
Not only can you contribute, but you and your teams should play a significant role. Over the past several years I’ve seen an interesting trend emerge. It wasn’t all that long ago when the enterprise avoided involving IT in a Lean transformation. Often, Lean practitioners viewed IT as an impediment to continuous improvement. And sometimes they were right – historically IT has often been unnecessarily complex, costly, risky, unreliable, and ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: IT needs to turn its purpose on its head first

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Friday, September 6, 2013
True, I can’t think of any lean transformation I’ve witnessed firsthand where IT is part of the solution, not part of the problem – apart from a few specific examples I’ll address further on. I’ve been wondering about that, and if we take a careful step back, there is a possible structural reason for this. To my mind, the deep value change that lean thinking involves is the following. Senior managers ...

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Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: How can a CIO help a Lean Transformation?

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Friday, September 6, 2013
It is difficult to give specific answers to this question without knowing more about the type of organisation we are talking about, without being able to directly observe how the value creating work is carried out today and how management resolves problems and makes major decisions. But then it is not in the spirit of lean to give answers, which might or might not be taken up by the recipient. ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Let’s first figure out what we’re trying to do

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Monday, August 5, 2013
When I see or hear this question, I pause and attempt to grasp the situation of what does a "major lean" transformation mean to an executive or the "process owner" of the lean journey. By answering this question it helps me understand their own ability to grasp the magnitude of what they are attempting and their role in it. Not many stop to ask this question and assumptions are ...

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Jeff Liker

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

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - 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 ...

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Marie-Pia Ignace

Marie-Pia Ignace: How can the Chief Information Officer contribute to a lean transformation?

By Marie-Pia Ignace, President of the French Lean Institute and co-author of the first French book on Lean IT ("La pratique du lean dans l'IT") - Last updated: Monday, August 5, 2013
My company is going through a major lean transformation. How can I, CIO of a large group, contribute to this effort? And also...what's in it for me?
Dave Brunt

Dave Brunt: Lean in organisations with multiple sites

By Dave Brunt, Co-author of "Creating Lean Dealers" - Last updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2013
"How can lean be sustained across a decentralized group geographically spread out? 
A consumer-facing made-to-order manufacturing company has a significant service presence (sales associates, designers, customer service reps, logistics associates, installers) distributed across a wide geography in a somewhat decentralized organization structure. Each of the groups listed above is run by a different functional head. Sustaining Lean gains in a single plant is challenging enough -- doing so across several ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Lean thinking spreads only as fast as each individual manager learns to think lean

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, July 14, 2013
This is a difficult question to answer because it begs, in the way that it is formulated, an answer that doesn’t exist (to my knowledge) in lean. Let’s face it: lean is not scalable. Or put it in another way, if any one knows how to scale lean, let’s patent it and sell it and make a quick buck. The key to spreading lean thinking (and obtaining the associated performance improvement) ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: The importance of seeing through the same lens

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, July 6, 2013
When I internalize this question and visualize it, I see that infamous PowerPoint slide we all have used or seen that shows arrows moving in various directions with no rhyme or reason. We usually refer to it as rather chaotic or difficult to sustain any order when everyone is dancing to the beat of their own drum. I think its very important for organizations that ...

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Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: Lean across a decentralized network

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Lean is not just about developing problem solving capabilities but about using them to improve the value creating processes that in turn deliver steadily improving results for the business. So as always the place to start is defining the exact nature of the business problems you are trying to solve. This will in turn show you where your processes are broken and where to focus your lean efforts to greatest ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: The people in the organization must learn a new way of thinking and acting, what also means unlearning, which is more difficult then learning for the first time

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Monday, July 1, 2013
There is a lot of good advice from my colleagues. I would like to be the voice of reason and suggest that you are correct that this is a big challenge. The way I learned to deal with a challenge is to break it down into pieces and deal with it piece by piece, the basis of Toyota Business Practices. The problem is as follows: You have many different ...

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