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
Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: sustaining requires well prepared and conscious leadership

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Friday, June 28, 2013
It sounds like you already have introduced lean to a great extent and that you were satisfied with what you did (otherwise you wouldn't be seeking ways to sustain). Your challenge is specifically in the sustainability of what you did in a decentralized organization that you have. Besides being decentralized, you may want to consider some other factors that typically make sustainability tougher: Size, larger organizations just ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: Develop a shared language for improvement

By Pascal Dennis, Author of Getting The Right Things Done, Lean Production Simplified, and Andy & Me - Last updated: Friday, June 28, 2013
Aligning across disparate silos might be our biggest challenge. As you suggest, Joel, sustaining Lean in a single plant isn't enough. Decisions made upstream & downstream can quickly erode the factory's gains. For example, a chaotic scheduling process will hobble even the strongest factory, as will, expensive, hard-to-build designs. How to avoid this fate? Here are a few thoughts (from "The Remedy -- Bringing Lean Out of the Factory", by yours truly): 1. Develop a home-grown ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Start Local!

By Jean Cunningham, Co-author of 'Real Numbers' and 'Easier, Simpler, Faster' - Last updated: Friday, June 28, 2013
Start local! There will be plenty of waste and opportunity for improvement without the burden of tying it all together. The core change for the culture is totally unrelated to full global value stream integration. Learn how to listen to the voice of the customer. Learn how to identify the work that you do that your customers so not care about (waste). Learn how to use defects as way to see what ...

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Joel Stanwood

Joel Stanwood: How can lean be sustained across a decentralized group geographically spread out?

By Joel Stanwood, Partner, Operations, at American Industrial - Last updated: Friday, June 28, 2013
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 dozen groups spread across North America is tougher still. ...

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Tom Ehrenfeld

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

By Tom Ehrenfeld, author of The Startup Garden and A Leader's Study Guide To The Gold Mine - Last updated: Friday, June 28, 2013
There’s a massive amount of energy behind the lean startup “movement” today, which I find both exciting and a bit worrisome. Today I still see a gap between the loud buzz of the Lean Startup “movement” and broader cultural and widespread acceptance. N.B. when I say Lean Startup, for the time being I see this as the Lean (Software-based-Venture-chasing-Home-run-seeking) Startup. A subset of the overall startup world, to be sure, ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Reflections on the Lean Startup

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Monday, June 24, 2013
I think there is a lot to like about the book The Lean Start Up and certainly something to learn from it as well. The book has done extraordinarily well in terms of sales and recognition. There are some shortcomings of the book when it comes to actual Lean practices but I think it is more interesting to look at why the book is successful. For those not familiar the book ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Learning from The Lean Startup movement

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Monday, June 24, 2013
I can see at least three divergent ways of answering this question – which makes it an interesting one to mull over! First, the Lean Startup clearly hit a good topic (and a nerve) by focusing on the numero uno principle of lean “understand value from the customer’s point of view.” Jim and Dan have been very clear on this point from the outset, but the lean movement has hitherto not ...

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Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: The Lean Startup

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
There is a lot we can learn from the Lean Startup movement. I am grateful that this question provoked me to read the book again more carefully, and I urge others to do so too. First it tells a good story well – better than most lean books. Second it is written by an entrepreneur and business person, rather than an expert or consultant, who has struggled to use lean ...

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Karen Martin

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

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Sunday, June 2, 2013
Great question! I'm happy to have a venue to share some thoughts I've been having myself about this subject. At its core, Lean Startup and "the original Lean" (as I call it) have a lot in common. And, in some ways, the Lean Startup movement has surpassed most companies' attempts to adopt Lean principles, practices, and tools. BUT... and it's a big but...I feel the movement is producing a fair amount of confusion in the ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: If you develop people results will follow!

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, June 1, 2013
So how "lean" is a lean start-up? What an intriguing; yet, difficult question to answer- there are so many tangents of this in my opinion. For me I suppose it has a lot to do with how you or your organization defines Lean itself. It's amazing when I ask this question across various industry's the answers I get that are so far away from the true ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Certainty Bias versus Reality

By Mike Rother, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - Last updated: Thursday, May 23, 2013
Question:  What can we learn from the Lean Startup? I think the current popularity of the Lean Startup approach, with its emphasis on iteration, experimentation and a willingness to "pivot" based on what you learn from the experimentation, has the potential to help Lean thinking evolve. Given a choice between a statement of certainty and a non-certain statement we tend to prefer the certain statement. This bias is potentially dangerous because any ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: The challenge for a startup is Sales

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I am not sure there is a special category or set of circumstances that make a start-up a unique organizational form for lean. What does make it different? 1. The company is brand new so there is a chance to start to build a lean culture from scratch. 2. People can be hired who fit the culture and philosophy the company is striving for. 3. It is a time ...

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Mark Graban

Mark Graban: Good lean practices which start with an obsession with customers

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: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I think the Lean Startup movement is off to a good start. When I first saw Eric Ries give a presentation about this at MIT in late 2009, I worried that it was just going to be a buzzword... but there's some real Lean Thinking there. It's not quite the complete management system and philosophy that Lean / TPS provides, but there are some good Lean principles that are spreading, ...

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How lean is the Lean Startup?

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

Art Smalley: Houshin Advice

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
For a company which is pulling in different directions I think that spending some time establishing and improving their Houshin process will yield significant benefits. The trick like in most things to make sure you get it right or the “tool” will not necessarily make you perform any better. It will require rigor and correct execution of the Plan Do Check Act cycle in order to function as desired. Since ...

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Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: Hoshin and purpose

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Thursday, May 16, 2013
It is good to see the growing interest in Hoshin planning. It reflects the struggles many organisations are having in turning lean improvements into business results. But it is a mistake to reach for a new tool without first being clear about the business problems you are trying to solve in doing so. I first learnt about Hoshin from the outstanding management team at the Nissan plant in Sunderland in the ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Strategy starts by grasping the situation on the the shop floor

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
To be honest, I don’t believe I’ve ever gone into a company saying: OK guys, let’s do your Hoshin Kanri. Most companies have a management-by-objectives system in place, most companies do try hard to define overall goals and break them down into local objectives – and they certainly check performance against targets in order to pay out bonuses (or not). The question, to my mind, would be: what is specific ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Getting all the stakeholders involved to agree on the destination

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
As a resource, I would suggest the book Getting the Right Things Done, by Pascal Dennis, or the Hoshin articles by Darril Wilburn. A common theme on those resources indicates that there is one tricky and sometimes difficult to accomplish element of Hoshin Kanri. And that is the early step of bringing all the "liars" to the room (at the same time). Even when that is possible, the job is far from ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: A Practical Approach for Attaining Strategic Objectives

By Mike Rother, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - Last updated: Monday, April 29, 2013
Question: Where to start with Hoshin Kanri in a not-yet-lean company? The Lean community has been talking about strategy deployment for 20 years. In short, the objective is arrows lined up (i.e., individual process improvement efforts working toward common goals) and an up-and-down dialog that keeps both the top and the operational levels informed about unfolding realities. So far so good. But the approach we took to operationalize this idea has not ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Start with 4-step “Hoshin Lite” to gain consensus on priorities

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Sunday, April 28, 2013
In The Outstanding Organization, I address my concern that companies often attempt Hoshin planning prematurely, before they’ve established a strong foundation for success. I describe a 4-step “Hoshin-lite” approach I use for clients who aren’t ready for the full monty as it were. The significant behavioral changes that are needed for the successful and full deployment of Hoshin Kanri often take years to develop–and that’s if the leadership team is ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Hoshin Kanri’s aim is to establish line of sight

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013
Thanks Joel for your question, I think it is one that many can benefit from. Based on my experiences with various industry I feel that this is a key area that is often discounted, and somehow organizations think through osmosis that the people just somehow know what they should be doing on a daily basis that cascades upward to "something" but not always a defined strategic business plan. ...

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David Meier

David Meier: Hoshin Kanri is Direction Management

By David Meier, - Last updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013
I am sure someone else will mention that Hoshin Kanri is more specifically translated as “Direction Management.” Within any language there are words that describe conceptual aspects in a culture and are not directly translatable because the other language does not have the same exact thing. Hoshin is one such concept. It is a process and it is intended to get a group of people aligned around specific targets. It ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: hoshin kanri links the kaizen activities of leaders and work groups at all levels so they are working toward common goals

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013
In "The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership" we have a 4 step model of leadership development.   We place Hoshin Kanri fourth, after self development, developing others, supporting daily kaizen, and finally hoshin kanri.  What hoshin kanri can do is link together the kaizen activities of leaders and work groups at all levels so they are working toward common goals.   In a sport, for example, basketball, a game plan can do ...

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Joel Stanwood

Joel Stanwood: Where to start with Hoshin Kanri in a not-yet-lean company?

By Joel Stanwood, Partner, Operations, at American Industrial - Last updated: Saturday, April 27, 2013
A mid-sized manufacturing company is finalizing its strategic plan and believes that it is time to begin Hoshin Kanri. The company is not currently operating as a Lean Enterprise -- functional silos create significant amount of waste which results in poor product/service quality and high cost to serve. Additionally, different departments and regions of the company are "pulling in different directions." What advice, resources, and lessons learned ...

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David Meier

Dave Meier: People need challenges to engage in their work, but they also need success

By David Meier, - Last updated: Monday, April 15, 2013
I have to say that it is unfortunate that "Lean" (or TPS or Lean Sigma or whatever) gets used as a sort of "weapon" against workers. This is of course contrary to the actual intent, which is more to "humanize" work. But like many things about TPS and life in general, there are apparent contradictions in many things. Toyota certainly attempts to maximize the "value" ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: In high velocity learning, standardization is about capturing the best known approach in design, and seeing flaws in production

By Steven Spear, Author of 'The High-Velocity Edge' and 'Chasing the Rabbit' - Last updated: Monday, April 15, 2013
To your quote: In France, the battle against lean is raging (as in: CEOs use lean for brutal productivity gains and Unions are dead set against it), Ironically, both adversaries in this contest share a common assumption: that standardization, visual management, and the like are for the purpose of control--management wants to exercise it, labor wants to avoid it. Also shared is the assumption that work ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Transparency allows for better productivity (and can be stressful)

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Monday, April 15, 2013
The same way we have different ways to handle manufacturing scenarios: slow or high mix, low or high volume, custom or standard products, etc, etc… I think there are some distinctions when we talk about office environments.  There are those transactional standard procedures with limited variations, such as the one a postal service clerk would have at the counter.  There are those that can ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: First translate purpose correctly by answering what-how-why – What am I doing, how will it be done, and why is it important?

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, April 14, 2013
It's funny (it's really not), no matter where I go to teach or what industry I'm in, there is always several folks in the group that define Lean as "less employees are needed"; this is a joke of course, but is it?   Art refers to it as something <mean>, I've heard many different types of analogies in my tenure as a trainer, I always ask why do we have ...

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Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis: We can have both pressure and mutual trust

By Pascal Dennis, Author of Getting The Right Things Done, Lean Production Simplified, and Andy & Me - Last updated: Friday, April 12, 2013
Visual management, within or outside of the factory, does indeed put pressure on workers. That's life.  Achievement requires commitment, which entails pressure. If there's mutual trust and an explicit understanding between workplace parties -- no problem. The deal goes something like this: Management: "We'll invest in your knowledge and capability.  We'll make you as marketable as possible.  We'll treat you with respect and share the bounty." Workers: "We'll help the Company succeed financially.  We'll show ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Degrees of Pressure

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Monday, April 8, 2013
I am not sure that this particular question is really about "Lean". I think this is mainly a question about performance in general and why certain groups excel in the long run while others slowly enter the gravitational field of decay. In the following paragraphs I’ll offer up some general perspective on what I consider the reality facing most organizations, describe various degrees of pressure, and highlight what successful organizations ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: A problem can be a treasure if leaders make efforts to eliminate fear of failure

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Saturday, April 6, 2013
Certainly any tool or approach, technological or social, can be used for good or evil and people with power generally make the difference.   In a positive environment, that is fertile for lean, leaders makes a great effort to eliminate fear of failure.  It is often said that "a problem is a treasure."  This does not mean that you want to generate problems for the ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Managers must walk the talk and not blame when someone falls behind or deviates from standard work

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Saturday, April 6, 2013
I work nearly 100% in office environments and the challenges are many for introducing Lean practices into a setting that is green with both measurement and continuous improvement, lacks standard work, and is often disconnected from external customers. Fear around being measured and seeking out variation is nearly always tied to experience with blame. I spend a significant amount of time with both front-line ...

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The Lean Edge

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

By The Lean Edge, - Last updated: Saturday, April 6, 2013
"In a Lean environment we want to be able to see deviations as a starting point for improvement. This requires a transparency that in office environments is often seen as 'increasing pressure on the ...

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Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: Standardization and Lean

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Discussions about standards and standardisation should always include a discussion of the context. Establishing standards in a traditional “command-and-control” environment or even using Tayloristic “do-it-to-people” consultants is very different to the intent and experience in a lean environment. What is important is how standards are established and for what purpose. In a lean situation standards are a manifestation of the scientific thought process that underlies lean thinking. Deeply understanding your own ...

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Michael Balle

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

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Monday, March 25, 2013
As you mention job instructions, I’m assuming that you’re referring to Operations Standards Sheets. This lists de specific standards that must be met in order to achieve standardized work – safety standards, training standards, equipment operations and maintenance work standards, quality of materials, components and operations standards. I’m not sure how often these would change. Sure, kaizen might lead to modify these standards, but this would involve other departments in ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: The rate of improvement dependends on the culture and maturity of the organization, leadership alignment around priorities, and workforce involvement rather than training being any type of constraint.

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Monday, March 25, 2013
Like Jeff, my question is whether you mean “work standards” or “standardized (standard) work.” I view them as two different animals. A standard might be, for example, that you always insert a needle with the bevel up. Or that you always apply X amount of torque to a bolt. Or that a legal document always includes a confidentiality clause. Standardized work, on the other ...

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Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: Use standards as a rallying point, not in a punitive sense!

By Peter Handlinger, Co-author of "The One Page Report...Of Course" - Last updated: Friday, March 22, 2013
Before considering the question directly it might be useful to understand that it only applies to the uptown white bread world of organisations that actually have standards, however misguided/informed the underlying thinking that created them may have been. There is, in the real world, a huge heaving mass of the economic sector that has very little comprehension of the benefit that ‘standards’ can bring ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: We Don’t Think About Standards the Way Toyota Does

By Mike Rother, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2013
Question:  Standards are often described as 'the best way known to perform a certain task'. How do you change a standard? We spent from approximately 2004-2009 researching how Toyota managers think. (You can't figure it out by asking them, btw.) Based on those investigations I can say that this sort of "standard = best way" question probably wouldn't make much sense to an experienced Toyota person. Their paradigm is just too different. What ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Standard Lean Logic Flaw

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2013
This question unfortunately reminds me of the old adage in problem solving that vague fuzzy problem statements lead to poor causal analysis and then in turn poor countermeasure selection space. Any results will usually be limited in nature if they are evident at all. In this post I will point out some problems induced by the above definition of standards, the flaws in the logic at least with respect to ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Train to the what-how-why model when you make changes then there is more time to spend on proactive problem solving than reactive

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Monday, March 18, 2013
This was a thinking process I had to get used to at Toyota, we never got to "settled in" before something changed on us.   At first it was frustrating, but then as the purpose was explained it became the "norm" then it was expected for us to do this without being told, you know, like our "job" imagine this :).  This was something that was evolutionary because you never ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: When standardized work is changed, every one who performs the job needs to be trained

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Sunday, March 17, 2013
By standards I am assuming you are referring to standardized work.  There are many kinds of standards,   When standardized work is change everyone who performs the job, or audits the job, needs to be trained to follow the new standards--no question.   Presumably the change is for a reason in which case you would not want to ration out the changes over time based ...

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The Lean Edge

The Lean Edge: How do you change a standard?

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

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Jeff Liker

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

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Saturday, March 16, 2013
With my associates at Liker Lean Advisors we have been working with product development organizations for the last ten years ranging from $1 billion businesses to Fortune 50 businesses.   As in all of my published work we believe in an organic approach, rather then an mechanistic tool-based approach.   There are many tools that Jim Morgan and I talk about in The Toyota Product Development System, such as a ...

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Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: Lean in Product Development

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Monday, March 11, 2013
There is more to more to this question than meets the eye. I remember mapping the product development process for ready meals at Tesco fifteen years ago. We uncovered an enormous variation in lead times from concept to launch and eventually tracked the source of this variation to a bottleneck in the legal department several floors above the action. Nothing could progress until legal approved the proposed text on the ...

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Jim Morgan

Jim Morgan: Great people make great products

By Jim Morgan, co-author of "The Toyota Product Development System" - Last updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013
I would like to extend my thanks to Michael Balle’ for the opportunity to respond to this question.  There are already many very good responses; I hope I can make a small contribution.  For me, product development is the center of the universe, where unique value is created from nothing…. or it’s not.  And that’s truly what is at stake.  It can seem complex and a little daunting.  But there ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Learn to solve your engineering problems of today to design better products tomorrow

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Sunday, February 24, 2013
First, beware:  there be dragons. My advice would be to take out “rapid” and “deploy” out of the vocabulary concerning new product development work. Any mistake made on the production shop floor can be fixed by putting the process back the way it was and catching up the missed production over the night shift or a week end shift. Mistakes in new product development won’t appear for a couple of ...

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Jim Huntzinger

Jim Huntzinger: It’s in the Relationship Process – Production and Product

By Jim Huntzinger, Author of 'Lean Cost Management: Accounting for Lean by Establishing Flow' - Last updated: Saturday, February 23, 2013
I will post my answer in more of a story form – probably more appropriately my “comments,” as I am not sure there is a very specific answer.  And, in my experience, Michael is correct in the “much larger impact” product development can have on an organization financially.  (Although the significant financial impact results from improved and better processes, not from managing the financials per se.) Developing better product development, PD, ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Define the driving need

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Toyota or Lean Product Development is a really large discussion topic. In all honesty I cannot begin to do justice to the entire content or even really suggest where to begin without greater knowledge of your situation. I’d want to assemble a better understanding of the situation before spouting off advice. For starters I will offer up some of my standard words of caution and then try to offer some ...

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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Once product priorities are established, map the new product value stream

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
My advice is two-fold: First, applying a healthy dose of focus is the stuff champions are made of, so, yes, prioritizing is wise. In choosing which products to improve, there are many factors, such as margin (why spend your time on low margin or, worse, loss leader products?), technology (is this product’s technology being rendered obsolete in the short term?), customer relationships (put more ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: Include finance/accounting in the lean product development process

By Jean Cunningham, Co-author of 'Real Numbers' and 'Easier, Simpler, Faster' - Last updated: Monday, February 18, 2013
If you have read about Lantech in the Womack and Jones, Lean Thinking, then you know that our application of lean principles in the product development processes yielded huge reductions in lead time.  And what better way to enhance margins than to have the first product to the market! However, the recommendation I have as you launch LPD, is to include Finance/Accounting as an essential ...

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Joel Stanwood

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

By Joel Stanwood, Partner, Operations, at American Industrial - Last updated: Monday, February 18, 2013
A consumer-products company has recently begun its Lean journey by focusing on Lean fundamentals starting on the shop floor (standard work, 1-piece flow, pull, work to Takt).  The company is simultaneously refreshing its product portfolio.  Although the cross-functional New Product Development ("NPD") team members may have little experience working in ...

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Daniel T Jones

Daniel T Jones: Lean and Productivity

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Let me add another perspective to the excellent posts by my Lean Edge colleagues. For me the lean approach to productivity is distinguished by a wider as well as a deeper perspective, reaching beyond the shop or department to the whole value stream, ideally all the way from raw materials to the end consumer. This engages everyone in thinking about customer value and how their work contributes to delivering that. But ...

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David Meier

David Meier: Good units produced (total parts – scrap) / (Available work hours – wait Kanban) = GPPH (good parts per hour)

By David Meier, - Last updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The first point I want to make is that any measure has flaws and will not completely reflect reality. They should be considered indicators and in some way all refer to some sort of “standard” or desired condition. This is the basis for problem identification, which is the main purpose. Any measure is a “snapshot” of conditions during a specific time period and reflects many variables that are occurring. Some measures ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Who needs to use the metric and to what purpose?

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
There are two ways to read metrics:  one, to drive behavior, the other to better understand a problem – or both. Taylorist thinking is deeply ingrained in all our mindsets, and the usual fallback for any desired outcome is to slap an indicator-and-incentive on it. This usually works, but at the price of unexpected side-effects, which can often negate the very impact one sought. Metric improvement behavior is well studied, ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Productivity and Improvement

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
In theory this issue of measuring productivity is pretty simple but in reality it is usually complex for a variety of reasons…In general however I don’t like the question of “is there a specific lean way to measure productivity”.  I will elaborate on the topic with some background information and explain my concern and attempt to make some suggestions. First off here are a couple of quotes from the eminent British ...

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Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: Straight Delivery Rate (SDR) basically measures how much of your product went through your process(es) within the design leadtimes and quality parameters

By Peter Handlinger, Co-author of "The One Page Report...Of Course" - Last updated: Monday, January 28, 2013
The adage that you get what you measure (and then some other bonus unexpected behavioural outcomes) is as true as ever. This has been lucidly described in this forum and in the literature. However, the central point still remains, and that is to achieve a specified result it is critical for one to understand the underlying processes. I recently listened to an interview with one of the South African Test cricket team members talking about how ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Pay Attention to Outcome *and* Activity

By Mike Rother, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - Last updated: Monday, January 28, 2013
Question: Is there a Lean way to measure productivity? Of course there is. A short answer is that you measure both productivity and the process characteristics that affect productivity. Deming said and wrote as much many times, as has Professor H. Thomas Johnson. With Value Stream Mapping + the Improvement Kata we finally have a complete routine you can teach and practice to operationalize their principles. I'll summarize it briefly ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Metrics create a focus for the company so changes lead to meaningful business results

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Monday, January 28, 2013
I agree for the most part with the observations of my colleagues.  Summary:  "You get what you measure" translates into "Let's measure what we think we want and we will get it."  There are two problems.    First, we often cannot measure what we want.  We want engagement, we want people to pay close attention to quality and safety, we want engagement, we want people to produce more in less time, ...

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Steven Spear

Steve Spear: Measure outputs generated by pathways of connected activities

By Steven Spear, Author of 'The High-Velocity Edge' and 'Chasing the Rabbit' - Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
For technical systems, the logic is self evident that we link independent variables (e.g., "settings") and dependent variables (e.g., "states") through a causal logic, and measure both to be sure we are tracking well.  When we are not, the gap between anticipated and actual is trigger for corrective action--both immediate containment and update to a better model of input-output causality. Organizational measurement often fails by the ...

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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham: 4 criteria for good metrics

By Jean Cunningham, Co-author of 'Real Numbers' and 'Easier, Simpler, Faster' - Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
What great input from the other bloggers on this question.  And here is what I have learned: If you ask 3 people how a metric is calculated and you get 3 answers, it isn't a good metric. The metric needs to be simple to understand and to measure, because it's purpose is to drive problem solving. If all your metrics are outcome metrics (sales per person, inventory turns, shipments per hour) then ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Group leaders have to compute their team’s productivity standards

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
As the ole’ saying goes “you can lead a horse to water……”, well you can give a person a measure but you can’t ensure it’s going to be totally value added.   I think most people understand the concept of managing by the numbers or objectives it’s more common than not; if you tell me what you need and you are my boss then I will normally do what is necessary ...

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Orry Fiume

Orry Fiume: Look at families of metrics – any single metric can be dangerous

By Orry Fiume, Co-author of Real Numbers: Management Accounting in a Lean Organization - Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Great story Sammy and it is the perfect illustration as to why the use of any single metric can be dangerous.  That is why at Wiremold I always looked at "families" of metrics.  To me the most powerful "family" of metrics is Customer Service (i.e. on time shipment), Inventory Turns and Productivity.  If all three are simultaneously improving then you have to be doing a ...

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Mark Graban

Mark Graban: Focusing on staff morale, quality, and waiting times leads to better productivity, but as an end result not a primary goal

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, January 27, 2013
In hospitals, productivity measures are typically based on direct labor productivity or financial calculations (such as the oft-dreaded "Worked Hours Per Unit of Service" measure). These raw productivity measures are often easy to tabulate, but it doesn't mean that it's the most important thing or that it's meaningful to staff. A hospital can measure revenue per employee or the lab department can measure the ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Since metrics drive behavior, we want to be careful about how we establish them

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
old question but very current, A friend of mine, ex-Geek Squad, told me BestBuy created an incentive bonus to those store people who sold the highest number of gift cards that month. Gift card sales indeed went up that month, I'm not sure revenues did, though. He said he and his friends sold their gift cards by easily convincing customers to pay for their already planned purchases using a gift card. It worked like ...

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Lean Global Network

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

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

Art Smalley: Line versus Staff Leadership

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
The question of how to staff a KPO (Kaizen Promotion Office) and with what type of leader is an interesting one and it deserves some thought. I don’t think the question is a trivial one or a “one size fits all” answer. The response depends upon the nature of the company, the situation it faces, resource development priorities, and the overall leadership style of the executive leading the organization. For starters ...

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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 ...

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Daniel T Jones

Dan Jones: Lean Academies and KPOs

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Every organisation needs a home for developing its lean capabilities. They may differ depending on circumstances and will certainly change focus over time. The first and most ambitious exercise I was involved in from 1993 was to create the first corporate university in the UK to develop lean capabilities across the Unipart Group of Companies in auto parts manufacturing and after-market distribution. “Unipart U” as it became known was truly ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: You already have a KPO… It’s called “Management”

By Mike Rother, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - Last updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Question: What practical advice would you offer to companies as they establish their Kaizen Promotion Offices? Establishing a Kaizen Promotion Office (KPO) was a worthy Lean experiment and failed hypothesis of late 20th century Lean efforts in the West. As with any failed hypothesis, it's highly useful if we take the lessons it provides and use them to adjust our approach as we pursue the target condition. That target condition goes something ...

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Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: KPO or Production Control function?

By Peter Handlinger, Co-author of "The One Page Report...Of Course" - Last updated: Sunday, January 6, 2013
The wording of the question takes as a given that a KPO should be formed and focusses on the practical aspects of creating and maintaining a KPO. The obvious linkage between OMCD in Toyota and a "KPO" is seductive to use as a template for other organisations. But one needs to be aware of the scale issue - Toyota's OMCD is a small group (around 25 people) ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: You are always leading and learning!

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Sunday, January 6, 2013
(a) What is the role of the KPO to serve the organization? When I see this question it takes me back to when I was taught the essence behind the Quality Circle Program and how they began at Toyota (back in the 1950’s) based on Taiichi Ohno’s vision of developing his people. I remember when I was in my assimilation hiring process (learning Toyota history) they discussed the fact with ...

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Jean Cunningham

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

By Jean Cunningham, Co-author of 'Real Numbers' and 'Easier, Simpler, Faster' - Last updated: Saturday, January 5, 2013
The role of the KPO is to launch the lean understanding in the organization by piloting and proving concepts and then later supporting the pull from the rest of the leadership for support/mentoring. Ultimately the KPO is the source of all future leaders in the organization as part of the organizational development efforts. I strongly support the idea of all the KPO team members sourced from within the company and using external coaches to develop this ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Develop deep capability, don’t assign people to jobs in an office

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Friday, January 4, 2013
It is always difficult to add value when I wait until someone else has answered on the lean edge, particularly someone with the thoughtfulness and eloquence of Steve Spear.  I could simply say:  "I agree," but I will add a few thoughts.  Steve talks about the two alternative purposes which I will summarize as quick and dirty one-off projects compared to creating a high performance ...

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Steven Spear

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

By Steven Spear, Author of 'The High-Velocity Edge' and 'Chasing the Rabbit' - Last updated: Friday, January 4, 2013
What role a kaizen promotion office plays depends on what problem you are trying to solve.  Is it to make a single change in process design and performance or it is to change the ramp-slope at which an organization discovers its way to greatness? For the former, organizations might want to stabilize otherwise chaotic processes--both those that are physically transformative and also those that are ...

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Joel Stanwood

Joel Stanwood: What practical advice would you offer to companies as they establish their Kaizen Promotion Offices?

By Joel Stanwood, Partner, Operations, at American Industrial - Last updated: Friday, January 4, 2013
Building the KPO What practical advice would you offer to companies as they establish their Kaizen Promotion Offices?  At the beginning their Lean journey each company faces questions such as: (a)    What is the role of the KPO to serve the organization? (b)   How do we best leverage the KPO for leadership development? (c)    What is optimal size of the KPO organization? (d)   What is right mix of internal / external hires? (e)   Who ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Toyota and the Ringi-sho Process

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2013
In all honestly I was not very excited to answer this question. I think a huge problem with the Lean movement in general is falling prey to Japanese buzzwords (Ringi, Nemawashi, Houshin Kanri, A3, Hansei, Yokoten, Yamazumi, Kamishiai, Muda, Kanban, Heijunka, etc.), and hyping a concept or practice. Buzzwords fail to create a practical improvement methodology in terms that all organizations can embrace. That shortcoming in my opinion turns off ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Ringi is a tool to learn to define target conditions and practice meaningful hansei

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Saturday, December 29, 2012
There is always a temptation to see TPS tools as operational tools rather than learning tools. Ringi as an operational tool is nothing more than a corporate way to deploy hoshin kanri. So what? On the other hand, ringi as a learning tool is essential to both defining target conditions and practicing hansei – big topics! I had not thought much about ringi for a while. I first came across the ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Ringi-sho is the formal approval process linked to hoshin kanri

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Saturday, December 29, 2012
I will have to admit when I saw the word Ringi in this question, it brought back many memories of my time at Toyota (TMMK).   It's not a word I've used or heard much since my time there, even though the thinking behind it could be more common if expressed differently. As others have mentioned above Ringi or (Ringi-sho) is not necessarily a Toyota creation, it is a Japanese term which when ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Really? More Stabbing Around for Solutions?

By Mike Rother, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - Last updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012
Question: What is Ringi? Should that practice be adopted by Lean thinkers? The process of PDCA Thinking and Acting suggests we should experiment our way to a target condition. That is, when a step doesn’t work as intended (which happens all the time) you learn something valuable from that prediction error and you set up the next experiment based on what you just learned. In this way you create a chain ...

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Arthur Byrne

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

By Arthur Byrne, Author of "The Lean Turnaround: How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company" - Last updated: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Like most of the rest of you I never heard of Ringi before so I figured that I never used it. Then I looked up a definition, “a process where all those involved in implementing a decision have a say in making that decision in the first place”. Thinking of it that way, the way we always organized our kaizen teams more or less incorporated this approach. We always had ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: Ringi is a formal process of writing up a proposal and getting it approved

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Sunday, December 23, 2012
This question is a little different then some in that it asks about the connection between a group of Japanese words.  Not every organization is enthusiastic about learning new Japanese words as the lean lexicon is complex enough.  Actually these are really very old words, and both ringi-sho and nemawashi are not specific to Toyota, but to Japanese management more generally.  Anyone who was studying Japanese management back in the ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Ringi as used by Toyota, ensures that resources will be allocated according to the Hoshin Kanri for that period

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Great topic.   As to how widespread Ringi is in Toyota, I think most people in Toyota would be well familiar with this practice as it is used in all areas, from production to sales to IT.   In Toyota they refer to it as Ringi Sho, which is roughly translated to Approval Document.  But as some other Japanese or Toyota terminologies, this one should not be ...

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Lean Global Network

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

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

Dave Brunt: Purpose, Process, People in Sales

By Dave Brunt, Co-author of "Creating Lean Dealers" - Last updated: Thursday, December 20, 2012
My initial reaction, when first reading this question is to quote the famous phrase from the Training Within Industry materials – “If the learner hasn’t learned, the teacher hasn’t taught.” However this is a good question and one that deserves some discussion. As someone who has spent 14 years helping create examples of lean in car dealerships I have some hypotheses and some experience of the challenges of implementing lean ...

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Daniel T Jones

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

By Daniel T Jones, Co-author of 'Lean Thinking' and 'The Machine That Changed the World' - Last updated: Thursday, December 20, 2012
I have struggled with this question ever since we compared the striking differences between car distribution in Japan, Europe and North America in the “Dealing with Customers” chapter of The Machine that Changed the World. I spent the next decade researching every aspect of car distribution in the International Car Distribution Programme (www.icdp.net) and helping the grocery retailer Tesco to pioneer lean in grocery distribution and sales. My colleague Dave ...

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Karen Martin

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

By Karen Martin, Author of "The Outstanding Organization" - Last updated: Sunday, December 9, 2012
This is an excellent question. I work with sales teams in at least 80% of the improvement work I lead, so it can and must be done. I agree with several of the Lean Edge team that part of the reason why Lean has been slow to capture the imagination of sales teams lies with Lean’s early, erroneous spin as solely a “manufacturing thing ” versus a broad and deep ...

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Tracey Richardson

Tracey Richardson: Understand the value stream from order to customer

By Tracey Richardson, - Last updated: Monday, December 3, 2012
This is a good question and one that doesn't facilitate itself for such a linear answer. I think all the responses so far have talked about many different ideas based on all our experiences out there with various industry and gives our readers some good perspectives to build on. I suppose being part of Toyota in the beginning (1988) when we were setting up ...

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Samuel Obara

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

By Samuel Obara, Co-author of 'Toyota by Toyota: Reflections from the Inside Leaders on the Techniques That Revolutionized the Industry' - Last updated: Monday, December 3, 2012
Interesting notes from different perspectives. The little I know about sales and its TPS practice comes from joint efforts when they were teamed up with us, production engineering, in my old days at Toyota. 1)      They did genchi genbutsu to its full extent.  A few examples:  Once, we went w/ sales people to the port of Santos in Brazil to follow up cars arriving from TMC ...

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Art Smalley

Art Smalley: Lean is sometimes a bad name…

By Art Smalley, author of Creating Level Pull. Co-author of A3 Thinking and Kaizen Methods: Six Steps to Improvement - Last updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012
I have a couple of different thoughts on the matter of this month's question and why lean fails to inspire so many people including sales teams. Some points are simple matters of history. Others pertain to how the Toyota Production System has been perceived and described in the United States and other countries around the world. I will elaborate on my thoughts below. For starters I agree with the assertion that ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Learning to make hit products

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
This is a very interesting question: how can lean help boost sales? There are two ways of looking at this: one, applying lean thinking to the sales function, or two, increasing sales with lean. As I don’t much about selling, I’ll tackle the latter – how can lean boost sales without touching the sales function? If we’re not focusing on selling, the product had better sell itself! There are four very ...

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Jeff Liker

Jeff Liker: We must think of the whole enterprise as a continually evolving system

By Jeff Liker, author of The Toyota Way and co-author of Toyota Product Development System and Toyota Under Fire - Last updated: Monday, November 26, 2012
If you look at the comments of several of my colleagues about bringing lean to sales they point out how important this is--to really connect the value streams of design-build-sell--and Wiremold was brought up as a company that in its heyday had made a lot of progress at the lean enterprise level.  Personally if companies have an immature lean system in manufacturing I suggest they ...

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Jean Cunningham

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

By Jean Cunningham, Co-author of 'Real Numbers' and 'Easier, Simpler, Faster' - Last updated: Monday, November 26, 2012
Lean failing to capture the imagination of the sales team…what a question!  Our sales team loved the fast lead times. Our sales team loved the improved quality. Our sales team loved rapid pace of new product offerings. We loved to leverage the web for selling.  But just as every other department outside of manufacturing, the improvement cycle was not grasped without some tangible structured introduction ...

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Arthur Byrne

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

By Arthur Byrne, Author of "The Lean Turnaround: How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company" - Last updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012
the answer to your question has to go deeper than just trying to explain “why lean has failed to capture the imagination of the sales team”. The issue isn’t so much sales but rather a lack of understanding of lean. If you think of lean as “some manufacturing thing”, and probably 95% of all companies and CEO’s view it this way then this should not be surprising. Heck, lean is ...

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Pascal Dennis

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

By Pascal Dennis, Author of Getting The Right Things Done, Lean Production Simplified, and Andy & Me - Last updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Hi all, Good question. Building on Orry's points, the Toyota Business System is about growth -- and not simply efficiency. And you can't grow unless Sales is engaged. The system comprises three 'loops' in fact: Design, Make, Sell. As it happens, one of my favorite Toyota senseis, Shin-san, was a sales & marketing executive! Most Lean transformations focus on the Make loop -- and sub-optimize therefore. A chaotic, lumpy sales profiles will force even the most splendid ...

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Orry Fiume

Orry Fiume: Get field sales people to participate in shop floor kaizens!

By Orry Fiume, Co-author of Real Numbers: Management Accounting in a Lean Organization - Last updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012
I agree with the observation that the Lean movement has failed to recognize the importance of the sales team in capitalizing on Lean as a growth engine.  And I believe that the answer goes back to when we in the western world first started to become aware of what the "Japan, Inc" (AKAToyota) was doing.  It first manifested itself as "Just In Time" and we ...

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Joel Stanwood

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

By Joel Stanwood, Partner, Operations, at American Industrial - Last updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Most management teams who testify to having implemented Lean will describe financial impact in terms of shop floor efficiency improvement – direct labor productivity, overtime reduction, inventory velocity, floor space utilization, etc. Paradoxically, in terms of company economics, the most alluring promise of Lean is to boost sales, delivering ever higher variable contribution margins while delighting customers and winning in the marketplace. ...

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Arthur Byrne

Art Byrne: First link the logical value streams through product families, then get change over times under 10 mins

By Arthur Byrne, Author of "The Lean Turnaround: How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company" - Last updated: Saturday, October 13, 2012
I assume that the parts made in the press shop are being consumed in the assembly shop. We had the same situation when I first joined Wiremold. We knew we wanted to get to a flow operation starting with the presses and going all the way to the finished box. We had a painting operation in between so it was even  a little more complicated. Where you want to go ...

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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Depends on Your Goals

By Mike Rother, Author of Toyota Kata and co-author of Learning to See - Last updated: Monday, October 8, 2012
Question:  Where do you think we should start the Lean process in the Press Shop? Seems to me the answer to this question depends on what customer-related challenge your facility is trying to meet. In Lean terms, what does your 1-3 year, dock-to-dock future-state value stream map specify as the desired condition, on the way to the (dock-to-dock) vision of 1x1 Flow at Lowest Cost? This future-state map is a place ...

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Peter Handlinger

Peter Handlinger: Establish a daily pattern production schedule to sequence your presses

By Peter Handlinger, Co-author of "The One Page Report...Of Course" - Last updated: Saturday, October 6, 2012
There is a huge difference between the typical “assembly” line production and the manufacturing environment. We are all guilty, to some extent or another, of trying to replicate the ‘sequential production’ paradigm into a world that experiences ‘non-sequential’ work loadings – a world of high product variability, short runs and shared resources. Herewith some ideas for you to consider. 1.       Close the feedback loop by linking your output requirements (i.e. your customer) ...

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Michael Balle

Michael Ballé: Flow if you can, pull if you can’t

By Michael Balle, co-author of The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager - Last updated: Monday, October 1, 2012
I was recently visiting a large German factory that manufactures industrial equipment – huge mix, low volumes. When I first saw the site, sometime last year, it looked like a plane crash, with cells and half-completed product all over the place – not surprising for a high variety long process product largely managed by the SAP. The plant’s management team had tried to streamline their flow by Value Stream Mapping ...

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