March 2019 Newsletter: “Fear and Loathing in Lean”. A Lean Enterprise seeks to create a culture for continuous improvement by engaging all associates. This newsletter shares several stories where organizations saw team members become LESS engaged during the transformation. How can this be?? Several themes are provided that can help organizations avoid this unwanted outcome.
February 2019 Newsletter: “The Elephant in the Room…..Leadership”. An old adage states, “a leader has to lead”. This is true of any major change effort, including Lean. Senior leaders must provide an inspiring reason for change and serve as an active role model throughout the transformation, and beyond. This newsletter conveys the story of four organizations who lost their way on the Lean path.
January 2019 Newsletter: “We Can’t Find Good Help”. Organizations in both industrial and service sectors are struggling mightily with finding qualified candidates to fill open positions. Can Lean help with this challenge? The answer is a definitive ‘yes’. Job Instruction (JI) has been called the foundation of Standardized Work, which has been described as the foundation of Lean. However, a small percentage of organizations are aware of its existence. This newsletter provides a brief introduction on this very important topic.
October 2018 Newsletter: “Buy or Rent: the Value of Self Discovery”. This newsletter describes an important ‘a-ha’ moment about a particular aspect of Change Management. Described as the ‘Value of Self Discovery’, people will assign greater value to things that are their very own, including ideas. Therefore, they will be more committed to the successful deployment of their own ideas, rather than the ideas of others. This fact requires flexibility in the implementation of any major change effort.
February 2018 Newsletter: “The Psychology of Learning”. Drawing on the studies of Edward Thorndike and his book of the same title published in 1913, the necessary conditions for learning are reviewed. Included are: the Law of Readiness, the Law of Exercise, and the Law of Effect. Thorndike laid the foundation for what has been called ‘Educational Psychology’. His teachings still apply today, but these basic ‘laws’ are often overlooked by organizations attempting major change efforts.
January 2018 Newsletter: “You Have to Be a Player Before You Can Be a Coach”. This newsletter continues the discussion of proper PDCA practice, and its importance when developing the capabilities in others. CI professionals and others in positions to develop the CI capabilities in others should reflect on their own practice. Applying CI to CI, so to speak. Key things to look for are provided.
July 2017 Newsletter: “Git ‘er Done”. Proper practice of Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) is required for effective problem solving and process improvement. This newsletter describes several examples of improper practice that are commonly found. Key learnings on this important subject are shared.
June 2017 Newsletter: “There is Always a Process”. Process and System Thinking are characteristics of an effective problem solver and process improver. However, some people really struggle to recognize process in their own work. ‘Everything is different’, ‘There is no process” they believe This newsletter provides some helpful advice to overcome some of the challenges.
September 2016 Newsletter: “Putting the Continuous in Continuous Improvement”. The key to success lies with middle and front line management. Only they are in the position to develop the problem solving and process improvement skills of all team members over time through deliberate practice. This newsletter covers this important subject.
August 2016 Newsletter: “Supply Chain Optimization”. The term means different things to different organizations. This newsletter cover the key general concepts, and provides numerous real-world applications from a variety of manufacturing organizations.
July 2016 Newsletter: “Off With Their Heads”. Lean is sometimes misunderstood as a headcount reduction program. Far from the fact, it is important that organizations convey that lean is an management system to drive continuous improvement to better insure an organization’s long term viability through associate engagement. This newsletter covers this important subject.
April 2016 Newsletter: “We’re Different: Applying Lean to Knowledge Work”. The application of lean concepts to knowledge work and knowledge workers can give rise to new and different challenges. This newsletter provides some suggestions regarding the approach to take in such applications.
March 2016 Newsletter: “Just Answer the Question”: It has been said that leaders don’t need to know the answers, but they do need to know the questions to ask. The Socratic method has been a proven way to teach and coach. This newsletter discusses “Humble Inquiry” and covers several key points of confusion with the concept.
February 2016 Newsletter: “Unlean Lean”. Organizations at times put into practice various lean concepts by actually taking a very unLean approach. The results can be devastating as associates develop a generally sour attitude to something that should be quite positive. This newsletter provides a wide variety of unLean examples, as well as several possible causes for such practices.
January 2016 Newsletter: “A3s: It’s More Than Fill in the Boxes”. People often look at an A3 template and think, “this is easy, just fill in the boxes.” However such an approach misses the intent of the A3 process and how it is used to develop critical thinkers and effective problem solvers and process improvers. This newsletter covers this important methodology and provides a deeper understanding of it.
May 2015 Newsletter: “Tortoise and the Hare: Slowing Down to Speed Up”. Organizations continue to try to accelerate the lean transformation process. This newsletter provides two approaches that can do just that, and which contrast with the ‘drive by kaizen’ approach that many organizations take.
April 2015 Newsletter: “Finding the Right Tool (and Approach) for the Job”. Sorting though the ‘alphabet soup’ of improvement methodologies can be daunting. Kaizen events, A3s, value stream mapping, and now kata. This newsletter attempts to clarify the confusion around them.
November 2014 Newsletter: “Leader Standard Work”. More than just a calendar or diary, Leader Standard Work can be an effective tool to help anyone in a leadership position develop a routine and the requisite habits to make continuous improvement a way of life. Unfortunately, people often misunderstand its purpose. This newsletter helps to clarify this important subject.
April 2014 Newsletter: “In Search of the Elusive Associate Engagement”. Every organization wishes to more actively ‘engage’ members to help it achieve its objectives. However, it has been quite elusive for many organizations. This newsletter identifies four key factors needed to engage associates, and uses not-for-profit, not-for-pay organizations for hints.
December 2013 Newsletter:“Leadership – the X-factor”. This newsletter delves into the important role that leadership has to truly drive the cultural trasnformation in all organization with active participation and not passive support. Also included is a book review of “The Lean Turnaround”.
August 2013 Newsletter: “From Hire to Retire: The People Value Stream”. Often overlooked are the various aspects of the organization and individual developmental systems and processes including; selection, onboarding, training and education, and performance evaluation.
June 2013 Newsletter: “Value Stream Mapping: It’s More Than Just Finding Waste”. VSM is powerful tool for re-designing systems, but it must be used properly in order to realize its full benefit. This newsletter describes some of common pitfalls encountered when going through the VSM process.
April 2013 Newsletter: “Identifying Product Families in Job Shops”. Another in a series of job shop newsletters. Identifying families is an important first step to applying lean concepts in high mix, low volume manufacturers.
March 2013 Newsletter: “Unleashing the Power of 3P”. 3P is a methodology for designing or redesigning products and/or processes. When properly practiced it can significantly reduce product cost, improve quality and insure a much smoother start-up.
February 2013 Newsletter: “We Don’t Make Widgets – Lean in Job Shops”. This newsletter describes how key concepts such as takt time, cellular manufacturing, pull/kanban, and other concepts can be adapted and applied to job shop environments.
January 2013 Newsletter: “More Words Matter in Continuous Improvement (CI)”. This newsletter further explores how the words used can affect people’s ability to embrace CI and their willingness to change.
October 2012 Newsletter: “It’s Not Just Metrics”. Comprehensive Visual Management Systems go well beyond posting measurements, which is what most organizations seemingly call their VMS. This newsletter describes the depth that this important subject can take.
September 2012 Newsletter: “By the Numbers – Reflections on the Lean Accounting Summit”. Drawing on lessons learned from 25+ years, this newsletter covers several key concepts that fall under the banner of ‘lean accounting.
May 2012 Newsletter: “Finding the Scientist in You: Going to See is Fine, But Real Learning Comes in the Journey”. Too many organizations and individuals attempt to copy what they see at other organizations. What they do not realize is that each organization must adapt the concepts to their own unique circumstances.
March 2012 Newsletter: “Help Wanted: Using Visual Management Systems to Encourage Employee Engagement, Facilitative Leadership & Drive CI”. How can comprehensive visual systems be used to engage associates and create a culture of continuous improvement.
February 2012 Newsletter: “Debunking a Myth About Lean Office”. ‘The Office is Different.’ ‘Everything Varies.’ These and other common reasons for why lean doesn’t apply to office environments are addressed head on.
January 2012 Newsletter: “It’s How You Say It – Words Matter in CI”. The words that leaders use when encouraging continuous improvement can have unintended consequences. This newsletter discusses several common scenarios.
November 2011 Newsletter: “Can We Talk? – Encouraging Meaningful Conversations”. Too often real discussions in business do not take place as they should. Whether it be during the budgetary process, strategic planning sessions, and others, insufficient discourse takes place that often results in less thoughtful decision making and less commitment from members of the organization.
August 2011 Newsletter: “Because I Said So – Management By Objective (MBO) versus Striving Toward Target Condition”. The traditional approach of MBO often involves managers setting near arbitrary numerical goals for their reports under the guise of ‘improvement’. A more effective alternative is to establish ‘target conditions’ and then coach people towards that destination.
June 2011 Newsletter: “What’s Your Problem – The Basics of Problem Solving”. A culture of continuous improvement is the ultimate goal of any Lean Enterprise. To meet this objective, all associates need solid problem solving skills. This newsletter covers the basics.
February 2011 Newsletter: “Policy Deployment – the Key to Execution”. Most companies go through the annual ritual of strategic planning with great intentions. However, too often the best laid plans are not fully executed. What is missing? This newsletter discusses the subject of Policy Deployment which when properly followed can improve the success rate of an organization’s strategic plan.
January 2011 Newsletter: “Lean and Green – Expanding Your Eyes for Waste”. Most people are familiar with the eight wastes of Lean. However, there is another set of wastes that all organizations must be familiar with. This newsletter explores the eight ‘green’ wastes and their interrelationship with lean concepts.