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Your Favorite Lean Posts of 2017: A Lean Post Holiday Special
2017 has seen another terrific year of content on the Lean Post. Over the past 12 months we've released dozens of articles on the latest news, research, stories and tips from all of you, the members of the lean community. Today we share the top 10 most popular.… More »
What Too Many Leaders Get Wrong with Coaching Kata
Think you can dive headfirst into Coaching Kata with your reports? Think again.… More »
It's Not All About the Cash: How to Help Leadership Understand Lean's Financial Benefits
Lean's cost savings might not show up immediately on the income statement -- but that doesn't mean there were no cost savings! Oftentimes the financial benefits of lean are other benefits in disguise, and it's important that we teach our leaders how to recognize them. Jean Cunningham explains.… More »
Lessons Learned from the Cleveland Indians’ Historic 22-Game Winning Streak
In the wake of the Cleveland Indians' record-shattering 22-game winning streak, George Taninecz reflects on some important business lessons that we can learn from this event.… More »
Is There a Tradeoff Between Employee Morale and Productivity?
"Is there a tradeoff between employee morale and productivity?" is a question oft-discussed in lean circles. Ken Eakin has his own take on this ages-old question -- read more to see his answer.… More »
Advice from the Gemba: Top Mistakes Lean Leaders Make III
Mistakes are just a part of lean, even for leaders. Luckily they're also a great opportunity for improvement. Today three lean practitioners share mistakes they often see lean leaders make, plus the countermeasures to correct them.… More »
Lean Coffee-Inspired Coaching
Lean Coffee has been praised for making meetings more productive by giving all participants a say in creating an agenda that works for everyone. LEI Senior Coach Josh Howell recently chose to incorporate Lean Coffee principles into the 2017 Lean Coaching Summit, which he organized and hosted back in July. Here's how he did it and what we as coaches can learn from it.… More »
When A3s Get Personal
Think A3s are just for organizational problems? Think again. Katie Anderson discusses how to adapt A3 thinking to guide our personal development.… More »
The Art of Productive Inquiry
Last month Andrew Quibell released a sketch outlining a process for effective silent observation. His new sketch shares what to do next -- productive inquiry! Read more.… More »
Back to Basics: John Shook on the Role of Questions in Coaching
In this throwback to the classic John Shook eletter "Coaching and Questions; Questions and Coaching," we learn the impacts of asking coachees the right questions, as opposed to giving them the answers.… More »
5 Steps to Empowering Your Team
Empowering an entire team can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. You just need a good background understanding of empowerment and a simple, yet effective, model for making it happen. Andrew Quibell provides both in his newest sketches and animation, today on the Lean Post.… More »
Want to Be a Better Leader and Coach? Listen to Yourself
In the third installment in his series on the importance of proper communication from managers to their employees, David Verble shares "a simple way that managers and leaders – and you, lean coordinators and coaches – can get a sense of how your words and the way they are delivered 'land' with others."… More »
Manager-Employee Communication: What Neuroscience Tells Us
In yesterday's Post, David Verble introduced us to the importance of proper, tactful communication from leaders to employees. Today he delves a bit deeper into the topic, focusing on the neuroscience behind this critical element of lean organizations.… More »
Leaders’ Actions Speak but Their Talk Matters Too
"Many organizations are investing in lean continuous improvement programs, systems and staff," writes David Verble. "Frequently there are critical pieces missing in these initiatives, however." And one of the most critical is an understanding by managers of how their talk impacts employees. Read more.… More »
7 Things Coaches Need to Get Over
"Over the years, I have noticed some common misperceptions about coaching effective problem solving skills and developing lean thinking," writes Mike Orzen. Read more to learn seven of them to improve your coaching practice.… More »
A3 Coaching: What Feedback Would You Give?
You be our coach: what feedback/coaching would you offer on our example A3? We'd like to hear from you!… More »
Changing High School Culture with Lean Coaching
Nearly eight years ago, headteacher Tony Lamberton of Christleton High School was struggling with poor reviews of his school. After reading and studying The Toyota Way, he launched an initiative to bring something brand new into his school’s operations: lean coaching. This is the story of that remarkable turnaround.… More »
“You Gotta Kata,” Now What?
After executing a plan to incorporate kata into his organization's daily routines, Craig Stritar was surprised to find that nobody had followed through on their learnings. This is the story of his investigation into the problem, plus the countermeasures to what he identified as the root cause. Read more to learn how you can use it to sustain your kata efforts too.… More »
Developing Better Habits using A3 Thinking
Think A3 thinking is only for solving organizational problems? Think again! LEI faculty Katie Anderson shares her secrets for using A3s as a tool for structuring personal-development coaching.… More »
How to More Effectively Change Mindsets through Coaching
In her many years as a coach, Karyn Ross has found an alternative to the current paradigm of changing mindsets. The Lean Post recently sat down with Karyn to hear about this new approach and the psychology behind it.… More »
Advice from the Gemba: Best Tips for Designing a Work Experience
When designing a work experience, the benefits of having an experienced coach to guide you cannot be overstated. In this installment of Advice from the Gemba, three of the Lean Global Network's best coaches offer their favorite tips for designing a work experience.… More »
Summit Reflections: Knowing What You Need to Improve
"As leaders, sometimes the things that we feel like we can more easily change are not the things that we need to change," writes Katie Anderson. A quote she heard at the recent Lean Coaching Summit in Minneapolis reminded her of this, and she now reflects on that quote and the value it holds for any lean leader.… More »
A More Prepared Coach
"Many coaching situations we enter...with so little knowledge about the situation and how things work," writes Josh Howell. "Instead we rely on our wits and our ability to “ask effective questions.'" But neither wits nor questioning skills will guarantee a productive coaching session if you haven't taken time to prepare yourself. Read more.… More »
Lean Transformation: Have You Hit the “Lean Plateau?”
After realizing that that their five-year track record of continuous improvement was leveling out, Craig Stritar and his team knew they would have to get creative. Find out the methods they used to fight their way off the "lean plateau."… More »
Raised by Toyota: A Question and Answer with Tracey and Ernie Richardson
In this extended interview, Toyota veterans Tracey and Ernie Richardson share how they learned at the source, explain how they apply their lessons widely (including their personal life), and speculate why this system called lean could just as well be called...our J-O-B.… More »
Is there “mudagement” in your organization?
"Mudagement." What a strange word. But to Tony Lamberton, the concept behind that word has made all the difference in identifying invisible waste in his organization - and by extension, eliminating it through targeted coaching. Lean Post editor Cam Ford recently sat down with Tony to learn more about the concept of mudagement and the value it holds for all organizations: here is their interview.… More »
How to Avoid Team Disinterest and Management Disappointment with Huddles
Team huddles are rapidly becoming a day-to-day staple in the lean organization. But too often the problem-solving aspect of huddles gets “fast-tracked” in favor of seemingly quicker and easier methods, according to David Verble, a Toyota veteran and Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) faculty member. Learn more.… More »
Ask Art: What to Look for in a Lean Team Leader
One of Art Byrne's most-asked questions is, "What are the key traits for a lean team leader?" His recommendation might surprise you - take a look and find out Art's take on this critical position in any lean organization.… More »
Coaches Need Improvement Too
"Whether you are a coaching client or a coach yourself," writes Brent Wahba, "you both have decided to pursue the world of continuous improvement, so why wouldn’t continuous improvement apply to continuous improvement itself? Just like everyone else, coaches need improvement too."… More »
Key Traits and Behaviors of Great Lean Consultants
"If you want to accelerate your lean practice I highly recommend reaching out to a good lean consultant to serve as your coach, teacher, trainer," writes Art Byrnes. "Plan on working with these people over the long haul." But how can you tell the good lean consultants from the poor ones? Art has the answer.… More »
How to Know If Your Team is Ready for Kaizen
"Do we even know what the Kaizen aim of “engaged employees” means, beyond the clichés?" asks lean coach Lesa Nichols. Read Lesa's tips for getting a read on your team and then genuinely involving all team members in meaningful work.… More »
Hazards at the Huddle Board: Away From Fast Thinking, Toward Disciplined PDCA
As more companies use the huddle board approach for continuous improvement, people need to be aware of the pitfalls involved. “Often what’s picked up as a problem may be a nuisance or an inconvenience," says David Verble. "There is an attempt to make a general link between these problems and the priorities of the company."… More »
Tough Empathy
"When grasping the situation we always focus in on the process... What about grasping the situation as it relates to the people?" writes Eric Ethington. "I’m talking about truly 'engaging the stakeholders' to the point where they WANT to be part of the improvement process."… More »
What Type of a Leader Do You Choose to Be?
Plenty of people want to become better leaders. Few people want to change. Michael Bremer shares his advice for more effective lean leadership by way of new leadership actions and behaviors.… More »
5 Ways My Thinking Changed With the Help of a Lean Coach
"Coaching for development is different than being managed," writes Deborah McGee. "Lean coaching in our case was not directing an improvement swat team or teaching lean workshops… It was a steadfast commitment to people, and to developing capability versus creating dependency."… More »
Standout Lessons from the 4th Annual Lean Coaching Summit
"A coach’s role is to help someone better understand their own process," writes Katie Anderson. How will you bring greater intentionality to the way you coach and develop others?… More »
Why Meaningful Improvement Requires a “Growth Mindset”
Ever feel frustrated, constricted, or powerless to do the right thing in your organization? Katrina Appell says it all has to do with whether or not we work in an "enabling" bureaucracy or "coercive" one.… More »
Coaching: A Core Skill for Transformational Leadership
LEI's CEO and Chairman John Shook shares his keynote presentation from the sold-out 2015 Lean Coaching Summit earlier this week in Seattle.… More »
Step 1: Open Mouth, Step 2: Insert Foot
Joshua Rapoza, Customer Strategy Officer at LEI, reflects on whether working longer hours necessarily means more productivity and the power of our words in motivating (or de-motivating) our team members.… More »
Intentional Respect
"Most organizations fail to intentionally balance the technical tools side with the social side of Lean," writes Mike Orzen. "People say, 'We respect our people. In fact, it's one of our core company values!' I don’t deny that... But there is a big difference in believing in something and acting in a way that aligns with that belief."… More »
Safety Through Gemba
"When I do a gemba walk, I don’t necessarily ask questions about safety," writes Brian Fitzpatrick (a director of Health & Safety), "I engage in conversations with staff members, and ask staff to teach me about how they do their work and what concerns them... They must feel they have the power to change what is wrong, and believe that we care."… More »
What it Takes to Bring Lean Thinking to Healthcare: One Leader’s Candid Reflections
Keith Murphy, a Senior Lean Process Improvement Leader in a healthcare organization, shares his greatest lessons learned with regard to leadership and coaching. Learn why Murphy, who works closely with staff and physicians both, believes in strong learning relationships over shiny tools.… More »
Personal PDCA and How I Learned It
"In 23 years at Toyota, I had many assignments and different bosses, I managed many people," writes Mark Reich, "but a constant part of the culture was what I’ve come to call 'personal PDCA' – a kind of mentored self-development cycle." Read how Reich came to understand this principle himself and how he teaches it to others.… More »
Visualize the Invisible: Connect Improvement Work to Real Business Needs
Reflecting on one of her most powerful learning experiences, Lesa Nichols writes, "It struck me that I hadn’t coached my team explicitly on how to visualize our work. Why was that, anyway? I realized that making a good visual story of improvement work is not something most people want to do or know how to do."… More »
Tried and True Strategies for Leading Lean Practice
"In my 30 plus years of leading Lean in a wide range of companies, I’ve learned common practices that work in virtually every setting," writes Art Byrne. "For an informal list such as this to have any value, you must first organize for Lean. This means changing your organizational structure from a functional batch approach to a lean value stream approach."… More »
The Messenger is As Important as the Message
What do people look for in a change agent that will help them be more open to the risky business of letting go of something they know (even if it does not serve them perfectly) and adapting themselves to new requirements and conditions?… More »
What it Takes to Share One's Wisdom: A Q&A with Tracey Richardson
"When you make a decision to change the way you do business, it should hold you accountable for certain leadership actions – new [behaviors that empower people] to want make a difference in their daily work," says Tracey Richardson. "If people have an ability to impact key performance indicators... they suddenly have a new line of sight."… More »
Why Coaching is the Hardest Job I've Ever Had
"In 2011 a new term entered my company... we went 'lean'," writes Kasey Corbishley. "The office buzzed with anxiety as whiteboards were erected, and the word 'consultant' kept getting tossed around. Soon we were poised with raising problems and solving them ourselves." Read what happened next as Corbishley stepped into his new role as coach.… More »
10 Tips for Getting the Most Value from Value Stream Mapping
Most people see only a small amount of what is to be gained from value stream mapping. "Such an exercise can be a powerful organizational development tool," says Judy Worth, "as well as one for improving value stream performance on quality, efficiency, and safety." Before you embark, keep these 10 key things in mind.… More »
Heijunka: Mastering the Peaks and Valleys
Struggling to run different types of products down one line? Lean coach Jeff Smith explains the lean manufacturing concept of Heijunka (or production leveling) by way of a story.… More »
Do the Words You Use Create Clarity or Chaos?
"If words matter, shared understanding of words matters even more," writes Cindy Priddy. "The word coach reaches much further back than the image of a man in a track suit. When I am reminded of a coach as a mode of transporting people, I begin to think more deeply about where teams are today and where it is they are trying to go."… More »
No Change is Easy: The Starbucks Siren Steps into
Dunkin Donuts’ World of Orange and Pink

Lean is about a willingness to experiment and if necessary, change our approach to our work and our daily routine. Lisa Adams, a lean coach at Liberty Mutual, shares a personal story about adjusting to a MAJOR change in her daily routine: her coffee. After moving to Boston from Sacramento, Adams had to to switch from Starbucks to Dunkin' Donuts. Read what happens next.… More »
Leadership Without Giving Solutions (from a Fire Fighter's Perspective)
LEI faculty member Greg Lane shares a lean coaching story from his own life, in which he finds himself advising a friend on how best to position himself for a promotion to fire chief. The result is a powerful little story of lean management and the thoughtfulness and discipline it really takes to lead.… More »
Why Leadership Needs to Drive the Bus
"Lean change can start from the bottom-up, I won’t say that it can’t, but the situation needs to flip quickly to leadership so that leadership drives the bus," writes John Maher. "Why? Because at some point early on in your lean journey, your methods will start to conflict with some long-standing processes and metrics."… More »
Training as a Crutch
Your organization has a problem. Something has gone wrong. A process that was previously working fine is no longer working. You know this because of your inbox is full and you're getting tons of pages/calls. What do you do next? Lean coach Eric Ethington offers advice you may not expect.… More »
The Case for Lean Thinking in Retail and Service Organizations
Josh Howell, senior coach at LEI, recently joined Ron Pereira at Gemba Academy for podcast conversation on coaching, lean thinking for retail and service organizations, and what respect for people really means. Check out some of the highlights here.… More »
Effective Supervision 101
One of the biggest challenges for lean thinkers is translating lean thinking into lean doing, writes Stan Shaw. One of the best ways of making this leap is making sure supervisors and team leaders deeply understand their role with frontline workers and their role in the organization. Read more.… More »
The Lean Thinker Who is Capable of Creating Other Lean Thinkers
LEI faculty member David Verble explains what it means to be an effective manager or lean coach and why it's so important to practice something called "humble inquiry" if you want to develop team members who are problem solvers. Watch the full video interview or read excerpts.… More »
Why Effective Problem Solving Begins With a Good Problem Statement
"Let’s solve world peace" or "let’s state our predetermined solution as a problem" aren't real problem statements, says Dave LaHote. Read why a good problem statement is so important, why it's harder than you think to come up with one, and learn how to write a better one.… More »
The Cure for Bad Meeting Syndrome
"Anyone who leads a group needs the ability to design and plan a meeting," writes Alice Lee. "This isn’t just something that happens; it’s a skill we must develop if we are to meet team objectives."… More »
Are You Training People to Think or to Follow a Checklist?
"Without attention to why continuous improvement is important, the purpose behind [PDCA], when tools should be used, and when to apply ideas," Erin Urban writes, "we're training change agents to do nothing more than follow a checklist." Urban offers recommendations for how to improve training programs and invites your ideas, too.… More »
The Angry Team Member and the Changing Organization
Toyota veteran and lean coach Lesa Nichols reflects on one of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding conversations she had with a team member.… More »
Digital Marketing: What's the Problem?
"Digital marketers need to make sure their departments are working together and that [users] are brought into the decision-making process early and often," writes Matt LeVeque. But creating a sound digital marketing strategy requires looking at the state of your current strategy with all of its problems (something people struggle to do). Read more.… More »
How To Get Out of the Habit of Telling
How do we get out of the habit of just “fixing” the immediate problem at hand ourselves (or telling others how we think they should do something), and replace it with the habit of developing others to solve a problem? Lean coach Katie Anderson weighs in.… More »
I Don't Know What I Don't Know, But Spread the Word
In her first piece for the Post, Lesa Nichols reflects on one of her most powerful learning experiences while working as a powertrain manager at Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky plant.… More »
PDCA is the Breath of Lean
"PDCA is to Lean what breathing is to human beings," writes Mark Donovan. This is why it's important to practice PDCA continuously. So why is it so hard for some of us and how do we help instill PDCA thinking in our organizations? Read more.… More »
How to Create a Culture of Accountability
"Over time, accountability has developed a negative connotation," writes Erin Urban. "But the truth is: we want accountable, responsible employees that have our company’s best interests in mind and are committed to continuous improvement." So, how do you do it?… More »
Say Goodbye to the Report Out
"If we want to improve coaching, let’s build the requirement for it into the daily management process," writes Dave LaHote. "Change the process from reporting upward to asking downward."… More »
A Lean Management System Starts with Senior Leaders
"From events, projects, and A3s to focusing on a lean management system, we’re discovering a new way to run and lead our healthcare organizations, or any organization for that matter," writes lean healthcare coach Steven Leuschel. But where do you start? How do you get senior leaders engaged?… More »
Building Capability, Transforming Organizations
How do we improve ourselves as coaches while developing the problem solving capabilities of others? Lean coach Katie Anderson suggests using a personal improvement A3.… More »
How to Coach a Person Who Doesn't Want to be Coached?
How do you coach someone who doesn't need your help or who thinks they know everything? This was one of several interesting questions raised during Open Space at the Lean Coaching Summit in California this week. Check out all conversation topics here and contribute your thoughts in the comments.… More »
Learning from John Wooden: Everyone Is a Teacher & a Coach
John Wooden was arguably the most successful, probably the most influential, and certainly the most studied coach in the history of US sports. Learn why his coaching was so effective and what it means for lean thinking and practice.… More »
Coaching Effectively Within Takt Time
When time is of the essence and work just needs to be done, how do you help someone improve their work or solve a problem quickly? Jeff Smith shares an example from the shopfloor.… More »
5 Skills to Strengthen Your Coaching Practice
As we look ahead to this month's coaching summit, here are 5 actions you can take now to become a better coach, change agent, and leader.… More »
TWI Job Instruction As a Way of Sharing High Value Knowledge
"Before we try to create value, we first need to study the jobs — looking for those parts of the job that require time and experience to learn," writes Patrick Graupp, master trainer at the TWI Institute. "How do we do this? We talk with the experienced people who have taken the time to know these jobs well."… More »
Challenge: Understand and Adapt for Sales Pace Growth
It's our first Lean Challenge post! Come up with a plan to help a machining business deal with the technical and social challenges posed by increasing customer demand.… More »
Learning Through Struggle
LEI coach Danielle Blais reflects on one of the most frustrating (and ultimately, most rewarding) coaching moments she's experienced so far in her career.… More »
Super Bowl 2014: It's All About the Coaching
LEI Senior Editor Tom Ehrenfeld gets ready for the super bowl the only way he knows how: looking for lean metaphors and lessons from sports.… More »
One Simple Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Coaching
When you put people on the defense, you miss out on a lot more than improved performance and results. Tracey Richardson shares her insights on how to better engage your best resource--people.… More »
Are You Playing Today’s Game or Yesterday’s?
Are your coaching sessions with your staff inspiring 3-pointers or are they all air? LEI coach Josh Howell has some tips on how to keep your head in the game.… More »
Practicing What We Teach
"Do all Lean practitioners practice what they teach?" Maybe, maybe not. Tracey Richardson tries to as much as she can, and here's why.… More »
The Hunt for Alligator Eggs
"Like alligator eggs, problems often start small. If you wait a while and ignore them, those eggs hatch," writes Ellis New. "Wait a little longer, and the hatchlings are well on their way to becoming six-footers." How do you prevent this scenario from happening in your organization? Implement TPM (Total Productive Maintenance).… More »
What happens after the lean coach leaves?
Can the team you leave behind build on what you've taught them and maintain momentum? Or will they struggle and quickly revert to their previous way of doing things? Daniel T. Jones, Chairman of The Lean Enterprise Academy in the UK, shares his thoughts on how to most effectively plant the seeds of lean.… More »
It's Your Career, Own the Work
If an employee doesn’t have a vision for his or her own career, strengths and weaknesses, and development needs, why should a manager feel an obligation to “push” development on this employee? Mark Reich draws from his many years of experience at Toyota and explains why it's so important for employees to "own" their work.… More »
A Sensei in One's Own Land
In his first piece for The Lean Post, John Shook addresses the question of if, when, and how you and your organization should work with an external coach.… More »
Be Prepared to Change Your Habits
LEI Coach Danielle Blais likens lean learning to something we all know something about: starting a new exercise routine or health regimen. Are you interested in a lean "quick fix" or are you interested in long-term, sustainable change?… More »
The Challenge in Providing Challenging Work
LEI's Mark Reich chimes in on the discussion of how to most effectively manage and coach the young generation of leaders and team members known as "millennials."… More »
Why Starting With a Model Area is Key to Lean Transformation
Lean coach Danielle Blais explains why starting small, with one team in one area, is so important to leading an effective lean transformation.… More »
Leading and Learning the Toyota Way
Lean coach and LEI faculty member, Tracey Richardson, tells us why a learner's attitude is essential for effective leadership and in creating a lean management system.… More »
coaching on Lean.org
Leadership Q&A: Dr. Jack Billi, associate dean and associate vice president for medical affairs
From the LEI senior executive series on lean leadership: Jack Billi, M.D., associate dean for clinical affairs, University of Michigan Medical School, professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Educa… More »
Lean Transformational Leadership Webinar - Follow-up Q & A and Reading List
During the Transformational Leadership webinar, many of you asked for the list of related books and articles that presenter Jim Luckman cited. He has provided the list as a chart at the end of his ans… More »
Follow-up Q & A to the Webinar “Getting to Everyday Improvement: How to Connect the Science and Culture of Problem Solving”
 The Lean Enterprise Institute's webinar on Getting to Everyday Improvement drew thousands of Lean Thinkers from around the world and hundreds of questions that we didn’t have time to answer during th… More »
Lead with Respect: Practicing Respect for People to Enable Engagement, Teamwork & Accountability
Building a great organization requires effective leadership. It turns out that leadership skills can be learned. A key element that is often misunderstood is what it means to lead with respect. This l… More »
Continuous Improvement Using Personal Kanban
A simple, effective management system for digging out of work -- and staying dug out -- to achieve higher quality, better productivity, greater job satisfaction, and peace of mind.… More »
Managing to Learn: Using the A3 management process
Managing to Learn by Toyota veteran John Shook, reveals the thinking underlying the A3 management process found at the heart of lean management and leadership. Constructed as a dialogue between a mana… More »
The Work of Management
Lancaster tells an inspiring and practical business story in his new book, The Work of Management (2017, Lean Enterprise Institute). It’s a close-up, candid look at Lancaster’s personal transformation… More »
Heijunka: Mastering the Peaks and Valleys
Struggling to run different types of products down one line? Lean coach Jeff Smith explains the lean manufacturing concept of Heijunka (or production leveling) by way of a story.… More »
Do the Words You Use Create Clarity or Chaos?
"If words matter, shared understanding of words matters even more," writes Cindy Priddy. "The word coach reaches much further back than the image of a man in a track suit. When I am reminded of a coach as a mode of transporting people, I begin to think more deeply about where teams are today and where it is they are trying to go."… More »
No Change is Easy: The Starbucks Siren Steps into
Dunkin Donuts’ World of Orange and Pink

Lean is about a willingness to experiment and if necessary, change our approach to our work and our daily routine. Lisa Adams, a lean coach at Liberty Mutual, shares a personal story about adjusting to a MAJOR change in her daily routine: her coffee. After moving to Boston from Sacramento, Adams had to to switch from Starbucks to Dunkin' Donuts. Read what happens next.… More »
Leadership Without Giving Solutions (from a Fire Fighter's Perspective)
LEI faculty member Greg Lane shares a lean coaching story from his own life, in which he finds himself advising a friend on how best to position himself for a promotion to fire chief. The result is a powerful little story of lean management and the thoughtfulness and discipline it really takes to lead.… More »
Why Leadership Needs to Drive the Bus
"Lean change can start from the bottom-up, I won’t say that it can’t, but the situation needs to flip quickly to leadership so that leadership drives the bus," writes John Maher. "Why? Because at some point early on in your lean journey, your methods will start to conflict with some long-standing processes and metrics."… More »
Training as a Crutch
Your organization has a problem. Something has gone wrong. A process that was previously working fine is no longer working. You know this because of your inbox is full and you're getting tons of pages/calls. What do you do next? Lean coach Eric Ethington offers advice you may not expect.… More »
The Case for Lean Thinking in Retail and Service Organizations
Josh Howell, senior coach at LEI, recently joined Ron Pereira at Gemba Academy for podcast conversation on coaching, lean thinking for retail and service organizations, and what respect for people really means. Check out some of the highlights here.… More »
Effective Supervision 101
One of the biggest challenges for lean thinkers is translating lean thinking into lean doing, writes Stan Shaw. One of the best ways of making this leap is making sure supervisors and team leaders deeply understand their role with frontline workers and their role in the organization. Read more.… More »
The Lean Thinker Who is Capable of Creating Other Lean Thinkers
LEI faculty member David Verble explains what it means to be an effective manager or lean coach and why it's so important to practice something called "humble inquiry" if you want to develop team members who are problem solvers. Watch the full video interview or read excerpts.… More »
Why Effective Problem Solving Begins With a Good Problem Statement
"Let’s solve world peace" or "let’s state our predetermined solution as a problem" aren't real problem statements, says Dave LaHote. Read why a good problem statement is so important, why it's harder than you think to come up with one, and learn how to write a better one.… More »
The Cure for Bad Meeting Syndrome
"Anyone who leads a group needs the ability to design and plan a meeting," writes Alice Lee. "This isn’t just something that happens; it’s a skill we must develop if we are to meet team objectives."… More »
Are You Training People to Think or to Follow a Checklist?
"Without attention to why continuous improvement is important, the purpose behind [PDCA], when tools should be used, and when to apply ideas," Erin Urban writes, "we're training change agents to do nothing more than follow a checklist." Urban offers recommendations for how to improve training programs and invites your ideas, too.… More »
The Angry Team Member and the Changing Organization
Toyota veteran and lean coach Lesa Nichols reflects on one of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding conversations she had with a team member.… More »
Digital Marketing: What's the Problem?
"Digital marketers need to make sure their departments are working together and that [users] are brought into the decision-making process early and often," writes Matt LeVeque. But creating a sound digital marketing strategy requires looking at the state of your current strategy with all of its problems (something people struggle to do). Read more.… More »
How To Get Out of the Habit of Telling
How do we get out of the habit of just “fixing” the immediate problem at hand ourselves (or telling others how we think they should do something), and replace it with the habit of developing others to solve a problem? Lean coach Katie Anderson weighs in.… More »
I Don't Know What I Don't Know, But Spread the Word
In her first piece for the Post, Lesa Nichols reflects on one of her most powerful learning experiences while working as a powertrain manager at Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky plant.… More »
PDCA is the Breath of Lean
"PDCA is to Lean what breathing is to human beings," writes Mark Donovan. This is why it's important to practice PDCA continuously. So why is it so hard for some of us and how do we help instill PDCA thinking in our organizations? Read more.… More »
How to Create a Culture of Accountability
"Over time, accountability has developed a negative connotation," writes Erin Urban. "But the truth is: we want accountable, responsible employees that have our company’s best interests in mind and are committed to continuous improvement." So, how do you do it?… More »
Say Goodbye to the Report Out
"If we want to improve coaching, let’s build the requirement for it into the daily management process," writes Dave LaHote. "Change the process from reporting upward to asking downward."… More »
A Lean Management System Starts with Senior Leaders
"From events, projects, and A3s to focusing on a lean management system, we’re discovering a new way to run and lead our healthcare organizations, or any organization for that matter," writes lean healthcare coach Steven Leuschel. But where do you start? How do you get senior leaders engaged?… More »
Building Capability, Transforming Organizations
How do we improve ourselves as coaches while developing the problem solving capabilities of others? Lean coach Katie Anderson suggests using a personal improvement A3.… More »
How to Coach a Person Who Doesn't Want to be Coached?
How do you coach someone who doesn't need your help or who thinks they know everything? This was one of several interesting questions raised during Open Space at the Lean Coaching Summit in California this week. Check out all conversation topics here and contribute your thoughts in the comments.… More »
Learning from John Wooden: Everyone Is a Teacher & a Coach
John Wooden was arguably the most successful, probably the most influential, and certainly the most studied coach in the history of US sports. Learn why his coaching was so effective and what it means for lean thinking and practice.… More »
Coaching Effectively Within Takt Time
When time is of the essence and work just needs to be done, how do you help someone improve their work or solve a problem quickly? Jeff Smith shares an example from the shopfloor.… More »
5 Skills to Strengthen Your Coaching Practice
As we look ahead to this month's coaching summit, here are 5 actions you can take now to become a better coach, change agent, and leader.… More »
TWI Job Instruction As a Way of Sharing High Value Knowledge
"Before we try to create value, we first need to study the jobs — looking for those parts of the job that require time and experience to learn," writes Patrick Graupp, master trainer at the TWI Institute. "How do we do this? We talk with the experienced people who have taken the time to know these jobs well."… More »
Challenge: Understand and Adapt for Sales Pace Growth
It's our first Lean Challenge post! Come up with a plan to help a machining business deal with the technical and social challenges posed by increasing customer demand.… More »
Learning Through Struggle
LEI coach Danielle Blais reflects on one of the most frustrating (and ultimately, most rewarding) coaching moments she's experienced so far in her career.… More »
Super Bowl 2014: It's All About the Coaching
LEI Senior Editor Tom Ehrenfeld gets ready for the super bowl the only way he knows how: looking for lean metaphors and lessons from sports.… More »
One Simple Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Coaching
When you put people on the defense, you miss out on a lot more than improved performance and results. Tracey Richardson shares her insights on how to better engage your best resource--people.… More »
Are You Playing Today’s Game or Yesterday’s?
Are your coaching sessions with your staff inspiring 3-pointers or are they all air? LEI coach Josh Howell has some tips on how to keep your head in the game.… More »
Practicing What We Teach
"Do all Lean practitioners practice what they teach?" Maybe, maybe not. Tracey Richardson tries to as much as she can, and here's why.… More »
The Hunt for Alligator Eggs
"Like alligator eggs, problems often start small. If you wait a while and ignore them, those eggs hatch," writes Ellis New. "Wait a little longer, and the hatchlings are well on their way to becoming six-footers." How do you prevent this scenario from happening in your organization? Implement TPM (Total Productive Maintenance).… More »
What happens after the lean coach leaves?
Can the team you leave behind build on what you've taught them and maintain momentum? Or will they struggle and quickly revert to their previous way of doing things? Daniel T. Jones, Chairman of The Lean Enterprise Academy in the UK, shares his thoughts on how to most effectively plant the seeds of lean.… More »
It's Your Career, Own the Work
If an employee doesn’t have a vision for his or her own career, strengths and weaknesses, and development needs, why should a manager feel an obligation to “push” development on this employee? Mark Reich draws from his many years of experience at Toyota and explains why it's so important for employees to "own" their work.… More »
A Sensei in One's Own Land
In his first piece for The Lean Post, John Shook addresses the question of if, when, and how you and your organization should work with an external coach.… More »
Be Prepared to Change Your Habits
LEI Coach Danielle Blais likens lean learning to something we all know something about: starting a new exercise routine or health regimen. Are you interested in a lean "quick fix" or are you interested in long-term, sustainable change?… More »
The Challenge in Providing Challenging Work
LEI's Mark Reich chimes in on the discussion of how to most effectively manage and coach the young generation of leaders and team members known as "millennials."… More »
Why Starting With a Model Area is Key to Lean Transformation
Lean coach Danielle Blais explains why starting small, with one team in one area, is so important to leading an effective lean transformation.… More »
Leading and Learning the Toyota Way
Lean coach and LEI faculty member, Tracey Richardson, tells us why a learner's attitude is essential for effective leadership and in creating a lean management system.… More »
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