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Ask Art: Can Lean and “Make-the-Month” Co-exist?
"Make-the-month" programs are not unusual in manufacturing organizations. But, many people have asked Art Byrne, are such programs compatible with lean? Isn't the intense focus on results counterproductive when matched with the process focus of lean thinking? Art explores.… 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 »
Lean Was a Lot Simpler Back in the Day...
Lean transformations aren't easy. But, according to Brent Wahba, they weren't always that way. In his newest Post, Brent discusses his thoughts on what has made transformation efforts so complicated since lean's early years.… More »
Advice from the Gemba: Making Repetitive Tasks More Exciting
Repetitive tasks can create a drag on workers' morale and motivation as boredom sets in, and a disillusioned workforce will seriously hamper your lean efforts. So how do you keep repetitive tasks from becoming a source of discontent for your people? Three lean practitioners share their thoughts.… More »
5S - The Way to Start Your Lean Journey…or Is It?
Many people think that a 5S implementation is the perfect way to kickstart a full lean transformation. It can be - IF you do it right. Years ago Dale Savage witnessed a lean disaster at his company that all started with a new 5S program. Find out what happened and how you can keep it from happening to your company.… More »
Assessing Problem Solving Capability in Job Candidates: A True Account
Last month, Derrick Redding shared three questions that you can ask job candidates to assess their problem-solving capacity. As a followup, he is now sharing a real-life example of a time when these questions helped him do just that - without ever once talking about work. Read more.… 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 »
3 Interview Questions to Gauge Candidates’ Problem-Solving Capacity
It's always great to promote from within when trying to fill lean leadership roles. But what if you have to fill the positions using external candidates? Lean veteran Derrick Redding shares some strategies he uses to assess candidates' match for a problem-solving culture.… 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 »
Advice from the Gemba: How Can I Change a Culture?
One of the most common questions asked by lean leaders is the question of culture change. How, they ask, can we change a firmly rooted culture to match our desired behaviors? As far as these four leaders are concerned, the answer is...by changing the work. Here are their stories.… 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 »
Question! Adapt? Question!
LEI's Customer Strategy Officer talks about his mistake of not asking enough questions and what he learned about passion overtaking reasonable thinking when it comes to the lean summit.… More »
Ask Art: Why Is Something As Simple As Lean So Difficult to Do?
"Recently my good friend Paul Akers of FastCap and lean blogging fame asked me why lean, which appears to be so simple, ends up being so hard for people to do," writes Art Byrne. "In my decades of leading lean, in fact, this has proven to be perhaps the most important challenge."… More »
Cowabunga! Implementing Lean at a Surfing School
Lean is difficult for many companies to grasp at first, often due to the cultural shift. If the organization's people are used to a more laid-back, "looser" style of operations, the standards, metrics and procedures associated with lean may seem overwhelming and lead to resistance. Pacific Surf School of San Diego, Cali. was no exception to this all-too-common resistance. Here's Sammy Obara on how he managed to break through this resistance and save the school from imminent closure.… More »
Lean Expansion: Spreading Lean from One Store to a Region at Starbucks
Scaling up is a challenge often talked about in lean circles. How can we best leverage our individual or small-scale wins to spread lean throughout the organization? LEI faculty and Director of Learning Karen Gaudet tackled this problem head-on during her tenure working at Starbucks. Here's her story of what she experienced and learned as she spread lean throughout her region of responsibility.… More »
Ask Art: Is There More to Becoming Lean than Conducting Kaizen Events?
Kaizen events may be a key part of lean transformation, but they're certainly not the only aspect of it. They're just one step on the stairway to a culture of continuous improvement - but only if you build upon them. Art Byrne shares some great tips for getting the most out of your kaizen events.… More »
Advice from the Gemba: Keeping Senior Leadership Committed
The cost savings of lean are not always apparent in the short term. If your senior leadership was skeptical going into the transformation, this situation can easily make them lose confidence and pull the plug. What's the best way to keep them onboard and committed? Three lean practitioners share their thoughts.… More »
Ask Art: How Are Lean Teams Different?
"Teamwork in lean is a much bigger deal than the way most people think about it, and it's crucial to success," writes Art Byrne. In fact, he points out, most people's understanding of teamwork isn't actually teamwork - at least not from a lean standpoint. Read more.… More »
Establishing Lean Healthcare Believers When Professional Society Allegiance Impedes Engagement
When implementing lean in a healthcare organization, it's not uncommon to encounter resistance from medical professionals set in their traditional ways. Resistance is natural in any lean transformation, but Kathryn Correia has pinpointed a root cause of healthcare lean resistance that goes much deeper than your standard skepticism. Read more.… More »
Kaizen Means You Care
"Lean leaders, and lean consultants (like me), often talk about the organizational benefits of kaizen: lower costs, bigger profits, shorter lead times, higher quality, etc.," writes Dan Markovitz. But at the same time, we never want to forget that there is a human element of kaizen. In his latest piece for the Lean Post, Dan shares a touching real-life story of this oft-overlooked side of kaizen.… More »
The Problems Inherent in Change – and What You Can Do about Them
Anyone who's been involved in an organizational transformation knows that its challenges go well beyond resistance. Katrina Appell sheds some light on the deeper challenges presented by change management plus some helpful solutions for getting past them.… More »
Change Management: Is it Necessary?
"There are varying views on the role of change management in a lean transformation," writes Katrina Appell. In her latest blog, she evaluates the opposing viewpoints and offers a viewpoint of her own for good measure. Read more.… More »
Just-in-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads from Across the Web (Vol. 15)
Our editor's latest pics for great lean reads from across the web, this month from QualityDigest, IndustryWeek, and CIO.… More »
Accountability: Not What You Think it is...
"When managers and associates hear the term [accountability], they often flinch!" writes Mike Orzen. "This is a major problem for any organization that is serious about creating and sustaining a lean transformation." Read more to hear Mike's tips for tackling the stigma around this key aspect of leadership.… More »
Problem? What Problem?
"Whether using A3s, the 5 Whys, DMAIC, Value Stream Mapping, or any other problem-solving methodology, many organizations don’t spend the effort necessary to prove all their hypotheses, and either under-solve the real problem or erroneously solve a non-existent issue," write Brent Wahba. How can an organization problem-solve the right way, you ask? Read more to find out.… More »
The Problem of Partial Participation: Why Failing to Fully Commit to Lean Is Not An Option. An Interview with Chris Vogel
It's surprising how many lean implementations fail due to an organization's employees not fully embracing the idea. There are many root causes of this common problem, but Chris Vogel points the finger at flawed leadership. Read more on the problems with partial participation in lean and how a simple change in leadership style can resolve it.… More »
Let's Stop Being Hypocrites: Work is Work
"We often talk about knowledge workers as though they need to be treated differently from shop floor workers," writes Dan Markovitz, "...but the truth is that they’re still production workers. And that means that we can approach their work, and solve their problems, in the same way that we approach the work and the problems on the shop floor." Read more.… More »
Lean in Japan: The Benefit of an Outsider's View
"Sometimes when we know a process, culture, or organization too deeply, we struggle to view things as they actually are..." writes Katie Anderson who is currently observing lean companies in Japan. "When we are a near complete outsider as I’ve been... we are able to see things without as many preconceived notions of 'how it should be done.'"… 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 »
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 »
Born Lean Thinkers
Kids are born asking the right questions. Now if only it were so easy as adults.… More »
Lean, Agile, Joy
Rich Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, shares his thoughts on why the lean software and lean manufacturing communities need each other.… 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 »
What “Co-Learning” Across Industries Looks Like in Practice
"In April, as part of a 2-day capstone learning event for Cardinal Health, we brought the newest wave of Lean Leader graduates together to visit various gembas to see examples of other companies undergoing lean transformations," writes McGuiness. "With proximity to Ohio and some key relationships in mind, the team headed for southern Michigan."… 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 »
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 »
John Toussaint on What a Complete System Transformation Looks Like In Healthcare
John Toussaint, CEO emeritus of ThedaCare and CEO of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, shared his guiding principles for transformation in an article for Planet Lean recently. Read our picks for highlights from the interview and tell us what challenges and successes you're seeing in healthcare right now.… More »
Enabling Change Through the Power of Story
Roberto Priolo, editor of Planet Lean, shares why not just reflection, but writing (and storytelling) is so helpful for the lean practitioner. In short, a good story - writing, reading, or hearing it - helps us remember and therefore retain new learning.… More »
Kaizen Event “Malpractice” and What to Do About It
Performed properly, kaizen events create the technical and cultural foundation for daily continuous improvement. Performed improperly, they can get you nowhere fast. Learn more about the real purpose of kaizen events (and how to run effective ones) in this video interview with Chet Marchwinski and LEI faculty member Mark Hamel.… More »
The Lean Power Stance
"Yoga is more than the physical movement of postures," writes Rachael McKay, an industrial engineer at lululemon athletica and yogi. "As a result of [practicing], we are more adept to deal with life’s challenges and the constant state of change. Likewise, a successful lean culture is more than just the tools and industry standards required to do the work. It’s a mindset."… More »
Value Stream Maps and Battle Plans - Are They Worth Nothing?
“I’m reluctant to say maps are nothing, but there’s a difference between maps and mapping," Judy Worth says, paraphrasing Eisenhower’s insight that battle plans meant nothing, but PLANNING for battle was indispensable. “An awful lot of lot of the benefit that comes out of value-stream maps comes from the process of mapping with other people."… More »
Pi-Day, Robots, and the Joy of Making Things
"Pi is a symbol that is easily recognized and fun to celebrate once a year when it falls on its calendar equivalent of 3/14," writes Jim and Mary Morgan. "Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a company could be recognized as a symbol of lean product and process development excellence and celebrated for its existence at least once per year as well?"… More »
Why Practicing Lean Thinking Matters (Even if Your Bosses Don’t Care)
"If your boss doesn't get [lean thinking], don't expect to convince him/her," writes Michael Ballé. "Do expect to get him/her interested if you manage to make them look good with your results." And no matter what, Ballé says, never underestimate the importance of your local lean efforts.… 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 »
Make the Shift: From “Churn and Burn” to Learn
Already practicing PDCA? Not so familiar with it? "If you’re not squarely in the PDCA camp, please accept this invitation to join!," writes Deborah McGee. "Begin anywhere, begin today and humbly let the next task you master become one you learn from."… More »
Everyday Kaizen
"With the right teaching and guidance, a good process, and a target of one kaizen activity per day, team leaders should develop [problem solving] skills fast," writes Emmanuel Jallas. Team leaders then encourage these same problem skills in operators, Jallas says, which creates a culture of steady, everyday improvement that can make a big difference for your business.… More »
Rich Sheridan on How to Succeed by Building a Strong Learning Culture
Rich Sheridan, CEO of the software company Menlo Innovations, talks with LEI's Chet Marchwinski about Menlo's unique learning culture, taking their end users' wants and needs seriously, and the power of lean product and process development ideas working together as a system.… 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 »
Lessons Learned from My Lean Sensei about “Customer Service”
"To 'get' Lean we have to change our specs, and no longer see processes as sequences of dependent tasks, but as sequences of dependent CHOICES," writes Michael Ballé. Read more.… More »
One COO's View on Learning, Leading, and Teaching
Dominic Paccapaniccia, COO of a regional healthcare center, reflects on why he and his organization chose to begin using a lean management system and shares what it's required of him as a leader and learner.… More »
Book Value: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Is clutter at work or at home getting you down? LEI Senior Editor Tom Ehrenfeld reviews Marie Kondo's new book, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and reflects on what it can teach us about lean practice. "The point is not to be tidy as endgame," he writes. "The point is to tidy up in order to get to where you want to go."… 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 »
GTS6 + E3 = DNA (Break the Code for Standardization, Sustainability, and Kaizen)
There's no "formula" for doing Lean well, but there are principles and practices that keep you on track. Read Tracey Richardson's (memorable) advice for leading effectively at work.… More »
Grasping the Real Situation
Emmanuel Jallas visits a well-respected company that is vocal about its lean transformation. Upon further investigation he finds that like so many places, lean was "put in place" here without any consideration for or effort made toward creating a lean culture.… More »
What Experience Tells Me About How Change Happens
Dave LaHote reflects on his earliest experiences learning lean thinking and practice. "We all became increasingly better at making improvements and solving problems using simple, common sense, everyday tools," he writes. "This became the way we did work, not some extra work to do."… More »
Just-In-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads from Across the Web (Vol. 2)
Check out our editors' picks for great lean reads you may have missed, featuring stories from The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, and our friends at Lean Enterprise Academy (UK) and Planet Lean.… 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 »
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 »
Just-In-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads From Across the Web
We're trying something new on the Post rounding up some of the best or more interesting lean-themed articles from around the web. Our goal? Make the work of the larger lean community more visible.… More »
Are You Managing People or Making Way for Their Creativity to Shine?
"The role of the [lean manager] entails three main parts: clear definition of goals; provision of significant and consistent feedback; and maintaining challenges," writes Boaz Tamir. And it's all about creating flow. Read why.… More »
Why Leadership and "Respect" Are Fundamentally Entwined
Hear the word "respect" and most of us can think of a time we've wanted our boss, team member, or employee to "be more respectful." But respect is about something else altogether, says Michael Ballé. For leaders, "it's about committing to an employee's success. Employees have a right to succeed WITH us, not a duty, and we need to define this success together."… 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 »
Lean Talks: Are You Making Excuses or Solving Problems?
In his "lean talk" at the Lean Transformation Summit this past March, lean coach and author Mark Graban shared his perspective on what a culture of continuous improvement really means and requires of us as hopeful change agents. The video concludes with a Q&A with Jim Womack.… 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 »
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 »
Cost Reduction, Waste, and Purpose
"Eliminating waste makes it easier to see and find problems, which is the first step to solving them," writes Katrina Appell. "It removes frustrations, which improves worker and customer satisfaction."… More »
Are We "Doing Lean" All Wrong?
"Somewhere in Ohio is a small healthcare management company that is the best Lean company, EVER," says Brent Wahba. Why? "Because they seemed highly unlikely to succeed," he writes, and "followed a path that would make nearly any traditional sensei convulse."… More »
The Leader's Dilemma: Becoming a Learner
We build leaders up to be all-knowing, but leaders who act as 'knowers' (as opposed to learners) actually limit their ability to accomplish what is important for their organization, says Jim Luckman. Read why.… 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 »
Leadership Then and Now
John Shook and the Leaper look toward the future of leadership.… More »
It's About Best Practicing
"Just like practicing to learn to play an instrument, practicing the Improvement Kata helps us learn to view uncertainty more as an opportunity," writes Mike Rother. With this scientific thinking pattern, the lean practitioner begins to think, "“I’ve never done that before, but I know how to figure it out and find the way.”… More »
Three Steps Toward Lean Culture Change
"Culture change typically isn’t greeted with open arms unless there is a crisis to provide a sense of urgency," writes Erin Urban. "Still, I’ve noticed there are a few 'Do-Not-Pass-Go' items that must be a part of any successful lean culture change initiative."… More »
If You Want to Lead, Make Your Vision Actionable
An organizational vision that makes clear a compelling future, one that brings all levels of the organization together, one that creates momentum and buy-in across all parts of the organization, is actually quite hard to develop. Read why.… More »
The Human Element of TWI (Training Within Industry)
"When I’ve taught the TWI courses in countries all over the world, from India to Malaysia to Mexico to Germany, everyone understands and embraces these concepts because the focus on humanity is universal," writes Patrick Graupp. "These concepts transcend differences in culture and economic barriers."… More »
Hanging Up My Cape
"Managers and front line workers hustle to work around problems resulting from poorly designed work systems... and with such pride!" writes lean coach Josh Howell. While he remembers them fondly, read why Howell is long past his superhero days.… More »
Which Side Are You On?
"Lean is based on developing every person’s kaizen mind," writes Michael Ballé, "not asking them to thoughtlessly apply a best practice that was invented far from their real world." Read more.… More »
Long-term Organizational Health or Sugar High?
"We know 'flavor-of-the-month' initiatives can't be the focus of a lean leader," writes Bob Miller of the Shingo Institute. So where should lean leaders focus their attention? Miller shares three insights from 26 years of Shingo research.… More »
Ask Art: How Do We Prevent Backsliding?
Backsliding is inevitable. "The key is to anticipate the backslide and take early, aggressive, organized steps to prevent it from happening before it starts," writes former Wiremold executive Art Byrne.… More »
Are You Making Enough Mistakes?
How comfortable are you making mistakes? Do you make it safe for your team members to make mistakes? Boaz Tamir, Founder of Israel Lean Enterprise Institute, reflects on these questions and more after learning about Menlo Innovations' unique organizational culture.… More »
No Such Thing As a Funny Lean Joke?
Does a good lean joke exist? LEI staffer Josh Rapoza really wants to believe it's possible for Lean and humor to come together.… More »
Think Like Judoka
"Resistance in an organization can be a daunting foe to even the most highly skilled Lean practitioners," writes Joel Gross. We can overcome it, however, if we think like judoka. What parallels do you see between Lean and the martial art of judo?… More »
Taiichi Ohno Was a Hairdresser
"In the lean community, we talk about 'gaps' – the difference between where we are now and where we either should be or want to be. Ironically, however, we rarely talk about Lean’s gaps," writes lean coach Brent Wahba. What gaps do you think we need to solve to make Lean more valuable and more likely to stick around?… More »
Monozukuri Through Hitozukuri
Michael Ballé reflects on what it really means to "make people before parts" and introduces two more lean terms that just so happen to be Japanese.… More »
Learn from the Error, Every Time
It's an awful feeling when you think everything is going just fine and then discover you've made an error. But errors are inevitable. It's what you do next that counts.… More »
culture on Lean.org
The Value Stream Manager
Read about and discuss the role of this cross-functional manager.… More »
Leadership Q&A: Dan Ariens, CEO of Ariens Co.
From the LEI senior executive series on lean leadership: In the late 1990s, Ariens Co.faced a blizzard of problems. The iconic maker of snow blowers, mowers, and string trimmers faced a cash-flow cri… More »
What is the Theory of Constraints, and How Does it Compare to Lean Thinking?
Read about and discuss this topic.… More »
Leadership Q&A: Robert Chapman, chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc: “Guiding Principles of Leadership”
From the LEI senior executive series on lean leadership: CEO Robert Chapman describes how the company's Guiding Principles of Leadership merge with lean thinking at this $1.1 billion global manufactu… More »
Role of Management in a Lean Manufacturing Environment
Gary Convis, president, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, explains that the critical role of management in a lean company is to motivate and engage large numbers of people to work together toward a… More »
The Lean Dentist Webinar Follow-Up Questions & Answers
After reviewing all the questions that we couldn’t get to during the webinar with Dr. Sami Bahri, several key themes emerged, such as lean leadership and how lean tools, such as one-piece flow (or in … More »
Follow-up Q&A to the Webinar “Lean Logistics and Supply Chain Networks: 8 Guiding Principles”
The Lean Enterprise Institute's webinar "Lean Logistics & Supply Chain Networks: 8 Guiding Principles" drew hundreds of questions from Lean Thinkers around the world who heard Robert Martichenko, CEO,… More »
Developing People with Capability for Lean
Learn about a supportive management environment for lean performance. Explore the manger’s role in people development and responsibilities in creating a learning environment. Identify the perspectives… More »
Standardized Work: The Foundation for Kaizen
Standardized work is one of the most powerful but least used lean tool. Learn how documenting the current best practice (standardized work) forms the baseline for kaizen or continuous improvement.… More »
Perfecting Patient Journeys
Perfecting Patient Journeys is a guide to value-stream improvement for leaders of healthcare organizations who want to implement lean thinking and engage employees in solving problems in order to deli… More »
Lean Hospitals, 2nd Ed.
Drawing on his years of working with hospitals, Mark Graban explains why and how lean can be used to improve safety, quality, and efficiency in a healthcare setting. A unique guide for healthcare prof… More »
Management On the Mend / On the Mend 2-book Set
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 »
Lessons Learned from My Lean Sensei about “Customer Service”
"To 'get' Lean we have to change our specs, and no longer see processes as sequences of dependent tasks, but as sequences of dependent CHOICES," writes Michael Ballé. Read more.… More »
One COO's View on Learning, Leading, and Teaching
Dominic Paccapaniccia, COO of a regional healthcare center, reflects on why he and his organization chose to begin using a lean management system and shares what it's required of him as a leader and learner.… More »
Book Value: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Is clutter at work or at home getting you down? LEI Senior Editor Tom Ehrenfeld reviews Marie Kondo's new book, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and reflects on what it can teach us about lean practice. "The point is not to be tidy as endgame," he writes. "The point is to tidy up in order to get to where you want to go."… 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 »
GTS6 + E3 = DNA (Break the Code for Standardization, Sustainability, and Kaizen)
There's no "formula" for doing Lean well, but there are principles and practices that keep you on track. Read Tracey Richardson's (memorable) advice for leading effectively at work.… More »
Grasping the Real Situation
Emmanuel Jallas visits a well-respected company that is vocal about its lean transformation. Upon further investigation he finds that like so many places, lean was "put in place" here without any consideration for or effort made toward creating a lean culture.… More »
What Experience Tells Me About How Change Happens
Dave LaHote reflects on his earliest experiences learning lean thinking and practice. "We all became increasingly better at making improvements and solving problems using simple, common sense, everyday tools," he writes. "This became the way we did work, not some extra work to do."… More »
Just-In-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads from Across the Web (Vol. 2)
Check out our editors' picks for great lean reads you may have missed, featuring stories from The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, and our friends at Lean Enterprise Academy (UK) and Planet Lean.… 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 »
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 »
Just-In-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads From Across the Web
We're trying something new on the Post rounding up some of the best or more interesting lean-themed articles from around the web. Our goal? Make the work of the larger lean community more visible.… More »
Are You Managing People or Making Way for Their Creativity to Shine?
"The role of the [lean manager] entails three main parts: clear definition of goals; provision of significant and consistent feedback; and maintaining challenges," writes Boaz Tamir. And it's all about creating flow. Read why.… More »
Why Leadership and "Respect" Are Fundamentally Entwined
Hear the word "respect" and most of us can think of a time we've wanted our boss, team member, or employee to "be more respectful." But respect is about something else altogether, says Michael Ballé. For leaders, "it's about committing to an employee's success. Employees have a right to succeed WITH us, not a duty, and we need to define this success together."… 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 »
Lean Talks: Are You Making Excuses or Solving Problems?
In his "lean talk" at the Lean Transformation Summit this past March, lean coach and author Mark Graban shared his perspective on what a culture of continuous improvement really means and requires of us as hopeful change agents. The video concludes with a Q&A with Jim Womack.… 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 »
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 »
Cost Reduction, Waste, and Purpose
"Eliminating waste makes it easier to see and find problems, which is the first step to solving them," writes Katrina Appell. "It removes frustrations, which improves worker and customer satisfaction."… More »
Are We "Doing Lean" All Wrong?
"Somewhere in Ohio is a small healthcare management company that is the best Lean company, EVER," says Brent Wahba. Why? "Because they seemed highly unlikely to succeed," he writes, and "followed a path that would make nearly any traditional sensei convulse."… More »
The Leader's Dilemma: Becoming a Learner
We build leaders up to be all-knowing, but leaders who act as 'knowers' (as opposed to learners) actually limit their ability to accomplish what is important for their organization, says Jim Luckman. Read why.… 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 »
Leadership Then and Now
John Shook and the Leaper look toward the future of leadership.… More »
It's About Best Practicing
"Just like practicing to learn to play an instrument, practicing the Improvement Kata helps us learn to view uncertainty more as an opportunity," writes Mike Rother. With this scientific thinking pattern, the lean practitioner begins to think, "“I’ve never done that before, but I know how to figure it out and find the way.”… More »
Three Steps Toward Lean Culture Change
"Culture change typically isn’t greeted with open arms unless there is a crisis to provide a sense of urgency," writes Erin Urban. "Still, I’ve noticed there are a few 'Do-Not-Pass-Go' items that must be a part of any successful lean culture change initiative."… More »
If You Want to Lead, Make Your Vision Actionable
An organizational vision that makes clear a compelling future, one that brings all levels of the organization together, one that creates momentum and buy-in across all parts of the organization, is actually quite hard to develop. Read why.… More »
The Human Element of TWI (Training Within Industry)
"When I’ve taught the TWI courses in countries all over the world, from India to Malaysia to Mexico to Germany, everyone understands and embraces these concepts because the focus on humanity is universal," writes Patrick Graupp. "These concepts transcend differences in culture and economic barriers."… More »
Hanging Up My Cape
"Managers and front line workers hustle to work around problems resulting from poorly designed work systems... and with such pride!" writes lean coach Josh Howell. While he remembers them fondly, read why Howell is long past his superhero days.… More »
Which Side Are You On?
"Lean is based on developing every person’s kaizen mind," writes Michael Ballé, "not asking them to thoughtlessly apply a best practice that was invented far from their real world." Read more.… More »
Long-term Organizational Health or Sugar High?
"We know 'flavor-of-the-month' initiatives can't be the focus of a lean leader," writes Bob Miller of the Shingo Institute. So where should lean leaders focus their attention? Miller shares three insights from 26 years of Shingo research.… More »
Ask Art: How Do We Prevent Backsliding?
Backsliding is inevitable. "The key is to anticipate the backslide and take early, aggressive, organized steps to prevent it from happening before it starts," writes former Wiremold executive Art Byrne.… More »
Are You Making Enough Mistakes?
How comfortable are you making mistakes? Do you make it safe for your team members to make mistakes? Boaz Tamir, Founder of Israel Lean Enterprise Institute, reflects on these questions and more after learning about Menlo Innovations' unique organizational culture.… More »
No Such Thing As a Funny Lean Joke?
Does a good lean joke exist? LEI staffer Josh Rapoza really wants to believe it's possible for Lean and humor to come together.… More »
Think Like Judoka
"Resistance in an organization can be a daunting foe to even the most highly skilled Lean practitioners," writes Joel Gross. We can overcome it, however, if we think like judoka. What parallels do you see between Lean and the martial art of judo?… More »
Taiichi Ohno Was a Hairdresser
"In the lean community, we talk about 'gaps' – the difference between where we are now and where we either should be or want to be. Ironically, however, we rarely talk about Lean’s gaps," writes lean coach Brent Wahba. What gaps do you think we need to solve to make Lean more valuable and more likely to stick around?… More »
Monozukuri Through Hitozukuri
Michael Ballé reflects on what it really means to "make people before parts" and introduces two more lean terms that just so happen to be Japanese.… More »
Learn from the Error, Every Time
It's an awful feeling when you think everything is going just fine and then discover you've made an error. But errors are inevitable. It's what you do next that counts.… More »