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Follow-up Q&A for Jim Lancaster's Work of Management Webinar
“The Real Work of Management” webinar drew very engaged attendees who submitted hundreds of questions. We now present some of the most-frequently asked questions (plus Jim Lancaster's answers) today on the Lean Post.… More »
Back to Basics: Jim Womack on Why Managers Need a "Lean State of Mind"
In this classic eletter from 2009, Jim Womack explains the crucial importance of a "lean state of mind" if a lean manager is going to be able to achieve sustainable improvements.… More »
Why You Should Think of Lean Tools as Frames
Michael Ballé, co-author of the recent book "The Lean Strategy" with Dan Jones, Orry Fiume, and Jacques Chaize; discusses why it's time to think of lean tools as frames for learning.… More »
Real Respect Feels Like Knowing You’re Being Heard
"A simple fact of human nature: we listen all the time but we seldom pay real attention to what we are hearing," writes David Verble. And that's a problem in lean, because nothing demonstrates respect more than listening to your people. Inspired by his experiences working with Fujio Cho, David shares some tips for showing respect as a listener.… More »
From the Forums: SHOULD You Sweat the Small Stuff on Gemba Walks?
It's inevitable that as we Go and See, we'll notice many small, barely-noticeable mistakes happening in the work. But how to handle those mistakes? They may be small, but they're still mistakes - and you don't want to be seen as ignoring them. Join the discussion in the comments section!… More »
Lean Transformation: "Shock and Awe" vs. "Slow and Grow"
When leading a lean transformation, is it better to use the "shock and awe" method or the "low and slow" method? It may not even be that simple. Dan Markowitz and Art Byrne discuss.… More »
The "Dimensions" of Lean
In this exclusive interview from the 2017 Lean Transformation Summit, LEI Director of Education Karen Gaudet shares her own take on the ages-old question, "Why do so many lean transformations fail?"… 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 »
Daily Management, Daily Sustainment: The Remarkable Story of Lean Transformation at Lantech
Jim Lancaster attended the 2017 Lean Transformation Summit in Carlsbad, California to speak about Lantech's journey to create a daily management system. Today on the Lean Post we feature a video of his talk on the role of management in sustaining the gains of lean.… More »
Advice from the Gemba: Top Mistakes Lean Leaders Make II
Everybody makes mistakes, lean leaders included. Our previous list of mistakes made by lean leaders was the highest-performing installment in the Advice from the Gemba series - we now follow it up with a sequel.… 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 »
Job 1?
Ford CEO Mark Fields just decided he needed to cut costs. Then he suddenly realized he had 1400 people he didn't need so decided to eliminate their jobs. Did he need those people two weeks ago? Will he need them two weeks from now?… More »
"Too Busy to Walk the Gemba"
Chris Weisbrod of Catalysis explains why healthcare leaders often claim they're too busy to walk the gemba and shares a strategy for reversing that mindset.… More »
Want to Respect Your People? Share the Profits!
People and profit are key in any company, not just a lean one. But too often, an organization's drive for profit can cause it to lose sight of Respect for People. How can you maintain the balance? Orry Fiume has 10 ideas to share.… More »
How Team Leaders Should Divide Their Time
"Through my career, I’ve seen one group of individuals on the shop floor who need the most support and training – yet instead receive weak training and inconsistent support. They are 'team leaders,'" writes Andrew Quibell. In his new sketch and animation, Quibell lays out a time-tested, Toyota-inspired plan to help these essential team leaders hold their own in times of minimal support.… More »
Advice from the Gemba: How Do People Accidentally Make Change Unsustainable?
The only thing tougher than change is SUSTAINING change, we often hear. But does sustaining change need to be SO hard? Is it naturally and universally borderline impossible? Or is it possible that we, as humans, accidentally make sustainability harder than it has to be? Four LEI faculty members weigh in with their thoughts.… 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: Top Mistakes Lean Leaders Make I
Making mistakes is a natural part of lean thinking and practice. Here, three LEI faculty members share some common, yet easily avoidable mistakes made by lean leaders, as well as the countermeasures that can help resolve them.… More »
What Too Many Lean Leaders Forget about Gemba Walks
Lean Coach Darren Walsh of the UK's Lean Enterprise Academy has seen many lean leaders make a troubling, yet highly avoidable, mistake on their gemba walks. Are you making that same mistake? Read his article and find out what it is and how to avoid it!… More »
Faster than a Speeding Kanban...
"All of us living in Leanworld are well-trained to look for problems, identify gaps, and cure root causes," writes Brent Wahba. But if that's true, why does lean so often fail? Could it be that we often undermine our efforts by trying to be superheroes, trying to fix all our problems in one go? Brent explores.… More »
Do You Own Your Lean Learning?
LEI COO and Toyota veteran Mark Reich is back with a new series on the role of consultants and OpEx groups in a lean transformation. Today he shares a story of coaching a young coffee-plant manager facing a major challenge -- and what it taught him about lean leadership and problem-solving.… More »
Reflections on the 2017 Lean Transformation Summit
The main theme of the 2017 Lean Transformation Summit was "Managing to Create Problem Solvers" -- but LEI Business Editor Cam Ford spotted another, underlying theme throughout the presentations he attended. Read more to find out what it was and how can it help you create a problem solving culture in your organization.… More »
Research, Reflections, and Challenges: John Shook's Closing Keynote of 2016
At the end of every Lean Transformation Summit, Lean Enterprise Institute Chairman and CEO John Shook gives his traditional closing keynote. He shares his observations and thoughts on the lean community plus learnings and advice to keep our lean efforts strong until the next Summit. Here's what he shared with us last year - has it helped you since?… 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 »
Lean Books Roundup
"Several years back, LEI CEO John Shook discussed the need to explore the “frontiers and fundamentals” of lean..." writes Tom Ehrenfeld. "Three recent books reveal surprising and satisfying ways that these new boundaries are emerging." Read more.… More »
Big Problems? Start Small
"In problem solving, we’re taught to ask a simple question, “Is this problem within my scope of control?” If yes, then we go after it. If no, then we escalate it to the next level of management. But for that to happen, I’ve learned it’s sometimes necessary to engage frontline team members in thinking about their work (steps, stuff, and time involved for transformation per a customer need) first."… More »
Ask Art: How is lean the opposite of everything people have been trained to do?
Art Byrne explains why, and how, lean practice is the opposite of what most people have learned about work in any setting… More »
How Do You Know If You’ve Created a Meaningful Challenge?
"Have you ever issued what you thought was an inspiring challenge for your team, only to discover they were underwhelmed and far from motivated?" asks Mike Orzen. If so, you may have missed one of the core practices of leading with respect - creating a meaningful challenge. Read more.… More »
Focus Your Operating System To Bring Your Strategy to Life
A strategy can just turn into wallpaper if you don't have the right systems in place to support it. Jim Morgan has seen this happen many times, and now explains how to avoid the problem, based on his experiences working with Alan Mulally at Ford Motor Company during the Great Recession.… More »
Lessons Learned from Sunpower's (C)Lean Transformation
Sustainability is a key part of any lean transformation - but Sunpower of San Jose, Cali. took that word a little further than just maintaining the momentum of small wins. The solar-energy device manufacturer wanted to bring its mission of saving the environment into its day-to-day operations. Hear more about their journey in this interview between LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski and Sunpower CEO Marty Neese and Director of Operations Ralph Robinett.… More »
What Do I Tell My Leaders When Experiments Fail?
When experiments fail, it's natural for a leadership team to get nervous. But in the context of lean, they shouldn't be - it's just a matter of managing their expectations and helping them understand that a "failure" is actually a blessing in disguise. John Drogosz explains how to do this.… 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 »
The Tesla Way vs. The Toyota Way
Does Tesla offer a Way of working that can challenge TPS? Perhaps a bit more time, and the development of a complete Tesla Business System, will get us closer to an answer.… More »
How do I keep visual management from becoming “wallpaper?" A Q&A with John Drogosz
"Many managers try to convince everyone (including themselves) that they are visually managing their projects or departments," writes John Drogosz, "but during the gemba walk we see static, outdated displays. Are we just communicating information or really working with what is in front of us?" Read more.… More »
Executive Egress: Why Many Healthcare CEOs Distance Themselves from Lean Transformations. An Interview with Jack Bowhan
A troubling issue in lean healthcare that Jack Bowhan has seen too many times is a lack of CEO engagement during transformations. In his first piece for the Lean Post, Jack talks about this problem, its potential consequences and some solutions for lean practitioners in any industry,… 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 »
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 »
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 »
Watch John Shook's Keynote at Lean Construction Institute's 17th Annual Congress!
This past October, LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook delivered a keynote at Lean Construction Institute's 17th Annual Congress in Boston, Massachusetts. Watch a full clip of John's talk and read key excerpts from his presentation here. Don't forget to let us know your thoughts in a comment.… More »
The Value of Key Performance Indicators in a Lean Transformation
We all know to watch out for key performance indicators (KPIs) in the workplace - but are you tracking the RIGHT KPIs? Ernie and Tracey Richardson share their thoughts on the two categories of KPIs, how they can help you, and how to identify them.… More »
Why and How to Engage Finance in a Lean Transformation. An Interview with Jean Cunningham
There's often a disconnect between an organization's lean and finance departments, especially when a lean transformation is underway. In her newest piece for the Lean Post, Jean Cunningham explains the root causes, potential dangers, and solutions to this all-too-common problem.… More »
The Lean Management System: The Key to Sustainability and CI. An Interview with Joe Murli
Achieving wins is only half the battle in a lean transformation - you also need a way to sustain those wins and foster a culture of continuous improvement. In his first piece for the Lean Post, Joe Murli shares his favorite way of doing just that - his signature "Lean Management System," already being used by the likes of GE and Moog Aircraft Group. Read more.… More »
The Importance of Team Leaders on the Shop Floor
Why does upper management often fail to invest in team leaders on the shop floor? Andrew Quibell has his money on a lack of perspective. Check out his newest sketch on the critical importance of this key lean role and why there's no underestimating its function in a lean system.… More »
No Shortcuts: Creating a Lean Environment the Right Way
As much as we may wish there was a way to pull off a lean transformation with only a basic knowledge of its ideals, there isn't one. Michael Ballé explains why investing the time it takes to fully learn lean is worth every second you put into it. It may take a while, but the benefits will speak for themselves.… 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 »
A Principles-Based Approach to Changing Healthcare Management
"This year alone over 250,000 Americans will die due to medical error," writes Dr. John Toussaint. "How can so many smart people be making so many terrible mistakes?" Dr. Toussaint sees it as a failure of the current healthcare management paradigm. Find out what he sees as the remedy to these problems - and how any healthcare organization can use it to improve their operations.… More »
I'm Michael Ballé, Ask Me Anything
Ask author and lean coach Michael Ballé anything you wish on lean thinking and practice! He'll be here all day answering YOUR questions!… More »
TPS or the Toyota Way?
"Students of lean are often confused by the variety of ways Toyota explains the Toyota Production System," writes Michael Ballé. "For instance, 'what is the link,' they ask, 'between the TPS house and the Toyota Way?'" The answer in Michael's latest article for The Lean Post.… More »
Put Your People at The Center of Your Development System
"It is your people that provide the skills, energy and creativity," writes Jim Morgan. "They are the single most important element of great product development systems. They drive the system." Read more.… More »
Small Batch: Hand-Picked Articles from the Global Lean Community (Vol. 4)
Our picks for the best high-impact learning stories and columns from Planet Lean.… More »
Ford’s Focus: Lean Lessons from the Recession's Greatest Success Story
After listening to Jim Morgan talk about Ford Motor Company's lean turnaround strategy during the Great Recession, Cam Ford (no relation) muses on how it could hold an important lesson for companies today, regardless of size or industry.… More »
Lean Thinking and My Navy Experience
When you think of lean organizations, does the U.S. Navy come to mind? Probably not, but it's an organization with a rich history of lean thinking and practice. Navy veteran and lean practitioner Mark Minukas reflects on the lean lessons he learned from his service and how they helped shape his career.… More »
Governance Matters
"The very term “governance” seems somewhat antithetical to lean," writes Mark Hamel. "Yet...over my 20-plus years of lean learning, I’ve witnessed a lot of implementation failures (heck, I may have even caused some of them). More than a few of these were due, at least partly, to a vacuum of good governance."… More »
Leading with Respect is Not a Soft Skill: An interview with Mike Orzen
By definition, a hard skill is a skill that can be defined, measured, and taught. Does that sound like it describes leadership? Probably not, but Mike Orzen explains why it's time to stop thinking of leadership, specifically leadership employing the lead with respect model, as a soft skill.… More »
What the Best Lean Leaders All Have in Common
What characterizes a truly exceptional lean leader? With years of first-hand observations behind him, Tom Ehrenfeld weighs in with his thoughts.… More »
The Leader's Job in Lean Product & Process Development
"In [LPPD], some of the key behaviors we want to change are how problems are solved, how knowledge is managed, and how quickly the team and organization learns," writes Tim Schipper. "To change the system, the leader can ask, 'What is the trigger? What is the old behavior? What is the new habit'?"… 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 »
LEI's Lean Transformation Model Animated
Need a simple way of explaining lean thinking to your team? LEI has released a new animated video of how real lean change happens across five interrelated dimensions. Check out LEI's Lean Transformation Model to see if you're asking yourself and your team members the right questions.… 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 »
Book Value: The Lean CEO
Chet Marchwinski reviews Jacob Stoller's book, The Lean CEO, a first-hand testimony from business leaders contesting traditional management practices about everything from accounting to batch size, employee involvement, motivation, leadership, economies of scale, and a raft of other conventional methods… 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 »
Leadership Stories From One of Lean's Fastest Growing Communities of Practice
On the heels of the Lean Healthcare Summit earlier this month in Dallas, Texas, we've gathered three stories in which leaders share their personal "why" for taking up lean practice and doing things differently.… 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 »
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 »
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 »
Continuous Improvement is Good, But Is It Lean?
Take a look at your organization. Is Lean clearly directed and connected to strategy? Are senior leaders directly involved in specifying the process improvements needed? Will the process improvements you are focused on improve help you provide value to your end customers?… More »
Training Within Industry for the 21st Century
"How about a program that does for senior leaders today what Training Within Industry did for Japanese management in the 50s?" ask Jeff Morrow and Patrick Graupp. "In this still young new century, we must take the wisdom of the past and apply it effectively to the challenges of the new age."… More »
Why Toyota is Still My North Star
"In the past five years the local lean engineering community has gained a deeper hands-on appreciation of how intermeshed product and processes are," writes Michael Ballé. "Product innovation often comes from progress in process innovation. We also understand better the truly outstanding feats of engineering that Toyota’s new drive represents."… More »
Improving a Complex Process that Saves Lives: Lean Transformation at LifeShare Donor Services of Oklahoma
"This is a model, like a lot of good leadership models, where you teach people the thinking and then need to get the heck of the way and let them do their job," says Jeffrey Orlowski. "Lean is not a top down thing; Lean has to have top down buy-in, but it’s got to be owned by everybody."… 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 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 »
Three Types of Lean
"We’ve all heard 'Lean is great for 'that' company, but not for the business I lead,'" says Chris Vogel. Learn more about applying lean thinking in a manufacturing environment, a service environment, and in sectors that are mostly about decision making.… More »
We're Ernie and Tracey Richardson: Ask Us Anything
It's our second "Ask Me Anything" post, this time with lean coaches Tracey and Ernie Richardson. With a combined 54 years of experience at Toyota, here's your chance to ask them questions on problem solving and all things capability development!… More »
Sam MacPherson on the Green Beret Way to Develop Leaders
Training leaders to perform at high levels during a lean transformation or in the Army’s vaunted Green Berets has more in common than you think, according to retired Special Forces commander Sam MacPherson. Chet Marchwinski sits down with MacPherson to talk leadership and learning.… 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 »
Gather the Facts: How Does Your Organization View Lean?
It’s worth asking, what's your organization's REAL, honest perception of Lean? Do you hear words and phrases like engagement, problem solving, learning, "making my job better than now", and "empowered to bring forth ideas"? If not, Eric Ethington has some good advice on how to you may want to proceed.… 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 »
Public Service: Lean's Next Frontier?
John O'Donnell and Lex Schroeder share the thinking behind LEI's new Public Service Value Network and invite you to contribute to a new and fast-growing community of practice.… 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 »
Lean Thinking On Purpose
Katrina Appell reflects on a provocative op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times from earlier this year and asks some big questions of lean thinkers. Are we sharing what we know about lean in a way that's accessible? As a lean community, in what ways are contributing to society?… More »
The Five Poisons of Big Company Disease
What's "big company disease"? The tendency of any large company to worry about clearly defined territories, rules and procedures, and integrated systems more than a passion for quality or the kaizen spirit. Michael Ballé explains.… More »
Want Your Organization to Survive Over the Long Haul? Value Process Over Results
"There are two ways to run your business," writes Doc Hall. "Focus on value, or focus on results... Interestingly, when you focus on value, good results typically follow." Read more.… More »
Jim Morgan on What It Takes to Transform
An Organization's Product Development System

Jim Morgan, Senior Advisor for Product and Process Development at LEI, shares his view of what's required for organizations to rethink and revitalize their product development systems in his most recent interview with Planet Lean.… More »
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
"What the leader demonstrates as important is what the team will focus on," writes Erin Urban. "If we are to be the change we wish to see and model the behavior we teach, we must be cognizant that we are not sending the wrong message by our actions."… More »
Board Responsibilities and the Lean Management System
"A board needs to go far beyond checking performance measurements and actually hold senior leaders accountable for management systems and behaviors," writes Steve Leuschel. "As there are so many cascading actions in a lean management system, [boards cannot] check the status of each and every action line by line... This is why a one page report can help."… More »
Is it Possible to Transform Healthcare (Leaders)?
Check out Alice Lee's slides from her talk "Is it Possible to Transform Healthcare (Leaders)?" last week in Cambridge, MA at the Lean Enterprise Institute. Lee unpacks vague words like "transformation" and "innovation" in healthcare and shares her personal "why" for striving to change things for the better.… 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 »
Lean Product Development is About Thinking Horizontally in a Vertical World
Check out the blog from Day 2 of the Lean Product and Process Development Exchange (North America) conference in Durham, North Carolina. Excerpts from Jim Womack's keynote and more.… More »
The Biggest Waste of All
"We can fix [problem symptoms] with basic lean thinking and tools, but unless our strategy is good, we will still create tremendous amounts of waste for our customers, employees, suppliers, and investors," says Brent Wahba. Why? "Because everyone is running faster and faster… in the wrong direction."… More »
Accidental Soccer Coach
When she's not working on graphic design projects, LEI's own Lory Moniz now coaches her son's soccer team. The assignment got her thinking about continuous improvement and "leading without authority."… 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 »
I'm Michael Ballé, Ask Me Anything
Reddit has mastered the AMA (Ask Me Anything) style post, giving readers a direct line of communication with leading thinkers, artists, and comedians. Here's your chance to ask Michael Ballé, co-author of Lead With Respect, anything about his new book, lean thinking and practice, and the future of management in the 21st century.… More »
Gemba Walks: Are You Going To See or To Be Seen?
"Supervisors talked about the significant improvements they were making as a result of kaizen events," writes Dave LaHote, "But all I noticed was workers trying to keep up with a production process that looked out of sync, plagued by problems that got in the way of them being able to perform their jobs well." Read more.… 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 »
Communicating With Respect
Effective communication is key when it comes to lean learning. Give people too much information, too soon and you lose them, Alice Lee says. Give them too little, too late and they'll get bored. In both cases, you run the risk of people not feeling respected by you. Read what Lee suggests doing instead.… More »
Ask Art: What Does a Lean Manager Do Differently?
"The lean leader has a vision for growth just like the traditional manager, but he sees the source of growth quite differently," writes Art Byrne. "Growth comes from a combination of providing the customer with higher quality, shorter lead times, and better customer service."… 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 »
Doing Lean Versus Becoming Lean
"We know from experience that Lean is fundamentally driven by a change in company culture," writes Jim Luckman, "not a methodological 'application' of the Lean tools." Use this piece to find out if you're "doing" Lean or truly becoming lean.… More »
Closer Collaboration for a Leaner Planet
Roberto Priolo, editor of Planet Lean, makes the case for lean learning and collaboration across the globe.… 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 »
Leadership Then and Now
John Shook and the Leaper look toward the future of leadership.… More »
Lean Government
"We in the Lean Community have no standing on whether a government should regulate any activity or provide any service," writes Jim Womack. "We can only make the humble suggestion that better decisions can be reached if the debate starts with a clear statement of the actual problem, followed by a structured process to identify and test countermeasures."… More »
Lean Change Is Organizational and Personal
"Lean management is less about providing the right answers than asking the right questions and exploring those questions by engaging others in experiments to learn through doing," John Shook reminds us. Learn more from a talk Shook recently gave to the LEAN UX community.… More »
One Idea for Improving Hospital Emergency Room Care
Sami Bahri, dentist and author of "Follow the Learner: The Role of a Leader in Creating a Lean Culture," suggests an idea for improving hospital emergency rooms: level the workload across the ER and other departments.… More »
A Body Needs Skeleton and Muscle to Work
How do you create alignment across the organization when you have separate departments, value streams, and executives with conflicting priorities? Hoshin kanri. Mark Reich explains.… 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 »
Lean Alone is Never Enough
Lean can help any organization become more efficient and effective, but there is much more to being successful than just being lean, says Brent Wahba. "There is a core, company-specific science beyond Lean that is necessary for any business to thrive."… More »
Ask Art: How Much Lean Training Should We Be Doing?
Why aren't more companies successful at Lean? Art Byrne says it has to do with an over-focus on planning and not enough learning-by-doing. "They don’t trust that a rapid kaizen approach is still the most effective way to become a lean enterprise," he writes.… 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 »
Leave Your Ego at the Door
Jim Morgan reflects on what he's learned from Alan Mulally (CEO of Ford Motor Company 2006-2014)--lessons like the importance of providing people with context, always working on a better plan, and the “magic” of working together. 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 »
Do CEOs Matter?
Journalist Jacob Stoller sits down with LEI's own John Shook to discuss just how important the role and support of the CEO is in the success of a lean transformation.… More »
Lean Talks: Learning Proactive Versus Reactive Management
At our Summit, lean practitioners shared stories of meaningful organizational change in about 10 minutes or less. Here's a powerful story from Brenda Kenefick, change agent at University Health Network in Toronto.… More »
Transforming Healthcare is Complex, Start with a Model Cell
John Toussaint from the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value explains what he's learned about how meaningful organizational change happens from visiting and working with over 130 healthcare organizations in 12 different countries, all with their own unique problems and challenges.… More »
Observe Without Expectations
What does it really mean to go to the gemba and closely observe the work that takes place there? Are you aware of your own biases when it comes to "going and seeing"?… 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 »
The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection
"I began to notice that there was a sharp contrast between well-made, crafted products and poorly made ones, and an even greater distinction between the people who made them," writes Jim Morgan. "I immediately and instinctively knew which one I wanted to make, and be."… More »
Show Me the Money!
In his latest piece for the Post, Michael Ballé writes, "If we don’t get better at showing explicitly where the gains of lean thinking and practice lay, why should managers listen?"… More »
Why Fundamental Shifts in Thinking Take Longer Than You Think
Think learning the fundamentals of lean thinking and practice is easy? Think again. Deep shifts in thinking will take some time.… More »
Lead Lean by Being Lean
Lean just doesn't work if leaders don't actively, consistently demonstrate lean thinking themselves. In his first piece for the Post, lean coach Jim Luckman explains what "being lean" really means and looks like in practice.… More »
A Lean Transformation Model Everyone Can Use
John Shook explains LEI's Lean Transformation Model, offering 5 questions you'll want to think about and share with your team to guide your own lean transformation.… More »
Foolish Consistency or Meaningful Standard Work?
How do organizations develop system-wide standard work and also create the conditions for local problem solving within departments? Dr. Grant Greenberg of University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice reflects on the moment he found himself finally able to answer this question.… More »
Thinking Outside the Pyramid
Machiavelli said it's better to be feared than loved. Lean practitioner Daniel Fisher rejects this idea and argues it’s better to respect people and be respected. Read why.… More »
How to Develop Lean Leaders and Still Get Work Done
Three years ago the leadership team at Cardinal Health asked LEI to help them create a program specifically designed to develop lean leaders within the company. Coach Eric Ethington shares a bit about how the program works.… More »
What To Do When Executives Think Continuous Improvement Smells Fishy
Top executives are smart, but they don't always see the value of continuous improvement efforts. And continuous improvement professionals don't always communicate that value well to senior executives.… More »
The Fight for the Meaning of Lean
"It seems like every one and their dog is doing Lean," writes Michael Ballé. "But what 'Lean' are we talking about? Is it the 'to develop products we need to develop people' Lean... Or is it the 'improve productivity to reduce costs' Lean corporate types like. Or both?"… More »
Ask Art: How Should We Staff and Run Kaizen?
"Unless you have some lean knowledge before you launch any kaizen, your traditional ('batch' rather than 'flow') thinking will overwhelm you at every turn," writes lean leadership expert Art Byrne. So just how do run an effective kaizen? Read more.… More »
On Lean Production's 25th Anniversary: Candid Reflections
At the 2013 AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence) conference three management thought leaders (Jim Womack, Dan Jones, and John Shook) sat down for a wide ranging conversation about Lean’s current and future states.… 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 »
Managing to Reboot Leadership
"Despite sweeping changes to the business environment and real threats to organizational sustainability, too many managers remain stuck in traditional management roles and systems," writes Boaz Tamir. Read why Tamir thinks this new, disrupted business reality calls for lean thinking.… More »
Catchball Helps Us Get Past We Versus They
When employees dread going to work every day, your company loses. Read what Tracey Richardson has to say about boosting workplace morale.… More »
Adding Flavor to the Gemba Using SALT
Dr. Grant Greenberg, Associate Medical Director for Quality for the University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice, has come up with a quick method for making the most of his gemba visits.… More »
Why Mass Training In Anything Doesn't Work
So you’re excited about Lean and want to show your commitment by training all of your people. LEI’s Director of Education Olga Flory says there are more effective ways to teach lean thinking and practice than gathering everyone together in the same room for mass training.… More »
Where Lean Meets Innovation
"Many people see Lean purely as an improvement method, not a total enterprise solution or a new way of doing business," writes José Ferro. "In reality, it's a new method of production and a new way to organize the whole enterprise."… More »
A Lean Leap of Faith
Michael Ballé reflects on a core assumption of Lean that is often disregarded and explains why it is worth taking a lean leap of faith.… More »
Solving Problems Across Political Divides
On Tuesday, the US Government shut down for the first time in 17 years. What opportunity for lean thinking does this present? Read what LEI's COO John O'Donnell has to say.… More »
Standardized Vacation
Mark Donovan, co-founder of the women's knitwear company Wooden Ships, proposes that we all consider vacation as a standardized method to test and develop the capabilities of our organizations.… 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 »
Create Your Fantasy Island Organizational Culture
What would your dream organizational culture look like? What about your fantasy lean transformation? Tracey Richardson shares her advice for turning at least some of these hopes and ambitions into a reality.… 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 »
Ask Art: Doesn't Lean Entail Headcount Reductions?
Many people think Lean is about reducing headcount. Art Byrne responds to this common misconception and explains what to do when lean improvements do free people up or jobs need to change.… More »
Reason #27 Why Your CEO Is Just Not That Into Lean
You know the value of Lean, but maybe your boss or a key member of the senior leadership team doesn't. To get more traction and support, Brent Wahba suggests framing your lean efforts in terms of strategies for creating more value.… More »
What do effective leaders actually do every day? GTS4
So many of us know the value of lean thinking and practice, but what do lean leaders actually do every day? Tracey Richardson offers a simple formula to help leaders and change agents stay disciplined about where they dedicate their attention, time, and energy.… More »
Long Live Process Improvement?
For many beginner practitioners, Lean seems like just another "flavor of the month" program. If it isn't communicated and taught well, Lean can be exactly this. In his first article for The Lean Post, LEI faculty member Greg Lane offers specific recommendations on how to avoid this pitfall and make Lean accessible and useful to all.… More »
Your Product Isn't Everything, It's the Only Thing
Jim Morgan, former product/process development executive at Ford (and co-author of The Toyota Product Development System), reflects on what should really matter to you and your business and why.… More »
Waste-Free Capitalism
In his first piece for The Lean Post, lean thought leader and LEI author Michael Ballé shares Toyota's lessons for society at large and calls for a rethink to capitalism as we know it.… 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 »
Starting Points for Different Value Streams
No lean transformation story is the same. Read Dan Jones's take on gaining traction for lean learning within your organization and industry.… More »
Clear Mind, Better Work
Like lean, mindfulness meditation is all about practice and discipline. Mark Donovan, owner of the knitwear company Wooden Ships, reflects on how a ten day silent meditation retreat has changed his approach to work and strengthened his lean efforts.… 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 »
Ask Art: How Do I Get Senior Leadership On Board with Lean?
Lean transformations are rarely successful without the support and participation of senior leadership. Art Byrne, former CEO of Wiremold, shares his advice to lean practitioners who are having difficulty getting senior leaders engaged.… More »
lean leadership on Lean.org
Value-Stream Mapping in a Make-to-Order Environment
Tips from LEI author Mike Rother on applying value-stream mapping and continuous flow in high-variety, custom manufacturing environments.… More »
Shigeo Shingo's Influence on the Toyota Production System
Isao Kato was in a good position to observe the early development of the Toyota Production System, the model for lean production. He developed training material at Toyota under Taiichi Ohno, regarded … More »
Donald Berwick: Curing the Healthcare System
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is a not for profit organization that is a leading figure in healthcare process improvement and innovation. This article and accompanying video interview… More »
Value-Stream Mapping
In a special article for SME's Manufacturing Enginering, Jim Womack, founder and chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institute, explains the purpose and process of  value-stream mapping with examples from… More »
Implementing Standardized Work at ThyssenKrupp in Brazil
A case study prepared by the Lean Enterprise Institute Brazil focuses on implementing standardized work at two work stations in a ThyssenKrupp, Brazil, auto parts plant. The article includes an overvi… More »
The Nun and the Bureaucrat (Book & DVD)
The remarkable story of how healthcare professionals found a powerful but unlikely cure for what ails hospitals and healthcare is clearly and invitingly told in The Nun and the Bureaucrat/Good News…Ho… More »
Webinar: How to Lead With Respect
How to Lead With Respect webinar featuring Michael Ballé… More »
Boot Camp at Herman Miller
This five-day course uses a combination of classroom learning and simulation to cover core concepts of the Herman Miller Performance System, including waste, time observations, problem solving, standa… More »
Step 4, Skills to Coach for Development: Facilitating Reflection for Learning and Improvement
This program will explore the nature and importance of reflection and give you opportunities to learn and practice the basic skills for leading the process of reflection. As with the other programs … More »
Toyota Culture
Toyota Culture examines the “human systems” that Toyota has put in place to instill its founding principles of trust, mutual prosperity, and excellence in its plants, dealerships, and offices around t… More »
Training to See Kit: A Value-Stream Mapping Workshop
The Training to See kit enables you to take people through the exercise of selecting a product family, mapping its current state to identify root causes of waste, mapping a leaner future state, and de… More »
Learning to See / Seeing the Whole Value Stream Set
This is a special discounted combination package of the classics Learning to See and Seeing the Whole Value Stream.… 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 »
Public Service: Lean's Next Frontier?
John O'Donnell and Lex Schroeder share the thinking behind LEI's new Public Service Value Network and invite you to contribute to a new and fast-growing community of practice.… 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 »
Lean Thinking On Purpose
Katrina Appell reflects on a provocative op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times from earlier this year and asks some big questions of lean thinkers. Are we sharing what we know about lean in a way that's accessible? As a lean community, in what ways are contributing to society?… More »
The Five Poisons of Big Company Disease
What's "big company disease"? The tendency of any large company to worry about clearly defined territories, rules and procedures, and integrated systems more than a passion for quality or the kaizen spirit. Michael Ballé explains.… More »
Want Your Organization to Survive Over the Long Haul? Value Process Over Results
"There are two ways to run your business," writes Doc Hall. "Focus on value, or focus on results... Interestingly, when you focus on value, good results typically follow." Read more.… More »
Jim Morgan on What It Takes to Transform
An Organization's Product Development System

Jim Morgan, Senior Advisor for Product and Process Development at LEI, shares his view of what's required for organizations to rethink and revitalize their product development systems in his most recent interview with Planet Lean.… More »
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
"What the leader demonstrates as important is what the team will focus on," writes Erin Urban. "If we are to be the change we wish to see and model the behavior we teach, we must be cognizant that we are not sending the wrong message by our actions."… More »
Board Responsibilities and the Lean Management System
"A board needs to go far beyond checking performance measurements and actually hold senior leaders accountable for management systems and behaviors," writes Steve Leuschel. "As there are so many cascading actions in a lean management system, [boards cannot] check the status of each and every action line by line... This is why a one page report can help."… More »
Is it Possible to Transform Healthcare (Leaders)?
Check out Alice Lee's slides from her talk "Is it Possible to Transform Healthcare (Leaders)?" last week in Cambridge, MA at the Lean Enterprise Institute. Lee unpacks vague words like "transformation" and "innovation" in healthcare and shares her personal "why" for striving to change things for the better.… 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 »
Lean Product Development is About Thinking Horizontally in a Vertical World
Check out the blog from Day 2 of the Lean Product and Process Development Exchange (North America) conference in Durham, North Carolina. Excerpts from Jim Womack's keynote and more.… More »
The Biggest Waste of All
"We can fix [problem symptoms] with basic lean thinking and tools, but unless our strategy is good, we will still create tremendous amounts of waste for our customers, employees, suppliers, and investors," says Brent Wahba. Why? "Because everyone is running faster and faster… in the wrong direction."… More »
Accidental Soccer Coach
When she's not working on graphic design projects, LEI's own Lory Moniz now coaches her son's soccer team. The assignment got her thinking about continuous improvement and "leading without authority."… 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 »
I'm Michael Ballé, Ask Me Anything
Reddit has mastered the AMA (Ask Me Anything) style post, giving readers a direct line of communication with leading thinkers, artists, and comedians. Here's your chance to ask Michael Ballé, co-author of Lead With Respect, anything about his new book, lean thinking and practice, and the future of management in the 21st century.… More »
Gemba Walks: Are You Going To See or To Be Seen?
"Supervisors talked about the significant improvements they were making as a result of kaizen events," writes Dave LaHote, "But all I noticed was workers trying to keep up with a production process that looked out of sync, plagued by problems that got in the way of them being able to perform their jobs well." Read more.… 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 »
Communicating With Respect
Effective communication is key when it comes to lean learning. Give people too much information, too soon and you lose them, Alice Lee says. Give them too little, too late and they'll get bored. In both cases, you run the risk of people not feeling respected by you. Read what Lee suggests doing instead.… More »
Ask Art: What Does a Lean Manager Do Differently?
"The lean leader has a vision for growth just like the traditional manager, but he sees the source of growth quite differently," writes Art Byrne. "Growth comes from a combination of providing the customer with higher quality, shorter lead times, and better customer service."… 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 »
Doing Lean Versus Becoming Lean
"We know from experience that Lean is fundamentally driven by a change in company culture," writes Jim Luckman, "not a methodological 'application' of the Lean tools." Use this piece to find out if you're "doing" Lean or truly becoming lean.… More »
Closer Collaboration for a Leaner Planet
Roberto Priolo, editor of Planet Lean, makes the case for lean learning and collaboration across the globe.… 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 »
Leadership Then and Now
John Shook and the Leaper look toward the future of leadership.… More »
Lean Government
"We in the Lean Community have no standing on whether a government should regulate any activity or provide any service," writes Jim Womack. "We can only make the humble suggestion that better decisions can be reached if the debate starts with a clear statement of the actual problem, followed by a structured process to identify and test countermeasures."… More »
Lean Change Is Organizational and Personal
"Lean management is less about providing the right answers than asking the right questions and exploring those questions by engaging others in experiments to learn through doing," John Shook reminds us. Learn more from a talk Shook recently gave to the LEAN UX community.… More »
One Idea for Improving Hospital Emergency Room Care
Sami Bahri, dentist and author of "Follow the Learner: The Role of a Leader in Creating a Lean Culture," suggests an idea for improving hospital emergency rooms: level the workload across the ER and other departments.… More »
A Body Needs Skeleton and Muscle to Work
How do you create alignment across the organization when you have separate departments, value streams, and executives with conflicting priorities? Hoshin kanri. Mark Reich explains.… 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 »
Lean Alone is Never Enough
Lean can help any organization become more efficient and effective, but there is much more to being successful than just being lean, says Brent Wahba. "There is a core, company-specific science beyond Lean that is necessary for any business to thrive."… More »
Ask Art: How Much Lean Training Should We Be Doing?
Why aren't more companies successful at Lean? Art Byrne says it has to do with an over-focus on planning and not enough learning-by-doing. "They don’t trust that a rapid kaizen approach is still the most effective way to become a lean enterprise," he writes.… 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 »
Leave Your Ego at the Door
Jim Morgan reflects on what he's learned from Alan Mulally (CEO of Ford Motor Company 2006-2014)--lessons like the importance of providing people with context, always working on a better plan, and the “magic” of working together. 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 »
Do CEOs Matter?
Journalist Jacob Stoller sits down with LEI's own John Shook to discuss just how important the role and support of the CEO is in the success of a lean transformation.… More »
Lean Talks: Learning Proactive Versus Reactive Management
At our Summit, lean practitioners shared stories of meaningful organizational change in about 10 minutes or less. Here's a powerful story from Brenda Kenefick, change agent at University Health Network in Toronto.… More »
Transforming Healthcare is Complex, Start with a Model Cell
John Toussaint from the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value explains what he's learned about how meaningful organizational change happens from visiting and working with over 130 healthcare organizations in 12 different countries, all with their own unique problems and challenges.… More »
Observe Without Expectations
What does it really mean to go to the gemba and closely observe the work that takes place there? Are you aware of your own biases when it comes to "going and seeing"?… 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 »
The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection
"I began to notice that there was a sharp contrast between well-made, crafted products and poorly made ones, and an even greater distinction between the people who made them," writes Jim Morgan. "I immediately and instinctively knew which one I wanted to make, and be."… More »
Show Me the Money!
In his latest piece for the Post, Michael Ballé writes, "If we don’t get better at showing explicitly where the gains of lean thinking and practice lay, why should managers listen?"… More »
Why Fundamental Shifts in Thinking Take Longer Than You Think
Think learning the fundamentals of lean thinking and practice is easy? Think again. Deep shifts in thinking will take some time.… More »
Lead Lean by Being Lean
Lean just doesn't work if leaders don't actively, consistently demonstrate lean thinking themselves. In his first piece for the Post, lean coach Jim Luckman explains what "being lean" really means and looks like in practice.… More »
A Lean Transformation Model Everyone Can Use
John Shook explains LEI's Lean Transformation Model, offering 5 questions you'll want to think about and share with your team to guide your own lean transformation.… More »
Foolish Consistency or Meaningful Standard Work?
How do organizations develop system-wide standard work and also create the conditions for local problem solving within departments? Dr. Grant Greenberg of University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice reflects on the moment he found himself finally able to answer this question.… More »
Thinking Outside the Pyramid
Machiavelli said it's better to be feared than loved. Lean practitioner Daniel Fisher rejects this idea and argues it’s better to respect people and be respected. Read why.… More »
How to Develop Lean Leaders and Still Get Work Done
Three years ago the leadership team at Cardinal Health asked LEI to help them create a program specifically designed to develop lean leaders within the company. Coach Eric Ethington shares a bit about how the program works.… More »
What To Do When Executives Think Continuous Improvement Smells Fishy
Top executives are smart, but they don't always see the value of continuous improvement efforts. And continuous improvement professionals don't always communicate that value well to senior executives.… More »
The Fight for the Meaning of Lean
"It seems like every one and their dog is doing Lean," writes Michael Ballé. "But what 'Lean' are we talking about? Is it the 'to develop products we need to develop people' Lean... Or is it the 'improve productivity to reduce costs' Lean corporate types like. Or both?"… More »
Ask Art: How Should We Staff and Run Kaizen?
"Unless you have some lean knowledge before you launch any kaizen, your traditional ('batch' rather than 'flow') thinking will overwhelm you at every turn," writes lean leadership expert Art Byrne. So just how do run an effective kaizen? Read more.… More »
On Lean Production's 25th Anniversary: Candid Reflections
At the 2013 AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence) conference three management thought leaders (Jim Womack, Dan Jones, and John Shook) sat down for a wide ranging conversation about Lean’s current and future states.… 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 »
Managing to Reboot Leadership
"Despite sweeping changes to the business environment and real threats to organizational sustainability, too many managers remain stuck in traditional management roles and systems," writes Boaz Tamir. Read why Tamir thinks this new, disrupted business reality calls for lean thinking.… More »
Catchball Helps Us Get Past We Versus They
When employees dread going to work every day, your company loses. Read what Tracey Richardson has to say about boosting workplace morale.… More »
Adding Flavor to the Gemba Using SALT
Dr. Grant Greenberg, Associate Medical Director for Quality for the University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice, has come up with a quick method for making the most of his gemba visits.… More »
Why Mass Training In Anything Doesn't Work
So you’re excited about Lean and want to show your commitment by training all of your people. LEI’s Director of Education Olga Flory says there are more effective ways to teach lean thinking and practice than gathering everyone together in the same room for mass training.… More »
Where Lean Meets Innovation
"Many people see Lean purely as an improvement method, not a total enterprise solution or a new way of doing business," writes José Ferro. "In reality, it's a new method of production and a new way to organize the whole enterprise."… More »
A Lean Leap of Faith
Michael Ballé reflects on a core assumption of Lean that is often disregarded and explains why it is worth taking a lean leap of faith.… More »
Solving Problems Across Political Divides
On Tuesday, the US Government shut down for the first time in 17 years. What opportunity for lean thinking does this present? Read what LEI's COO John O'Donnell has to say.… More »
Standardized Vacation
Mark Donovan, co-founder of the women's knitwear company Wooden Ships, proposes that we all consider vacation as a standardized method to test and develop the capabilities of our organizations.… 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 »
Create Your Fantasy Island Organizational Culture
What would your dream organizational culture look like? What about your fantasy lean transformation? Tracey Richardson shares her advice for turning at least some of these hopes and ambitions into a reality.… 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 »
Ask Art: Doesn't Lean Entail Headcount Reductions?
Many people think Lean is about reducing headcount. Art Byrne responds to this common misconception and explains what to do when lean improvements do free people up or jobs need to change.… More »
Reason #27 Why Your CEO Is Just Not That Into Lean
You know the value of Lean, but maybe your boss or a key member of the senior leadership team doesn't. To get more traction and support, Brent Wahba suggests framing your lean efforts in terms of strategies for creating more value.… More »
What do effective leaders actually do every day? GTS4
So many of us know the value of lean thinking and practice, but what do lean leaders actually do every day? Tracey Richardson offers a simple formula to help leaders and change agents stay disciplined about where they dedicate their attention, time, and energy.… More »
Long Live Process Improvement?
For many beginner practitioners, Lean seems like just another "flavor of the month" program. If it isn't communicated and taught well, Lean can be exactly this. In his first article for The Lean Post, LEI faculty member Greg Lane offers specific recommendations on how to avoid this pitfall and make Lean accessible and useful to all.… More »
Your Product Isn't Everything, It's the Only Thing
Jim Morgan, former product/process development executive at Ford (and co-author of The Toyota Product Development System), reflects on what should really matter to you and your business and why.… More »
Waste-Free Capitalism
In his first piece for The Lean Post, lean thought leader and LEI author Michael Ballé shares Toyota's lessons for society at large and calls for a rethink to capitalism as we know it.… 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 »
Starting Points for Different Value Streams
No lean transformation story is the same. Read Dan Jones's take on gaining traction for lean learning within your organization and industry.… More »
Clear Mind, Better Work
Like lean, mindfulness meditation is all about practice and discipline. Mark Donovan, owner of the knitwear company Wooden Ships, reflects on how a ten day silent meditation retreat has changed his approach to work and strengthened his lean efforts.… 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 »
Ask Art: How Do I Get Senior Leadership On Board with Lean?
Lean transformations are rarely successful without the support and participation of senior leadership. Art Byrne, former CEO of Wiremold, shares his advice to lean practitioners who are having difficulty getting senior leaders engaged.… More »
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August 10, 2017 | 72 Comments