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7 Things Coaches Need to Get Over
"Over the years, I have noticed some common misperceptions about coaching effective problem solving skills and developing lean thinking," writes Mike Orzen. Read more to learn seven of them to improve your coaching practice.… More »
I'll Follow You into the Dark...
We all know that lean transformations can happen in any industry or environment. But have you ever thought about a photography darkroom as the site of a lean transformation? That was where Leslie Barker first experience lean in action - here's her story of what she learned.… More »
Advice from the Gemba: Personal Kanbans for Lean Beginners
Kanban boards. For many of us, they were the first visual management tools we used that taught us the benefits of lean. They're simple, effective and easily customizable to suit your own unique work and challenges. Today, three of LEI's relative newcomers to lean share their own personal kanban boards and the impact they've had on their work.… More »
When Do You Stop Learning?
Lean is about learning continuously and asking the right questions, not just providing answers. But, Orry Fiume wonders, does the learning ever stop? Do we ever reach a point in our development where we transition from a learner to a decision-maker? Find out the answer.… More »
Ask Art: Is Lean a Strategy?
The debate over whether lean should be considered a strategy, philosophy, methodology, etc. is a long one. Merriam-Webster defines a strategy as "a careful plan or method for achieving a particular goal usually over a long period of time." Does lean fit into that label? Art Byrne explores.… More »
A Tool That Every High-Mix, Low-Volume Leader Needs to See
"High mix, low volume operations are a difficult concept to grasp," writes Greg Lane. But it doesn't have to be - with a few simple tools and concepts, you can handle the constant changes typical of a HMLV environment. Today, Lane shares one of his favorites.… 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 »
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 »
Technology-Driven Improvement Initiatives (and Other Amazing Magic Tricks)
"In my experience, projects based on the scientific method are more likely to succeed than projects focused primarily on Information Technology (IT) improvements," writes Tim Kane. Why is this so? Kane cites two real-life scenarios that led him to this conclusion. Read more.… More »
Ask Art: Why do so few companies that implement lean do it successfully?
We've all heard the stories of failed lean implementations, as well as the hotly debated question of "Why did it fail?" In his many years as a lean leader, Art Byrne has seen quite a few possible reasons for a lean failure - read more.… More »
“You Gotta Kata,” Now What?
After executing a plan to incorporate kata into his organization's daily routines, Craig Stritar was surprised to find that nobody had followed through on their learnings. This is the story of his investigation into the problem, plus the countermeasures to what he identified as the root cause. Read more to learn how you can use it to sustain your kata efforts too.… More »
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 »
Lean Quotes from "The Work of Management" to Inspire You and Your Team
For this special bonus content, check out these quotes from the new book, The Work of Management. We've included links for easy tweeting, so share away and get inspired to hone your own management systems.… More »
Launching and Sustaining a Lean “Pop-Up”
"It’s not unusual for a lean leader or lean practitioner to feel alone, especially in a company or enterprise early in its lean journey," writes Doug Bartholomew. A growing trend amongst such lean leaders and practitioners is to start a lean pop-up, or a meeting of lean practitioner within a community. Bartholomew recently witnessed one of these pop-ups firsthand in Salt Lake City, Utah - here is his account. Read more and maybe get inspired to create your own pop-up!… More »
Lean Roundup: Pull
A pull system links all production activity to actual customer demand--and creates what one lean thinker calls "an architecture for kaizen." Read more about this key lean principle.… More »
Lean Roundup: 5S
LEI's Senior Editor Tom Ehrenfeld provides an engaging insight into the web's best resources on 5S, a fundamental lean tool that was the first many of us ever used when we started our lean journeys.… More »
Accelerating Justice with Lean Forensics
One of our most popular subjects on The Lean Post is the use of lean in unorthodox places. But one gemba that we have yet to discuss on the Post is crime laboratories. You might be surprised to learn that they are prime candidates for lean transformations, being the process-heavy environments they are. Heather Jamieson explains.… More »
Lean in One Drawing
LEI faculty member, Dave Lahote, shares his concept of thinking about lean as a system and to demonstrate the linkage between lean tools and how the system can create organizational advantage.… More »
Thinking About Lean Logic
Only a few months ago the acclaimed book of lean essays, "Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future," was re-issued by its publisher. It is a dense but magnificently thorough and informative read, at 656 pages. To help make the book's premise and importance more digestible, the Lean Leaper presents a selection of its most powerful excerpts.… More »
Why We're Thankful For Lean
Thanksgiving is a time of year when Americans take a day to step back and appreciate everything they have to be thankful for. Here at the Lean Enterprise Institute, we're thankful for lean and how it makes things better around the world, every single day. Here's why.… More »
“Simple Ain’t Easy”
The essence of lean is simplicity, argues Orry Fiume, a theme that applies not only to great organizations, but great music and anything else important.… More »
Green from the Start
LEI faculty member Jim Morgan shares his insights with Kelly Singer, managing editor of the Lean Green Institute, on how companies can increase their environmental stewardship with a truly green value stream.… More »
Bringing Lean to Your Sales Team
LEI faculty member Brent Wahba discusses the importance of bringing lean into your sales department as well as where to start.… More »
Innovation in the Work
"Innovation is a popular – and important – concept," writes LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook. "So, here are three questions. What is it? What does lean thinking have to say about it? So what?" Check out John's responses, and don't forget to follow his link to a new animation on innovation and lean.… More »
Problem-Solving: One Size Does Not Fit All, Part 2
Just as different types of tires are needed for different road conditions, different types of problem-solving are needed to tackle different problems. Watch this video to hear Art Smalley continue yesterday's video's discussion on problem solving and talk about his forthcoming book, "The Four Types of Problem-Solving."… More »
You Can't Know If You Don't Know
Recently LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook found an interesting blog by Dr. Helen Kales of the University of Michigan, musing on a powerful set of words that can mean everything in lean thinking. The set of words resonated with John too, and he now shares his thoughts on the value it holds in his latest piece for the Lean Post.… More »
Just Trying “Stuff” Is Not A Real Experiment
"Today it seems like you can’t throw a stick of butter without hitting someone who is “running a lean experiment” on one thing or another," writes Brent Wahba. The problem with all that experimentation? Many of these experiments are not real experiments at all. Read more.… More »
"What Do I Need to Know?"
"What do I need to know?" A simple, but powerful, question to ask at the gemba and beyond. Kelly Moore muses on how this question has helped her do her job better, and also shares a fun story of how she was recently reminded of the power of this question at - of all places - a bowling alley.… 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 »
It's Not All About the Data on Value-Stream Maps: An Interview with Judy Worth
Data is a critical component of value-stream mapping. But it's not the only component you should be concerned about. All too often we find mappers getting caught up in their efforts to gather data, which can lead to overload and inaccurate mapping. LEI faculty member Judy Worth has seen this many times - here are her perspectives on the root causes and possible countermeasures.… More »
Ask Art: What’s So Important About Standard Work?
Standard work is one of the cornerstones of a lean transformation. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's fully appreciated. "People often have a hard time with the idea of standard work," writes Art Byrne. "They complain that they are not robots, that everyone is different with different capabilities." In his latest installment of "Ask Art," Art revisits standard work and its critical importance in lean.… More »
Your Value Stream Map Looks a Little Different...
If you think there’s a different way of applying a tool, ask, “Are we changing the tool to prevent us from changing the organization, or to better ensure change happens?” writes Aaron Hunt, Director of Performance Improvement at Washington Health System. "How do you envision the tools selected from the lean toolbox helping make the improvements?" 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 »
3 Tips for Accurately Assessing Your Current State
"Just because everyone remembers to include the current state [on a value stream map] doesn’t mean it’s always done as well it could be," writes Drew Locher. And he's right. In his latest piece for the Lean Post, Drew shares three tips for avoiding common current-state problems on your value stream maps.… More »
Malpractice in the New England Journal of Medicine
Several weeks ago, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article by two physicians bashing lean and questioning its effectiveness. LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook found the piece full of holes and misconceptions and now shares his thoughts on the piece in the form of a rebuttal.… 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 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 »
Ask Art: How One-Piece-Flow Supports Quality
"One-piece-flow is the key to quality improvements," writes Art Byrne. "In my experience it is pretty common to get a 10x or better gain in quality once you are in a one-piece-flow. This will occur naturally and is something that you get for free." Find out how this works in Art's latest piece.… More »
It's the Productivity, Not the People
In one memorable lean project, Craig Stritar found himself on a large fish-processing vessel in the Bering Sea that was plagued by poor productivity levels. The supervisors insisted that inadequate staffing was the problem - Craig begged to differ. His transformation would require a specialized approach, in which he would not be able to use any lean terminology. Find out how he did it.… More »
Kaizen Learning vs. Traditional Problem-Solving
"Lean offers a fundamentally different approach to problem-solving than most traditional companies practice," writes Art Byrne. "Most [traditional] companies delegate important problems to teams of experts that take months to create a plan and even longer to get lasting improvements." What would a problem-solving process look like at a lean company? Read this article and find out.… More »
Using A3 Thinking to Solve Recruiting Problems: An interview with Gavin Martin
It's a shame that A3s are often thought of as being meant to solve manufacturing problems. The reality is they can be used to explore and resolve challenges in any industry or field, including recruiting, as Gavin Martin has seen. Here's his story of using A3 thinking to solve a costly recruitment problem at his organization.… More »
Goodyear's Great Year: An LPPD Success Story
Lean product and process development (LPPD) successes can be found at companies of every size and industry - such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Watch this video to hear new author Norbert Majerus describe the situation at Goodyear that prompted this transformation, plus the results that stemmed from it.… More »
Key Traits and Behaviors of Great Lean Consultants
"If you want to accelerate your lean practice I highly recommend reaching out to a good lean consultant to serve as your coach, teacher, trainer," writes Art Byrnes. "Plan on working with these people over the long haul." But how can you tell the good lean consultants from the poor ones? Art has the answer.… More »
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 »
Hazards at the Huddle Board: Away From Fast Thinking, Toward Disciplined PDCA
As more companies use the huddle board approach for continuous improvement, people need to be aware of the pitfalls involved. “Often what’s picked up as a problem may be a nuisance or an inconvenience," says David Verble. "There is an attempt to make a general link between these problems and the priorities of the company."… More »
Small Batch: Hand-Picked Articles from the Global Lean Community (Vol. 1)
A roundup of the best recent articles and case studies from our friends at Planet Lean - this time from Brazil, Iceland, and Poland.… More »
Three Core Capabilities in Any Lean Product and Process Development System
"Good development leaders work in earnest to create a 'safe culture' for people to share issues. Working to [drive out fear] is both important and necessary," writes Jim Morgan. "But it is not nearly sufficient for identifying and eliminating technical issues at the optimal time in a development program." Read more.… More »
Bringing Lean Thinking to R&D at Goodyear
"We realized that the best approach for Lean with our product development processes was to focus on the value-creation role of R&D and innovation," writes Norbert Majerus. "Leading our initiative as an engineer learning Lean — not a lean expert trying to learn R&D — gave me no choice but to view our processes first through R&D eyes and what is best for innovation."… More »
PDCA, Fitness Apps, and Using Social Media to Improve Our Health
"Health isn't about always being perfect," writes lean coach Tracey Richardson. "Just like in our organizations, we all have imperfect days. It’s how we change our process to meet expectations that is important."… More »
Combining Scrum Software and Lean Hardware for Total Product Domination
"Scrum and Lean derive from the same source... and are inherently compatible delivery systems," writes Alex Brown, "but the [larger system] can break down without a holistic and internally-consistent framework for integrating the two components." Read what Brown recommends for helping the two methodologies work together.… More »
Surfer Culture Meets Standardized Work
Can surfing instructors and students really learn standardized work? Read the surprising story of how lean coach Sammy Obara worked with Pacific Surfing School to improve their teaching process and better train new surfers (and what leadership had to do with it).… 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 »
Why Lean Fails in Job Shops... and What to Do to Succeed
Like many job shop owners, LEI faculty member Greg Lane struggled with implementing lean principles early on. The experiences and books he had been exposed to were based on repetitive manufacturing. Job shops with their high-mix, low-volume product lineup present a challenge to lean thinkers -- but not an insurmountable one. Read why.… More »
10 Tips for Getting the Most Value from Value Stream Mapping
Most people see only a small amount of what is to be gained from value stream mapping. "Such an exercise can be a powerful organizational development tool," says Judy Worth, "as well as one for improving value stream performance on quality, efficiency, and safety." Before you embark, keep these 10 key things in mind.… More »
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 »
Heijunka: Mastering the Peaks and Valleys
Struggling to run different types of products down one line? Lean coach Jeff Smith explains the lean manufacturing concept of Heijunka (or production leveling) by way of a story.… More »
Editor's Picks for Lean Posts to Help You Improve Your Work Monday Morning
Our picks for the most practical, "how-to" style posts we've published on the Post to date. These posts are chock full of good learning and advice we hope you can use immediately.… More »
5 Ways to Help Every Team Member Contribute Ideas for Improving Work
"Engaging staff in problem identification and suggestions for improvement is essential for any organization," writes Dan Fleming, Continuous Improvement Manager at GBMP (Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership). "Yet most organizations don’t have a system that effectively encourages staff involvement." Learn how to create such a system with this short, helpful post.… 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 »
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 »
Just-in-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads from Across the Web (Vol. 6)
Check out five recently published articles we think may help you improve your work or think about your work differently - this time from Forbes, The New York Times, Industry Week, Harvard Business Review, and Medium. What great lean reads would you add to the list?… 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 »
Effective Supervision 101
One of the biggest challenges for lean thinkers is translating lean thinking into lean doing, writes Stan Shaw. One of the best ways of making this leap is making sure supervisors and team leaders deeply understand their role with frontline workers and their role in the organization. Read more.… More »
“Learning from Manufacturing” Versus Learning To Think Differently
Beau Keyte talks lean thinking and practice in non-manufacturing settings. "The big challenge now isn’t to learn lean thinking the way any other company learned it," he writes. "It’s to understand how to effectively grasp the problems you and your organization are trying to solve."… More »
Structured Experiments Into the Unknown
"For years we tried to find situations where we could apply lean tools," writes Linus Brodén of HP Tronic, an electronics manufacturer in Sweden. "Our efforts were focused on eliminating waste, almost randomly, but with no clear target. Then we were introduced to the Improvement Kata..." Read more.… More »
How Lean Tools Support the Principle of Respect (Part 2)
We first met Andy Ward when he was struggling to save his plant from closure in <em>The Lean Manager</em>. Since then he's helped lead a lean transformation; and recently, in <em>Lead With Respect</em>, play sensei to Southcape Software CEO Jane Delaney as she aims to transform her people through the use of lean methods and practice. In this interview Ward shares what he has learned.… More »
How Lean Tools Support the Principle of Respect (Part 1)
We first met Andy Ward when he was struggling to save his plant from closure in <em>The Lean Manager</em>. Since then he's helped lead a lean transformation; and recently, in <em>Lead With Respect</em>, play sensei to Southcape Software CEO Jane Delaney as she aims to transform her people through the use of lean methods and practice. In this interview Ward shares what he has learned.… More »
Lean Talks: Lean Thinking at a Knitting Factory in Bali
Mark Donovan, co-founder of the knitwear company Wooden Ships, shares how he's worked to build the problem solving capabilities of his team members.… More »
A Simple Question Without An Easy Answer
Our understanding of Lean (and how best to talk about what it is with others) evolves over time, just like our capability to practice it.… 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 »
Live Blogging the Lean Transformation Summit, Day 1
Unable to join us in Orlando? Check back here periodically throughout the day to follow Summit content here on The Lean Post.… More »
The Problem with Batch Logic
Enterprise Resource Planning processes use economic order quantities (=EOQ), also known as batch logic, to calculate what is required. This is not compatible with Lean. In his first piece for the Post, lean author and coach Ian Glenday gives us three reasons why.… More »
Standardized Work for Kaizen: Define, Achieve, Maintain, Improve
We can all agree that kaizen (continuous improvement to create more value with less waste) is important, but do you have standardized work for kaizen? What are the actual process steps for kaizen?… More »
Building Problem Solving Muscle at University of Michigan Health System
"We are beginning to realize the wisdom of Henry Ford’s adage: 'There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems,...'"… More »
How to Fold a T-Shirt
Training Within Industry Job Instruction is a four-step method that teaches an individual how to do a job correctly, safely, and consistently while meeting all requirements. In this video, LEI senior coach Josh Howell demonstrates standardized training for standardized work.… More »
Getting the Most Out of the 5 Whys
Are your 5 Whys leading you to dead ends? Emmanuel Jallas has some advice on how to really get to the root of the problem.… 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 »
More Evidence That ThedaCare Rocks
LEI coach Danielle Blais reflects on her recent gemba visit to the lean healthcare organization, Appleton Medical Center in Appleton, Wisconsin—a ThedaCare hospital widely known for its exceptional patient care.… 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 »
Now What Do We Call the Karaoke Bar?
We asked the lean community to sound off on whether or not they favored using Japanese terms in their lean transformations. The results were interesting and far ranging.… More »
Practicing What We Teach
"Do all Lean practitioners practice what they teach?" Maybe, maybe not. Tracey Richardson tries to as much as she can, and here's why.… More »
No Really, Go to the Gemba
LEI coach Danielle Blais explains why it's so important for lean coaches, leaders, and all managers to regularly visit the gemba (the place where the value-creating work actually gets done).… More »
PDCA: The Scientific Method or the Artistic Process?
What does lean have to do with art? Lean practitioner and sculptor Karyn Ross says the two really aren't so different at all. What do you think?… More »
Lean Starts With the Need to Achieve
"The first step in a lean implementation is to identify employees with an intense desire to achieve," writes lean practitioner Kevin Kobett. Do you agree? What is the relationship between lean practice and ambition?… More »
Adopt or Adapt? When Modifying Lean Makes Sense
One of the key decisions every lean coach, consultant, practitioner, and leader makes is when to fully adopt a particular lean practice or when to adapt it. But how do you make this decision? Author and coach Karen Martin draws from her experience to share her thoughts on the matter.… 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 »
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 »
lean practice 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 »
How to Coach Past Resistance to Accelerate the Rate of Change
How to Coach Past Resistance webinar with Ron Oslin.… More »
Strategy Deployment and Alignment through Hoshin
This workshop will help leaders understand Policy Deployment as a process for "de-selecting" initiatives down to the ones the organization can really achieve while aligning them with company strategic… More »
Integrating Visual Management Tools and Leader Standard Work
This course deals with designing and executing an implementation plan to migrate your company from one of “gather data, synthesize, meet, and react” to one of “see waste, manage exceptions, and improv… 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 »
Potent Medicine
Potent Medicine, the compelling follow-up to On the Mend, expands on the healthcare delivery redesign and focuses on all three key components in creating a value-based healthcare system in America: de… More »
Combining Scrum Software and Lean Hardware for Total Product Domination
"Scrum and Lean derive from the same source... and are inherently compatible delivery systems," writes Alex Brown, "but the [larger system] can break down without a holistic and internally-consistent framework for integrating the two components." Read what Brown recommends for helping the two methodologies work together.… More »
Surfer Culture Meets Standardized Work
Can surfing instructors and students really learn standardized work? Read the surprising story of how lean coach Sammy Obara worked with Pacific Surfing School to improve their teaching process and better train new surfers (and what leadership had to do with it).… 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 »
Why Lean Fails in Job Shops... and What to Do to Succeed
Like many job shop owners, LEI faculty member Greg Lane struggled with implementing lean principles early on. The experiences and books he had been exposed to were based on repetitive manufacturing. Job shops with their high-mix, low-volume product lineup present a challenge to lean thinkers -- but not an insurmountable one. Read why.… More »
10 Tips for Getting the Most Value from Value Stream Mapping
Most people see only a small amount of what is to be gained from value stream mapping. "Such an exercise can be a powerful organizational development tool," says Judy Worth, "as well as one for improving value stream performance on quality, efficiency, and safety." Before you embark, keep these 10 key things in mind.… More »
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 »
Heijunka: Mastering the Peaks and Valleys
Struggling to run different types of products down one line? Lean coach Jeff Smith explains the lean manufacturing concept of Heijunka (or production leveling) by way of a story.… More »
Editor's Picks for Lean Posts to Help You Improve Your Work Monday Morning
Our picks for the most practical, "how-to" style posts we've published on the Post to date. These posts are chock full of good learning and advice we hope you can use immediately.… More »
5 Ways to Help Every Team Member Contribute Ideas for Improving Work
"Engaging staff in problem identification and suggestions for improvement is essential for any organization," writes Dan Fleming, Continuous Improvement Manager at GBMP (Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership). "Yet most organizations don’t have a system that effectively encourages staff involvement." Learn how to create such a system with this short, helpful post.… 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 »
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 »
Just-in-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads from Across the Web (Vol. 6)
Check out five recently published articles we think may help you improve your work or think about your work differently - this time from Forbes, The New York Times, Industry Week, Harvard Business Review, and Medium. What great lean reads would you add to the list?… 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 »
Effective Supervision 101
One of the biggest challenges for lean thinkers is translating lean thinking into lean doing, writes Stan Shaw. One of the best ways of making this leap is making sure supervisors and team leaders deeply understand their role with frontline workers and their role in the organization. Read more.… More »
“Learning from Manufacturing” Versus Learning To Think Differently
Beau Keyte talks lean thinking and practice in non-manufacturing settings. "The big challenge now isn’t to learn lean thinking the way any other company learned it," he writes. "It’s to understand how to effectively grasp the problems you and your organization are trying to solve."… More »
Structured Experiments Into the Unknown
"For years we tried to find situations where we could apply lean tools," writes Linus Brodén of HP Tronic, an electronics manufacturer in Sweden. "Our efforts were focused on eliminating waste, almost randomly, but with no clear target. Then we were introduced to the Improvement Kata..." Read more.… More »
How Lean Tools Support the Principle of Respect (Part 2)
We first met Andy Ward when he was struggling to save his plant from closure in <em>The Lean Manager</em>. Since then he's helped lead a lean transformation; and recently, in <em>Lead With Respect</em>, play sensei to Southcape Software CEO Jane Delaney as she aims to transform her people through the use of lean methods and practice. In this interview Ward shares what he has learned.… More »
How Lean Tools Support the Principle of Respect (Part 1)
We first met Andy Ward when he was struggling to save his plant from closure in <em>The Lean Manager</em>. Since then he's helped lead a lean transformation; and recently, in <em>Lead With Respect</em>, play sensei to Southcape Software CEO Jane Delaney as she aims to transform her people through the use of lean methods and practice. In this interview Ward shares what he has learned.… More »
Lean Talks: Lean Thinking at a Knitting Factory in Bali
Mark Donovan, co-founder of the knitwear company Wooden Ships, shares how he's worked to build the problem solving capabilities of his team members.… More »
A Simple Question Without An Easy Answer
Our understanding of Lean (and how best to talk about what it is with others) evolves over time, just like our capability to practice it.… 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 »
Live Blogging the Lean Transformation Summit, Day 1
Unable to join us in Orlando? Check back here periodically throughout the day to follow Summit content here on The Lean Post.… More »
The Problem with Batch Logic
Enterprise Resource Planning processes use economic order quantities (=EOQ), also known as batch logic, to calculate what is required. This is not compatible with Lean. In his first piece for the Post, lean author and coach Ian Glenday gives us three reasons why.… More »
Standardized Work for Kaizen: Define, Achieve, Maintain, Improve
We can all agree that kaizen (continuous improvement to create more value with less waste) is important, but do you have standardized work for kaizen? What are the actual process steps for kaizen?… More »
Building Problem Solving Muscle at University of Michigan Health System
"We are beginning to realize the wisdom of Henry Ford’s adage: 'There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems,...'"… More »
How to Fold a T-Shirt
Training Within Industry Job Instruction is a four-step method that teaches an individual how to do a job correctly, safely, and consistently while meeting all requirements. In this video, LEI senior coach Josh Howell demonstrates standardized training for standardized work.… More »
Getting the Most Out of the 5 Whys
Are your 5 Whys leading you to dead ends? Emmanuel Jallas has some advice on how to really get to the root of the problem.… 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 »
More Evidence That ThedaCare Rocks
LEI coach Danielle Blais reflects on her recent gemba visit to the lean healthcare organization, Appleton Medical Center in Appleton, Wisconsin—a ThedaCare hospital widely known for its exceptional patient care.… 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 »
Now What Do We Call the Karaoke Bar?
We asked the lean community to sound off on whether or not they favored using Japanese terms in their lean transformations. The results were interesting and far ranging.… More »
Practicing What We Teach
"Do all Lean practitioners practice what they teach?" Maybe, maybe not. Tracey Richardson tries to as much as she can, and here's why.… More »
No Really, Go to the Gemba
LEI coach Danielle Blais explains why it's so important for lean coaches, leaders, and all managers to regularly visit the gemba (the place where the value-creating work actually gets done).… More »
PDCA: The Scientific Method or the Artistic Process?
What does lean have to do with art? Lean practitioner and sculptor Karyn Ross says the two really aren't so different at all. What do you think?… More »
Lean Starts With the Need to Achieve
"The first step in a lean implementation is to identify employees with an intense desire to achieve," writes lean practitioner Kevin Kobett. Do you agree? What is the relationship between lean practice and ambition?… More »
Adopt or Adapt? When Modifying Lean Makes Sense
One of the key decisions every lean coach, consultant, practitioner, and leader makes is when to fully adopt a particular lean practice or when to adapt it. But how do you make this decision? Author and coach Karen Martin draws from her experience to share her thoughts on the matter.… 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 »
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 »
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