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Practical, Actionable Tips for Re-Engaging People with a Suggestion System, Part 2
Companies, responding to surveys showing that a troubling number of people are disengaged at work, respond with perks like nap pods, rock walls, and free food. Suggestions systems get overlooked. That’s too bad because the whole point of a system done correctly is engagement. Here are some real-world tips on starting and sustaining a system from an experienced lean practitioner.… More »
What Are the Most Valuable Ways You Learned Lean?
Each approach to learning lean brings value into my work and improves my capabilities. There isn’t one way (for me) to get there. Each situation called for a different approach, and each approach to learning showed me a different dimension, making lean thinking more accessible, deepening my understanding and developing my practice, says Deb McGee.… More »
Are You Managing By The Right Numbers?
Knowing the key metrics to track will help you and your team start your learning journey, says Tracey Richardson. She shares the key figures that provide a foundation for growth and discovery.… More »
Coaching the Uncoachable Comes Down to Rock Paper and Scissors
Breaking out of a thinking cycle that is already too full to learn anything can be found in thinking about the game of rock, paper, and scissors, says lean coach Dan Prock.… More »
Learning to Teach the Soft Side of Lean
If there’s one common theme among virtually any failed effort, it boils to a failure to engage people in the purpose, says Tracey Richardson. That's why before any industry or functional area attempts (beyond manufacturing) to learn lean thinking, the people leading the work must gain the mutual trust and respect from your workers by walking the walk.… More »
Valuing The Tradition of Learning and Sharing Lean: a new WLEI Podcast
This new WLEI podcast, recorded live at the 2018 summit, features a panel discussion with Jim Womack and three lean converts on the value of sharing and learning lean.… More »
Ask Art: Why do you say the CEO needs to become a lean expert?
A key first step for any CEO leading a lean conversion is to call 1-800-lean-consultant to find an expert to train the VP of operations and keep the boss informed. While this makes perfect sense in traditional management thinking, lean thinking is virtually the exact opposite, writes former CEO Art Byrne. That’s why the CEO must become a lean expert to successfully lead the transformation. Here, Art describes how he came to deeply understand and lead lean transformations.… More »
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways – on a Valentine’s Day A3
The question lean practitioners Tracy and Ernie Richardson get more than any other isn’t about problem-solving, takt time, standardization, or their book. It’s about their “lean” marriage.… More »
Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn
Hear how a personal lean transformation supported a crucial organizational transformation following a financial crisis at a large medical center. In this unique Lean Talk, Alice Lee and Eric Buehrens revisit Eric’s lean journey to discuss its challenges and successes.… More »
You can do a lot by doing a few things
"Developing a good strategy and actually executing it is really hard," writes Leslie Barker. "What I didn’t fully realize was how powerful just a little knowledge is along with a commitment to do things differently." Read Leslie's gripping story of the role these two things play in her day-to-day 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 »
How to More Effectively Change Mindsets through Coaching
In her many years as a coach, Karyn Ross has found an alternative to the current paradigm of changing mindsets. The Lean Post recently sat down with Karyn to hear about this new approach and the psychology behind it.… More »
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 »
Succeeding by Failing
People often wonder what exactly constitutes "success" in a lean journey - it's a longstanding question. Cam Ford has a different thought entirely. Inspired by two recent articles and a takeaway from visiting a manufacturing plant, Cam shares his take on the true measure of lean success.… More »
Ask Art: What Lean Books Should I Start With?
Art Byrne shares with us his book recommendations to newcomers on insights into the philosophy and general approach behind lean.… More »
You Can't Learn Lean by Talking About It
Larry Navarre, instructor at Kettering University with 20 years experience in industry, shares what he's learned about teaching lean thinking.… More »
Design Thinking for Lean Practitioners
"You don’t have to look very far to see that lean problem-solving has a reputation of perfecting something that already exists..." writes Durward Sobek. "But in reality, lean problem-solving simply REQUIRES innovation because you are continually reinventing your systems and as we do this, we want to improve rapidly, not slowly."… 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 »
Just-in-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads from Across the Web (Vol. 8)
Check out our picks for high value lean reads you may have missed - this time from Inc., Harvard Business Review, Planet Lean and more.… 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 »
Just-in-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads From Across the Web (Vol. 7)
Five recent articles from across the web to help you reflect on your organization's approach to lean transformation or your own approach to work. Which great lean reads would you add to the list?… 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 »
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 »
I'm Karen Martin, Ask Me Anything
Ask author and lean coach Karen Martin anything you wish on lean thinking and practice! She'll be here all day answering YOUR questions!… More »
Do the Words You Use Create Clarity or Chaos?
"If words matter, shared understanding of words matters even more," writes Cindy Priddy. "The word coach reaches much further back than the image of a man in a track suit. When I am reminded of a coach as a mode of transporting people, I begin to think more deeply about where teams are today and where it is they are trying to go."… More »
No Change is Easy: The Starbucks Siren Steps into
Dunkin Donuts’ World of Orange and Pink

Lean is about a willingness to experiment and if necessary, change our approach to our work and our daily routine. Lisa Adams, a lean coach at Liberty Mutual, shares a personal story about adjusting to a MAJOR change in her daily routine: her coffee. After moving to Boston from Sacramento, Adams had to to switch from Starbucks to Dunkin' Donuts. Read what happens next.… More »
Highlights from the Lean Transformation Summit 2015, Day 2
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, we'll be live blogging the 2015 Lean Transformation Summit in New Orleans. Visit lean.org for the complete agenda and check back here periodically for updates from Summit talks and learning sessions.… More »
Highlights from the Lean Transformation Summit 2015
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, we'll be live blogging the 2015 Lean Transformation Summit in New Orleans. Visit lean.org for the complete agenda and check back here periodically for updates from Summit talks and learning sessions.… More »
Defining LEI’s Customer: Understanding Your Real Problems & Needs
"Our customer is part of everything we do, but defining them and their needs… well, it’s like describing the air you breathe," writes Josh Rapoza. "It requires stepping back from the day-to-day work and slowing down to [ask] who exactly our customer is now, if and how they’ve changed..." Read more.… More »
Developing Students, Improving Universities
"Today, lean thinking in higher education is uncommon," writes Theresa Coleman-Kaiser of Michigan Tech University. "As a rule, institutions that teach lean continuous improvement in their academic curricula or that have centers or institutes to educate the public struggle themselves to be practitioners in their own administrative processes." Learn more about how Michigan Tech is working to change this.… More »
The Case for Lean Thinking in Retail and Service Organizations
Josh Howell, senior coach at LEI, recently joined Ron Pereira at Gemba Academy for podcast conversation on coaching, lean thinking for retail and service organizations, and what respect for people really means. Check out some of the highlights here.… More »
Make the Shift: From “Churn and Burn” to Learn
Already practicing PDCA? Not so familiar with it? "If you’re not squarely in the PDCA camp, please accept this invitation to join!," writes Deborah McGee. "Begin anywhere, begin today and humbly let the next task you master become one you learn from."… More »
The Obstacle is the Path
Deborah McGee, LEI's Learning Activities Manager, reflects on the most common obstacles she sees people facing when they first try to introduce lean ideas in their organization. McGee offers guidance on how to skillfully persevere despite resistance.… More »
Two Years in Tanzania and a Whole New Understanding of Purpose
Mike Grogan quit his job in corporate America and moved to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania where he began working with a nonprofit healthcare organization that provides disability and maternal healthcare services. Read what Grogan learned from the experience about organizational transformation, how to make an impact, and himself.… More »
Are You Training People to Think or to Follow a Checklist?
"Without attention to why continuous improvement is important, the purpose behind [PDCA], when tools should be used, and when to apply ideas," Erin Urban writes, "we're training change agents to do nothing more than follow a checklist." Urban offers recommendations for how to improve training programs and invites your ideas, too.… More »
You Can't Kaizen Chaos
LEI coach Danielle Blais shares why she believes lean thinking means little without practice, explains the importance of stable work processes, and offers guidance on how to keep your improvement efforts focused on what really matters.… More »
Vote for the Best Lean Post Articles of 2014!
The end of the year is fast-approaching, so we’re taking a moment to reflect on the best Lean Post articles of 2014. Vote for your favorite articles and in two weeks we'll reveal the winners!… More »
Grasping the Real Situation
Emmanuel Jallas visits a well-respected company that is vocal about its lean transformation. Upon further investigation he finds that like so many places, lean was "put in place" here without any consideration for or effort made toward creating a lean culture.… More »
What Should Lean Mean to Us?
Brent Wahba offers lean beginners a few tips for how to be most impactful. "If you are working on how to begin your situational Lean journey," he writes, "what is the gap between your current mental model of Lean and what Lean needs to be to deliver success in your specific circumstances?"… 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 »
I Don't Know What I Don't Know, But Spread the Word
In her first piece for the Post, Lesa Nichols reflects on one of her most powerful learning experiences while working as a powertrain manager at Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky plant.… More »
Framing Art and Science: What Lean Knowledge Are We Going to Create Together?
"What is the purpose of lean product development? Where are its limits? Who plays, and what is 'out of bounds?' Such an identity 'crisis' is thrilling to see. It is the hallmark of an emerging science," writes Terry Barnhart. Read Terry's thoughts on the challenge ahead for the lean community in terms of sharing lean product and process development concepts with the world.… More »
Deliberate Innovation Through Lean Product & Process Development
Check out LEI's live blog from the Lean Product and Process Development Exchange (North America) Conference happening now in Durham, North Carolina.… More »
Distilling Lean Ideas Down to Their Essence
Andrew Quibbell, lean leader and VP of a global enterprise, loves teaching lean concepts. Finding PowerPoint wholly ineffective at communicating lean thinking, he's begun drawing lean concepts to spark conversations on the shopfloor. How do you share lean concepts with your team?… More »
Testing the Lean Transformation Model in India
Dhirendra Kumar Dubey of Lean Management Institute of India (LMII) shares what he's learned about the effectiveness of the Lean Transformation Model through institute projects.… 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 »
PDCA, BML, TMC: Learning Lean From Lean
"Lean, Lean UX, and Lean Startup – there' a lot of 'lean' out there," writes Matthew Savas. "Is this good or bad?" What's most important, Savas says, is an allegiance to true PDCA. What do you think?… More »
Why Skill-Based Learning is Harder Than You Think
Lean practitioner Joel Gross explains why skill-based learning (like learning how to problem solve using PDSA) requires active, hands-on practice with consistent, meaningful, and timely feedback from an outside source.… 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 »
Summer Reading
LEI Senior Editor Tom Ehrenfeld picks his favorite lean books you might want to take to the beach with you this summer.… 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 »
Leaning Up Baby
Olivia Talman, a former intern at The Lean Enterprise Institute, knew problem-solving was important, but wasn't sold on Lean at first. In her first piece for the Post, she tells us when Lean began to click.… More »
Looking Back and Ahead at The Lean Transformation Summit
Read the highlights from the 2014 Lean Transformation Summit in Orlando (featuring transformation stories from companies like GE, Cardinal Health, and Food Bank For New York City) and tell us what you'd like to see and learn at next year's summit!… 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 »
How Teaming Produces Execution-as-Learning
Amy C. Edmonson, Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, shares a concept she calls "teaming", a way of working that brings people together to generate new ideas, find answers, and solve problems across boundaries.… More »
Learning Through Struggle
LEI coach Danielle Blais reflects on one of the most frustrating (and ultimately, most rewarding) coaching moments she's experienced so far in her career.… More »
learning on Lean.org
Lean Thinking: A Look Back and a Look Forward
The meaning of lean thinking, how lean got its name, and an example of how it improved a grinding process By LEI President Jim Womack.… More »
The Value Stream Manager
Read about and discuss the role of this cross-functional manager.… More »
What is the Theory of Constraints, and How Does it Compare to Lean Thinking?
Read about and discuss this topic.… More »
Lean Beyond Production
Read how Lean Thinkers, using the same lean tools that worked in production, now are making improvements and benefits off the plant floor, in environments as diverse as an insurance company, academia,… More »
C.J. Buck, CEO of Buck Knives
When sales of a key product cratered, Buck Knives CEO C.J. Buck realized that he had to cut costs by 30% to stay in business. He moved the company from California to Idaho and lauched a lean transform… More »
Nun and the Bureaucrat (Book & DVD), The
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 »
Where Lean Leadership Begins
As with all lean practice, leadership begins with grasping the current state. For lean leaders that means understanding the external business environment, the organization's internal environment, and … More »
Leading in a Continuous Improvement Culture: Engaging and Coaching Problem Solving Thinkers
This program is designed to describe this new role you can play as a leader in a program solving culture. It will also introduce skills that will help you be effective in that role and give you oppor… More »
Lean Leadership: Through the Transformation and Beyond
The purpose of this interactive one-day program is to facilitate a discussion with senior leaders about the challenges and obstacles they face implementing change relative to the lean transformation. … More »
Management On the Mend / On the Mend (2-book set)
Mapping to See: Value-Stream Improvement Workshop
Mapping to See: Value-Stream Improvement for the Office and Services is a complete training solution created by some of the most seasoned veterans working in lean today. The value stream improvement p… More »
Seeing the Whole Value Stream
For the tens of thousands of users of value-stream mapping at the facility level, Seeing the Whole Value Stream provides the logical next step, extending the field of view all the way up and down the … More »
Are You Training People to Think or to Follow a Checklist?
"Without attention to why continuous improvement is important, the purpose behind [PDCA], when tools should be used, and when to apply ideas," Erin Urban writes, "we're training change agents to do nothing more than follow a checklist." Urban offers recommendations for how to improve training programs and invites your ideas, too.… More »
You Can't Kaizen Chaos
LEI coach Danielle Blais shares why she believes lean thinking means little without practice, explains the importance of stable work processes, and offers guidance on how to keep your improvement efforts focused on what really matters.… More »
Vote for the Best Lean Post Articles of 2014!
The end of the year is fast-approaching, so we’re taking a moment to reflect on the best Lean Post articles of 2014. Vote for your favorite articles and in two weeks we'll reveal the winners!… More »
Grasping the Real Situation
Emmanuel Jallas visits a well-respected company that is vocal about its lean transformation. Upon further investigation he finds that like so many places, lean was "put in place" here without any consideration for or effort made toward creating a lean culture.… More »
What Should Lean Mean to Us?
Brent Wahba offers lean beginners a few tips for how to be most impactful. "If you are working on how to begin your situational Lean journey," he writes, "what is the gap between your current mental model of Lean and what Lean needs to be to deliver success in your specific circumstances?"… 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 »
I Don't Know What I Don't Know, But Spread the Word
In her first piece for the Post, Lesa Nichols reflects on one of her most powerful learning experiences while working as a powertrain manager at Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky plant.… More »
Framing Art and Science: What Lean Knowledge Are We Going to Create Together?
"What is the purpose of lean product development? Where are its limits? Who plays, and what is 'out of bounds?' Such an identity 'crisis' is thrilling to see. It is the hallmark of an emerging science," writes Terry Barnhart. Read Terry's thoughts on the challenge ahead for the lean community in terms of sharing lean product and process development concepts with the world.… More »
Deliberate Innovation Through Lean Product & Process Development
Check out LEI's live blog from the Lean Product and Process Development Exchange (North America) Conference happening now in Durham, North Carolina.… More »
Distilling Lean Ideas Down to Their Essence
Andrew Quibbell, lean leader and VP of a global enterprise, loves teaching lean concepts. Finding PowerPoint wholly ineffective at communicating lean thinking, he's begun drawing lean concepts to spark conversations on the shopfloor. How do you share lean concepts with your team?… More »
Testing the Lean Transformation Model in India
Dhirendra Kumar Dubey of Lean Management Institute of India (LMII) shares what he's learned about the effectiveness of the Lean Transformation Model through institute projects.… 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 »
PDCA, BML, TMC: Learning Lean From Lean
"Lean, Lean UX, and Lean Startup – there' a lot of 'lean' out there," writes Matthew Savas. "Is this good or bad?" What's most important, Savas says, is an allegiance to true PDCA. What do you think?… More »
Why Skill-Based Learning is Harder Than You Think
Lean practitioner Joel Gross explains why skill-based learning (like learning how to problem solve using PDSA) requires active, hands-on practice with consistent, meaningful, and timely feedback from an outside source.… 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 »
Summer Reading
LEI Senior Editor Tom Ehrenfeld picks his favorite lean books you might want to take to the beach with you this summer.… 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 »
Leaning Up Baby
Olivia Talman, a former intern at The Lean Enterprise Institute, knew problem-solving was important, but wasn't sold on Lean at first. In her first piece for the Post, she tells us when Lean began to click.… More »
Looking Back and Ahead at The Lean Transformation Summit
Read the highlights from the 2014 Lean Transformation Summit in Orlando (featuring transformation stories from companies like GE, Cardinal Health, and Food Bank For New York City) and tell us what you'd like to see and learn at next year's summit!… 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 »
How Teaming Produces Execution-as-Learning
Amy C. Edmonson, Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School, shares a concept she calls "teaming", a way of working that brings people together to generate new ideas, find answers, and solve problems across boundaries.… More »
Learning Through Struggle
LEI coach Danielle Blais reflects on one of the most frustrating (and ultimately, most rewarding) coaching moments she's experienced so far in her career.… More »