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Book Review: The Toyota Engagement Equation by Tracey and Ernie Richardson
In their book The Toyota Engagement Equation, authors Tracey and Ernie Richardson don’t hit you over the head telling you what to do or how to think per se; instead they share how they learned what they know, and in so doing, invite you to think along the same lines.… More »
What Is Your Leadership Model?
In this reflection based on his work as CEO Lean is a leadership model: for more than 60 years now it has been developed, analyzed, tested, adapted; largely by Toyota but also by many others, copying, adding, evolving.… More »
Reflections From Ten Years of Michael Ballé's Gemba Coach
Since his first Gemba Coach column of ten years ago, Michael Balle has consistently tied his advice to a faithful application of core Toyota Production System (TPS) principles, without demanding a mindless conformity to established practices or to commercialized frameworks, models, or any other packaging of the TPS dynamics as a product.… More »
Ask Art: What Do You Mean When You Say Run Your Company On Your Operational Excellence Goals?
The Lean company competes on its operational excellence goals, says Art Byrne. These stretch goals must be aggressive in nature and deployed down to every person in the company so that they all are focusing on hitting these goals every day.… More »
Why We Believe Lean is Worth Our Unwavering Commitment
Lean provides a powerful alternative to short-term enterprise driven solely by the goal of maximizing profits while externalizing human and environmental costs, argues these leading Lean thinkings, who reveal why Lean promises a more humane, productive, meaningful, and ultimately, sustainable path forward.… More »
How Are You Supporting Your Own Lean Transformation?
When someone in our organization complains about something we hand them a Kaizen card, shares Lisa Yerian of the Cleveland Clinic. Perhaps the same approach could apply to the broader challenge of improving the organizational ability to frame problems productively?… More »
Ask Art: Where Will the Biggest Resistance to Lean Come From?
Resistance to Lean will come from every part of your organization, senior management included, says Lean veteran Art Byrne. Knowing where the biggest resistance will come from, however should help you focus your early efforts and smooth your Lean turnaround.… More »
Tales Of Lean, Chapter One: Facing the Problem
What is the best way for a lean coach to support and guide her team? In this fictional tale of a lean leader, Sandrine Olivencia tees up questions raised by this story of how a company founder can best lead her team through a key challenge for the company.… More »
Talking Coaching with Lean Sensei Crystal Davis, Rich Vellante, Josh Howell, and John Shook
In advance of the Lean Coaching Summit, coaches Josh Howell, Crystal Davis, John Shook, and Rich Vellante discuss the finer points of coaching others, including a working definition for lean coaching.… More »
Talking About Lean: How Leaders Support Improvement With Words and Actions
In this comprehensive series of reflections, Lean Coach David Verble examines how the way managers and leaders talk to employees (and to each other) can contribute or be a barrier to, creating and sustaining a culture of engagement and continuous improvement. He explores healthy ways that managers can mindfully observe and improve how they lead employees.… More »
Questions and Coaching on A3 Thinking
In this Q&A, LEI's Deborah McGee shares insights into A3 thinking and problem-solving: "The A3 Management process is really a way of thinking and a method of working with (using) problems as a vehicle for learning. The A3 process leads us to gain alignment across our teams and organization. It is a method through which we can coach and mentor others, leading by example and earning the authority to lead change, even when or if we’re not in a role with positional power."… More »
Ask Art: How Can I Engage All Our Leaders to Learn and Teach Lean?
What's the best way to teach lean to your internal leaders? By forming teams who will learn by doing, shares Art Byrne. This will drive your gains, build great teamwork, and build the learning environment necessary to become a lean enterprise.… More »
Ask Art: What Incentives and Bonus Programs Best Support Lean?
Bonus and incentive plans work best when they serve an underlying purpose, says Art Byrne, who advises that management design them to boost teamwork, learning, and strategic lean goals.… More »
Stop Asking Your Leaders to "Support" Your Lean Transformation
Helping others with shared work tied to broad improvement goals can be challenging for lean leaders. Continuous Improvement Director Lisa Yerian of the Cleveland Clinic shares key ways that have been found to help: make clear and specific asks, establish exactly how to engage towards that end, and; experience, understand, and critically evaluate the situation before stepping in with support.… More »
Show Respect, Psychological Safety, and Social Neuroscience
Mike Orzen and David Verble examine the meaning and lean relevance of showing respect, creating psychological safety, and the links between these two.… More »
What Do Managers Do?
After walking the gemba with sensei Hideshi Yokoi, Matt Savas learned three basic agreements between workers and management, and shared his discovery that a production analysis board is a figurative and literal social contract that binds management and workers together.… More »
How Standardized Work Integrates People With Process
In this three part series on SW, John Shook argues that "the Toyota Way is a socio-technical system on steroids. A test for all our lean systems is the question of how well we integrate people with process (the social with the technical). Nowhere does that come together more than in the form of standardized work and kaizen."… More »
How Accounting “Squirrels” Can Ferret Out Waste
While other functions are busy as beavers looking for waste during a lean transformation, your accounting staff is like a squirrel with its head stuck in a yogurt cup. They only see the traditional work right in front of them instead of digging into data for buried “nuts” of waste, says Jean Cunningham, LEI’s new executive chairman.… More »
Going Beyond Low-Cost Obsession with "Women Go Beyond"
Hear the chairman and co-founder of an apparel manufacturer with global operations explain how and why it invests in its largely female workforce while also dealing with the challenges of a highly competitive industry obsessed with low-cost operations.… More »
Learning to Help Anna Elevate Her Game
Anna was trained by NUMMI to identify and solve challenges via experiments with her team, notes Jeff Smith, sharing a story from NUMMI; she had been trained to set up jobs, build racks for parts, and more.Yet evidently what she needed to resolve the issue at hand was a little practical understanding/physical help and space to think while being relaxed and not emotionally wound up.… More »
Ask Art: How Should I Re-invest the Gains from Kaizen?
Becoming lean through using kaizen activity allows you to remove a great deal of waste and deliver value to your customers, shares Art Byrne. If you do the right things with the excess resources you free up, you can then leverage your gains far more dramatically. Don’t waste the gains.… More »
Building a Lean Culture at Turner Construction: A Talk with SVP Charlie Murphy
"Whether it’s safety, quality, production system, to me it just makes sense for us to contribute to the improvement of the whole industry," says Turner Construction SVP Charlie Murphy. "If we can develop a lean culture here at Turner and move from workarounds to resolving the right problems as they occur, we will become a better company and the industry will have to get better, too."… More »
People First Leadership: A Conversation by Jim Morgan with Alan Mulally
Alan Mulally is a brilliant engineer who led historic transformations as CEO of Boeing Commercial and then Ford Motor Company. But just as important as what he accomplished, is how he accomplished it. His people first, inclusive approach to leadership not only created great products and successful companies, but also created an organization people wanted to be a part of.… More »
And Now For Something Completely...Lean
Lean practice is no joke, argues Brent Wahba. And yet he draws lessons from great comedy to help address this key challenge: What is your organization doing to keep lean easy to understand and simple to implement?… More »
Coaching to the Challenge
When coaching there is no black and white answer – everything depends on the criticality of the business situation, the level of the challenge, and the capability of the Team Member, says Mark Reich. This article shares his experience in challenging someone to learn at the gemba.… More »
Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Shop Floor Thinking?
How does lean thinking help understand whether AI could replace shop floor thinking? Jacob Stoller argues that whether or not one attributes this to an Eastern outlook, much of the wisdom passed on from lean’s original pioneers highlights the importance of direct experience, and the view that workplace situations cannot be understood with purely rational thought.… More »
Are You Building High-Performing Teams?
It is important to work hard at building a high-performance team. Not only does it lead to better performance outcomes, but it is also a tremendous personal experience. Pay, benefits, and personal growth opportunities have to be competitive, but all else being equal, most people will choose to be part of a high-performance team.… More »
Ask Art: How Do I Get the Senior Management Team On Board with Lean?
Lean requires teamwork, and so getting your senior management team on board requires a great deal of work, including new mindsets, exposure to lean practice, and shifts in everything from how sales are conducted to how team leaders lead at the gemba, says Art Byrne.… More »
"What Did I Transform Today?"
A lean approach to coaching is incomplete if nothing has changed for the better, says Josh Howell, who shares how he learned that it is not enough to only think, talk, write, and draw. Best to conclude each day by asking yourself, "What did I transform today?"… More »
Can Lean Succeed in a Strong Labor Environment?
Lean is all about people, says Art Byrne, regarding the question of making lean succeed in a union environment. He argues that if you treat people like people not union members and you will greatly increase your chances of success.… More »
How to Rehab Colleagues With Status Quo “Addiction”
If you work with leaders or colleagues who resist changing their behaviors -- maybe they literally can’t change. They could be “addicted” to the status quo, a non-chemical compulsion similar to addictions to running or playing video games. Listen as Ron Oslin explains how to rehab your boss or colleagues.… More »
I Got 99 Problems and This Is How I'll Tackle Type One
After an unintentional sending a mass email with an error from LEI, Lory Moniz reflects on the source of the defect and commits to a way of preventing this from recurring; and commits to applying the subject of the letter (ways of tackling problems) to the approach by her team.… More »
Did Red Sox Lean on Lean for World Series Victory?
For starters (and for that matter, for relievers), this World-Series-winning Red Sox team was simply an outstanding and absurdly talented team from top to bottom. And yet talent only gets you so far. Great teams make one another better, and I think this applied to this group of athletes whose success underscore a few simple Lean principles… More »
Don't Retire Your Knowledge--Reuse It
Companies can tackle the problem of the surge of retiring baby boomers by adopting the lean principle of knowledge reuse, says recently retired lean thinker Norbert Majerus. He identifies common barriers to share and leverage this invaluable resource.… More »
Book Review: Four Types of Problems
If you are developing a problem solver in your personal life or on your team, or if you’re continuously developing as a problem solver yourself, the new book Four Types of Problems will guide and support growth through active reading, application and reflection, says lean thinker Deb McGee.… More »
How to Engage Employees Through Creativity
Is your company or department struggling to engage employees? Then learn from LifeWay Christian Resources, which moved away from a top-down, tool-oriented approach to continuous improvement training to a focus on engaging and developing people with thematic events and instruction.… More »
Jishuken, Part Two: The Power of Self-Learning
Consider Jishuken to be an intensive effort to drive individuals and the organization to a higher level, says Mark Reich, noting that if done right, this practice should push everyone to do more and more, improving in cycles of intense, focused effort with something that leaves a strong residue of kaizen spirit behind and allows the company to sustain.… More »
The Value of Sharpening Skills Through 'Jishuken'
Jishuken, or self-learning, is a wet stone that grinds a worker's brain down to a start point, says Matt Savas--and is key to a disciplined management system of learning and improvement.… More »
Can Lean Know-How Come Home?
When you decide to stop making things, you lose the ability to make things, argues Eric Buehrens: not just the displaced assembly workers who have had to seek employment elsewhere, but the design, production control, maintenance and quality engineers, the materials and logistics experts, all the technical know-how to manufacture effectively at scale, at world-class quality, and competitive cost.… More »
A Great Company Culture Takes Purpose
If you’re determined to move your culture from good to great, listen to CEO Tyler Schilling as he describes two behaviors that, in his experience, are most effective.… More »
TPS, the Thinking People System
The twin pillars of just-in-time and jidoka help support a full model about how to achieve customer satisfaction from employee satisfaction, through teamwork and respect, on a basis of mutual trust between management and employees.… More »
Getting Out of the Habit of Telling
In this engaging talk at the Lean Transformation Summit in Nashville, Katie Anderson talked about learning how to keep from telling others what to do.… More »
Are You Learning to Learn Faster? A Conversation with Steve Spear
Learning to close the gap in our learning cycle is critical to keeping our promises and achieving our goals, argues Steve Spear in the recent WLEI podcast. Read more here and listen to the full conversation.… More »
From Port to Plate: How Legal Sea Foods Is Improving Through Lean
Legal Sea Foods is working with LEI to help launch a movement to change everything about the way traditional restaurants work. Legal, a family business founded in 1950, with more than 30 locations, has been working with LEI for the past four years to change the way restaurants work. In everything from greeting and seating guests to re-thinking how they organize their walk-in coolers and schedule shifts, lean is having a huge impact on everything it does.… More »
PD C+ A+ In the Classroom
Looking back on her time as a teacher through a lean lens, Allison O'Neill suggests way in which the process of education might be improved by examining topics such as rework and "reteaching"… More »
Yes, Lean is About Cost Reduction
Why focus on cost reduction? Because many of the cost-saving kaizens of are simpler and require less engineering resources, and this type of kaizen motivates the production teams to try things on their own and develops their capability. This is an outcome of cost reduction activity, says Mark Reich… More »
Five Tips on Lean Coaching
Here are some key coaching tips culled from content written by some of the top lean coaches.… More »
Lesson From Japan: Day Five
On this final set of shared lessons from Japan, our lean learners reflect on the spirit of kaizen and the notion of employees as assets. They learn more about why "To Toyota, kaizen is the same as breathing."… More »
Lessons from Japan: Day Four
On day four of the Lean Learning tour in Japan, the participants share their lessons, which are tied to this theme: TPS kaizen begins with a question: “What problem are you trying to solve?”… More »
Lessons From Japan: Day Three
Is Toyota improving productivity or developing people? What we saw today suggests not just that the answer is both but that the two are inseparable, especially when it comes to jishuken.… More »
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 »
The Formula for a Successful Management System: LB * OS = MS
In order to reap the benefits of an effective management system it is important that the operating system and leadership behaviors be aligned and consistent, argues Jim Morgan.… More »
Why 'Yes Chef!' Is No Longer the Answer
In order to meet the changing demands of today's restaurants, chefs must learn to evolve from old-school methods of the "brigade system" and learn to be more mindful, holistic, and ask better questions, say Legal Sea Foods Executive Chef Rich Vellante… More »
How to Create a Lean Management Book Club that Executives Will Actually Attend
At the start of a lean transformation, a continuous improvement leader convinced her division president that a book club would be a good way to introduce leaders to lean concepts. Here’s what she did to make the club interesting and valuable for its busy participants, including what worked and what didn’t.… More »
Postcard from Nashville
John Shook looks back at the key theme of LEI's Nashville summit on the theme of how to be better employees.… More »
Lean Roundup: Respect for People
Respect for People is one of the most abstract and yet most concrete tenets of lean, a guiding principle that informs how people work, coach, and lead. This roundup of writings reveals a wealth of perspectives on how lean thinkers convert this ideal into tangible ways of thinking and acting.… More »
Mapping a Reading List to Lean
We humans want to see what is happening, understand how we and our colleagues best collaborate, solve problems, make good decisions, and have an insatiable desire to be better. This Lean reading list by Jim Benson steps outside the obvious texts and provides offerings with a foundation for these critical skills.… More »
The Road to Production Hell is Paved with Lack of LPPD
The real work of companies like Tesla who face stupendous challenges in launching a product should have happened long before production commenced, says Jim Morgan, noting that the time for urgency, the time for bringing your sleeping bag to work is during development – not in production.… More »
The Quiet Factory
Could noise be considered another waste to be reduced in the system? Matt Savas ponders the implications of a Toyota factory that has set a goal of lowering the decibel level to help with a key strategic goal.… More »
Developing People Not Robots Through Karakuri
"Karakuri demonstrates that Toyota’s working currency is brainpower, grown through rigorous problem-solving and mentors who challenge their students," writes Matt Savas, "The wallet takes a backseat to the brain."… More »
Learning and Teaching Lean with Tracey and Ernie Richardson on the Lean Podcast WLEI
Hear Tracey and Ernie share how they learned lean while working together on our new podcast WLEI… More »
Striking With The Zen Stick
A key part of lean coaching is the practice of striking with a zen stick, says Dan Prock. This helps break people out of their habits and foster mindfulness, and "kaizen mind".… More »
Jim Womack's Keynote Address from the 2018 Lean Summit
Catch the presentation of Jim Womack on the topic of how to develop better employees by becoming a better employer.… More »
people development on Lean.org
Interview: Lean Software Development
Lean software practitioners Mary and Tom Poppendieck, authors of Lean Software Development,  relate lean concepts to the practical work of software development in this video at InfoQ, a web site devot… More »
Lean Development
  Freddy and Michael Ballé, co-authors of the lean novel The Gold Mine, pull together their experiences with Toyota suppliers, contacts with Toyota engineers, and existing research t… More »
Coaching for Development - Structured Coaching Using A3 Thinking
This workshop will take participants through a unique version of the A3 thinking process, modified to facilitate and foster personal development. We will also discuss key coaching and leadership skill… More »
Developing People with Capability for Lean
Learn about a supportive management environment for lean performance. Explore the manger’s role in people development and responsibilities in creating a learning environment. Identify the perspectives… More »
How to Engage Employees Through Creativity
Is your company or department struggling to engage employees? Then learn from LifeWay Christian Resources, which moved away from a top-down, tool-oriented approach to continuous improvement training to a focus on engaging and developing people with thematic events and instruction.… More »
Jishuken, Part Two: The Power of Self-Learning
Consider Jishuken to be an intensive effort to drive individuals and the organization to a higher level, says Mark Reich, noting that if done right, this practice should push everyone to do more and more, improving in cycles of intense, focused effort with something that leaves a strong residue of kaizen spirit behind and allows the company to sustain.… More »
The Value of Sharpening Skills Through 'Jishuken'
Jishuken, or self-learning, is a wet stone that grinds a worker's brain down to a start point, says Matt Savas--and is key to a disciplined management system of learning and improvement.… More »
Can Lean Know-How Come Home?
When you decide to stop making things, you lose the ability to make things, argues Eric Buehrens: not just the displaced assembly workers who have had to seek employment elsewhere, but the design, production control, maintenance and quality engineers, the materials and logistics experts, all the technical know-how to manufacture effectively at scale, at world-class quality, and competitive cost.… More »
A Great Company Culture Takes Purpose
If you’re determined to move your culture from good to great, listen to CEO Tyler Schilling as he describes two behaviors that, in his experience, are most effective.… More »
TPS, the Thinking People System
The twin pillars of just-in-time and jidoka help support a full model about how to achieve customer satisfaction from employee satisfaction, through teamwork and respect, on a basis of mutual trust between management and employees.… More »
Getting Out of the Habit of Telling
In this engaging talk at the Lean Transformation Summit in Nashville, Katie Anderson talked about learning how to keep from telling others what to do.… More »
Are You Learning to Learn Faster? A Conversation with Steve Spear
Learning to close the gap in our learning cycle is critical to keeping our promises and achieving our goals, argues Steve Spear in the recent WLEI podcast. Read more here and listen to the full conversation.… More »
From Port to Plate: How Legal Sea Foods Is Improving Through Lean
Legal Sea Foods is working with LEI to help launch a movement to change everything about the way traditional restaurants work. Legal, a family business founded in 1950, with more than 30 locations, has been working with LEI for the past four years to change the way restaurants work. In everything from greeting and seating guests to re-thinking how they organize their walk-in coolers and schedule shifts, lean is having a huge impact on everything it does.… More »
PD C+ A+ In the Classroom
Looking back on her time as a teacher through a lean lens, Allison O'Neill suggests way in which the process of education might be improved by examining topics such as rework and "reteaching"… More »
Yes, Lean is About Cost Reduction
Why focus on cost reduction? Because many of the cost-saving kaizens of are simpler and require less engineering resources, and this type of kaizen motivates the production teams to try things on their own and develops their capability. This is an outcome of cost reduction activity, says Mark Reich… More »
Five Tips on Lean Coaching
Here are some key coaching tips culled from content written by some of the top lean coaches.… More »
Lesson From Japan: Day Five
On this final set of shared lessons from Japan, our lean learners reflect on the spirit of kaizen and the notion of employees as assets. They learn more about why "To Toyota, kaizen is the same as breathing."… More »
Lessons from Japan: Day Four
On day four of the Lean Learning tour in Japan, the participants share their lessons, which are tied to this theme: TPS kaizen begins with a question: “What problem are you trying to solve?”… More »
Lessons From Japan: Day Three
Is Toyota improving productivity or developing people? What we saw today suggests not just that the answer is both but that the two are inseparable, especially when it comes to jishuken.… More »
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 »
The Formula for a Successful Management System: LB * OS = MS
In order to reap the benefits of an effective management system it is important that the operating system and leadership behaviors be aligned and consistent, argues Jim Morgan.… More »
Why 'Yes Chef!' Is No Longer the Answer
In order to meet the changing demands of today's restaurants, chefs must learn to evolve from old-school methods of the "brigade system" and learn to be more mindful, holistic, and ask better questions, say Legal Sea Foods Executive Chef Rich Vellante… More »
How to Create a Lean Management Book Club that Executives Will Actually Attend
At the start of a lean transformation, a continuous improvement leader convinced her division president that a book club would be a good way to introduce leaders to lean concepts. Here’s what she did to make the club interesting and valuable for its busy participants, including what worked and what didn’t.… More »
Postcard from Nashville
John Shook looks back at the key theme of LEI's Nashville summit on the theme of how to be better employees.… More »
Lean Roundup: Respect for People
Respect for People is one of the most abstract and yet most concrete tenets of lean, a guiding principle that informs how people work, coach, and lead. This roundup of writings reveals a wealth of perspectives on how lean thinkers convert this ideal into tangible ways of thinking and acting.… More »
Mapping a Reading List to Lean
We humans want to see what is happening, understand how we and our colleagues best collaborate, solve problems, make good decisions, and have an insatiable desire to be better. This Lean reading list by Jim Benson steps outside the obvious texts and provides offerings with a foundation for these critical skills.… More »
The Road to Production Hell is Paved with Lack of LPPD
The real work of companies like Tesla who face stupendous challenges in launching a product should have happened long before production commenced, says Jim Morgan, noting that the time for urgency, the time for bringing your sleeping bag to work is during development – not in production.… More »
The Quiet Factory
Could noise be considered another waste to be reduced in the system? Matt Savas ponders the implications of a Toyota factory that has set a goal of lowering the decibel level to help with a key strategic goal.… More »
Developing People Not Robots Through Karakuri
"Karakuri demonstrates that Toyota’s working currency is brainpower, grown through rigorous problem-solving and mentors who challenge their students," writes Matt Savas, "The wallet takes a backseat to the brain."… More »
Learning and Teaching Lean with Tracey and Ernie Richardson on the Lean Podcast WLEI
Hear Tracey and Ernie share how they learned lean while working together on our new podcast WLEI… More »
Striking With The Zen Stick
A key part of lean coaching is the practice of striking with a zen stick, says Dan Prock. This helps break people out of their habits and foster mindfulness, and "kaizen mind".… More »
Jim Womack's Keynote Address from the 2018 Lean Summit
Catch the presentation of Jim Womack on the topic of how to develop better employees by becoming a better employer.… More »