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How Are We Doing? And Other Questions for the Lean Community from LEI’s New CEO, Eric Buehrens
Lean Enterprise Institute's new CEO, Eric Buehrens, talks about his new role as not just a leader, but a learner, and poses some questions to the lean community at large.… More »
Yes, Lean is a Strategy!!!
Is lean a strategy? Absolutely YES, says lean author and thinker Orry Fiume. Replying to feedback on his new book, Orry says that strategy is about deciding how to win; and lean is about how to win with a focus on both creating more value for your customers and doing so with the best utilization of the resources at hand, i.e. with the least amount of waste.… 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 »
Ask Art: Is there a formula to predict or evaluate the success of a lean implementation?
Art Byrne is often asked how to best measure the success of a lean transformation -- but does such a measurement even exist? He's been asked this so many times that he now addresses it in his latest installment of Ask Art. Read more.… More »
What the Books Don't Tell: Explaining the Financial Benefits of Lean
It's a curious fact that very few books about lean address the topic of finance. Questions about lean's financial benefits are often the first that leaders skeptical about launching a transformation ask, so it's a wonder why this is seldom addressed. Lean accounting pioneer and LEI faculty Jean Cunningham now weighs in on this information gap in lean finance, along with suggestions for how to bridge it at your company.… More »
Ask Art: How is lean the opposite of everything people have been trained to do?
Art Byrne explains why, and how, lean practice is the opposite of what most people have learned about work in any setting… More »
Focus Your Operating System To Bring Your Strategy to Life
A strategy can just turn into wallpaper if you don't have the right systems in place to support it. Jim Morgan has seen this happen many times, and now explains how to avoid the problem, based on his experiences working with Alan Mulally at Ford Motor Company during the Great Recession.… More »
Lessons Learned from Sunpower's (C)Lean Transformation
Sustainability is a key part of any lean transformation - but Sunpower of San Jose, Cali. took that word a little further than just maintaining the momentum of small wins. The solar-energy device manufacturer wanted to bring its mission of saving the environment into its day-to-day operations. Hear more about their journey in this interview between LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski and Sunpower CEO Marty Neese and Director of Operations Ralph Robinett.… More »
Lean Fitness: The Individual vs. the Organization
"For both the individual and the organization, the problem is the same," writes Dan Markovitz. "There may be a stated goal—lose 15 pounds, improve muscle tone—but there’s often no clearly defined program to reach that fitness goal. Or even if there is a program, it may simply be a fad that promises huge results with minimal effort: think vibrating belts, Thighmasters, 8 Minute Abs, and the latest diet pills."… More »
Turn on the Spigot: Create Flow in R&D
"Flow in R&D is as critical as in manufacturing," writes Terry Barnhart. "It is a little more difficult to see, which is why your company, if you create R&D flow, will begin to put on the market more innovative products and processes than your competitors."… More »
Bad Data: The Elephant in the Room
"The goal of IT is to enable people to perform their jobs well by providing access to complete and accurate information so they can work as effectively and efficiently as possible," writes Mike Orzen. "We leverage technology to position people to do great work with the least amount of required effort."… More »
Using Cynefin to Solve Problems While Navigating Uncertainty
Kim Ballestrin, an agile coach, explains how her team at Telstra (an Australian telecommunications and IT company) uses a problem solving framework called Cynefin to better plan their work in the early stages of a project.… More »
The Chief Cause of Problems is Solutions
"In complex organizations, we [oversimplify] problems, try to fix them as painlessly as possible, cross our fingers, and move on to the next fire," writes Brent Wahba. "Unfortunately, things rarely turn out quite as perfectly as we had hoped." Learn how to avoid this trap and plan better as you lead your team in continuous improvement.… More »
Strategy Deployment at The Lean Enterprise Institute
Is your organization “chasing too many rabbits?” It’s a tendency too many companies have of annually setting more strategic objectives than they can possibly implement successfully. This “chase” results in delays, discouragement, and the diversion of resources from activities that should and can be accomplished. How do you deselect “rabbits” and lead your team to effectively deliver on strategy? Jikku Mohan explains.… More »
From Victim to Partner: The Evolution of a Manufacturing Development System
"Excellence in product development is not 'an engineering thing'; it is an enterprise thing," writes Jim Morgan. And it's helpful to think about manufacturing’s role in PD as something that evolves over time through four general stages until manufacturing becomes a fully participating partner. "Few companies evolve through all stages on their own... " Read more.… More »
Sharks & Tortoises
"A small number of firms have grown spectacularly in revenue, employees, and stock price by using [lean] to execute crisply on tactics," writes Jeff Morrow, describing lean sharks. "And then there are tortoises: bullet-proof firms like Toyota and its supply network... practitioners of 'go slow to go fast.'" Read more about what these two types of lean companies might learn from each other.… More »
Hoshin at LEI: Connecting More Closely with Our Customer
Whether you’re deploying hoshin in a small nonprofit or a huge organization, the struggles are the same," writes LEI COO Mark Reich. "How do you create alignment? How do you get team members more actively engaged with the work? How do you people to think about the customer and the 'why' behind the problems he/she is trying to solve?"… More »
What Strategy Is and What It's Not
"In my career, I was always more interested in what it would take to create and sustain competitive advantage than just doing good things," writes Dave LaHote. "What I observed was that a lack of strategy elegantly deployed was still lack of strategy..." 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 »
Want Your Organization to Survive Over the Long Haul? Value Process Over Results
"There are two ways to run your business," writes Doc Hall. "Focus on value, or focus on results... Interestingly, when you focus on value, good results typically follow." Read more.… More »
John Shook on Where Lean Thinking and Practice is Headed Today
LEI's John Shook shares his view of how and where lean thinking can be used most effectively today. Insights on everything from how to apply lean to your own unique work situation and organizational context to how lean can help solve social problems to staying innovative for the long haul.… More »
The Biggest Waste of All
"We can fix [problem symptoms] with basic lean thinking and tools, but unless our strategy is good, we will still create tremendous amounts of waste for our customers, employees, suppliers, and investors," says Brent Wahba. Why? "Because everyone is running faster and faster… in the wrong direction."… More »
8 Tips for “Passing the Baton” with Suppliers and Customers
In a relay, the winning team isn’t the one that runs the fastest leg, but the one that runs fastest start to finish without dropping the baton. In business, the winning supply chain isn’t the one with the most efficient operational silos, but the one that is most efficient end to end, especially at the handoffs.… More »
Cost Reduction, Waste, and Purpose
"Eliminating waste makes it easier to see and find problems, which is the first step to solving them," writes Katrina Appell. "It removes frustrations, which improves worker and customer satisfaction."… More »
Put Your Strategy on a Diet
"When it comes to goal setting in most organizations, 'Just one more…' seems to be the compulsion," writes Pascal Dennis. Read why less is more when it comes to strategy.… More »
A Body Needs Skeleton and Muscle to Work
How do you create alignment across the organization when you have separate departments, value streams, and executives with conflicting priorities? Hoshin kanri. Mark Reich explains.… More »
Lean Alone is Never Enough
Lean can help any organization become more efficient and effective, but there is much more to being successful than just being lean, says Brent Wahba. "There is a core, company-specific science beyond Lean that is necessary for any business to thrive."… More »
Challenge: Understand and Adapt for Sales Pace Growth
It's our first Lean Challenge post! Come up with a plan to help a machining business deal with the technical and social challenges posed by increasing customer demand.… More »
Long-term Organizational Health or Sugar High?
"We know 'flavor-of-the-month' initiatives can't be the focus of a lean leader," writes Bob Miller of the Shingo Institute. So where should lean leaders focus their attention? Miller shares three insights from 26 years of Shingo research.… More »
Transforming Healthcare is Complex, Start with a Model Cell
John Toussaint from the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value explains what he's learned about how meaningful organizational change happens from visiting and working with over 130 healthcare organizations in 12 different countries, all with their own unique problems and challenges.… More »
Foolish Consistency or Meaningful Standard Work?
How do organizations develop system-wide standard work and also create the conditions for local problem solving within departments? Dr. Grant Greenberg of University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice reflects on the moment he found himself finally able to answer this question.… More »
What's Your Company's Bottleneck?
"A bottleneck is the weak link in the system, the one constraint that prevents us from manufacturing that next toaster or frothing that next latte with our current resources," writes Brent Wahba. "Somewhere in that great big system is one TRUE bottleneck, and I have yet to meet a company that really understands what theirs is." Read more.… More »
What To Do When Executives Think Continuous Improvement Smells Fishy
Top executives are smart, but they don't always see the value of continuous improvement efforts. And continuous improvement professionals don't always communicate that value well to senior executives.… More »
Product Focus = Customer Focus
"Customer-defined value creation is the first principle of lean thinking... But how do you know your hard work will deliver a product your customer actually values and will buy?" Jim Morgan, former product/process development executive at Ford (and co-author of The Toyota Product Development System) tells us how to build "insanely good products."… More »
Long Live Process Improvement?
For many beginner practitioners, Lean seems like just another "flavor of the month" program. If it isn't communicated and taught well, Lean can be exactly this. In his first article for The Lean Post, LEI faculty member Greg Lane offers specific recommendations on how to avoid this pitfall and make Lean accessible and useful to all.… More »
Why It's Time to Embrace Design Thinking
What do lean thinking and design thinking have to do with each other? What do practitioners in each field have to learn from each other?… More »
Ask Art: How Do I Get Senior Leadership On Board with Lean?
Lean transformations are rarely successful without the support and participation of senior leadership. Art Byrne, former CEO of Wiremold, shares his advice to lean practitioners who are having difficulty getting senior leaders engaged.… More »
Upcycling Products Customers Actually Want
Nathan Rothstein, president of Project Repat, shares the story of how his startup evolved from an interesting idea to a successful business.… More »
strategy on Lean.org
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 »
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 »
Leadership Q&A: Dr. Jack Billi, associate dean and associate vice president for medical affairs
From the LEI senior executive series on lean leadership: Jack Billi, M.D., associate dean for clinical affairs, University of Michigan Medical School, professor of Internal Medicine and Medical Educa… More »
The Beginner’s Guide To Lean
Dan Jones, chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy and coauthor of Lean Thinking, explains that the challenge of lean is to advance beyond eliminating waste in broken processes to creating brilliant p… More »
Forward to Fundamentals Webinar with Jim Womack and John Shook
In recent years, most discussions around lean transformation have understandably evolved toward more managerial and strategic matters. Yet there remains an alarming lack of solid implementation of the… More »
Forward to Fundamentals Webinar with John Shook and Jim Womack, Written Transcript
In recent years, most discussions around lean transformation have understandably evolved toward more managerial and strategic matters. Yet there remains an alarming lack of solid implementation of the… More »
Go and See the Lean Supply Chain: Gemba-Based Workshop
This two-day workshop is part of our new series of special programs which combine classroom learning with practical experience at the gemba. The workshop is conducted at the LeanCor Supply Chain Grou… More »
Online Webcast: Creating a Sustainable Lean Culture: Connecting the “Product” and the “People” Value
Process-improvement tools are important, but their ultimate effectiveness depends on the ability to develop the underlying culture of problem solving to support continuous growth and improvement. This… More »
Kaizen Express
Kaizen Express is a concise but precise illustrated guide to the fundamentals of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and how to implement them. It is ideal for individuals or teams starting a lean tran… More »
Lean Hospitals, 2nd Ed.
Drawing on his years of working with hospitals, Mark Graban explains why and how lean can be used to improve safety, quality, and efficiency in a healthcare setting. A unique guide for healthcare prof… More »
Lean Office and Service Simplified
Lean Office and Service Simplified goes beyond the basic tools to detail the key concepts of lean as they apply to office and service environments.… More »
A Body Needs Skeleton and Muscle to Work
How do you create alignment across the organization when you have separate departments, value streams, and executives with conflicting priorities? Hoshin kanri. Mark Reich explains.… More »
Lean Alone is Never Enough
Lean can help any organization become more efficient and effective, but there is much more to being successful than just being lean, says Brent Wahba. "There is a core, company-specific science beyond Lean that is necessary for any business to thrive."… More »
Challenge: Understand and Adapt for Sales Pace Growth
It's our first Lean Challenge post! Come up with a plan to help a machining business deal with the technical and social challenges posed by increasing customer demand.… More »
Long-term Organizational Health or Sugar High?
"We know 'flavor-of-the-month' initiatives can't be the focus of a lean leader," writes Bob Miller of the Shingo Institute. So where should lean leaders focus their attention? Miller shares three insights from 26 years of Shingo research.… More »
Transforming Healthcare is Complex, Start with a Model Cell
John Toussaint from the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value explains what he's learned about how meaningful organizational change happens from visiting and working with over 130 healthcare organizations in 12 different countries, all with their own unique problems and challenges.… More »
Foolish Consistency or Meaningful Standard Work?
How do organizations develop system-wide standard work and also create the conditions for local problem solving within departments? Dr. Grant Greenberg of University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice reflects on the moment he found himself finally able to answer this question.… More »
What's Your Company's Bottleneck?
"A bottleneck is the weak link in the system, the one constraint that prevents us from manufacturing that next toaster or frothing that next latte with our current resources," writes Brent Wahba. "Somewhere in that great big system is one TRUE bottleneck, and I have yet to meet a company that really understands what theirs is." Read more.… More »
What To Do When Executives Think Continuous Improvement Smells Fishy
Top executives are smart, but they don't always see the value of continuous improvement efforts. And continuous improvement professionals don't always communicate that value well to senior executives.… More »
Product Focus = Customer Focus
"Customer-defined value creation is the first principle of lean thinking... But how do you know your hard work will deliver a product your customer actually values and will buy?" Jim Morgan, former product/process development executive at Ford (and co-author of The Toyota Product Development System) tells us how to build "insanely good products."… More »
Long Live Process Improvement?
For many beginner practitioners, Lean seems like just another "flavor of the month" program. If it isn't communicated and taught well, Lean can be exactly this. In his first article for The Lean Post, LEI faculty member Greg Lane offers specific recommendations on how to avoid this pitfall and make Lean accessible and useful to all.… More »
Why It's Time to Embrace Design Thinking
What do lean thinking and design thinking have to do with each other? What do practitioners in each field have to learn from each other?… More »
Ask Art: How Do I Get Senior Leadership On Board with Lean?
Lean transformations are rarely successful without the support and participation of senior leadership. Art Byrne, former CEO of Wiremold, shares his advice to lean practitioners who are having difficulty getting senior leaders engaged.… More »
Upcycling Products Customers Actually Want
Nathan Rothstein, president of Project Repat, shares the story of how his startup evolved from an interesting idea to a successful business.… More »
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