On May 19, LEI will hold its first LEI Book Club, featuring The Gold Mine by Michael and Freddy Balle. This business novel offers people and teams a great introduction to the hard work of lean. Please join our LinkedIn Book Club group to join the conversation before and after our first formal meeting. Please also join us for the webinar with the author on May 19 by signing up here. Use the code BOOKCLUB-5-21 to receive a 20% discount when you buy the book at the LEI Bookstore.
How’s your lean transformation coming along?
What problems are you currently trying to solve? What is your primary business challenge? How does your defined problem align with that? And how messy has this process been? As in, how often has surfacing and then tackling problems merely uncovered yet more gnarly issues?
And, in the spirit of The Gold Mine and upcoming book club, does your team or organization have a sensei leading this work? How are you helping ensure that your improvement maintains a degree of mindfulness? Who or what is structuring your work to serve the most important goals? How are you building in self-reflection?
Because learning (as opposed to simply understanding) starts with self-reflection, LEI is launching the book club as a surrogate sensei to help practitioners learn lean. We are hoping to generate collective reflection, or in lean terms, hansei. What problems from this book do you relate to? What experiments have you tried? What have you learned in the process? What lean tools helped? What obstacles have emerged?
The Gold Mine tees up the technical details of a lean turnaround as table stakes in tackling the necessary behavioral changes needed for success. This dynamic story of the human challenges facing leaders in a lean transformation identifies many of the key challenges that will inevitably emerge—especially when one is on the right track.
Fundamental human issues will always be at the core of your efforts to apply lean as a means of improving how your organization works. Moreover, the pace at which your team generates and assimilates insights (its learning metabolism, if you will) serves as an informal takt for your lean progress.
We hope you will read the book and use it to guide your lean voyage. As the characters discover key lean lessons, ask yourself how these insights apply to the work you are doing. Please feel free to share your discoveries and questions with lean peers at the LEI Book Club LinkedIn Group and our Lean Book Club Slack channel, both before and after the May 19 book club meeting.
In the meantime, please consider the following questions that the book's characters must face:
- What is your fundamental business challenge?
- Where—and how—are you producing waste?
- How well is your work defined, and how rigorously does your team focus on doing the same activities in the same sequence?
- Does the work flow, and is it regulated by the pace of customer demand?
- How well does your Kanban reveal the sources of waste and the health of your processes?
- Can you trace the value stream all the way from raw material through production and into the arms of the customer?
As you tackle these questions, keep in mind that The Gold Mine was written as a novel to highlight the nature of the human interaction beyond the cold, dry facts of lean principles and tools. Learning lean has far more to do with emotion and behavior than simple cognition. So please put The Gold Mine to work. We hope the book club will help working groups explore and apply lean principles, regardless of where you may currently be on your own lean journey.