Home > Knowledge Center

Knowledge Center

Media Format: Articles; Case Studies; Columns; eLetters; Forms and Templates; Videos and Webinars
Does it matter if we call lean "lean"?
By: Michael Balle' | September 17, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,If it works, why worry if it’s called lean, operational excellence, or the company’s excellence system? As long as we get results, what does it matter? More »
Lean Transformation? Not Buying It
By: Mike Orzen | September 17, 2018
Companies often describe their transformation efforts in terms of an end-state: focusing on targeted results. They see transformation as a noun--a specific target or condition they wish to attain at a point in time. This paradigm prevents them from viewing transformation as a verb - a way of being they need to live every day. More »
Ask Art: Why Does Boosting Inventory Turns Matter So Much?
By: Art Byrne | September 13, 2018
If you want to deliver more value to our customers such that you can grow and gain market share then you should certainly focus on reducing inventory, says Art Byrne. Doing so frees up cash and capacity, boosts flow, and pushes you to solve problems as they crop up. More »
A Great Company Culture Takes Purpose
By: Tyler Schilling | September 12, 2018
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
By: Michael Ballé | September 11, 2018
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 »
We're working hard on problem solving so why don't I see any improvement in our problem-solving capability?
By: Michael Ballé | September 10, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  We're working hard on problem solving, asking "why" repeatedly, and looking for root causes, but I'm afraid I fail to see any improvement in our problem-solving capability or why looking for hidden causes should help. More »
The Escalator of Issues
By: James P. Womack | September 7, 2018
A daily management system with daily performance metrics gives caregivers the sense that managers are really paying attention, that problems really are being addressed, and that over time this will mean stability and a lower level of stress for all staff, says Jim Womack. More »
Avoiding Dashboard Wallpaper
By: Leslie Barker | September 6, 2018
Build a system of dashboards up and down the organization, says Leslie Barker. Connect them so ideas flow upward and support flows to the idea. It’s a bit tricky setting up dashboards that summarize the performance and capture the critical ideas of many departments below, but it can be done through trial and error. More »
How to Lead with Values
By: Jeff Thompson | September 5, 2018
A former health system CEO says it’s “strategically sound” for leaders to define a set of values that they and their organizations will live by because values ultimately help organizations grow. Here's how: More »
Why does visual management at a Toyota plant look so much different than at ours?
By: Michael Ballé | September 3, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  We have been deploying lean visual management in my company for a while now, and I am troubled because I finally visited a Toyota plant and found far fewer boards and papers on the walls than we use – we seem to cover every surface. It made me wonder whether we’re doing this right. More »
Real Leaders Think and Act Differently
By: Darren Walsh | August 31, 2018
Are your management routines and Gemba Walks suffering from the superficial observations of the day-tripper? Or are your leaders adding real value to your employees, the organisation and your customers? More »
Toyota the Disrupter
By: Jim Morgan | August 29, 2018
Toyota may not be the first company you think of for disruptive product and process development, but perhaps they should be, argues Jim Morgan. The tools and practices that Toyota uses have been adapted and applied successfully by companies large and small, in a wide variety of industries and in places all over the world. More »
Getting Out of the Habit of Telling
By: Katie Anderson | August 27, 2018
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 »
What is the hardest conversation you ever had during gemba walks?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 27, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  What is the hardest conversation that you have during gemba walks? More »
How Does Asking Questions Create Change?
By: Michael Ballé and Tracey Richardson | August 23, 2018
Lean is not a sum of processes to acquire and apply which then will make things magically work better. It’s a set of techniques to visualize delivery processes so everyone understands them at a glance, reveal problems to give opportunities for people to exercise their abilities to think, be creative and utilize their strengths to self-actualize in the course of their work. More »
Confessions of an Aspiring Coach
By: Cheryl Jekiel | August 22, 2018
What I have found most striking about how managers approach building their coaching skills is the need to be more vulnerable with each other about this challenge. The greatest progress seems to come when managers are able to look to each other for more support and ideas for how to redirect years of patterned behavior. More »
Are You Learning to Learn Faster? A Conversation with Steve Spear
By: Lean Leaper | August 21, 2018
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 »
We mapped a process, improved it, but six months later, performance is as bad as it was before – what are we missing?
By: Michael Balle | August 20, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  We’ve drawn the value-stream map of one of our complex production processes (17 steps), identified the key bottlenecks and improved the process. Yet, six months later, the performance is just as bad as it was before – what are we missing?  More »
Ask Art: What's Wrong with Organizing By Function?
By: Art Byrne | August 16, 2018
While you might be able to survive and be profitable using a traditional functional structure the fact is that you will be leaving a lot of money on the table. Moving to lean and flow eliminates structural problems, lowers cost, improves quality, shortens lead times and is more responsive to the customer. More »
Cardboard, Duct Tape, and String: The Do-First Mindset
By: Mark Reich | August 15, 2018
Whatever field you work in, if you are responsible for kaizen in your company, strive for quick change in your workplace by finding your cardboard, duct tape, and string, says lean coach Mark Reich. More »
React Less and Improve More by Using SPC More Effectively
By: Mark Graban | August 14, 2018
When we stop reacting to “noise” in a metric, we can better focus our improvement efforts, waste less time, and improve more, says Mark Graban. That should all be a core principle of Lean management that can help leaders in any setting. More »
What's your definition of lean?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 13, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  My company is adopting lean, which has so many definitions that I find it confusing. What's your definition and why can’t all these lean experts agree? More »
Sensing the Gemba
By: Mike Orzen and Tracey Richardson | August 10, 2018
The next time you show up at the gemba to do a “go and see,” take a personal assessment of your level of focus, presence and awareness. Choose any one of your senses to focus within first, so you can be 100 percent present to deeply sense what is going on with the people and work processes of the value stream. More »
Fresh Eyes Bring Lean Problems into Clarity
By: Jim Morgan | August 8, 2018
“Fresh eyes” reviews are an indispensible part of developing new value. It’s amazing what you can learn from the input of a knowledgable outsider, because developers are often so close to the work for so long that they can miss some obvious opportunities. More »
As Toast Kaizen Turns 20, Bruce Hamilton Shares How This Famous Video Came About
By: Bruce Hamilton | August 7, 2018
Watch this "director's cut" video by Bruce Hamilton sharing the backstory behind what has become a classic lean resource: Toast Kaizen. More »
From Port to Plate: How Legal Sea Foods Is Improving Through Lean
By: Lean Leaper | August 6, 2018
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 »
What personal qualities should I work on to improve my practice of lean?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 6, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, What personal qualities should I work on to improve how I practice lean? More »
The Cascade of Hoshin
By: James P. Womack | August 3, 2018
Toyota President Akio Toyoda and the senior leadership team have decided that the simultaneous emergence of autonomy, alternative energy, shared assets, and hyper-connectivity are collectively creating a “once-in-a-century disruption” in the auto industry as it transitions to a mobility industry, commonly termed Mobility 2.  0. Jim Womack shares how they are using hoshin to tackle this. More »
PD C+ A+ In the Classroom
By: Allison O'Neill | August 1, 2018
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 »
Operator #1
By: Eric Buehrens | July 31, 2018
Getting around the lean community more is the summer job of Eric Buehrens, LEI’s CEO, including a stint as Operator #1, which turned out to be the season’s highlight. More »
Show More »