Co-Owner, LEI Faculty
, Teaching Lean Incorporated
Tracey has over 29 year’s combined experience in different roles within Toyota and learned lean practices as a group leader at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky from 1988-1998. She was one of the first team members hired, with the fortunate opportunity to learn directly from Japanese trainers. As a group leader and quality circle advisor, she learned first-hand about lean tools and culture development.
For the last 19 years, as president of Teaching Lean, Inc. Tracey has worked with Toyota North American plants, and other companies on their lean journeys, helping them develop the capabilities of employees, including team members and company leaders. Using problem-solving and aligning daily activities with company business plans, she helps them create lean cultures that are the foundations for long-term sustainability.
Tracey is an active coach and contributor to LEI’s The Lean Post. She teaches several problem-solving and A3 workshops as an LEI faculty member. She is coauthor of the new book The Toyota Engagement Equation.
Articles by Tracey Richardson
Cultivating Intuition at the Gemba
Our trainers conditioned us to water the seed of experience and use it not just to fire-fight but rather be more predictive and value add with our time and how we taught others. We encourage each person to learn to trust their intuition enough to see through the process each day to ensure the purpose and accountability for standards and why we have them is known and bought into, not just a suggestion to do. More »
No Space to Think
Tracey and Ernie Richardsons talk about "space to think," leadership by employers and employees, the state of the lean management movement, and being a “sponge” rather than an expert. More »
How Does Asking Questions Create Change?
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 »
Sensing the Gemba
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 »
Build Awareness Through Seeing How Eliminating Waste Reduces Costs
As we grow our people we must continue to add new dimensions of thinking to engage them in their work and to empower them to always be looking for or trying new ideas, says Tracey Richardson. Building awareness of how to reduce costs forms a foundation for continued improvement. 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 »
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 »
Becoming My Own Gemba
Like me, thousands of people suffer from undiagnosed or more complex medical conditions that mimic other conditions. And my TPS training in a way of thinking about making things better helped me approach this condition in a productive manner. 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 »
PDCA thinking and the NCAA March Madness tournament
"There is so much thinking that goes into this thing called 'Bracketology,' which gives sports fans a way to 'grasp the situation' of their favorite team (or the one they may be cheering for at tournament time)," write Tracey and Ernie Richardson. Ad a lot of that thinking may have more in common with lean than you might expect. Read more. More »
Looking for split seconds, it can mean a NASCAR race WIN!
Tracey and Ernie Richardson explore how NASCAR pit crews use visuals for safety and speed. More »
Getting to Sustainability
Sustaining gains from kaizen thinking is one of the hardest, and certainly most misunderstood, aspects of this work. It’s misunderstood because the actual change takes place at the beginning of the journey. Learn one of the best ways to Get to Sustainability from LEI faculty members Tracey and Ernie Richardson. More »
Raised by Toyota: A Question and Answer with Tracey and Ernie Richardson
In this extended interview, Toyota veterans Tracey and Ernie Richardson share how they learned at the source, explain how they apply their lessons widely (including their personal life), and speculate why this system called lean could just as well be called. .. our J-O-B. More »
The Value of Key Performance Indicators in a Lean Transformation
We all know to watch out for key performance indicators (KPIs) in the workplace - but are you tracking the RIGHT KPIs? Ernie and Tracey Richardson share their thoughts on the two categories of KPIs, how they can help you, and how to identify them. More »
PDCA, Fitness Apps, and Using Social Media to Improve Our Health
"Health isn't about always being perfect," writes lean coach Tracey Richardson. "Just like in our organizations, we all have imperfect days. It’s how we change our process to meet expectations that is important. " 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 »
We're Ernie and Tracey Richardson: Ask Us Anything
It's our second "Ask Me Anything" post, this time with lean coaches Tracey and Ernie Richardson. With a combined 54 years of experience at Toyota, here's your chance to ask them questions on problem solving and all things capability development! More »
GTS6 + E3 = DNA (Break the Code for Standardization, Sustainability, and Kaizen)
There's no "formula" for doing Lean well, but there are principles and practices that keep you on track. Read Tracey Richardson's (memorable) advice for leading effectively at work. More »
Test Your PDCA Thinking By Reading Your A3 Backwards
Pretty sure you've got a good A3, but want to test the logic of your thinking? Want some help coaching another person through their A3 thinking? Tracey Richardon shares her wisdom. More »
The Difference a Visual Cue Makes
At work and off the clock, visual cues and andons keep us safe and aware of what's going on at all times. How do you use visual cues to alert yourself and others to problems and/or improve your work? More »
Create a Real A3, Do More Than Fill In Boxes
Is your A3 a piece of paper? or is a document you've created with your team to "share wisdom" with the rest of your organization? Read more from lean coach Tracey Richardson on how to create an effective A3 and why it's so important to understand the A3 as a thinking process, not a tool. More »
The Thinking Behind Toyota's Hiring Process
Lean coach Tracey Richardson reflects on Toyota's hiring process when she joined the company 28 years ago, why it was so unique then, and how she continues to learn from that experience today. More »
Standardized Work for Kaizen: Define, Achieve, Maintain, Improve
We can all agree that kaizen (continuous improvement to create more value with less waste) is important, but do you have standardized work for kaizen? What are the actual process steps for kaizen? More »
One Simple Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Coaching
When you put people on the defense, you miss out on a lot more than improved performance and results. Tracey Richardson shares her insights on how to better engage your best resource--people. More »
Catchball Helps Us Get Past We Versus They
When employees dread going to work every day, your company loses. Read what Tracey Richardson has to say about boosting workplace morale. More »
Practicing What We Teach
"Do all Lean practitioners practice what they teach?" Maybe, maybe not. Tracey Richardson tries to as much as she can, and here's why. More »
Create Your Fantasy Island Organizational Culture
What would your dream organizational culture look like? What about your fantasy lean transformation? Tracey Richardson shares her advice for turning at least some of these hopes and ambitions into a reality. More »
What do effective leaders actually do every day? GTS4
So many of us know the value of lean thinking and practice, but what do lean leaders actually do every day? Tracey Richardson offers a simple formula to help leaders and change agents stay disciplined about where they dedicate their attention, time, and energy. More »
Leading and Learning the Toyota Way
Lean coach and LEI faculty member, Tracey Richardson, tells us why a learner's attitude is essential for effective leadership and in creating a lean management system. More »
Don't Call It...Anything
Would lean be easier to teach and learn if it weren't called lean? If in fact it weren't labeled at all? Tracey Richaardson explains why. More »
Are You Being SMART?
Coach Tracey Richardson shares five key qualities that should inform your A3 thinking. More »
What is Your Line of Sight?
Coach Tracey Richardson explains why having a line of sight aligns you with the organizations purpose, and helps you determine how to define your own line of sight. More »
Are You Having Problems with Your Problem-Solving?
Here are some useful questions to ask about how you approach problems. Following them may help you avoid some common mistakes and form better habits. More »
How are Assumptions Framing the Way You Do Business?
Coach Tracey Richardson shares a productive way to examine whether you are dealing with facts or assumptions at the gemba. More »
A3: Tool or Process? Both....
Coach Tracey Richardson explains why an A3 is both a useful tool that captures and shares the results of an investigation--and is also a thinking process that cannot be ignored. More »
Workshops Taught by Tracey Richardson
Developing and Cascading Hoshin Kanri Directional Management KPI's
This 2 day workshop will take a deep dive into helping clarify the relationship of Hoshin Kanri directional management planning to A3 problem solving within each level of the organization (vertically and horizontally) ensuring all of the functional areas begin to see through the same continuous improvement lens. More »
Key Concepts of Lean
Designed for individuals and teams that want to gain a better understanding of the components and underlying philosophy of lean, based on the Toyota Production System (TPS), and how the elements and philosophy work together to create a Lean Enterprise. More »
Lean Problem Solving
Harness the DNA of successful, sustainable lean implementations. You'll learn and practice the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) problem-solving method in this interactive workshop. More »
Managing to Learn: The Use of the A3 Management Process
This workshop introduces the A3 management process and the way of thinking represented in the A3 format that capture the heart of lean management. Participants will be provided an overview of various forms and uses of the A3 format and will have an opportunity to create their own A3. Working in small groups, they will be able to read, discuss, and evaluate each another’s A3s. More »