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Lesa Nichols

Lesa Nichols

Lesa Nichols has spent over two decades guiding a vast array of clients toward improved performance by applying the principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS). She is one of the nation’s foremost experts of TPS, a system of pulling together all elements needed for customer-focused operations: skilled people, effective machines, trusted materials, repeatable methods, and supportive systems. As a key leader within Toyota’s North American TPS centers, Nichols led teams who analyzed and solved the toughest operational problems within Toyota, its supply base, and even companies outside the automotive sector who were also keen to improve through TPS methods. Nichols and her teams, gained their skills working with Toyota operations explorers who supported Taiichi Ohno’s experiments in the early days of his efforts to achieve unheard of levels of productivity improvement. As results were proven, they were bundled into what we now call TPS. Nichols applied these concepts rigorously while serving as a production manager in the Power Train operation of Toyota’s North American flagship plant in Georgetown, Kentucky. Just prior to launching her own consultancy, Lesa spent four years guiding clients of the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership (GBMP) to successful enterprise level improvements. Beyond performance measurements, each engagement released previously untapped human potential for solving problems and finding innovative solutions. Lesa helps companies and organizations understand TPS in both principle and practice and can apply these techniques to improve company performance within any discipline and industry.
Articles by Lesa Nichols
How to Know If Your Team is Ready for Kaizen
"Do we even know what the Kaizen aim of “engaged employees” means, beyond the clichés?" asks lean coach Lesa Nichols. Read Lesa's tips for getting a read on your team and then genuinely involving all team members in meaningful work. More »
Visualize the Invisible: Connect Improvement Work to Real Business Needs
Reflecting on one of her most powerful learning experiences, Lesa Nichols writes, "It struck me that I hadn’t coached my team explicitly on how to visualize our work. Why was that, anyway? I realized that making a good visual story of improvement work is not something most people want to do or know how to do.  " More »
Making a Football is a Contact Sport
With football on the brain after the Superbowl, Lesa Nichols reflects on the football manufacturing process. "There's a concept called muri, which means physical and/or mental overburden for the employee who does the value-adding work," she writes. "This process appears to be FULL of muri.  " Check out how a football is made and let us know what you think. More »
The Angry Team Member and the Changing Organization
Toyota veteran and lean coach Lesa Nichols reflects on one of the most challenging and ultimately rewarding conversations she had with a team member. More »
I Don't Know What I Don't Know, But Spread the Word
In her first piece for the Post, Lesa Nichols reflects on one of her most powerful learning experiences while working as a powertrain manager at Toyota's Georgetown, Kentucky plant. More »