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Chet Marchwinski

Chet Marchwinski

Communications and Editorial, Lean Enterprise Institute

Chet has been covering the lean management movement since books by Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo first hit North America.  At LEI he oversees content creation, marketing, public relations, social media, and edits the Lean Lexicon. His checkered past includes stints as a newspaper reporter and a public relations account executive.

Articles by Chet Marchwinski
Remembering Norman Bodek, the “Miraculous Life” of an Author, Teacher, and Publisher of Groundbreaking Business Books
Called “Mr. Productivity” and the “Godfather of Lean,” Norman Bodek began 41 years ago translating and publishing groundbreaking books by the Japanese managers who had developed what would come to be called lean management. He died December 9, 2020, age 88. More »
Practical Approaches for Making Innovation an Enterprise-Wide Activity
Jim Morgan tells an interviewer how to make innovation an enterprise-wide endeavor, based on his years of experience as a product development researcher, author, and former executive. He also offers an effective tactic for spreading it through the supply chain. More »
Align Your Continuous Improvement Efforts: Practical Tips from 4 CEOs in 4 Major Business Sectors
Four CEOs who are leading lean management voices in the critical economic sectors of manufacturing, supply chain, healthcare, and education, offer advice on aligning your continuous improvement effort during the Virtual Lean Learning Experience conference. More »
Lean Management Leaders Weigh in on Climate Change, Coronavirus, Innovation, and More
Jim Womack, founding CEO of the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), and Jim Morgan, an experienced product development executive, explained how lean management practices could solve today’s toughest challenges during keynotes at a conference organized by LEI. More »
Quick and Practical Tips for Effective Virtual Process Mapping
In the wake of new lockdowns to halt the spread of the coronavirus, companies need ways for home-based team members and coaches to collaborate online to improve processes. So, in a recent webinar for product developers in the Lean Product and Process Development group, Coach John Drogosz demonstrated practical tips that you can use now for virtually mapping a process when the facilitator and team members are all working remotely. More »
The Healing Power of Lean Product and Process Development in Healthcare
Can Lean Product and Process Development or LPPD, which evolved in the automotive industry, work in healthcare? Paul Paliani, who worked for almost 20 years as an automotive engineer and now leads a healthcare innovation team, offers insights and results. More »
“Too much, Too early” and other Common Pitfalls of Lean Product Development
Veteran product development coaches Eric Ethington and Matt Zayko provide insights about the most common mistakes they see companies make when implementing Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD). More »
Exploring the Technical and Nontechnical Challenges of Being a Chief Engineer, a Candid Conversation with Two CEs (Part 2)
Chief engineers typically have strong technical skills to effectively lead and manage the work of engineers, designers, and other developers. But perhaps their greatest talent needs to be nontechnical, an observation that emerged in this interview with two chief engineers from TechnipFMC, conducted by LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski at last year’s Designing the Future Summit. More »
Exploring the Technical and Nontechnical Challenges of Being a Chief Engineer, A Candid Conversation with Two CEs (Part 1)
Chief engineers typically have strong technical skills to effectively lead and manage the work of engineers, designers, and other developers. But perhaps their greatest talent needs to be nontechnical, an observation that emerged in this interview with two chief engineers from TechnipFMC, conducted by LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski at last year’s Designing the Future Summit. More »
Exploring the Technical and Nontechnical Challenges of Being a Chief Engineer, A Candid Conversation with Two CEs
Chief engineers typically have strong technical skills to effectively lead and manage the work of engineers, designers, and other developers. But perhaps their greatest talent needs to be nontechnical, an observation that emerged in this interview with two chief engineers from TechnipFMC, conducted by LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski at last year’s Designing the Future Summit. More »
Autonomous Car Beta Version, Anyone? A Q&A with Jim Womack on Disruptive Innovation
What may be ahead for carmakers, product developers, and the lean management movement in a disrupted world is the subject of this Q&A with management author and expert Jim Womack, founding CEO of the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI). More »
Be More Innovative with These Resources and Ideas for Exploiting World-Shaping Trends
Great products and services begin with great ideas and great ideas are informed by the big trends that are shaping the world. But how do you sort through them all so you can zero in on the ones most important for innovation in your company? Andi Plantenberg, founder and principal of innovation consultancy FutureTight, offers resources in this Q&A. More »
New Book Explains How to Create “Steady Work” in Unsteady Times with Standardized Work Cadences
In Steady Work, the new book from the Lean Enterprise Institute, author and former Starbucks’ Regional Manager Karen Gaudet offers astute business guidance for turbulent times and a heartfelt personal story about how the continuous improvement operating system revitalized the retailer during the global financial crisis and helped employees in Newtown, CT, get through the worst week of their lives. More »
Are These Two Non-learning Trends Hurting Your Company Culture?
The beating heart of continuous improvement is learning, concludes author and product development executive Jim Morgan, who has done pioneering work researching and implementing lean product development. But he sees two disturbing “nonlearning” trends that, if present in your culture, will hamstring any improvement efforts. More »
From Troubleshooting a Leaky Toilet Flapper to Innovating the Internet, a Comprehensive Problem-Solving Framework
Arriving at his hotel after midnight, author and business consultant Art Smalley just wanted to get some sleep before his keynote presentation later that day. But Smalley, whose latest book on #lean management is "Four Types of Problems," first had to solve a problem. More »
Perspectives of a Chief Engineer on Starting and Sustaining Lean Product and Process Development
Steve Shoemaker, general manager at Caterpillar Inc.  , first applied lean product and process development (LPPD) practices as the chief engineer on a new platform of next-generation hydraulic excavators, overseeing the new product from concept to production. He shared his insights on applying LPPD principles, how to sustain them, and leading teams of engineers with LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski at the annual Designing the Future Summit. More »
Want Better Relations and Results from Suppliers? Hear Two Execs Explain the Benefits of "Matched Pair” Leadership
New products and service development does not stop at the exterior walls of your company. Outside suppliers play critical roles, but the relationships between companies and suppliers are often akin to cage fighting. That's where the innovative “matched pair” process comes in to dramatically improve relationships as well as business performance. Listen to a matched pair of executives describe the process. More »
Smitten Engineers or Love at First Sight of a Solution?
Entrepreneur Tyler Schilling has felt the pain of engineering heartbreak – falling in love early with a solution only to realize later in the project that the idea you are wedded to is fundamentally flawed. The cure for developing an early crush on solutions is set-based design but implementing it takes a change in company culture, as he explains in this candid iterview. More »
Warning: What You Call Kaizen May Really Be Rework
If you begin your lean management transformation on the shop floor, you run the risk of having to rework processes and products that should have been much, much better coming out of the development system. So, if you want the best leverage point for a lean transformation, move upstream from production to product development. Jim Morgan, LEI author and former Rivian COO explains in this interview. More »
An Innovative Framework for Designing Better Products and Services – and a Better Future
Because of the enormous “shadow” it casts over the entire enterprise for years, product development literally designs the future of companies, employees, customers, and suppliers. In this Q&A, product development expert Jim Morgan, co-author of Designing the Future, describes a fundamentally different – and much better – way to develop new products and services. More »
Ugly Babies, Silent Enemies and Other Short Stories from a Continuous Improvement Conference
Besides the lessons, challenges, and results that belong to a company’s lean transformation, there are personal journeys as well. Here’s a summary of some we heard at a recent conference. More »
How to Create a Lean Management Book Club that Executives Will Actually Attend
At the start of a lean transformation, a continuous improvement leader convinced her division president that a book club would be a good way to introduce leaders to lean concepts. Here’s what she did to make the club interesting and valuable for its busy participants, including what worked and what didn’t. More »
Andon Cues Service Center to Respond to Customer Queue
An Ohio Mutual service center has no andon cord to stop a production line but the principal is the same as in a factory -- an abnormality has occurred, take corrective action. More »
When A3s Get Personal
Think A3s are just for organizational problems? Think again. Katie Anderson discusses how to adapt A3 thinking to guide our personal development. More »
Lean Leadership at Legal Sea Foods: An Interview with Roger Berkowitz
Watch the video to hear Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz explain the effects lean has has on his own personal leadership style, plus the culture of Legal Sea Foods as a whole. More »
Fresh Baked Lean: The Story of 365 Café's Lean Transformation
When you think of environments for a lean transformation, does a bakery come to mind? Probably not, but growing pains-plagued 365 Café of Barcelona was an ideal setting. Here's their story. 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 »
Problem-Solving: One Size Does Not Fit All, Part 2
Just as different types of tires are needed for different road conditions, different types of problem-solving are needed to tackle different problems. Watch this video to hear Art Smalley continue yesterday's video's discussion on problem solving and talk about his forthcoming book, "The Four Types of Problem-Solving.  " More »
Problem-Solving: One Size Does Not Fit All, Part 1
Problem solving is at the core of any lean transformation. But both beginners and experts will tell you that it isn't easy to do it efficiently and effectively. In fact you might even end up making it harder than it has to be! In this exclusive interview, Art Smalley dishes on an all-too-common hurdle he sees people struggle with in their problem solving and shares his best tips for getting past it. More »
Dear Professor, Am I Ever Glad You Covered Lean in Class!
Since 2008, the Lean Enterprise Institute has sponsored the Excellence in Lean Accounting Award to fund scholarships helping pairs of students and professors attend the annual Lean Accounting Summit. In this series, we talk to past award winners to learn what impact the scholarship and award have had on the teaching and practice of accounting. More »
Rising to the Challenge: The Lean Journey of Phase 2 (video)
In this video, Adam Prime, president of Phase 2 Medical Device Manufacturing shares some insider info on his organization's lean journey to reach their aggressive productivity and efficiency goals, as well as the impact it had on both him and his company. More »
Jim Morgan and Durward Sobek Discuss Lean Product and Process Development
LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski discusses applying the principles of lean management to product development with Jim Morgan and Durward Sobek. More »
Rethinking Disaster Recovery on the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
As the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches on August 23rd-29th, read about how lean thinking is changing how New Orleans and the rest of the U.  S. is recovering from disasters. Then read or bookmark the full case study. More »
Book Value: The Lean CEO
Chet Marchwinski reviews Jacob Stoller's book, The Lean CEO, a first-hand testimony from business leaders contesting traditional management practices about everything from accounting to batch size, employee involvement, motivation, leadership, economies of scale, and a raft of other conventional methods More »
Why Lean Fails in Job Shops... and What to Do to Succeed
Like many job shop owners, LEI faculty member Greg Lane struggled with implementing lean principles early on. The experiences and books he had been exposed to were based on repetitive manufacturing. Job shops with their high-mix, low-volume product lineup present a challenge to lean thinkers -- but not an insurmountable one. Read why. More »
Kaizen Event “Malpractice” and What to Do About It
Performed properly, kaizen events create the technical and cultural foundation for daily continuous improvement. Performed improperly, they can get you nowhere fast. Learn more about the real purpose of kaizen events (and how to run effective ones) in this video interview with Chet Marchwinski and LEI faculty member Mark Hamel. 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 »
Value Stream Maps and Battle Plans - Are They Worth Nothing?
“I’m reluctant to say maps are nothing, but there’s a difference between maps and mapping," Judy Worth says, paraphrasing Eisenhower’s insight that battle plans meant nothing, but PLANNING for battle was indispensable. “An awful lot of lot of the benefit that comes out of value-stream maps comes from the process of mapping with other people.  " More »
Latondra Newton on the Toyota Production System and Social Innovation
The success of Toyota’s lean management principles in manufacturing, healthcare, product development, and other areas is well known and well documented. Now the company is applying these concepts to social innovation in order to give back to society. Read more in Chet Marchwinski's interview with Toyota's Chief Social Innovation Officer, Latondra Newton. More »
Lean Principles Are Changing How the U.S. Recovers from Tornadoes & Floods
When the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina receded, they uncovered tens of thousands of homes in devastated areas such as St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, that needed rebuilding. But the subsiding waters also exposed a rebuilding process that needed rethinking. More »
Sam MacPherson on the Green Beret Way to Develop Leaders
Training leaders to perform at high levels during a lean transformation or in the Army’s vaunted Green Berets has more in common than you think, according to retired Special Forces commander Sam MacPherson. Chet Marchwinski sits down with MacPherson to talk leadership and learning. More »
Rich Sheridan on How to Succeed by Building a Strong Learning Culture
Rich Sheridan, CEO of the software company Menlo Innovations, talks with LEI's Chet Marchwinski about Menlo's unique learning culture, taking their end users' wants and needs seriously, and the power of lean product and process development ideas working together as a system. More »
Kata Konfusion
Author and LEI faculty member Drew Locher explains why it is important when using the kata improvement methodology to not focus solely on key performance indicators. More »
The Lean Thinker Who is Capable of Creating Other Lean Thinkers
LEI faculty member David Verble explains what it means to be an effective manager or lean coach and why it's so important to practice something called "humble inquiry" if you want to develop team members who are problem solvers. Watch the full video interview or read excerpts. More »
Lean Practitioners Gather to Share Ideas that Grow the Bottom Line by Growing People’s Knowledge
We were among the nearly 2,000 lean thinkers attending the 2014 AME conference, organized around six value streams: Engaged People, Daily Improvement, Innovation, Extended Enterprise, Sustainability, Achieving Business Results.  The story offers a sample presentation from each value stream with an emphasis on providing practical ideas you can use in your lean journey. More »
Lean Thinking for Warehousing and Distribution: How to Know Your Business
"The vast majority of warehouse or distribution center managers have nowhere near the level of detail about the business that’s needed for a lean transformation," says lean veteran David Graham. Learn what kind of knowledge and data you need and how to get it. More »
Looking Back and Ahead at The Lean Transformation Summit
Read the highlights from the 2014 Lean Transformation Summit in Orlando (featuring transformation stories from companies like GE, Cardinal Health, and Food Bank For New York City) and tell us what you'd like to see and learn at next year's summit! More »
Real Concurrent Engineering: Developing Engineers and Products Simultaneously
Jim Morgan and Durward Sobek compare and contrast Lean with traditional product and process development. More »
Using Lean To Fundamentally Rethink How We Develop Products and Services
Jim Morgan (former Global Engineering Director at Ford Motor Company) and Durward Sobek (Professor of Industrial Engineering at Montana State University) discuss the 2nd edition of Lean Product and Process Development. More »
Managing By Not Wandering Around
“We’re still very early in our journey,” says Dan McDonnell, VP of Operational Excellence at Ingersoll Rand. “But we’re following a transformation model that lets us learn through ideation and experimentation what works and what doesn’t.  " More »
On Lean Production's 25th Anniversary: Candid Reflections
At the 2013 AME (Association for Manufacturing Excellence) conference three management thought leaders (Jim Womack, Dan Jones, and John Shook) sat down for a wide ranging conversation about Lean’s current and future states. More »
“Lean Production” Turns 25
Author and management expert James Womack talks with The Leaning Edge about the state of lean management and what’s new in his latest book, the expanded edition of Gemba Walks.    More »
How You Can Influence a Lean Transformation
A Lean Enterprise Institute faculty member and co-author of Toyota Culture, Mike Hoseus explains how you can positively influence senior management support for a lean transformation.    More »
Now What Do We Call the Karaoke Bar?
We asked the lean community to sound off on whether or not they favored using Japanese terms in their lean transformations. The results were interesting and far ranging. More »
Lean Accounting’s Acceptance Makes Slow, Steady Headway in Academia
Professor Gerald DeBusk, PhD, winner of an Excellence in Lean Accounting Award from the Lean Enterprise Institute, reflects on the progress -- or lack of it -- of lean concepts in academia. More »
Lean Leadership: a continuing series of interviews with senior executives on how they lead in a lean culture
The Lean Enterprise Institute interviews executives from manufacturing, service, and healthcare organizations on what they had to do differently to manage and lead in a lean management system. More »
Leadership Q&A: Robert Chapman, chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc: “Guiding Principles of Leadership”
Barry-Wehmiller Companies, Inc. CEO Robert Chapman describes how the company's Guiding Principles of Leadership merge with lean thinking at this $1.  1 billion global manufacturer of capital equipment and provider of engineering consulting More »
Value-Stream Mapping at FAA Office Improves Information Flow
Lean management principles and tools originated on the shop floor to improve manufacturing processes but in its first value-stream mapping project, a regional office of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) found that lean thinking is just as effective in improving work flow processes in an office. More »