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All Lean Is Local
By: Josh Howell | April 19, 2019
When I think about the idea of “all Lean is local,” I think about the fundamental entry point question for any Lean thinker in any situation, which is: “what's the problem to solve here? What's the problem to solve now?” More »
How Purpose Shapes Culture
By: Richard Sheridan | April 17, 2019
A purpose-driven culture is hard to build, says CEO Rich Sheridan of Menlo Innovations. It takes time. You will suffer setbacks, you will be mocked until everyone says what you do is just obvious, and some people will expect immediate results while you are rebuilding the airplane you’re flying in. Remember that you’re doing it for the right reasons. And it will result in joy. More »
As someone who is new to lean, is there something I’m not being told?
By: Michael Ballé | April 15, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, I’m new to lean, and I find it fascinating. Is there something I’m not being told? Is there an elephant in the room I should be aware of in my exploration of lean? More »
The Gift of Yokoten
By: James P. Womack | April 15, 2019
In this article originally published in Planet Lean, after a visit to Goshen, Indiana, Jim Womack shared thoughts on the gift of lean thinking and the obligation that individuals learning this way of thinking feel about sharing what they've learned with others. More »
Designing the Future Book Club Questions
April 12, 2019
Designing the Future shares real-world examples from a diverse set of industries including aerospace, energy, software, automotive, healthcare, heavy equipment, and more.  In its pages, globally recognized lean development expert James Morgan teams up with world-renowned lean management guru Jeffrey Liker to explain how these leading companies are using this powerful new Lean Product and Process Development (LPPD) framework to create better futures for themselves and all their stakeholders.  Examples in the book show specifically how companies are redesigning product development systems to consistently design and deliver a progression of market-leading products and services.  LEI makes it easy to learn together, More »
Kaizen Express Book Club Questions
April 12, 2019
What should you do first when starting to implement lean manufacturing? What comes next, then next? With the raft of information now available about lean principles, it’s easy to get confused.  Kaizen Express clarifies the process using a rapid, nonstop style to explain the essential elements of the Toyota Production System (TPS) in a logical implementation sequence.  This succinct but comprehensive back-to-basics book offers lean novices and veterans alike a comprehensive primer on lean principles and implementation that returns to fundamentals and stresses the importance of learning by doing at the individual and team levels.  LEI makes it easy to learn together, More »
Learning to See Book Club Questions
April 12, 2019
Value-stream maps are the blueprints for lean transformations and Learning to See is an easy-to-read, step-by-step instruction manual that teaches this valuable tool to anyone, regardless of his or her background.  This groundbreaking workbook, which has introduced the value-stream mapping tool to thousands of people around the world, breaks down the important concepts of value-stream mapping into an easily grasped format.   To encourage you to become actively involved in the learning process, Learning to See contains a case study based on a fictional company, Acme Stamping. You begin by mapping the current state of the value stream, looking for all the sources of waste. After identifying More »
Managing to Learn Book Club Questions
April 12, 2019
Managing to Learn by Toyota veteran John Shook, reveals the thinking underlying the A3 management process found at the heart of lean management and leadership. Constructed as a dialogue between a manager and his boss, the book explains how “A3 thinking” helps managers and executives identify, frame, and act on problems and challenges. Shook calls this A3 approach, “the key to Toyota’s entire system of developing talent and continually deepening its knowledge and capabilities.  ”A unique book layout puts the thoughts of a lean manager struggling to apply the A3 process to a key project on one side of the page More »
Real Numbers Book Club Questions
April 12, 2019
Current management accounting practices produce financial statements that are unnecessarily complex and confusing. As a result, most companies are run by executives who do not fully understand their own financial information.  This explosive issue and its implications are fully explored in Real Numbers.   The authors, each a chief financial executive, describe how management accounting evolved to this point and how simplicity and clarity can be restored – particularly in a lean organization.  Companies throughout the world are using lean principles to dramatically change the competitive landscape while generating new profitability and market share. As these companies transform, however, financial executives are More »
The Ingredients of Lean
By: Steve Brenneman | April 12, 2019
Lean practitioner Steve Brenneman finds shared values in his Mennonite faith and his lean practice: a strong set of values like community over individual, thriftiness over sloppiness, doing more with less, honing of skills through seeking out the knowledge of others. He shares illustrations of this in both classic Mennonite cookbooks and TWI instructions. More »
What Do Managers Do?
By: Matthew Savas | April 10, 2019
After walking the gemba with sensei Hideshi Yokoi, Matt Savas learned three basic agreements between workers and management, and shared his discovery that a production analysis board is a figurative and literal social contract that binds management and workers together. More »
Ask Art: Why Focus on Why When Doing A Lean Turnaround?
By: Art Byrne | April 8, 2019
In switching to lean, understanding the WHY is the most important thing, argues Art Byrne. It helps people overcome their traditional beliefs about how something can be done. It is in essence the strategy of the business; removing the waste from your operations in order to deliver more value to the customer. More »
What's different about implementing lean in a low-volume, high-variety environment?
By: Michael Ballé | April 8, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  I manage a plant that makes highly engineered, low-volume products. What do I have to do differently from the high-volume guys to implement lean management concepts? More »
Lean Is A Product-Driven Strategy
By: Michael Ballé | April 3, 2019
What is at the core of lean? Michael Balle argues, in terms of our best known example: "Toyota is not an efficiency-driven company. It’s a product-driven company.  " More »
How Standardized Work Integrates People With Process
By: John Y. Shook | April 1, 2019
In this three part series on SW, John Shook argues that "the Toyota Way is a socio-technical system on steroids. A test for all our lean systems is the question of how well we integrate people with process (the social with the technical). Nowhere does that come together more than in the form of standardized work and kaizen.  " More »
If lean is valid in all situations doesn't that make it an ideology?
By: Michael Ballé | April 1, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  Is lean really valid in all situations? That sounds like ideology to me! More »
"But TPS Doesn't Apply to Us...."
By: Mark Graban | March 25, 2019
Yes, cars are not weaving looms. Patients are not cars, either. Airplanes are not cars. Electric vehicles are not the same as internal-combustion engine vehicles. We can play that “one of these things is not like the other” game all day long. A better use of time, perhaps, is to think about how TPS concepts and high-level Lean management principles can be adapted to your own setting, argues Mark Graban. More »
How do I practice lean when I don't feel a strong attachment to my knowledge worker team?
By: Michael Ballé | March 25, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  How do I practice lean consistently when I don't feel a strong attachment to my team? We do "knowledge work" and are rarely together in the same room.    Meetings never follow a standard format--nor regular cadence. More »
Getting Home (Chapter 1)
March 22, 2019
An excerpt from Getting HomeChapter One: A Teacher and a Lawyer Walk into a Hippie TentThe eeriest thing was the stillness. Especially at night when there should have been bugs and frogs singing all around, we would lie in our tent and listen to the silence. There were no birds to wake us up in the morning, only the sounds of people wrestling pots and pans, preparing breakfast. In the middle of a once-vibrant parish just outside New Orleans proper, it was too quiet.  This was six months after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, six months after the levees failed More »
Getting Home (Foreward)
March 22, 2019
An excerpt from Getting HomeForewardThe eeriest thing was the stillness. Especially at night when there should have been bugs and frogs singing all around, we would lie in our tent and listen to the silence. There were no birds to wake us up in the morning, only the sounds of people wrestling pots and pans, preparing breakfast. In the middle of a once-vibrant parish just outside New Orleans proper, it was too quiet.  This was six months after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, six months after the levees failed and stormwater rushed through streets, over and into homes, businesses, and More »
Kanban As A Learning Strategy
By: Michael Ballé, Jacques Chaize, Orest (Orry) Fiume and Daniel T. Jones | March 22, 2019
Toyota’s Kanban legacy—and its underlying ideas—have far more direct lineage with today’s digital economy than most folks realize; and capture the core elements of the disruptive lean strategy fueling many of today’s successes. More »
Designed In Quality
By: Jim Morgan | March 19, 2019
Extraordinary quality is not only designed into the product, it is designed into the development process itself, says Jim Morgan, who suggests that the next time you might be tempted to minimize Toyota’s quality performance, you will think about how Toyota’s principles and practices might help you design-in better quality in your products and processes. More »
Can Smart Manufacturing Replace the Art of Go and See?
By: David Westphal | March 18, 2019
Continuous improvement in a manufacturing environment has to happen at the spot where the work took place, shares Dave Westphal, whose mentor, Mr. Harada, once said: “No improvement can be made in the office.  ..  One must go to the job to see what is really happening—to see, to touch, and to investigate the problem first hand.  ” More »
How Accounting “Squirrels” Can Ferret Out Waste
By: Jean Cunningham | March 15, 2019
While other functions are busy as beavers looking for waste during a lean transformation, your accounting staff is like a squirrel with its head stuck in a yogurt cup. They only see the traditional work right in front of them instead of digging into data for buried “nuts” of waste, says Jean Cunningham, LEI’s new executive chairman. More »
Ask Art: Aren’t You a Little “Old School” in Your Kaizen Approach To Implementing Lean Thinking?
By: Art Byrne | March 13, 2019
When you say “kaizen is old school” you may be seriously off track, argues Art Byrne. Focusing on tools like A3 might be popular and trendy, but companies that focus on tools have a hard time getting out of the tools stage of lean; and rarely become lean enterprises. They are taking the easy way out. More »
Showing Respect: Here's How Emmanuel Proposed A More Reliable Shipping Rack
By: Joel Daly | March 11, 2019
As I reflect on Emmanuel's proposed countermeasures to a key problem, I am encouraged with every new discovery, says General Manager Joel Daly of Veada. I need to get past the gulping and dread associated with someone responsibly reporting a problem to me, and instead embrace the opportunity therein. More »
What topics, tools, and techniques would you include in an MBA-level course on teaching lean concepts?
By: Michael Ballé | March 11, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, I am designing an MBA-level course to teach lean concepts.    What topics, tools, and techniques would you include in a 7-week, 14-session course? More »
Is Your Strategy a Plan--or a Hypothesis?
By: Amy C. Edmondson | March 8, 2019
Success in a VUCA world requires senior executives to engage thoughtfully and frequently with company operations across all levels and departments, argues HBS Professor Amy Edmondson. The people on the front line who create and deliver products and services are privy to the most important strategic data the company has available. More »
Going Beyond Low-Cost Obsession with "Women Go Beyond"
By: Mahesh Amalean | March 6, 2019
Hear the chairman and co-founder of an apparel manufacturer with global operations explain how and why it invests in its largely female workforce while also dealing with the challenges of a highly competitive industry obsessed with low-cost operations. More »
Is value engineering just about cutting costs?
By: Michael Ballé | March 4, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,  My boss has hired a consultant to do value engineering, who has us looking for design opportunities to reduce the costs of components and materials – is that it? More »
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