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Isn’t flow the ultimate aim of lean?
By: Michael Ballé | November 4, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Isn’t flow the ultimate aim of lean? More »
Kaizen Express Book Club Questions
April 12, 2019
Articles
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 »
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 »
Standardize Your Problem-Solving Approach? Why One Size Does Not Fit All
By: Art Smalley | January 30, 2019
Articles
Lean management practitioners know what a powerful tool standardization is for continuously improving processes. Without standards, there can be no improvement as the old saying goes. Yet as LEI faculty member and author Art Smalley points out this does not only mean one rigid way of doing things such as standardizing your problem-solving approach on only a single methodology like six sigma or 8D or a specific technique like 5 Why? More »
Why We Believe People-Free Plants and Services Prevent Learning
By: Lean Sensei Women | December 19, 2018
Columns
We (Lean Sensei Women) are a group of women from different continents, horizons, and professions who share a commitment to the development of people. We believe that people-free services and plant floors prevent meaningful learning from happening, and that digital systems will always require people and the capacity for human learning. More »
Lean Management Meets Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, the Internet of All Things
By: Andrew Quibell | April 16, 2018
Columns
What part, if any, will lean principles – or humans – play in a manufacturing future of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the internet of things? Andrew Quibell uses text and graphics as a crystal ball to illuminate 7 benefits of the "lights-out" factory. More »
Developing People Not Robots Through Karakuri
By: Matthew Savas | April 5, 2018
Columns
"Karakuri demonstrates that Toyota’s working currency is brainpower, grown through rigorous problem-solving and mentors who challenge their students," writes Matt Savas, "The wallet takes a backseat to the brain.  " More »
Why do you keep referring to Toyota; does it still matter?
By: Michael Balle | March 26, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach:  I’m very interested in lean, but fail to see why you guys keep referring to Toyota. What does a Toyota plant look like and why should it still matter? More »
Is kanban relevant to office work?
By: Michael Balle | March 19, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I understand that kanban is an important part of lean, but I work in an office environment, and it’s hard to see how production orders on cardboard cards relate to improving project management – what am I missing? More »
Tesla vs. TPS: Seeking the Soul in the New Machine
By: Jeffrey Liker | March 2, 2018
Columns
While Tesla has excited customers and drawn praise for innovative design and bold thinking, author Jeff Liker believes that it faces tough challenges in its approach to ramping up production that challenge its mechanistic vision of manufacturing. More »
What does “separation of human work and machine work” mean?
By: Balle, Michael | November 29, 2017
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’ve been trying to learn more about Jidoka and I keep coming across references to “separation of human work and machine work” but I’m not sure what this means – any pointers?  More »
Does respect for humanity mean the same as respect for people?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 30, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Does respect for humanity mean the same as respect for people? I hear that the literal translation of the Japanese phrase “respect for people” is really respect for “humanness” – whatever that means? More »
Why does kaizen feel like chaos?
By: Ballé, Michael | June 27, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Why does kaizen always feel so destabilizing? More »
Is lean just another word for productivity?
By: Ballé, Michael | December 8, 2014
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Isn’t lean about productivity before all else? More »
What does developing people mean?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 7, 2014
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Are people tools? Should bosses use people? What does development mean? How should we think about it? More »
Autoliv: Giving Power to the People
By: Bartholomew, Doug | June 3, 2014
Articles
A case study looks at how Autoliv developed and sustained a lean-problem solving culture and how this global company shares best practices. More »
Why do you lean experts still revere the Toyota Production System? Hasn't any one come up with something better?
By: Ballé, Michael | January 22, 2014
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Since Toyota formulated TPS 50 years ago, many other companies have come up with their own business systems – I have been taught the Nissan Production Way. Why do you lean experts still revere the Toyota Production System? Hasn't any one come up with something better? Is this just conservatism or ideology or do you actually have a reason to stick with TPS? More »
What Exactly Is - or Isn't - a Lean System?
By: Ballé, Michael | December 20, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m confused as to what a “lean system” is or should be. Could you clarify? More »
Why aren’t the laws of lean articulated?
By: Ballé, Michael | June 19, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Aren’t there laws of lean, just as there are laws of physics? And why aren’t these clearly articulated yet? More »
What Is Information Waste?
By: Bell, Steve and Orzen, Mike | September 2, 2011
Articles
Excess information -- in our inboxes, hard drives, shared drives, intranet sites, data warehouses, etc.  , -- is waste. This unnecessary "inventory" causes congestion, delays, inefficiency, errors, and rework, note Steve Bell and Mike Orzen in Lean IT. In this excerpt from their book, the authors offer examples of info waste and advice on identifying and eliminating it. More »
Performance Versus Cost
By: Ballé, Michael | July 5, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I am the continuous improvement director of a large hospital. We invested two years ago in a central machine to perform all the blood tests. Unfortunately, we have many technical issues with the equipment and we don’t know how to get the manufacturer to solve the problems. The wards complain about our lack of responsiveness as well, and I don’t know where to start. What would you suggest? More »
How lean should a lean line design be?
By: Balle, Michael | May 19, 2010
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m in manufacturing engineering and have been asked to design a lean line. I’ve participated to several kaizen workshops and have some general ideas about how to go about it, but I’ve also heard many horror stories of lines that were designed so “lean” they can’t run in practice. Any ideas as to how lean should lean be? More »
Was NUMMI a Success?
By: Shook, John | September 14, 2009
Columns; eLetters
By now you know that Toyota made its much-anticipated decision to close NUMMI. Many of my friends are saddened by the turn of events. While I am also sad, I’m also okay with the decision. All good things come to an end, and if NUMMI was to ever cease operations, now is a good time. More »
GM Is Bankrupt: Does That Mean GM Managers Are Bad Managers?
By: Shook, John | June 30, 2009
Columns; eLetters
John Shook discusses GM's bankruptcy and management More »
Michikazu Tanaka of Daihatsu on “What I Learned from Taiichi Ohno”
By: Shook, John | April 8, 2009
Columns; eLetters
This week (and in some future columns as well, no doubt) I’ll indulge my deep interest in the history of Toyota by sharing some of my favorite stories from the words of the TPS innovators in the Birth of Lean. More »
Leadership Q&A: Chris Vogel, senior vice president, Wells Fargo Home and Consumer Finance
By: Marchwinski, Chet; | January 12, 2009
Articles
From the LEI senior executive series on lean leadership:When the Federal Reserve entered a period of continually lowering interest rates to keep the economy afloat after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Wells Fargo was flooded with paperwork as real estate transaction volume more than doubled. Existing technology did not scale well and existing processes were stressed to capacity. Vogel describes how Operations responded with new automation, but more importantly, with leaner processes for handling paperwork, based on the Toyota Production System. He also discussses management challenges, structural changes, and how to sustain improvements. (Vogel currently is an LEI faculty member and More »
Making Lean Leaders -- Ariens Internship Program Develops Lean Management and Leadership Skills in Everyone
By: Taninecz, George; | December 16, 2008
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
Besides making snow-blowers, mowers, and string trimmers, Ariens Co.  , of Brillion, WI, makes lean leaders. An internal lean internship program steeps factory and front-office associates in the principles of lean and leadership by connecting the concepts to actual work. Ariens attributes its ability to acquire companies, enter new markets, and remain competitive in tough times to the program, which has helped it grow without dramatic increases in staff. More »
Lean Landscapers
By: George Taninecz | October 14, 2008
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
HighGrove Partners, an Atlanta landscaping company, needed some time to figure out how to apply lean management principles. After all, each of its 300 work sites is different and changes with the seasons, soil conditions, and weather. But, aided by a lawn mower manufacturer that was pursuing a lean conversion, HighGrove management stuck with its transformation, uncovered repeatable processes among the variability, established standardized work, removed waste, and improved processes and business More »
For Athletic Shoe Company, the Soul of Lean Management Is Problem Solving
By: Chet Marchwinski | June 24, 2008
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
When it began a lean transformation in 2003, New Balance, the only athletic shoe manufacturer that still makes some products in the U.  S.  , focused on using lean tools to improve product flow through its five New England plants to retailers and final customers. Next, with help from the Toyota Supplier Support Center, management began organizing the change effort around problem solving and process improvement to create a culture that would engage the workforce while moving the company to higher level. More »
A Journey to Value Streams: Reorganizing Into Five Groups Drives Lean Improvements and Customer Responsiveness
By: Tonya Vinas | February 28, 2008
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
While many plants have used value-stream thinking and practices such as current- and future-state mapping, Parker Hannifin Corporation's New Haven, IN, plant has created a value-stream culture centered on autonomy, entrepreneurialism, and lean principles. The change started after months of lengthy discussions among functional leaders, who ultimately determined the best way to remain competitive was to relinquish much of their control to value-stream teams. Along the way, the plant had to overcom More »
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