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Are You Managing People or Making Way for Their Creativity to Shine?
By: Boaz Tamir | October 7, 2014
Columns
"The role of the [lean manager] entails three main parts: clear definition of goals; provision of significant and consistent feedback; and maintaining challenges," writes Boaz Tamir. And it's all about creating flow. Read why. More »
What is the value to be created here and now?
By: Josh Howell | February 25, 2020
Columns; eLetters
Karen Gaudet has written Steady Work (!), a wonderful new book about her experience as a regional director of operations for Starbucks Coffee Company. 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 »
Is Lean Thinking Art or Science? Yes
By: John Shook | January 31, 2019
Columns
Calling the recent book Lean Conversations a landmark initiative on lean and the arts, John Shook observes that "If Jean Cocteau’s famous observation that 'art is science made clear' has meaning, we can all benefit from further exploration of the relationship between lean thinking and art & science.  " 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 »
Can you implement TPS if management doesn’t accept the fundamental values of the Toyota Way?
By: Michael Ballé | January 28, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How can we implement the principles of  TPS if our management doesn’t accept the fundamental values of the Toyota Way? More »
The Fearless Organization
By: Amy Edmondson | November 30, 2018
Books
This book explores this culture of psychological safety, and provides a blueprint for bringing it to life. The road is sometimes bumpy, but succinct and informative scenario-based explanations provide a clear path forward to constant learning and healthy innovation. More »
What's your problem
By: John Shook | October 31, 2018
Columns; eLetters
There may be nothing more fundamental to lean thinking and practice than problem solving.   For that matter, there may be nothing more fundamental to being human than problem solving. We breathe, we eat, we create civilizations – we deal with (solve, tackle) problems every step of the way. More »
Four Types of Problems
By: Art Smalley | October 1, 2018
Books
When faced with a problem, many business leaders and teams mechanically reach for a familiar problem-solving methodology. The problem is that the methods are often mismatched with the problem, creating unnecessary struggle, frustration, delay, and ineffectiveness in solving the problem -- if it is ever solved at all. In Four Types of Problems: from reactive troubleshooting to creative innovation veteran lean management practitioner Art Smalley, explains why settling on a favorite problem-solving technique or two is a mistake. He shows that most business problems fall into four main categories, each requiring different thought processes, management cadences, and improvement methods. More »
Four Types of Problems (Introduction)
October 1, 2018
Articles
An excerpt from Four Types of Problems IntroductionThe four types of problems are:Type 1: Troubleshooting: Reactive problem solving that hinges upon quick response and dealing with immediate symptoms of a perceived problem. It provides some immediate relief and problem mitigation but generally fails to get at the actual root cause of a problem and can lead to prolonged cycles of firefighting.  Type 2: Gap from Standard:Structured problem solving that focuses on specific problem definition, setting goals, root cause analysis, establishment of countermeasures, checks, standards, and follow-up activities. The aim is to prevent the problem from recurring by eliminating its underlying causes.  Type More »
Four Types of Problems (eBook)
By: Art Smalley | October 1, 2018
Books
When faced with a problem, many business leaders and teams mechanically reach for a familiar problem-solving methodology. The problem is that the methods are often mismatched with the problem, creating unnecessary struggle, frustration, delay, and ineffectiveness in solving the problem -- if it is ever solved at all. In Four Types of Problems: from reactive troubleshooting to creative innovation veteran lean management practitioner Art Smalley, explains why settling on a favorite problem-solving technique or two is a mistake. He shows that most business problems fall into four main categories, each requiring different thought processes, management cadences, and improvement methods. More »
Why does visual management at a Toyota plant look so much different than at ours?
By: Michael Ballé | September 3, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: We have been deploying lean visual management in my company for a while now, and I am troubled because I finally visited a Toyota plant and found far fewer boards and papers on the walls than we use – we seem to cover every surface. It made me wonder whether we’re doing this right. More »
What personal qualities should I work on to improve my practice of lean?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 6, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: What personal qualities should I work on to improve how I practice lean? More »
As a business unit manager who is new to lean, what is the one thing I must know to get it right?
By: Michael Balle | July 2, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m a business unit manager new to lean, and our CEO has decided to embark us on a lean transformation program. What is the one thing I need to know to get it right? More »
Can I change a company's attitude that people can't be trusted to do their jobs unless they are scared into complying?
By: Michael Ballé | June 4, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: A major assumption in lean thinking is that people genuinely want to do a good job, and the only thing standing in their way is a poor system. But some organizations act on the assumption that you can’t really trust anyone to do their job unless they are constantly controlled and scared into complying. It’s hard for me to see how lean can help any org without changing this assumption first … or? More »
Expanding Our Perspective on Lean Management, Part 1: A Creative Ethic
By: Joanna McGuffey and Thomas Richert | April 10, 2018
Columns
To explore the idea that there may be other angles for understanding lean management principles than purely business or analytical perspectives, a group of lean management practitioners met with artists. Here’s what surprised them. More »
But when should we use design thinking or lean thinking?
By: Michael Balle | February 12, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I read your latest and very interesting Gemba Coach column comparing design thinking and lean thinking. But when should we use each? More »
Ask Art: Does lean compromise innovation?
By: Art Byrne | June 14, 2017
Columns
To some, lean and innovation seem counterproductive. But Art Byrne is not one of them. Find out why he says "lean and innovation are and have always been completely compatible" and how it can help your organization reach next-level results. More »
What’s your opinion on setting specific criteria before brainstorming countermeasures?
By: Michael Ballè | April 24, 2017
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: What’s your opinion on setting specific criteria before brainstorming countermeasures? More »
What are your three most important problems?
By: Ballé, Michael | January 3, 2017
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coacg: What should I look for during a gemba walk? More »
Does lean have an ethical perspective other than goal-oriented efficiency?
By: Ballé, Michael | November 14, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: As a follow-up to your previous column on the question of whether lean has a spiritual dimension, does lean have an ethical perspective other than goal-oriented efficiency? More »
Innovation in the Work
By: John Shook | September 22, 2016
Columns; eLetters
"Innovation is a popular – and important – concept," writes LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook. "So, here are three questions. What is it? What does lean thinking have to say about it? So what?" Check out John's responses, and don't forget to follow his link to a new animation on innovation and lean. 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 »
Any step forward in a lean transformation is a good step -- right?
By: Ballé, Michael | May 2, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Surely a step forward in a lean transformation is a good thing, even if it’s not completely in the right direction? More »
Rather than narrow problem solving, shouldn't we look for disruptive breakthroughs?
By: Ballé, Michael | April 11, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How can a narrow focus on problem solving help us to find innovative solutions? Shouldn’t we be looking for disruptive breakthrough instead? More »
How do you introduce visual management into a product development facility?
By: Ballé, Michael | December 21, 2015
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: What steps do you start with to introduce visual management into a product development facility? More »
Just-in-Time Roundup: Great Lean Reads From Across the Web (Vol. 5)
By: Lean Leaper | February 18, 2015
Columns
Check out our editors' picks for 5 high value lean reads you may have missed, this time from Industry Week, the blog at ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value, MIT Sloan Management Review, 99u, and Planet Lean. More »
After improving processes with help from a consultant, how do I sustain kaizen in my department? My teams are hard to motivate.
By: Ballé, Michael | February 17, 2015
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How do I sustain kaizen in my department? We’ve had a consultant help us with workshops, and we did improve our processes, but I struggle with moving to continuous improvement, as my teams are hard to motivate on this. More »
How do we solicit feedback from the shop floor without being overwhelmed by the enormous amount of ideas?
By: Ballé, Michael | November 19, 2014
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I think we all know that the "suggestion box" has gone by the wayside.    How do we solicit feedback from the shop floor without being overwhelmed by the enormous amount of amazing ideas that we're asking for? More »
Can creative people, like product developers, follow such a structured method such as lean?
By: Ballé, Michael | November 7, 2014
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: For product development you need creative (maybe even chaotic) people. Are those people suited to follow such a structured method as lean? Like trying to achieve one-piece-flow in product development? More »
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