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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 Y. 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
Framing Art and Science: What Lean Knowledge Are We Going to Create Together?
By: Terry Barnhart | September 25, 2014
Columns
"What is the purpose of lean product development? Where are its limits? Who plays, and what is 'out of bounds?' Such an identity 'crisis' is thrilling to see. It is the hallmark of an emerging science," writes Terry Barnhart. Read Terry's thoughts on the challenge ahead for the lean community in terms of sharing lean product and process development concepts with the world. More »
The Designer's Dilemma
By: Durward Sobek | September 23, 2014
Columns
Durward Sobek unpacks the "designer’s dilemma"—the situation wherein you have the MOST freedom to make decisions when you know the LEAST about the problem. Learn how set-based innovation and trade off curves can help. More »
2014 Transformation Summit
October 21, 2013
Events
March 5-6, 2014 - Orlando, Florida. Improve the work, develop the people - the building blocks for continuous innovation. More »
How do you define respect for people?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 27, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, Can you be more specific about “respect” in lean? The term is being used in our company but I fear it sounds just like “motivation,” “everyone has to be a leader,” and the rest of management speak. More »
Lean Business-IT Integration, Part Four: The Lean Learning Leader
By: Bell, Steve | July 30, 2012
Articles
In the fourth article of a five-part series on Lean IT, LEI faculty member Steve Bell addresses leadership and IT governance. Part One begins with the importance of lean business-IT integration. Part Two offers help with the common obstacles to a lean IT transformation. Part Three examines how to integrate the various IT communities. And Part Five explains how to measure business-IT Value. More »
Lean business-IT integration, Part Three: What is an integrated business-it value stream?
By: Bell, Steve | April 3, 2012
Articles
In this, the third article in a five part series on lean IT, LEI faculty member Steve Bell explores the fundamentals of integrating business and IT. More »
Engineering Checklists
By: Balle, Michael | October 20, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba CoachHow do I apply standardized work to product development? More »
Lean Manager (eBook), The
By: Michael Ballé and Freddy Ballé | September 19, 2011
Books
An ebook version of The Lean Manager, by lean experts Michael and Freddy Ballé. The sequel to the Ballé’s international bestselling business novel The Gold Mine, The Lean Manager tells the compelling story of plant manager Andrew Ward as he goes through the challenging but rewarding journey to becoming a lean manager. Under the guidance of Phil Jenkinson (whose own lean journey was at the core of The Gold Mine), Ward learns to use a deep understanding of lean tools, as well as a technical know-how of his plant’s operations, to foster a lean attitude that sustains continuous improvement. More »
2011 Transformation Summit
November 11, 2010
Events
March 9-10, 2011 - Dallas, TX. Explore lean practices from the perspectives of Fundamentals and New Frontiers at this year's summit. More »
The Lean Manager
By: Michael Ballé and Freddy Ballé | July 29, 2009
Books
For many companies, the most important problem is not doing lean; it is becoming lean. How can they advance beyond realizing isolated gains from deploying lean tools, to fundamentally changing how they operate, think, and learn? In other words, how can companies learn to go beyond lean turnaround to achieve lean transformation?The Lean Manager, by lean experts Michael and Freddy Ballé, addresses this critical problem. This sequel to their international bestselling business novel The Gold Mine, tells the compelling story of plant manager Andrew Ward as he goes through the challenging but rewarding journey to becoming a lean manager. Under the guidance of 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 »
New Facility, New Flow, and New Levels of Patient Care The wait is over for patients at the Clearview Cancer Institute in Alabama
By: George Taninecz | February 22, 2007
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
Dr. Marshall Schreeder treats cancer and treatment processes at the Clearview Cancer Institute in Alabama. More »
The Problem with Creative Work and Creative Management
By: Womack, Jim | May 10, 2005
Columns; eLetters
Years ago I heard a presentation from someone at Toyota explaining where to begin in implementing the Toyota Production System. “Start by analyzing the work to be done.  ” This meant listing all the actions required to create the value in a given product and then dividing these actions into three categories:Value-creating work. Activities adding directly to the value of the product as determined by the customer. (Manufacturing examples are painting the product or adding parts during assembly.  ) A simple test is to ask whether customers would mind if this work was not done but their product still performed properly. More »
Lean Beyond Production
By: Taninecz, George | January 4, 2005
Articles
Read how Lean Thinkers, using the same lean tools that worked in production, now are making improvements and benefits off the plant floor, in environments as diverse as an insurance company, academia, or the front offices of the world's largest automaker. More »
Seasoned Lean Effort Avoids "Flavor-of-the-Month" Pitfall
By: Chet Marchwinski | January 5, 2003
Case Studies
What comes first in a lean transformation? What comes next? Where do tools like six sigma fit? Here's an overview about how Freudenberg-NOK answered these questions and about the milestones in a lean journey that began in 1992. More »
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