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A Lean Walk Through History
By: Womack, Jim | December 7, 2004
Columns; eLetters
As you probably know, I like to walk through the gemba, along the value stream, to see for myself how value is being created and how waste can be eliminated. However, recently I took a wonderful but dismaying walk through a facility that no longer creates value. The experience set me thinking about the history of the lean movement and how we can preserve it.  The place in question was Highland Park, Michigan, a ghostly town with a ghostly factory -- Henry Ford’s extraordinary Highland Park plant where flow production was pioneered. In the older building on the site, I More »
Being ‘Right’ is Not Enough
By: Josh Howell | July 14, 2020
Columns; eLetters
All of us have problem-solving experiences to reflect on and learn from.   And what better time to draw out that learning than now, when we as a society are tackling massive problems like the coronavirus pandemic and racism.   In my case, I keep thinking about one experience when I failed.     More »
A Revelation at the Gemba
By: Josh Howell | September 5, 2019
Columns; eLetters
During my travels this summer, both personal and for LEI, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the Institute’s 20+ year history while thinking about my role in shaping its future. I’ve also been talking to many of you, the members of the Lean Community, taking advantage of community gatherings like the annual Designing the Future and Lean Coaching Summits, to better understand your current challenges. I’m also meeting with potential collaborators who can help further LEI’s mission of advancing lean thinking via thought-leading content, experimentation, coaching, and training.    More »
Thoughts on the Birth of Lean
By: Jean Cunningham | July 31, 2019
Columns
There is much to be learned from the history of Lean that applies powerfully today in every aspect of the business. In this summary of key points from The Birth of Lean, LEI Chair Jean Cunningham shares insights from her reading of the book, and invites you to share thoughts as well. 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 »
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 »
Designing the Future
By: James M. Morgan, Jeffrey K. Liker | October 26, 2018
Books
Morgan and Liker go beyond broad generalizations on how to “be innovative” and dig deeper into the theoretical bedrock and concrete development practices that are generating exceptional results at pioneering LPPD companies. 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.    More »
Thinking Fast and Slow and Lean with John Shook
By: John Y. Shook | January 25, 2018
Columns
On the 20th anniversary of Lean Thinking, John Shook delivered this Lean Talk on the principles the book introduced, how they developed over time, and the invaluable lessons the book still holds today. He also explores the concept of lean as a mindset and connects it to the models of thinking introduced by Daniel Kahneman in his book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow.  " More »
Thank you, Tatsuro Toyoda
By: John Y. Shook | January 8, 2018
Columns
John Shook remembers the late Tatsuro Toyoda, former president of Toyota. More »
ASK ART: Can poetry be used as a tool for implementing lean?
By: Art Byrne | January 2, 2018
Columns
“Inventory is evil,” said King Arthur of kaizen. So he came to Dame Barbie with his plan. “You must make these horrid racks go away Or February 25 is your banishment day.  ” More »
Lean Thinking at 20: A Q&A with Jim Womack and Dan Jones
By: Daniel T. Jones and James P. Womack | September 28, 2016
Columns
Twenty years ago Jim Womack and Dan Jones helped launch the lean movement as we know it today with their key book Lean Thinking. Yesterday we shared some thoughts on the book’s message; now we have the opportunity to ask the two authors to reflect on how lean thinking and lean practice have evolved since the book appeared. Please feel free to add your thoughts, comments, and questions over the next two days. More »
Lean Thinking: A Roundup
By: Tom Ehrenfeld | September 27, 2016
Columns
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the publishing of Lean Thinking, by Jim Womack and Dan Jones, Lean Post Senior Editor Tom Ehrenfeld presents a roundup of the book, its history and its impact on the lean community. More »
Lean in Japan: The Benefit of an Outsider's View
By: Katie Anderson | September 17, 2015
Columns
"Sometimes when we know a process, culture, or organization too deeply, we struggle to view things as they actually are.  ..  " writes Katie Anderson who is currently observing lean companies in Japan. "When we are a near complete outsider as I’ve been.  .. we are able to see things without as many preconceived notions of 'how it should be done.  '" More »
Why Toyota is Still My North Star
By: Michael Ballé | April 14, 2015
Columns
"In the past five years the local lean engineering community has gained a deeper hands-on appreciation of how intermeshed product and processes are," writes Michael Ballé. "Product innovation often comes from progress in process innovation. We also understand better the truly outstanding feats of engineering that Toyota’s new drive represents.  " More »
The Secrets of Lean
By: Tom Ehrenfeld and Dr. John R. Ehrenfeld | March 24, 2015
Columns
"The key to Lean is that it creates understanding, not knowledge," write John Ehrenfeld (Executive Director of the International Society for Industrial Ecology) and LEI Senior Editor Tom Ehrenfeld. "One difficulty in successful implementation of lean systems is that managers conflate these two important concepts.  " Read more. More »
“Learning from Manufacturing” Versus Learning To Think Differently
By: Beau Keyte | December 3, 2014
Columns
Beau Keyte talks lean thinking and practice in non-manufacturing settings. "The big challenge now isn’t to learn lean thinking the way any other company learned it," he writes. "It’s to understand how to effectively grasp the problems you and your organization are trying to solve.  " More »
Lean & Scrum: Complementary Methods with a Shared Lineage
By: Steve Bell | October 29, 2014
Columns
Lean coach Steve Bell shares his thoughts on Jeff Sutherland's presentation at the Lean IT Summit earlier this month in Paris. More »
Remembering Jim Harbour
By: Jim Womack | September 10, 2014
Columns
"We in the Lean Community stand on a lot of shoulders. One broad pair belonged to Jim Harbour, who passed away last Saturday at age 86.  " Read Jim Womack's tribute to the former Ford and Chrysler executive and auto industry analyst. More »
Still Faithful to Lean Thinking
By: Michael Ballé | August 26, 2014
Columns
"We wrote Lead With Respect to show just how central engagement and involvement is to lean success," says Michael Ballé. "As a sociologist, 'making people to make products' is what grabbed me as I first studied how Toyota led improvement.  " Learn more about what drove Ballé, co-author of Lead With Respect, to share this particular story. More »
Lean Talks: Are You Making Excuses or Solving Problems?
By: Mark Graban | August 15, 2014
Columns
In his "lean talk" at the Lean Transformation Summit this past March, lean coach and author Mark Graban shared his perspective on what a culture of continuous improvement really means and requires of us as hopeful change agents. The video concludes with a Q&A with Jim Womack. More »
Lean Change Is Organizational and Personal
By: Lean Leaper | June 19, 2014
Columns
"Lean management is less about providing the right answers than asking the right questions and exploring those questions by engaging others in experiments to learn through doing," John Shook reminds us. Learn more from a talk Shook recently gave to the LEAN UX community. More »
Which Side Are You On?
By: Michael Ballé | May 6, 2014
Columns
"Lean is based on developing every person’s kaizen mind," writes Michael Ballé, "not asking them to thoughtlessly apply a best practice that was invented far from their real world.  " Read more. More »
Using Lean To Fundamentally Rethink How We Develop Products and Services
By: Chet Marchwinski | April 2, 2014
Columns
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 »
Lean Product and Process Development, 2nd Edition
By: Allen C. Ward and Durward K. Sobek II | March 5, 2014
Books
"The P-51 Mustang—perhaps the finest piston engine fighter ever built—was designed and put into flight in just a few months. Specifications were finalized on March 15, 1940; the airfoil prototype was complete on September 9; and the aircraft made its maiden flight on October 26. Now that is a lean development process!" —Allen Ward and Durward Sobek, commenting on the development of the P-51 Mustang and its exemplary use of trade-off curves.   Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award recipient, 2008Despite attempts to interpret and apply lean product development techniques, companies still struggle with design quality problems, long lead times, and high More »
Lean Product and Process Development, 2nd Edition (ebook)
By: Allen C. Ward and Durward K. Sobek II | March 5, 2014
Books
"The P-51 Mustang—perhaps the finest piston engine fighter ever built—was designed and put into flight in just a few months. Specifications were finalized on March 15, 1940; the airfoil prototype was complete on September 9; and the aircraft made its maiden flight on October 26. Now that is a lean development process!" —Allen Ward and Durward Sobek, commenting on the development of the P-51 Mustang and its exemplary use of trade-off curves.   Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award recipient, 2008Despite attempts to interpret and apply lean product development techniques, companies still struggle with design quality problems, long lead times, and high More »
The Real Lean Challenge: Levelling Production
By: Ian Glenday | February 27, 2014
Columns
Most lean practitioners focus primarily on the waste elimination aspect of Lean and ignore levelled production. In his second piece for the Post, Ian Glenday explains why levelled production is so important to overall system improvement. More »
Starting Up, Growing Up, and Starting Over
By: Jim Womack | February 25, 2014
Columns
In an essay first published in Gemba Walks (2nd Ed) and adapted for the Post, LEI founder and thought leader Jim Womack reflects on the lean movement, the lean startup movement, where the two communities meet, and where these two communities might be going, together. More »
Which Will Prevail: Batch Thinking or Worker Leadership?
By: Fred Stahl | February 5, 2014
Columns
For most of two centuries, batch and queue production was the golden key that opened the factory doors of mass production and led many nations to untold wealth. In his first piece for the Post, Fred Stahl tells us why we must discard batch thinking and understand "worker leadership" in order to innovate for the 21st century. More »
On Lean Production's 25th Anniversary: Candid Reflections
By: Chet Marchwinski | December 3, 2013
Columns
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 »
A Connecticut Yankee Machinist in Toyoda’s Castle
By: John Shook | September 27, 2013
Columns
“Culture matters,” John Shook tells us in his post about Charles A. Francis, an American who worked for Toyota group founder Sakichi Toyoda in the early 1900s, “but never let stereotypical views of national character be used as an excuse to not do the right thing.  ” Read this remarkable story of a missing piece to the larger story of continuous innovation in process technology between the United States and Japan over the past 150 years. More »
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