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A Lean Walk Through History
By: Womack, Jim | December 7, 2004
Columns; eLetters
Most of us don’t realize that we are heirs to a remarkably long struggle in human history to see beyond isolated points in order to optimize the entire value creating process. We tend to think instead that lean ideas were mostly created by Toyota a few years ago and that the history of lean thinking has been short and easy. More »
Art of Lean on Situational Leadership, Part 3: D2-S2 and Coaching
By: Art Smalley | January 29, 2021
Part two saw Art Smalley discussing Toyota, Taiichi Ohno, and more examples of situational leadership being exemplified in real-time. This time, he returns to provide further examples and even more contextual information, getting into the stages and quadrants that will help you become an effective leader. More »
Remembering Norman Bodek, the “Miraculous Life” of an Author, Teacher, and Publisher of Groundbreaking Business Books
By: Chet Marchwinski | December 16, 2020
Called “Mr. Productivity” and the “Godfather of Lean,” Norman Bodek began 41 years ago translating and publishing groundbreaking books by the Japanese managers who had developed what would come to be called lean management. He died December 9, 2020, age 88. More »
Ask Art: What Was Danaher Like In the Early Days of Lean?
By: Art Byrne | September 17, 2020
In this personal account of launching lean at Danaher, Art Byrne shares a wealth of insights into how to seed an enduring lean culture and business system. More »
Lean Management Leaders Weigh in on Climate Change, Coronavirus, Innovation, and More
By: Chet Marchwinski | September 16, 2020
Jim Womack, founding CEO of the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), and Jim Morgan, an experienced product development executive, explained how lean management practices could solve today’s toughest challenges during keynotes at a conference organized by LEI. 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
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
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
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 »
A Humble Conversation
By: John Shook | June 28, 2018
Columns; eLetters
For the past two years, John Shook and Edgar Schein have enjoyed the honor of engaging in an on-stage dialogue. The occasion? The Lean Healthcare Academic Conference at Stanford. Read more about the exchange. More »
Any advice for someone (me) in sales who fails to see how lean can help?
By: Balle, Michael | February 26, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Our company has a long history of lean in manufacturing, but I work in the sales department. We have our own sales improvement method, and I fail to see how lean could help, but I’m under pressure to comply and participate in the lean program. Any advice? More »
Thinking Fast and Slow and Lean with John Shook
By: John Y. Shook | January 25, 2018
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 Shook | January 8, 2018
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
“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
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
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
"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 »
Two managers I relied on a lot are still fighting a two-year-old pull system and creating a lot of conflict on the team. Is this normal?
By: Ballé, Michael | June 18, 2015
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m two years into establishing a pull system through my plant and two of my key managers are still fighting the system and creating a lot of conflict on the team. Is this normal? More »
Why Toyota is Still My North Star
By: Michael Ballé | April 14, 2015
"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: Dr. John R. Ehrenfeld and Tom Ehrenfeld | March 24, 2015
"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 »
How Do You Spread a Lean Transformation from One Site to Many?
By: Ballé, Michael | February 2, 2015
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: My CEO has asked me to spread lean to 30 other sites. How should I go about it? More »
“Learning from Manufacturing” Versus Learning To Think Differently
By: James (Beau) Keyte | December 3, 2014
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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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 »
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