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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Lean Startup: The Most Revolutionary Idea Since SMED?
By: Sam McAfee | June 12, 2015
"From my view, Lean Startup is quite simply the most revolutionary idea to advance the way business is practiced since the birth of Lean," writes Sam McAfee. "It’s to product development what Shigeo Shingo’s Single-Minute Exchange of Die (SMED) was for manufacturing.  " Read why. More »
Method vs. Tool
By: Ballé, Michael | August 2, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, I think that TPM, JIT, SMED, Heijunka are methods and the 5S, VSM Kaizen are tools.  Perhaps we could use the expression “solutions” to include both methods and tools? Where do you stand on this? More »
How do you suggest we should do lean in a foundry?
By: Ballé, Michael | May 22, 2012
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, How do you suggest we should do lean in a foundry? More »
Do lean-minded finance professionals make a difference in appraising lean initiatives?
By: Ballé, Michael | October 19, 2012
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, Good webinar, thank you. I would like to ask lean-minded fellow finance professionals if they make a difference in appraising lean initiatives from other investments in their companies,  e.  g. different project and investment appraisal techniques, hurdle rates, etc.  ? More »
Should we plan according to what we can do, or the other way around?
By: Balle, Michael | January 18, 2012
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Should we plan according to what we can do, or the other way around? 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 »
Management has a bad case of investment loss aversion. What can I do?
By: Ballé, Michael | April 18, 2012
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba CoachI’ve been asked to take over the corporate lean program but the company’s investment plan favors large high-speed equipment, which I’ve come to see as one of our biggest roadblocks to leaner processes. But I’ve been told in no uncertain terms by senior management that I can’t denigrate past investment commitments or cast doubts on those which are currently planned. How do I respond to my superiors? More »
How can kanban or lean possibly apply in an office?
By: Michael Ballè | October 3, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, You often say that one can’t do lean without kanban, and that continuous improvement without kanban is fine, but not lean. My team works on projects in an office, I fail to see how kanban  applies. Are we barred from lean forever? More »
The Birth of Lean: How Practices, Principles, and Tools Came Together as a System
By: Balle, Michael | February 28, 2012
Toyota was struggling to survive when Taiichi Ohno and a handful of innovators began experimenting with methods that ultimately became the Toyota Production System. The Birth of Lean captures the insights of those early leaders in their own words. In the following review, author and lean practitioner Michael Ballé captures the system’s revolutionary approach to knowledge generation. More »
"How to Lead with Respect" -- Follow-Up Q&A to the Webinar
By: Ballé, Michael | September 29, 2014
At the end of the lean management webinar “How to Lead with Respect,” we had a couple of hundred questions left over that presenter and author Michael Ballé didn’t have time to answer.  After reviewing the questions, several main themes emerged. We’ve selected your questions that best represent those themes and present them here with answers from Michael.  Q:Can you give examples of two improvements that can only happen within relationships to help me better understand this concept?A: Teaching lean thinking to the COO of a new company. In shipping, we start with a Truck Preparation Area --  the logistics More »
How Do I Change the Culture?
By: Ballé, Michael | April 29, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,I come from a company quite advanced in lean and I’ve joined a new firm as technical director. I’d like to apply lean concepts to the way we invest, but every one tells me I’d have to change the entire culture of the place, which I find daunting. Is that really the case? Any advice on culture change?I think that it’s time to own up to a daily irony in my work. My background is in cognitive psychology and sociology of knowledge. This is how I got involved with studying the Toyota Production System (TPS) and its translations More »
The Backbone of Lean in the Back Shops
By: Chet Marchwinski | May 19, 2004
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams; Images
Learn why the lean concept of every part, every interval (EPEI) is the “backbone” of lean in this aerospace machine shop by leveling the mix in demand to create flow through a cell. More »
Can a pull system with zero stock make the company more fragile?
By: Ballé, Michael | September 10, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Can a pull system with zero stock make the company more fragile? More »
Lean Thinking for Air Travel
By: Womack, Jim | May 5, 2003
Columns; eLetters
Recently I got a call from an aide to Don Carty at American Airlines (their Chairman who resigned this past week.  ) This person wanted to apply lean thinking to air travel and asked what I thought about their “lean” idea.  It turned out that American was making plans – now announced -- to smooth the flow of passengers and aircraft through their major hubs in Dallas and Chicago. The idea was to spread out arrivals and departures so that planes would come and go at a fairly steady rate through the day, rather than in the massive waves required More »
Any advice for how to implement real pull across the company?
By: Ballé, Michael | July 31, 2017
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,My boss, the operations VP, has asked me to implement a pull system across the whole company. I’ve practiced lean for many years and am a division lean officer, but not fully comfortable about real pull – would you have any advice? More »
The Gold Mine (Q & A) - “Lean is a practice, not a theory” - An Interview with Freddy Ballé and Michael Ballé
By: Ballé, Freddy and Michael Ballé | March 1, 2005
“Lean is a practice, not a theory”An Interview with Freddy and Michael Ballé, authors of The Gold MineQ. How does The Gold Mine fit in with existing literature that teaches lean thinking or change management?A. The truth is that part of what makes lean difficult is the linkage between change management and the lean tools. Most books that tackle both lean thinking and change management tend to approach these subjects separately. First they'll describe the lean tools, and then they'll go into change management theory. With The Gold Mine, we've tried to deal with these two themes concurrently, progressing on More »
How Do You Spread a Lean Transformation from One Site to Many?
By: Ballé, Michael | February 2, 2015
Columns; eLetters
My CEO has asked me to spread lean to 30 other sites. How should I go about it? More »
What Problems Are Lean Practices? Part 1 of 2
By: Ballé, Michael | November 11, 2009
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,I keep reading that lean is about solving problems. But that's exactly what I already do in my job. So how is lean different?That's a very good question. To explore this issue more deeply, let's start by clarifying exactly what we mean by "problems.  " Let's distinguish four specific types of problem solving: (1) the workaround, (2) the immediate countermeasure, (3) structured problem solving and root cause analysis, and (4) the kaizen initiative. The distinction I am making here is somewhat arbitrary as there are other problem-solving situations, as well as overlap between these categories, but let's use More »
Why reduce inventory further?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 7, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,We have a lot of machining operations in our process, and we carry inventory. What is the best way to show employees the value of reducing inventory—and how this relates to the need for continuous improvement? Our employees believe that some level of inventory is necessary to keep parts flowing, and that they’re already good at what they do, so there is no need to aim for better. More »
A Continuing Lean Journey: The Shingo Prize at 25 -- Discovering the power of principles in culture change
By: Miller, Robert | March 22, 2013
In 1988, Shigeo Shingo, who taught industrial engineering methods at Toyota from roughly 1955 to 1980, received an honorary Doctorate of Management from Utah State University for writings and teachings that made key contributions to the development of the Toyota Production System, the model for what would later be called lean management. Later that year, The Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing was organized and incorporated as part of the university. In 2007, the organization was renamed The Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence because its standards have relevance to continuous improvement efforts in every industry. On the eve of it More »
How Do the Problems of Continuous Improvement Professionals Differ from Those of Line Managers
By: Ballé, Michael | September 7, 2012
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,How do the lean-related problems or responsibilities of ci professionals differ from those of line managers or business unit managers?That is a profound question that links back to one of the fundamental differences between lean and traditional management. The difficulty here is one of unspoken management assumptions, and hence hard to tackle precisely because they are not in the conversation to start with. I’ve addressed this issue before, so please bear with me as I try a different tack.  One underlying point here is how we understand “science” – yes, yes, I know, it sounds far fetched, but More »
How Does Pull Relate to Problem-Solving?
By: Ballé, Michael | September 9, 2010
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,I’ve been following the exchanges on The Lean Edge with great interest, and all the lean authors seem to focus on problem solving. In our company, lean has essentially been about implementing pull across the plants. Which way should we go?Your question captures a key lean challenge, which is how to describe this system of numerous interrelated ways of thinking and behaving in specific and seemingly isolated terms. Because lean is a system that functions on several dimensions at the same time, it is difficult to describe in linear terms. Moreover, it is inaccurate to focus on one More »
How Lean Tools Support the Principle of Respect (Part 1)
By: Lean Leaper | August 28, 2014
We first met Andy Ward when he was struggling to save his plant from closure in The Lean Manager. Since then he's helped lead a lean transformation; and recently, in Lead With Respect, play sensei to Southcape Software CEO Jane Delaney as she aims to transform her people through the use of lean methods and practice. In this interview Ward shares what he has learned. More »
How Should We Relate Lean Projects to KPIs in a Large Company?
By: Ballé, Michael | July 26, 2012
Columns; eLetters
We have started a continuous improvement process with dedicated lean experts at each site. Until now our focus was on training. We link projects to a site impact-priority matrix. Management wants the improvements projects to be linked to key performance indicators (KPIs) such as on-time delivery and cost of quality. They want these KPIs identified, and progress reported on how the projects impactthe KPIs monthly. Could you guide me on how this can be done? More »
By: Ballé, Michael | November 22, 2010
Columns; eLetters
My CEO would like to install a lean culture and has asked me to specify a few basic lean values we need to implement. Where should I start?
By: Ballé, Michael | November 21, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,My CEO would like to install a lean culture in our company and has asked me to specify a few basic lean values we need to implement. Where should I start? More »
Operator morale has suffered terribly since we implemented cell manufacturing, and the ideas that kaizens generate have been weak. Would you please share your insights on this situation?
By: Ballé, Michael | April 18, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Operator morale has suffered terribly since we implemented cell manufacturing, and the ideas that kaizens generate have been weak. Would you please share your insights on this situation? More »
Our new boss doesn’t 'get' lean; what can I do to convince him?
By: Michael Ballè | October 6, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,We’ve had spectacular lean results with our old boss, but our new boss doesn’t get it. He’s already cut his  gemba walks from weekly to monthly and doesn’t see the point of kanban. What can I do to convince him? More »
Product and Process Lean
By: Ballé, Michael | October 8, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Lean product development guys tout the gospel of product focus as core to lean success. No argument from me. But .  .. how, if the customers are famously wrong about what they really want, do we focus on the product and still give them what they really need? It feels like we're running on two different tracks. More »
Should I pursue waste elimination or lead-time reduction?
By: Balle, Michael | May 6, 2010
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,We’re having a heated debate in our company over whether to pursue cost reduction through waste elimination by accelerating kaizen events, or whether to focus on lead-time reduction by implementing a pull system. It appears to me we’re not clear on the link between waste and lead-time. Could you help us clarify this?This is absolutely the right question to ask and the answer is … overproduction. Please bear with me while I try to clarify why overproduction is considered the worst of wastes, the original lean sin, and how this relates to lead-time. This is a bedrock concept More »
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