It’s time for another edition of our just-in-time roundup. Our goal with these lists? Make the work (and potential work) of the larger lean community more visible. Check out these 5 recently published articles you may have missed and let us know what you think.
1. What is the Cost of Nightmarish Traffic Jams? by Saptarishi Dutta in The Atlantic
As lean thinking moves into new and different sectors, we’re on the watch for systemic, seemingly intractable problems that a little lean practice could help solve. Like so many cities around the world, Bangalore, India has a traffic problem. One recent estimate finds that the toll of congested streets runs to $6 billion in lost productivity annually.
2. Successful Innovators Don’t Care About Innovating, by Doug Sundheim in Harvard Business Review
We like this short and readable piece on leadership for this idea alone: “Disabuse yourself of the notion that innovation is some high-minded creative process reserved for a certain class of people. Remember that most great innovations have been developed by regular people inspired by a problem.” Sundheim also shares a great example of how Sherwin Williams succeeded by focusing on solving customer problems, in this case the needs of paint contractors who were short on time. (It turns out contractors make paint decisions based on proximity to the job site, not paint brand).
Lean practitioners want case studies they can actually use and share with their team and colleagues. Case studies and compelling stories show others what’s possible, making it easier for newbie lean thinkers to understand the value of this kind of problem-solving approach to work. In this article, Dan Jones, Senior Advisor of The Lean Enterprise Academy in the UK, shares two great examples of lean success in healthcare.
4. Implementing Lean Across Different Countries, by Torbjørn Netland for Planet Lean
Netland, a researcher and postdoc at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology tackles the question of whether or not some countries and cultures are more “receptive” to lean thinking than others. He shares two transformation stories from Sweden and India and concludes that lean thinking and practice can work anywhere, across cultural difference. What do you think?
5. Better All the Time, by James Surowiecki in The New Yorker
In this thoughtful and far-ranging piece, Surowiecki writes about the power of good coaching (in sports or any other field), the importance of training, and the interesting history of continuous improvement in Japanese and American manufacturing. “In a kaizen world, skill is not a static, fixed quality but the subject of ceaseless labor,” he writes. “This idea is more applicable to some fields of endeavor than to others… but the notion of continuous improvement has wide relevance.” Before closing, Surowiecki shares his thoughts on what we can learn from this “performance revolution” as he calls it (with roots in Japanese manufacturing) to address some of of our toughest challenges, like teacher training and quality education in the United States.