Earlier this month we shared the top 10 Lean Post articles of 2013 as determined by you, our readers (in terms of # of pageviews). The results were a bit surprising… A cartoon took the top slot, and Danielle Blais and Tracey Richardson together snagged 5 (count ’em 5!) of the top posts of 2013. Not surprisingly, the four remaining articles had to do with healthcare, design thinking, the role of senior leaders in lean transformations, and (maybe because LEI is in Boston? Go Red Sox!) baseball.
While we’re delighted with the list, senior editor Tom Ehrenfeld and I wanted to share some of our own picks for noteworthy content from this past year—high value-added stories you may have missed, but should definitely bookmark for a rainy (or polar vortex) day:
Here are 5 of my favorite pieces from 2013:
|Upcycling Products Customers Actually Want Local entrepreneur Nathan Rothstein shares his lessons learned from launching Project Repat, a t-shirt blanket company—you heard that right—that makes blankets out of recycled (upcycled) t-shirts you’d otherwise throw away or let pile up in your closet.|
|What’s Really Underlying the Protests in Brazil In this thoughtful piece, Professor José Ferro reflects on the massive protests that broke out in Brazil in June 2013 and explains how what’s really going on, beyond social and economic inequity, is a transportation process issue. It got me thinking about what might change if here in America or in Brazil, we could put our political differences aside and simply work together to improve government processes.|
|Throw Out Your Assumptions About Your Customer LEI Intern Francesco Possio reflects on his Lean Startup Machine experience at the Cambridge Innovation Center (and out on the streets, talking to potential customers).|
|Tee Up Your Continuous Improvement This story, from Tina Roach and Pete Mangan of ProMed Molded Products, shows how organizations can make lean thinking and practice their own and more than that, use game dynamics and a little healthy competition to get people motivated and working together.|
|The Fight for the Meaning of Lean Everybody is talking about Lean these days, but just what Lean is it? In this fantastic short piece, Michael Ballé zooms way out and gives us the big picture of how Lean has spread since the 1980s, reminding us what deep lean thinking really entails.|
And here are 5 of senior editor Tom Ehrenfeld’s:
|A Connecticut Yankee Machinist in Toyoda’s Castle This lengthy (not that there’s anything wrong with it!) piece by LEI chief John Shook revealed substantive new information to me about the history of Lean. It reminded me that while, as Henry Ford would say, history is bunk, knowing how the system we know as Lean emerged helps us gain better understanding of where it may be going.|
|Clear Mind, Better Work This lovely piece by Wooden Ships’ Mark Donovan reminded me that practicing Lean entails more than just mindlessly adopting tools and principles. That in fact true lean practice is fundamentally about mindfulness.|
|Waste-Free Capitalism An elegant piece that clearly shows how lean thinking can be brought to bear upon the broader problems and systems within which Lean operates. This piece raises great questions about the challenges of sustainability in a manner that suggests what lean thinking can offer.|
|No Really, Go to the Gemba LEI’s Danielle Blais has written a number of terrific posts. I like this piece, like most of her writing, as it emerges from a gemba visit. By reflecting on her work and articulating what she has learned, she shares insights with resonance for any lean practitioner.|
|How To Fold A T-Shirt Lean coach Josh Howell trained thousands of Starbucks employees with this brilliantly concise training method (adopted from Training Within Industry materials). I learned a lot about how to train by watching this short video.|
Still can’t get enough lean thinking?! Here are some great reads from around the web this past year and more recently that, rather than focusing on the why’s and how’s of lean thinking, are just beautifully lean in principle:
- Can Global Brands Create Just Supply Chains? MIT’s Richard Locke on lean plants and larger supply chain dynamics.
- Slow Ideas Surgeon Atul Gawande writes for The New Yorker on how good ideas spread and why trust and person-to-person learning and interaction is so important for behavior change.
- Some Tech Firms Ask: Who Needs Managers? A great piece in The Wall Street Journal by Rachel Emma Silverman on the need for “doing” versus managing, what it means to take responsibility for one’s work, and why so many organizations and startups are moving toward less hierarchical management systems.
- Why Intuit Founder Scott Cook Wants You To Stop Listening To Your Boss Drake Baer interviews Scott Cook, founder of Intuit for Fast Company. Cook tells us how leaders within Toyota run the company as a massive series of experiments and explains the connection between experimentation and good decision-making.
- Mikaela Shiffrin’s Swift, if Unplanned, Ascent to World Champion Bill Pennginton’s New York Times feature on 18 year old American skiier and Olympic hopeful Mikaela Shiffrin tells us a story about a young woman’s humble, improvement-based approach to skiing and competitive racing.