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Evolving Excellence

  • On Asiana, Driverless Cars, and Factories
    I’ve always been interested in technology – its use, advantages, and disadvantages.  Regular readers know that I often advocate for manual solutions first, such as whiteboards to run factories and a handwritten notebook for notes. Some believe t…
    - 31 days ago, 28 Jun 2014, 1:41pm -
  • Big Data, Small Data
    I’ve been following the panting exuberance of big data apostles for the past few years, rolling my eyes at most of it. Sure, it can be interesting, but maybe my age showing when I say “so what?” to most of it. What finally pushed me over the ed…
    - 73 days ago, 17 May 2014, 5:02am -
  • The Devil on the Bus
    The other day while skimming LinkedIn I came across yet another one of those cheesy quotes that, unfortunately, have become all too common on the site: “Surround yourself with people on the same mission.”  I proceeded to get into an online discu…
    - 79 days ago, 11 May 2014, 5:39am -
  • The Dangerous Lite Side of Mindfulness and Lean
    By Kevin Meyer I’ll preface this post by saying that yes, I’m from crazy California, I eat granola with fruits and nuts in the morning, am vegetarian (well, pescatarian), dislike wearing shoes, and practice yoga. At least I don’t have dreadlock…
    - 4 Apr 2014, 6:27am -
  • The Engagement of Risk
    By Kevin Meyer Rules are a funny thing.  We like some of them because they make us feel protected, aligned, and perhaps operating on a fair playing field.  We dislike them because they can protect us to the point of being smothering, align us to th…
    - 24 Feb 2014, 6:30am -

Lean Blog

  • newLean Post: Standardization is a Countermeasure, Not a Goal
    Today’s post is being hosted by the Lean Enterprise Institute and their “Lean Post” blog… click on the headline below or the image to read: “Standardization is a Countermeasure, Never the Goal“ It’s a post that encourages people to “a…
    - 4 hours ago, 29 Jul 2014, 12:30pm -
  • #Lean: The Worst Root Cause Problem Solver in the Animal World Is…
    We all know the beaver is “the engineer of the animal kingdom.” That’s why MIT has a beaver as a mascot… it’s an engineer who likes to build things and is generally nocturnal, an apt description of MIT students. A survey taken by the Nation…
    - 1 day ago, 28 Jul 2014, 9:00am -
  • Weird Al’s Hilarious “Mission Statement” Song & Video Mocks Corporate Buzzwords
    “Weird Al” Yanokvic skewers corporate buzzwords in this new song and music video. He also skewers the now-tired “hand writing on a white board” style of corporate videos, which I think is even more brilliant of him. There are a few somewhat L…
    - 4 days ago, 25 Jul 2014, 9:00am -
  • Intuit CEO Brad Smith & Lean Thinking
    I was happy to see this article in FORTUNE’s recent issue: “Brad Smith, Intuit CEO: How To Be A Great Leader: Get Out Of The Way.” Smith (@IntuitBrad) talks about the Lean Startup concept often called “getting out of the office” to see how…
    - 5 days ago, 24 Jul 2014, 9:00am -
  • Podcast #205 – Joe Schnur, Hand Hygiene & Patient Safety
    MP3 File (run time 32:43) Episode #205 is a conversation with Joe Schnur, VP Business Development at Intelligent M, a company that “designs data-driven hand hygiene compliance  improvement solutions for hospitals that dramatically reduce healthca…
    - 6 days ago, 23 Jul 2014, 10:00am -

Jamie Flinchbaugh

  • Gemba Academy interviews me
    Our friend from Gemba Academy, Ron Pereira, recently interviewed me for his Gemba Academy podcasts. Here’s a brief synopsis of what is covered. Jamie’s lean career history (2:42) The quote that has inspired Jamie for over 15 years (4:08) Jamie’…
    - 4 days ago, 25 Jul 2014, 11:41am -
  • Does innovation belong in the scope of a board of directors?
    Boards of directors are usually associated with governance issues such as risk management and financial controls. They of course have a major role in strategic direction, either in establishing it, approving, or hiring the right executives who will e…
    - 44 days ago, 15 Jun 2014, 6:00pm -
  • Role Modeling for Change [Lessons from the Road]
    My last two Lessons from the Road columns [Building Behaviors Bedrock of Lean Success and Build a Deliberate Culture, Not an Accidental One] focused on the tactics and strategies of culture change, which is crucial for a successful lean journey. One…
    - 51 days ago, 8 Jun 2014, 7:00pm -
  • The single best way leaders support cultures of continuous improvement
    I recently published a new post on the KaiNexus blog site titled The single best way leaders support cultures of continuous improvement. Here is an excerpt: In working with one VP responsible for supporting 3,000 people, she found a small change in h…
    - 54 days ago, 5 Jun 2014, 7:11pm -
  • The self-development of leadership development
    Leadership development has gone by many names over the last century and has evolved in many ways. It has come in the form of apprenticeships, to purposeful rotational assignments, to training, and executive coaches (which are about as generic today a…
    - 56 days ago, 3 Jun 2014, 11:22am -

LSS Academy

  • My Final LSS Academy Post
    I remember it like it was yesterday… it was January 2007 and I was sitting on my couch surfing the web while watching TV. I had just read a lean related blog article by my friend, Jon Miller, and wondered how hard it would be to start my own blog.…
    - 95 days ago, 25 Apr 2014, 1:33pm -
  • Is Home Depot’s Expedited Checkout Lean?
    It’s warming up here in North Texas… as such businesses like Home Depot are EXTREMELY BUSY places. Yesterday I joined the crowd to buy some tomatoes and other vegetables to plant in our garden.  And, yes, the checkout line was backed up in a big…
    - 31 Mar 2014, 3:29pm -
  • Gemba Academy is 5 Years Old. Come Celebrate With Us!
    Five years ago I, and two good friends of mine, began what’s turned out to be an incredible journey. Specifically, in March of 2009 Gemba Academy was born. We had no way of knowing whether there would be interest in what we were doing… but we sta…
    - 6 Mar 2014, 4:16pm -
  • My Newest Stand Up Desk!
    Friends, I have a confession to make. In November of 2009 I wrote about my new stand up desk. I was quite proud of how I’d managed to prop an old desk up on some crates… I guess you could say I definitely used my wits over my wallet! Well, as it…
    - 23 Jan 2014, 6:48pm -
  • Lean Thinker Challenge #4
    Welcome to the first Lean Thinker Challenge of 2014! The Situation You’re the owner of a very successful manufacturing company. Your company began its lean journey 10 years ago and has realized tremendous benefits. In fact, lean thinking – along…
    - 7 Jan 2014, 5:30pm -

Got Boondoggle

  • Book Review The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
    What makes a good checklist versus a bad checklist?  What are the limits in the power of a checklist?  Sure, checklists work for the weekly run to the grocery store or packing before we go on vacation but can they work to reduce errors in surgery?T…
    - 16 Jun 2013, 9:43pm -
  • Going from "Oh-oh" to "Ta-da" Faster
    As young children, we learn from our experiences through relentless trial and error. It does not take us long to figure out if we touch something hot, for instance fire or a hot skillet, it burns us and we quickly jerk o…
    - 14 May 2012, 3:01pm -
  • Lean Snake Oil Cures what Ails Ya
    Step right up Ladies and Gentleman! Do you suffer from bulging inventories? Are you feeling tired and wore down chasing problems everyday at work? Are parts of your organization afflicted by dislocation? Perhaps you suffer from irregularity of flow o…
    - 30 Apr 2012, 2:50pm -
  • Suffering from Sick Sigma?
    My good friend, Jonathan Sands, a Director of Operational Excellence for a large firm, recently told me about his experience with a company six sigma effort years ago. At first go around, he and other leaders undertook their black belt training with…
    - 3 Apr 2012, 4:11pm -
  • New Webinar "A Day in the Life of a Lean Supervisor"
    I invite you to please join me in a free webinar next week “A Day in the Life of a Lean Supervisor” hosted by Gemba Academy on April 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm – 2:00pm (USA-Central Time).Click here to register. In this webinar, I will help define stan…
    - 30 Mar 2012, 3:27pm -

Daily Kaizen

  • Waiting for Health Care – no longer ‘just the way it is’? The Cleveland Clinic’s capability to provide same day access for any specialty came up during a lunch break at a recent kaizen event.…
    - 34 days ago, 25 Jun 2014, 8:14pm -
  • Why does it take so long to make things happen? by Sean Sessions
     This year I became a home owner.  With a new interest in the quality of life within my neighborhood, I’ve reached out to local community groups, hoping to combine my loves of civic involvement, and community service, with my passion for process…
    - 84 days ago, 6 May 2014, 7:04pm -
  • Moonshine in the Home?
    As I watched a recent 3P team in action – I could no longer ignore it. a little voice saying: ‘for any home improvement, you must use the 3P moonshine principles!’ Make it physical with zero cost, and then simulate the process within that physi…
    - 6 Dec 2013, 10:38pm -
  • What Do Customers Want?
            Can kaizen activities be truly meaningful to the success of the business if we lose sight of what customers actually want versus interpreting the customer’s requirements through the lens of the business’s current capabilities? I am…
    - 22 Nov 2013, 10:00pm -
  • The Importance of Minding the Gap by Lori Heniff
    “Mind the gap!” Travelers and commuters in London Underground tube stations regularly hear that warning to be cautious when crossing the gap between the station platform and the train itself. There might be significant distances or height differe…
    - 11 Nov 2013, 5:20pm -

Gotta Go Lean

  • 11 Common Continuous Improvement Mistakes You Are Probably Making
    In any field, there are a handful of common mistakes. Continuous improvement is no different. Some of these errors come as a result of ignorance about the proper way of doing things. Some are the result of habit. And a handful come as a function of t…
    - 17 days ago, 13 Jul 2014, 12:56am -
  • Section Directory for the Practical Guide to CI
    VOLUME I: Introduction and Exploration Go to VOLUME I Section Title Section Type Original Date Latest Revision LTS Module Selecting the Program Leader Development Gate 4/2/14   N/A Finding Continuous Improvement Information Development Gate 6/10/14…
    - 47 days ago, 12 Jun 2014, 9:38pm -
  • Finding Continuous Improvement Information
    A successful continuous improvement program is built upon effective training materials, information, and tools. The forms you choose to use, the philosophies you adopt, the books you read, the slides you teach from, the videos you watch, and even the…
    - 49 days ago, 10 Jun 2014, 1:52pm -
  • Principles and Values
    If you have done more than a simple cursory search about continuous improvement, you will probably have come across a discussion about guiding principles or values. Unfortunately, the use of those words, principles and values, is not consistent. This…
    - 68 days ago, 22 May 2014, 6:15am -
  • WIFM?
    "WIFM" is an acronym for "What's in it for me?" (Note that it is only approximate because the number of "I"s does not match.)People tend to be rather logical, cause-and-effect types of creatures. They act when there is a reason to act. The basic pre…
    - 83 days ago, 7 May 2014, 1:28pm -

Lean Connections

  • Gemba Academy Talks Lean Leadership with Adam Zak
    Ron Pereira of Gemba Academy posted a podcast interview we did just a few weeks ago. The primary focus of our discussion is how to hire the right executive to help you jumpstart your company’s Lean journey.  I’ve reprinted the key topics …[.…
    - 19 days ago, 10 Jul 2014, 5:15pm -
  • Guru Review from Matthew May: Simple Excellence
    Matthew May writes about the new book Simple Excellence: Organizing and Aligning the Management Team in a Lean Transformation for American Express OpenForum readers. (from the Archives, 2010) Big Idea: Take Henry David Thoreau’s plea to “Simplif…
    - 28 days ago, 1 Jul 2014, 5:12pm -
  • Mark Graban Interview – Simple Excellence, Adam’s new book
    Podcast #105 is a conversation with the co-authors of the new book Simple Excellence: Organizing and Aligning the Management Team in a Lean Transformation from Productivity Press. They are Adam Zak, a regular guest blogger here on and Le…
    - 31 days ago, 28 Jun 2014, 4:56pm -
  • Secrets of Learning About People – Business 901 Podcast with Adam Zak
    This Business901 podcast is a two-part series with Adam Zak.  Joe Dager invited Adam to discuss a few of his secrets behind learning about people and engaging them in meaningful dialogue about themselves.  (from the Archives, 2013)
    - 33 days ago, 26 Jun 2014, 4:10pm -
  • Lean Thinking About Value Enhancement – Business 901 Podcast with Adam Zak
    Joe Dager of the Business901 podcast interviews  Adam Zak about Simple Excellence: Organizing and Aligning the Management Team in a Lean Transformation, Adam’s new book just out from CRC Press. (from the Archives, 2010) “During the podcast I…
    - 34 days ago, 25 Jun 2014, 4:31pm -

Curious Cat

  • newVision can be a Powerful Driver but Most Often It is Just a Few Pretty Words
    This month Bill Troy, the new CEO of ASQ, asked ASQ’s Influential Voices to explore the value of vision to the success of organizations. An aim for the organization is extremely helpful when it allows everyone in the organization to … Continue re…
    - 3 hours ago, 29 Jul 2014, 2:16pm -
  • Children are Amazingly Creative At Solving Problems
    This story at NPR reminded my of Russell Ackoff talking about the creativity kids show in solving problems* – and how school often stifles that creativity. Preschoolers Outsmart College Students In Figuring Out Gadgets Children try a variety of nov…
    - 21 days ago, 9 Jul 2014, 2:22am -
  • The Benefits of Blogging
    ASQ interviewed me, and several other ASQ Influential Voices bloggers for an article published in the current issue of Quality Progress magazine: The Blog Boom. A couple of my quotes from the article: I have been blogging for 10 years, … Continue r…
    - 26 days ago, 3 Jul 2014, 9:18am -
  • Gerald Suarez on Creating the Future
    I was lucky enough to be hired by Gerald Suarez to work for him at the White House Military Office. The webcast below is speech he gave at TedX Loyola Marymount. The illusion of knowledge is more dangerous that ignorance. … Continue reading →
    - 34 days ago, 25 Jun 2014, 2:30pm -
  • Root Cause, Interactions, Robustness and Design of Experiments
    Eric Budd asked on The W. Edwards Deming Institute group on LinkedIn If observed performance/behavior in a system is a result of the interactions between components–and variation exists in those components–the best root cause explanation we might…
    - 41 days ago, 18 Jun 2014, 2:23pm -

Learning About lean

  • A new writing project
    This blog has been rather quiet for the past couple of months, which reflects two concurrent facts. One is an incredibly busy period for my own manufacturing job.  Good stuff, but hugely time-consuming, filling work days and leaving little mental sp…
    - 3 Jan 2013, 2:59am -
  • Creating Interest
    Flow is a lot more interesting than batch. This occured to me in recent conversations with one of our team leaders who schedules work for her area.  A series of well-intended but misdirected steps had created a batch process in her area.  She coul…
    - 26 Oct 2012, 8:30pm -
  • Go Look at the Ears
    "You know, farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the corn field."Dwight Eisenhower, Address at Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, 9/25/56Ike had it right.  Need we say more about getting out of t…
    - 11 Oct 2012, 11:13pm -
  • The Curse of Sophistication
    As long as I've worked at implementing a Lean strategy, I continue to find it amazing how a description of it seems to fall flat on others' ears.  A common reaction is "Well, it's just common sense." Which is truly a comment which dismisses it as a…
    - 9 Oct 2012, 1:11am -
  • Ten Years of Blogging
    Flying well under any publicity banner, today marks ten years of this blog.  My first-ever post, on September 14, 2002, got this whole thing going.  568 posts later, allow me a few reflections. Ten years ago, there were not many resources about Lea…
    - 14 Sep 2012, 10:00am -

Improve With Me

  • Test Beliefs Against Data
    I like this quote because it touches on a couple of other ideas I have read before. One author I like (Joiner) states that all leaders need to treat decisions as experiments.  Lean challenges HiPPOs (Highest Paid Persons Opinion) to use data in…
    - 4 Sep 2012, 2:00pm -
  • Seek Multiple Views
    This quote has been sitting with me a while and I hope it is relevant for you too.  So often, even a gemba experience may be different for people.  Even though facts are found at gemba, people may only see certain … Continue reading →
    - 28 Aug 2012, 2:00pm -
  • Change Through Repeated Action
    “Beliefs, behaviors, assumptions, and attitudes do not change through study, conferences, seminars, and training classes; they change through repeated action. This is not dissimilar to breaking unhealthy habits such as smoking or overeating. The co…
    - 21 Aug 2012, 3:00pm -
  • PDSA Is The Ultimate Success Formula
    I recently uncovered a box of books I thought was lost years ago (before I knew about 5S!)  This time capsule contained material I read about 15 years ago while still in college and managing my own direct sales business during summer … Continue…
    - 19 Jul 2012, 4:45am -
  • The Waste Of “Managing Up”
    Time spent trying to please your boss is processing waste and provides no value to your customers.  Leaders and staff need to recognize this as a major cultural problem because it will negatively affect the long-term success for your organization.…
    - 11 Jan 2012, 2:00pm -

Lean Insider

  • How the LEGO Group Built a Global Learning Organization Using TWI
    Patrick Graupp, the foremost thought leader on the topic of Training Within Industry (TWI), has authored an important new book titled Building a Global Learning Organization: Using TWI to Succeed with Strategic Workforce Expansion in the LEGO Group.…
    - 6 days ago, 23 Jul 2014, 6:57pm -
  • Moving Production Back to the USA -- The Better Business Strategy for US Manufacturers?
    A new book by Tim Hutzel and Dave Lippert titled Bringing Jobs Back to the USA: Rebuilding America’s Manufacturing through Reshoring was published this month. This book continues the theme of their first book, Keeping Your Business in the U.S.A.:…
    - 43 days ago, 16 Jun 2014, 3:27pm -
  • What Can a 21st-Century Business Leader Learn from a 19th-Century Military Theorist?
    I had an opportunity to talk with Norton Paley about his just-published book Clausewitz Talks Business: An Executive’s Guide to Thinking Like a Strategist. I started with the obvious questions: “Why did you select Clausewitz?” and “What influ…
    - 71 days ago, 19 May 2014, 1:00pm -
  • How Can We Overcome Toxic Conformity at Work?
    Why are many of our organizations almost allergenic in their responses to innovation? Why do we penalize those courageous individuals who challenge the status quo by swimming against the tide? What can we do at work to ensure that dissenting voices…
    - 15 Apr 2014, 2:12pm -
  • Generating Sustainable Power: What Are the Considerations?
    Joao Neiva de Figueiredo and Mauro F. Guillén recently edited and published a book titled Green Power: Perspectives on Sustainable Electricity Generation, which provides a systematic overview of the current state of green power and renewable elect…
    - 18 Mar 2014, 12:22pm -

Lean Reflections

  • Leadership style and neural networks - part 2
    Matt Wrye is hosting Part two of our neuro-leadership series on his blog, Beyond Lean. Thanks for sharing it with your readers, Matt. And if you don't know Matt or his blog, you are in for a treat.
    - 14 days ago, 15 Jul 2014, 2:53pm -
  • Leadership style and neural networks - Part 1
    You’re probably familiar with the two leadership styles: task/objective-oriented leadership, sometimes called Theory X, or human/emotional-oriented, Theory Y. The American MBO model with its financial and quantitative goals leaves out the human dim…
    - 35 days ago, 24 Jun 2014, 1:15pm -
  • Bad employees
    As I discussed in my last post, the article, “Bad to great: The path to scaling up excellence” in the McKinsey Quarterly evoked my ire. In it, the authors discussed how to identify “bad employees” and get rid of them -- the old “bad apple…
    - 7 Apr 2014, 4:59pm -
  • McKinsey proves that today's management culture has a long way to go
    The first issue of the McKinsey Quarterly for 2014 was entitled, “Shaping the future of manufacturing.” Proof that management culture, however, is still rooted in the past, is made plain in the article “Bad to great: The path to scaling up exce…
    - 30 Mar 2014, 4:41pm -
  • When management doesn't get it
    Our last post identified a divide in a corporate culture between management and operational subcultures. I think that the failure to understand the importance of cultural differences is one of the reasons why lean initiatives fail. When lean champion…
    - 19 Mar 2014, 2:22pm -


  • Kanban Card Template – Tutorial, Video, and Download
    Kanban is an important concept in lean manufacturing. Kanban is a method that enables pull and can help create flow in a system. Kanban has several benefits: Kanban can prevent overproduction because it is the mechanism that tells a station or cell w…
    - 4 days ago, 25 Jul 2014, 6:09pm -
  • How Do I Sell Lean to My Boss and Organization?
    This is a question I get frequently. How to sell lean to your boss is a question we have all asked at one point or another. The more fundamental question is really about influence, persuasion, and change management. Another thing. And this is super i…
    - 28 days ago, 1 Jul 2014, 11:49am -
  • 5 Words That Have a Totally Different Meaning to Practitioners of Lean Manufacturing

    - 29 days ago, 30 Jun 2014, 12:01pm -
  • Total Quality Management Models and Why I Hate This Chart
    Total Quality Management has been around for a long time. If you look at the history of continuous improvement, it formally goes back to Frederick Taylor in the late 1800′s. I believe some even estimate aspects of quality management to back even fu…
    - 43 days ago, 16 Jun 2014, 6:48pm -
  • Fishbone Diagram Template in Excel
    Today I’m giving away the Fishbone Diagram Template in Excel. This template attempts to automate the job of creating a fishbone diagram and should help you and your team get on your way to finding root causes. The template is simple to use. Watch t…
    - 50 days ago, 9 Jun 2014, 7:56pm -

Gemba Tales

  • Bus Schedules and the Lean Management System
    What do bus schedules have to do with a lean management system? Quite a bit…even though, obviously, the notion of a bus schedule is more metaphor (or is that analogy?) than reality. Effective lean management systems are largely constituted by “me…
    - 91 days ago, 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm -
  • Strategy Deployment: Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey
    I remember, years ago, watching my oldest child struggle in his attempt to loosen a bolt. This was one of those all too few, brief, and shining child-rearing moments where I could easily and quickly share some trusty words of wisdom. “Righty tighty…
    - 25 Mar 2014, 8:13pm -
  • Newsflash: Behavioral Benefits of 5S Are Clinically “Proven”
    Larry Loucka, a close friend and colleague, recently pointed me to a February 16th Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article. Now, before you roll your eyes and give me the WSJ-isn’t known-for-getting-the-lean-thing-right look, hear me out. What the Journa…
    - 26 Feb 2014, 3:43am -
  • Holiday Lean Math
    As some of you may recall, I launched a new blog called Lean Math back in February with a couple of my buddies. In my humble opinion, I think that the ever-growing content is pretty useful stuff for lean practitioners. In any event, I just wanted to…
    - 23 Dec 2013, 9:09pm -
  • Build the Lean Management System and the Behaviors Will Come. Not Exactly.
    OK, I know that what I’m about to say may sound cynical, but 20 years of personal, hard knock lean experience tells me that this is reality. And most folks I think would, or at least should (I hope), agree with me. The majority of companies pursuin…
    - 20 Nov 2013, 9:22pm -

Kaizen Notebook

  • My Standard Work, Epilogue
    Over the course of the last few weeks I've been describing my latest efforts to apply leader standard work to my own work.  Please see my previous posts:Part 1Part 2Part 3Now I wanted to share with you a couple of images from the Excel file that I u…
    - 13 Sep 2013, 2:35pm -
  • My Standard Work, Part 3
    met·a·cog·ni·tion  [met-uh-kog-nish-uhn]noun Psychology.higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control of one’s cognitive processes, especially when engaged in learning.Over these past couple weeks I've been describing…
    - 6 Sep 2013, 3:35pm -
  • My Standard Work, Part 2
    In last week's post I began describing my standard work by talking about repetitive and cyclical tasks.  This accounts for roughly a third of the work that I do, but I soon realized that the next big chuck of work is comprised of tasks that are repe…
    - 31 Aug 2013, 3:58pm -
  • My Standard Work, Part 1
    Understanding others is knowledge. Understanding oneself is enlightenment. ~ Lao TzuFor years I've been an advocate for leader standard work, and yet in my own work I have struggled to apply this useful concept.  However recently I've had a breakthr…
    - 22 Aug 2013, 3:29pm -
  • Lovejoy, the Airlines, and Big Data
    One of my favorite concepts of Operations Management is the OM Triangle, also called Lovejoy's Triangle.  It describes the interrelationship of Inventory, Information, and Capacity. Read more »
    - 30 Apr 2013, 3:00pm -

Lean For Everyone

Flexible Pencil

  • Living in New England just went south
    My family and I live up in southern New Hampshire, about 1 hour north of Boston and the mayhem that followed yesterday's race. My wife and I moved here in 2002, after we met in Washington, DC and live there for four years. We left the busy-ness of…
    - 17 Apr 2013, 9:05am -
  • Anticipation vs responsiveness
    individuals and organizations still struggle with being proactive and preventing problems. My explanation comes by way of a saying I once wrote on a whiteboard in a co-worker's cubicle when the powers-that-be in that organization were touting the vi…
    - 11 Apr 2013, 9:05am -
  • Five types of toys, and a lesson for the grown-ups
    Like most parents, I buy my kids toys. I buy them mostly for Holidays and birthdays, and sometimes just because I can, and sometimes because I can't listen to the begging any more, too. On top of that, there are the presents from other people, the…
    - 10 Apr 2013, 9:05am -
  • It’s just a half glass of water.
    The old question, "Is the glass half empty or half full?" draws the line between optimists and pessimists. Deciding if the glass is half empty or half full, however, is more about seeing the future, or believing that you can, than it is about seeing…
    - 9 Apr 2013, 9:05am -
  • Training and Education – What is the correct value for you?
    As Continuous Improvement practitioners, it is natural (even a passion) to always seek ways to improve ourselves and the value we drive to our colleagues and the companies for which we work. During our quest for this personal and professional develo…
    - 4 Apr 2013, 9:05am -

My Lean Transformation

  • Is the Improvement Overwhelming You?
    The numbers of improvements we need to do are so many …. I do not know where to start This is a concern that I have heard from more than one business owners or managers. I mostly work with small and medium sized businesses and I am always surprised…
    - 22 Dec 2013, 6:36pm -
  • Video: TPS Basics
    This is a good video to refresh your memory about the  basic concepts of Toyota Production System(TPS).
    - 25 Sep 2013, 4:36pm -
  • Guest Post: Improving Employee Productivity through Security
    Author BIO - Antonio Ferraro – On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR ( Antonio strive to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. His knowledge b…
    - 29 Apr 2013, 12:59am -
  • The Truth about Lean Failures
    The truth is, most lean implementations are a failure over long duration. The reasons could be many. However, some of them are the major causes, as identified by the people involved in the implementation. They may be the right or maybe these are just…
    - 7 Apr 2013, 5:42am -
  • Become a Good Manager: Simplify your Work-Space
    In the previous post we talked about focusing on changing ourselves before starting the change in the company. Learning to change and adapt to meet the new challenges is the key to lead and survive any major transformation process. But how do we star…
    - 17 Feb 2013, 5:25am -

Old Lean Dude

  • Frankenstein Equivalents
    I was speaking with a friend about a recent downsizing at his church. After nine years, a popular priest had been reassigned to another parish. In an apparent effort to cut costs, a new priest would now split his time between two parishes in neighbor…
    - 7 days ago, 22 Jul 2014, 7:23pm -
  • Lesser Gods
    I learned recently of the passing earlier this year of person I worked with twenty years ago at my last job in manufacturing.   Manny S. was a ‘lesser god’, a term which is meant neither to canonize nor demean him.   He wasn’t perfect – n…
    - 22 days ago, 7 Jul 2014, 4:17pm -
  • Where is the Frontline?
    In recent years it’s become fashionable to talk about management’s support for the “frontline,” a peculiar idiom as frontline is technically defined as “that part of an army that is closest to the enemy.” Sometimes, however, the idiom fit…
    - 29 days ago, 30 Jun 2014, 7:30pm -
  • Addicted to Lean
    One of my early lessons in leading change came at the age of 19, while working in in a program known as VISTA, Volunteers in Service to America. The lesson was this: Leading change is marathon not a sprint. Sometimes you just have to pace yourself, g…
    - 43 days ago, 16 Jun 2014, 3:49pm -
  • Be Careful What You Wish For – Part II
    Four years ago I posted a funny story passed along to me by a Lean friend, that dealt with the consequences of crazy measures, and how lack of management oversight will allow these measures to persist indefinitely.   It’s one of my shortest posts…
    - 63 days ago, 27 May 2014, 7:51pm -

Systems Thinking & Lean

  • Part I of my free eBook has been published
    This blog has been pretty quiet over the last 2 years. The reason for this is that I have been working on a free eBook entitled “Theories of Work: How We Design and Manage Work“. The purpose of writing this book has been to educate and create cur…
    - 8 Oct 2013, 11:40am -
  • Latest Presentation – 21st Century Portfolio Management
    I recently spoke at the LKCE conference in Vienna on 21st Century Portfolio Management. The talk was recorded and is available here It’s about an hour long. I’ve now presented this material in Madrid, Boston, Tokyo, Vie…
    - 3 Nov 2012, 12:25am -
  • Agile for Executives
    I have been working more and more with Executives recently both from within IT and external to IT; CIOs, Executive Directors, Directors, and Senior Managers. In these sessions curiosity about agile has been piqued, which has led to wanting to learn m…
    - 25 May 2012, 7:46pm -
  • Agile, Lean, and Kanban, Do They Change Management Thinking?
    I have been an Agile practitioner for many years now, and was one of the early adopters of Lean thinking and Kanban for software teams. During that time I have observed remarkable improvements at the worker level, at the team level, and at the progra…
    - 10 Sep 2011, 12:50am -
  • Deming’s 14 Points
    W. Edwards Deming’s 14 points are the basis for transformation of industry. Adoption and action on the 14 points are a signal that the management intend to stay in business. aim to protect investors and jobs. Such a system formed the basis for less…
    - 15 Jul 2011, 7:32am -

The Lean Edge

  • David Meier: Do Lean with people rather than to people
    This sounds like a classic case of doing lean “to” people rather than with people. But let’s go back to the original question- the fact of the matter is that the challenges of getting lean grow as you proceed. People think that if you get lean…
    - 22 days ago, 7 Jul 2014, 6:12am -
  • Art Byrne: How much respect do you show your people?
    He should a] get someone to help him that understands what to do and how to go about it. The right outside consultant and a strong internal KPO would help a lot. And, b] he should examine his own behavior and approach. Does he show respect for people…
    - 22 days ago, 7 Jul 2014, 6:11am -
  • Jean Cunningham: It must feel lonely at the top!
    It must feel lonely at the top. If we approach this as a lean problem, then let’s work on that gap. He feels alone and wants other people related to the organization to be with him. Let’s consider many supporters as the desired state. Let’s con…
    - 23 days ago, 6 Jul 2014, 5:11pm -
  • Tracey Richardson: Watch out for conflicting KPIs
    This question/situation reminds me of the power-point slide we have all seen where the arrows are going in different directions. Since I’m not there to see it leaves me to make some assumptions because I do not have the ability grasp the situation,…
    - 23 days ago, 6 Jul 2014, 5:09pm -
  • Sammy Obara: Lean creates disruption as it challenges the status quo
    I think the answer to this short question will be a very long list of items to do or to stop doing. But at the same time, I believe we should be very cautious to make such a list past item #1. Item #1 in my view would be to perform a diligent genba a…
    - 25 days ago, 4 Jul 2014, 4:04pm -

Time Back Management

  • Disrespectful communication
      Microsoft’s announcement that it will lay off 18,000 employees is a brilliant example of how not to show people respect in communication. Stephen Elop took 11 paragraphs (!) in his internal email to finally get to the point that, … Continue re…
    - 7 days ago, 22 Jul 2014, 12:21pm -
  • Kaizen Lies Between Frustration & Seagulls
      Continuous improvement requires the coupling of authority to make changes and knowledge about what to change. Authority without knowledge creates that pernicious breed, the “seagull manager,” who, in the words of Ken Blanchard, flies in, mak…
    - 13 days ago, 16 Jul 2014, 10:19am -
  • Say ACK! for Kaizen
    I’ve noticed recently that even in the presence of obvious problems and easy improvements, people often don’t engage in kaizen. They just muddle through their work, wishing it were easier, and resigning themselves to the fact that it’s not. But…
    - 20 days ago, 9 Jul 2014, 10:18am -
  • July 2014 Newsletter — Unleashing Kaizen Creativity
    Anyone else who keeps digging when they’re at the bottom of the hole instead of figuring out a better way to do their job, is handicapped by poor leadership. Poor leadership stunts innate “kaizen creativity” as surely as poor soil and … Cont…
    - 21 days ago, 8 Jul 2014, 9:16am -
  • Don’t confuse posters with action.
      I have a new theory: the more posters, stickers, and banners promoting 5S, the lower the level of adherence to 5S principles. You can extend this idea to pretty much anything a company deems important: if leadership is promoting … Continue readi…
    - 28 days ago, 1 Jul 2014, 9:36am -