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Evolving Excellence

  • Discovering the Inner Merton
    If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted. ― Thomas Merton, Love and Living Sometimes there are dots just waiting to be connected… I was rather…
    - 48 days ago, 15 Oct 2015, 9:16am -
  • Discovering the Value of People
    Big news in the business world: Wal-Mart is famous for keeping costs down, including employee-related costs. In Joplin, the company is testing a new approach: investing in workers through higher wages and training, on the theory that this will pay of…
    - 80 days ago, 13 Sep 2015, 2:52am -
  • Owning Numerical Ignorance
    Earlier this year I discussed the value created by writing by hand.  By writing on whiteboards or scribbling in a notebook, ownership, learning, and understanding is created. Similarly, truly understanding numbers creates ownership, learning, and u…
    - 16 Aug 2015, 2:51am -
  • You’re Good When You Think You’re Bad
    Well over a decade ago I created my first lean enterprise assessment, just as a tool to help me understand gaps in my organization.  I’m generally loathe to use such tools as they are often misinterpreted, gamed, or whatnot – but so be it.  It…
    - 12 Jul 2015, 2:48am -
  • The Value of Uber and Airbnb
    The following is not an advertisement, even if it sounds like it. I will admit I am a big fan of Uber and use the service pretty much anytime I travel. Now that they’re in my relatively small town, I might start using the service instead of paying…
    - 14 Jun 2015, 2:45am -

Lean Blog

Jamie Flinchbaugh

  • Gemba Academy podcast: Getting the Board on Board with Lean with Jamie Flinchbaugh
    While attending the Summit on Lean Leadership by Lean Frontiers in partnership with the Lean Leadership Academy, I was leading a discussion on the lean board of directors. Coming out of the conference, I will produce a paper outlining some of the key…
    - 1 day ago, 30 Nov 2015, 11:30am -
  • Honored to be Named as NACD Leadership Fellow
    Those of you that know me understand that self-improvement and learning is one of my most treasured behaviors. I’ve twice taken pay cuts because I would learn more in a new opportunity, as I took to coaching soccer I progressed through 3 levels of…
    - 35 days ago, 27 Oct 2015, 6:21pm -
  • Rethinking organizational design [Lessons from the Road]
    I’m not sure there is a topic where the ratio of organizational impact to effort and thought put into it can be higher. People throw together organizational designs based on a whim, with often very little thought as to the consequences. Yet it affe…
    - 40 days ago, 22 Oct 2015, 3:26pm -
  • Come discuss lean with me this fall
    There are some fun and interesting opportunities for learning lean that I would like to share with you for this fall. They are all opportunities to come discuss the challenges of lean transformation with me. The Summit on Lean Leadership This is a ne…
    - 75 days ago, 17 Sep 2015, 11:00am -
  • Is quality a result or a system? [Lessons from the Road]
    I’ve been writing the Lessons from the Road column for IndustryWeek for many years now, and Leading Lean for Assembly Magazine for many years before that. You’d think I’d run out of topics. But each column continues to challenge me to think a b…
    - 76 days ago, 16 Sep 2015, 6:16pm -

LSS Academy

  • Solar Power Systems Increase Community Resilience
    Today, solar power systems provide a highly effective way for communities to improve their chances for being better able to function in the case of potential widespread emergencies. Communities must adapt to the many changing conditions and threats t…
    - 2 days ago, 29 Nov 2015, 7:44pm -
  • Are Your Solar Powered Lights Not Working – What Could Be Wrong?
    Solar powered lights are increasing in popularity throughout the world, providing you with a cost effective and environmentally friendly lighting solution that you can rely on and trust. There are times when your solar powered lights don’t perform…
    - 12 days ago, 19 Nov 2015, 10:51pm -
  • 4 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Solar Panels
    Installing solar panels on your roof allows you to generate free, clean energy while reducing your bills and helping the environment. PV solar panels are becoming increasingly common across the UK as more people begin to understand the huge benefits…
    - 13 days ago, 18 Nov 2015, 11:01pm -
  • How Solar Energy Systems Work and How They Benefit You
    All around the world and especially in the US, people are adopting lifestyles that benefit the earth by limiting chemical use, power use, and just all around choosing to “go green”. One of the ways that people are changing their lifestyles is by…
    - 18 days ago, 13 Nov 2015, 10:40pm -
  • 5 Advantages of Solar Power
    There is much awareness now across the globe about solar power and the ways we can use it to save our environment. Apart from the use of renewable solar energy to generate electricity in our homes it has several advantages. Here are the top 5 reasons…
    - 18 days ago, 13 Nov 2015, 11:05am -

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

  • Kaizen and Wu-Tang Forever
    As I sit here swelling in the ninth month of my pregnancy, I cannot help but think about the future.  What world am I bringing this creature into?   What have I done to make that world a better place, for my children, for their children? For your…
    - 18 Jun 2015, 11:00pm -
  • All About that Base by Kim deMacedo
    I heard an interview on NPR with Senator Jim Webb that got me thinking.  He was talking about Jacksonian doctrine and said that you measure the health of a society not at its apex, but at its base. I don’t know anything about presidential economi…
    - 4 Feb 2015, 5:06pm -
  • Immediate Detection & Correction: Easier Said Than Done
    Our team recently had the opportunity to learn directly from Sensei Chihiro Nakao, founder of Shingijutsu USA. We will continue to study and deepen our understanding of what he shared, but one area he helped il…
    - 20 Dec 2014, 1:12am -
  • Walken the Walk by Jane McGillivray
    Walken the Walk   How many of us have seen a movie with Christopher Walken playing some role?  Probably most of us.  I saw an interview a long time ago where he talked about how he perfects the art of acting.  He said, “I Act!”  He takes eve…
    - 3 Dec 2014, 10:36pm -
  • Why We Are Here
    The poem (below) jumped out at me from a therapist’s office wall.  A local team of our behavioral health providers were in Day 2 action, practicing and refining with real patients toward the ideal visit. I sat as still as possible, hoping to meld…
    - 27 Sep 2014, 12:35am -

Gotta Go Lean

  • Baseline
    Baselines are essential to improvements. They are the starting point for a process to be changed, or are reference points for ongoing processes. Baselines can be used in two main ways.First, they can be used to establish current conditions prior to…
    - 89 days ago, 4 Sep 2015, 6:42am -
  • Separate Man from Machine
    People should not be standing watching machines or pulling levers. They are far more intelligent than that. Give them jobs that use that intelligence, and sever their ties to machines. Focusing on this premise, that workers are more than just machine…
    - 90 days ago, 3 Sep 2015, 6:01am -
  • Scalability
    Scalability is the ability to easily ramp up or down to changing requirements. The term is in common use in information technology, specifically in reference to the ability of a system to grow to accommodate increasing traffic.In a continuous improv…
    - 91 days ago, 2 Sep 2015, 1:42am -
  • ABC Inventory

    - 18 Jul 2015, 7:32pm -
  • Develop Leaders Internally (Principle)
    The program leader faces a particularly challenging task in promoting this principle. In a nutshell, he or she will be dictating to the senior staff not only who they hire, but how they spend their time. Many senior leaders spend far too few hours of…
    - 17 Jul 2015, 9:12pm -

Lean Connections

Curious Cat

  • Making Your Case to Senior Executives
    This month Dr. Suresh Gettala writes about the Talking To the C-Suite About Quality in the monthly ASQ Influential Voices post. My take is a bit different than Dr. Gettala (and most others) in that I believe CEOs are so … Continue reading →
    - 7 days ago, 24 Nov 2015, 3:56pm -
  • Change Management: Create a Culture Seeking Continual Improvement or Use Band-Aids?
    Successfully shepherding change within an organization is often a challenge. Often change management strategies are mainly about how to cope with a toxic culture but exclude the option of fixing the toxic culture. Why not address the root causes inst…
    - 14 days ago, 17 Nov 2015, 1:50pm -
  • Getting Retweeted by Marc Andreessen Generated a Flood of Retweets
    On Twitter today I was getting more than 30 times the notifications I normally get. So I took a look to see what is going on. One of my tweets was getting retweeted and liked quite a lot (nearly 100 … Continue reading →
    - 22 days ago, 9 Nov 2015, 11:58pm -
  • Teaching Students How to Use Better Management Practices
    This month Edwin Garro writes about the Quality and Productivity Technical Program for high school students that has been adopted in Costa Rica. 5 high schools joined in the first year and 7 more will join in the next 2 … Continue reading →
    - 35 days ago, 27 Oct 2015, 2:19pm -
  • Human Proof Design
    Human proof design is design that prevents people from successful using the item. It is similar to mistake proofing except instead of prevent mistakes it prevents people from using it. When you see human proof design you will often see … Continue r…
    - 56 days ago, 6 Oct 2015, 3:48pm -

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

  • Can Design of Experiments (DOE) Be Simplified?
    Mark J. Anderson and Patrick J. Whitcomb just published the the third edition of their innovative book, DOE Simplified: Practical Tools for Effective Experimentation, and I had the chance to speak with Mark about its content. I asked him: "Nothing co…
    - 14 days ago, 17 Nov 2015, 11:52am -
  • So Why Did Pascal Dennis Update a Classic Book?
    I spoke with Pascal Dennis this past week and had the chance to ask him a few questions about the recent publication of his new book Lean Production Simplified, Third Edition: A Plain-Language Guide to the World's Most Powerful Production System.The…
    - 36 days ago, 26 Oct 2015, 12:46pm -
  • Painting the Factory Green with Lean Thinking
    Last month, a book titled The Green Factory: Creating Lean and Sustainable Manufacturing authored by Andrea Pampanelli, Neil Trivedi, and Pauline Found was published. This book proposes a new model, the Lean and Green Business Model (L&GBM), where th…
    - 75 days ago, 17 Sep 2015, 2:01pm -
  • Lean Drives Innovation at Goodyear
    I often hear the fear from right-brained functions, staff, and executives that Lean kills creativity. In the watershed book titled Lean-Driven Innovation: Powering Product Development at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, author Norbert Majerus pro…
    - 17 Aug 2015, 2:40pm -
  • Ideas Transformed the Culture at Baylor Scott & White Health
    Last month, an important book titled The Power of Ideas to Transform Healthcare: Engaging Staff by Building Daily Lean Management Systems, authored by Steve Hoeft and Bob Pryor, MD, was published. It details Baylor Scott & White Health’s journey f…
    - 16 Jul 2015, 8:37pm -

Lean Reflections

  • Lean Reflections is on vacation...
    It has been a while since I wrote a post for Lean Directions, but I have not been idle. You can keep up with my thoughts every three weeks on the Gray Blog. Be sure to check out the articles from my co-bloggers while you're there...Thanks,Karen
    - 7 Aug 2015, 6:52pm -
  • Leadership style and neural networks - Part 3
    A three-blog collaboration continues as Jeff Hajek hosts part 3 of our series on brain research and leadership style choices on his Gotta Go Lean blog. Co-blogging with Matt and Jeff has been rewarding because of the reviewing process before publicat…
    - 11 Aug 2014, 1:29pm -
  • 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.
    - 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…
    - 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 -


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