Happy Easter

Happy Easter from the Lean Blog. 

God Bless!

Lean has a long ways to go……

I’m in Costa Rica this week for a little R&R but of course couldn’t help but make a few Lean observations, much to the dismay of my wife! Anyway, in case we think we will ever get to the pinnacle of Lean, which of course we all know the journey never ends, there is plenty of opportunity here Costa Rica!  Also saw some great things, but mostly real time wasters, like the hour wait for the 5 people line at the bank!

However, Costa Rica is such a beautiful place, why would you want to be in a hurry!



Let’s have a meeting to kill meetings!

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Meetings….UUUGGHHHH.  There have been many posts about meetings and how many you have indicate the health of your

operation.  This is one of my favorites from last year by Dan Markovitz at Timeback Management.

It seems everyone gripes about them, even those that call them, but we all still keep having them?  Some are necessary but we should always try to minimize based on trading our valuable time in gemba for sitting in a conference room.  If I can get your help, I’d like to do a little cyber group analysis and see if we can’t eliminate some meeting waste, hopefully without even having a meeting about it! Continue reading

Leadership Re-directions: Change is bad?

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]We’re all familar with the old “Change is good” saying!  Have you ever experienced a natural change in leadership and had a director come in and completely revamp the way your team reports, plans, etc?  Sometimes this is a good thing and often necessary in a lean transformation.  But what if you have been on your way down the path and your director is promoted?  Is it really value added to scrap the methods and tools of your team if they represent the same methodology and get you to the same place in the end?

Continue reading

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the lean blog.  While we have received many gifts from the Lean community that inspire and improve us and our organizations, today is the day we remember the greatest gift of all……God’s son in the flesh!

Although we all make sacrifices for the good of our teams and organizations, none compare to the sacrifice Jesus made for all of us on the cross.

May your upcoming year be blessed with the glory and grace of God!


Great Post – The Silly Cycle

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Just came across a great post here by Christian Paulsen at the Lean Leadership Blog.  He compares the PDCA cycle that Deming preached to the “Silly Cycle” that replaces the PCA with Do, Do, Do.  This post really hit home with the way we run around “doing” things rather than thinking them through.

As a leader do you encourage any action to be done regardless of root cause analysis?  Do you punish those who are thinking a problem through and not just out there “doing” something?  It’s an easy trap to fall into.  Have you ever felt you had to have something to tell the corporate office on a problem?  The more countermeasures thrown at the problem the better right????  Wrong!!!!

Take the time to reinforce with your teams the value of the PDCA cycle.  Reward them for thinking a problem through.  Ask the tough questions around causal explanation and experimentation.  Ensure you create time from all the “doing” for your teams to work on the Act portion, implementing systems!

The PCDA cycle will not only fix your problems, but more importantly, develop problem solvers that can fix even more problems!


Happy Thanksgiving…..Be thankful for Lean

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Happy Thanksgiving from the Lean Is Good blog. 

As I reflect back, there is so much to be thankful for it amazes me.  Often times in our blogospheres we rant and rave about all the negative things like lack of leadership, overburdened workloads, lack of commitment, etc.  However, take a minute to think about all the things your teams did well this year!  How many kanban systems did you start or improve upon?  How many of your processes are more stable now than a year ago since you implemented standard work or process control charting?  Most importantly, how many people did you teach that there are simpler and better ways to do business successfully?

I bet you got a lot done!!!!!  Be thankful that we continue to have andon pulls to work on!!!!


Aim Your 5 Why Well!

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]We’ve all heard the saying “guns don’t shoot people; people who pull the trigger shoot people.”  Regardless of which side of the gun control argument you may be on, the same also holds true for 5 why problem solving!  Has anyone in your organization pointed to a 5 why and told you they don’t work here or in this business?  I’m here to tell you that they work wonderfully well within the proper situation and with proper training, kind of like guns!  It’s very easy to aim a 5 why poorly and give them a bad reputation in your organization.

A couple of 5 why mistakes that I see and make myself are 1) guessing as to the next why, 2)  mixing the problem deviation and system problem chains, and 3) implementing a solution around the symptom and not the root cause. Continue reading

Two Great Posts

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Recently read two great posts that we at the Lean Blog have tried to discuss but I think the authors have done a much better job of trying to explain the points.

First, Bill Waddell at Evolving Excellence blog here discussed the waste of the annual budgeting that takes place in most companies.  It’s crazy to think of the thousands of hours wasted on imaginary numbers in many large companies.

Second, Mark Rosenthal posted at the Lean Thinker about lean systems and how problems occur here.  We’ve tried to address it here and here, but again I feel Mark hit the nail on the head!

Hope you enjoy the posts as much as I did!


Goalpost Quality – Taguchi Losses and SPC

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Delighting customers with a high quality product that performs to expectations is one of the best ways to secure and grow a business. This results in long term security for each player in the extended value stream.  Today I’d like to discuss a couple of perspectives on manufacturing quality products and how it affects customers.  One of those perspectives eventually relates to football, so hang in there with me! Continue reading

Insanity Metrics

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Remember the saying “don’t put off until tomorrow that which you can do today?”  I developed a new variance of this old saying based on some recent events.  “Don’t put off until tomorrow that which you can do today, unless is clashes with a concrete head metric!”

The addition stems around the postponing of a kaizen event until a later date.  Regardless of your opinion on the success of a kaizen blitz for long term success, this particular event was important, as it centered on a QCO on the bottleneck of a sold out value stream.  It would generate immediate improvement to the business bottom line. Continue reading

Just Open My Mouth and Go to the Gemba

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]I had an interesting experience at the dentist the other day that models what I see on the shop floor over and over.  I entered the office with a known problem that was diagnosed by another office.  They of course wanted new x-rays since they didn’t receive the ones from the previous office.  They assured me my insurance will pay for them again so no problem.  Of course we all wonder why our insurance increases all the time but that is a discussion for another time.  They did the 360 degree scan and noticed something and wanted a more detailed x-ray of the area.  So I bit down on the razor sharp piece in my mouth and took another x-ray.

After some wait time the dentist finally came out to see me from studying the x-rays and discussed everything that she saw and how it was tough to tell exactly what the issue was that had brought me there.  Eventually after some dental history chit chat she looked in my mouth and almost instantaneously said “Oh, here is the problem.  We would never see this on an x-ray.”  A quick filling and I was out of there.

However, they were so intent in using technology that they took up at least an extra 30 minutes of my time and how much expense for the x-rays?  If they would have just gone to the gemba, my mouth in this case, to see the problem with their own eyes we would have avoided much waste.

I see the same thing in factories all the time.  There is a problem.  We sit at our computers and analyze process information, warranty data, etc when we should just go out and see the problem ourselves.  I also see us use the latest greatest technology just because its the new gizmo, when there are many “old fashioned” techniques that are better, faster, and cheaper.

So remember, on your quest to be a great problem solver,  you have to open your mouth and get in the gemba!


Leadership is Leadership

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]I had the privilege of attending “the nines” leadership network today at my church.  If you’re not familiar, it’s a shotgun blast of over a hundred leaders talking about game changing events from their lives.  Each is around 6 minutes long and is mostly pastors but has some business leaders sprinkled in as well.  It was amazing to listen to all the different game changing events that these wonderful leaders have developed or experienced.  Lot’s of takeaways from this event, but the largest thing that hit me was the good leadership within an organization is exactly the same whether you are starting a new church, expanding your church, or just trying to manufacture widgets at a competitive price!  It was scary how closely the Toyota leadership model matched these successful pastors over and over.

Conclusion:  Good leadership is just plain good leadership no matter what you are trying to do!


Let people make mistakes? Tough Love of Leadership!

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]While leading an event this week, I came across a common situation that I have faced over the years.  The group, very new to pull, wanted to implement a particular piece of the pull system in an exact same way that I have failed in a past life.  Despite my best efforts through education and description of the past shortcomings, I couldn’t convince them to set it up any other way.  As an event leader what do you do next?    Impose your will on the group or let them make the mistake and learn the hard way? Continue reading

Remember – We Want to See Problems

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”ow.ly” only_single=false]Ok, you’ve followed your formula for your lean transformation.  Maybe you value stream mapped, put in some standard work, developed some pull systems, improved your critical changeover times, trained all your teammates, and ran a few simulations.  Now the big moment comes and you flip the switch on the system.  You are now running to the new principles and methods.  What happens next? Continue reading