Aim Your 5 Why Well!

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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=”” 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