The Lean Thinker

Troubleshooting by Defining Standards

The Lean Thinker

Sometimes I see people chasing their tails when trying to troubleshoot a process. This usually (though not always) follows a complaint or rejection of some kind.

Thoughts on Failure Modes of Kaizen Events

The Lean Thinker

The common frustration in the weeks following a classic 5 day “kaizen event” (which go by many names) is that the follow-on actions are not completed, and the changes that were made erode quickly.

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How Do You Know They Know?

The Lean Thinker

TWI Job Instruction is built around a four step process titled “How to Instruct.”. Steps 2 and 3 are the core of the process. Present the Operation. Try Out Performance. I want to discuss Step 3: Try Out Performance. Teaching Back as Learning.

The Cancer of Fear

The Lean Thinker

I am sitting in on a daily production status meeting. The site has been in trouble meeting its schedule, and the division president is on the call. The fact that a shipment of material hadn’t been loaded onto the truck to an outside process is brought up.

How is Demand Forecasting changing? How do you compare to your peers?

AIMMS conducted research to assess how supply chain teams perceive the accuracy of their forecast and discover the tools and techniques they are using to upgrade the forecasting process. In this report, you will find helpful benchmarks and insights offered by your peers on the latest demand forecasting techniques, forecast granularity and periodicity, and expectations for the future.

That Broken Bolt is Speaking to You

The Lean Thinker

The factory is running complex automated equipment. At the morning meeting today we heard “machine x was down for broken bolts.” Actually “again.”. Background – the bolts in question resist pressure in molding equipment. The details of how the equipment works aren’t relevant here.

If You Aren’t Being Heard, Then Listen

The Lean Thinker

I was sitting in on a conversation between a Continuous Improvement Manager and the Operations Manager the other day. The Operations Manager was asking for help developing good leader standard work. The C.I.

Lessons from Driving a Forklift

The Lean Thinker

The spring and summer of 2000 were a long time ago, but I learned some lessons during those months that have stayed with me. In fact, the learning from that experience is still happening as I continue to connect it to things I see today.

It will feel worse because it’s getting better.

The Lean Thinker

The line is starting to flow, or at least there is more time flowing than not flowing. The places where it isn’t flowing well are now much more evident. Things are speeding up.

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If You Think “We Can’t Please Our Customers” You’ll Be Right

The Lean Thinker

The center of the B Concourse at O’Hare Airport in Chicago is dominated by a Brachiosaur skeleton, part of the Field Museum exhibit for their store there. As a reminder for those of you over the age of 14, the Brachiosaurus was 70 feet long, 30 feet tall, weighed in at around 60 tons.*

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5 Perceptions on Demand Forecasting and How it's Changing

Speaker: Brian Dooley, Director SC Navigator, AIMMS

It’s no secret that demand is getting more difficult to predict. Is your demand forecasting process evolving with the times? How does your process stack up against others? Are you satisfied with your level of forecast accuracy? This webinar shares research findings from a recent survey among supply chain planning professionals to help you answer these questions.

The Key to Leadership is Consistency

The Lean Thinker

In this video clip, author and speaker Simon Sinek articulately explains why the things that matter most aren’t measurable, nor can they be created over the short term. Watch the video, then I’d like to extend his thought process into continuous improvement.

Video 273

What Is Your Target Story?

The Lean Thinker

One of the artifacts of Extreme Programming as practiced by Menlo Innovations is the Story Card. In the purest sense, a story card represents one unit of work that must be done by the developers to advance the work on the software project.

It’s Hard to Learn if you Already Know

The Lean Thinker

In this TED Talk, Amy Edmondson of the Harvard Business School talks about “How to turn a group of strangers into a team.” Although long-standing teams are able to perform, our workplaces today require ad-hoc collaboration between diverse groups.

Creating Resistance As You Go (Don’t)

The Lean Thinker

The role of “change agent” is actually a role of leadership. Leading change is difficult work that involves changes in the norms, routines, working relationships, behavior within and between groups.

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Top 5 Barriers to Supply Chain Network Design Adoption and How to Overcome Them

Speaker: Brian Dooley, Director SC Navigator, AIMMS, and Paul van Nierop, Supply Chain Planning Specialist, AIMMS

Want to build your internal capability, reduce costs and make better decisions? It's easier than you think. This on-demand webinar shares research findings from Supply Chain Insights, including the top 5 obstacles that bog you down when trying to improve your network design efforts.

Toyota Kata and The Menlo Way

The Lean Thinker

I have been telling everyone who will listen to read Rich Sheridan’s book Joy, Inc. ever since I came across and read it in the fall of 2015. Fast forward to earlier this year when Lean Frontiers sent out their request for suggested keynote speakers for KataCon.

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Ambitious Growth Plans? Your Customers Will Right-Size You

The Lean Thinker

I’ll call the title of this post “Dave’s Observation.”. He is reflecting his experience in varied industries that if a company grows beyond its ability to deliver quality product, on time, then order volume will drop until it reaches a point that performance returns. The business literature is full of examples of this – companies who could not keep up with their own success, their performance deteriorates and, well, many of them go out of business.

Are You Overproducing Improvements?

The Lean Thinker

Imagine a factory with a large monument machine. It takes several days to set up. When it does run, it runs very fast, much faster than you can actually use its output. Therefore, you take the excess output and store it to use later.

Scientific Thinking vs. The Scientific Method

The Lean Thinker

My recent post, “ …but where is the problem solving? stirred up quite a bit of conversation and traffic. I would like to dig a little deeper into what “good problem solving” actually looks and sounds like – beyond the forms and tools. Underlying all good problem solving is scientific thinking. With it, I am constantly comparing what I think with what I observe , and looking at differences as evidence that what I think might need revision.

Buyer's Guide for Supply Chain Network Design Software

Network design as a discipline is complex and too many businesses are still relying on spreadsheets to design and optimize their supply chain. As a result, most organizations struggle to answer network design questions or test hypotheses in weeks, when results are demanded in hours. This Buyer’s Guide helps you find easy-to-use technology to become more proactive and less reactive when it comes to network design and optimization.

Mike Rother: The Toyota Kata Practice Guide

The Lean Thinker

When I landed in Detroit last week to visit Menlo Innovations , Mike Rother picked me up at the airport. As soon as I settled in to the passenger’s seat, he handed me my long-anticipated copy of his new book The Toyota Kata Practice Guide. That is the first disclaimer here.

How Does the Teacher Learn?

The Lean Thinker

In my last post, If the Student Hasn’t Learned… , I made the point ( again ) that sometimes trying too hard to impose a formal structure on a learner can impede their progress.

Target Condition vs. Target

The Lean Thinker

This search question landed someone on my site yesterday, and I thought it would be a good one to try to answer specifically: why is lean manufacturing preferred to implement target condition as compared to target? In other words, what is the difference between a “target” and a “target condition?” ” Where this gets sticky is that there isn’t any canonical definition of either term.

If the student hasn’t learned…

The Lean Thinker

… the teacher hasn’t taught. Do you regard the structure of problem solving as dogma, or as an experiment with a predicted outcome? If the learner struggles to master the structure, sometimes it is more valuable to find a different structure than to double down on what clearly isn’t giving the predicted result. The Problem. Early this year I started work with a new client. They were trying to “implement A3,” and as I began to work with them, especially the new-in-the-position C.I.

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The Beyond Belief Impacts of VUCA on Supply Chains and Commerce

Speaker: Jim Tompkins, Chairman and CEO at Tompkins International

We are fortunate to have Dr. James A. Tompkins, one of the world’s leading supply chain thought leaders, to address the impacts of VUCA on today’s supply chains and commerce. Jim recently stated that “the impacts of digital commerce on supply chains and commerce are far greater than the ending of the Cold War in 1991. The lifting of the Iron Curtain was minuscule when compared to the impacts of VUCA on how business works and how people live.”

Software Rules

The Lean Thinker

“Turn off the radio, Hal.” “I’m sorry, Mark, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”.

The Ecosystem of Culture

The Lean Thinker

An organization’s culture and mindset evolve over time. When confronted with a problem or challenge, the organization (or more accurately, the people in the organization) view it through a filter of their experiences.

Problem: What Does Maintenance Cost?

The Lean Thinker

Another interesting “homework problem” showed up in the searches today: an assembly line turns out parts at the rate of 250 per hour. on the average, the line must be shut down for maintenance for 20 hours during a month. how much production is lost each month? Answer: None.

Only Action Reveals What Must Be Done

The Lean Thinker

I am reading Story by Robert McKee (because the structure of stories interests me). There is a profound passage which totally resonates with everything we discuss here.

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Navigating the Road to Successful Automation - A Process Driven Approach

Speaker: Jon Leposky, Director of Operations and Logistics, Z Customization

Automation can be an incredibly powerful tool to lower costs, increase capabilities, and enable scaling. However the road to implementing automation can be long and challenging even when all the proper steps are taken. Being equipped with the proper tools and knowledge of common pitfalls when implementing automation can make the difference between a show stopping disaster and seamless success.

Heavy Equipment Overhaul: Flow at Takt in 1938!

The Lean Thinker

This is a great contemporary film from 1938 describing the complete overhaul of a mainline 4-6-0 steam locomotive in the U.K. What is interesting (to me) is: The overhaul involves stripping the locomotive down to individual parts.

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KataCon4–Notes along the way: Part 2

The Lean Thinker

One of the things Menlo does (and I am sure they are not the only ones in their business who do) is create user personas – a biographical profile of a fictional person who represents a category of potential user for the software they are developing.

A Period of Reflection and Learning

The Lean Thinker

Some of you have commented in back-channels that I have been pretty quiet for a while – both here as well as in regular correspondence. I’ve been in pretty heavy reflective mode for quite a while. I described it to someone as “I am learning faster than I can write it down right now – by the time I write something, I understand it in a different way and start over.”.

KataCon People: Skip Steward

The Lean Thinker

One of the main reasons to attend KataCon is to learn from others. While many conferences are an audience listening to keynote presentations, KataCon is more of an annual get-together of a community. Whether you are considering attending for the first time (please do!),

Automated Order Processing and Proactive Inventory Management

Speaker: Irina Rosca, Director of Supply Chain Operations, Helix

Organizations need to focus on demand driven supply planning, utilizing real time information on customer orders from all marketplaces (e-commence, Amazon - or other online retailers, and point of sale data from brick and mortar). Focusing on this information once per month during the S&OP meeting is too late for all business units to align. Companies should have seamless integration between order entry, inventory management, forecasting and supply planning models and purchase order status to sense risk, pull levers to mitigate potential risk, and communicate within and outside the organization. This is especially important for new product releases, in store programs or promotions (sales, end caps, PDQ. etc) or online promotions (company run or 3rd party). Depending on total supply chain lead time, not having real time visibility and analysis of this information can significantly affect sales and the bottom line.

Executive Rounding: Taking the Organization’s Vitals

The Lean Thinker

Background: I wrote an article appearing in the current (October 2017) issue of AME Target Magazine (page 20) that profiles two very different organizations that have both seen really positive shifts in their culture. And yes, my wife pointed out the misspelling “continous” on the magazine cover.).