The Lean Thinker

Applying the Improvement Kata to the Process of Leadership

The Lean Thinker

Whether you are a line leader or an internal or external consultant, if you are reading this you are likely working to shift the culture of your organization.

Tools 212

The Key to Innovation is Iterate and Test

The Lean Thinker

Key points from this great TED talk by Joi Ito, the director of the MIT Media Lab. You can’t plan the path, you can only set the direction. He talks about the “compass” guiding a project that followed a route which was totally unpredictable.

Course 361
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The Perils of Weekly Toyota Kata Coaching

The Lean Thinker

Outside of the actual operation, the default meeting schedule for most organizations is weekly. This is OK when everyone understands what is expected and the default thinking and behavior is working for you.

Events 302

“A3” is an Obligation for the Coach

The Lean Thinker

In Western business it is pretty typical for someone to be assigned to come up with a proposed solution to a problem, and then seek approval for that solution. In some companies that consider themselves more forward thinking, they might even say something like “bring me an A3.”

Course 247

New Supply Chain Design Software Benefits Calculator

Curious how much can you potentially save by optimizing your supply chain network? Our benefits calculator helps you find out.

Reflections and Lessons From 1997

The Lean Thinker

MONDAY: 2 PERS 1 MACHINE. TODAY: 1 PERSON 2 MACHINES. On a Thursday afternoon in the summer of 1997 I sent that pager message (remember pagers?) to Rick from the factory where I had spent a week working with Mr. Shimura of Shingijutsu and Reiko, his interpreter.

Toyota Kata: When to Switch Obstacles

The Lean Thinker

Sometimes the situation arises where the learner has been beating her head against an obstacle with little or no luck overcoming it. The question comes up: When is it OK to give up and switch to something else. The answer is, of course, a little situational. Consultant speak: It depends…).

Course 227

Toyota Kata: What If There Is No Takt Time?

The Lean Thinker

At KataCon 2020, Steve Medland posed a problem that comes up fairly often: The default Toyota Kata process analysis (“grasp the current condition”) involves determining takt times and cycle times for the process, and a lot of processes don’t have an obvious repeating cadence.

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.

Kaas Tailored – Truth, Bit, Pull

The Lean Thinker

Jeff Kaas talks about Leader Standard Work [link]. The people at Kaas Tailored in Mukilteo, Washington are friends, neighbors, and colleagues of mine. They have been a tour stop for people from all over the planet who want to learn more about their people-centric culture of continuous improvement.

Events 195

Going to Market Smarter in the New Economy

The fight to find new customers and retain existing ones is the biggest business challenge for many companies. Technology will continue to play a part in fostering buyer allegiance and building brands in the “new normal.” In 2021, as companies continue to move more functions online, employees will take a more virtual -- and flexible -- mindset and lifestyle in parallel to the digitization of businesses. To succeed, you must change the way you conceive and build new products as a digital business. Download the report today to discover more!

A Lean Leadership Pocket Card

The Lean Thinker

I was going through some old files and came across a pocket card we handed out back in 2003 or so. It was used in conjunction with our “how to walk the gemba” coaching sessions that we did with the lean staff, and then taught them to do with leaders.

Daily Management for Improvement

The Lean Thinker

I’m digging through old archives again, and came across this graphic I put together around 2006 or so.

Mistake Proofing ? Getting People?s Attention

The Lean Thinker

Besides being a great source of schadenfreude, Jürgen Henn’s website, 11foot8.com offers some great insight in the difficulty of effective mistake-proofing. Background.

Video 244

Simon Sinek – Remote Teaming Tips

The Lean Thinker

How Remote Teams Can Connect Meaningfully – Simon Sinek – March 20, 2020. We are all being pushed into the zone beyond our knowledge base right now – having to rapidly adapt and adjust to different ways of working together.

Tips 230

The Forrester Wave™: B2B Marketing Data Providers, Q2 2021

In our 24-criterion evaluation of B2B marketing data providers, we identified the 11 most significant vendors — Data Axle, Dun & Bradstreet, Enlyft, Global Database, InsideView, Leadspace, Oracle, SMARTe, Spiceworks Ziff Davis, TechTarget, and ZoomInfo Technologies — and researched, analyzed, and scored them. This report shows how each provider measures up and helps B2B marketing professionals select the right one for their needs.

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. All too often I see “training” that looks like this: Bring the team members into a room. Read through the new procedure – or maybe even show some PowerPoints of the procedure. Have them sign something that says they acknowledge they have been “trained.”.

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. The idea of doing the little things consistently over time is a powerful one that we often overlook in our hurry to show a spectacular result this week. We don’t get results from the big action we are taking today.

Video 263

More About Mistake-Proofing

The Lean Thinker

After yesterday’s post about trucks crashing into the famous 11foot8 bridge and mistake proofing, I got the feeling I should drive home my key point that the problem isn’t with the driver, it is with the environment.

Video 195

Meta-Patterns: Thoughts for Discussion

The Lean Thinker

I’ll be sending out the Zoom meeting link this (Wednesday) afternoon (May 6, 2020) for the Thursday (11 am Pacific) open discussion on the Meta-Patterns of Innovation. Wright Brothers’ Experiments with the 1901 Glider.

Video 195

Supply Chain Network Design: The Ultimate Use Cases eBook

Explore the most common use cases for network design and optimization software. This eBook shares how supply chain leaders leverage their supply chain design software to tackle a variety of challenges and questions.

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. Recently I have asked myself why it works so well during the actual workshop, and then fades so quickly afterwards.

Events 233

Ghost Victories – an excerpt from Upstream by Dan Heath

The Lean Thinker

The link to the image takes you to the Amazon listing for the book. If you happen to order it, I get a small kickback, no cost to you, Just FYI. Dan Heath has just published a new book, Upstream : The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen. I just got the book, and am reading it now.

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. manager was responding that she had already developed it for the Value Stream Manager, the Supervisor. The Operations Manager said he thought right now, they needed to focus on the Team Leads, the first line of leadership. 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. I was a member of a team working hard to stand up a new production line of a new product. The rate pressures were very high, the production, production control, and quality processes were immature.

4 AI Hacks to Make Sales Teams More Efficient

Over the last two years, there’s been a 76 percent increase in AI adoption across sales organizations. For sales teams, AI opens up a world of new possibilities, including automating outreach, identifying best-fit buyers, and keeping CRMs flush with fresh data. Read on to learn the four AI hacks sales teams need to improve their performance. Download the eBook today!

Toyota Kata and Culture Change

The Lean Thinker

I am still digesting my experience at the Toyota Kata Summit (KataCon) and the TWI Summit but I wanted to reflect on one of the emerging themes, and some of the reactions. One of the themes that emerged at both conferences – and to be clear, something I had a hand in influencing as well – was mechanisms for altering the culture of the organization. In other words, what we brand as “change.” ” This is what I would call an “advanced topic” What is Culture?

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. The question is: What kind of leadership, and what kind of structure, contributes to working together on the problem?

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.

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. This isn’t the first time I have heard of “broken bolts” being the source of downtime. After the meeting, I saw the production manager on the shop floor. “So, So, tell me about the broken bolts.”

Just In: Inventory Optimization Research

How are organizations performing on inventory optimization? How can new technologies help your team improve? Find out in this new research report.

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. The actual consequence was a small delay, with no impact on production. The problem was brought up because bringing up process misses is how we learn what we need to work on.

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. That is placing more stress on the engineering and materials supply processes where, before, they were shielded by a rough start-up that was always behind schedule. They are catching up on the backlog, closing in on “on schedule shipment.”. John” forgot to send a batch of parts to an outside processor.

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174

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.* It had a brain the size of an avocado. It wasn’t smart. It wasn’t fast. Its main defense against predators was that it was simply too big to catch and eat.

Course 174

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.

Course 188

How to Overcome the Pain Points of Your CRM

CRM software is a powerful tool when used correctly, yet another obstacle to a sales team’s efficiency when it’s not. Leveraging research and commentary from industry analysts, this eBook explores how your sales team can get back valuable time by overcoming some pain points with your CRM, such as low adoption rates, integrations, and data quality.