The Lean Thinker

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

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.

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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. There was no way to plan out the path to success from the beginning. Instead, at each step, they asked “Where are we now?” ” “What do we need to do next?” ” “What’s in the way of doing that?”

Course 278

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. If the coach insists on determining takt time with a beginner learner at this point, the result can be confusion and frustration.

Hype Cycle for Supply Chain Strategy, 2020

Our recent supply chain planning survey showed that only 17% of organizations place considerable effort on innovation. For most, firefighting is the norm. But to succeed in today’s business landscape and recover quickly from disruptions, you need to carefully balance operational excellence with innovation for long-term growth. Get insights in this Gartner report to find out where to invest and what you should adopt as standard business practices.

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. A few years ago I posted Organize, Standardize, Stabilize, Optimize and talked in general terms about the sequence of thinking that gives reliable outcomes. This is a series of questions that, if asked and addressed in sequence, can help you troubleshoot a process.

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.”.

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

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 253

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. This morning Craig Stritar forwarded a cool little video to me from Simon Sinek’s YouTube channel.

Tips 177

The Five Worst Practices in Procurement

The GEP white paper lists 5 common mistakes that impede the success of procurement professionals. Learn from industry veteran Bill Huber about the wrong and right ways to approach a procurement mandate and why just saving money isn’t enough. Download this report now to learn how to avoid the worst procurement practices.

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.

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. As of this writing, Jürgen has recorded 154 crashes of overheight vehicles into the bridge.

Video 150

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.

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. For those who only got email on the original post, this is a direct link to the video I was referencing: [link]. There are still lots of spots for anyone who is interested.

Video 150

How Georgia-Pacific Turned Their Supply Chain into a Competitive Advantage

Georgia-Pacific, one of the world's leading manufacturers of tissue, pulp and paper and supplier to top brands like Brawny, Angel Soft and DIXIE, trusts ClearMetal for their supply chain requirements. Read the case study to hear how one company turned the reliability and transparency of its supply chain into distinct competitive advantages.

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?

Groups 212

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.”

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’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?

Use Chaos to Build a Stronger Organization

Speaker: Stacey Harris, Chief Research Officer & Managing Partner at Sapient Insights Group

As we look to tomorrow, it is time to ask ourselves what lessons have we learned and how do we create flexible organizations that can survive what the future holds. Stacey Harris, Chief Research Officer for Sapient Insights Group, will share insights, data, and tools that are helping organizations adapt and even thrive in this difficult environment. She’ll discuss the emerging trends in the Learning technology market, and how these exciting new approaches to creating micro, adaptive, and personalized content is changing the face of workforce development while creating strong connections to business outcomes.

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. I think there is going to be a lot of good material to discuss here. But this post is about a marketing email with an excerpt really resonated with me, and I want to discuss that.

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.

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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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

Webinar on Demand: Resilient Supply Chain Network Design

Speaker: Bhomik Jain, Paul van Nierop & Aanand Pandey

Companies around the world are struggling to cope with COVID-19 disruption. Are supply chain networks resilient enough to weather the storm? Watch this webinar to learn about our research findings in the realm of network design and optimization, and uncover the capabilities you need to build resilience and agility.

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.

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

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. It is required when a simple technical change either isn’t going to get the job done, or requires the above changes to work at all. Most (if not all!)

Tools 183

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.

The Best Sales Forecasting Models for Weathering Your Goals

Every sales forecasting model has a different strength and predictability method. It’s recommended to test out which one is best for your team. This way, you’ll be able to further enhance – and optimize – your newly-developed pipeline. Your future sales forecast? Sunny skies (and success) are just ahead!

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. But the content and structure of the story card make it much more powerful than a simple task assignment. The story card is written in a way that engages the programming pair doing the work.

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. I wrote to Mike Rother and asked him “Do you think we could get Rich Sheridan?”.

Study 207

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.”.

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. Actually, you don’t know how many items you need to make, so you make as many as you can while the machine is available to you.

Mission Critical: Leveraging Learning Engineering to Drive Digital Transformation

Speaker: Trish Uhl, Founder of Owl's Ledge LLC and the Talent & Learning Analytics Leadership Forum

Digital is disrupting every part of an organization's value chain at a record pace, creating a critical need to transform operations and employees' ways of working. Formal training alone can't keep up; it's often too slow, too generic, inconvenient, inefficient, unduly expensive and lacks or lags methods for measuring business-related effectiveness. Trish Uhl show you how to start leveraging Learning Engineering, a multidisciplinary approach that combines modern technology, data analytics, decision science, learning sciences and change management with human-centered engineering design methodologies to ultimately deliver targeted learning outcomes and business results that keep pace with the business and merge learning into the flow of work and lead Digital Adoption.