Monthly Lean Thoughts

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e-Learning The Lean Management System. Yeah, but what about the Gemba?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Last week we announced our Silver Lining Initiative to try and find something positive in all of the very serious news associated with COVID-19. Lean is at its core what biologists would refer to as an adaptive system. An adaptive system is an organized system by which living organisms evolve in response to a changing environment by adapting over time. Lean is also an adaptive system; it is an organized process by which an organization continually improves itself by reacting to problems by creating more value and incurring less waste over time. So that begs the question. Shouldn’t the way we teach Lean also be subject to improvement? Of course it should!

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Is it Time to Consider Societal Gain as a Business Performance Measurement?

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Early in the introduction of Lean in the United States we measured the performance of work cells through the lens of Cycle Time, Talk Time, Travel Distance, and Inventory. From this evolved visual boards tracking performance in the areas of Quality, Delivery, and Cost, with Safety added soon after as crosses to the visual boards next to each work cell. This eventually evolved into People, Quality, Delivery, Cost, and Continuous Improvement (CI). Regardless of the performance measurement suite we settle on, what we clearly understood from the beginning was that it’s all too easy to focus improvement efforts on one measurement while creating problems elsewhere.

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The Andon- A Call for Help?

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hardly anyone who learns about Lean Management Systems hasn’t also been exposed to this iconic cartoon of a Toyota assembly line worker pulling an Andon cord and the supervisor immediately responding.

If we come at this from our traditional thinking, we interpret the image as one in which the supervisor responds to someone on the line who has a problem so as to help them get back on track. Pretty straight forward stuff at first glance. Right?

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The Missing Link

Friday, September 6, 2019

Here’s a simple, seemingly innocuous question for lean leaders, “What financial benefits have accrued as a direct result of the (fill-in-the-blank) lean transformation effort?”

Gulp. Simple does not mean easy.

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Lean Thinking In Government? Yes, But It is Different!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

In this day and age of hyper-partisan politics, it’s easy to overlook the fact that just below the surface of all the political rhetoric, we have over two million people working day to day jobs in the federal government. And that does not count all the state and local government employees. These are real people with families and aspirations who have chosen to make a career in government.

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