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2012 Annual Management Blog Roundup – Steven Spear: The High Velocity Edge

This is the third installment of my favorite management blogs as part of John Hunter’s 2012 Curious Cat Management Blog Carnival.

Back in 1999, Steven Spear and H. Kent Bowen wrote the HBR article, Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System.  The article has become one of the most widely read accounts of why and how the Toyota Production System (TPS) works.  It’s one of those articles that needs to be read over and over as one learns more about lean and transformation.

Spear has continued to write about learning and improvement in his blog (The High Velocity Edge) and his latest books, Chasing the Rabbit and The High Velocity Edge.

I’ve enjoyed reading the books and articles written by Spears, as he digs into some fundamental elements of transformation and why companies like Toyota and Alcoa are different from traditionally-led organizations.

Rather than review posts from a few blogs posts, I would rather approach this one with a series of excerpts that I thought were valuable to those involved in organizational transformation.

. . . there is the ideal as a consistent source of concern . . . Observed departures from ideal were triggers for the question: what is it we don’t understand that causes us to have defects, delays, waste, and risk?”  Triggers and Objectives for Processes Change-Shortfalls, failures, and imperfections

“Lean never becomes self sustaining.  Never ever ever.  No way, no how.  It simply cannot.” Does ‘Lean’ Become Self Perpetuating?

“To focus on trade offs – that to get more of something means you have to give up something else – means you assume you are extracting as much cumulative value out of your work as possible.”  Asking What Quality Initiatives Get Sacrificed Under Budget Pressures Asks the Wrong Questions

“Often confused are “continuous improvement” and “innovation, . . . The differences between the two may have more to do with time frame and scope and less to do with approach.  In either case, the key issue is deliberating converting ignorance into useful knowledge.”  Continuous Improvement versus Innovation

Spears posts tend to be fairly short and to the point, which is nice when you have a lot to read and little time to actually sit down and do it.

Additional information about the Curious Cat Annual Management Blog Carnival is available at http://management.curiouscatblog.net/category/carnival/.


About Gregg Stocker

Gregg Stocker is a lean advisor for Hess Corporation. He possesses over 20 years experience in a variety of disciplines including operations, manufacturing, human resources, quality, and strategic planning, and has worked in manufacturing, service, and oil & gas industries. He has extensive international experience, including successfully leading an $65 million business in The Netherlands. He authored the book, “Avoiding the Corporate Death Spiral: Recognizing & Eliminating the Signs of Decline,” (Quality Press, 2006) and was a contributing author to "The Lean Handbook," (Quality Press, 2012). Gregg is a frequent speaker and recognized expert in business and performance improvement having been interviewed on television, radio, and in a number of newspaper and magazine articles including The New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek, and InformationWeek. Gregg has implemented change in organizations ranging in size from $10 million to more than $100 billion. He is a team-oriented leader who achieves results by improving teamwork, focus, and communication throughout the organization.


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