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Energy Companies Need to Stop Worrying About Oil Prices

The industry is still in its infancy in understanding and applying lean to the point where it will reduce its addiction to oil price. When accompanied by true and fundamental transformation, lean can help an energy company take full advantage of the periods of high prices while preparing for the inevitable drops without feeling the need to implement drastic measures that damage long-term health. Continue reading

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Lean: What Most People Miss

The first step is transformation of the individual . . . The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people. – W. Edwards Deming I reflect on a regular basis about why companies struggle with the application of lean within their businesses. Countless organizations have tried … Continue reading

Lean: Forget the Score and Focus on the Point

Changing the culture requires helping people understand that every instance where a standard is not met is a problem and needs to be resolved. Doing this requires spending time at gemba to see when it happens, helping people recognize the small problems that happen (or validating that the problems are important enough to address), and coaching people to effectively solve problems. The objective is to get people solving the problems they face every day. Continue reading

Do People Feel Comfortable Showing Problems?

Assuring problems are visible makes perfect sense and is something many organizations mistakenly believe they already do. For a variety of reasons, showing problems is not something that does not come naturally to many people. It is more natural to hide – or at least not openly display – problems with the hope they can be resolved before being discovered. Continue reading

We Don’t Make Cars: Applying Lean to Other Industries

People don’t go to Toyota to work, they go there to think” – Taiichi Ohno Although much of what we now call lean has been practiced by Toyota and its suppliers for decades, most of the world began to learn about it in the 1990s with books like The Machine that Changed the World and … Continue reading

Why Lean Fails

To be clear, lean doesn’t fail . . . it’s the transformation that fails. While there are many reasons for the failure, there are a few that seem to be common across various organizations. Regardless of which one or more of these reasons apply, correcting them is possible only when leaders begin to develop a deep understanding of lean and realize that the responsibility for the transformation rests squarely on their shoulders rather than something that can be delegated to lower levels in the organization. Continue reading

Flattening the Organization- Probably Not the Answer

One of the reasons often given for eliminating layers of management is that managers get in the way and slow down processes. Although often true, eliminating layers is not necessarily addressing the root cause of the problem. The company can benefit more by understanding why its leadership is ineffective and its processes and systems are slow, rather than assuming it is because of excessive layers. Continue reading

Driving Improvement Through Systems Thinking

The more people learn the connections the components have with each other to achieve the overall business objectives, the easier it will be to see the problems and set improvement targets based on reality rather than gut feel. Continue reading

Short-Term vs Long-Term: They Both Matter

Over the years, I have found many organizations the lack the ability to effectively balance short-term pressures with long-term improvement. The situation causes frustration in people because, in the end, the short-term virtually always wins while the focus on the long-term suffers. There are a number of reasons for a tendency toward short-term thinking. First of all, people tend to be measured and rewarded based on achieving current year targets much more than long-term improvements.  Another factor driving a short-term focus is the targets are right … Continue reading

No Systems Thinking in Trump’s Plans

Another difficult to quantify consequence of significant tariff increases is the effect on developing nations that rely on access to the U.S. market to continue growing. The administration wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep people from crossing into the U.S. illegally. Since many of those coming into the U.S. from Latin America do so for economic reasons, raising tariffs and pressuring manufacturers to scrap foreign factories to build in the U.S. will result in lost jobs and other problems for those countries. It seems logical then, that this action could actually increase the number of people attempting to cross into the U.S. to escape poverty. Continue reading

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