This category contains 87 posts

Kaizen & Changing the Way People Think

“If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein For most people, structured problem-solving is not a natural process.  After years of being rewarded for quick answers and telling people what to do, along with the fact that most of us are overloaded, the ability to approach a problem without a preconceived solution is counter to the way people work.  Many see structured … 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

Stop Jumping to Countermeasures

As strange as it may seem, one way to get people to correctly follow a PDSA-based problem-solving process is to convince them to forget much of what they know and approach at least the early steps in the process as if they don’t completely understand the situation. 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

Improving Dashboards With The 3-Meter Rule

Dashboards are critical for a successful continual improvement effort.  Effective dashboards can drive better coaching, faster team meetings, and more effective problem-solving.  A common problem that interferes with the effectiveness of dashboards, however, is the inclusion of charts that attempt to convey too much information and are difficult to understand.  One way to prevent this … Continue reading

Identifying Proper Leading Metrics

The problems people have related to identifying leading metrics often result from failing to connect the effort to problem-solving. Attempting to determine the proper leading metrics in isolation from problem-solving often leads to frustration and wasted effort in creating and maintaining the measures, and a lack of clarity in understanding how to improve performance of lagging metrics. Continue reading

There’s No Generalizing in Lean

It has been decades since we first learned about the Toyota Production System and how it contributes to the company’s quality, productivity, and competitive success.  And although some companies have done very well with lean, most have struggled.  There are many reasons for failed applications of lean, but one that gets very little attention is the … Continue reading

Are We Happy With Mediocrity?

“Nobody gives a hoot about profit.  I mean long-term profit.  We talk about it, but we don’t do anything about it.” – W. Edwards Deming Why do so many companies seem to be happy with mediocre performance? People generally consider the idea of having it all – perfect safety, high quality, short cycle times, low … Continue reading