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lean thinking

This category contains 15 posts

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

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

When Lean Fails

Many companies today are jumping on the lean bandwagon and expecting huge cost reductions as a result.  Unfortunately, many of these companies will never see the type of improvements they expect from lean, and their leaders will likely become disappointed and frustrated, and eventually abandon the effort. There are a number of reasons companies fail … Continue reading

Is it Better to Develop Strengths or Overcome Weaknesses?

The performance review process in most organizations targets an individual’s weaknesses. Although strengths are usually identified – although more in terms of results than the fundamental strength that led to the result – the individual is often expected to work on the weaknesses before the next review. There is rarely conversation about how the person can further develop strengths during the coming year. Continue reading

Confidence and Humility: Two Critical Leadership Traits

Many people tend to confuse confidence and arrogance. The characteristics of confidence that make it a vital leadership trait are not present in ones who display arrogance. Discussions that include condescending remarks, as well as an overall lack of focus on developing others are clear signs of arrogance rather than confidence. Conveying negative energy, a lack of openness to questioning of decisions and actions, and overall uncomfortableness are other characteristics of arrogant leaders. Continue reading

Should HR Make Hiring Decisions?

This sounds like an exaggeration but most companies make poor hiring decisions every day. Unless the organization has a clear idea of its desired culture and the DNA of its people, and has a method to screen candidates to assure a proper match, its chances of creating the desired culture are very small. Continue reading

A Solution Without a Problem

Solving problems does not necessarily entail spending time and money on the latest technology or trend in the field. It does entail spending time at gemba with those who provide value to understand their problems and find ways to help solve them. Although it may involve implementing the latest technology, in many cases it does not. Continue reading

Innovation for the Sake of Innovation

“Our whole company is founded on the principle that there is something very different that happens with one person, one computer.” – Steve Jobs The May issue of Fortune Magazine included an article called, “Startups . . . Inside Giant Companies,” which presented the latest approach companies are using to drive innovation.  The article included … Continue reading