//
archives

lean thinking

This category contains 19 posts

Slowing Down to Speed Up

Borrowing From Neuroscience to Drive Kaizen Thinking “If you are going to do TPS you must do it all the way. You also need to change the way you think. You need to change how you look at things.” – Taiichi Ohno One of the most common issues lean coaches face when teaching structured problem-solving is keeping people … Continue reading

Why Questioning is Critical to Lean Leadership

One of the reasons that people have difficulty with coaching is that those of us who teach and write about lean are likely sending mixed messages regarding the why and how of the process. On the one hand, we tell leaders that they don’t need to be experts in everything and that it is okay to admit that they don’t have all the answers. On the other hand, we talk about people like Taiichi Ohno and Hajime Oba and the ability these people had to see problems quickly and clearly, and coach others to the answers.  I believe that this turns people off of the process because most will never measure up to these legendary leaders. In actuality, these two and other legendary lean figures didn’t know the answers but they did know how to use questioning to gather facts (or identify when the facts are not yet gathered) and help the person being coached to arrive at an answer.  Continue reading

Lean Leadership: A Direction . . . Not a Destination

One of the problems with some of the books and articles on lean leadership is the tendency to oversimplify the concept in terms of a dictator versus coach.  It is too easy for people to read about the characteristics of a traditional manager and, because they aren’t that bad, surmise that they are therefore a lean leader.  What many do not understand, though, is that the difference between a traditional manager and a lean leader is not … Continue reading

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

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