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lean

This category contains 108 posts

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

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Stop Judging – Start Leading

Most leaders fail to appreciate how much the overall system affects the performance of the organization, and that it is their responsibility to develop and maintain the system. If they did understand, they would never put so much effort on trying to “fix” the part of the organization that accounts for less than 3-4% of the company’s performance. Performance ratings assign blame to people who are likely attempting to work in a flawed system, and those who receive higher ratings are often working outside of the system, something that should never be encouraged 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

The Lean Journey Begins with Appreciating the Business as a System

We rate, rank, and hold people across the organization responsible for performance in a system that is most likely flawed.  In other words, rather than focus our efforts on improving the system when performance is below expectations, we assume that putting pressure on the individual will improve results, even though the person may have little or no authority to do anything other than try harder, go around the system, or focus on making it look like improvement is occurring whether it actually is. 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

The Objective of Problem-Solving is Not Solving the Problem

What many fail to understand is, when the focus of problem-solving is results, very little learning takes place, but when the focus is learning, more significant and sustainable results will follow. Continue reading

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

Motivation and Helping People Learn, Make a Difference, and Have Fun

“Why are we here?  To learn, to make a difference, and to have fun.” – W. Edwards Deming  Many years ago, I was fortunate enough on a couple occasions to attend W. Edward Deming’s 4-day seminar.  Early in both seminars, Dr. Deming asked attendees, “Why are we here?” After waiting in silence and repeating the question, he would offer up the notion that we are here “to learn, … Continue reading

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