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archives

greg stocker

This tag is associated with 99 posts

Innovation: Without it, You’re Not Doing Lean

Many people fail to understand that innovation is a critical element of lean thinking and, without it, there will be very little true improvement. Unless innovation is well integrated into a lean system, the big gains that are possible will likely never be realized. Continue reading

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Protecting a Lean Culture Does Not Happen by Accident

There is very little debate about the importance of culture to an organization’s success, and that the responsibility for defining the culture lies with leaders. Once the culture starts to develop, though, how do you hold the gains and protect the natural tendency to fall back to the way things were before the improvements? The … 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 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

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

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

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