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lean thinking

This tag is associated with 19 posts

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

Energy Companies Need to Stop Worrying About Oil Prices

The industry is still in its infancy in understanding and applying lean to the point where it will reduce its addiction to oil price. When accompanied by true and fundamental transformation, lean can help an energy company take full advantage of the periods of high prices while preparing for the inevitable drops without feeling the need to implement drastic measures that damage long-term health. Continue reading

Problem-Solving vs Kaizen: Are They Different?

One of the most important – and elusive – objectives of lean is creating a culture of continual improvement throughout an organization. In most cases, this requires changing the way people think and approach their work, and although helping people transform is never easy, it becomes even more difficult when those driving lean are not … Continue reading

Lean: What Most People Miss

The first step is transformation of the individual . . . The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people. – W. Edwards Deming I reflect on a regular basis about why companies struggle with the application of lean within their businesses. Countless organizations have tried … Continue reading

Lean: Forget the Score and Focus on the Point

Changing the culture requires helping people understand that every instance where a standard is not met is a problem and needs to be resolved. Doing this requires spending time at gemba to see when it happens, helping people recognize the small problems that happen (or validating that the problems are important enough to address), and coaching people to effectively solve problems. The objective is to get people solving the problems they face every day. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

Standardized Work: Avoiding the Complexity Trap

Organizations guided by PDSA thinking, however, consciously accept the notion that following the practice to consistently producing safe, efficient, and high quality work is a hypothesis – and people are always looking for the hypothesis to fail. Whenever a defect, delay, or incident occurs, it is understood that the hypothesis has failed and that a quick adjustment – or improvement – is necessary to prevent a similar failure from occurring in the future. Continue reading

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