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management

This tag is associated with 35 posts

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

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

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

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

Flattening the Organization- Probably Not the Answer

One of the reasons often given for eliminating layers of management is that managers get in the way and slow down processes. Although often true, eliminating layers is not necessarily addressing the root cause of the problem. The company can benefit more by understanding why its leadership is ineffective and its processes and systems are slow, rather than assuming it is because of excessive layers. Continue reading

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