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This tag is associated with 81 posts

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

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

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

Confidence and Humility: Two Critical Leadership Traits

Many people tend to confuse confidence and arrogance. The characteristics of confidence that make it a vital leadership trait are not present in ones who display arrogance. Discussions that include condescending remarks, as well as an overall lack of focus on developing others are clear signs of arrogance rather than confidence. Conveying negative energy, a lack of openness to questioning of decisions and actions, and overall uncomfortableness are other characteristics of arrogant leaders. Continue reading

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