Monday, November 30, 2009

Lean Roundup #6

Highlights from the Lean Blog Community for the month of November, 2009.

Connect the Lean Dots – TWI stresses using the Gemba as a source for training through small kaizens such that people learn to see the opportunities.

The 5 Universal Laws of Gemba Management – Jon Miller exposes the 5 universal laws that affect the success or failure of a lean transformation and sustainability of Gemba management.

Lesson from Japanese Consultants – Jeff Hajek shares some 17 lessons he has learned from consultants from Japan.

Ritz Carlton's Focus on the Customer – Kevin Meyer examines the success of Ritz Carlton which is summarized by training, empowerment, and trust.

Purpose of Kaizen Events – Mark Graban explains what the real purpose of formal kaizen events are for and how Toyota uses both formal and informal kaizens.

Are You Ready For The Upturn? – Mark Rosenthal provides several steps you can take to be better prepared for upside of the economic recovery.

Is TPS the Best System? – David Meier answers this question by explaining that the Toyota way in not the best or most efficient but rather an effective system of improving for the long term.

Developing Your Lean Education Plan – Jamie Flinchbaugh provides several key things to remember when creating your Lean education plan.

The Goal Statement: My Point Is and I Do Have One... – JC Gatlin describes 5 steps to create a goal statement, the most important part of PDCA problem solving.

Process Observation: Watch Before You Ask – Jeff Hajek explains an observation process commonly referred to as Ohno’s observation circle.

Helping Organizations OPT For Change – Carmen Brickner describes a system for helping organization OPT for change by providing OUTCOME, PLAN, and TRACKING.

Love or Lean: This Quote Rings True: Mark Graban takes time to provide a classic Lean leadership lesson.

Who owns Standard Work? Lee Fried teaches us that it is not the frontline workers who are responsible for standard work.

Lean Team Competes With Asia and Wins – Karen Wilhelm shares a story about a chair manufacturer who used lean to improve efficiency and create its own economic recovery.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

How to Make Better Decisions

Decision making is an essential part of business in all organizations. In traditional companies this power is typically held by few managers at the top of the organizational ladder. Lean companies however strive to empower their employees to make decisions at all levels through access to data, knowledge of evaluation methods, and defined standard processes. Nevertheless, decisions are necessary in all organizations and the following these guidelines can be beneficial.

  1. Timing. Neither making snap decisions nor always having to “sleep on it” is the best approach to the time factor involved in making decisions. Make your decisions based upon the circumstance and the time available. Within the realm of practicality, give yourself enough time to take the following decision-making steps.

  2. Define the problem. Be careful not to confuse symptoms of the problem with the real problem.

  3. Identify the options. Try to get at least four alternatives. Since you may be too close to the situation, seek others’ input.

  4. Gather the facts. In order to evaluate your options, you must gather the facts about the ramifications of choosing each option. List both the pros and cons of each option.

  5. Evaluate the options. Usually this will include a comparison of costs, time required to implement and the expected end result of each option.

  6. Choose and put into effect. Key, and often neglected, aspects of implementing decisions are to communicate the decision to the affected parties, outline why the decision was made, why the particular option was picked, what actions are required on their part and what beneficial results are expected.

There are several common pitfalls in decision making that should be avoided if you want to be effective.

  1. Deciding alone. There are many benefits to consulting with others on a decision: gaining different perspectives, more resources to draw upon and more commitment to the decision by those consulted.

  2. Every decision a major decision? Not every decision requires a lengthy decision-making process. Don’t get bogged down with minor problems. If they’re minor, make a reasonable decision and move on.

  3. The last time I was wrong was when I thought I made a mistake.” No one is always right. If you’ve made a bad decision, admit it and get started on fixing it. Remember – it’s impossible to force a bad decision into being a good one.

  4. “Boy! I sure wish I hadn’t.” Just the opposite of pitfall #3. Because no one can be right all the time, don’t waste your energy regretting bad decisions. Get on to current issues.

  5. Failing to use past precedent. Maybe the same problem has come up before and been effectively solved. Perhaps, if it has come up enough, there is a company policy that covers it.

Not every decision will be right but if you avoid these pitfalls and follow these six guidelines you will find you have many more right decisions than wrong decisions. Remember, the only thing worse than a wrong decision is no decision.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Quote of the Day 11/27/09

On Friday’s I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

Watch the little things; a small leak will sink a great ship. ~Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Point of Use Storage for Shine

Whether you work in a factory or in an office we all have to clean our work spaces. I am sure many these day contract cleaning services to some degree. Nonetheless cleaning floors is a necessary part of a shine routine.


When mopping floors hopefully you use safe practices and utilize signs to signal the floor is wet. Can you find these signs? Are they centrally located in a cleaning closet? Are they available for spills or do you have to call someone to get a sign? Do you have to stack them up and bring the signs with you to do the cleaning. Only later to come back and re-collect them.

There is a better way. Store your wet floor signs at point of use. The picture below shows an example of this.




The signs are stored on hooks in plain site along the side of walkways and work spaces. This ensures they are available when needed for cleaning tasks or to alert coworkers of a potentially dangerous situations like that of a spill.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Defining the Problem Statement

Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution.

This quote illustrates an important point: before jumping right into solving a problem, we should step back and invest time and effort to improve our understanding of it.

The problem statement is a clear and concise statement that describes the symptoms of the problem to be addressed. Defining the problem statement provides three benefits for the team:
creates a sense of ownership for the team
focuses the team on an accepted problem
describes the symptoms in measurable terms

The following four guidelines are effective in creating a problem statement that is clear and concise:
Define the problem - In the problem statement, team members define the problem in specific terms. They present facts such as the product type and the error made.
Identify where the problem is appearing - Identifying where the problem is appearing, or manifesting, as specifically as possible helps the team focus its improvement efforts.
Describe the size of the problem - The size of the problem is described in measurable terms.
Describe the impact the problem is having on the organization - The description of the problem's impact on the organization should be as specific as possible.

The truth of the matter is that the more specific the statement, the better the chance the team has of solving the problem. An inadequate problem statement can lead the team down a dead-end path. When defining the problem statement try to avoid these four common pitfalls:

The problem statement should not address more than one problem.
The problem statement should not assign a cause.
The problem statement should not assign blame.
The problem statement should not offer a solution.

A simple and effective method of defining a problem is a series of questions using the five W’s and one H approach (5W1H: who, what, where, when, why, how).

Who - Who does the problem affect? Specific groups, organizations, customers, etc.
What - What are the boundaries of the problem, e.g. organizational, work flow, geographic, customer, segments, etc. - What is the issue? - What is the impact of the issue? - What impact is the issue causing? - What will happen when it is fixed? - What would happen if we didn’t solve the problem?
When - When does the issue occur? - When does it need to be fixed?
Where - Where is the issue occurring? Only in certain locations, processes, products, etc.
Why - Why is it important that we fix the problem? - What impact does it have on the business or customer? - What impact does it have on all stakeholders, e.g. employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders, etc.
How - How many parts are involved? How are you going to solve the problem? Using what method or techniques?

Each of these answers will help to zero in on the specific issue(s) and define the problem statement. Your problem statement should be solvable. That is, it should take a reasonable amount of time to formulate, try and deploy a potential solution.

A well-stated problem statement speeds a robust corrective action process. It helps identify potential root causes and eliminate bias and noise. Accurate problem statements save time and effort by focusing the team on root cause identification. Continuous improvement happens when root causes are found and permanently eliminated. Defining the problem statement is the first step in this process.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quote of the Day 11/20/09

On Friday’s I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

“I say an hour lost at a bottleneck is an hour out of the entire system. I say an hour saved at a non-bottleneck is worthless. Bottlenecks govern both throughput and inventory.” - Eliyahu M. Goldratt, The Goal

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Lean Journey Now on Twitter and LinkedIn

There are now more ways to stay connected to A Lean Journey and keep informed of all the updates.

Join the newly created LinkedIn group A Lean Journey LinkedIn Group. All the posts from this blog will feed this group. This allows anyone in the group to post and/or discuss lean news items from any source promoting sharing within the lean community.

Follow A Lean Journey on Twitter @TimALeanJourney. The twitter feed will also be found on the right hand side of this blog so you can stay informed even if you don't use Twitter.

You can also sign up for RSS feed and/or Email updates at the links on the right hand side column under my profile.

As always you can connect directly to me on LinkedIn.com/in/timothyfmcmahon

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Key to Upcoming Retention Concerns is Recognition

A WSJ article yesterday talked about a growing concern for businesses to retain top talent. The author indicates that based on historical data workers will look elsewhere as the economy improves. This would pose a significant problem to those employers who may have weeded out weak performers while keeping top performers during this recession. A survey from last winter cites pay and benefits as the most important factors employees' value. Normally I would not concur with this but can understand with this recession why compensation is a top concern for workers.


While some companies struggle with how to financially reward their employees others are finding ways to involve their work force more in the business.


"We will not retain our staff if we can't get them to believe in us," Mr. Stack says. "If you value your employees, their trust will grow and they will not look around for another position."


According to the DOL, employee turnover cost American businesses about $5 trillion each year. Employee recognition is still one of the powerful strategies to combat turnover. A recent HR Daily Advisor Tip covered eight keys to successful retention. The advice includes exuding confidence in employee's ability, including significant others in praise, knowing what motivates and inspires employees, encouraging employees develop new skills, and simply saying thanks. Successful companies learn that you get what you reward.


In Lean retention and recognition come under the respect for people pillar of TPS. Respect for people comes from organizations building employee relationships that are fulfilling for their people as well as for the business.


How does your organization value employees and show appreciation?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What is Lean?

A reader studying quality management and researching Lean recently asked me, what is Lean really about? In realizing that I have never fully defined my view of Lean on this blog I thought I should.

Let me preface this by saying it is difficult to succinctly define Lean in way that would capture the breadth and depth of knowledge. There are volumes and volumes of written text on many aspects and concepts of Lean. I have been studying in this field for a dozen years and my learning will never be done.

Lean is all about respecting people while eliminating Muri (overburdening), Mura (unevenness), and Muda (non value added activity) in all business processes. It is a philosophy which embodies a manufacturing culture of continuous improvement based on setting standards aimed at eliminating waste through participation of all employees.

The originators of Lean include thinkers like Henry Ford but its most notable and well studied collection of thinkers comes from Toyota. The Toyota Production System (TSP) is comprised of two pillars being JIT and Jidoka. The JIT concept aims to produce and deliver the right parts, in the right quantity, at the right time using the minimum necessary resources. JIT includes but is not limited to concepts of flow, takt time, pull via kanban, and leveling (heijunka). Jidoka is all about building in quality at the process and separating man from machine. The goal is not to run continuously but to stop running automatically at the first sign of an abnormal condition. Jidoka concepts include standardized work, mistake proofing (poka-yoke), process control, and problem solving (six sigma techniques).

The Five Fundamental Principles:

1) Specify Value – End-use customer view

2) Indentify Value Stream – Activities that create value

3) Flow – Make value flow

4) Pull – Respond to customer demand

5) Perfection – Zero waste

The Lean Rules-in-Use:

1) Activity Rule – Specify all work to content, sequence, timing, and outcome.

2) Connection Rule – Customer-supplier connections must be direct & unambiguous.

3) Pathway Rule – Pathways for product/service must be simple & direct.

4) Improvement Rule – Improvements are made using scientific method (PDCA) at place of activity (Gemba) under the guidance of a teacher (Sensei)

It is the endless pursuit of perfection which I refer to in the title of this blog “A Lean Journey: A Quest for True North”. True North is making 1 by 1, defect free, on demand, immediately, safely, and at no cost. It is the ideal target condition not easily achieved. It is approached by eliminating waste, the opposite of value. Value-added activities are those activities that transform materials or information, increase the form or function of products or services, and the customer wants. All other activities are wasteful; add no value; and consume resources, time, and space. The eight wastes are characterized as:

Defects

Over-production

Waiting

Non-utilized Resources/Talent

Transportation

Inventory

Motion

Excess Processing

This is only made possible by believing people are the cornerstone. You must engage all human resources and provide knowledge. These two elements are the key drivers to the speed of continuous improvement.

Lean is creating and implementing processes throughout the entire organization that are highly responsive and flexible to customer demand. Lean paves the way for delivery high quality products and services, at the right location, at the right time, all in a cost effective and profitable manner.

Here are some other resources for Lean definitions:

Mark Graban's Lean definition

Lean Enterprise Institute's lean definition page

Lean Learning Center's definition

Wikipedia's Lean definition

Toyota's Production System defined

Art of Lean's learning page


This is a post that I will continue to reflect on (hansei) and update throughout my Lean Journey.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quote of the Day 11/13/09

I am going to try a new thing here at A Lean Journey Blog. On Friday’s I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

Feel free to share some of your favorites here as well.

November 13, 2009

The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking. ~Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lean Is About More than the Myths

It is important when you are starting out your lean journey to understand what Lean is really about. Steve Cook, a former Dell Computer supply chain executive and newly appointed chief operating officer of MFG.com recently took time to explain three common myths about Lean.

Myth #1: Lean = Job Cuts

"If done well, Lean initiatives are less a cost-cutting exercise and more a growth exercise," said Cook.

Myth #2: Lean = Doing More with Less

Lean is about doing more to get more, knowing that reducing waste is a growth strategy, a way to help the company be more competitive, Cook said.

Myth #3: Lean = a Cost Reduction Strategy

While Lean initiatives clearly involve reducing costs, "it's a myth if it's the reason why you're doing Lean," emphasized Cook. "The underpinning of Lean must be about making the organization more successful."

Lean is really a systematic way to learn to see the inefficiencies in your processes and to solve these opportunities in such a way to grow the business profitably by adding value the customer will pay for. If you want to be a successful company you will learn to empower and engage the entire organization to focus improvement on value-added work from the customer’s perspective.

Cook added a saying from Dell which reflects this, “You’ll get beat up for high cost, but you’ll get fired for quality/availability issues.”

Is your organization solving problems only for themselves or are they solving those for their customers?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Leadership Strategies from Disney Part 2

To continue from the previous post on Great Leader Strategies from Disney we will discuss the last 6 strategies.

#7 Explore, Probe, And Know What Is Going On In Your Organization… And Act Upon The Information!

Leaders cannot make the right decisions or take the right actions without knowing the truth. You need many ways to stay informed. One of the best ways to know what is going on is to establish comfortable relationships so that people at every level feel comfortable discussing an issue or topic with you. Be available for people when they need you. Learn the truth by observing your operation from the customer and employee points of view regularly.

#8 Actively Observe And React To The Performance Of Your Direct Reports - Take Time For Recognition, Coaching, And Counseling!

Feedback is a powerful thing, and it is hard to improve without it because we have a hard time seeing our own faults as others see them. Train yourself to always notice performance, both positive and negative, and provide feedback. Coach and train your team on better ways to perform as a role model because people learn from what they observe more than what they are told. You deserve what you tolerate so never ignore or tolerate poor performance or bad behavior. Learn to think of “ARE”: Appreciation, Recognition, and Encouragement.

#9 Expand And Act Upon Knowledge And Experience Of The Best Service Available Anywhere!

Don’t be a dinosaur. Continuously learn and expand on your knowledge and experience in these four areas:

1) Technical competence

2) Management competence

3) Technology competence

4) Leadership competence

Keep up with the fast pace change in your business. Participate in professional networking, learn from your competitors, and aggressively solicit input on best practices.

#10 Partner Effectively And Successfully With Staff And Other Cross-functional Partners!

Partnership skills may be one of the reasons that some Leaders get such great results and are remembered fondly while other fail because they do not develop strong relationships with people. A good partner is available, keeps people informed, honors commitments, responds promptly, and stands up for what is right. Build trust by welcoming input and constructive feedback and asking for and offering help.

#11 Demonstrate A Passionate, Professional Commitment To Your Role!!!

Passion is the driving force that enables people to attain far more than they ever imagined. Commitment means you will go all the way for what you believe in. Passion and commitment go hand in hand. Demonstrate personal ownership by doing it right, and doing it right each and every time you do it. Make sure your job is something you love to do and be excited about coming to work. Remember to have a positive attitude because of the saying “Good attitude, good results; bad attitude, bad results.”

#12 Understand And Demonstrate Mastery Of Business Fundamentals!

Understand your business unit’s strategic plan and that of the company. Continuously improve your core business processes so they will create a competitive advantage. Be aware of global trends that may impact your business for the better and the worst. Don’t be a fence sitter. Be decisive and make tough choices. Know where and when to take risks and when to be cautious. Learn to operate the business as if it were your own.

The trail always leads back to leadership. Poor leadership or great leadership has a lot to do with everything that happens in the world in one way or another. Leadership is simply defined as making the right things happen. Are you employing these strategies to be a great leader or do you know someone you exemplifies these strategies?

Note: For a review of Cockerell’s book Creating Magic check out these links from HR Daily Advisor:

Creating Magic: Principles 1-6

Creating Magic: Principles 7-10


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Leadership Strategies from Disney Part 1

A new book on leadership called Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney claims “It's not the magic that makes it work; it's the way we work that makes it magic.” The author Lee Cockerell, a former Executive Vice President of Resort Operations for the Walt Disney Company, shared his insights from his incredible 16 years of front-line experience operating 18 resort hotels, four theme parks, three water parks, five golf courses, a shopping village and nighttime entertainment venue, and sports recreation complex. Lee's years, living the Disney principle, helped make The Walt Disney Company the front- runner in quality, service excellence and guest satisfaction. This book is based on his "Great Leader Strategies,” which Cockerell developed for Walt Disney World cast members.

The 12 strategies that Corkerell defines of a Great Leader are:

#1 Foster An Inclusive Environment!

Workplace inclusion is making sure that everyone matters and that everyone knows that he or she matters. It is about engaging and involving your team by asking their opinion and making it clear you want to hear their point of view. One of the main responsibilities of Leader is to develop future Leaders. Personally get involved and take time to do the so-called soft stuff really well otherwise your team won’t take care of the hard stuff. Disney defined its approach to inclusion with the acronym RAVE for Respect, Appreciate, and Value Everyone.

#2 Design Your Organization Structure For Success… “Break the Mold!”

Organization structure is critical to getting the best results. The most important thing is to make sure that every individual clearly and completely understands what he or she is responsible for, what level of authority he or she has, and how he or she will be held accountable.

#3 Make Sure You Have The Right People In The Right Roles!

Hiring new people and promoting people to new levels are really important to do well and carefully. Each time you have an opening you have the opportunity to add talent and strength your team. Make sure the candidate has the right level of expertise and experience for the job but also consider how the person will blend in with the current team.

#4 Ensure That Cast Members Are Knowledgeable About Their Roles!

Leaders are responsible to train and develop their team members. Education is power. Training and development are two of the best ways to improve self-confidence and self-esteem in everyone. Lead by example - attend all training, communicate best practices, and observe actual conditions and behaviors. The best way to develop people is for the leadership to be actively involved in coaching, counseling, and educating the employees.

#5 Make Dramatic Leaps In Guest Service!

Make dramatic improvements for customers, employees, and for business results. Great leaders don’t maintain anything. In order to improve things you need to know how good they are. Demonstrate zero tolerance for anything but perfection. Visit other places known for “world class excellence” and see what you can learn.

#6 Implement Effective, Structured Processes For Getting Work Done!

We have a process for everything. Leaders have the responsibility to identify process problems and opportunities for improvement so that they are not a hassle and that the make sense. Ask the people doing the work and customers using your products or services for their opinion. Spend time finding out what process made things go wrong and change that versus looking for someone to blame. Great Leaders ask “why” a lot. Implement processes that work and follow-up to ensure they are still working.

In the next post I will present the other 6 great strategies of a Great Leader.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Are All these Mobile Solutions Lean?

There was a recent Industry Week article worth mentioning titled Top Ten Mobile Solutions for Lean Manufacturing. Written by June Ruby a Director of Mobile Solutions at Motorola, it seems curiously like a sales pitch. However, the article does examine a number of areas where mobile technologies can improve productivity. In general these are areas where inventory transactions, data collection, and communication are vital to your processes. Access to real-time information can certainty reduce non-value added time, decrease errors, improve safety, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization.

Where I had point to pause and wonder whether this was Lean was the tenth area where mobility can impact Lean initiatives:

10. Management: Improve Decision Making and Manager Effectiveness
Regardless of whether your managers are responsible for your plant, sales or field operations, they need access to a wealth of information in order to act as effectively as possible. With a mobile device, managers can access productivity applications such as email, plant messages and alerts as well as back-end systems that provide a window into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and more. By mobilizing the many critical management applications, managers can be on the go -- yet access the information required to make the best decisions possible.

I understand access to information at your finger tips can be helpful but does this embrace Lean Thinking and teachings? You can not replace going to the Gemba (actual place). Management must practice Genchi Genbutsu which is a Lean practice of thoroughly understanding a condition by confirming information or data through personal observation at the source of the condition. You can not rely on a mobile device for this since it can’t provide information in this way. If you want to improve decision making you must go and see.

June also implies that management is too busy or unreachable to be available when needed. Lean teaches us to empower operations to make decisions in a structured way. We should all be able to recognize an abnormal condition and stop the process to understand the current condition, define the target condition, and implement countermeasures to close gap. We do not need to wait for management to tell us what to do. This is not to say we don’t need management because we do. It is just the role of management should be different in Lean environment from what is implied here.

Remember, technology can not replace management’s role in a Lean organization. They must learn to see, go to the source, use data and information, educate and coach, and empower the workforce. You can only do this by being accessible, available, and intimately involved. A mobile device can not do this for you.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Social Networking Survey

I would like to get your thoughts on social networking in a short 3 question survey. Thanks in advance for taking the time to share your feedback.

Click here for social networking survey.

Ford Posts a Profit

I usually leave the automotive updates to the automotive experts but I couldn’t resist mentioning this one. Ford, the only Detroit automaker to dodge direct government aid and bankruptcy court, surprised investors with net income of nearly $1 billion in the third quarter and forecast a "solidly profitable" 2011. The automaker cited higher pricing, lower material costs, and increased market share for the improvement. Ford cutback production which also allowed the company to cut incentive spending, since the company no longer has excess inventory it must discount heavily in order to sell.

Is this a win for capitalism and free enterprise? While heavy debt and lean times for American car shoppers threaten the comeback, the report puts Ford in a far better position than General Motors or Chrysler, which are still finding their bearings after emerging from bankruptcy.

Ford has focused on product quality, reputation, and making cars consumers want. Ford's cars are winning popular and critical acclaim, like the Fusion midsize sedan and more gas-efficient Focus compact.

The automakers problems are far from over with debt being the largest concern. The UAW also overwhelming rejected a new contract that would have put costs in line with cross-town rivals in the longer-term.

Here’s hoping Ford continues in the right direction.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lean Roundup #5

Highlights from the month of October, 2009 from the Lean Blog Community


HBS Study of Corporate Silos – Karen Wilhelm talks about a Harvard Business School review the effect of corporate silos on communication in the workplace.


Seven Essential Qualities of a Lean Leader – Jon Miller describes the essential qualities necessary for a Lean Leader that results in PROFITS.


The Price is Definitely Not Right – Bill Waddell writes about the importance of strategic pricing for companies who want to go from Lean manufacturing to a Lean Enterprise.


Level 5 Leadership – Ron Pereira highlights two important leadership qualities being humility and will to succeed.


No Rx for Lean – Jamie Flinchbaugh reminds us that Lean is about thinking and there is no magic formula for lean that works across all sites or companies. Solve your problems not someone else’s.


Wheel of Lean – Ankit Patel describes Muda, Mura, and Muri as part of system of equals that all need to be balanced like that of a wheel on a car.


Why Transformation Efforts Fail - Pete Abilla writes about the main categories for failure of transformations and highlights that 70% of these are organizational issues.


Kanban in a Restaurant – Joe Ely shares a experience from a restaurant where a kanban signal is used to refill drinks.


Returning to America - The Debate – Kevin Meyer reviews an article on the pros and cons of bringing jobs back to America with the emphasis of the benefits.


Brilliant Value Stream Mapping Icon Fonts – Jon Miller and Jamie Flinchbaugh (Value Stream Mapping Font) highlight a simple tool that can support Value Stream Map creation.


How Outsourcing Undermines US Industry – Ralph Bernstein brings attention to a HBR article on the downside outsourcing has on the ability for the US to innovate new products.


Three Ways to Root Cause – Lee Fried describes a way to find the root cause of a problem by looking for a lack of one of three factors.


A Poka Yoke for Strategy – Tom Jackson explains that Hoshin Kanri is really a mistaking proofing process for Strategy.


Who Set the Standard? – Jon Miller sets the story straight on standard work and who does not set the standard.