Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lean Roundup #36 – May, 2012


A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of May, 2012.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.

Lean Manufacturing and The Toyota Production System – John Hunter explains his thoughts about what lean manufacturing, lean thinking means.

Why Your Career Path Is Like A Golf Ball – Jeff Hajek compares your career path to that of hitting a golf ball and advocates practice or learning every day to improve.

How To Measure Lean – Al Norval explains that Lean is a growth strategy so the best measurement is to look at lead time combined with safety, quality, delivery, and cost.

The Secret Formula to Success in Anything – Jeff Hajek has a great post on the elements that make up success and how continuous improvement impacts them.

 Lean Snake Oil Cures What Ails Ya – Mike Wroblewski takes some creative license to explain Lean and it benefits but warns against secrets to implementation as Lean takes hard work and personal commitment.

How to do Hansei – Jon Miller shares a few realizations on how to do hansei after a fairly intensive period of reflection.

Long Term Thinking with Respect for People – John Hunter says the first priority of management is providing long term viability of the company.

Telling the Truth – Dragan Bosnjak says telling the truth should be encouraged at all levels, also there must be processes in place that facilitate this.

7 Steps for a Compelling Call to Action – Liz Guthridge explains 7 steps for making calls to action simpler and easier to do.

Trust - Cornerstone of Performance – George Rathburn explains that teams lose trust in their leaders when they fail to show trust and respect in their teams.

The Big Picture – Bill Waddell explains how he sees Lean, which is based on 3 mandatory and complimentary elements.

Where is Your Suggestion Box? Jon Miller highlights the issues with suggestion boxes and what is says about employee engagement and empowerment.

Problems are Buried Gold - How do you get people to flag problems vs just sweeping them under the carpet? – Al Norval provides 3 things leaders need to do to create a culture where problem solving is the norm.

Master the 3 R's - Recognize, Reinforce, and Reward – Liz Guthridge says by taking a few minutes to practice any of the three R's, you can re-energize and re-engage the people on your team or others you're working with.

Why Heijunka is a Block in the Foundation of the Toyota House – Pete Abilla explains the concept of Heijunka and shares the importance of this building block in Lean.

Facility Start-ups: Tips for Building a Lean Foundation – Tom Kinder shares some advice from experience starting your Lean Journey for success.

Does Lean Really Apply Outside of Manufacturing? – Al Norval explains how Lean does apply outside of manufacturing and how you can go about it.

Creating a Visual Management Board -  Steve Taninecz shares some great points and examples on creating visual management boards in Lean Healthcare.

5s in Personal Kanban – Oliver Finker explains how you can apply 5S to your personal kanban system to improve your personal productivity system.


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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Meet-up: Beyond Lean's Matt Wrye

Matt Wrye is the creator and prominent voice behind the blog Beyond Lean.  He is frequently highlighted in the monthly round-up and has been a frequent guest blogger. Now you can learn more about Matt from our Meet-up.

The goal of Meet-up is provide you an opportunity to meet some other influential voices in the Lean community. I have asked the following series of questions to which he has responded:

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Matt Wrye. I am a internal lean consultant for a large consumer goods company. I am part of a group that is responsible for driving results for the company through lean thinking while transforming other areas of the business to lean thinking.

How and when did you learn Lean?
I started learning about lean in 1996 when I was doing an internship during college. My manager had me read "SMED" by Shigeo Shingo. My degree is in Industrial Engineering so there was a lot of lean concepts and tools I began to use. In 2001, I started working for an automotive supplier. The company's new President declared we were going to be lean. Three of us started reading and learning as much as we could and then went to the floor to try it. We made a ton of mistakes but had the opportunity to correct them. In 2007, when I switched jobs and was responsible for starting the lean initiative at a new company. At that time, I met Jamie Flinchbaugh. Jamie has been my coach for the last 5 years and during that time my understanding of the principles and thinking have developed to go along with the understanding of tools and concepts. It has been a long road.

How and why did you start blogging or writing about Lean?
I had two purposes when I started the blog. 1) Help get the message of lean out through the eyes of an implementer and 2) Improve my writing skills. I started by writing 3 or 4 guest blogs for Mark Graban at the Lean Blog. I couldn't stick to it though, so I took the plunge and started Beyond Lean to give more rigor to achieving the two purposes I outlined. I have found I really enjoy helping others learn. I hope I can provide them with information so they won't have to make the same mistakes I did.

What does Lean mean to you?
What a tough question. Lean is so big it is hard to capture what it really is or means, but here is my best shot about putting it into words. Lean is a way of thinking. It isn't about tools or concepts. It is about doing the right thing to add value for the customer in the least wasteful way while developing and respecting people.

What is the biggest myth or misconception of Lean?
Lean is not about eliminating waste. It is about adding value for the customer in order to grow revenue. In order to grow revenue and remain profitable though you want to eliminate waste so you can free up resources to use for new opportunities without having to add more resources/capital.

What is your current Lean passion, project, or initiative?
My passion is developing others' lean thinking. I really enjoy seeing others start to understand things through a lean lens.



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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Meet-up: 6 Questions to Learn of Those in Our Community


One of the things I am so found of in the Lean community is the general wiliness to share with each other. I have learned some much from my very experienced colleagues since I have been an active contributor. Every month I roundup the best Lean related posts and articles I found particularly valuable from these fellow bloggers. Each one has their own story and opinions and I want to share those with you in a new series I am calling the Meet-up.

The goal of Meet-up is provide you an opportunity to meet some other influential voices in the Lean community. I will ask these authors a series of questions:

  1. Who are you and what do you do?
  2. How and when did you learn Lean?
  3. How and why did you start blogging or writing about Lean?
  4. What does Lean mean to you?
  5. What is the biggest myth or misconception of Lean?
  6. What is your current Lean passion, project, or initiative?
Through the answers to these questions hopefully you will get a sense of the thinking behind those that are shaping the Lean landscape. I continue to keep learning and thankfully with the wiliness of these bloggers to share I am positive you will, too.

Stay tuned for the first Meet-up tomorrow.



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Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day is a Time for Remembrance


Memorial Day is a time to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is a day to celebrate former and present service members who protect our freedom .

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” -Winston Churchill

A special thanks to all those men and women who have so bravely and honorably served this country. The courage and sacrifice of all who died in military service will not be forgotten.

Hopefully, everybody can spend some quality time with their families and the people they love and remember what this holiday is truly about.



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Friday, May 25, 2012

Lean Quote: Change Leaders Create Constancy of Purpose

On Fridays 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.

"Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business and to provide jobs." — Deming

Lean leaders and those who manage change realize well that change is the only constant. Creating constancy of purpose towards improving work product and service levels is the basis of continual improvement.

Here are six strategies that Lean leaders should use to create a constancy of purpose and a constancy of change.

1. Embrace change, It’s inevitable. Be first, demonstrate personal commitment to serve.
2. Assume nothing and question everything. Challenge status quo, take action, and drive for results.
3. Get down in the trenches. Go to the Gemba, use teamwork, and learn see the whole situation.
4. Show integrity, always. Do the right things and be courageous in the face of challenge
5. Be transparent. Communicate well and get involved.
6. Inspire and recognize leadership in others. Great leaders know their primary role is to develop and motivate people.


It is our role as leaders to reinforce this cultural transformation in the workers perception of their work roles, to create structures for empowered workers to be accountable and successful, to communicate, support, reward and model this culture of engaged workers, helping to identify and resolve defects and eliminate waste. Leaders must be engaged and lead from "the shop floor" to use the manufacturing analogy. It is from this perspective that opportunities for improvement become evident daily, at a very granular level. This leader engagement is more than just taking a walk-around to ask how things are going.

Successful organizations require customer-centric purpose and continuous improvement around safety, quality, and innovation. And the catalysts for this are great leaders who understand the mechanism of change well.



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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Celebrating A Lean Journey's Third Year With Some Hansei

Hansei is Japanese for "self-reflection". It is the practice of continuous improvement that consists of looking back and thinking about how a process can be improved. Without this activity you stop learning and improving. So it is important as I celebrate my third year blogging that I take some time to reflect on this achievement.

Three years ago today I started A Lean Journey Blog and it truly has blossomed into a labor of love.  As I have said before I never realized the opportunities blogging has afforded me. But, what I am amazed about most is the ability for continuous learning.  Both from the great fans and other colleagues online that I exchange with and from the process of distilling my own learning with you.


A Lean Journey Blog continues to grow as you see from this quarterly chart of visitors to the site:


For those of you data analysts out there who may be wondering what the spike in the first quarter of this year is.  Well, that is is two fold: 1) the addition of ASQ readers from my work on their Influential Voices Blog and 2) ASQ ran a couple of my posts in their publications to their members.

In my second year there there were about 57,000 visitors: 

and this past year there were nearly double the amount of visitors at 113,000: 




I should hit the 200,000 visitor mark next month which for a small genre specific blog is a good milestone. This past year I have also n
early doubled the number of Facebook fans to 580 people. I have published nearly 500 Lean Tips in what continues to be a popular feature.

The Top 3 Posts this past year were:
1. 10 Characteristics of a Good Measure
2. 6 Pillars of 6S (Free Posters)
3. Lean Leadership Lessons From Abe Lincoln

In looking back at last year's goals I wanted to 1) Increase engagement 2) Do more on LinkedIn and 3) Provide more guest posts.  Engagement I would say is about the same as last year with the same percentage of comments per posts.  The LinkedIn Group continues to grow each week but since starting a new job last fall my focus has been primarily on posts for the website.  There has been 25% more guest posts this year but I would still like to have more.  While I can't say each goal was totally successful I am not unhappy with the progress considering the changes this year.


So what will my fourth year bring?  Well, I plan a couple of new features for the blog to start in the next few weeks.  One will be an opportunity to learn about the bloggers in the Lean community that I highlight in the monthly round-up.  Another will be a look back at some posts from the past so that new readers can easily learn from these.  I will continue to pursue new guest bloggers since I think there is great value in sharing this platform. And of course I am always open to feedback because in the end your opinion has a great deal to do with content and the success of A Lean Journey Blog. 

I would like to thank all the visitors and contributors to A Lean Journey Blog this pat year.  It has been a successful Journey this past year. Please, share your feedback so that A Lean Journey can be even more successful next year.



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