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Friday, May 31, 2024

Lean Quote: True Lean is a Mindset

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.

"We needed to drive not only better profitability, better cash for our investors, but better safety, quality delivery, and productivity performance for our own team, let alone for our customers. And the best way I know to do that is through a lean mindset.  —  Larry Culp, GE CEO

True lean is a mindset. It is when the lean practices and tools become so deeply embedded in how an organization works that they create a problem-solving culture where problems are embraced, owned, analyzed, and fixed. When you boil lean down to its basics, it really is about focusing on the customer with a maniacal pursuit of elimination of waste and unrelenting prioritization.

A lean mindset that focuses on safety, quality, delivery, and cost (SQDC) gives us the tools and instincts to make the right decisions and necessary trade-offs. It ensures that the actions we’re taking today are rooted in long term sustainment and improvement.

Larry Culp, GE Chairman & CEO, and GE Aerospace CEO sits down with Carol Dweck, Psychologist and author, to discuss growth mindsets, lean thinking, and organizational mindsets.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Lean Roundup #179 – May 2024

A selection of highlighted blog posts from Lean bloggers from the month of May 2024.  You can also view the previous monthly Lean Roundups here.  


Lean as Alternative Medicine – Bob Emiliani shares his thoughts on what he believes Taiichi Ohno might think of what Lean has become today and what he might say to do about it.


The Power and Risk of Rituals – Kevin Meyer returns to blogging and discusses the power and impact of rituals both positive and negative.


Aligning 5S and DMAIC for Process Improvement – John Knotts talks about the correlation between 5S and DMAIC and how leveraging these steps can provide a robust framework for achieving tangible and sustainable improvements.


Success is the Enemy of Future Success – Pascal Dennis explains the real purpose of strategy deployment is create discomfort and reflection thereby future success.


Digital Transformation Outcomes: Why Do Companies Need It to Improve ROI – Danielle Yoon delve into the intricacies of digital transformation outcomes, focusing how businesses can effectively measure and maximize the returns on their digital investments, unraveling the strategies and best practices that pave the way for success.


The Productivity Trap – Christopher Chapman discussed the complications of measuring productivity in software development.


Understanding Lean Transformation – Matt Savas shares some details about the Lean Transformation Framework and it’s ability to address any troubling issue by answering its five questions.


Front-Loading Cost Analysis: A Key Practice in Lean Product Development – Lara Harrington say you can reduce development costs, minimize surprises, and deliver the products customers love with a front-loading approach.


Do We Need Another Share in the See, Solve, Share Model of Continuous Improvement? – Mark Graban explains why the model should be “See, Share, Solve, Share” for psychological safety to speaking up about problems.


How Old Is Your Thinking? – Bob Emiliani explains that by practicing kaizen every day, and your thinking will be fresh and without limitations, and always alert to outdated traditions.

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Monday, May 27, 2024

Memorial Day Lessons: Leadership Behaviors

Memorial Day is a valuable holiday to reflect on those that have served our Country. As we think about this holiday let’s also take a pause, practice a little mindfulness, and take stock of our behaviors.

Because when it really comes down to it, our behaviors are all we truly have control over.  Whether in business or in your personal life, your behaviors define who you are and what you stand for.

When it comes to your customer perceptions of your business, the sum of your team's behaviors will represent your brand.  This perception extends beyond your customer understanding into your team dynamic.  As a leader, your behaviors influence your team's performance and your wake impact their experience as employees.

Leadership Matters

Many amazing leaders were members of the military.  They were forged in a crucible that pressure tests men and women into the very best versions of themselves.  We owe much to these leaders who find value in understanding that learning comes from both success and failure, but that both also come with a cost.  There is value in those who stand next to you and leadership goes hand-in-hand with trust and teamwork.

Training Matters

In depth, unwavering training is at the core of being in the military.  The stakes are high and there is no room for error – that makes the training, drills, and repetition crucial.  There is no substitute for knowledge and the experience that comes from both training and execution.  There is a level of comfort that comes with the rhythm and cadence as performing tasks becomes second nature.  That allows for a focus on the bigger picture and impact because muscle memory kicks in when needed.

Dedication Matters

There is a high level of commitment and dedication that it takes to serve and sacrifice in uniform.  There are moments that certainly push one’s limits, and for that, fantastic tenacity is required to find success.  For those who sacrificed, they showed the ultimate dedication and refused to waiver in the face of adversity.

So this Memorial Day, as we pause to honor those who’ve laid down their lives for our nation, let’s also take a moment to acknowledge the importance of honor in our everyday lives. Let’s pay homage to those we serve and those we serve under. Let’s honor our colleagues, our families, our communities. Let’s transform our workplaces, our homes, and our societies into realms where honor is not just given but lived.

Remember, honor is not a simple act; it’s a commitment, a lifestyle, a guiding force that should direct our actions and decisions. It’s a beacon that illuminates the path toward unity and mutual respect. This Memorial Day let’s make a pledge to let the spirit of honor transcend beyond the national observance and pervade our everyday lives. Because just as we honor our heroes, we should honor each other. Not just today, but every day.

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Friday, May 24, 2024

Lean Quote: Integrity is Doing the Right Things Even When No One is Looking

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.

"Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking.  —  C.S. Lewis

Integrity gets lost…one degree of dishonesty at a time. There are no varying degrees of integrity. A leader is judged to have integrity or not based on what is seen. Minor lies can become a major problem. As minor as lies may seem, employees do not forget integrity mistakes.

There are 6 key ways a leader can earn employees trust:

  1. Be honest and supportive. Even when it’s difficult, tell the truth and not just what you think people want to hear. Understand what employees need to know and communicate facts while being considerate of their effort and sensitive to their feelings. Showing support and understanding for your team members, even when mistakes are made. It goes a long way in building trust as a leader. 
  2. Be transparent. Transparency opens the door for honest conversations, collaboration, and respect. It can help take some of the mystery and skepticism out of the workplace that leads to feelings of mistrust. Consistent and regular communications should be a priority for trustworthy leaders, and the communication is best when it’s timely, relevant, and focused on what employees need to know and why, so they have context.
  3. Be consistent. Consistently doing what you say you’ll do builds trust over time – it can’t be something you do only occasionally. Keeping commitments must be the essence of your behavior, in all relationships, day after day and year after year. 
  4. Model the behavior you seek. Nothing speaks more loudly about the culture of an organization than the leader’s behavior, which influences employee action and has the potential to drive their results. If you say teamwork is important, reinforce the point by collaborating across teams and functions. Give credit when people do great work and you’ll set the stage for an appreciative culture.
  5. Build in accountability. When you and other leaders acknowledge your mistakes as well as successes, employees see you as credible and will follow your lead. You can encourage honest dialogue and foster accountability by building in processes that become parts of the culture, such as an evaluation of every project (positives, negatives, things to change) or a status report and next steps in each meeting agenda (tracking deadlines and milestones). 
  6. Extend empathy to others. Leaders who pause and imagine how employees truly feel build a lot of trust. Show employees that you hear them and validate their feelings. The payoff is an employee who knows you care; at the same time, you gather information that’s useful to motivating that employee.

It all starts with integrity. Your employees will follow only if you have earned their trust!

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

15 Year Blog Anniversary

Exciting news! I’m celebrating 15 years of blogging this month. I launched, A Lean Journey in 2009 as a resourceful outlet to share lessons and experiences regarding Lean thinking, improvement practices, and leadership.

At the time, I knew nothing about blogging, the implications of choosing a catchy name, or how to develop a following. I opened an account on Blogger.com, uploaded the photo above to my profile page, and started to blog. I shared my perspective of Lean and chronicled my own “Lean Journey in the Quest for True North." Slowly, I even learned the basics of HTML, which was essential at the time.

Here are links to the first few posts, one to introduce the blog, the next one on DOWNTIME and the Eight Wastes, and the first Roundup.

Each year I take the opportunity to reflect. The act of "self-reflection" is called Hansei is Japanese. It is the practice of continuous improvement that consists of looking back and thinking about how a process can be improved.

First a few numbers

Since May 23, 2009 I have shared almost 2530 posts. The most popular ones are about leadership, best practices, empowerment and engagement. I shared more than 3500 tips on my Facebook site. Written/contributed to 1 book and over 12 articles. I’ve also had the pleasure of presenting at 6 conferences, doing 2 radio shows, and hosting more than a dozen webinars.

After 15 years I'd like to think this simple blog has been a success. It has been a valued contribution in the Lean Community with over 2.1 million visitors.  Many articles are frequently shared and many key word searches lead to A Lean Journey Blog. Less than 10% of the blogs I read 15 years ago (which got me started) are still publishing articles today. I get great feedback from many of you which motivates me to continue.

What have I learned? 

Blogging helped learn more and make great connections. This space allowed me to explore/express my own learning, experiment with best practices, and share this with all of you. This has been a tremendous learning process both from the great fans and other colleagues online that I exchange with as well as the process of distilling my own learning with you. I've been fortunate to meet so many great people from experts to layman (like myself) along the way who've taught me so much. These connections have led to great opportunities to write articles and books, present at conferences, and even a number of career roles.

I still can't even believe it’s been FIFTEEN YEARS! That is crazy. I had no idea then what I was getting into or that I'd still be doing this 15 years later.  Frankly, I wasn't sure anyone would read what I wrote never mind find value in it. It truly has been a wonderful experience and full of opportunities.

Thanks all the visitors and contributors to A Lean Journey Blog who make this such a successful journey. 

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Monday, May 20, 2024

Meet-up: 5 Questions from Within the Lean Community With Guy Wallace

This month A Lean Journey Blog turns 15 and as I look back on how I got started and who influenced my journey I wanted to revisit a previous series I started in 2012 called the Meet-up.

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 and contributors. Each one has their own story and opinions to share.

The goal of Meet-up is provide you an opportunity to meet some influential voices in the Lean community.  I will ask these authors a series of questions to learn about them, their lessons, and get their perspective on trends in industry.

In today's edition, we are going to meet-up with Guy Wallace. I met Guy online of course as we shared a passion for Lean and blogging. 

Here are his answers so you can learn more:

1. Who are you, what organization are you with, and what are your current lean-oriented activities?

I am Guy Wallace. I’ve recently retired after 44 years in Enterprise Learning & Development.

2. How, when, and why did you get introduced to lean and what fueled and fuels the passion?

I’ve not been in TQM/Lean directly, but I have used the lean/ process streamlining principles learned initially at Motorola in 1981 from my training development work with my internal manufacturing, materials, and purchasing clients, including Bill Smith who taught me that before Six Sigma it was called VR – Variability Reduction. And from Geary Rummler, whose work at Motorola and elsewhere was focused on streamlining work processes to reduce touch times, cycle times, and costs. Then, in 1990, my client at AT&T Network Systems gave me a book that all the executives were reading, The Machine That Changed the World.

After Motorola, I joined a small management consulting firm in 1982 and was asked to create a Training Practice function, where I created Performance Based Instructional Systems Design (ISD) methods that years later led to my 1999 book, lean-ISD.

3. In your opinion what is the most powerful aspect of lean?

The measurable reduced work process cycle times, and costs.

4. In your opinion what is the most misunderstood or unrecognized aspect of lean?

For me, it was in the early 1990s when Six Sigma practitioners told me that Lean efforts should follow their efforts. They were wrong, of course, and that brought to mind what I had learned from the TQM folks at Motorola, which was that we were still Opportunity Rich.

5. In your opinion what is the biggest opportunity for lean in today's world? How can that be accomplished?

With all of the focus on Workflows, Work Processes, or Workstreams today, the notion of “streamlining” (versus “lean” perhaps) is a no-brainer to many clients and stakeholders.

Depending on the client and the language they are familiar with, I’d start the conversation with the word “streamlining” and then “lean” and show them examples of the measured results from lean efforts that are as close to their processes as possible, including the time and resources required.


Through their answers to these questions hopefully you will get a sense of the thinking behind those who are shaping the Lean landscape.  I continue to keep learning and thankfully with the willingness of these practitioners to share I am positive you will, too.

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Friday, May 17, 2024

Lean Quote: Being Likeable Brings Rewarding Interactions

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.

"One of the very rewarding aspects of my work has been the interaction with a superb group of colleagues and friends . . .   —  Mario J Molina, Nobel Prize winner

Have you ever noticed a leader that others just seem to be drawn to? Where others make it an effort to work with and for them? Some leaders (and people) seem to have an aura about them.  

I’m guessing everyone wants to be part of a work culture viewed as favorable and inspiring, but we’re not sure that the necessary actions are taken to make that happen. It’s up to all of us to be that “desired colleague” so trusting business relationships are created and maintained. 

Too many people succumb to the mistaken belief that being likeable comes from natural, unteachable traits that belong to a lucky few – the good looking, the fiercely social, and the incredibly talented. 

Is that easy? Probably not but being likeable is under your control and implementing Travis Bradberry’s 11 Secrets of Irresistible People is a great starting point.  Excerpts include: 

1. Treat EVERYONE with respect. 

Irresistible people treat everyone with respect because they believe they’re no better than anyone else. 

2. Follow the Platinum Rule. 

Not the Golden Rule, rather it’s treating others as they want to be treated 

3. Ditch the small talk. 

Irresistible people create connections and find depth even in short, everyday conversations 

4. Focus on people more than anything else. 

Irresistible people possess an authentic interest in those around them 

5. Don’t try too hard. 

Irresistible people don’t make it all about them 

6. Recognize the difference between fact and opinion. 

Irresistible people recognize that people may see things differently 

7. Be authentic. 

They know that no one likes a fake 

8. Have integrity. 

They avoid talking bad about other people, and they do the right thing 

9. Smile. 

Smiling during conversations will likely have the other person do the same 

10. Make an effort to look their best. 

Looking your best is a sign of respect for those you interact with 

11. Find reasons to love life. 

They approach problems as temporary obstacles, not inescapable fate