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About Me

Welcome to Tim McMahon’s blog, A Lean Journey, a site dedicated to sharing lessons and experiences regarding Lean thinking, improvement practices, and leadership. I started this blog, in 2009, to share my perspective of Lean and to chronicle my own “Lean Journey in the Quest for True North."

Lean is not about the destination but rather the direction or path you take toward this idealistic place. It is about the constant, persistent, even relentless pursuit of improving your current situation. This improvement then brings you to the next current state and so on. ALeanJourney.com shares lessons and experiences along this journey to “True North” as a way to support learning and reflection, without which there can no lasting improvement. This valuable resource (blog) features a Lean Quote of the Week and Daily Lean Tips, among other popular series, to enhance your learning and knowledge of Lean. Lean is a "learning" process so sharing your lessons and opinions here are welcome, too.

Tim McMahon is a Lean implementation leader, author, and blogger. As a Lean practitioner, Tim brings more 20 years of leadership experience implementing Lean manufacturing. Trained by disciples of the Toyota Production System, he worked in a Shingo Prize winning facility. He has held a number of leadership positions within operations management, Lean, and quality disciplines of innovative high tech manufacturing companies. Tim has a passion for teaching problem solving skills, Lean philosophy, and quality improvement methods by actively learning, thinking and engaging people.

By drawing on his knowledge and experience, Tim co-authored The Lean Handbook: A Guide To The Bronze Certification Body Of Knowledge (ASQ Quality Press), in 2012. This single reference guide will enhance your knowledge for the Lean certification program of SME, AME, ASQ, and the Shingo Prize as a whole and give you a more holistic look at Lean.

He is a member of the America Society of Quality (ASQ) and was part ASQ Influential Voices programASQ's Influential Voices are quality professionals and online influencers who raise the voice of quality on their personal blogs. Tim served as amember on the regional Board of Directors for The Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME). 

He has a Bachelor of Science Degree from The University of Massachusetts in Chemical Engineering. Among his other accomplishments, he holds a Lean Certification and a Six Sigma Black Belt from Central Connecticut State University, Lean Bronze Certification from Society of Manufacturing Engineers, a Master Lean Six Sigma Black Belt from the Management and Strategy Institute, and is a Shingo Institute Alumni.

Tim and his wife live in Massachusetts with their three children. He has passion for ice hockey and serves on the executive board of the Massachusetts Hockey as Secretary. He has held the role of President for the Greater Springfield LeagueDirector of Communications for Westfield Youth Hockey and is currently a Level 5 recognized USA Hockey Coach.

Aerospace and Defense, Automotive, Electronics, Capital Equipment, Chemicals, Protective Packaging, Test & Measurement, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Medical Devices, Discrete Assembly, Oil and Gas.

Noteworthy Recognitions:
Top 20 Lean Manufacturing RSS Feeds updated December 22, 2020 #3

The content within this blog represents my opinion, not that of my employer or anyone else.

I’m part of the ASQ Influential Voices program.   While I receive a small honorarium from ASQ for my commitment, the thoughts and opinions expressed here on my blog are my own.

I currently have or had financial relationships with other individuals or organizations that might be mentioned on the blog:

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Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links, for which I am paid a commission on any purchases.

These disclosures are in the interest of meeting FTC blogdisclosure guidelines.

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Answers to 5 Questions

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

I am the Founder and Contributor of A Lean Journey Blog. This site is dedicated to sharing lessons and experiences along the Lean Journey in the Quest for True North. The blog also serves as the source for learning and reflection which are critical elements in Lean Thinking.

Since I believe you should practice what you preach, my day job is a Lean practitioner with more than 10 years of Lean manufacturing experience.  I currently lead continuous improvement efforts for OFS, a high tech manufacturer fiber optic cables and assemblies for several plants in the Northeast.  Currently a major focus is teaching problem solving skills, lean countermeasures, and how to see opportunities for improvement by actively learning, thinking and engaging our workforce.

I have also been supporting the AME Northeast Region Board of Directors as the Social Media Lead. This role is to identify how to best leverage social media tools for increasing networking within AME's Northeast Region. Social media tools include LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare, YouTube, Facebook, etc. I contribute with others on AME's Social Media Council to build AMEConnect, a members-only online networking site, and build presence and content on Facebook and Twitter channels.

You can learn more about me on LinkedIn - Tim McMahon, follow me on Twitter - @TimALeanJourney, or be a fan on A Lean Journey Page.

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

My introduction to lean manufacturing is probably somewhat typical.  After coming from a research and development role to an operations role I discovered Lean.  In 1999 I started learning what Lean manufacturing was all about and I have been learning about it ever since.   In the beginning Lean was a way for me to meet operational objectives.  Now I have found it is a profound way of thinking that encompasses all I do.  Lean is the best business performance system I have seen.  My passion is fueled by those wonderful "a-ha" moments.  Those times when after hours of study and thought the pieces fall into place.  I also enjoy the opportunities I have had to meet some really great people going down a similar journey of their own.  Everyone you meet is another opportunity to learn more.

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

Within Lean I think there a number of powerful aspects but I would have to say that the scientific model of problem solving is one of the top.  Murphy's law states "anything that can go wrong will go wrong."  There isn't an organization that does not face problems.  Shigeo Shingo famously said "Having no problems is the biggest problem of all."  Therefore for me the most powerful aspect of lean is being able to solve problems in a scientific method.  That method is the four step PDCA cycle popularized by Dr. Deming.  My engineering background has built a foundation of hypothesis, experiment, and evaluation so this seems natural to me.  You will find all of Lean's thinking processes are based on this four step problem solving process.

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

Most people who try to do Lean in their organization fail to fully understand the people aspect of a Lean Organization.  As is often said by Bruce Hamilton, President of GBMP, "Lean is 90% people and 10% tools."

Lean which is commonly referred as TPS (from it's originators) is the "Thinking People System" for me. It is about learning to see waste and solve problems through the development of people. This is a frequently missed and even understated purpose in lean. Lean is truly about people because tools don't solve problems, people solve problems.

As in the namesake of my blog "A Lean Journey - The Quest for True North" Lean is not about the destination but the direction or path you take toward this idealistic place. Lean is not something you check off your "To Do List".  It is about the constant, persistent, even relentless pursuit of improving your current situation. And this improvement brings you to the next current state and so on.

In my opinion leaning out the waste is not necessarily the difficult part but rather the identification of the wastes.  Waste is all around us yet many can not recognize it.  I like to say that "activity does not equal productivity".  The real challenge is to break status quo, get out of your comfort zone, and learn to "see". This means observing the actual condition at the actual place at the actual time.

If you can educate and engage your workforce to relentlessly identify and eliminate waste by solving problems you will be well on your way to embracing the full power of Lean.

5.  In your opinion what is the biggest opportunity for lean in today's world?  How can that be accomplished?
I would have to say that the biggest opportunity for lean is in our service industries.  Lean has a proven track record in many manufacturing operations.  I think we all see things everyday in our lives as we interact with businesses that bug us.  These are things that cause poor service, higher costs, less value and more waiting.  It would nice to live in place where continuous improvement is common place.   Maybe that sounds utopian but this is happening in many service industries already.  Lean Healthcare has been a dominant theme for many years with a number of great examples.  Lean Government is slowly moving forward with a start from the EPA several years ago.  Connecticut is currently working to pass legislation to use lean techniques in state government.

There are many more opportunities for Lean to be successful.  Lean actually focuses on processes; has a measurable impact on time, capacity and customer satisfaction; and involves all employees.  This formula will help many organizations to be more successful.

About AleanJourney.com: Tim McMahon is a Lean implementation leader, author, blogger, and founder of ALeanJourney.com. This site is dedicated to sharing lessons and experiences along the Lean Journey in the Quest for True North.  Tim is the co-author of The Lean Handbook, a comprehensive Lean reference guide for accredited certification. Learn more about Tim. https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothyfmcmahon/