Lean Is A Journey Not A Destination

Many companies have already started lean but I think many people might ask “Are we lean?” You might measure “being lean” on how much waste is removed. To be truly lean 100% of the waste form a process has to be removed and the reality is that there will always be some level of waste. Another way to think of it is that lean is a way of doing business. LEAN IS NOT A SET OF TOOLS! Lean is a cultural change to the way a company does business. Because it’s a culture change it becomes more of a journey than a destination.

Here are some ways to differentiate between lean culture and lean as a set of tools:

How do we as an organization move towards a Lean facility? Here are the steps to follow:
1) Determine where you are and how you react to the situations above. Be honest with yourselves and have your lean consultant help you.
2) Once you determine what needs to be addressed you will want to begin changing areas of the operation. This can include but are not limited to the following:
a. Metrics Used to Measure Performance
b. Governance Process
c. Policy Deployment
d. Daily Meeting Schedule
e. Leader Standard Work
f. Performance Management System
g. Cultural Training
3) Once you determine the areas for change then the leaders and the lean

How does your company execute to lean?

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Sustaining Change – Making a Real Difference With Kaizen

A question I hear a lot is “how do we sustain our changes?” I wanted to share a question one of the lean experts I’ve trained in the past asked David Meier (Author and founder of Lean Associates Inc http://www.leanassociates.com/about.php):

Question from lean expert:
What are best practices from sustaining improvements after kaizen events/activities?

Answer from David Meier:
Bill — This is a bigger question than it appears. People don’t sustain things for many reasons. The main reason I think is that they were not part of the process of developing the improvement (even if they were on the team). One other reason is that kaizen is not an “event” anyway. It is a mindset and it means that things should improve AFTER the event, not just sustain.

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Applying Lean To… Baseball?

Most people who know lean know the frame work around how to apply it to manufacturing. One thing I haven’t seen is an agreed upon framework to apply lean to non manufacturing settings. Thats what I want to talk about in today’s blog. What is the “standard” approach to applying lean to non manufacturing.

Toyota had defined lean in 3 elements 1)Muda (wastes) 2)Mura (flow) 3)Muri (overburdening). So the question because do these elements apply across the board? Let’s apply lean to a baseball pitcher.

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5 Ways to Leave Your Competition in the Dust

Competition is what business in a free market is all about. Wouldn’t it be great if we have a competitive advantage that our competition couldn’t duplicate? The question becomes what do you have that our competition does not? The culture of a company is a distinctive and unique advantage. Think of it like DNA or a fingerprint but for a company. You want to be sure that you foster the right culture that will give you an advantage; here are 5 ways to do that:

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“I Want To Do It My Way And Not The Standard Way”

Most everyone knows about the leaning tower of Pisa but why did it get that way? This is straight from Wikipedia – “The tower began to sink after construction had progressed to the third floor in 1178. This was due to a mere three-meter foundation, set in weak, unstable subsoil, a design that was flawed from the beginning.” If they had standard design and construction processes these disasters may have been avoided. Standard work might have saved one of the most famous Italian monuments. This instance we have something “interesting” from not following standard work but normally that is not the case.

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It’s The Culture Dummy

Today’s title was the phrase that was told to me when I first started in my lean journey during a transformation process.

When going through a lean implementation there are two aspects we look at:

1) Technical and tangible aspects
a. Design elements
b. Scheduling
c. Staffing
d. And other tools

2) Non-technical and intangible aspects
a. Culture
b. Morale
c. Willingness and ability to change

Often times we put most of our effort into the tangible items because we feel since we can “touch” these items we can have greater impact on our change. With Lean, culture is the main driver of impact. Any change made will be temporary unless your culture changes. You’ll spend the majority of your time (initially) working on the tangible aspects but your impact really comes from cultural changes:

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Wheel Of Lean

Many of us at are familiar with the seven wastes:


Over processing
Over production

Too many companies focus on just the above 7 when they are only 1/3 of the issues in a system. TIM WOOD is called MUDA. There are 3 elements that need to be addressed when making a system lean:
· Muda – Activity that is wasteful and doesn’t add value or is unproductive
· Mura – Unevenness/inconsistency in a process and “flow” of the product
· Muri – Overburdening

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Whether You Think You Can Or Can’t, You’re Right

Thank you to www.shmula.com for the photo and an interesting article why lean transformations fail. Thank you also to Henry Ford for the title of today’s blog post.

The picture tells a very interesting story. 70% of transformations fail because of ourselves. We are are worst enemies when it comes to change. None of use are really a stranger to the concept, how many times have we told ourselves “I shouldn’t eat that” or “I’ll do that work next week.” My personal favorite is “I like it the way I’m doing now!”

The reality is that the actual bolts and nuts of a lean transformation are the easy part. The hard part is looking into the company mirror and asking “is my company going to make it through the transformation.” From experience I know that whatever you think you can do is what you will do. The main question with a transformation really becomes how do I make sure I’m culturally ready for a transformation.

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What’s Really The Problem?

Like many of you I’ve been hearing a lot about the health care debate and it got me thinking. Now I know there are many sides to the problem but I think the one question we have to ask ourselves is “What’s really the problem?” When I think about it I realize that 32% of people in the U.S. are obese and obesity leads to cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. So I ask you is the problem with the health care system or is it in our food supply and our health & nutrition education?

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