One of the reasons that the Lean manufacturing business methodology is so popular with companies in every industry is that it comes complete with a set of tools for structuring and managing the goal of continuous improvement and waste reduction. These tools are great on their own, but many of them become even more valuable when improvement management software is used as a single platform for managing positive change. This post examines some of the most often used.
May 22, 2019 12:39:31 PM
Apr 30, 2019 8:34:00 AM
I created dozens of cheat sheets during my high school and college career. Don’t worry; I didn’t use them to cheat on the test. I found that the exercise of creating a crib card helped me review the relevant material and organize my thoughts, so when it was time for the exam, I was well prepared to do well without resorting to fraud. Anything that I would want to put on the sheet was something that I should fully understand.
You might not “test” your employees on the essential concepts in Lean manufacturing, but there are still some fundamental ideas that they should understand. We’ve put together this brief review of the most important as a place to start. If every team member can discuss and explain each of them, your potential for improvement is vast.
(Note, this post is meant to be a refresher, not an introduction to any of these concepts. For more in-depth information, click on the links at the top of each section.)
Apr 11, 2019 7:46:56 AM
Hoshin Kanri is a strategy deployment approach that is popular with organizations using the Lean or Six Sigma business methodology and others that commit to continuous improvement. The object is to define the organization’s “True North” and drive toward it, reaching breakthrough goals while still managing daily incremental improvement. When properly executed, organizations have used it to improve profitability, sustain growth, enter new markets, and deliver innovative new products to customers. (If you are not familiar with the approach, you can learn more about it in this post.)
As useful as Hoshin Kanri can be, it doesn’t always work. We’ve seen some organizations achieve great success and others give up in frustration.
While every organization is different, here are some of the common problems we see when Hoshin planning hits a dead end.
Apr 2, 2019 12:59:05 PM
We talk to people who are interested in investing in software to support their continuous improvement efforts every day. Some of them are already using the Lean business methodology, others are just rolling it out, and still others are taking a “Lean light” approach by leveraging some of the principles without adopting all of the techniques. In any case, leaders want to have a good understanding of what to expect and how a Lean management system can help them achieve their goals. Fortunately, we are well positioned to share what our customers have told us happened when they invested in technology to bolster their improvement and waste reduction efforts.
Mar 29, 2019 9:04:00 AM
“We say seeing is believing, but actually, we are much better at believing than seeing. In fact, we are seeing what we believe all the time and occasionally, what we can’t believe.” – Robert Anton Wilson
Gemba walks are a critical continuous improvement technique. They are useful for leaders at every level but particularly eye-opening for executives and other top-level managers. Why? The simple process of going to the place where works is done, showing respect for workers, asking questions, and reflecting on observations can change one’s perception of how well a process is operating. It also offers an opportunity to build trust and increase employee engagement. Many direct supervisors and mid-level managers practice Gemba walks, especially in Lean organizations, but it is important for executives to do them as well. That’s why we’ve put together this Gemba walk template for executives. It addresses elements that would be less important to managers who are closer to the process daily.
Mar 27, 2019 9:11:00 AM
While many people associate the Lean business methodology primarily with manufacturing, it is an ideal approach in the construction industry. Construction projects are complex. They involve many disciplines, require the movement of people and materials, they are expensive, and they involve significant risk. We can’t think of a situation more perfect for Lean. Lean construction software isn’t a requirement for leveraging the approach which seeks to respect workers, eliminate waste, and continuously improve. However, implementing a platform to support Lean puts construction firms in the best position to solve problems, maximize profits, and sustain growth. Here are some of the reasons why.
Mar 26, 2019 7:11:00 AM
Lean manufacturing is a business methodology that is based on tools and techniques implemented at Toyota in their post-WWII efforts to improve the quality of its automobiles. They called it simply "The Toyota Production System" and “The Toyota Way.” Other manufacturers recognized the success the company enjoyed and applied the approach. Visits to Toyota to observe Lean manufacturing in action are common to this day.
The beauty of Lean is that it can be applied to almost any type of organization. Its pillars of continuous improvement and respect for people are universally relevant. Today, Lean is used in healthcare, high-technology, construction, education, services, and government.
Feb 26, 2019 8:08:00 AM
You know that Lean software would help your organization implement more opportunities for improvement, eliminate waste, sustain improvement, and get more people involved in positive change. You know that the investment will reap significant returns by increasing and calculating the impact of improvement work. Your CEO, on the other hand, hasn’t quite seen the light.
That’s OK. Investing in technology to support Lean is a big step, and it isn’t free, so a bit of reluctance is natural. In most cases, the key to convincing top executives that Lean software will be worth it is to stay away from feature/function discussions and focus on their top-of-mind concerns. The practical advantages of Lean software like streamlined communication, document management, and automated alerts aren’t what typically gets CEOs excited.
Here’s what does.
Feb 21, 2019 8:42:00 AM
Standard work is the documented and current best way to do a particular task, procedure or process. Workers develop the standard and follow it until an improvement process results in a new standard. Standard work ensures that results are consistent and forms the foundation upon which improvements are made. Leader standard work applies this same concept to the task of driving Lean thinking and behavior throughout the organization.
Many organizations have little in the way of documented best practices for leaders. Supervisors, managers, and directors are left with only their job description to guide their daily activities. Given this reality, it's not surprising that many fail to start, spread, and sustain the continuous improvement mindset.
The alternative is leader standard work which is a set of actions, tools, and behaviors that are incorporated into the daily activities of leaders at all levels. Like the standard work for any process, leader standard work must be documented, practiced consistently, and changed only with reflection and experimentation.
Although the specifics of leader standard work vary across organizations, some practices are universally useful and commonly included.
Feb 20, 2019 11:03:10 AM
We’ve written before about how the Lean management approach is prevalent in almost every industry. That’s because its twin pillars of continuous improvement and respect for people make sense in every sector. Supporting those pillars are the five principles of Lean. This post takes a closer look at each of them and will give you some questions to ask yourself that will help you find how best to apply them in your organization.
Value is defined as anything that the customer wants and will pay for. Only the customer gets to decide what represents value. Successful companies are those that provide value more efficiently than the competition. Because Lean organizations have value as a first principle, they are necessarily customer-centric.
How do you know if your organization is living the principle of value? Ask yourself these questions, and the answer to that should be clear.
- How do I know what the customer values?
- Is customer value a daily topic of discussion?
- Does customer value drive decisions?
- Is what the customer values static or does it change?