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The Right Way to Talk About Standard Work with Your Staff

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Mar 23, 2017 11:13:58 AM

We've written about standard work in the past, but it is often a topic that is overlooked or misunderstood in the continuous improvement process of many organizations, so it's definitely worth revisiting. If you’re in the process of implementing LeanKaizen, Six Sigma, or another method of continuous improvement, we strongly recommend making standard work a part of your process.

What is Standard Work?

Standard work is the practice of setting, communicating, following, and improving standards.

Establishing standard work begins with creating, clarifying, and sharing information about the most efficient method to perform a task that is currently known with everyone performing that process. Once this information has been shared, everyone practices this standard consistently so that the work is done the best way every time. This is where continuous improvement comes into play; standard work isn't a "set it and forget it" process, announced once and then permanently unchanging. Instead, everyone should work to improve the standard, and share new best practices as they're discovered.

Standard work creates stability and consistency within a continuous improvement system by providing the baseline upon which a process sits. This way, your team isn't constantly reinventing the wheel.

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What is NOT Standard Work?

It’s important in any discussion of standard work to talk about what it is not, as a poor interpretation could mean results that inhibit improvement rather than supporting it. Leaders have an obligation to promote standard work in the correct way, so that staff will both respect the need for it and invest themselves in improving it.

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Topics: Lean

The Advantages of Applying Lean in Education

Posted by Maggie Millard

Mar 9, 2017 8:36:00 AM

America’s education system faces an enormously complex set of challenges. Educators find themselves faced with community and government pressure to improve student performance, but often without corresponding funding or influence over policies and expectations. In short, our school administrations and teachers are being asked to do more with less.

That’s why it isn’t surprising to find that education professionals are turning to a business management approach that has proven very effective in other sectors such as manufacturing and healthcare.

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Topics: Lean, Continuous Improvement in Education

The Need for Lean in the Construction Industry

Posted by Matt Banna

Mar 7, 2017 8:24:00 AM

One of the most amazing things about Lean manufacturing principles is how universal they are. Lean - a management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (a method for the elimination of waste within a manufacturing system) is equally effective when applied to manufacturing, healthcare, government, or even construction, among others.

Of course, the application of Lean is at various stages in different fields. While Lean, having been created in the automotive industry, has long been applied in manufacturing, it is a relatively new concept in the construction industry.

Those who have been working in and around construction for quite some time will know the construction industry has suffered deeply from a lack of innovation and systems improvement for as long as most can remember.  

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A 2013 research article from the
Alexandra Engineering Journal, Applying lean thinking in construction and performance improvement, found the construction industry is troubled with delay and often suffers cost and time overrun. The report states that the productivity of the construction industry worldwide has been declining over the past 40 years.

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Topics: Lean

Rhythm, Motion, Basketball and…Lean?

Posted by Clint Corley

Mar 3, 2017 11:52:39 AM

All my life, I’ve been an avid basketball fan. In my younger days, some would say I was a decent player, though many moons have passed since then. Every time we stepped on the court, one of my team’s goals was to get into a “rhythm.”

The dictionary definition of rhythm is “a regular, repeated pattern of beats, sounds, activity, or movements.” For any non-sports aficionado reading this, imagine a group of individuals working together to achieve a common goal. Each person in this group is moving fluidly through their individual responsibilities, and the entire group’s activities are synced together in unison; much like a choir singing beautiful four-part harmony.

On the basketball court, our goal was to create that same harmony, except using movement instead of sound. If we could accomplish that, we could predict what events were about to transpire and act accordingly.

When a basketball team creates a rhythm they commit fewer turnovers, increase the percentage of shots made, make more efficient use of their time on the court, and execute as close to flawless as human nature will allow. Now, you can’t ever be perfect, but being in a rhythm allows you to improve the small factors of the game, and those factors add up to victories.

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How does this apply to Lean? Great question. To answer it, let’s examine the eight wastes of lean as defined by the Toyota Production System (TPS):

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Topics: Lean

A Quick Guide to Lean Construction

Posted by Matt Banna

Feb 16, 2017 8:24:00 AM


Readers of this blog know that the Lean approach to business management has taken root far outside of the manufacturing sector. It is used by healthcare organizations, software development firms, financial institutions, and even institutes of higher education. The construction industry likewise has benefited from applying and adapting the fundamental principles of Lean. Construction is a unique industry with each project being unlike the last. That’s why agile thinking, effective communications, and extensive collaboration are necessary to maximize value.

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Topics: Lean

The 5 Fundamental Principles of Lean Manufacturing

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Feb 14, 2017 8:00:00 AM

Management expert James P. Womack, Ph.D., is the founder and senior advisor to the Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc., a nonprofit training, publishing, conference, and management research company chartered in August 1997 to advance a set of ideas known as lean production and lean thinking, based initially on Toyota’s business system. He, along with Daniel T. Jones, founder and Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy in the U.K penned the influential work, Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation in 1996. Although much of the material they cover is not new, they present it with a unique structure that rests on five core principles of Lean manufacturing. Although their focus is on the manufacturing sector, these principles can be put to work in other industries including healthcare, construction, higher education and software development.

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Topics: Lean

Top Reasons to Consider a Digital 5S Tool

Posted by Kade Jansson

Jan 31, 2017 4:09:34 PM


The 5S technique is part of a broader set of management practices known as visual management or visual control. Although these tools are often used by organizations that employ Lean management or the Toyota Production System, they can be used by any organization seeking to optimize workspaces and processes. 5S can be implemented without technology to support it, but our clients have found that the digital approach can smooth the process and amplify the results.

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Topics: Lean, Kaizen

Everyday Examples of the 8 Wastes of Lean

Posted by Mark Graban

Dec 30, 2016 8:02:00 AM

Toyota famously changed automobile manufacturing forever by focusing on continuous improvement, particularly on the never-ending process of waste elimination. Over the years, eight specific types of waste were identified. They are now referred to as the 8 wastes of Lean.

While Lean was originally developed in the automotive manufacturing sector, every business experiences waste in one form or another. In fact, if you keep your eyes open, you’ll notice waste is all around you.

Here are a few examples that our team has observed.

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Topics: Lean

Top 10 Reasons to Invest in Lean Software in 2017

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Dec 29, 2016 7:24:00 AM

One of the many things we love about this time of year is the opportunity to reflect back on what we’ve accomplished (or survived) over the past twelve months. It’s also a great moment to set the stage for success in the year to come. If you practice the Lean management approach or plan to do so in 2017, one way to ensure that you get the most out of your improvement and waste reduction efforts is to invest in Lean software. Doing so gives you a number of advantages that will amplify your results and ease the path to achieving your most important goals. Here are some of them.

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Topics: Innovation Software, Lean, Software, Daily Lean Management

Continuous Improvement Resolutions for the New Year

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Dec 27, 2016 1:29:39 PM

As 2016 draws to a close, our thoughts turn to what’s ahead in the coming year. Many of us vow to hit the gym or lay off the Doritos. We might even resolve to be a little kinder and more generous in the months to come.

This is a good time of year to make some business-related resolutions as well.

If you are reading this blog, continuous improvement is probably something that matters to you, so we’d like to offer some ideas for continuous improvement New Year’s resolutions.

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Topics: Lean, Spread Continuous Improvement