Every year, the collective wisdom about how to lead organizations and engage in continuous improvement continues to grow. Many of the core principles remain unchanged, but new ways of thinking about how we get close to perfection emerge, and new voices add their insight to the conversation. In 2019 several new books were published that we think are worth your consideration. If you are putting together a reading list for the holidays or you need some new audiobooks for a long drive, here are three great ideas.
Dec 17, 2019 9:01:11 AM
Nov 21, 2019 7:00:00 AM
Whether or not your organization fully embraces the Lean approach to business, the methodology has a ton of useful tools and techniques. So many, in fact, that it can be challenging to decide which one to use for various types of improvement efforts. We can't give you a definitive answer because every organization and situation is unique, but there are some situations for which particular tools are generally well suited. Here are some recommendations.
Oct 14, 2019 10:11:31 AM
Small #kaizen at a #Lean #SixSigma conference — tape markings on stage to show speakers where to stay for the purposes of lighting and video. This was added during the first break.— Mark Graban (@MarkGraban) October 10, 2019
This small improvement didn’t require a belt, root cause analysis, or a project champion. pic.twitter.com/X1wPr3qsnM
When I first saw this tweet from our resident Lean and Six Sigma expert and author, Mark Graban, I thought that he made an excellent point. Sometimes we get caught up in all of the sophisticated improvement tools at our disposal like value stream maps, Kaizen events, A3s, heck, even continuous improvement software that we fail to make or adequately recognize small improvements that don’t require tools.
But when I reread it, I was struck by the line, “This small improvement didn’t require a belt, root cause analysis, or a project champion.” Nope. Recognizing that the speakers were not in the ideal location and finding a way to solve that problem didn’t require any fancy techniques at all.
But what did it require? There are some prerequisites that are necessary to make even a simple improvement like this one possible.
Jul 29, 2019 3:07:21 PM
A linchpin is a fastener passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position. The term is also used figuratively, according to Wikipedia, to describe, “something [or someone] that holds the various elements of a complicated structure together.” What an apt description of the role of middle managers in a Lean environment.
When we talk about the Lean business management approach or just continuous improvement in general, we often say that it involves everyone from the CEO to front line workers. In the literature about Lean, a lot of emphasis is put on what top leaders need to do to create a culture of improvement. There’s also much discussion about how to keep operational workers involved and engaged. Both are essential, but it is a huge mistake to underestimate the role of middle management.
Jul 23, 2019 3:35:55 PM
We’re not going to lie. Implementing any kind of software solution in an organization is not easy. First, you must make sure you select a solution that will actually help address whatever challenge is at hand. Then you have to get it implemented and work out the kinks (there are always kinks). You have to get users trained, and then you face the biggest hurdle of them all – getting people to use the system. Sometimes it all goes smoothly, but challenges are not uncommon.
If you’ve implemented Lean software, you’ve probably faced a few. This post will help you access whether your Lean technology has taken root and give you some ideas for boosting adoption if that’s what’s needed.
Jul 19, 2019 8:41:00 AM
The world’s most successful organizations are relentless in their quest for flawless processes and perfect execution. The ability to reliably produce quality outcomes with minimal waste is elusive but achievable with the right leadership and attention. That’s why many organizations turn to proven process improvement methodologies and techniques.
Jul 9, 2019 6:45:00 AM
A little while back, we had the pleasure of presenting a webinar hosted by Chad Westbrook, a manufacturing engineering manager and AGCO production system manager at AGCO Corporation. AGCO is a full line manufacturer of agricultural equipment. The company makes everything, including tractors, tillers, sprayers, bailers, and other equipment. Chad joined our own Mark Graban to discuss a different way of thinking about problem-solving. This post is a recap of the presentation - watch the full thing for all the details!
Presented by Chad Westbrook, AGCO
In this webinar, you'll learn a structured approach to problem-solving using the following tools:
- 5G – A tool used to describe a loss phenomenon
- 5W1H – An approach to the revised phenomenon
- 4M1D – Defining the contributing factors to the revised phenomenon
- 4M1D Confirmation – Validating the contributing factors
- 5 Why’s – Root cause and effective countermeasures
Jul 5, 2019 11:50:49 AM
With more and more companies in almost every industry adopting the Lean management approach or at least taking a few pages from it, Kaizen events are more popular than ever. That’s wonderful because they can be a very useful tool for improving processes and teaching leadership. But, unfortunately, we’ve seen too many instances of organizations that try to cut corners or fail to understand the best way to utilize Kaizen events. It would be nice if they were as easy as getting a few folks in a room for a couple of days and – presto – problem solved.
Sadly, that’s not how it works. We hate to burst the bubble, but Kaizen events require planning, leadership, and precise application. Here is the truth about successful rapid improvement events, whether folks want to hear it or not.
May 22, 2019 12:39:31 PM
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.
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.)