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Everything Continuous Improvement

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10+ Lean Blogs That You Should Be Reading

Posted by Mark Graban

Jun 26, 2020 9:47:24 AM

For a topic with so many authors, students, practitioners, and leaders, it’s probably no surprise that there are a ton of blogs about Lean - Lean manufacturing, Lean enterprise, Lean thinking, etc. This list includes some bloggers I’ve been reading for the longest time, those who are the most active, and those whose insights are really valuable (and sometimes, people fall into all three categories). It’s hard to list just ten, but I have a longer “blogroll” list and a separate list of Lean healthcare blogs that I maintain on my site.

Note: This blog post was originally written in 2015 and was updated in 2020.

You can also check out these lists that are maintained by Chad Walters and by Joel Gross.

Here’s a list of Lean blogs, in no particular order… it’s a list, not a ranking.

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Topics: Lean

Gemba Walk Do’s and Don’ts

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Jun 18, 2020 12:25:20 PM

Gemba Walks are an important part of many continuous improvement initiatives. They are designed to offer leaders the opportunity to observe work and talk with employees in the place where the work is being done, and it provides insight into current processes and opportunities for improvement.

Although some companies are still primarily remote right now, it's important that you continue to utilize this valuable improvement tool. There are ways to adapt the Gemba walking technique to support a virtual environment. For example, incorporate video conferencing to replace the typical face-to-face interaction. When your team sees you on video, they know that they have your undivided attention. You can find additional tips on how and why to walk the Gemba when everyone is working form home here.

Whether your Gemba Walks are virtual or in person, there are a few best practices to follow and a few pitfalls to avoid.

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Topics: Lean

6 Principles of Lean Construction

Posted by Matt Banna

Jun 11, 2020 2:29:58 PM

A growing number of construction firms are embracing the Lean methodology that emphasizes maximizing value for the customer while minimizing waste. The approach is simple and attractive in an industry where budgets, timeframes, and safety are all critical, but the project delivery is very different than traditional construction methods. This makes proper execution of the philosophy and techniques difficult to implement.

Lean construction borrows from the manufacturing approach developed by Toyota after World War II. Of course, it is much easier to produce repeatable, forecastable results in the controlled environment of a factory floor than in the more unpredictable world of construction. Greater variation and workflow disruptions are to be expected.

It is also important to note that there is no one cookie-cutter approach to Lean construction. There are a number of tools, including the Last Planner System, Integrated Project Delivery, Building Information Modeling, 5s, and Kaizen Events, that can be used in combination to achieve Lean. This gives practitioners a wide range of options that can be applied to each project.  

There are, however, guiding principles that help firms achieve lower costs, reduced construction times, more productivity, and efficient project management. They represent a holistic approach to the construction process.

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Topics: Lean

12 Characteristics of a Lean Organization

Posted by Maggie Millard

May 29, 2020 2:36:08 PM

The renowned football coach and philosopher, Vince Lombardi, once said, “Perfection is unattainable, but if we chase perfection, we catch excellence.

That’s the mindset of a Lean organization. There’s a bedrock belief that every process, investment, employee, or action should directly translate to value for the customer with no waste. That ideal is unattainable, of course, but Lean organizations try to get close to it every day, and in doing so, reach a level of success that their competitors can only envy.  Every Lean organization is unique, but there are some core qualities that they tend to have in common.

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Topics: Lean

Avoiding the 8 Wastes of Lean While Working from Home

Posted by Jeff Roussel

Apr 27, 2020 3:00:00 PM

Millions of workers across the globe have suddenly transitioned to working from home. There are many practical and physiological challenges to this abrupt change, so give yourself a break if everything hasn’t been smooth sailing.

Fortunately, the continuous improvement principles that help us be efficient in the office apply in much the same way at home. The eight wastes of Lean, for example, create friction and lower productivity for remote workers as much as they do on a factory floor.

Here are some ideas for spotting and eliminating them while working from home.

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Topics: Lean, Lean Software

Real Life Examples of the 7 Wastes of Lean

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Mar 11, 2020 12:52:04 PM

Eliminating waste is at the heart of the Lean Business methodology.  The goal of Lean is to spend more of your time creating value for customers by reducing or eliminating everything else - the waste. Several common types of waste have been identified and together represent the “7 Wastes of Lean” (sometimes expressed as "8 types of waste, including the additional "waste of human potential" or "waste of talent").

Some types of waste are fairly self-explanatory, but others can be a bit difficult to grasp. Here are some practical examples of each.

 

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Topics: Lean

3 Noteworthy Continuous Improvement Books from 2019

Posted by Greg Jacobson

Dec 17, 2019 9:01:11 AM

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.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Process

Picking the Right Lean Tools for the Job

Posted by Adam Darnell

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.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Process, Lean Software

Should Lean Tools Be Used for Every Improvement?

Posted by Maggie Millard

Oct 14, 2019 10:11:31 AM


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.

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Topics: Lean, Improvement Culture

The Lean Linchpin: Middle Managers

Posted by Jake Sussman

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.

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Topics: Lean, Leadership, Daily Lean Management

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