Blog Library

Theory of Constraints

Theory of Constraints

Summary
  This is a summary of the story and key lessons from the 1984 classic The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement by Eli Goldratt that introduced the world to the Theory of Constraints. Goldratt has published multiple editions of the original book, and also adapted the TOC concept to project management theory with his book Critical Chain, published in 1997.   The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is an operations management method that views any system as being limited in achieving its goals by a small number of constraints. Every system has at least one constraint – TOC uses a focusing process to identify and eliminate the constraint, therefore raising the output of the entire system. “No Chain is Stronger Than Its Weakest Link”     The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement…
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Personal Kaizen: Habits

Personal Kaizen: Habits

Lesson
The Lean East team uses proven principles and tools of continuous improvement to support organizational change. The Toyota Motor Corporation developed many of these Lean continuous improvement principles, and one of the core principles of their Toyota Production System (TPS) is “Kaizen.”   Kaizen Kaizen is a Japanese word that translates to "change for the good.” Kaizen results from making many tiny improvements to a system or process. The accumulated improvements eventually lead to significant results. Kaizen applies to individuals in the same way it applies to organizations. Many small, repeated gains add up to a significant change; this is the “compound effect” at work. Most of us are too busy to take four weeks off from work to learn a language but we could easily make time for one 5-minute…
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Solve Problems Before They Happen

Solve Problems Before They Happen

Summary
This is a summary of the 2020 Dan Heath book, Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen. Dan and his brother Chip have previously written several bestsellers we have summarized, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard and Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. Upstream covers a key Lean continuous Improvement topic: problem solving to root cause. Often the most effective (and least expensive) way to fix a problem is by preventing it from ever occurring. “So often we find ourselves reacting to problems, putting out fires, dealing with emergencies. We should shift our attention to preventing them.”   3 Barriers to Overcome Heath begins by sharing some common thinking barriers we need to overcome as we move upstream.   Problem Blindness:…
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Green and Clean: Servant Leadership

Green and Clean: Servant Leadership

Lesson
This past month has been a busy one for Lean East with several new clients. As I reflect on lessons from the past month to blog about, one theme has come up several times in my discussions with top executives. The discussion goes something like this:   Executive: “I don’t think this employee is going to work out.” Me: “What is the issue?” Executive: “I’m hearing complaints from the team about this employee. He/she isn’t keeping up with the work. When I look into their projects they are often falling behind.” Me: “What is the employee's expectation and how is it measured?” Executive: “They know they have to keep up and be responsive. When I sent the employee an email to ask about a recent issue they didn’t even email…
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7 Habits for Highly Effective People

7 Habits for Highly Effective People

Summary
The current (July, 2020) racial tension in the United States has led me to recall one of my favorite productivity lessons: “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This is Habit 5 from Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Since Covey’s book is now 30 years old, I wonder how many millennials have never read the book or learned its timeless lessons? Here is a brief summary of the key lessons from the 7 Habits. Stephen R. Covey – R.I.P.   Habit 1: Be Proactive Whenever something impacts you, YOU are in control of the response. Effective people choose to take the initiative and act back. The key lesson in Habit 1 is understanding whether you control, influence, or only have concern about an…
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TRIZ Inventive Problem Solving

TRIZ Inventive Problem Solving

Lesson
Is your company interested in improving its products, services, and systems but not sure where to start? It is very likely that a solution to your problem has already been discovered by another industry somewhere in the world. Many of the most innovative companies in the world apply TRIZ inventive problem-solving methods to innovate their products and processes. TRIZ (pronounced “(/ˈtriːz/”) is a Russian acronym that translates to "theory of the resolution of invention-related tasks" and is "a problem-solving, analysis and forecasting tool derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature."   TRIZ history TRIZ was first developed over 50 years ago by Russian inventor Genrich Altshuller and his colleagues. The team studied hundreds of thousands of published patents to discover patterns in the solutions…
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Ten Lessons from Built to Last

Ten Lessons from Built to Last

Summary
Authors Jim Collins (author of the best-seller Good to Great) and Jerry Porras compared 18 sets of long-running and successful companies to learn what differentiated the visionary company from the comparison company. Their research identified key traits and habits prevalent in the more successful companies and formed the basis of their book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. This post summarizes ten lessons of visionary companies from the book and, as a bonus, offers six suggestions for leaders to better align an organization.   You don’t need a great idea to start a great company. Few of the visionary companies in the book began with even any specific idea. Visionary companies often get off to a slow start, but set BHAGs (below) and continue to experiment with ideas…
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The Business Case for Lean

The Business Case for Lean

Lesson
Five Lean East case studies that show the benefits of Lean Thinking The Lean East team is focused on teaching and applying proven Lean Six Sigma principles and tools to develop high performing organizations. We focus specifically on organizations that provide customers with a service (i.e. healthcare, government, financial, insurance, education, construction, repairs, etc.) rather than a product. Lean Six Sigma has a long track record of success in manufacturing, but only recently became embraced by service-based industries. Some of our clients use Lean thinking as a strategic differentiator – far surpassing their previous results (and their competition). Some of our clients select us because of our expertise in Lean Six Sigma methodology. Other clients have “no idea what this Lean stuff is about.” Our goal in this post is…
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The Infinite Game

The Infinite Game

Summary
This month we summarize the 2019 book The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. This is Sinek’s third book and follows the 2014 bestseller, Leaders Eat Last. There are two kinds of games. Finite games have known players and fixed rules. As I write this sentence, I am watching the finite game of football. The game has two known teams pitted against one another with referees enforcing the rules. One team will win the game by having scored more points as the time expires. Infinite games are played by known and unknown players. There are no agreed-upon rules, and no finish line or clock signaling the end of the contest. There is, therefore, no way to “win” an infinite game; the best you can do is keep playing. Sinek notes that…
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The Difference Between Push and Pull

The Difference Between Push and Pull

Lesson
  This post focuses on the difference between push and pull in Lean. The goal of Lean is for every process to “flow value at the pull of the customer.” The key terms in this statement are defined below: [caption id="attachment_3048" align="alignright" width="150"] This symbol represents "pull" in Lean value stream mapping[/caption] The ultimate Customer is the end-user – who the product or service is providing value for. The other customer is the next step in the process. What does the next step need, and when do they need it? Flow refers to how value is created in a process. In a “perfect process,” value is created during every step, without any waste (or delay) in the process. Value is defined by the customer (end-user or next step). Every step…
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