Blog Library

The Toyota Way

The Toyota Way

Review
  Lean principles are based largely on studies of the Toyota Production System (TPS) from the early 1980s and influence manufacturing and service organizations across the world today. In 2001 the Toyota Motor Corporation summed up their philosophy, principles, and values in an internal document they referred to as, “the Toyota Way 2001.” The document expanded upon TPS with additional leadership and management practices that have made Toyota one of the most respected companies in the world.  Author Jeff Liker visited Toyota and summarized these principles in his 2004 book, The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer. The book covers Toyota’s history, successes, and ideas with many great Toyota case studies; this post will focus on summarizing Toyota's 14 Principles. How many of these principles are followed…
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Selecting a Lean Project

Selecting a Lean Project

Lesson
  The Lean East team has had several meetings in the past month with organizations new to Lean thinking. The leaders of these organizations want to improve processes and have learned that Lean principles work. But with all the problems and improvement needs in a typical organization, where do you begin?   When leaders ask us for input and support for selecting a Lean project, we share our simple project selection matrix. Here are the eight items we review and rate – each either passes or fails. We recommend prioritizing the projects that pass all, or nearly all, of the following criteria:   Important to the team and organization: Ensure the project you are considering is related to a critical organizational need. A successful project result needs to matter to…
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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Review
  Patrick Lencioni wrote The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable in 2002. The popular book is about imaginary company Decision Tech, and how a new CEO turned the company around. The CEO, Kathryn, molded her senior managers into a true team by addressing five dysfunctions she observed. Much of the fable focuses on a series of senior leadership retreats where Kathryn helps her team learn and address the dysfunctions. The book is a quick read and the easy-to-follow plot will appeal to readers of fiction. This Lean East blog post focuses on the final several chapters of the book (the non-fiction section) where the five team dysfunctions are summarized. Do any of these issues occur on your leadership team?   Dysfunction No. 1: An Absence of Trust…
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Understanding Key Performance Indicators

Understanding Key Performance Indicators

Lesson
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are the vital few metrics that define success or failure for a process. KPIs vary based upon the process being studied and the definitions of success for the process. Good organizations understand their KPIs. Better organizations measure them. The best organizations seek to improve them every day. Read on to learn about Key Performance Indicators and how a team or department can use a balanced scorecard of KPIs to support improvement.     The initial challenge with KPIs is selecting them properly from the many possible performance indicators available. The second challenge is determining how to measure and share them throughout the organization. Our team has helped numerous organizations establish and measure KPIs. Here are some highlights from the Lean East training module covering the selection…
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Juggling Elephants

Juggling Elephants

Review
  The book Juggling Elephants: An Easier Way to Get Your Most Important Things Done--Now! was written in 2007 by corporate trainers Jones Loflin and Todd Musig. The short read tells the story of a man named Mark visiting the circus with his daughter. Mark meets a ringmaster there who shares the analogy of life as a circus. “Sometimes does it feel like you are juggling elephants?” he asks Mark. The circus performance in the book takes place in three separate rings under the tent. The ringmaster schedules the acts for the circus and introduces the audience to each performer. While one act is performing, another ring is typically cleaning up from an act or setting up for the next act. The goal for the ringmaster is to have a…
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The Power of A3 Process Improvement

The Power of A3 Process Improvement

Lesson
The Lean East team helps organizations learn how to use Lean thinking and tools to remove waste from their processes. We prefer to employ a “learn by doing” approach where we train and coach these methods while engaged in organizational improvement projects. If organizations already have an established improvement process we will work within that process and seek to improve it. But if the organization does not have a robust process in place (and most do not) then we recommend using the Lean East A3 Process Improvement tool.   Lean thinking Let’s define a few terms first. Lean refers to a philosophy and management strategy focused on customer value and respect for people. Lean is not about layoffs or running the organization on a shoestring. Lean is continually improving the…
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Team of Teams

Team of Teams

Review
  Retired US General Stanley McChrystal was frustrated. The US battle against the jihadist militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraqi and Syria) after the US occupation of Iraq was not going well. ISIS always seemed to be a step ahead of his forces. His forces took too long to process and act on intelligence – by the time the location of an ISIS cell was acted upon the location had long been abandoned. McChrystal was learning that the network structure of ISIS allowed them to adapt more quickly than US forces to avoid capture. While the US had overwhelming resources and a disciplined command-and-control structure, ISIS operated much faster – more like a group of separate franchises with a common purpose.   Command Structures The US Military in the…
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Coaching and The Art of Possibility

Coaching and The Art of Possibility

Lesson
  Much of our support at Lean East involves coaching leaders and teams as they improve their processes. But what is coaching? Here are six traits of good coaching and some examples from the book The Art of Possibility.   Six Traits of Good Coaching Coaches focus on people and drive results. Coaching is not the same as teaching or mentoring. Teachers impart their skills and wisdom to others. Mentors share lessons based on their experience. Coaches unlock potential in the participant and help them discover their own solutions. Coaches share alignment and establish trust. The mission and goal must be agreed upon by the participant and coach. The participant and coach also need to have mutual trust for one another. Learn more about trust at this post. Coaches ask…
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Five Ways to Engage Millennials

Five Ways to Engage Millennials

Lesson
Millennials (also known as Generation Y) represent people born from about 1982 to 2000.1  These 17 to 35-year-olds are expected to represent 75% of the US workforce by 2025 and are technologically savvy and purpose driven. Yet business leaders have expressed frustration from this group of workers. How can they attract, hire and retain talented young millennials?   Leaders find millennials make challenging employees due to their sense of entitlement, impatience, and inattention to authority.2  Many millennials struggled to find good jobs during the 2008 recession and have been called “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents” by Time Magazine. Yet millennials are technologically savvy and purpose-driven. Companies that relate well to this age group can benefit greatly. Here are five ways you can engage the millennials who already…
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Radical Candor

Radical Candor

Review
  This is a summary of the 2017 book, Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. Ms. Scott describes leadership lessons she learned while working in Silicon Valley for Google, Apple, and start-up companies. Her former boss at Google (and an accomplished author herself) Sheryl Sandberg writes, “Radical Candor will help you inspire teams to do the best work of their lives.” Great bosses have strong relationships with their employees. Three simple principles for building better employee relationships are: Make it personal Get (sh)it done Understand why it matters Scott shares the concept of Radical Candor on a 2X2 grid with one axis how much you care personally about the person and the other axis how much you challenge directly, (i.e. “be brutally honest”). Scott names…
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