The Need for Lean Innovation

The Need for Lean Innovation

Lesson
As recently as 15-years ago, most markets had few competitors and significant barriers to entry. Management would decide what product to build, budget the work and assign engineers and developers to the project team. New product development projects would often last for many years. Similarly, companies providing services would keep an eye on market competition and take the long-approach for releasing new offerings, often protected from competition by regional control and deep reputation. Today, the internet, open-sourced solutions, and social media have leveled the playing field. Consumers have one-click buying options for new products at their fingertips. New internet-based services disrupt long-standing businesses such as taxi transportation, insurance, legal services and healthcare. Customers will switch quickly and often to better solutions. Every day our world continues to become more complex.…
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Are you a “Super Nurse” on your Team?

Are you a “Super Nurse” on your Team?

Lesson
  Does your organization have a person on staff who everyone can go to in order to get a problem solved? For example, someone who knows how to obtain guest Wi-Fi access for a visiting contractor? Who is the same person who can always find that hidden file on the network, and knows how to correct the mistake in your EMR or MRP system? Perhaps your organization is a customer-facing business and this person also goes above and beyond to follow up with a customer who has a special request and double-checks every item before your product goes out the door. Picture a person on your team who matches this description. Or, are you that person on your team? People who save the day and rescue a team from disaster…
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Lean and Agile – Ideas that Work Together

Lean and Agile – Ideas that Work Together

Lesson
Five similarities between Lean and Agile Readers of our blog will be familiar with Lean fundamentals. Many of you have completed improvement projects or attended workshops such as our ‘Introduction to Lean Thinking’ course. Readers of our blog are past or current clients, or people we have connected with in LinkedIn Groups (we recommend Lean Six Sigma and Operational Excellence as great sources of information and energy). Likewise, many of our readers will know that the goal of Lean is to maximize customer value by minimizing non-value added “waste” in processes. Lean changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services across technologies and departments. But what about Agile? Some members of our community have started to hear whispering of ‘Agile’ in the hallway -…
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8 Lean Wastes: Transportation vs Motion

8 Lean Wastes: Transportation vs Motion

Lesson
  We enjoy teaching the 8 Wastes of Lean Thinking to our clients and the participants in our training workshops. As instructors, we share examples of 'Wastes' from our professional experience in both manufacturing and service-related organizations. Together, we brainstorm ways in which the wastes reveal themselves in our attendees' organizations. One question that gives us pause in every Introduction to Lean Thinking workshop is the request to explain the nuance of two 'movement' wastes - motion and transportation.     Motion The motion waste focuses on the movement of people or equipment that is unnecessary. It is any movement beyond the minimum required for completing the process step.  The motion waste is typically found within a workspace or process step rather than between steps. Walking to a community printer or searching for information or a tool are…
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7 Lessons from Good to Great

7 Lessons from Good to Great

Lesson
  Influential management professor Jim Collins released the popular Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don’t in 2001. The book is really a research project led by Collins as a follow-up to his book Built to Last. He researched hundreds of companies to identify sets of “good” companies where one became “great” while a close competitor failed. Collins and his team tried to discover what the “great” companies did differently from the comparison companies and the general market. The book is a bestseller that has become a management strategy classic on how to grow a successful company and our team has given the book as a gift to numerous organizational leaders. Key points can be summarized by the image below – this post will summarize the key…
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When: Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

When: Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Lesson
  This post is a summary of the key learnings from the 2018 book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink. The book was an instant bestseller from the well-known author, and draws upon recent research from psychology, biology, neuroscience and economics. It is easy to read with many great examples and stories to demonstrate that Timing is really a science. This post synthesizes the main takeaways from each chapter of the book to save our readers some time!   Figure Out Your Daily When Are you a morning lark, night owl, or third bird? To find out, identify the midpoint of your typical night’s sleep- halfway between going to sleep and waking up. If the midpoint is before 3 AM you are probably a lark.…
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The Toyota Way

The Toyota Way

Lesson
  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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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Lesson
  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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Juggling Elephants

Juggling Elephants

Lesson
  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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Team of Teams

Team of Teams

Lesson
  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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