Allowing For Trial & Error

Allowing For Trial & Error

Lesson
  We are pleased to offer our monthly lesson as a video post! You can read the lesson below, which is a formatted transcript of the presentation, or watch the 5-minute video embedded at the end.   Allowing For Trial & Error: A Better Way To Grow & Compete Have you ever worked in a place where the goal is to be unnoticed and the boss visits your area only if you are about to hear bad news? I have seen too many organizations where employees just go through the motions, doing what they are told. Raises and advancements at these workplaces are based primarily on not making mistakes. Employees are told what to do and managers make the decisions. There is no incentive to take on a challenge, learn new…
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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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Developing High-Performing Organizations

Developing High-Performing Organizations

Summary
Lean East was founded in 2010 with a mission to bring out the best in organizations by bringing out the best in people. We focus on introducing proven Lean Six Sigma improvement methods to service organizations in Maine and New England – in industries including healthcare, government, insurance, construction, and finance. Many of the clients we have partnered with have had a common goal – to improve their culture and performance and provide better customer service. Some client organizations want to improve their processes and provide more customer value with less waste. Others focus more on changing work culture, training their leaders and staff, and improving teamwork. One client wanted to improve in multiple dimensions and move the company from good to great. A common theme with all our clients is…
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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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Selecting a Lean Project

Selecting a Lean Project

Summary
  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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Understanding Key Performance Indicators

Understanding Key Performance Indicators

Summary
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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The Power of A3 Process Improvement

The Power of A3 Process Improvement

Summary
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

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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Five Ways to Engage Millennials

Five Ways to Engage Millennials

Summary
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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