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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Develop Scientific Thinking with Lean Kata

Develop Scientific Thinking with Lean Kata

Lesson
This month we are happy to share a simple yet powerful tool that will benefit any organization. It is the Lean Kata approach for developing a culture of scientific thinking at all levels of any organization.     What does the word “kata” mean? Kata is the Japanese word for “form” and refers to a detailed, choreographed pattern of movements practiced alone or in groups. Anyone who has ever practiced the martial arts has performed katas in front of a sensei to advance and earn additional belts. The kata allows the trainee to memorize and perfect the movements being executed so they can easily make the movements later using muscle memory. The Lean Kata was developed by Toyota and has been well described in the Mike Rother book, Toyota Kata:…
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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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Ideas for Action from The Culture Code

Ideas for Action from The Culture Code

Summary
Daniel Coyle wrote the bestselling book The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups in 2018 as a follow-up to his bestselling book The Talent Code. Both books are well researched and highly recommended reads by Lean East. This post summarizes several of the “ideas for action” from the book into a basic leadership action plan. Culture is not something you are, it is something you do. Coyle focuses on three keys to building a cohesive, motivated culture – build safety, share vulnerability and establish purpose. The book shares his research on each of these areas and each section has ideas any leader can implement to improve their organization’s culture. Below are 20 ideas you can begin implementing today. Please share with others and leave a comment below if…
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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: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. 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…
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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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