Author Archive: Jamie Flinchbaugh

Jamie Flinchbaugh is a lean advisor, speaker, and author. In addition to co-founding the Lean Learning Center, he has helped build nearly 20 companies as either a co-founder, board member, advisor, or angel investor. These companies range from high-performance motorcycles to SaaS tools for continuous improvement. He has advised over 300 companies around the world in lean transformation, including Intel, Harley-Davidson, Crayola, BMW, and Amazon.

Jamie co-authored the popular book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean, and continues to share his experiences as a Contributing Editor forIndustryWeek and as a blogger at He holds degrees from Lehigh University, University of Michigan, and MIT, and continues to teach and mentor on campus.

Jamie is best known for helping to transform how we think about lean from a tools-centric model to one based on principles and behaviors. His passion for lean transformation comes from seeking to unlock the great potential that people possess to build inspiring organizations.

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Guest Post: Use forced habits to change behaviors

Guest Post: Use forced habits to change behaviors

Mark’s note: Today’s post is by an old friend of mine and this blog, Jamie Flinchbaugh. This post is a preview of the free webinar that Jamie will be doing next Tuesday, hosted by me and KaiNexus. We hope you can join us.

Leading Lean A-Z: K, Be Kinetic

This continues a series titled Leading Lean A-Z. This post is K: Be Kinetic.

Did you ever have one of those days where you just wanted to put your feet up on your desk and breath in and out for a while? The lean journey will still be there. There are still many challenges out there. I don’t need to do it all today. Let’s just take our foot off the gas.

But change requires momentum. That momentum is either gained or lost. And to feed that momentum, the leader must be a continuous provider of kinetic energy.

No Rx for Lean

No Rx for Lean

I recently have had the opportunity to review a wide range of sites and companies and provide feedback on their lean journey. One of the things that really surprised me was how many of them were still trying to follow a prescription for lean. I heard things such as “the book says to do this but it doesn’t work for us, what should we do?”

Leading Lean A-Z: F for be First

by Jamie Flinchbaugh, co-author, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean

[This is a continuation of a thread on Leading Lean topics from A-Z]

When visiting companies that feel better about their lean journey than they probably should, perhaps the most common thing I hear is “yes, we have management support. They are 100 percent behind us.” But behind is still behind. Leadership is about being out in front. An essential element of leadership is being first, exemplifying the change you want to see in your organization.

When is it time for lean "lite"?

by Jamie Flinchbaugh, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean

Many of the frequent LeanBlog readers will know that I have been a regular guest blogger on I am not in any way ending that relationship as I have enjoyed my collaboration with Mark Graban which is many years old now.

Learn to Play Before Picking Up a Sax

by Jamie Flinchbaugh, co-author, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean

A3 thinking, A3 problem solving, A3 report writing – whatever you might call it is growing popular in the same way that value stream mapping did many years ago. But just like value stream mapping, just using the tool solves nothing. You still need to get the right thinking in place to make any of the tools, methods or skills effective.

NIH = "Not Invented Here"

by Jamie Flinchbaugh, co-author, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean

I believe that NIH, or Not Invented Here, is one of the silliest cultural barriers to progress. What we’re basically saying is that there are good ideas out there, ideas that we can use, but because they came from others we’re not going to use them.

Lean in Government Conference

The federal deficit has ballooned to record numbers. Never before has lean been more important to government. With a undeniable need to drop future spending, unless we want services to drop along with it, we will have to deliver more with less. It’s just that simple. But government (federal, states, and local) needs to start now.

Jamie Flinchbaugh Speaking Topics in April

by Jamie Flinchbaugh, co-author, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean

In the month of April I’ll be presenting two topics at different conferences. I thought I would share these with you.

The Lean Product and Process Development Exchange will be held April 6-8 in Hilton Head. I will be presenting on how the lean lens of an operating system should affect the lean journey in product development. You can check out the conference at I am pleased to offer a discount to any of you wanting to attend; just use discount code Flinchbaugh8748 when you register.

March Madness and Lean

March Madness and Lean

As March Madness begins, many people’s eyes will be fixed to TVs and computer screens while they root for the favorite teams. Where’s the lesson for Lean in there? It comes in exactly the winners and losers – may the best team win.

The Lean Entrepreneur

There is no question at this point that 2009 is the worst economy we’ve all seen since the great depression. Good people are getting laid off left and right because their employer just doesn’t have work for them. And of course it’s very hard to get hired from outside a company that is the middle of layoffs. This clearly won’t last forever, but I believe it will last for some time. What is a lean-minded person to do when faced with this reality?

5S for Email

We recently released Issue 14 of Lean Progress and it included a brief set of tips on how to apply 5S on email. There is perhaps much more that could be written, but most people are so overwhelmed by the giant pile of emails that anything that gets us started can be a help. For many people who complain about their email, they don’t feel compelled to actually invest in working on a solution to the problem. However, for many organizations, email has become a dominant form of communication and coordination. Much of the waste in our organizations suffer from problems in communication and coordination. You do the math. Lack of 5S in email is a bigger problem than most of us want to realize.

5S Still Gives Companies Fits

I am amazed that as long as we’ve talked about 5S, it still gives companies fits and trouble. Many companies start with 5S because it’s simple. It may be simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. This isn’t a tool you can do half-way. Here one of many reasons why.

Shortening up the Value Stream

On this blog, there have been several discussions and posts about jobs going overseas, not so much from a protectionist and politics standpoint, but more about the impact on your value stream. Is it shortsighted? Do our cost systems tell the whole picture? Just reducing the piece price of a part does not capture the total cost. There is the hard-to-calculate cost of a long supply chain. It’s not just the inventory, which is often vastly under-priced as only economic holding costs and not operational holding costs, but just as importantly the responsiveness and flexibility. I have yet to see a cost system that effectively manages responsiveness and flexibility. Then there are costs of communication, problem solving, alignment, and so on.

How to Adjust your Lean Efforts in this Economic Crisis?

I can’t count how many times I’ve said that there is no recipe for lean. You must chart your lean journey based on both where you are and where you want to be. This requires knowing your current condition very well, including factors such as business conditions, resources, culture, and capabilities.

The Key to a Successful Lean Journey? Leadership!

A friend of mine, Kurt Woolley at Intel, has written an article for Industry Week that is quite popular. I thought I would share it here. It’s title is:

The Key to a Successful Lean Journey? Leadership!

Leading Lean A-Z: "I" for Integrity

by Jamie Flinchbaugh, co-author, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean

Some of you have read the beginning of my Leading Lean A-Z. You can see the introduction and the first post here. I continue, quite out of sequence, with I.

Guest Host on LeanBlog Podcast

I will be standing in for LeanBlog founder and podcast host Mark Graban for the upcoming 50th podcast. While I clearly will not be quitting my day job, this was fun being on the other side of the mic for a change. In celebration of the 50th episode of the LeanBlog podcast, we will be welcoming a special surprise guest. I won’t offer up any hints, but if you’re a fan of the show, then certainly tune in.  (Click to Listen)