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January

A Reinforcing Loop of Kaizen and Respect

A Reinforcing Loop of Kaizen and Respect

We are going through the editing and typesetting process for our upcoming book Healthcare Kaizen  this week. After not really looking at the manuscript for a few months, a particular line stood out and made me think, as it’s the description of a “chicken and egg” dynamic – what comes first in Lean, TPS, and […]

By January 31, 2012 5 Comments Read More →

“The speed and flexibility is breathtaking” – But in a good way?

There has been a lot of buzz over last Sunday’s New York Times article “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work.” It’s good to see issues of manufacturing competitiveness talked about in the media and among my Facebook friends who usually aren’t talking about factories. So why aren’t iPhones assembled here in the U.S.? […]

By January 27, 2012 34 Comments Read More →
Guest Post: Is your management system the constraint in Kaizen?

Guest Post: Is your management system the constraint in Kaizen?

Mark’s note: Today’s guest post by Bart Sellers is a timely contribution to follow up to  yesterday’s post about the ThedaCare Business Performance System and the journal article about that great work. Bart has been a frequent commenter here on the blog and I’ve enjoyed working with him through the Society for Health Systems (come […]

By January 25, 2012 2 Comments Read More →
ThedaCare’s “Business Performance System” – and a 10% Target

ThedaCare’s “Business Performance System” – and a 10% Target

One of the most powerful thoughts in the book On the Mend: Revolutionizing Healthcare to Save Lives and Transform the Industry  (by John Toussaint MD and Roger Gerard PhD) is the quote; “the ultimate arrogance is to change the way people work without changing the way we manage them.” While ThedaCare started their journey with […]

By January 24, 2012 3 Comments Read More →
Lean in the Livonia Public Schools

Lean in the Livonia Public Schools

I grew up in Livonia, Michigan, where I was fortunate to have an outstanding public school education (without the district, to my knowledge, needing teacher “pay for performance” or such silliness during the 1980s). In the past year, I’ve heard of some initial training that a friend of mine in the Lean community was doing […]

By January 23, 2012 7 Comments Read More →
A Vivid Example of Gaming the Numbers on “The Office”

A Vivid Example of Gaming the Numbers on “The Office”

NBC’s “The Office” is often a good source for clips that illustrate the opposite of Lean thinking. Last week’s episode was a continuation of the subplot where the new CEO gave Andy, the Scranton branch manager, a goal of doubling sales growth to 8% by the end of the quarter. Dr. Deming, I think, would […]

By January 19, 2012 5 Comments Read More →
A Nice Kaizen Example from the PACU

A Nice Kaizen Example from the PACU

“Kaizen” is a Japanese word that means “change for the better” in the context of ongoing “continuous improvement.” The so-called “kaizen event,” a weeklong focused improvement effort is one type of kaizen, but it’s not the only type. A powerful form of kaizen is the practice of small improvements that don’t require a formal team […]

By January 17, 2012 0 Comments Read More →
A Lean Lesson from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A Lean Lesson from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we commemorate  the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, this quote caught my eye, from one of Dr. King’s Letters from a Birmingham Jail. Dr. King wrote, in part: “…the  means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.” He’s referring to non-violent means for driving societal change. This is a […]

By January 16, 2012 4 Comments Read More →
A Lean Guy Watches Moneyball

A Lean Guy Watches Moneyball

When it first came out, I was a big fan of Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game  about the Oakland A’s major league baseball team and the unorthodox approach they took to building a team (under the leadership of General Manager Billy Beane). Now that the movie, starring Brad Pitt […]

By January 16, 2012 12 Comments Read More →
Guest Post: Finding Waste at the Stadium

Guest Post: Finding Waste at the Stadium

Mark’s Note: Today’s post is a guest post from a new blogger, Chad Walters. Chad and I share a strong interest in sports — me as a fan and Chad as somebody who is working to bring Lean thinking to sports franchises, stadiums, and sports equipment makers. Chad will have guest posts today and next […]

By January 13, 2012 5 Comments Read More →
Suggestion Boxes are Disliked & Ineffective Around the World

Suggestion Boxes are Disliked & Ineffective Around the World

I love employee ideas and continuous improvement, but I really dislike suggestion boxes. As I’ve said, they are well intended, but the whole suggestion box process is usually pretty ineffective. I see more and more articles about the failures of suggestion boxes, including “idea management” software companies who promise “a suggestion box that actually works” […]

By January 12, 2012 5 Comments Read More →
Steve Jobs as a Model Leader? As a Manufacturing Leader?

Steve Jobs as a Model Leader? As a Manufacturing Leader?

As I wrote about after his death, I am appreciative of the products and services that Steve Jobs brought to the world.  That said, some of his behavior, as reported in the biography written by Walter Isaacson (the simply titled “Steve Jobs“) is less than admirable.  Some felt the need to dance on his grave, […]

By January 11, 2012 8 Comments Read More →
An Inc. “Best Small Company Workplace” & Their Lean Culture

An Inc. “Best Small Company Workplace” & Their Lean Culture

As I was cleaning out a pile of stuff in my office, I found an unread issue of Inc. magazine from June 2011. One of their “Best Small Company Workplaces” was Hopkins Printing in Columbus, Ohio: “Survival of the Smartest: Hopkins Printing has staked its future on cross-training.“) Far too often, “best workplaces” profiles focus […]

By January 10, 2012 3 Comments Read More →

This Commercial is Not Exactly the “Five Whys”

If you’re watching college football bowls or the NFL playoffs, it’s hard not to see this commercial from DirecTV. It’s not exactly the reverse of the “5 Whys” (as popularized in Lean and the Lean Startup methods), but it made me laugh. After the video, I’ll show what the 5 whys would be (working backward […]

By January 7, 2012 0 Comments Read More →
Lean in Your Life – Preventing Health Problems with Technology

Lean in Your Life – Preventing Health Problems with Technology

Continuing this first week of the year’s theme of using Lean principles to improve our lives, I’m going to write about two pieces of technology that can help prevent two different types of health problems, particularly in the elderly. The first is suggested by a blog reader who had an elderly parent forgetting to take […]

By January 6, 2012 2 Comments Read More →
Book Review: One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way

Book Review: One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way

While doing research for my upcoming book on “Healthcare Kaizen,” I found two books that touched on kaizen-style continuous improvement in our everyday lives. One was a brief mention in a book from a TV personality (see my post An Unexpected Lean Thinker and her “Kaizen Lifestyle”) and the second is a book with a […]

Blame the Stanford Kicker! Blame the Kicker?

Blame the Stanford Kicker! Blame the Kicker?

At first I thought this post was stretching this week’s blog theme of applying Lean principles in everyday life, but I think it actually does fit quite well, at least for those of us for whom sports is a part of our daily life. Last night, I was able to attend the Fiesta Bowl game […]