I continue sharing documents from the Don Ephlin library archive. What did Ford and the UAW learn when they visited Japan in 1981? Many of the things that made Japanese industry successful are the same things that make organizations successful with Lean today, including in healthcare.
A hat tip goes to Brian Buck for sharing this quote via email recently. Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, was a pithy and wise man. I didn't remember this quote, but it is attributed to him. It's very appropriate for the type of work we do...
My friend Pete Abilla has started a nice series of “Lean Leadership Interviews” on his site, shmula.com.
I enjoyed his most recent interview with Jeff Liker. I agree with Pete and Jeff in the assertion (shared by Mike Rother) that formal “root cause analysis” isn’t always needed, or might be overkill in some situations. We wrote something similar in Healthcare Kaizen, and I’m surprised that’s a controversial thing to say.
People often say Lean is pretty simple (or that it’s just “common sense“). Yeah, some of the concepts are simple… but sometimes deceptively so. Or, we find that it’s easier to describe Lean (as a management system, a set of methods, and a culture) than it is to say how an organization should transform itself from here to there.
A principle that has been often discussed (and hopefully practiced) in the Lean community over the past few years is usually described as “respect for people.” A certain British rabble rouser recently said at a Lean conference “all this respect for people stuff is horse sh*t,” and that it is a “conventional Western management interpretation.” He mocked the idea of “respect for people programs,” although I’m not sure where such a standalone program has ever been attempted.
Let me explain why he’s wrong and we can explore some great links on “respect for people” in this post.
My whole career, I have worked with the Lean methodology (aka the Toyota Production System). I’ve just really never done much with Six Sigma. I’ve read about Six Sigma and I took a Green Belt course when I worked at Dell in the late 90s. I’ve studied and used statistical methods (especially what I learned in my Industrial Engineering studies and at MIT), but I’ve never done anything I would call Six Sigma in my career.
I have respect for Six Sigma as a discipline, just as if I were a chef, I would have respect for pastry chefs. They can co-exist in the kitchen and you might both use whisks, but you have slightly different training to do different things – these roles aren’t interchangeable and neither are Lean and Six Sigma. That’s one reason I get riled up about so-called “Lean Sigma” or “Lean Six Sigma.”
Update 5/1/12 – more auctions!
Back in October, we raised about $1000 for Friends of the Orphans through a charity auction, for which authors and publishers generously donated books.
Now, I’m happy to present another auction that comes as a result of me “5S-ing” my home office as my wife and I prepare for our move to San Antonio. I had duplicate copies of many great books – some due to getting a free review copy from a publisher and some due to me “losing” the book and re-purchasing it (I know, tsk tsk, not very Lean of me).
I’m auctioning some great sets (batches?) of books – they all end roughly 10 PM EDT on Sunday May 6. I will donate free standard shipping for U.S.-based winners. If you want expedited U.S. shipping or any form international shipping, I’d ask that you pay the actual cost.
Here are the auction details:
It’s sometimes said (I believe this to be true) that “100% inspection isn’t 100% effective” (it seems like Dr. W. Edwards Deming might be the origin of that quote).
This is true in healthcare, if we talk about inspecting medications to make sure the wrong med hasn’t been sent from the pharmacy or in other situations. This is also true in publishing, that inspection (aka editing) isn’t 100% effective either, when we rely on people to catch or respond to errors. Someone once told me that every book published will have a number of typos, defects, and errors.
In particular, there was a typo in the prologue to Professor Jeffrey Liker’s latest book, The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership: Achieving and Sustaining Excellence through Leadership Development, on page xxi:
Here is the latest set of discussions from the authors at The Lean Edge, site that has participation from some very notable Lean authors (and they let me slip in, somehow).
The question of the moment:
Lean focuses on individual problem solving yet stresses the importance of teamwork. What would be your definition of teamwork in the lean sense?
The responses that are out there so far:
On Friday, there was yet another Wall Street Journal article about Lean (fixating as they always do on the “Just In Time” component). The article titled “For Lean Factories, No Buffer” yet again takes an outdated 1980s view that Lean is about low inventory.
On the flip side, I was more pleasantly surprised that Fox News Channel aired video during an afternoon newscast about Lean. Fox News seems to think they have discovered some wild, new trend – although I shouldn’t pick on them too much since they did a nice job with a news story in 2009 about Lean healthcare (view video excerpts here and here).
The question they posed (which is hard if not impossible to figure out, due to the design of the site) is this:
“What is the lean approach to capital expenditure? As Toyota announces a new plant in high-cost Japan, it also claims that the overall investment is 40% lower than an existing equivalent size plant. How is this possible? What is the impact of lean on the investment cycle?”
My response, in terms of healthcare, begins with:
Episode #115 is a discussion with Eric Ries (@ericries), entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.
Today, we talk about how got introduced to Lean, core materials like books by Womack and Jones and Jeff Liker, and how he has put a lot of thought into how to take proven Lean principles – such as reduced batch sizes, 5 whys analysis, and faster time to market – and applied them to startups.
We both agree there are a lot of applications of these Lean Startup principles even if you are working on new products in larger, older, manufacturing settings – so I hope you’ll take 20 minutes to listen regardless of your background, as Eric’s work has pushed my attempts at Lean thinking in new directions.
This might seem like a random topic, but what the heck, it’s a Friday. I arrived in Orlando yesterday for the Society for Health Systems and HIMSS conference and I picked up a rental gar from the garage. It’s a nice Buick Lucerne – these rental Buicks surprise me with a nice impression, while rental Chryslers always leaving me wondering how that company is still in business.
Anyhoo, as I was pulling out of the garage, I had a thought – a customer suggestion if you will that might represent a latent undiscovered need for airport customers….
Episode #111 brings us some time with Professor Jeffrey Liker from the University of Michigan, the well-known author of many books in the The Toyota Way series. You can see Dr. Liker talk at the upcoming Shingo Prize Conference (hope to see you there!).
Click to play:
MP3 File (run time 31:50)
Today, we are talking about his TWO upcoming books: The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement: Linking Strategy and Operational Excellence to Achieve Superior Performance and Toyota Under Fire: Lessons for Turning Crisis into Opportunity. The second book was clearly written in response to Toyota’s recent challenges and Dr. Liker has some very strong perspectives to share here in this podcast. What was his take on Toyota’s recalls and quality problems? Why does he think that Toyota was singled out as a “scapegoat” to be “taken down”? Does he think Toyota really will emerge stronger from these challenges?
There are lots of places online where people can ask questions about Lean, such as the LEI forums and numerous LinkedIn groups. I saw one question in a LinkedIn group that really gave me pause… I won’t use her name or company name since the LinkedIn groups are somewhat private.
Hello! I’ve been tasked to lead a Lean Implementation in a division here at [company]. I would like to ‘benchmark’ with other manufacturers in North America who have also done a Lean Implementation.
I have training (from 6 years ago) and book reading, but haven’t had the opportunity for Lean application until now. I also have a long road to ‘sell’ this to upper management. I would love input on how others have successfully implemented Lean, and what roadblocks to avoid.
Your advice would be? Mine is….
I’m happy to announce my debut on the site TheLeanEdge.org, where many Lean authors have their say in answering a question of the week. It’s a thrill to be included in a list of authors including Art Smalley, Daniel T Jones, Jeff Liker, Michael Balle, Mike Micklewright, Mike Rother, Pascal Dennis, Peter Senge, and Steven Spear.
The first question I answered was this one:
From Rob Austin: When Is Lean Too Lean?
“Lean” sounds efficient, and I like that. But I worry that it also sounds like “no backup inventory” or “no backup system.” I’ve heard stories about what sound like too-lean operations disastrously disrupted when unexpected problems caused severe delays and there were no backups. So what is the relationship between lean and robustness in the face of unexpected problems? Can a lean system also be resilient?
You can read the first part of my answer below or just click to read the whole thing on TheLeanEdge.org. You have to register to comment, so if you want to leave a comment, you can do so on this post. I’ll continue linking to my Lean Edge posts there. It’s also fun to see what the other authors said about this same question. Which was your favorite response?
For those of you who have had difficulty accessing LeanBlog.org for the past two weeks or so, I apologize. It’s been frustrating to me and I’ve gotten a number of emails from people who couldn’t get the site to load.
I think I finally got to the root cause, with the help of tech support from GoDaddy.com. Things should be back to a stable, “site loads every time” state. Update: there are still some problems today, so maybe we don’t have the root cause ID-ed.
I’ll spare you all of the technical details, but will share a bit to help other WordPress bloggers who might run into the same problems. I’ll also tie it to a core “Toyota Way” principle that I violated.