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.
In his kickoff to the Lean Startup Conference, Eric Ries promised that there was so much content and so many speakers crammed into the day that we would all have a headache at some point. Yes, that came true for me. But, it was a very inspiring and thought-provoking day… with over 700 attendees in person (often crammed shoulder to shoulder worse than coach seating) and I met people from UAE, Finland, Norway, Japan, Uruguay, and other countries (plus there were 10,000 watching via the internet).
The room was crammed (a bit too tight) and the agenda was jammed (maybe also too tight), but I’m glad I could attend.
As the creator of the admittedly awkward L.A.M.E. acronym (meaning Lean As Mistakenly Explained or Lean As Misguidedly Executed), one burden is that I often get emails tipping me off to L.A.M.E. sightings.
In a nutshell, it’s L.A.M.E. when a company does something awful that’s not at all in line with accepted Lean or “Toyota Production System” principles. Or, it’s L.A.M.E. of the other form when a writer misunderstands Lean (or intentionally misrepresents it) and writes something off base.
Today, I have three L.A.M.E. sightings from around the world… (somebody please make me a better graphic!!) If you’re not a regular reader, see my “What is Lean?” page as a starting point or the 14 principles of The Toyota Way.
I hope you’ll join me and a lot of Lean friends at the 2012 Northeast Shingo Prize Conference, to be held in Worcester, MA September 25 and 26.
Here’s a nice interview with Kathryn Correia, CEO of HealthEast in Minnesota, a former ThedaCare executive: “Lean approach at HealthEast.”
From the piece:
Correia is a firm believer in “Lean Business,” a management framework popularized in the 1997 book by James Womack and Daniel Jones. The goal of the “lean” approach is to help companies create value and eliminate waste. It’s a process Correia is bringing full bore to HealthEast.
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:
I love my Amazon Kindle (I have had a 2nd generation 3G Kindle for about two years). Amazon has recently made the device more “social,” where you can share highlights and notes that you take about a book via Twitter, Facebook, or the web. Here are my notes that I’ve made publicly available.
It’s also interesting to see, as an author, what the most popular highlighted passages are in your own book, in my case Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Satisfaction.
MP3 File (run time 29:14)
Episode #118 is a follow up to podcast #116 with Jim Womack, founder and former Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institute, now their Senior Advisor and author of the new book Gemba Walks, available in paperback, Kindle format, iBooks, and other formats.
In this episode, we talk about both GM and Toyota – their challenges, Jim’s reflections on the companies, and thoughts about where they are headed in the future. Jim also answers reader questions about the word “lean” itself and the combination of the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies.
For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/118.
For earlier episodes, visit the main Podcast page, which
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).
MP3 File (run time 24:31)
Episode #116 is a chat with Jim Womack, founder and former Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institue, now their Senior Advisor and author of the new book “Gemba Walks,” available in paperback, Kindle format, iBooks, and other formats.
Here, we talk about the new book, how a gemba walk differs from “management by walking around,” some of his most memorable walks, progress in lean healthcare, and other topics.
For a link to episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/116.
We recorded two podcasts in the same sitting. Part two is Episode #118,
Let me give a big ole’ Texas-sized hat tip to Bob Emiliani for sending me this sad article with the headline“General Motors lays off workers at NY plant.” This is an addition to earlier Shreveport layoffs.
The media will let GM off the hook as the parts shortages are the result of the tragic Japan earthquake, as the media again piles on to blame “Just-In-Time” supply chain practices (or more broadly, criticizing Lean in some cases).
Ironically, GM appears to be following the “Just In Time” practices often associated with Lean without also following what Toyota calls the “respect for people” principle. A truly Lean thinking company, like Toyota, would NOT lay off those workers. GM did. GM chose to.
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.
No, John Shook is not an outspoken atheist and “Lean” (at least as we’re discussing it here) is not an illegal drug, comments about people getting addicted to continuous improvement aside…
Mark’s Note: Today’s post is by David Veech, the Executive Director of the Institute for Lean Systems. A fear or anxiety that people often have when they hear the term “lean” is that it will be a stressful environment, sort of like the famous Lucy & Ethel chocolate factory scene. David writes about dispelling that myth…
When I read John Seddon’s book Freedom from Command & Control: Rethinking Management for Lean Service, I was a fan. I thought here is someone from the Dr. Deming lineage who has a good message about what’s wrong with traditional management.
Unfortunately, in the past few years, I’ve been increasing disappointed with both the tenor and the content of his message. In his monthly email broadcasts, he frequently complains about “tool heads” and idiots and people who aren’t the thinker he is. I have other criticisms of his message, but I have one particular beef about a podcast he created called “Rethinking Lean Service” (it’s more a monologue, one that allows no opportunity for comments or questions, so I write here.).
It’s time for another in my Reader Questions series, this question comes from Brian via email. If you have a question or topic that you’d like me to address, you can contact me via the web or by leaving a voice mail.
Today’s question looks for clarifications about the terms “asset optimizers” and “point optimizers.” Lean thinkers should be neither of these two things.
The term came from John Krafcik, who was a graduate student at MIT, working for Lean Enterprise Institute founder Jim Womack on the research for the book The Machine That Changed the World. See comment #5 where I added more detail about that.
Where is Krafcik today (pictured at left)?
By now, you may have read the news release and/or e-letter (scroll way down) from the Lean Enterprise Institute that announces founder and chairman James P. Womack is stepping down as CEO of LEI, to be replaced by longtime LEI senior advisor, and former Toyota manager, John Shook.
It’s an understatement to say that Jim has played an important role in helping share and promote lean thinking around the world – shifting from “lean production” to the lean enterprise and lean healthcare.