Update on “Practicing Lean” – Excerpts From New Chapters By @MikeLombard & Paul Akers


Reminder: I'm doing a free informational webinar on Thursday about the “ExperienceChange” workshops that I'm now facilitating. View the recording.

Practicing Lean book by Mark GrabanA few months back, I announced a new collaborative eBook project called Practicing Lean.

Proceeds from the book are being donated to the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation. We have over 100 buyers / readers so far and that's generated just over $250 in proceeds (the price paid by each readers varies with the “choose your own price” model and the recommended price starting off lower back when there was less content in the book).

In September, I posted an except from the first chapter by an outside contributor to the book, Nick Ruhmann.

Chapter 4 in the book was contributed by Michael Lombard, a previous contributor to this blog.

This past week, I also added a chapter contributed by Paul Akers, author of the books 2 Second Lean and Lean Health.

More chapters will follow, as I have commitments from a number of authors and Lean practitioners. As a reminder, if you buy the book today, you'll be notified of all future book updates (and you'll get them all for no additional charge). When the book is completed, I'll also make it available via Amazon Kindle and in paperback form. Today, you can buy it through LeanPub.com and manually add it to your Kindle app or device.

From Michael Lombard's Chapter

Here is an excerpt from Michael's chapter:

The first time I had ever heard about Lean was in early 2006 while I was working as an executive trainee in a manufactured housing factory. The general manager of the plant handed me a copy of Jeffrey Liker‘s book The Toyota Way, informed me that he had enrolled me in a 3-day Lean training course, and told me to come back in a month ready to teach Lean to the entire leadership team. We figured we'd be able to “roll-out” Lean within a few months or so.

Yes, please feel free to chuckle now. As adorably naïve as we were with this endeavor, reading Dr. Liker's book was actually a life-changing experience for me. Even as a recent graduate of a decent business school, I had never once even heard of Toyota's incredible success story, must less anything about the Toyota Production System. But the principles and philosophy espoused in this book resonated with me deeply, way down in my bones.

With my mind sufficiently blown, I went to the 3-day training and learned all about the tools of Lean. Newly armed with all these Toyota Way principles and a Lean toolbox, I was excited to get back and teach it to all the folks back home. Everybody's going to love this stuff!

This was when my first great Lean lesson was learned: The fact that something is self-evidently awesome doesn't mean that anybody will care.

When I returned to my factory I put together a pretty darn good training course, successfully delivered it to every leader in the organization, received great feedback, and even facilitated a few successful 5S events right after the training. Like many Lean newbies, we thought training with a simulation was a great way to “get people fired up” and whatnot, and we thought 5S was the obvious right way to get started because it's fairly easy, inexpensive, and visually impactful.

Unfortunately, training and 5S are meaningless without purpose.

In our haste to get started, we failed to take the time to understand the overall direction in which we were headed with Lean, or to communicate the link between practicing Lean and achieving our top business challenges. Perhaps we just thought that if people were exposed to such a powerful and obviously awesome concept such as Lean, our leaders would naturally jump in with both feet.

That didn't happen.

What happened next? What lessons did Michael learn? Buy the book to find out.

From Paul Akers' Chapter

Here's an excerpt from Paul's chapter:

I've been doing this for 15 years and everyday is like this massive revelation to me on how much better I could be doing things. You'd think at some point I'd have it figured it out, right? But there's no chance.

It's so awesome. I always tell people it's like Edison's laboratory. I feel like I'm just experimenting doing the scientific method, you know, plan, do, check, experiment… run an experiment and see if it works. That's what Lean is. I'm constantly analyzing, “What is this? What's going to happen here? What's going to happen there?”

Mark asked me what would I do differently. The funny thing is I had just received an email asking me this very question, asking how would I have done things differently if I knew what I know now about Lean?

What would I do if I was starting over and just learning about Lean? I think it's a really good question. I don't think anybody has ever asked me that before. So I'm going to take myself back in time for just a minute.

I am putting myself in my small little one-man 2,400-square-foot cabinet-making business. I'm going to ask myself that question. What would I do? I'm just starting out and I just learned about Lean.

1. Understanding the Eight Wastes

I think the first thing that just comes to mind is that keen understanding of the eight wastes. I think I was oblivious to details of the eight different kinds of wastes. I understood maybe a little bit of excess motion and maybe walking a little bit, but I didn't really understand the whole overproduction thing.

Then I didn't understand that transportation and inventory was really all just waste. Then, the over processing because you have to rework all the defects. I needed a keen understanding of how all that works and then I would have just seen all the waste that I was producing in everything I was doing everyday. IF I had understood these concepts, I would have systematically gone about trying to reduce my batch size on everything.

What are Paul's other lessons learned?Buy the book to find out (again, proceeds go to a good cause).

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.



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