GA 047 | Developing a Lean Ecosystem with David Mann

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Today’s guest is David Mann. David is the author of Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions, one of my all-time favorite lean books. We discussed lean production versus management systems and the best ways to keep your senior leaders engaged throughout your organization’s  lean journey.

An MP3 version of this episode is available for download here.  

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • David’s background and what he’s up to nowadays (2:38)
  • The quote that inspires David (4:12)
  • Something you might not know about David’s book (6:42)
  • Whether lean production or lean management come first, and how they’re related (8:28)
  • Where organization should be focused first (14:04)
  • How to hold the interest of senior executives along your lean journey (18:42)
  • What “Respect for People” means to David (30:42)
  • The best advice David has ever received (31:44)
  • David’s personal productivity habit (32:59)
  • Something that surprised David in the past year (34:23)
  • What David does to recharge and refocus (35:39)
  • The skill David needs to improve to become a better lean leader (37:11)
  • David’s final words of wisdom (38:46)

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You can download it here. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Gemba Academy podcast on iTunes.

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What Do You Think?

What comes first, lean production or lean management? Why?

GA 046 | Lean in Japan with Mark Graban

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This episode’s guest is Mark Graban, VP of Customer Success at KaiNexus and longtime friend of Gemba Academy. Mark recently went to Japan on a special Kaizen Institute trip that included tours of hospitals, Toyota, and other lean facilities. During our conversation he shared what he saw and learned during his time abroad.

An MP3 version of this episode is available for download here.  

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Mark’s background (3:10)
  • Why Mark went to Japan (5:07)
  • Who Mark went with, and who led the trip (6:50)
  • Whether or not it’s easier to practice lean in Japan (8:47)
  • Mark’s experience at the Toyota plants (12:52)
  • The different hospitals Mark visited (17:44)
  • What Mark learned from Japanese Kaizen (22:50)
  • What Mark would change if he could go back in time to earlier in his lean journey (31:59)
  • The biggest obstacle to successful lean transformations, in Mark’s opinion (33:09)
  • What we can learn about decision-making from this year’s Super Bowl (37:02)

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If you enjoyed this podcast please be sure to subscribe on iTunes. Once you’re a subscriber all new episodes will be downloaded to your iTunes account and smartphone.

The easiest way for iPhone users to listen to the show is via the free, and incredible, Podcast app.

You can download it here. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Gemba Academy podcast on iTunes.

You can also subscribe via Stitcher which is definitely Android friendly.

What Do You Think?

What is your impression of Japanese lean vs lean in other countries?

GA 045 | Respect for People with Past Guests

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respect-for-peopleThis episode is a little different. Our good friend and past guest Jamie Parker suggested consolidating some of our most powerful “Respect for People” definitions for our listeners to enjoy, learn from, and reflect upon. Hearing both the central themes and varying perspectives is fascinating, and definitely inspiring.

An MP3 version of this episode is available for download here.  

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Jamie’s own definition of “Respect for People” (1:59)
  • Eric Ries’s definition (4:28)
  • David Meier’s definition (5:19)
  • Ron Pereira’s definition (8:12)
  • Kevin Meyer’s definition (9:58)
  • Steve Kane’s definition (12:27)
  • Jamie Flinchbaugh’s definition (14:25)
  • Adam Zak’s definition (15:50)
  • Mike Grogan’s definition (16:58)

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If you enjoyed this podcast please be sure to subscribe on iTunes. Once you’re a subscriber all new episodes will be downloaded to your iTunes account and smartphone.

The easiest way for iPhone users to listen to the show is via the free, and incredible, Podcast app.

You can download it here. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Gemba Academy podcast on iTunes.

You can also subscribe via Stitcher which is definitely Android friendly.

What Do You Think?

Whose definition resonates the most with you? Why?

It’s Not Supposed To Hurt

iStock_000048371420LargeBy Steve Kane

Getting Started

I bought a road bicycle a few years ago for physical fitness.  It seemed to be the most enjoyable and least painful form of exercise that I could do from home on a daily basis.  Riding, or spinning as cyclists call it, can be a really good time.

Things Change

My first real road bike was set up for fairly flat terrain, which was great for the area where I lived at the time.  I since moved to the hilly Central Coast of California.

The Central Coast is a great place to ride.  How great?  Its a bicyclist’s travel destination.  People travel here to spend their weekends riding through the vineyards.   The region is peppered with bicycle enthusiasts, bike clubs and open riding groups.

The pleasure of great riding companions and stunning scenery will outweigh pain for only a short time.  Just after moving here I found riding a bike was real work.  It’s funny how the hills look so nice from a distance and the roads don’t feel so rough in car.

I was beating myself up on some rides.  Riding a bike looked so easy for everyone else.  It seemed to be taking more out of me than I was getting out of it.

Over time I found I was riding less and less (I keep metrics on this with mapmyride.com).  After a while, I stopped paying any attention to the metrics.  How did I get from having a good time with the sport to avoiding it?  I got to the point that the riding experience had become more pain from saddlesoreness (lets face it those seats aren’t built for comfort), muscle burn, road vibration, and fatigue than pleasure from camaraderie and soaking in the scenery.  Riding had become a burden.

Improvement Needed

I didn’t want give up the sport, just the more painful parts.  I wanted to enjoy the sport, which meant I had to make some changes.

I replaced the drivetrain with one that was better suited for climbing hills.  The new drivetrain was also better for descending hills.  After all, the only reason to climb a hill at a snail’s pace is to race down the other side at top speed.

Wheel weight is a big factor.  It takes a lot of energy to keep spinning mass in motion.  Lighter wheels translate into higher speed for a given level of energy output.  So, I replaced those too.

An aluminum frame is a good entry level choice.  The upside is that it’s less expensive than carbon.  The downside is that it is so rigid that vibration from every bump in the road gets transmitted to directly to your hands and your nether regions (again, the seat isn’t built for comfort).  That can really start to wear on you over time and distance.   Aluminum is also a bit heavier than carbon.

Reducing discomfort means riding longer periods of time.  Shaving weight means less fatigue and higher speeds over greater distance.  I switched to a carbon fiber frame.

Having Fun

The result of the changes is that I am more enthusiastic about exercising and fitness.  I look forward to the challenge of climbing a hill because I wont wear myself out.  I ride faster and farther than before.  I experience more joy.  Having fun changes the way I think about exercise.  I enjoy thinking about exercise instead of avoid it.

On a recent ride, I was thinking about how my new bike experience applied to work.  The input of work is burden.  The outcome is accomplishment.  Continuous improvement is intended to reduce the burden while increasing the accomplishment.  Greater accomplishment with less burden generates greater joy.  Greater joy means increased engagement.  Increased engagement leads to further improvement.  Small changes can have a profound impact.

Eat, Sleep, Improve, Repeat

Sooner or later, the novelty of the new bike will wear off.  I’ll want to go even faster and farther than ever before.  Similarly the latest process improvement achievement at work will eventually become a minimum standard.  The improvement cycle (no pun intended) will start all over again.

GA 044 | Beyond Heroes with Kim Barnas

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kim-barnasToday’s guest is Kim Barnas, author and former Senior VP at healthcare network ThedaCare. We discussed the “hero approach” to problem-solving, the best ways to expose continuous improvement methodology to highly trained doctors, and overall how to manage the challenges of implementing lean in a medical setting.

An MP3 version of this episode is available for download here.  

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Kim’s background and how she was first exposed to lean (3:33)
  • The quote that inspires Kim (5:11)
  • All about Kim’s book (5:56)
  • What the “Hero Approach” is (7:50)
  • How to implement Lean and Six Sigma tools in a medical setting (9:20)
  • Some examples of problems that Kim has solved (11:10)
  • How to balance experimentation with the primary goal of saving lives (13:10)
  • What True North metrics are and why they matter (14:20)
  • All about financial stewardship (15:32)
  • Advice for healthcare employees interested in implementing lean (16:58)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Kim (19:55)
  • The best two pieces of advice Kim has ever received (20:36)
  • Kim’s personal productivity habit (22:37)
  • Kim’s final words of wisdom (27:46)

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If you enjoyed this podcast please be sure to subscribe on iTunes. Once you’re a subscriber all new episodes will be downloaded to your iTunes account and smartphone.

The easiest way for iPhone users to listen to the show is via the free, and incredible, Podcast app.

You can download it here. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Gemba Academy podcast on iTunes.

You can also subscribe via Stitcher which is definitely Android friendly.

What Do You Think?

Have you had experience applying lean to a healthcare setting? What challenges did you face?

GA 043 | Making Mistakes with Mike Grogan

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Today’s guest is Mike Grogan, who you may remember from another episode we recorded this past July. Mike is an incredibly insightful and passionate lean practitioner who has spent the past two years bringing continuous improvement to CCBRT, a health clinic in Tanzania.

Mike and I discuss his three biggest mistakes and what he learned from each one. This is one of our deepest and most emotional conversations to date, and I think you’ll find what Mike has to say incredibly powerful.

An MP3 version of this episode is available for download here.  

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What Mike has been doing since our first podcast (3:44)
  • The message Mike hopes listeners will take away from this episode (5:50)
  • Mike’s first big mistake (6:03)
  • Mike’s second big mistake (13:45)
  • The definition of “real lean” (20:18)
  • Mike’s third big mistake (23:25)
  • Why Mike wouldn’t go back and give advice to his younger self (30:52)
  • What’s next for Mike (33:14)

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If you enjoyed this podcast please be sure to subscribe on iTunes. Once you’re a subscriber all new episodes will be downloaded to your iTunes account and smartphone.

The easiest way for iPhone users to listen to the show is via the free, and incredible, Podcast app.

You can download it here. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Gemba Academy podcast on iTunes.

You can also subscribe via Stitcher which is definitely Android friendly.

What Do You Think?

What are the biggest mistakes you’ve made to date? What did you learn from them?

Lean Thinker Challenge #7

iStock_000026514261XLargeWelcome to another edition of the Lean Thinker Challenge!

The Situation

Your boss, the Senior VP of Operations, has approached you about starting to practice 5S throughout your 350 person manufacturing company.

His reasoning is quite straight forward… he feels disorganization and lack of standardization is directly related to the poor company performance of late.

He also senses employee morale is at an all time low and wonders if a cleaner, more organized, workplace will help.

Your boss has also made it clear that there is far more to lean than 5S… but feels this may be the best way to build some momentum.

The Challenge

Two years ago your company attempted to practice 5S.  All you really remember is that these super intense consultants came in to lead the charge, cheesy 5S banners were hung from the ceilings, and employees were told they could only have 1 personal picture/item on their desk.  In short, it was a disaster and the initiative died a quick, and painful, death.

So, now, even though you feel your boss has good intentions you have no idea how to approach these same employees who, you’re confident, will be skeptical and likely upset about having to do all this “5S stuff” again.

What should you do?

GA 042 | Lean for Retail & Service Organizations with Josh Howell

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This episode’s guest is Josh Howell, a Senior Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute. Josh’s role at LEI involves supporting co-learning partnerships, developing workshops, and running experiments to solve business problems across various industries.

Josh also spent nine years working for Starbucks, starting as a barista and ending up as a member of the company’s continuous improvement task force. The combination of his impressive background and accessible examples makes this episode appropriate for anyone at any stage of their lean journey.

An MP3 version of this episode is available for download here.  

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Josh’s background and how he first learned about lean (2:50)
  • The quote that inspires Josh (5:46)
  • Why the retail sector is interested in lean (6:56)
  • Examples of improvements Josh made at Starbucks (9:05)
  • Other challenges Josh faced working in the retail sector (19:11)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Josh (24:17)
  • The best advice Josh has ever received (31:07)
  • Josh’s personal productivity habit (32:06)
  • Josh’s final words of wisdom (39:02)

Podcast Resources

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If you enjoyed this podcast please be sure to subscribe on iTunes. Once you’re a subscriber all new episodes will be downloaded to your iTunes account and smartphone.

The easiest way for iPhone users to listen to the show is via the free, and incredible, Podcast app.

You can download it here. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Gemba Academy podcast on iTunes.

You can also subscribe via Stitcher which is definitely Android friendly.

What Do You Think?

In what other ways does lean apply to the retail sector?

Swimming With Alligators

Alligator swimming in marsh at Everglades National ParkBy Steve Kane

When I was a kid, I visited my dad at his office quite often. I remember he had a note on a corkboard that read “When you’re up to your [backside] in alligators, it can be difficult to remember your original objective was to clear the swamp.”  At the time I had no idea what this meant.

It’s good to be reminded of the fundamentals from time to time.

I’ve been working on process mapping off and on for a few weeks. What started off as an effort to better understand and document a process quickly turned into a vision of colorful, professional looking flow charts and diagrams.

I spent a few days searching the internet for just the right software application to create process maps quickly and easily. After downloading a free trial and going through some trial and error, I spent a couple of hours watching training videos to learn how to use this new tool.

After those few days went by, I had the software and some basic instruction, but no process map. I realized that I had invested a great deal of time into what I thought would help make the maps look good without creating a map. I had gotten nowhere.

All I really needed was a pen and paper.

I suddenly remembered Ron saying in one of his video segments “Use your wits instead of your wallet.” How many ways are there to say this? “Use creativity over capital,” “keep it simple. . .” I’m sure there are others.

I found myself more concerned about how the document would look instead of how it would work. Pretty (in this case) doesn’t add value for the customer.

I had overlooked a Lean concept I had learned from a mentor at the Northern Michigan Lean Learning Consortium. The idea is this: simple, visual and manual first.

Avoid the temptation to go straight to a computer to do something that can be done with pen and paper.  There’s a lot to be gained from manually writing, drawing, diagraming, scratching out and diagraming again.

Keep focused on your objectives despite your distractions.

Don’t put any more effort into an idea than is necessary to simply make it work.  Improve if necessary and stop at the point you no longer add value from the customer’s point of view.

Don’t wrestle alligators.  Get out of the swamp.

 

GA 041 | FedEx Office’s Lean Journey with Jamie Parker

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Today’s guest is Jamie Parker, one of my all-time favorite lean thinkers. Jamie is a District Manager for FedEx Office and her and her team are doing incredible work over there. I think you’ll find our conversation provides an interesting look into what continuous improvement is like at such a large, influential organization.

An MP3 version of this episode is available for download here.  

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Jamie’s background at FedEx Office (2:50)
  • How Jamie first discovered lean (3:22)
  • The quote that most inspires Jamie and what it means to her (4:40)
  • A detailed account of Jamie’s lean journey (6:29)
  • Jamie’s vision of an ideal lean culture at FedEx Office (8:24)
  • What this cultural change entails (10:17)
  • What Jamie and her team have learned (11:55)
  • Their biggest failure so far (16:55)
  • Jamie’s biggest accomplishment of 2014 (18:36)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Jamie (20:14)
  • The best advice Jamie has ever received (22:35)
  • Jamie’s personal productivity habit (24:40)
  • Jamie’s final words of wisdom (29:48)

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If you enjoyed this podcast please be sure to subscribe on iTunes. Once you’re a subscriber all new episodes will be downloaded to your iTunes account and smartphone.

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You can download it here. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the Gemba Academy podcast on iTunes.

You can also subscribe via Stitcher which is definitely Android friendly.

What Do You Think?

Can you relate to FedEx Office’s lean journey? How so?