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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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)

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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.

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?

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

GA 040 | Lean Safety with Robert Hafey

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This episode’s guest is Robert Hafey. Robert has an impressive corporate background including many years at the U.S. Steel Corporation and later conveyor belt solutions manufacturer Flexco.

Bob and I explored how he goes about improving safety performance using the principles of lean. I think you’ll find that the concept of Lean Safety is applicable to all industries, not just manufacturing.

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

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • The quote that inspires Robert (2:17)
  • Bob’s extensive manufacturing background (3:01)
  • What Lean Safety is, and what it isn’t (4:37)
  • All about Robert’s Lean Safety books and workshops (14:49)
  • The lean tools Robert uses to implement Lean Safety (17:10)
  • Robert’s advice for those interested in Lean Safety (19:26)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Robert (20:54)
  • The best advice Robert has ever received (23:22)
  • Robert’s personal productivity habit (24:31)

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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 experience, if any, with Lean Safety?

GA 039 | Developing a Lean Culture with Drew Locher

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drew-locherToday’s guest is Drew Locher, author of one of my favorite Value Stream Mapping books. We sat down at the AME conference in Jacksonville to chat about the different books Drew has written, as well as what it takes to develop a lean culture.

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

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Drew’s background and how he first got into lean (2:19)
  • The quote that inspires Drew (3:15)
  • Drew’s books and what you can learn from them (4:38)
  • How to develop a lean culture (6:55)
  • How to effectively coach your employees along the way (7:59)
  • Why you can implement lean using both long-term projects and small everyday improvements. (12:01)
  • Drew’s tips for strengthening your lean skill set (13:46)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Drew (15:53)
  • The best advice Drew has ever received (17:54)
  • Drew’s time-saving personal productivity habit (18:25)
  • Drew’s final words of wisdom (25:24)

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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?

How do you or would you go about establishing a lean culture at your organization?

The Value of Not Knowing

socrates1By Steve Kane

“If I am wiser. . . it is because I know that I do not know.” ~ Socrates

Is it possible that expertise on a particular subject can become an obstacle to learning and growth?

There comes a point when a person is more apt to be asked for knowledge or advice on a particular subject than to ask for it.  In the context of work, this person is the resident expert.  This is the person others go to to find out how something is done.  This person is certainly an asset in some respects.  But, can this person be a liability in others?

Of course, we could go on about the importance of standard work.  I’ll leave that for another article.  Instead I’d like to discuss the risk of being an expert.

The process stagnates with the knowledge of the expert.

The expert has “been there and done that” more times than one can imagine.  This person knows the job and knows that he knows the job.  This is why others go to him for knowledge and advice.  The learner might improve by going to the expert for coaching.  The process, though, doesn’t.  The process stagnates with the knowledge of the expert.

It seems that processes improve when we are humble and look with new eyes.  Standing in the Ohno circle with the mind of the expert leads to aching feet.  It is when we stand in the circle with the mind of a novice that we begin to open ourselves to learning.

Is expertise enough, or should more emphasis be placed on wisdom?

Simply giving information can hinder the learning process and weaken the skills of the learner.  Learning how to learn is more important than the subject matter to be learned.  We certainly want the learner to be able to do the job.  We also want the learner to think of a way to improve the process.

Instilling the belief that the method taught is the best could impede improvement thinking.  If the learner meets expectations by performing a skill as taught, improvement stops.  The expectation must be to find a way to improve upon the way being taught.

Sometimes the best wisdom to share with the learner is “I don’t know.”

We want people thinking for themselves.  In my role as a lean leader, I gave up trying to be the expert on everything.  Instead I embraced my ignorance.  People often came to me for direction or instruction.  It was when I answered questions with “I don’t know. What do you think?” that things really started to improve.

The universe abhors a vacuum.  Creating a void in expertise with “I don’t know” invites greater expertise.  This is when ideas are shared and explored.

Is there a better way?

I don’t know.  What do you think?

 

GA 038 | The Lean Journey with Cedric Brown

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In today’s episode, we’re sharing a conversation we had with Cedric Brown at the AME conference in Jacksonville, Florida. Cedric is President and Managing Partner of CMB Global Partners LLC, a consulting firm that helps companies accelerate learning and maintain the resulting improvements.

Cedric has years of corporate experience with plenty of industry knowledge to share. I think you’ll find his approach to continuous improvement both refreshing and easily applicable.

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

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Cedric’s background (2:51)
  • The quote that inspires Cedric (6:01)
  • How to convince senior management to adopt lean initiatives (7:25)
  • The differences between leader standard work versus more traditional standard work (10:10)
  • Cedric’s opinion on whether or not Lean and Six Sigma can coexist (13:55)
  • How Cedric addresses continuous improvement skeptics (15:25)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Cedric (18:53)
  • The best advice Cedric has ever received (20:02)
  • Cedric’s personal productivity habit (21:03)
  • Cedric’s final words of wisdom (29:33)

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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?

Can Lean and Six Sigma coexist? How so? If not, why?

GA 037 | The Evolution of Lean with Chet Marchwinski

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Today’s guest is Chet Marchwinski, the Communications Director of the Lean Enterprise Institute. We sat down at the International AME Conference in Jacksonville, Florida and talked about all things continuous improvement. This includes how lean has evolved over the years, where it’s going next, and some of Chet’s personal anecdotes of LEI leaders James Womack and John Shook.

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

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Chet’s role at LEI (2:45)
  • Firsthand stories about LEI Founder James Womack (4:18)
  • Things you might not know about current LEI CEO Jim Shook (7:30)
  • Chet’s take on the evolution of lean over the years (10:59)
  • What Chet thinks will be the hot topic of continuous improvement in five years (16:10)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Chet (21:10)
  • The best advice Chet has ever received (22:07)
  • Chet’s favorite personal productivity habit (24:17)
  • The two procedures Chet always sees in the best manufacturing plants (29:32)
  • About LEI’s Lean Lexicon: A Graphical Glossary for Lean Thinkers (32:09)
  • Chet’s final words of wisdom (33:57)

Podcast Resources

Subscribe & Never Miss New Episodes!

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Click to Subscribe in iTunes

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?

Where will lean be in five years? What will we be talking about?