GA 051 | The Lean Transition with Ashley Bailey

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Today’s guest is Ashley Bailey, Managing Director of Klime-Ezee, a warehouse step manufacturer in Derbyshire, England. Ashley and I have been friends for a while now and I really enjoyed hearing him describe how he transformed his traditionally-minded organization into a lean-thinking one.

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

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Ashley’s background and how he got into continuous improvement (2:22)
  • The quotation that inspires Ashley (5:40)
  • When Ashley first discovered lean (6:32)
  • The beginnings of Ashley’s lean journey (10:13)
  • The aspect of lean Klime-Ezee has found most difficult to adopt (13:07)
  • The aspect of lean that Ashley himself has found most difficult to adopt (15:50)
  • What today’s Ashley Bailey would tell his past self (17:13)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Ashley (19:33)
  • The best advice Ashley has ever received (20:07)
  • Ashley’s personal productivity habit (20:59)
  • What has surprised Ashley in his last year of practicing lean (22:22)
  • What Ashley does to recharge and refocus (25:21)
  • The skill Ashley feels he needs to improve (26:45)
  • Ashley’s final words of wisdom (27:46)

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What Do You Think?

Can you relate to Ashley’s challenges? How so?

The Value of Less

35288The Wall Street Journal recently reported Porsche is limiting production despite an increase in demand for its vehicles.  Without going into too much detail on the article, the idea is that the brand should remain exclusive in order to maintain, or even drive up, its value.  It seems that value from the customer’s point of view in this case is not simply a high performance luxury car.  There is value (at least for some) in owning a car not everyone can have.  Value in the customer’s eyes is not limited to the car itself.

Limiting production could be an important part of providing value to the customer in other ways.  After all, it’s not just the widget the customer wants.  It’s important to be mindful of all aspects of value the customer is paying for.

Suppose a customer is using a widget as a component in their final product.  The customer reasonably expects a quality product on time.  On time delivery is agreed to by the supplier.  There is value in keeping the customer in production–value beyond that of the component itself.

There’s more at stake than short term sales

Now suppose the widget you make becomes more popular among finished product manufacturers or the demand for the first product increases beyond your capacity.  Increasing production obviously becomes a priority (assuming exclusivity is not the value you intend to deliver).  But is increasing production to match customer demand necessarily the right thing to do for the right reasons?

Of course giving customers what they need is what any business should do.  When resources are stretched, something invariably will give.  In supply crisis situations it can be difficult to remember what is best for the customer and for the supplier.

Growing too quickly can lead to problems.  Quality would be my first concern as increasing capacity rapidly often requires rapid changes in the infrastructure of the value stream.  Adding labor and production equipment takes time to do properly.  If rushed, these changes can cause more problems than they solve.

Rapid growth can be a curse

If a tree grows too rapidly, the bark can be stretched thin and split.  This leaves the tree susceptible to infection that could kill it.  The same holds true for business.

Growing too quickly could stretch resources beyond capacity.  The infection the business is susceptible to is a degradation of core values and principles for the sake of increased sales.  While revenue may increase in the short term, rapid changes could compromise the culture that made the business strong to begin with.

The customer wants the widget in higher quantities.  The customer also wants quality, reliability, predictability and on-time delivery from its suppliers.  A defective product delivered in large quantities is worth less than a quality product delivered in lower quantities.

I’m not suggesting that the supplier shouldn’t make every effort to meet customer demand.  The point is that all aspects of value must be considered in determining the rate of growth.  The integrity of the product and its underlying processes must not be compromised.  The reputation of the supplier is at risk and that reputation has value.

Consider the bigger picture just as Porsche has done.  Make decisions based on the long term health and success of the business even at the expense of short term profit.

 

 

GA 050 | Six Years Later: Our Journey

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During a recent meeting in Palm Springs, we sat down with each member of the team (except new Website Manager Luis Frigo) to discuss what it’s like to work for Gemba Academy. This unique episode is a great way to learn more about the early days of our company, the people behind the brand, and how we got to where we are today.

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

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Ron’s pivotal moment that contributed to the creation of Gemba Academy (0:35)
  • Co-Founder Kevin Meyer’s reflection on the past six years (2:05)
  • How Customer Care Manager Elaine Cressionnie is able to better serve our customers nowadays (6:44)
  • How Videographer Greg Nickell felt about creating our studio (11:50)
  • What Sales Manager Leslie Moles enjoys most about working with customers (12:45)
  • Why Director of Sales and Marketing Steven Kane is so passionate about GA (13:42)
  • What Business Manager Holley Seifert likes most about working for GA (15:53)
  • How Marketing Specialist Jessica Bush adds value to our marketing strategy (17:08)
  • How working for GA has empowered Executive Assistant Brita Quella (18:40)
  • What Business Manager Jennifer Scott finds exciting about joining the GA team (19:28)
  • What GA will be doing in five years, according to Kevin (20:50)
  • Greg’s take on the culture at GA (22:40)
  • Why Elaine loves working for GA (23:55)

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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 what our team has to say? How has your employer empowered or inspired you?

GA 049 | The Green Beret Way to Lead with Sam MacPherson

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Today’s guest is Sam MacPherson, former Chief of Training for the U.S. Army Special Forces, specifically the Green Berets. Sam currently serves as the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Lean Leadership Academy, based in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Sam and I discussed the similarities between the Green Beret training process and the process of developing a lean skill set. From Toyota to the U.S. Army, Sam’s diverse background creates a fresh approach to the lean principles we all know and love.

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

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Sam’s background and what he’s up to these days (2:25)
  • What it was like to work with the legendary Dr. Shigeo Shingo (4:57)
  • The quote that inspires Sam (6:44)
  • Sam’s relationship with the U.S. Army and the Green Berets (8:23)
  • How Sam connected the U.S. Army, the Green Berets, and Toyota (12:28)
  • What the Green Berets look for in a leader (18:38)
  • How Green Beret training compares to training lean leaders (23:12)
  • How the Green Berets continually cultivate leadership skills (26:52)
  • What employers can expect from Special Forces members(31:06)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Sam (34:29)
  • The best advice Sam has ever received (35:51)
  • Sam’s personal productivity habit (36:56)
  • The one thing that always surprises Sam (38:22)
  • What Sam does to recharge and refocus (39:38)
  • The lean-related skill Sam feels he needs to improve (41:07)
  • Sam’s final words of wisdom (44:47)

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What Do You Think?

What other industries or sectors can benefit from lean? How so?

Lean Thinker Challenge #8

startBy Ron Pereira

Welcome to another edition of the Lean Thinker Challenge!

The Situation

You’re an experienced lean thinker who recently joined a 75 person company that’s brand new to any sort of continuous improvement.

Your boss, the president, hired you to help them improve all aspects of their business including profitability and employee morale which, she hypothesizes, are highly correlated.

The Challenge

Upon walking into the facility you immediately notice how much basic 5S would help.  To call the place unorganized and chaotic is an understatement.

But, you also know the front office processes – specifically planning and scheduling – are in shambles so perhaps you should start there?

Then again, perhaps you should take a deep breath, do some basic lean awareness training, and then perform an extensive lean assessment before making a start.

All you do know, for sure, is you need to do something!

What should you do?

GA 048 | The Hidden Brain with Mark Jaben

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Today’s guest is Mark Jaben, a longtime Emergency Physician with a particular interest in brain chemistry and functionality. Mark and I explore the idea of the “hidden brain,” specifically how our prefrontal cortex dictates the decision-making process and how we can harness these principles to become better problem solvers.

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

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • Mark’s background and what he’s doing these days (4:38)
  • The two quotations that inspire Mark (7:56)
  • Why we should all care about brain science (8:43)
  • How our brains work when it comes to improvement (9:42)
  • Why and how our brains evolve as we get older (24:24)
  • What we can do to become better problem solvers (27:47)
  • The role diet and rest play in brain performance (35:40)
  • Ways you can learn more about how the brain works (37:40)
  • Mark’s unique take on “Respect for People” (39:35)
  • The best advice Mark has ever received (45:30)
  • Mark’s personal productivity habit (47:46)
  • What Mark does to recharge and refocus (53:18)
  • The skill Mark feels he needs to improve (55:29)

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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?

Do you believe brain performance affects continuous improvement practices? Why or why not?

Bowling Should Be Unnecessary

iStock_Bowling_Large

By Steve Kane

We often hear or read about work/life balance.  It’s as though work is thought of as not part of one’s life but as a countering force.  The very notion of balancing suggests conflict.  After all it is conflicting forces that keep a scale in balance.  Work, though, is a part of life.  And, it should enhance a person’s life instead of weigh against it.

Could the notion of work/life balance really be the desire to compensate for something that is missing–to fill a void?

Needs

A job offers us the basics for survival and security in modern society: a paycheck.  With this we buy the material things we need.  However, it takes much more than this to satisfy our needs.  Maslow established his hierarchy of needs as survival, security, significance (love and belonging), esteem (prestige and feeling of accomplishment), and self actualization.  The paycheck addresses the first two.  Employment (ideally) addresses the others.

People often join sports leagues to have some fun outside of work.  They seek involvement with others.  People want to belong and want to make a contribution.  But, why outside of work?

Our emotional needs of significance, esteem and self actualization are essential.  We’ll satisfy these needs however we can.  If we don’t fill these needs in one place, we’ll look in an other.  Of course this means if we don’t experience this sort of emotional fulfillment at work, we’ll look outside of work.

The Void

Work can’t fill all of our needs.  Love and intimacy are perhaps best kept out of the workplace.  What about or other needs?

The only way for an employer to get the very most of an employee is to provide the very most to the employee.  More money won’t do it.  Money relates to the fundamental needs of survival and security.  Once these needs are met, the contribution of money becomes less effective at filling needs.

Employees need to have their emotional needs met.  They need to belong–have a sense of community.  They need prestige and a feeling of accomplishment.  And, they need to make a significant contribution.  Work, it seems, is the ideal place for this.

When these emotional needs are met, people have a greater capacity for creativity, collaboration and accomplishment.  People  have more to give.

We expect people to leave many aspects of their personal lives out of the workplace.  At the same time, there’s not much of a chance that work can stay out of the personal life.  After all, work pays for the personal life.  The experience of work, good or bad, comes home with the employee.  When people feel important and accomplished at work, they tend to feel that way outside of work.  I think the opposite is also true.

Fulfillment

I’ve been fortunate enough to see this in action at work.  By giving employees more responsibility, autonomy, trust and respect, I saw operational performance improve.  Workers were treated like professionals and they rose to the occasion.  It seemed the employees stood a little taller.  They were happy when the came to work in the morning and happy when they left in the evening.

Sure, the employees still bowled and played softball after hours and on the weekends.  It just wasn’t as important to have their needs met that way.  They just didn’t feel the need so much to try to balance their lives with work.

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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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 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.

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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?