The Essential Lean Blogosphere of 2008

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Welcoming A New Voice
As one of the elder statesmen of the lean community, John Shook is an important new voice to join the lean blogosphere in 2008. In this weekly post he takes a deep look at what give Toyota strength and flexibility, and how GM failed. He asks “Survive to Make Money or Make Money to Survive?” I look forward to more of John’s insightful perspective in 2009 as Toyota faces new challenges.

Structure Our Days Around Going to See

Kevin Meyer wrote at Evolving Excellence is adept at generating envy while enlightening, writing sharp blog entries on his laptop on the hood of his Ferrari on the deck of his 700 foot yacht moored off of Tahiti. On a serious note, Kevin reflects while taking a walk on the beach on the importance of really seeing and sensing rather than believing and not seeing. Not seeing what is in front of us, due to various habits, biases, or simply wishful denial, is what prevents us from doing kaizen. That may be part of the answer to the question by Mark Rosenthal at the Lean Thinker, Why Doesn’t Daily Kaizen Happen? Speaking of which, Ted Eytan at Daily Kaizen gives practical advice on his Guide to Bringing Your Boss to the Gemba. Taking people to the actual workplace to observe and learn is an important step towards seeing and sensing what is really happening. Mike Wroblewski at Got Boondoggle? who is always ready with a great story from the front lines of lean implementation offers an insightful reflection about the importance of going to see and listen, the importance of how information flows, and communication within the value stream. Making the standard process visible, going to see and making kaizen a structured part of your day is what Michael Lombard of the Lean Builder writes about in his succinct review of the book Creating a Lean Culture. And we can read a great real life example of this in practice at the Training Within Industry blog in an article titled Working in the Standard Work Cycle. A learning dialog takes place on gemba around the PDCA cycle of continuous improvement. As a daily personal practice of this, Pete Abila from Shmula demonstrates how the “check” in PDCA need not be an act of control but can be an act of caring when it is done with love and respect in Visual Management and Self Reliance.
Measure, Stop and Improve
The Venture Hacks blog has taken growing interest in lean. The Laws of Productivity
article pointed me towards some important concepts that as an entrepreneur I am reflecting deeply on and attempting to practice some of these things. There is so much room for improvement in my productivity as a knowledge worker that it makes me dizzy… How much of our days are spent in process firefighting instead of building processes, people and relationships with customers? Even a little is too much. This was illustrated skillfully with a story by Mark Graban at the Lean Blog. Helping to prevent the firefighting behavior is the behavior Tom Southworth at Lean Printing wrote about in Pulling the Andon Cord on Yourself. Stopping to call attention to an abnormality is detected is a way of working and taking personal responsibility essential to the kaizen mindset. John Hunter at Curious Cat blog wrote about the importance of using Information Technology and Business Process Support, using the help you have around you more effectively. There is so much to like in Ron Pereira’s blog Lean Six Sigma Academy and I’m always learning from him. My favorite in 2008 was not anything he wrote but the demonstration of his skills in front of the camera in Oranges, Pebbles and Sand. Ron reminds us that matter how much you improve, there is always more kaizen we can do.
What I Learned from the Lean Blogosphere in 2008

Thank you to everyone for sharing and giving. It takes time and commitment to write down your thoughts and read the writing of others day in and day out for years. Many other bloggers and articles from 2008 were very insightful and I only wish there was more time to read, comment and reflect on all of them every day. The three things I will take into 2009 from all of this are:

  1. Measuring my productivity in terms of value added output / hours input
  2. Pulling the andon cord on myself more frequently
  3. Using information technology and resources on my team as enablers

Special Mention: the award for the best six sigma blog article of 2008 goes to Snoop Dogg, the Business Geek at Shmula. How would we set up a DOE to disprove the hypothesis that it is nothing but a G thing, Pete?