Jon Miller

Total 1380 Posts

Can We Have Too Much Scientific Thinking?

The term scientific thinking has been used with increasing frequency in the Lean management community over the past decade. The idea is not new. There is little doubt as to its importance in continuous improvement, good management and good decision-making. The introduction of the so-called Toyota kata approach to improving

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Moonshots, Rocket Science and Taking Small Steps

This week we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by the Apollo 11 mission. After a sleepy half-century in which space exploration has been largely unmanned, interest in sending humans further out in space is growing at last from both commercial and government space programs. From a continuous

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The Lean Leader as Player-Coach

Player-coaches are far less common today than they were in professional sports a few decades ago. A few notable superstar players informally perform a similar role today, but under a dedicated head coach who guide the team. In modern business the player-coach is often an individual contributor who also serves

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The Guessing Game of Lean Leadership

“Eliminate slogans and exhortations asking the workforce for zero defects” or other such improvement targets, Dr. Deming set down as one of his fourteen principles. Yet this piece of advice ignored by even the most dedicated continuous improvement-practicing organizations around the world. There is something about a slogan that leaders

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Six Month Reflection Questions

A colleague recently suggested reflecting back seven years on what we learned and what we would do differently today based on that. Seven years is so long ago. It almost makes me dizzy to consider. The big issues and questions from back then seem minor or to have obvious answers

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Standard Work for Solving Crossword Puzzles

Lately I have been having fun solving daily crossword puzzles with my family. By reflecting on both mistakes and successful approaches, I have arrived at a strategy, even something like standard work, for solving crossword puzzles. Step 1: Plan Pinpoint the problem. As with any type of problem-solving, clearly understanding

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Review of The Lean Sensei by Balle, Chartier et al.

The Lean Sensei by Michael Ballé, Nicolas Chartier, Pascale Coignet, Sandrine Olivencia, Daryl Powell and Eivind Reke collects the co-authors’ wisdom to answer, “what is a lean sensei and what do they do?” The authors’ work in lean and agile is primarily in France, Norway and some other European countries, so

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A Surprisingly Simple Gemba Story

During a recent workshop, a customer asked me to share some inspiring Lean conversion stories. It was an impromptu request. I did my best but didn’t quite nail it. In hindsight, I think there is a difference between stories about Lean that inspire people who are just getting started or not

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How to Choose a Continuous Improvement Approach

Most business leaders are at least familiar with one or more of the popular modern management improvement approaches such as BPM, TQM, Six Sigma and Lean. In many large organizations, several of these are being attempted at the same time, across different parts of the company, at varying speeds, levels

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First, Make a Human Connection

A recent conversation with a friend of mine who is a continuous improvement director at a sizable North American corporation yielded some personal insights for him and general ones about being a technical change leader. This story is shared with his permission, in hopes that it will help someone else

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