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by LSSU Admin - Monday, 14 January 2019, 4:00 PM
Retrieved from: Lean Thinking
Anyone in the world
By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Digital is eating the world, as they say, and every industry is feeling it.

How do you steer a digital transformation? How do you decide on a purpose and strategy, and deploy a course of action?


We need to translate the eternal questions of strategy to suit our new terrain:

  1. What’s our Purpose?
  2. Where will we play?
  3. How will we win?
    1. What’s preventing us?
    2. What are our critical gaps in Technology, Customer Experience, People, Culture?
    3. What’s our overall approach?
  4. What capabilities are needed?
  5. What management systems are needed?

Job One, as ever, is defining our aspiration – not a trivial task in a world of tumultuous technological change!

Our best hope is to get close to our customer, and develop empathy thereby. What are her jobs, pain and gain points?

Proctor and Gamble and the great A.G. Lafley famously defined the critical ‘Moments of Truth’ as 1) Seeing the product on the shelf, and 2) Using the product at home.

These are correct, of course, and especially so for consumer goods. But even in this industry, as we digitize our offering, other meaningful pain and gain points arise, no?

How else to explain the explosive growth that some commodity products experience – even in the face of the incumbent’s overwhelming marketing might?

Such products can develop loyal social media followers who unite, communicate and promote the product for no outwardly apparent gain.

Clearly, there are ‘invisible’ and satisfying gains at work.

In my view, these invisible gains and satisfactions entail some form of ‘this product/service makes me better/smarter/cooler than I am’.

Seen in this light, our critical questions take on new meaning, no?

And this is a big reason why digital transformations are proving much more difficult – it’s not just about coding.

Here’s to a safe, healthy, big-hearted and prosperous 2019,


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by LSSU Admin - Monday, 7 January 2019, 9:27 PM
Retrieved from: Old Lean Dude
Anyone in the world
While we were extolling the virtues of 5S to our clients, we were also getting our PhD (Pile it Higher and Deeper) in neatly arranging stagnant files, videos, flyers, posters, banners, displays, and unusable electronics.
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by LSSU Admin - Monday, 31 December 2018, 4:19 PM
Retrieved from: Lean Thinking
Anyone in the world
By Pascal Dennis (bio)

"Think outside the box"

"Ducks in a row"

"Low-hanging fruit"

"Let's take this off-line"

Why do these and other corporate clichés make us cringe so?

Well, they're often used by lazy people to express stale, tired thinking.

If we haven't thought about something deeply, why burden people with inanities?

If we can't express an idea in a fresh way, why should anybody listen?


Secondly, clichés are often used by clueless people who want to sound intelligent, which can be unsettling.

(One wonders, "Why are there so many bozos around here?")

Thirdly, strategy & problem solving begin with a mature acceptance of reality. Clichés just get in the way.

Holy cow, that's a rhinoceros and it just did something nasty on the carpet!

A clear concise description of the problem. Effective countermeasures will eventually follow.

Now consider how a cliché-ridden mind might respond:

"We need to think outside the box, lean in and ask clarifying questions! There is some low hanging fruit here, and perception is reality.

Let's consider our scalable options, get our ducks in a row and create synergy between our silos!"

Want to bet the rhino will still be there in an hour?

Here's one last reason:

Leadership is about language.

Best regards,


Anyone in the world

How strong is your habit to reflect or to “study-adust” as part of the Plan-Do-Study-Adjust cycle? If you are like most people, myself included, your natural tendency is to jump from Plan-Do to Plan-Do. Yet scientific thinking requires reflection and adjustment! We have do practice the routine of reflection to build the habit. Experiments in “kata” […]

The post Kata: a practice routine for scientific thinking & reflection appeared first on Katie Anderson.

Anyone in the world
This past November, Kate McGovern published a new book entitled A Public-Sector Journey to Lean: Fighting Muda in Times of Muri, which documents the author's Lean journey based on her experiences at the New Hampshire Bureau of Education and Training

During a recent conversation with Kate, I asked her, “What are the different challenges public/government institutions face when beginning a Lean initiative compared to organizations in the private sector?” Here is her complete response:

Lean initiatives in the public sector face greater obstacles than their private sector counterparts in three areas: erratic and unreliable commitment of resources, risk-averse leadership, and the responsibility to serve dual customers. 

Let’s consider each component:

Resources: Elected officials who set public budgets must be persuaded to prioritize efficiency initiatives. Funding is often erratic and inadequate, lacking the staff resources necessary to train, facilitate, and coordinate improvement efforts.   

Risk-averse leadership: Aligning authority and responsibility at the gemba (like Toyota’s Andon cord) is counter-intuitive and frightening for traditional administrators. The multiple layers of checking give them a sense of security, making them reluctant to Lean processes. What if something goes wrong? What if it gets in the press?

Dual customers: The end-user customer is an individual applying for a building permit or a driver’s license, borrowing a library book, or reporting an emergency. The public is also customer, relying on the regulatory system for health and safety. For example, the public values the enforcement of building codes. Permit applicants value a fair, efficient process with courteous, professional staff to assist them. Consider a Lean event to design a process so that every qualified applicant receives a permit within two weeks. The team would identify why customers fail to meet the meet the qualifications, and develop countermeasures such as fact sheets, checklists and staff assistance. To ensure a quality outcome, the team would consider the purpose of each requirement and recommend modifications, if appropriate. Then, they would design the most efficient way to confirm compliance and validate eligibility. 

Are any readers currently part of a Lean initiative within a public-sector organization? Do you agree with Kate's overview of the specific obstacles faced when undertaking the improvement journey?
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by LSSU Admin - Friday, 14 December 2018, 8:30 PM
Retrieved from: Old Lean Dude
Anyone in the world
“The customer comes first, the dealer second, and
the manufacturer third.” Kamiya’s “Customer
First” philosophy was revolutionary for Toyota and bedrock in the philosophy.
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by LSSU Admin - Monday, 10 December 2018, 4:12 PM
Retrieved from: Lean Thinking
Anyone in the world
By Pascal Dennis (bio)

A common question, especially in industries that are just now learning the Lean Business System.

Problem solving is a kata - a set of core forms that we practice over & over, hopefully under the guidance of a capable sensei.

When practicing the problem solving kata, we pull in the tools we need including, Five Why, Ishikawa, Process Flow Diagrams, SIPOC etc.

It's a mistake to structure any problem solving discussion in either/or terms.

It's not Five Why OR Ishikawa OR Process Flow Diagram OR FMEA.

To paraphrase Hemingway, "it's all true." We pull in what we need.

Another common mistake is underestimating Five Why.

"Five Why is too simple for me. I want a more complex tool, because this is a complex problem. (And I am a very complex guy!)"


In consulting practice we've used Five Why to get to the root cause of complex design, supply chain and organizational problems.

Five Why is especially helpful when we've clearly defined a Direct Cause.

Often there are multiple causes, and we need to apply Five Why sequentially to get to the root cause of each.

A common failure mode is not understanding the three types of Root Causes - Inadequate Standard, Inadequate Adherence to Standard, Inadequate System.

These are derived from the splendid NASA and Loss Control literature & are invaluable because they point to actionable root causes.

In summary, problem solving is a kata and not unlike trying to hit a curve ball, shoot hoops, or hit a golf ball.

(All of which baffle me...)

You practice, practice, practice the core skills & movements.

Then, if you're very lucky, the day comes you can do it unconsciously.

Best regards,


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by LSSU Admin - Wednesday, 5 December 2018, 6:40 AM
Retrieved from: Lean – Katie Anderson
Anyone in the world

One might expect that all restaurants in Japan are operated with lean principles, but as I quickly learned when my family moved to Japan nearly four years ago, lean thinking and practice is not synonymous with Japanese culture. New Lean Post Article: “‘Roll’-ing Out Lean at Kura Sushi” In my latest article for LEI’s Lean […]

The post Lean Sushi Restaurant in Japan appeared first on Katie Anderson.

Anyone in the world

Gemba Academy just published a podcast that I recorded with Ron Pereira at the AME Conference in San Diego a month ago. Ron and I recorded our first podcast together in July last year, and it was great to get a chance to talk with each other once again. This time was even more fun, as it […]

The post Gemba Academy Podcast: How to Leverage Different Lean Experiences appeared first on Katie Anderson.

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by LSSU Admin - Monday, 26 November 2018, 4:26 PM
Retrieved from: The Lean Insider
Anyone in the world
Paul McCartney, while in the Beatles, famously claimed that “money can’t buy me love" --  According to author Richard D. Brimeyer, money also can’t buy Lean. Rick’s book Working Great! Lean Leadership Lessons for Guiding Your Organization to Excellence contains 52 lessons for leader-managers, each with challenges for applying the lesson. The format is particularly conducive to a leader’s book club.

I chatted with Rick recently to discuss his assertion that sustained Lean success is driven by a handful of critical behaviors by managers at every level of the organization. Here are some of his comments:

Unlike so many management fads (reengineering, quality circles, etc.) that have come and gone over the decades, Lean owes its endurance to the fact that it benefits all stakeholders -- customers, owners/funders, and employees. Waste doesn’t help anyone. Unfortunately, I believe a lot of organizations embark on a Lean expedition underestimating the behavior changes required of managers at every level.

Although important, the ultimate measure of success for any Lean expedition is not how many kaizen events are completed, but rather how many improvements occur outside of formal events. The latter ultimately comes down to creating a place where employees care, where they are willing to expend discretionary effort, and feel competent solving problems and removing waste. Creating that place is almost totally reliant on the behaviors they observe from their leaders day in, day out to ensure:
  • Everyone understands the relevance of their work. 
  • Employees feel appreciated for who they are as well as what they do. 
  • Pathways for growth are evident. 
  • Successes (and efforts) are regularly recognized. 
  • A fair and responsive system exists for dealing with performance issues when they occur. 
Regardless of what we say, employees believe what we do. So being clear on key behaviors for leader-managers is very important. Ironically, these behaviors are consistent with any excellent supervisor, regardless of whether they are working in a Lean environment where flow and pull are practiced or not. Thus, the word “Lean” in my subtitle is practically superfluous, but these key behaviors are absolutely essential for establishing a Lean culture.

My goal for the book Working Great! is to provide a simple and useful resource for leader-managers, regardless of their level or experience. I hope to take the mystery out of culture by tying it to the behaviors to which they can hold themselves, and each other, accountable.

What do you think of Richard's points? Does the behavior of leadership at your organization reflect the true goal of the Lean initiative?