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I don't have any “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” sales for you, but I can offer a giveaway that's co-sponsored by my friends at StoreSMART. They have been sponsors of for a few years now. Click the image below or click here to enter. The contest is open through Tuesday, December 10th. Also, please […]

The post Black Friday-ish Contest: Enter to Win One of Three Signed Copies of “Measures of Success” appeared first on Lean Blog.

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by LSSU Admin - Friday, 22 November 2019, 1:18 PM
Retrieved from: Lean Blog
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Healthcare – Creating Value for Patients Healthcare improvement is often done through QI projects in an “artisan” fashion.  To improve healthcare improvement, combat bias and us evidence according to Mary Dixon-Woods.  Her article elicited a response in the same publication. One would think that the incidence of leaving surgical objects inside patients would be a “never event”.  Not […]

The post Operational Excellence Mixtape: November 22, 2019 appeared first on Lean Blog.

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by LSSU Admin - Friday, 22 November 2019, 12:00 PM
Retrieved from: A Lean Journey
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On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"What is important is ideas. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn’t any limit what you can do with your...

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by LSSU Admin - Thursday, 21 November 2019, 1:52 PM
Retrieved from: The Lean Insider
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John Dyer published a very interesting book in September entitled The Façade of Excellence: Defining a New Normal of Leadership that challenges most conventional thoughts about leadership and its role within organizations. His book contends that leadership actually has many dimensions and several definitions, and it explores four different styles of leadership: The Crisis Leader, The Idea Gathering Leader, The Team Forming Leader, and The Empowerment Leader.

I spoke with John recently and asked him: “Why must there be a ‘new normal’ for leadership?” Here is his full response:

It has been nearly four decades since the NBC documentary “If Japan Can… Why Can’t We?” was first aired.  This program was a massive wake-up call and prompted the creation of initiatives such as Total Quality Management, Lean, and Six Sigma.  While some progress has been made, most organizations, especially outside of manufacturing, are still using old, outdated management practices such as fear, management by objectives, and hierarchical organizational structures.  
Recently, I asked on social media the question: “If you had one word to describe the main ingredient to sustain and expand an improvement initiative, what would it be?”  A word cloud was created to show the most popular results.
Take notice of the two largest words: Leadership and Commitment.  These were followed by: Culture and Buy-in.  You may also notice words like: Engagement, People, Communication, Trust, and Vision.  These are all words associated with questions such as:  “How do we improve our organization’s culture?  Why won’t my leaders fully and wholeheartedly commit to something that seems so obvious to many of us trying to make a difference?  What will it take to get my boss to fully buy-in to allowing teams of employees the opportunity to improve the way things are done (and at the same time, how do we get the employees to trust us and fully buy-in as well)?”

It is interesting that ‘Leadership’ and ‘Commitment’ had similar results.  This reminds me of the old joke that when making breakfast, the hen is involved but the pig is committed.  Commitment means completely tearing down all of the old ways and defining a new ‘normal’ of how things are done at every level within the organization.  Unfortunately, many managers think that it is sufficient to do the bare minimum and try to fake their way to achieving excellence.  They might allow a couple of teams to be formed (with no real authority to change anything) or spend some money on training (but not attending the classes themselves since they are so busy or it is beneath them) or ask their employees for ideas on how to improve (with little to no resources dedicated to implementing these ideas).  All they are doing is creating a flimsy façade of excellence that crumbles at the first sign of trouble. 

A new definition of leadership is required at all levels, from the Board of Directors to Executives to Supervisors.  My bookbuilds the case for change and presents a step-by-step roadmap that leads to collaboration that will put your organization on the path toward achieving excellence.

What do you think of John's perspective? Do the management problems John details here exist in your organization?
Anyone in the world

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is the oldest children's hospitals in the United States. I don't think I've ever been there, but I remember them having Lean improvement efforts going back to the mid 2000s when I first moved from manufacturing to healthcare. Children's hospitals, in general, are even more amazing places (compared to a […]

The post How Does a Loving & Caring Organization Get Accused of Treating People This Way? appeared first on Lean Blog.

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by LSSU Admin - Wednesday, 20 November 2019, 12:00 PM
Retrieved from: A Lean Journey
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Business organizations are complex entities that strongly depend on internal procedures and new technologies, but the truth is that people make the essence of every system. After all, your employees are those who need to understand and execute business ideas in order to make the company function properly.
But if you want to achieve this level of professional productivity, you need to become a genuine leader who inspires people and encourages them to give their best for the benefit of the entire...

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I was asked to write this article for, which I am reprinting here with their permission. Younger Workers Crave Instant Gratification. Here's How to Give It to Them Without Causing Distraction.   OK, I'm squarely “Gen X” but I was asked to run with the idea that Gen Z “craves instant gratification.” As with […]

The post Are Younger Employees the Only Ones Who Want Fair, Real-Time Feedback? appeared first on Lean Blog.

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by LSSU Admin - Tuesday, 19 November 2019, 12:00 PM
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This is the fifth post on my series on the inner workings of the Amazon Fulfillment Center. Here I will look at the software that runs behind all the processes and makes this performance possible. Other companies would probably plaster the label “Industry 4.0” all over this, but at Amazon they just do it. Please … Continue reading The Inner Workings of Amazon Fulfillment Centers – Part 5
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Today, I'd like to celebrate my friends at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Iowa for being one of six healthcare organizations to receive the 2019 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Read more in this news story or this press release. MGMC is the first Iowa organization to receive this award. Among the factors that led […]

The post Congrats to Mary Greeley Medical Center for Receiving the Baldrige Award! appeared first on Lean Blog.

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by LSSU Admin - Monday, 18 November 2019, 4:00 PM
Retrieved from: Lean Thinking
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By Al Norval (bio)

As the parent of two children, I often found myself trying to protect my kids from failure. As I reflect back on that now, I’m not sure I always made the right decisions in doing so. How could I expect my kids to learn if they never experienced failure. Even more difficult, how do I get them to be more comfortable with failure. Anyway, more on the dilemmas of parenting in another blog.

The same principle holds true in Lean as we apply the Scientific Method to problem solving. In the scientific method we set out a hypothesis and then run experiments to test our thinking. The test needs to be binary – it either succeeds in which case we implement and standardize our countermeasure or it fails in which case we need to develop another countermeasure.

The key to the scientific method is that we learn something in both cases which is why it is critical for organizational learning. Not only do we learn when we succeed but we learn how not to do things when we fail. In fact, many times success only comes after repeated failure. Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, is a great example of someone who embodied this principle.


But what happens if we apply the scientific method, develop a hypothesis and run an experiment on things we already know and understand?

Result – we can follow the methodology but no organizational learning occurs.

To learn we need to run experiments and test things where we don’t know the outcome. This leads to the mantra:

“Experiment, Fail, Experiment again, Fail Again but this time Fail better”

Failing better means we’re learning. We’re learning what doesn’t work which means we’re closer to learning what will work. This learning allows us to develop more creative and innovative countermeasures to address the problem. Combine this with “Fail Fast” and we have the formula for rapid innovation within organizations. As a side note, “Failing Fast” doesn’t necessarily help an organization if they aren’t learning from their failures.

For leaders this means becoming comfortable with failures, encouraging teams to try new things and ensuring the salient learning points are captured from the experiments.

Doing so will help ensure organizational success and wise leaders know, it’s only a thin line that separates success from failure.



In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

KAIZEN – Small Changes vs. Monster Projects
Is Inventory a waste or a cover-up of deeper waste?
7 Basic Quality Tools – Are they underrated?
What Does Leader as a Teacher Really Mean?