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Friday, January 29, 2010

Toyota Way Authors

As you know, we are bringing the two co-authors of Toyota Way books, David Meier and Mike Hoseus, to Vancouver as part of our Executive Program for March 24/25th.

What you might not know, however, is the following facts:

- Mike's similar workshop at the most recent AME Lean Conference was rated number one among all workshops
- The two-day session is almost full, with only several spots left
- we are giving away one free spot (travel expenses not included) for this event next Monday. You have to sign up as a "follower" on the right to have an opportunity to win (value of $2000)
- David and Mike will bring new insights that you will be able to use immediately
- If you register and pay by Jan 31st (that's this weekend), you will receive a free 4-hr video of last year's three authors' (Dr. Liker, David Meier, Mike Hoseus) presentation at the LSI Summit conference (value of $600).

Want to know what the session will be like?  Take a peek at our youtube video of last September's Lean Summit, where three authors of Toyota Way books spoke at LSI's most successful conference.  While Dr. Liker will not be part of this upcoming session, you will get a pretty an idea of the level of quality of the speakers.

Don't miss the event!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Little unknown fact about Toyota's Recall

As most of you know, Toyota announced a recall of 2.3 million cars and halted immediate sales of the following cars due to an unintended acceleration problem:
• 2009-2010 RAV4
• 2009-2010 Corolla
• 2009-2010 Matrix
• 2005-2010 Avalon
• 2007-2010 Camry
• 2010 Highlander
• 2007-2010 Tundra
• 2008-2010 Sequoia

A few people have called me and asked if I could provide any insights.  While I am going to refrain from attempting to explain in detail about what might have caused the issue, one common theme becomes very evident when I saw the list above.

First, all of the cars above are US-built cars, and second, they all use an accelerator mechanism built by two suppliers: Denso and CTS Automotive.  The Japan-produced Camry hybrid and Highlander hybrid, for example, are NOT in the recall list.

What is fascinating is that the Denso-supplied acceleration mechanism does not appear to be causing the issues. In fact, the reported issue appears to be coming from vehicles equipped with CTS automotive-supplied parts.  It's interesting to note that Denso - Japan's largest automotive supplier and Toyota's number-one rated supplier - is supplying an accelerator system that is slightly differnt than CTS's.  CTS Automotive, which is now in the center of this investigation, is an American-based supplier located in Indiana.

I am not in a position to point fingers or make any dramatic statements, but yes, there is a "pattern" and "cause and effect" going on here.  I am sure that once Toyota completes the investigation, the root cause will be crystal clear, but this is as much insight as I can provide at the moment.

I am careful to point out that this is not a "Japan vs US" supplier issue, nor am I implying that US-built cars are inferior to Japan-built ones. In fact, in JD Power's quality surveys, the US-built cars are often rated the same or even higher than Japan-built vehicles. 

I am simply pointing out the facts and you can make your own conclusions.

So how is Toyota handling to solve this problem?

On Jan. 11. 2010, Yoshi Inaba, president of Toyota North America, said that Toyota, will deal with the first recall involving floor mats, by installing a brake-override system on all new Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles, beginning this month. He also said the new system and reshaped pedals "absolutely" should resolve the problem of unintended acceleration. "Inaba was appointed to his post last year to deal with sagging quality and increased recalls affecting Toyota's North American–built vehicles. We must be closer to the market. Every day is a lesson. This is one we learned the hard way," said Inaba.

As you would expect from Toyota, they are not HIDING the issue or running away from it.  For that matter, they are facing it head-on and solving it actively in a spirit of kaizen.  You may want to note that the recalls are "voluntary recalls," meaning that Toyota was not forced to recall by the authorities.  They are proactively recalling the vehicles to ensure that all possible causes are eliminated immediately, to ensure the safety and satisfaction of their customers.

 Toyota is not a "perfect" company, but instead, I see them as a "learning" and "problem solving" company.  They will learn from this and emerge as a stronger company, I am sure.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday break in San Diego

Since it's Sunday, I am not posting an official blog per se (I do need a break from time to time), but here are few photos I took today as I arrived in San Diego.  I didn't realize that San Diego area has a great number of pelicans that look like they are straight out of Jurassic Park movie.  They are absolutely gigantic!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Busy week!

So what are we up to this coming week?  It looks like another busy time for LSI coaches, who are kicking off a variety of programs this week:

David Chao and Hilda Henry are in San Diego this week, to be involved in a MBTI session and to "scout" out potential area for next executive programs (nothing wrong with having an executive program in San Diego Zoo, right?).

Andrew McFadyen and Joey Higuchi are kicking off an in-house Lean 101, followed by Vancouver Winter Greenbelt (which has a very large class!).

Bob Low is heading to Toronto to deliver in-house Lean Gemba session, which involves some lean training and 5S Blitz.

That's just this coming week - the first two weeks of February will also see a start of Greenbelt in Calgary and Toronto!

San Diego at night

I'm the lucky one this week as I get to go somewhere warm, but since I go to very cold (hint: -30 or colder) places more often than anyone else, hopefully my staff will forgive me this time around....

Have a great weekend!


Jim Murphy publishes his second book!

Jim Murphy, who has spoken at a number of our programs as a guest coach, has just published his second book, "Inner Excellence."  An inspiring former baseball coach talks about how you can achieve extraordinary success through "mental toughness" and "mindset for growth."

At our Executive, Blackbelt, and Greenbelt sessions in the past, Jim talked about how top athletes achieve amazing performance through changes in how they think, visualize, and imagine.  Jim also talked about the story of Lewis Gordon Pugh, a long distance swimming champion who achieved breakthrough results.

Jim is a former professional baseball player and a coach, and has a new website:

In his new book, he briefly mentions my name and Lean Sensei - thank you Jim!  He has inspired many of us to strive to be our best, and I am sure that he can change the way you look at your life, your business, and your family.

What does Jim says about success?

Those who excel under adversity are those who:

Lead with their heart.

Have an expansive vision.

Have learned how to be fully present.

Are unattached to their biggest goals, yet still passionately pursue them 100%.

Have a powerful purpose, one that’s meaningful and fulfilling.
Check out his book at or

What people say about his book:

"Your analysis of how elite athletes need to think and train is 100% spot on. Inner Excellence is a valuable tool for athletes and coaches who want to understand how to succeed."
- Lewis Gordon Pugh, Long Distance Swimming Champion and Environmental campaigner

"Jim is an expert in his field. Inner Excellence transcends athletics and will have a profound effect on everyone who applies these methods in their life."
- John Kehoe, International best-selling author, Mind Power into the 21st Century

"A powerful coach... Truly inspiring."
- Nick Ugoalah, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist, wrestling

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Please VOTE!

It's only been a few weeks since we launched our LSI blog, but it has been received very positively by our clients and associates!  We are eager to improve this site everyday and in every way possible, so please help us - all you have to do is to "vote" your preference on the right.  You will see immediate "real time" results so that you will know what people are thinking about when it comes their preference for this blog.  Please contribute!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

BMW Germany Visit

As previously mentioned, we are comtemplating a Blackbelt European edition, in which Blackbelts will visit Porsche and BMW factory in Germany.  Some people enquired about the program as an independent session (apart from Blackbelt), and we are happy to report that it will likely be offered as an Executive Certification Program as well.

I just finished a comprehensive column on my visit there for 15 newspapers around the country, so I have attached the actual article below (some of you will recall that I still write a syndicated column for about dozen newspapers around the country):

BMW Germany Visit Article

Organizations support Haiti Relief

Hundreds of organizations around the world are supporting Haiti rescue mission. 

We are particularly encouraged that many of our clients/associates are supporting this mission.  Here at LSI, we just made a contribution to World Vision in this regard, but we were also just informed that Canadian Pacific has made a significant contribution to Haiti relief. While this is not an official press release, here's a brief outline of how CP handled the contributing program:

CP donates $50,000 to Haiti earthquake relief

Canadian Pacific has made the choice to step up and help a nation that desperately needs it. We know that across our network, employees are giving what they can and we will continue to match your donations through the Employee Match program. We applaud and support each of you who decides to make the personal choice to help.

But the need is pressing and extreme, and as a result we have decided to supplement your generosity with an immediate corporate donation of $50,000 to the Red Cross and Save the Children Funds.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Porsche Factory visit for Blackbelt?

Porsche Blackbelt program?

As you know, our highly respected Blackbelt Certification program has been running for almost 8 years now.  For the first few years, the program included a trip to San Francisco to visit Toyota/GM joint venture, NUMMI.  As part of our continuous improvement initiative, we found ways to reduce cost while improving the content, and in 2006, we begin to offer Japan program as an upgrade - a major upgrade - to the Blackbelt curriculum.  Since the very beginning of the Japan program, we have taken several hundred people to such places as Toyota factory, Denso plant, and Daiwa House factory - where homes are built like cars.

However, now that many of our clients have gone to Japan with us, we are considering offering a slightly different version of the Blackbelt. Although this is still in concept development stage, we are investigating whether potential Blackbelts will consider a Blackbelt progam with Germany Lean Tour as an alternative to Japan Lean Tour.  If this becomes a reality, the trip will include a visit to the acclaimed Porsche Factory in Stuttgart, as well as the BMW Munich plant tour.  Both locations will include a visit to their famed corporate musuems, where you can see history and future at the same time.

Just curious....are you guys interested in such program?  Would you consider a Blackbelt European edition vs Blackbelt Japan edition?

Please give us some feedback - either through the comment section or just write to us at:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to be a "follower"

It seems that some people had trouble signing up as a "follower", so here's brief SOP:

1. Click on follow on the right column:

2. If you already have an account with one of the programs listed, click on the icon and sign in as usual.  Skip to step 5

2. If you do not have an account with the programs listed, click to to make a google account (note that you are not making a new google email account, just a google account to be a follower - you will not receive more spams as a result).  Continue to step 3 (below)

3. fill in the form

4. click I accept

5. Enter your name.

6. Upload a photo of yourself (optional)

7. You are now a follower of LSI’s blog!

Advantage of being a follower of this blog?  You get immediate notification of the actual blog post without accessing the site itself, and you will be entitled to receive some information or materials through our blog contests.

If you wish to receive complete instruction, please click on the link below:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Lean Reflections Book Give-Away!

We have an extra copy of my "Lean Reflections" coffee-table book in our office, and I decided to give it away to a person who provides the most helpful or insightful comment on the Haiti situation (see blog post below this one).  You will need to join as a follower to make a comment.  We look forward to hearing from you.  As this blog is still new, people might not know how to make a comment, but please give it a try.

Here's the full preview of the book if you are not sure what it looks like:

Can Lean help Haiti?

Can Lean help Haiti?

It is so sad to hear about the ever escalating situation in Haiti.  Just watching CNN and hearing the latest news is enough to make you think about "life" in general and to be more appreciative of what we have here in North America.  My family is also now discussing if there is anything we can do to help - even if in some minor way - to get them off the ground and recover quickly.

I guess providing donation is one way we can do that (last year LSI gave a $5000 cheque to World Vision at our Lean Strategy Summit, and my family sponsors 17 World Vision kids), but is that enough?

Then I begin to think . . .  could "lean thinking" influence the rescue mission?  Could lean supply chain get food and supplies there faster?  Could lean mindset help people to stay positive?  Could lean manufacturing help them recover faster by becoming more self sufficient in producing essential needs?  I can't help but keep asking more questions, though the answer is not clear.

I do feel that somehow, lean principles can help, because "can do" attitude, "teamwork", and "coaching" - three main elements of being a sensei - surely could do no harm to help them stabilize their emotional state and provide a bit of hope in the midst of this catastrophe.

The Pastor of the church I attend (Tenth Alliance Church in Vancouver), who incidently is a Japanese/Canadian person - is a board member of World Vision.  And because of our close relationship with World Vision, I am hoping that somehow we can lend hand or assistance to World Vision's team that is involved in the Haiti rescue mission.

I would love to hear about your thoughts and ideas on this subject. Are there things we can do to help the rescue mission in some way?  Could we streamline the flow of supplies through lean methods?  Whatever is your idea, let us know (I've turned on the comment section so that you can comment directly on this blog).  Please click on the "comment" link at the bottom of this post to publish your comments. Please note that you will need to be a "follower" to add comments.

For a complete update of the Haiti situation, please go to CNN site at:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What's happening?

What's happening?

A lot, actually.  Andrew McFadyen and I am in San Francisco conducting a supply chain kaizen (using grocery simulation as a kickoff workshop), Joey/Bob are in Calgary doing a Greenbelt, and most of our support staff are busy getting ready for the upcoming programs.  In the next 4 weeks, our coaches are delivering or conducting sessions in Toronto (kaizen), Calgary (Greenbelt), and of course here in Vancouver (Lean 101s).  And it looks like I'm off to Japan (assesssment) and Australia (supply chain kaizen) as well, which keeps all of us very busy!  If any one of you would like to assist or be part of our ever-evolving kaizens as a guest faciliator or guest speaker, please let us know - we welcome past Greenbelts and Blackbelts to join us!  Is anyone interested in helping me at any of the future workshops or kaizens in international locations?

David and Andrew are conducting a supply chain workshop
(grocery simulation above)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Great coaches know how to tell a story

Good Story Telling

Great instructors, speakers, and trainers always tell stories - because "story telling" brings ideas, concepts, and methods into a single "thought" or "reflection" point.  In fact, studies conducted by psychologists indicate that when people tell stories, different elements of our brain signal light up and we instinctively connect with the speakers.

Based on LSI's experience, however, story telling is only effective when combined with other delivery methods, such as simulations, ice breakers, animations/videos, group discussions, etc, - to make the entire process seamless, entertaining, and educational at the same time.

I think many of our past students of Greenbelt class have seen this slide, but for those of you who have not, here's a PDF copy of a single slide "story telling" cheat sheet.  It shows that the best way to conduct a flawless workshop is to follow these elements in sequence (though you can start anywhere in the circle).  I like to start from the "Tell a Story" section, but sometimes I start from "Simulation" or "Show Real Examples".  The trick is to work around the circle and try to deliver at least some elements of each section.  A good instructor or trainer will work around these elements in about an hour, so that participants feel that the seminar is moving along at a good pace.

If you do it right, people who are in your seminar will never get bored and will stay engaged.  My suggestion is to print this out in full color and carry a laminated version of it.  Even if you are doing a casual "on the fly" talk with no preparation whatsoever, having this sheet in front of you will provide some framework and structure.  Give it a try.
Coach Story Telling - Web


Here I am at 9:23am, stuck at YVR for almost 4 hours.  I have been here since before 6am, for 7:55am flight to San Francisco. I came early partly because of the expected delays to the US destinations, but I got through the line fairly quickly (NEXUS helps - it's definitely a lean solution).  The flight got delayed by 2 hrs due to fog in SFO.  Since I went to bed late, I wished I knew this and I could have slept a bit more!  I was thinking how the entire airport system can be improved so much by applying lean principles; for example, no one knows exactly what you are allowed to bring on board despite announcements by the airport authority, because so much of the decisions are on "descretion" basis by the inspectors.  Only if they can use visual system and provide photo examples of acceptable laptop bags, carry-on, etc.  Could our former Blackbelt and Greenbelts please suggest some changes to the airline/airport system?

On interesting note, looking up "optimal sleep" brought up this interesting tidbit, which should be a good reminder for me as I don't often get enough sleep.  Right now, I just feel like taking a nap, like our beloved pet Simba above.

"How much sleep do we need?"

According to Daniel Kripke, co-director of research at the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center in La Jolla, Calif., studies show that people who sleep between 6.5 hr. and 7.5 hr. a night, as they report, live the longest. And people who sleep 8 hr. or more, or less than 6.5 hr., they don't live quite as long. There is just as much risk associated with sleeping too long as with sleeping too short. The big surprise is that long sleep seems to start at 8 hr. Sleeping 8.5 hr. might really be a little worse than sleeping 5 hr.

Source: Time Magazine

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Enjoying the moment

Enjoying the moment:

Today is Sunday, so I am taking it easy.  But I do enjoy good photography, so here's one of my favourite photos taken from Quadra island last summer.  It was a photo of the beautiful sunset taken during LSI's company retreat, where we had virtually every employee + family out for a great fun in Quadra island.  We had fun but more importantly, we "reflected" on the importance of friendship and family.  Enjoy (click on the photo for the high resolution version).

Win: David Meier and Mike Hoseus Event


Lean Sensei is proud to host a truly special two-day Executive session in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada with two of the top authors of Toyota Way books: Mike Hoseus and David Meier.  Based on unprecedented response from the 2009 September Lean Strategy Summit – where three authors of Toyota Way books spoke – we are bringing back the two most sought-after lean authors of the decade.  Drawing from years of experience dealing with some of the best companies in the world, Lean Sensei’s Executive Sessions will provide insight on how Lean Culture and Talent can be developed and sustained through Toyota Way principles.

At the end of this month, we will be doing a draw from those who registered as "followers" for one free spot for this amazing event.  The value is $2,000.  

With limited space available, we expect this session to “sell out” early so we encourage those interested to register early. Only 50 spots will be available.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Time for 5S!

5S Audit Sheet

Did you know that even the mighty Toyota views 5S as the "fundamental and critical tool for success"?  Some companies feel that once they are at the advanced stage of lean, they no longer need to do 5S because they think 5S is "for beginners."  Not true, because the fundamental principles of 5S (Sorting, Stabilizing, Shining, Standardizing, and Sustaining) are core tools that never become obsolete.  In fact, here at LSI, we are in the 5S mode, and we are starting the new year with an absolute focus on 5S - from our office to documents.

For those of you who are already doing 5S and want a quick template to perform "Audit" - here's a free template you can use.  Let's make 2010 the year of 5S!
5S Audit Sheet

And a simple 5S poster for you to use at your office or operations:

Some examples of 5S, including tools (below), and an interesting example of 5S applied to an in-house aquarium located in QC room (where they took the time to create a log sheet to ensure that fish got fed everyday):

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Hilda!

Today (Jan 8th) is Hilda Henry's birthday.  Hilda is our Development Manager and handles a variety of tasks for Lean Sensei.  Thank you Hilda for everything!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Ganbaro is the Japanese phrase that is loosely translated as "let's do it" or "let's not give up."  When said with a passion, it has the power to motivate and energize people to do what is difficult or even impossible.  It brings hope and vision to otherwise challenging situations. It is the Japanese equivalent of Nike's slogan, "Just do it."

LSI staff say "Ganbaro" as they prepare for upcoming programs. For 2010, regardless of the challenges or dreams facing us, let's just make things happen through the Sensei spirit of "ganbaro."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Creative Greenbelt Class

To date, we have graduated more than 2,000 Lean Belt Certified "sensei's", of which 70% are Greenbelt level (intermediate program).  They move on to become internal lean champions and some have accomplished amazing results.

One of the interesting assignments given to the Greenbelt class is that they have to create a 10-minute video summarizing their efforts and journey from the class. They pick various "themes" designed to stimulate the creative force within themselves.  You can see some of them in LSI's youtube channel:

In the most recent Greenbelt class, the Fall 2009 group decided to focus on "The Incredibles" as the movie theme.  Wow - they are an amazing group!  Look at the efforts they put in to ensure that the whole scenario looked as real as possible.

Congratulations Greenbelts!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

May your dreams come true in 2010!