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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lean on me

Our clients often tell us that we should have our own, LSI song to with our branding.  Since I am not a musician by any means, it might be a while until we get a LSI music channel. In the mean time, people have often suggested that "lean on me" is the song we should use in our programs..... so here's one version of it from youtube.  Any suggestions for coming up with LSI's own version of a company music?

Monday, June 28, 2010


Thanks to everyone who sent a happy birthday note to me!  I can't believe I am celebrating my birthday in Arkansas, of all the place.  It just turned out to be "let's celebrate people's birthday" day at Walmart today and the Walmart staff celebrated my birthday - even though I am an outsider. That was so nice of them!

I think I am getting too old to even think about birthdays.....

Then it was back to work, with Bob and myself facilitating a complex international project.  Great team and great kaizen spirit made the day go by quickly.  Walmart staff are so dedicated and so committed in continuous improvement - no wonder they are the largest company in the world.

LSI heads to Bentonville

What's located in Bentonville, Arkansas?  Walmart's headquarters, of course!  LSI is excited to be going to Bentonville to work on a project with the world's largest public corporation.

Some background information about Walmart (source:

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (branded as Walmart since 2008) is an American public corporation that runs a chain of large discount department stores. In 2010 it was the world's largest public corporation by revenue, according to the Forbes Global 2000 for that year. The company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962, incorporated on October 31, 1969, and publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972. Wal-Mart is the largest majority private employer and the largest grocery retailer in the United States. In 2009, it generated 51% of its US$258 billion sales in the U.S. from grocery business. It also owns and operates the Sam's Club retail warehouses in North America.

LSI works with some of the largest firms
Did you know that while LSI enjoys working with local, family-owned or privately-owned businesses (our "favorite clients"), it is exciting to have opportunities to work with fortune 500 companies because they bring a different level of complexity and challenges. 

LSI has worked with such companies as Johnson & Johnson, CP Rail, United Airlines, Canadian Mint, Bridgestone, Canadian Government, Van City, Weyerhauser, Hitachi, DHL, and Medtronics, to name some of the larger companies that we had the fortune to work with.

Some recent quotes by fortune 500 companies:

"LSI is the best, even when compared to some of the largest consulting firms that perform lean and process improvements"

"Lean Sensei's methodologies are superior to anything we have seen."

"LSI is so different in their approach, it's impossible to explain it. You just have to experience it."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Amazing 5S - applied to an apartment

Here's an interesting take on how one person applied the concept of 5S to the extreme and turned a tiny apartment into an amazingly useful "modular suite."  This is a great video!  Please take a look:

Our most recent Greenbelt graduation!

Greenbelt Spring 2010 class has just completed their final module and - yes - everyone has graduated!  It is always so exciting and so refreshing to see our Greenbelts go through challenges and successfully complete "the mission."

It is our honor to graduate some of our best students to date!  Congratulations!

Top three graduates

Friday, June 25, 2010

Teamwork and Conflicts

And one more article from Harvard Business Review about managing conflicts within your team ....

The conflicts that often arise in teams can make you want to throw up your arms in despair, retreat to your office, and live out your career in team-less bliss. But collaboration is here to stay, and while it isn't easy, putting more minds on the job usually yields better results. If your team has dissolved into arguments or two members just can't seem to get along, how can you get things back on track? How you do you turn a team marred by dysfunction into one that excels together?

What the Experts Say

Conflict is part of working on a team and, while it's often uncomfortable, it can also be healthy. "There will, even should be, conflict in a group with a task that has even a minimum of complexity," says Jeanne Brett, the DeWitt W. Buchanan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations at Kellogg Graduate School of Management, the Director of the Kellogg School's Dispute Resolution Research Center, and co-author of Getting Disputes Resolved. Understanding why teams fight, how and when to get involved, and how to prevent fights in the future is a critical skill for all team leaders.

Stop Disputes Before They Happen

Unfortunately, most team leaders assume they'll deal with disagreements as they come up. But Brett advises doing more prep work than that — to have "solid conflict management procedures in place to deal with [conflicts] when they arise, because they will arise." These rules will also help you work through issues more quickly. "Solving disputes after they happen is a hell of a lot more work," adds Richard Boyatzis, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and co-author of Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence.

Another important proactive measure is ensuring that your team shares the same purpose, values, and identity. Boyatzis says teams should "devote a certain amount of time to talking about the team itself." In these discussions, instead of focusing on easier, more concrete issues like goals and measurement, get the group to agree on its purpose first. Do this when the team forms, and throughout its existence. Boyatzis is part of a consortium that has met twice a year for the past decade. The group starts every meeting by reading aloud the team norms they agreed to ten years ago. He concedes that this might seem odd to an outsider but thinks this is what keeps the team grounded and focused.

How and When to Intervene

Some of the most common disputes include conflicts over tasks, working norms, or process. Regardless of why your team is fighting, following a few simple guidelines can help you resolve disputes quickly.

Intervene early. When two or more team members are engaged in a conflict, the sooner you step in the better. Once the dispute starts, emotions can run high, making it harder to diffuse the situation. Letting conflicts fester can result in hurt feelings and lasting resentment. Boyatzis points out that a simple disagreement can turn into a serious conflict in milliseconds, so it's critical for team managers to be aware of the team dynamics and sense when a disagreement is percolating.

Focus on team norms. The best approach to resolving disputes once they've erupted is to refer back to something the team can, or has already, agreed on. These may be explicit or implicit team norms. If you haven't previously discussed norms as a team, now is a good time to hold the conversation. Be careful not to frame the discussion around the dispute but to focus it on setting rules of engagement for going forward.

Identify a shared agreement. Your job as the team leader is to help the fighting team members reach an accord. "The key is to respect each party and the reason behind their point of view," says Brett. The only way to do this, according to Boyatzis, is to talk it through. He says that most team leaders "cut short dialogue or don't do it in an inclusive way." Once the cards are on the table, you need to "facilitate an outcome that takes into account both parties point of views," explains Brett. Compromise often has a bad connotation in the business world, but the resolution doesn't need to be a lowest common denominator answer. Rather, it should integrate both parties' interests. Whenever possible, connect the resolution back to shared purposes, values, or identity that can help both parties see eye to eye.

Moving On After a Disagreement

Boyatzis says the best way to heal war wounds is to start working again. Get a relatively easy task in front of the group to help them rebuild their confidence as a team. As the leader, you can model moving on and focusing on work. If people have been ostracized because of the dispute, make efforts to bring them back into the fold by assigning them an important task or soliciting their opinions. If feelings have been hurt, you may want to let the parties have a break and not directly work together for a short time. Going forward, it will be useful to establish a practice of regularly checking on how you all are working together. This will help you identify problems before they turn into full-fledged disputes.

Principles to Remember


Set up conflict management procedures before a conflict arises

Intervene early when a fight erupts between team members

Get the team working together again as soon as possible


Assume your team agrees on its shared purpose, values, or vision

Let conflicts fester or go unattended

Move on without first talking about the conflict as a team


Another interesting article from Harvard Business Review, on leadership....

Organizations succeed by identifying,
developing, and retaining talented leaders.
Professors W. Earl Sasser and Das
Narayandas, who teach leadership
development in one of Harvard Business
School's Executive Education programs, discuss
the fine points of leadership development. Key
concepts include:
• Talent provides organizations a key
competitive advantage, but there must be
managers and a process in place to identify
and nurture next-generation leaders.
• Large and small companies may have a leg
up in leadership development.
Medium-sized organizations have the most
difficulty with talent identification because
these companies often lack the
infrastructure and human resources
• What separates true leaders from the merely
capable is flexibility in leadership styles in
order to meet challenges of the global
economy, rapid commoditization, and
hyper-competitive environments.
Finding and nurturing future leadership
talent is a primary concern for most
organizations. How can they identify top
people, train them, and—here's the
catch—retain them? And do so in the face of
ever-increasing global challenges?
W. Earl Sasser and Das Narayandas,
Harvard Business School professors, are experts
on the subject as co-chairs of the School's
"Program for Leadership Development:
Accelerating the Careers of High-Potential
Leaders." PLD invites executives with ten to
fifteen years of experience to attend four
modules that focus on such areas as
foundational skills, critical business functions,
strategy formulation and implementation, and
personal leadership.
For the organization, according to Sasser
and Narayandas, talent is key to competitive
advantage. And for the talented employee, a
huge challenge is to rise above a single function
and gain a broad understanding of the business,
especially as it operates globally.
In separate interviews, Sasser and
Narayandas discussed talent identification,
leadership in action, and what PLD does to help
hundreds of executives grow.
"Leadership by definition is a multifaceted
term," says Narayandas, a professor of business
administration with a specialty in marketing.
"Are you managing yourself, are you managing
upwards or the people below or laterally, or the
firm, industry, society? You can lead at so
many levels. That complexity is only going up.
It's just not a question of leading a small team.
It's about leadership in ideas, in actions.
"Add that to the fact that in most situations
people are dealing with the global economy,
rapid commoditization, and hyper-competitive
environments. So to be able to be flexible and
use the right approach at the right time and
change as the situation demands is going to be
tough. Not everybody can do it. That's going to
distinguish the true leaders from people who are
capable but not leaders."
Targeting talent
Employees in large and small organizations
share one advantage, according to Sasser, the
UPS Foundation Professor of Service
Management and a member of the
Entrepreneurial Management Unit. These
employees enjoy access to talent-identification
systems. Big organizations can point to formal
programs led by individuals whose sole
responsibility is to find and mentor
up-and-comers. And small companies can shine
in talent identification too, as CEOs take note of
future stars. But medium-sized organizations
have the most difficulty with talent
identification because these companies often
lack the infrastructure and human resources
capabilities, says Sasser.
With or without talent identification
programs, how likely are future leaders to
recognize leadership qualities in themselves?
It's about leadership in
ideas, in actions.
"There are some that can see it in
themselves; there are some that need to be
informed," says Narayandas. "Talent needs to
be nurtured: Many times it takes someone else
who can recognize that an individual can think
beyond their job, can think bigger, and has the
potential to make a bigger impact. It's a
combination of the environment, talent seekers,
and raw talent together that bring the right kind
of people to our program."
What should future leaders
People often have a true deficiency in
finance and quantitative methods, says Sasser.
While PLD students learn a variety of business
specialties including strategy, finance,
marketing, and innovation, the point is that
future leaders often need to break out of a
function where they excel and aim for a bigger
picture of the organization and its world.
"If they are not trained the right way, they
can spend the next twenty years building deeper
and deeper skills in a narrow aspect,"
Narayandas says. "What they might not be
asking themselves, or pushing themselves to
ask, is: 'What if I had knowledge of other
aspects of the business? It would actually
inform my decisions in a better way. I could
pursue more productive lines of action for the
"Business is only getting more complicated.
Understanding the interactions of various
aspects of business becomes very important."
"Let's assume we have fantastic R&D
people," he continues. "They are building ideas.
They might never ask the question, 'Is this
relevant to the company, customers, and
marketplace?' Sometimes they might just work
with the budget they have on a potential
innovation rather than frame a problem in a
more informed way and be able to go to
management and say, 'Look, here's the business
plan. Here are the resources I would like. This
is what I think we can show.'
"So someone who has an understanding of
the capital budgeting process would be
immediately more likely to go down that line of
action rather than say, 'I've been given $50,000,
now let me try to do the best I can.'"
You have to understand what you're
leading, adds Sasser. Expertise in only one
area—think John Sculley's unsuccessful jump
from Pepsi consumer marketing to the top of
Apple—can be a handicap.
After your organization trains and mentors
leaders, how can it retain them? Talented
employees thirst for challenging assignments,
and they need to be listened to, says Sasser. "If
you invest in these people, you must give them
significant work. In a top management group
there are never enough leaders. Something is
always a stretch for someone.
"There are often conflicts between how fast
you can move and how fast the organization can
move you. If someone doesn't see mobility,
they may leave."
Adapting a leadership style
Not everyone is going to be another Jack
Welch, nor does everyone want to be, says
Sasser. Not everyone will be CEO some day,
and having an enjoyable and challenging career
doesn't have to mean becoming CEO. The key
to career success is to draw on a variety of
leadership styles at appropriate times.
Actionable Leadership, PLD's fourth and last
module, effectively holds a mirror up to
students and, with input from coaches and
self-assessments, encourages them to move out
of their comfort zone and explore the personal
complexities of leadership.
"The unit of analysis is themselves," says
In a top management group
there are never enough

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Setup Reduction - F1 way

When it comes to "setup reduction", no one does it better than race car pit crew.  Wow....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Grow your talent!

One of my Harvard Business School's professors, Boris Groysberg, is mentioned in this interesting article about how important it is to focus on growing your own talent vs hiring "stars" from outside. Take a look ....

Don't Recruit Next Generation Talent, Grow It

By: Dan Heath and Chip Heath, Source:

Why you should grow your next generation of talent, not recruit it.

The business world is obsessed with "talent" -- hiring it, retaining it, rewarding it. We're urged to "get the right people on the bus." (And, really, what better symbol of the high-performing enterprise than a bus?) The metaphor implies that good workers are portable units of competence. They can bring their talent to your bus or your competitor's bus, but ultimately, it's their prize to bestow.

What if talent is more like an orchid, thriving in certain environments and dying in others? It's an interesting question, full of nature-versus-nurture overtones; we could debate it endlessly. But Boris Groysberg, a professor at Harvard Business School, has spoiled the debate with an unsporting move. He's gathered some data. And what he discovered forces us to rethink the argument.

In his new book, Chasing Stars: The Myth of Talent and the Portability of Performance, Groysberg studies a group of professionals renowned for the portability of their talent -- Wall Street research analysts. Analysts are a hybrid of researchers and pundits; they study public companies and write recommendations about whether to buy or sell their stocks.

To do that, analysts need good research and writing skills, and more important, they need great relationships with top executives (to get the straight dope) and with reporters (to spread their conclusions). This would seem to be the ideal free-agent job because when analysts switch firms, they retain their skills and their network. In fact, there's a common saying on Wall Street: "When an analyst moves from one firm to another, the only thing that changes is the letterhead."

Analysts were a great target for Groysberg because everyone believes their talent is portable, and, even better, it's easy to track their performance. The magazine Institutional Investor ranks analysts based on both the opinions of their peers and customer polls, and these rankings serve as a kind of universally accepted scoreboard.

You can see the science shaping up here: If talent is portable, then the analysts' rankings should persist after a transfer.
So what happened? Groysberg reports, "Star equity analysts who switched employers paid a high price for jumping ship. Overall, their job performance plunged sharply and continued to suffer for at least five years after moving to a new firm." Worse, switching firms doubled the chance that an analyst would fall off the rankings entirely (32% versus 16%).
So talent is not, in fact, perfectly portable, even in a job that is one of the most independent around (except for, perhaps, janitors and NFL placekickers).

What gives? Wall Streeters mistakenly see analysts as solo stars, but in reality, Groysberg found that even the best analysts depend heavily on an array of resources inside their firms. They rely on junior analysts who do their number crunching, other analysts who give them feedback, and salespeople who promote their ideas to clients. Not to mention the systems and culture within the firm.
There was one fascinating exception to these findings, a group of people who didn't suffer the lag in performance after transferring: women. Groysberg contends that the alpha-male culture on Wall Street, which never fully embraces women, forces them to compensate by beefing up their external networks, which are more portable. (Either that, or women are superior. Take your pick.)

So what do these findings mean for the world outside of Wall Street? Should we conclude that there's no such thing as different innate levels of talent? Of course not. The Baldwin brothers alone are enough to refute that. But the only way to take control of your firm's talent pool is to create it yourself. (And you should definitely get your child on the Wall Street-analyst career track. A job that entails writing persuasive essays on trucking firms must surely be the world's most preposterous route to a seven-figure salary.)

For instance, Hindustan Unilever, the Indian subsidiary of the consumer goods giant, has developed a reputation as a talent factory. How? Its senior managers are expected to spend 30% to 40% of their time grooming leaders. And executives usually change roles every two to three years so that they learn different aspects of the business. These investments may seem costly, but they have helped HUL become a $4.4 billion company, which reported 5.4% net profit growth at the end of 2009 -- and the envy of other companies worldwide.

When you own the talent factory, you've created a permanent competitive advantage. So if one of your stars leaves, you can simply wish him the best of luck on his new bus. And then grow another star to take his place.

Dan Heath and Chip Heath are the authors of the No. 1 New York Times best seller Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, as well as Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Letter from Jim Womack

Here's the latest letter from Jim Womack, in case you haven't seen it or received it.....


Dear David

I’ve been interested in applying lean thinking to healthcare since I first focused a lean lens on the delivery process 15 years ago. How, I wondered, could lean manufacturers treat products in factories better than healthcare providers treated patients?

I was hopeful about initial attempts to apply lean principles, beginning with Peace Health in Seattle in the mid-1990s. But the early efforts faltered and for many years the challenge seemed to be too great. It took time and many false starts to translate ideas born in the factory to the situation at the bedside. And it took more time to develop lean management methods in a craft industry with no standard work, no publicly reported outcomes, and no ability to think horizontally about the flow of patients through the diagnostic and treatment processes.
Perhaps most important, governments and insurers were willing to pour unlimited amounts of money into healthcare providers with little demanded in return. Why tackle the hard challenge of lean transformation when mediocre providers could survive and even prosper?
Now the context has totally changed. The U.S. spends more than 16 percent of its gross national product on healthcare – twice the level of other advanced economies. Yet the new healthcare law just enacted guarantees – if the healthcare delivery process is not dramatically reformed as well -- that spending will spiral rapidly upward as 24 million additional citizens enroll for subsidized health insurance and the baby boom marches resolutely toward a life stage where healthcare needs also spiral. Given the spending limits the U.S. government is facing and voter resistance to additional taxes, the only alternative in the absence of dramatic service delivery reform is price controls, rationing, and denial of the care just promised.

Fortunately Lean Thinkers, after 15 years of experiments, now have the tools to reform healthcare delivery. In the last few years lean healthcare proponents have not only demonstrated that costs can be dramatically reduced as outcomes and patient experience are dramatically improved -- a feat traditionally thought to be impossible. They have also shown that steady progress can be sustained in complex healthcare organizations.

One of the best demonstrations of what we have learned is a new book – On the Mend by Dr. John Toussaint and Roger Gerard PhD – that LEI is publishing today. (For details, please see: I believe this volume will have a profound effect by summarizing the principles of lean healthcare, documenting their benefits with a striking example, and providing an action plan for other healthcare organizations to follow to achieve similar results.

The principles John Toussaint and Roger Gerard have applied over the past decade at the ThedaCare medical system in Wisconsin (and clearly described in On the Mend) are simple and they work:
1. Focus on the patient (not the organization and its employees, the insurance industry, the drug companies, etc.) in order to determine the real value desired.

2. Identify the value stream (or patient pathway) providing this value to identify where value is actually created while removing massive amounts of waste (including the large numbers of errors causing rework that drives up costs.)

3. Reduce the time required to go from start to finish along every pathway (which always creates more value at less cost.)

4. Pursue principles 1, 2, and 3 endlessly through continuous improvement that engages everyone – doctors, nurses, technicians, managers, suppliers, and patients and their families -- touching the patient pathways.

As I’ve noted for years, humans will try anything (and everything) easy that doesn’t work before they try anything hard that does work. And that’s where we are in healthcare. All the easy fixes have been tried and only the hard things are left. And the hardest part of the hard work ahead is that everyone has to change their behavior: the doctor accustomed to craft methods with no outcome measures; medical device makers accustomed to providing new equipment without regard to cost or clearly demonstrated benefits; nurses hoping that daily work-arounds in the delivery process will somehow make fundamental problems go away; administrators hoping that somehow costs can be reduced with higher capacity utilization – by simply running the same broken processes harder -- whatever effect this may have on patient experience and errors (which dramatically increase costs.)

The final challenge is that everyone in healthcare must learn to think horizontally (as I discussed last month.) Managers, doctors, and nurses must learn to see patients flowing across complex organizations rather than reverting to their traditional vertical thinking where every department and activity is a castle with its moat, thwarting the patient’s quest for more value with less time at lower cost.

Despite the hurdles ahead I’m now hopeful that the availability of proved lean methods will push providers past the tipping point on the journey to lean healthcare, now that all the easy fixes have failed and there is no other option.

Best regards,


Jim Womack

Founder and CEO

Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Back to school... at Harvard

This week, you will notice that our blog will not offer the usualy daily updates, simply because I am "back in school" for one week.  Every few years, I like to take Executive programs from established institutions as a way to benchmark our LSI programs, and to ensure that our materials stay fresh and always ahead of the curve.  A few years ago, I completed the Executive program from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the areas of operations management, and this year, I decided to enroll into the Executive program at Harvard Business School. 

The honest truth is that I wasn't sure if I will be accepted into Harvard, because they tend to focus primarily on large corporate-based "students", so I was pleasantly surprised to be accepted into the program.  The Executive program I am taking is an intensive, immersion-type program that essentially translates into a 16-hr per day, 7-days-a-week non-stop initiative, with 4 to 5 hrs of assignments each day.  With focus on relevant case studies, the program is highly engaging but also very demanding.

I hope to learn some of the latest trends and studies about corporate strategy, global management, future-oriented customer service, human resource development, to name some of the topics covered.

In any case, I will be drowning in assignments and class work, so the blog will be "light" this week.  I hope to share much of what I learned next week when I will have a bit more time (after catching up on sleep!).
In case you are curious about Harvard, here's a brief outline from wikipedia and Harvard websites:

Harvard Business School (HBS) is the graduate business school of Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts. The school offers a full-time MBA program, doctoral programs, and executive education programs. It owns Harvard Business School Publishing, which publishes business books, online management tools for corporate learning, case studies, and the monthly Harvard Business Review. It is ranked 1st among American business schools by the U.S. News & World Report (tied with the Stanford Graduate School of Business. It is consistently ranked in the top ten of other national and global business school rankings, and is one of six Ivy League business schools.
The executive programs demand a great deal from both the faculty who create and deliver the courses and the business professionals who take them. Once accepted into the program, executives are immersed in a leadership training that will challenge their assumptions, disrupt their ordinary ways of doing business, and introduce them to new and unexpected ways of thinking. By participating, they will prepare for the next steps in their careers and lives demonstrating leadership here, in their classes and among their peers. Most important, they will return to their organizations with fresh ideas, new business skills, and a greater capacity for addressing the challenges their companies will face.

Harvard Business School Executive Education is not for everyone. Those who accept the challenge, however, will find unique rewards with lasting impact for their companies and careers. Participants can expect a carefully integrated mix of lectures, presentations, business simulations, small group discussions, and the hallmark HBS case-study method.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lean Sensei kicks butt!

Byron Mann is an actor who has made numerous films in both Hollywood and Asia. He starred in films such as "Red Corner" and "The Corruptor," and in the television show Dark Angel, and has also co-starred in Catwoman and Invincible. Mann is perhaps best known as Ryu in 1994 film Street Fighter.

Byron recently commented about Lean Sensei….. take a look:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Exactly what is "Sensei"?  It turns out that wikepedia has a great definition:



Sensei (先生) is a Japanese title used to refer to or address teachers, professors, professionals such as lawyers, CPA and doctors, politicians, clergymen, and other figures of authority.[1] The word is also used to show respect to someone who has achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill: accomplished novelists, musicians, and artists for example are addressed in this way.

The Japanese expression of sensei shares the same characters as the Chinese word, pronounced xiānshēng in Mandarin. Xiansheng is a courtesy title for a man of respected stature. It can also be attached to a man's name to mean "gentleman" or, more commonly, "mister". Prior to the development of the modern vernacular, xiansheng was used to address teachers of both genders; this has fallen out of usage in Standard Mandarin, though it is retained in some southern Chinese dialects such as Cantonese, Hokkien and Hakka where it still has the meaning "teacher" or "doctor". In Japanese, sensei is still used to address people of both genders. It is likely both the current Southern Chinese and Japanese usages are more reflective of its Middle Chinese etymology.

In English, the word sensei is most commonly used when referring to a martial arts instructor but it has also come to be used outside martial arts and other similarly cultural contexts. In business and industry, sensei is often used to refer to an outside, third-party expert who coaches or advises on operational and organizational excellence. In particular, James Womack's book Lean Thinking advises companies to seek out a "lean sensei" who can provide expert coaching on how to achieve organizational effectiveness. Lean sensei has since become a common term for describing an expert who can provide advice on operational and organizational strategy.

Actual link to the definition:

Wikipedia definition of Sensei

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lean Glossary

Here's an excellent glossary of lean terminology, thanks to 



5 Why's A simple but effective method of analyzing and solving problems by asking 'why?' five times (or as many times as needed to find the root cause).

5S The principle of waste elimination through workplace organization. Derived from the Japanese words seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. In English the 5S are sort, straighten, sweep, standardize, and self-discipline.

7 Wastes There are 7 types of waste that describe all wasteful activity in a production environment. Elimination of the 7 wastes leads to improved profits. The 7 wastes are 1) Overproduction, 2) Transportation, 3) Motion, 4) Waiting, 5) Processing, 6) Inventory, and 7) Defects.

A3 Report This "A3" sized (11 inches x 17 inches) form is used at Toyota as a one-sheet problem evaluation, root cause analysis, and corrective action planning tool.

Abnormality Management Being able to see and quickly take action to correct abnormalities (any straying from Standard Work). This is the goal of standardization and visual management.

Activity Based Costing ABC) A management accounting system that assigns cost to products based on the resources used to perform a process.

Agile Manufacturing Agile manufacturers must recognize the volatility of change, and put mechanisms in place to deal with it.

Andon A tool of visual management, originating from the Japanese word for 'lamp'. Most commonly, andons are lights placed on machines or on production lines to indicate operation status.

Assembly Buffer The time buffer placed before an assembly operation on non drum parts where Drum components are assembled with non drum components.

Automatic Time The time when a machine is running on auto cycle and a person does not needed to be there to operate the machine.

Autonomation Stopping a line automatically when a defective part is detected.

Back Flushing A method of recording accounting transactions for labor and materials based on what was shipped rather than by using material issues or cards. The aim of back flushing is to reduce the number of non value-added transactions.

Balance on Hand (BOH) Inventory levels between component parts.

Balanced Plant A plant where capacity of all resources are balanced exactly with market demand.

Balanced production All operations or cells produce at the same cycle time. In a balanced system, the cell cycle time is less than takt time.

Batch Manufacturing A production strategy that moves significant quantities of subassemblies from operation to operation in a batch.

Batch-and-Queue Producing more than one piece of an item and then moving those items forward to the next operation before that are all actually needed there.

Benchmarking Comparing key performance metrics with other organization in similar or relevant industries.

Best-in-Class A best-known example of performance in a particular operation. One needs to define both the class and the operation to avoid using the term loosely.

Bill of Activities A hierarchical, indexed listing of all the activities required to build a product or provide a service.

Bill of Materials (BoM) A hierarchical, indexed listing of all the materials required to build a product or provide a service.

Black Belt Six Sigma team leaders responsible for implementing process improvement projects within the business

Blitz A fast and focused process for improving some component of business ¬ a product line, a machine, or a process. It utilizes a cross-functional team of employees for a quick problem-solving exercise, where they focus on designing solutions to meet some well-defined goals.

Bottleneck Any resource whose capacity is equal to, or less than the demand placed on it.

Breakthrough Objectives Objectives that are 'stretch goals' for the organization, representing a significant change for the organization.

Brown Field An existing and operating production facility.

Capacity Buffer The time buffer placed between the drums in multiple project. This buffer protects the later project from the knock on effect of delays in earlier projects.

Capacity Constraint Resources (CCR) Where a series of non-bottlenecks, based on the sequence in which they perform their jobs can act as a constraint.

Catch-Ball A series of discussion between managers and their employees during which data, ideas, and analysis are thrown like a ball. This opens productive dialogue throughout the entire company.

Cause and Effect Diagram A problem solving tool used to identify relationships between effects and multiple causes (also Fishbone Diagram, Ishikawa Diagram).

Cellular manufacturing The layout of machines of different types performing different operations in a tight sequence, typically in a U-shape, to permit single piece flow and flexible deployment of human effort.

Chaku-Chaku A method of conducting single-piece flow, where the operator proceeds from machine to machine, taking the part from one machine and loading it into the next.

Change Agent The catalytic force moving firms and value streams out of the world of inward-looking batch-and-queue.

Change Management The process of planning, preparing, educating, resource allocating, and implementing of a cultural change in an organization.

Changeover The time from when the last good piece comes off of a machine or process until the first good piece of the next product is made.

Cloud This is the thinking process used to precisely define a problem, to surface the underlying assumptions and to enable the identification of the direction of a solution that will remove this problem.

Concurrent Engineering Designing a product (or service), its production process, the supporting information flow, and its delivery mechanism at the same time.

Constraint Anything that limits a system from achieving higher performance, or throughput.

Continuous flow A concept where items are processed and moved directly from one processing step to the next, one piece at a time. Also referred to as "one piece flow" and "single piece flow."

Continuous Improvement The never-ending pursuit of waste elimination by creating a better workplace, better products, and greater value to society.

Control Chart A statistical problem solving tool that indicates control of a process within established limits.

Control Element Any specific process variable that must be controlled. The measurement of a control element indicates whether the process is operating under stable conditions.

Core Problem (CP) The constraint of a system where it is not a physical resource, it may be: a policy, or the belief in a false assumption, out dated measures or ineffective behaviours.

Cost of Quality Costs associated with supplying a quality product. Categories of cost include prevention, appraisal, and failure.

Counterclockwise Flow A basic principle of Lean manufacturing cell layout is that the flow of material and the motion of people should be from right to left, or counterclockwise. The origin of this idea came from the design of lathes and machine tools with the chucks on the left side, making it easier for right-handed people to load from right to left.

Critical Capacity Resource (CCR) A CCR is a resource that may prevent the system moving closer towards its goal.

Critical Chain This is the longest dependent chain of events in a project plan when both resource dependency and task dependency are taken into account.

Critical Chain Completion Buffer (CCCB) See Project Buffer.

Critical Chain Feeder Buffer (CCFB) See Feeder Buffer.

Critical Path A Critical Path is the longest path of dependent tasks in a project network not taking resource dependency into account. (From Goldratt

Current Reality Tree (CRT) The TOC Thinking Process diagram that shows through solid logic how the UnDesirable Effects are linked together. The CRT is used to pin point where improvement actions can have the greatest leverage.

Current State Map Helps visualize the current production process and identify sources of waste.

Cycle time The time required to complete one cycle of an operation. If cycle time for every operation in a complete process can be reduced to equal takt time, products can be made in single-piece flow.

Days Supply of Inventory (DSI) Total number of days (if the production level equals zero) that it would take to deplete finished goods inventory for the specified product line.

Demand Flow The concept of demand flow is to pull raw materials and products through the process strictly according to the dictates of customer demand.

Dependency Unable to do without. In TOC it is usually referring to two tasks or actions where one is a prerequisite for the other.

Design for Manufacturing (DFM) Design for Manufacturing is an approach to design that fosters simultaneous involvement of product design, process design, and manufacturing.

Design of Experiments (DOE) Planning and conducting experiments and evaluating the results. The outcome of a design of experiment includes a mathematical equation predicting the interaction of the factors influencing a process and the relevant output characteristics of the process.

Disruption An event that was not predicted that delays tasks, resources or materials or reveals extra work that was not expected.

Drum The Drum refers to the CCR that is used to build the schedule around in an operation.

Economies of Scale Applying the principles of mass production, large batch sizes, and consolidated control strategies to achieve minimum unit processing costs.

Elements of Work The elements of work are 1) value-added work, 2) non value-added work, and 3) waste.

Empowerment A series of actions designed to give employees greater control over their working lives.

Error proofing A process used to prevent errors from occurring or to immediately point out a defect as it occurs. See "poka-yoke."

Evaporating Clouds A method used in Theory of Constraints. Same as Conflict Resolution.

External Set Up All set-up tasks that can be done while the machine is still running.

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) A structured approach to determining the seriousness of potential failures and for identifying the sources of each potential failure.

Feeder Buffer The time buffer that is placed on the end of non critical chains that feed into the critical chain. Sometimes referred to as Critical Chain Feeder Buffer (CCFB).

Feeder lines A series of special assembly lines that allow assemblers to perform preassembly tasks off the main production line.

First In First Out (FIFO) Processing orders in a pure sequential flow.

Flexible Manufacturing System An integrated manufacturing capability to produce small numbers of a great variety of items at low unit cost; an FMS is also characterized by low changeover time and rapid response time

Flow A main objective of the lean production effort, and one of the important concepts that passed directly from Henry Ford to Toyota. Ford recognized that, ideally, production should flow continuously all the way from raw material to the customer and envisioned realizing that ideal through a production system that acted as one long conveyor.

Flow Chart A problem solving tool that maps out the steps in a process visually. The flow (or lack thereof) becomes evident and the wastes and redundancies are identified.

Flow Production A way of doing things in small quantities in sequential steps, rather than in large batches, lots or mass processing.

Functional Layout The practice of grouping machines or activities by type of operation performed.

Future Reality Tree (FRT) The TOC Thinking Process diagram that describes how the the agreed direction for a solution unavoidable through solid logic leads to the desired results or benefits.

Future State Map The vision of a future optimal process, which forms the basis of your implementation plan by helping to design how the process should operate.

Gemba A Japanese word meaning "actual place," or the place where you work to create value.

Gembutsu Japanese for 'actual thing' or 'actual product'.

Genjitsu Japanese for 'the facts' or 'the reality'.

Green Belt Someone who has been trained on the improvement methodology of Six Sigma who will lead a process improvement or quality improvement team.

Green Field A new production facility where lean principles are designed into manufacturing and management systems from the beginning.

Hanedashi Auto-eject devices that unload the part from the machine once the cycle is complete.

Heijunka A method of leveling production at the final assembly line that makes just-in-time production possible.

Histogram A problem solving tool that displays data graphically in distribution.

Horizontal Handling When tasks are assigned to a person in such a way that the focus is on maximizing a certain skill set or use of certain types equipment.

Hoshin Kanri A strategic planning approach that integrates the practices of leadership with the practices of management.

Hoshin Planning (HP) A means by which goals are established and measures are created to ensure progress toward those goals.

Informative Inspection A form of inspection used to determine non-conforming product.

Integration Point Common term in a project to describe where two or more tasks join together.

Intermediate Objective (IO) The milestone that must be reached in order to overcome an obstacle to an ambitious target or injection.

Internal Setup (IED) Set-up tasks that can only be done when the machine is stopped.

Inventory All raw materials, purchased parts, work-in-process components, and finished goods that are not yet sold to a customer.

Jidoka Stopping a line automatically when a defective part is detected. [Same as Autonomation] (From

Jishu Kanri Self

Judgment Inspection A form of inspection used to determine non-conforming product.

Just in Time (JIT) Making what the customer needs when the customer needs it in the quantity the customer needs, using minimal resources of manpower, material, and machinery.

Jutsu To talk, or 'the art of' (i.e., 'leanjutsu: the art of lean production').

Kai-aku The opposite of kaizen. Change for the worse.

Kaikaku Radical improvements or reform that affect the future value stream.

Kaizen Japanese for 'change for the better' or 'improvement'.

Kaizen Event Any action whose output is intended to be an improvement to an existing process.

Kaizen Newspaper A tool for visually managing continuous improvement suggestions.

Kanban Japanese term which means card signal. Kanban is the information signal used to indicate the need for material replenishment in a pull production process.

Kano Methods A model using three types of product requirements which influence customer satisfaction in different ways.

Karoshi Death from overwork.

Kitting A process in which assemblers are supplied with kits of parts, fittings and tools.

Knowledge Management The management of knowledge, especially innovative knowledge, that is critical to business sustainability.

Last In First Out (LIFO) The result of a typical material or information flow system without FIFO, resulting in earlier orders being perpetually delayed by new orders arriving on top of them.

Lead time The total time a customer must wait to receive a product after placing an order.

Lean A business practice characterized by the endless pursuit of waste elimination.

Lean Transformation Developing a culture that is intolerant to waste in all of its forms.

Leveling Smoothing out the production schedule by averaging out both the volume and mix of products.

Line Balancing The process of evenly distributing both the quantity and variety of work across available work time, avoiding overburden and underuse of resources. This eliminates bottlenecks and downtime, which translates into shorter flow time.

Line Balancing Equalizing cycle times for relatively small units of the manufacturing process.

Load-Load A method of conducting single-piece flow, where the operator proceeds form machine to machine, taking the part form one machine and loading it into the next.

Machine Cycle Time The time it takes for a machine to produce one unit.

Machine Work Work that is done by a machine.

Manual Work Work that is done by people.

Manufacturing Resources Planning (MRP II) A second generation MRP system that provides additional control linkages such as automatic purchase order generation, capacity planning, and accounts payable transactions.

Master Black Belt Master Black Belts are Six Sigma Quality experts that are responsible for the strategic implementations within an organization.

Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) A computerized information system that calculates materials requirements based on a master production schedule.

Mistake Proofing Any change to an operation that helps the operator reduce or eliminate mistakes.

Mixed Model Production Capability to produce a variety of models, that in fact differ in labor and material content, on the same production line.

Mokeru Japanese term for industrial engineering.

Monument Any design, scheduling or production technology with scale requirements necessitating that designs, orders and products be brought to the machine to wait in queue for processing. The opposite of a right-sized machine.

Muda Japanese for 'waste'. Any activity that adds cost without adding value to the product.

Multi Machine Handling When a machine operator is running more than one machine of a certain type.

Multi Process Handling When a machine operator is doing tasks for multiple processes sequentially, and this is contributing to the flow of material.

Multi Tasking Breaking into one activity before it is complete to move onto at least one other task before returning complete the original task.

Mura Variations and variability in work method or the output of a process.

Muri Exertion, overworking (a person or machine), unreasonableness.

Nagara Accomplishing more than one task in one motion or function. Japanese for 'while doing something'.

Nagara System A production system where seemingly unrelated tasks can be produced by the same operator simultaneously.

Negative Branch (Nbr) Ideas or solutions greeted with negative responses or concerns.

Ninjutsu The art of invisibility.

Non-Value Added Activities or actions taken that add no real value to the product or service, making such activities or action a form of waste.

Obstacle (Obs) Any significant thing that will block the achievement of an ambitious target or an injection.

One Piece Flow Producing one unit at a time, as opposed to producing in large lots. (From Advanced Manufacturing)

One-Touch Exchange of Dies (OTED) The reduction of die set-up where die setting is reduced to a single step.

Open Room Effect This common practice in Japanese offices involves taking down the walls and cubicles of an office and laying all of the desks out into one big 'open room'.

Operator Cycle Time The time it takes for a worker or machine operator to complete a sequence of operations, including loading and unloading, but not including waiting time.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Calculated as Availability x Performance x Quality to determine how much of the time a piece of equipment is being used while it is actually making good parts at an appropriate speed.

Overproduction Producing more, sooner or faster than is required by the next process or customer.

Pacemaker A device or technique use to set the pace of production and maintain takt time.

Pareto A bar chart that displays by frequency, in descending order, the most important defects.

Path Any series of linked (dependent) tasks in a project plan. (From Goldratt

PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) This is a basic principle followed for effective problem solving during kaizen.

Performance Management Using a set of tools and approaches to measure, improve, monitor and sustain the key indicators of a business.

PERT Project Resource Evaluation Technique

Physical Transformation Task The task of taking a specific product from raw materials to a finished product in the hands of the customer.

Pitch The pace and flow of a product.

Point of Use Keeping all items needed for the job at the location of use in a neat and organized manner.

Poka-yoke Japanese word that refers to a mistake-proofing device or procedure used to prevent a defect during the production process.

Policy Deployment The selection of goals, projects to achieve the goals, designation of people and resources for project completion, and establishment of project metrics.

PQPR Product Quantity Process Routing Analysis. The PQ (Product Quantity) refers to Pareto analysis to determine the 80/20 rule of the top products or services that make up 80% of work volume. The PR (Process Routing) refers to the Parts-Process Matrix analysis to determine product families by grouping of products with similar process flows.

Prerequisite Tree (TrT) The TOC thinking process used to break the injections needed in the solution down into smaller logical steps.

Problem Solving Task The task of taking a specific product from concept through detailed design and engineering to production launch.

Process A series of activities that collectively accomplish a distinct objective.

Process Capacity Table A chart primarily used in machining processes that compares set-up and machine load times to available capacity.

Process Hierarchy A hierarchical decomposition from core business processes to the task level.

Process Kaizen Continuous improvement through incremental improvements.

Process Segment A series of activities that define a subset of a process.

Processing Time The time a product is actually being worked on in a machine or work area.

Product Delivery Process The stream of activities required to produce a product or service.

Production Preparation Process (3P) The production preparation process is a tool used for designing lean manufacturing environments. It is a highly disciplined, standardized model. 3P results in the development of an improved production process where low waste levels are achieved at low capital cost.

Production Smoothing Keeping total manufacturing volume as constant as possible.

Project Buffer The time buffer placed at the end of the critical chain to protect the customer from the fluctuations and disruptions that occur in the Critical Chain. Sometimes called Critical Chain Completion Buffer (CCCB).

Protective Capacity Protective capacity describes the amount of installed capacity that is necessary to overcome disruptions.

Pull production Prroducts are made only when the customer has requested or "pulled" it, and not before.

Push System Product is pushed into a process, regardless of whether it is needed.

QCD (Quality, Cost, and Delivery) Key customer satisfaction metrics that determine if a company is competitive.

QCDSM (Quality, Cost, Delivery - Safety & Morale) A set of performance management measures that includes employee satisfaction (safety & morale) as well as customer satisfaction.

Quality Meeting expectation and requirements, stated and un-stated, of the customer.

Quality Function Deployment (QFD) Using a cross-functional team to reach consensus that final engineering specification of a product are in accord with the voice of the customer.

Queue Time The time a product spends in a line awaiting the next design, order processing, or fabrication step.

Quick Changeover The ability to change tooling and fixtures rapidly (usually minutes), so multiple products can be run on the same machine.

Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) A methodology and system allowing rapid response to changing customer requirements.

Real Value Attributes and features of a product or service that, in the eyes of customers, are worth paying for.

Reengineering Improving fundamental business processes.

Resource Activation Using a resource regardless of whether throughput is increased.

Resource Utilization Using a resource in a way that increases throughput.

Right-size Matching tooling and equipment to the job and space requirements.

Root Cause The most basic underlying reason for an event or condition.

Sanitizing The act of cleaning the work area.

Seiban A Japanese management practice taken from the Japanese words "sei", which means manufacturing, and "ban", which means number. A Seiban number is assigned to all parts, materials, and purchase orders associated with a particular customer job, or with a project, or anything else. This enables a manufacturer to track everything related with a particular product, project, or customer.

Sensi An outside master or teacher that assists in implementing lean practices.

Sequential Changeover When changeover times are within Takt time, changeovers can be performed one after another in a flow line. Sequential changeover assures that the lost time for each process in the line is minimized to one Takt beat.

Set Up Reduction Reducing the amount of time a machine or a process is down during changeover from the last good piece to the first good piece of the next product.

Seven wastes Taiichi Ohno¹s original catalog of the wastes commonly found in physical production. These are overproduction ahead of demand, waiting for the next processing stop, unnecessary transport of materials, overprocessing of parts due to poor tool and product design, inventories more than the absolute minimum, unnecessary movement by employees during the course of their work, and production of defective parts.

Shipping Buffer The time buffer that is placed before the customer to protect them from disruptions.

Shojinka Continually optimizing the number of workers in a work center to meet the type and volume of demand imposed on the work center.

Shusa The leader of the team whose job is to design and engineer a new product and it into production.

Sifting Screening through unnecessary materials and simplifying the work environment.

Simulation 3D technique used to balance the line.

Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED) A series of techniques designed for changeovers of production machinery in less than ten minutes.

Single-piece flow A process in which products proceed, one complete product at a time, through various operations in design, order-taking and production without interruptions, backflows or scrap.

Six Sigma A methodology and set of tools used to improve quality to than 3.4 defects per million or better.

Sorting Organizing essential materials.

Standard Work Specifying tasks to the best way to get the job done in the amount of time available while ensuring the job is done right the first time, every time.

Standard Work Combination Sheet (SWCS) A document detailing the sequence of production steps assigned to a single worker performing Standard Work.

Standard Work Sheet (SWS) Shows the work sequence, takt time, standard working process, and layout of the cell or workstation.

Statistical Fluctuations Information that cannot be precisely predicted.

Strategic Planning Developing short and long-term competitive strategies using tools such as SWOT Analysis to assess the current situation, develop missions and goals, and create an implementation plan.

Student Syndrome One of the common behaviours in a project that lead to tasks being later than they need be.

Sub- Optimization A condition where gains made in one activity are offset by losses in another activity or activities, created by the same actions creating gains in the first activity.

Sunk Cost Any expenditure that has already taken place and can not be undone.

Supermarket A tool of the pull system that helps signal demand for the product. In a supermarket, a fixed amount of raw material, work in process, or finished material is kept as a buffer to schedule variability or an incapable process.

Sustaining The continuation of sifting, sweeping, sorting and sanitizing.

Sweeping Collecting nonessential goods and removing them from the work area.

Synchronization The bringing together of materials information and anything else needed in a coordinated manner such that no part is waiting long for another

Takt Time Daily production number required to meet orders in hand divided into the number of working hours in the day.

Target Costing A way of establishing a cost goal for a product or service in the design phase.

Tebanare Japanese for 'hands-free'. The goal of tebanare is to use low cost automation on manual machines to allow people to do work that is more valuable that only a person can do.

Teian A proposal, proposition, or suggestion. A teian system can be likened to a system which allows and encourages workers to actively propose process and product improvements.

Theory of Constraints (TOC) A management philosophy that stresses removal of constraints to increase throughput while decreasing inventory and operating expenses.

Throughput The rate the system generates money through sales.

Throughput Time The time required for a product to proceed from concept to launch, order to delivery, or raw materials into the hands of the customer.

Time Buffer A key part of the TOC applications that protects against disruptions

Time-Based Strategy Driving improvement activity through focus on time and its relation to quality, cost, delivery, safety, and morale.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) Maximizing equipment effectiveness and uptime throughout the entire life of the equipment.

Toyota Production System (TPS) A methodology that resulted from over 50 years of Kaizen at Toyota. TPS is built on a foundation of Leveling, with the supporting pillars of Just-in-Time and Jidoka.

Transition Tree (TrT) A TOC process used to construct the actions needed to achieve an intermediate objective.

Tsurube A way to keep product flow continuous even when there are interruptions such as outside processing or batch operations.

Two-Bin System An example of both visual management and the pull system, whereby two bins or containers are used trigger reorder of parts or materials.

UnDesirable Effect (UDE) These are the negative things the problems that are visible and caused by the thing (Core Problem) that must be changed.

Value A capability provided to a customer at the right time at an appropriate price, as defined by the customer.

Value Analysis Analyzing the value stream to identify value added and non-value added activities.

Value Chain Activities outside of your organization that add value to your final product, such as the value adding activities of your suppliers.

Value Engineering Optimizing products or processes to improve value to the customer.

Value Stream A value stream is a series of all actions required to fulfill a customer's request, both value added and not.

Value stream mapping The process of directly observing the flows of information and materials as they now occur, summarizing them visually, and then envisioning a future state with much better performance.

Value-Added Work Work that the customer is willing to pay for. A transformation of the shape or function of the material/information in a way that the customer will pay for.

Vertical Handling When tasks are assigned in such a way that the materials processes are being progressively worked towards completion, this is vertical handling. This in contrast to horizontal handling which only focuses on the output of a specific process.

Visual Control The placement in plain view of all tools, parts, production activities, and indicators of production system performance so everyone involved can understand the status of the system at a glance.

Visual Management Simple visual tools are used to identify the target state, and any deviance is met with corrective action.

Waste Anything that uses resources, but does not add real value to the product or service.

Water Spider A skilled and well-trained person who makes the rounds supplying parts, assisting with changeover, providing tools and materials.

Work Cell A logical and productive grouping of machinery, tooling, and personnel which produces a family of similar products.

Work in Process (WIP) Product or inventory in various stages of completion throughout the plant, from raw material to completed product.

Work Sequence The defined steps and activities that need to be performed in order for the work to be completed.

Yamazumi A bar graph typically showing the balance of workloads as operator cycle times.

Yield Produced product related to scheduled product.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blackbelt Graduation

Congratulations to our 2010 Spring Blackbelt graduates!  They have successfully completed the three-month long Blackbelt program. 

More photos can be seen below:

Blackbelt Graduation Spring 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Amazing "Lean Show" - you have to watch this!

The amazing Lean Show!

As some of you know, our Lean Blackbelt program is the most influential lean program in the world. Many of our clients, including some of our fortune 50 clients, tell us that our lean program is "one of the best, because LSI's programs focus on experiential learning in a way that is so unique."

Our Blackbelt program members, who are graduating tomorrow, presented their final summary today. Some were funny, some were educational, and some were.... well simply amazing. The "wow" factor was impressive in this 2010 spring Blackbelt class. One of the most intriguing presentations was one by Bill Geofroy from Moulding & Millwork, because the entire presentation was delivered in a form of "The Lean Show." Please take a look!

Watch The Lean Show in Educational & How-To  |  View More Free Videos Online at

If you could not access the above link, you may watch the first 10 min of the 14 min show on our youtube as well (youtube only allows 10 min videos). The link for the youtube version of the show is shown below:

Blackbelt Final Presentation

Live from Blackbelt Final Presentation Day!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Akio Toyoda Bio

An interesting article from about Akio Toyoda..... take a look:

As Akio Toyoda climbed the ranks at the automaker his grandfather had founded, many Toyota Motor Corp. managers treated the scion with kid gloves.
Not Hiromu Naruse.

Naruse, a certified Master Test Driver who commands cultlike reverence within the company, sneered at the young executive's claim to be a true car guy.

"He told me, 'I don't want to hear what you have to say about cars until you really know how to drive one,' " Toyoda, who became the automaker's president last June, recalled in an interview on the sidelines of this month's Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race.

So Toyoda embarked on a quest to become one of the company's top certified test drivers and its top car critic. That challenge and journey combined to forge Toyoda's management priorities, ones that now are reshaping Toyota in a time of crisis.

Global recalls have led to criticism that Toyota has grown deaf to its customers. Toyoda's personal response to the crisis reflects his emerging management style and draws on his car-guy roots:

-- He demands that executives spend more time focused on product.

-- He pushes for a more hands-on approach throughout the company.

-- He is ordering engineers and designers to spice up the brand's bland image.'Go and see'

By getting behind the wheel and scrutinizing product, the 54-year-old Toyoda believes he is living out the company's guiding principle: "Genchi, Genbutsu"--Japanese for "go and see for yourself."

The key is getting out of the laboratory, Toyoda said.
"Lately, there are a lot of left-brain thinkers at Toyota," he said. "People who like to just logically come to conclusions in a meeting room. We may have had a little too much of that."

Toyoda peppers nearly every public address with talk of "seasoning" the company's vehicles so they're less blah and more "fun to drive." He cites a hybrid sports concept unveiled in January, a low-slung convertible based on the MR2, as the kind of product to expect under his tenure.

"I wanted a car that shows what we are aiming for, something affordable, fun to drive and good for the environment," Toyoda said.
Toyoda's business decisions are often rooted in such instincts. This month's snap decision to team with electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc., for instance, came after he test drove its Roadster in the hills of California and deemed it a hot ride.
But most of his first year in office left little time to pursue such visions.

Toyota posted its first loss in seven decades. An unprecedented quality meltdown triggered the recall of more than 8.5 million vehicles worldwide. The problem, Toyoda said, was that the company grew too fast and took its eye off the product.

"Growth in itself is not bad if you can cultivate the human resources to keep up," Toyoda said. "But I don't want to be the largest company in the world. I want to be the best."

Toyoda's love of cars dates to a childhood surrounded by them. In kindergarten, he drew pictures of himself as a race car driver. Under Naruse, he learned a true appreciation for cars.

Naruse first tried to discourage Toyoda, warning of the inherent dangers in extreme driving. But that only egged him on.

"I love driving," Toyoda said. "So when a strict teacher like Naruse is telling me such stuff, it was hardly discouraging. It was more of a turn-on."
Every week for several years, Toyoda practiced high-speed braking, emergency rollover procedures, pursuit driving and controlled spins until he earned his "advanced" certification.

Toyoda believes it all makes him a better CEO--one who, as Naruse exhorted, understands cars and their boundaries.
Toyoda said: "When it comes to our products, being able to know what is good and what is bad is a special skill."

Some observers disagree. Toyoda's incessant test driving and enthusiasm for racing are often derided in the Japanese press as a distracting hobby. Masaaki Sato, a noted Japanese auto industry watcher who has written such books as The House of Toyota and The Toyota Leaders, describes Toyoda as "the emperor with no clothes" who dodges the details while leaving daily business to his top lieutenants.

Last month, Japan's Foresight magazine suggested that a disaffected cohort at the company wants Toyoda to step down. Although no strong candidate exists to replace Akio Toyoda, Foresight pointed to Tetsuro Toyoda, president of Toyota Industries Corp., a machinery affiliate. Testuro is the son of Eiji Toyoda, a former Toyota Motor president.

Akio Toyoda is aware of his detractors. He said becoming an expert driver was partly an effort to win credibility at the engineering-driven company.

"I'm not an engineer," said Toyoda, who joined the company in 1984 after working at an investment bank and consulting firm.'A common language'

He was looking for "a common language with our engineers. And driving is a tool that can serve as that common language."

His management style has always been about delegating authority to people closest to the action, he says. Underlings describe Toyoda as a big thinker, not a micromanager.

In Japan, his rigid press conference performances usually consist of canned statements. But at Nurburgring, an all-smiles Toyoda showed disarming humility and spontaneity.

Toyoda, surrounded by fellow car enthusiasts, gladly posed for photos. He snapped his own photos--including plenty of his race team's busty, miniskirted race queens.

A relaxed Toyoda roamed the pits making small talk. During the race, fellow driver Ulrich Bez, CEO of Aston Martin, introduced VIPs to his good friend Akio.

At the post-race party to celebrate the Lexus LFA's 18th-place finish in a field of nearly 200 cars, Toyoda led the beer-and-champagne battle that soaked everyone.

But his charismatic performance likely will remain the hidden alter ego of a low-profile, product-focused car guy. "I've been called media-shy, and that's not going to change," Toyoda said. "Here's why: The main actor is the vehicle."Hands-on scion

A personal look at Akio Toyoda

Age: 54
Education: Keio University, bachelor's degree, 1979; Babson College, MBA, 1982

Childhood dream: To be a race car driver

First car: Used 4-door Corolla GT; "I was taken with the name GT."

Family: Married, 1 daughter and 1 son

Racing history: 2 appearances at Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race

Other sport: Played on Japanese national field hockey team

Motto: "I can't accomplish anything by myself."

Nifty Lexus LFA Commercial

Thinking about getting a new car?  What about the new Lexus LFA?

See what happens when Lexus tunes the 552 horespower V10 engine of the LFA with the precision of a musical instrument. Discover what else is possible at

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

IDEON Kaizen

We wanted to just say "thank you" in advance to IDEON for hosting our kaizen.
We hope our Blackbelts will produce meaningful results that can make a difference.

Our Support Staff Mayu sits on a chair made
from corrugated cardboard.... at IDEON.

Extreme Kaizen Update

The Blackbelts have started their "extreme kaizen" program this week at a packaging company called IDEON, which is undergoing lean journey.  Although fairly new to lean, IDEON has a great culture and mindset that makes them naturally lean, so the Blackbelts have to think a bit deeper to uncover true "gems."

Brainstorming and visioning have resulted in four teams which will begin problem solving shortly.  Best wishes Blackbelts!