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Friday, September 30, 2011

Quote of the day

"Humbleness, self-awareness, reflective thinking, and honest character are far more important attributes than pride, confidence, assertiveness, or charisma.  At the end of the day, people always prefer to be with those who possess down-to-earth characteristics."

David Chao

YYZ Kaizen

Here is a quick glimpse of the first week from our Toronto Greenbelt module 1 program. We have fourteen participants and they visited our hosting company, North American Tea & Coffee Inc. Have fun and learn lots this week Greenbelts!

Photo of the Day

Master Blackbelt candidate Jeff Coates talks about the visual board
system at United Airlines in San Francisco during LSI program

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Is Your Customer Muttering, "Meiwaku" under his breath?

Many years ago, when I was first introduced to the principles of lean, a concept that stood out was the definition of customer. A customer wasn’t just the person who bought your end product or service, be it a car rolling off an assembly line or the holder of a mortgage at a bank. Customer is defined as the recipient of what you are producing, the next user inside or outside of your organization that receives your product.

With organizations so focused on the bottom line, these days, businesses aim to please the final end user but how often do we think about the many levels of customers within our own organization. As an “outside pair of eyes” involved in many lean assessments, it often comes as a revelation to people within organizations that some seemingly insignificant procedure that an individual conducts because it was “always done this way” is troubling or an inconvenience to the next person in the process.

The Japanese have a word for something this annoyance or inconvenience – meiwaku. In a society of 130 million people who harmony, crammed into a space roughly the size of California, avoiding meiwaku is so often ingrained within Japanese mentality and culture. You catch glimpses of it in daily life especially on public transit. People don’t board a bus or train with a cup of coffee. Neither do they eat their lunch there. Seldom are you privy to the latest office gossip from two passengers seated beside you. And on your ride home you’re not listening to the latest hit sensation courtesy of the teenagers who just boarded the train. People do their best to be “invisible”.

Is your customer, the next person in your process muttering meiwaku, when he/she receives your work?

I once did a lean assessment with a large multinational company whose staff members were located in several different buildings. In one building I interviewed a lady whose daily routine included stapling a large number of documents together. Her customer, the recipient of these documents was another lady in a different building. Guess what happened when the customer received the documents? I went back to the first lady and asked her if she knew who her customer was.

“No idea. I just know I am to staple these documents before they get sent out. Been doing it for years.”

I decided to have the two meet each other. They had a good laugh and there was one less step in the procedure.

Take time to pause, think and ask: am I really serving my customer in the best way possible. The Japanese are well known for not wanting to cause meiwaku and will often go to great lengths (some might argue unreasonable lengths) not to be a hindrance to others.

While the focus is on not being troublesome or a burden to others, in any healthy organization focused on business excellence, there should be a place for healthy dissent – a way to take critique the system, improve the process and create greater value.   How does your organization avoid meiwaku and still allow for the kind of healthy dissent that leads to improvements and a superior product or service? 


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vancouver 5S Kaizen begins!

Greenbelt Operation Vancouver participants began the day visiting a 5S hosting company. We saw fresh pastries efficiently produced and even sampled some warm pastries after the tour. A great way to begin the day!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mini Sensei photos

One of our Master Blackbelts just sent these photos of our mini Sensei mascot traveling in Vegas! Thanks Alicia!

Wisdom of the Week

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore is not an act but a habit.
  ~ Aristole

Visit our website at to see how our progams and executive workshops can help you in pursuing excellence.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Greenbelt for Operations Vancouver Fall 2011

Today is kickoff day for our 19 participants. We have a diverse group who are eager to learn and have fun!

Greenbelt kickoff in Toronto

First day!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Inspiring words

We love the inspiring words at Alpha about Lean!

Blackbelts getting ready for final presentation

45 min before doing a final presentation on lean assessment

Blackbelts at Alpha Technologies for Lean Assessment Project

Blackbelts getting ready to finalize Lean Assessment Project at Alpha Technologies.

Mapping Your Customers' Hassles Should Be High On Your Agenda

A recent blog post from Fast Company Magazine explains how Netflix's CEO and founder, Reed Hastings, tackled the movie renting industry by considering his own frustrations and annoyances of renting movies first in order to discover ways to eliminate those hassles.
"The executives behind some of today's most successful products and services all share the ability to experience the world through the eyes and emotions of customers...they use themselves as the starting points, asking "what do I hate about this product process?""- Fast Company Magazine

Fast Company Magazine reveals for exceptional success, mapping your customers' hassles should be marked as a high priority on your agenda in order to have happy customers who will keep coming back.

Below is the link to Fast Company Magazine's Blog post:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blackbelt Lean Assessment Project

Today's task for our elite Blackbelt group is to carefully observe and analyze Alpha Technologies' operation plant in Burnaby. Over the next couple of days they will conduct a lean assessment and provide the company with feedback on how to improve their operations through a refined strategy. Below are some images of the Blackbelt group from today.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vancouver Blackbelt Kick Off!

18 bright and engaged participants are taking part in our Blackbelt program, which started yesterday
David introduces the Blackbelt Program
Sharing their excitement for the upcoming weeks.
The groups break out into an icebreaker that involves patterns, standardization, and communication.

 The groups have been getting faster at finding the numbers as part of a strategy game.

Derek Nakamoto from First West Credit Union shares his insights he gained through LSI's Blackbelt program.
Here is a video about his journey.

Blackbelts go out on the water

Three current blackbelts go out on the water with LSI. Nomi, Racheal and James excited to see Vancouver from the water!

LSI after lunch at VCH

This afternoon at VCH, we are working through more icebreaker games in order to promote team building!
This simple simulations teaches important concepts about customer value.

LSI is working on teamwork

Today we are having an interesting day of team building with Vancouver Coastal Health!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quote of the day

"If you can't imagine the future, you can't achieve your goals."

David Chao

Blackbelt Kickoff

Our fall session of Blackbelt is just getting started! More to come...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wisdom of the week for Blackbelts

Photos from the last Blackbelt program

We approach this new work week with  eagerness and excitement as we look forward to the start of another Blackbelt Program. 

This rigorous three month program is designed to challenge participants to pursue excellence in, not only their lean journeys but personal growth too.

Welcome Blackbelts!

We will be known forever by the tracks that we leave.

  ~ American Indian Proverb

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Greenbelt Winnipeg Fall Kick-Off

We are happy to have 24 new Greenbelt participants joining us in Winnipeg this fall. In partnering with CME in Manitoba, we are very excited to kick off this insightful Lean journey.

Carrying on the Lean methodologies, which were introduced by our coaches on Monday, our Greenbelts then moved onto the three-day hands-on Kaizens starting.

Wish all Greenbelt students best of luck!