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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wisdom for the week

"Many people dream of success. To me, success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection."

~ Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda Motors

Go transform the world

As some of you already know, LSI's vision is to "transform the world through lean."  While it may be an outrageous vision, I strongly feel that it is important in life to "reach out and reach far."  After all, if we can't dream about something signficant, life will be quite boring!
I often think about what we can do to influence the world and society in positive ways.  And I truly believe that - if all lean champions really put their mind to it - we can come up with unique and innovative ways to change the world using lean methods.
Can lean thinking change the world?  Without a doubt.
"Go transform the world!"

LSI Programs

LSI has a very busy 2012, with many programs being launched this year.  We are excited to offer more lean programs than any other firms in Canada.
Here are some video clips that summarize our three top programs:
Greenbelt Program - intermediate program which offers hands-on lean experience through three modules

Blackbelt Program - advanced lean program that focus on lean strategy and enterprise-wide waste reduction through four module which includes a trip to Japan

Executive Program - a la carte program that provides decision makers and managers various ways to learn lean from the basic to advanced levels (one example of Exec Program shown below: our most popular Lean Problem Solving)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

5S Kaizen at Cascade

Our Greenbelts have been busy practising their newfound skills at Cascade. Here are our three teams leading their 5S Kaizen Projects.

Sort, Stabilize, Shine, Standardize, Sustain

As the Greenbelts have been learning- a 5S kaizen is more than a Mary Poppins Musical!

The objective of a 5S is to create a visual workplace and to support a Production Maintenance System with clear and updated standards. Clear standards encourage employees to contribute to value in a systematic way- thus reducing quality defects. Contrary to misconceptions- standard work does not impede creativity. In a continuous improvement environment- standards are revisited and updated frequently.

Lean Sensei's Coffee Table Book

Lean Sensei published a coffee table book about lean back in 2009 - it is still fresh with lean ideas and filled with inspirational themes.  Currently it is the the world's first and only lean coffee table book.   Toyota Way authors Dr. Liker, Mike Hoseus and David Meier all loved this book when it made its first appearance at our Lean Strategy Summit. They feel that the book is "truly unique."
You may order one through The link to the LSI book store:
LSI books
Click the photo below to see all of the pages in full color (you can click on the icon on lower right and it will expand to full size)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Day TWO in the life of a Greenbelt

Greenbelt for Operations Vancouver Winter 2012

Day two of the program we start off with some more ice breakers and team building exercises. The purpose of these exercises is not just to let them have fun- it's also a great way to get their problem-solving juices flowing and learn how to work with eachother.

You have to consider that most of these people were complete strangers just yesterday. Today, Bob mixes the teams up again to allow them to step out of their comfort zones once again and learn how to work with different types of personalities from different industries. All of this is preparing them for their first Kaizen over the rest of the week.

Motorcycle Diaries:

As well as team-building and learning from doing- this exercise demonstrates the art of Yokotan- sharing knowledge sideways. The first team to complete the task proudly demonstrates their accomplishment- only to be asked why they haven't proceeded to immediately help the other teams? How often, do we as individuals or departments within an organization see others as competitors instead of teammates?

Discussion topics:

Bob asks the group if they've had any burning questions keeping them up all night?
They may have been to0 drained to think about lean last night- but once they've had a chance to chat amongst themselves- they come up with some tough questions.

How do we get people to buy in?

Bob flips the question on its head, " why don't people want to buy in?"

  • They don't like change: People become entrenched in their way of doing things- and are reluctant to change. Perhaps, they fear what they don't understand.
    • One way we recommend addressing this is by spreading the word quickly throughout the organization. This can be done through lean 101 sessions (whether it's a half-day or full-day)- information pamphlets. You can get creative- like one of our clients- who created a personalized professional video on how to be lean in their organization and sent it out to all of its employees! The more misconceptions about lean you dispel- the greater your chance of buy-in. Involve them.
  • Corporate Culture: Has the organization involved its employees before. Is that individual concerned about being made irrelevant- if they improve on a process. Is there a culture of communication- where people feel comfortable bringing problems to the surface?
    • Provide a listening ear- allow the process owners to voice their fears and vent out.
    • Get them involved in a kaizen- seeing is believing.
    • Walk the talk.
"When the momentum from up top meets the energy from the shopfloor- that's when magic happens!"

Bridge the gap between managers vs. employees and you'll build a culture of problem-solvers!

Create a TV Commercial:

The groups were given black bags with objects in them and were asked to determine what was in the bag. The catch- no peeking- just feeling.

Lessons Leant:

Gemba: You can guess but you're not really going to know until you actually see it.

Once the teams have identified the items they're next task is to create a company and their new launch commercial!

Lessons Learnt:

Free thinking: With the right attitude- a small group with a few inconsequent items can create anything!

Now- Let's get to the nitty gritty.

One-piece flow
Takt Time
Value Stream Mapping

Monday, January 23, 2012

Strategic Planning Session

This week, David Chao is working with a private company on strategic planning initiatives. As usual, serious conversations are mixed-in with engaging ice breakers!

Greenbelt for Operations Winter 2012 Kick-Off

Vancouver welcomed out-of-town participants and local ones too in true Westcoast Winter Fashion- with non stop rain and no sunlight in sight. Nonetheless, each one of the 15 participants made it on time for registration and Day 1 of this season's first Greenbelt program!

After the registration process- Bob went through the required formalities- introducing Lean Sensei and lean terminology. For some of our manufacturing guys and girls who may be unaccustomed to sitting for eight hours- our coaches inject humour, icebreakers and team-building exercises throughout their presentations.

Team-Building: This class was split up into three groups of five- and were given a few minutes to come up with a team name, logo and chant.

Team Bridge- Removing the barriers....

Later on, after the break, the team's first project. Build an infrastructure which will protect an egg at all cost. Materials = straws + strip of tape!
All three teams made it through the first and second round. Bob had to up the ante by throwing the egg and structure into the air.

After the lunch break- Bob has the students run out on a field trip to explore 'waste' in everyday life. The three teams come back with a host of examples: Poor layout in a coffee shop. Over-production at a fast food joint.  Having to cross two streets to get across the road... okay that one may have been a little extreme ;) The point is- once you put on your lean lens- it's hard not to notice how

many opportunities there are to reduce waste!

This is a great group and we're thrilled to be starting another season and training the next set of Lean Champions.

Winter GreenBelt Session Starts Today!

This week LSI kicks off another Greenbelt Program. We’re eager to meet our new class of participants and look forward to opportunities to transform the world.

The height of your accomplishments will equal the depth of your convictions.

~ William F. Scholavino

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lean 101 #4 at Cascade Aerospace

Yesterday-our coach, Bob Low, braved the "snow storm" to make his way to our final- for now- lean 101 installment at Cascade Aerospace in Abbotsford.

Fourth time is a charm.

All four sessions were well received according to our feedback forms. However, there is always room for improvement and we carefully and attentively listen and read through our client's comments so that we may better serve them in the future. Minor adjustments were made throughout the sessions- the clients asked for greater interaction- we delivered. The participants requested more content tailored to their particular needs- Bob presented them with more examples for reference. The participants asked for better chairs (we didn't have much control over this) so we had them standing and stretching more often! The point is... we emphasize the importance of listening to our clients in our courses and so- we must also practice this principle ourselves.

According to Bob, this particular group asked the toughest questions (out of the four). Often times, employees feel that attempts to improve and reorganize the company, are just "flavours of the month". This skepticsm is warranted- how often do we get carried by the winds of momentum- only to find our wings slowly depleting as we encounter roadblocks- to the point where we fall flat again, listless and afraid to get back up again.

What sets LSI apart from other consultants- we don't believe in a band-aid solution. In order to create real change and self-perpetuating improvements we urge our clients to go back to the CORE.

Customers, Owners, Resources, Employees.

Employees: Without motivated employees- an organization is missing a key component of its foundation. Lean Philosophy must be embraced from the entire organization. And, if you want your employees to work for you- you must first believe in them and then empower them. Send them to our program ;)

When we train Greenbelts and Blackbelts we create Lean Champions. We provide them with the tools to fill-up their box, we'll even hold the nail up (we have faith), but it's up to them to strike it in the bull's eye.

Coaching others on how to savour the lasting flavour is our passion!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wisdom of the Week

"The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside of us while we live . . ."

 ~ Norman Cousins

Friday, January 13, 2012

Vancouver Benchmarking Tour- Why you should sign up!

Benchmark: Pronunciation: /ˈbɛn(t)ʃmɑːk/noun

"a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared," Oxford Dictionary Online (2012).

Interesting fact: The term was first coined by cobblers who would have their customers place their foot on a ''bench' and 'mark' the outline for production.

Similarly, LSI has organized Benchmarking Tours since its inception, as a way to help its new clients experience how lean has been outlined before they begin on their own lean journey.

This tour has the potential of benefiting anyone in all industries. It's exciting even from a non-manufacturing standpoint (although we will be visiting a service provider this time around). Specifically, there are two principle reasons why one would want to sign up for this tour:

Curious about Lean: In this economical crisis many organizations are looking for new ways to stay competitive. Of course, lean can help you achieve that edge. It helped NuHeat transform an innovative idea- almost two decades ago- into a world-class facility which manufactures easy-to-install electric floor heating systems. It sustained Moulding and Millwork throughout the last recession. It has set the framework for one of the most eco-friendly- community conscious companies I have seen- Ideon Packaging.

But, don't take our word for it.

Genchi Genbutsu- go see for yourself.

Standard Operating Procedures on the floor where the action is. There is no excuse not to follow the standard!
Kanban System
Make Lean your own. Rebrand and customize the tools and principles you have learnt.

Build a corporate culture- remind your employees what they're working towards.

Not only will you have a chance to see what these organizations have done right- but also when and how they went wrong.  By hearing tales of their personal 'lean journeys' you'll have the opportunity to avoid common mistakes when implementing lean at your organization.

Need a Lean re-injection: Although this is an excellent way for executives to capture a feel for lean philosophy in action it's also a revitalizing experience for Lean Veterans. As with any initiative- time and complacency can make you forget how inspired you were when you first completed your Greenbelt or Blackbelt. Through your new 'lean lens' you were set to turn your organization topsy-turvy. And then, the everyday humdrum set in again. Now, looking up at your glossy mounted plaque you want to see how others have managed to sustain the momentum.

Let's go benchmarking.

Last Year
September 13 and 14 2011 Vancouver Benchmarking Tour

We had the opportunity to visit six manufacturing facilities throughout the lower mainland over a two full-day trip.

The first day included veteran clients: NuHeat, Alpha Technologies and Moulding and Millwork.

The second day we had a chance to visit: Regency FPI, NATC and Ideon Packaging.

This Year
Feb or March timeframe 2012 Vancouver Benchmarking Tour

Back by popular demand. We are doing our best to coordinate the 'chicken and egg' logistics for this tour. That is to say we hope that these dates will accomodate participants and hosting clients equally.

Our tours always include transportation from downtown to all of the facilities, snacks and beverages and hot lunches. Each company prepares an introduction as well as a detailed description of their 'lean journey'. Following the presentation they will take you for an hour tour around their facilities pointing out lean tools in action. Afterwards there is a Q&A period which allows you to bring up your own concerns and comments about lean. In addition, upon completing the full two days you can earn 2 credits towards your Executive Certificate.

If you are interested please contact us for more details: (604) 264-1000.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Photo of the day

Where is Mr. Sensei today?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lean 101 at Cascade Aerospace

There's no way like starting the New Year with some Lean Resolutions!

For example, our client- Cascade Aerospace, has decided to take an all-in approach to lean deployment in its organization. First step: Have as many employees knowledgeable in basic lean tools and terminology.

Many of the misconceptions about lean can thus be quelched in an on-site one day workshop. In Nemawashi spirit- Cascade decided to spread the word quickly- engaging 120 employees in these sessions over the last month!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lean 101 at Mark Crest

The New Lean Year kicked off in full swing yesterday with our coach, Bob Low, at one of our client's facilities for an in-house Lean 101 session.

Lean 101 is a one day workshop which covers: lean history, princples, lean jargon and tools. It's a great way to have new employees, 'ooooh, ahhhhh'ing over now comprehensible terms such as "Kaizen Blitz!" Now familiar with the basics of lean- these 9 employees are sure to be even more enthusiastic and involved in lean at their organization!

Team Building Exercise- Tallest Tower. Two teams are competing to build the tallest tower using straws and scotch tape.

Group photo outside Mark Crest Production Facilities

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's Coming Up!

It's 2012 and the world is still standing. Let's make this year Outstanding!- "Hai Ya" -karate chop ;)

LSI is very excited to kick-start the New Year with our Greenbelt and Blackbelt Programs as well as some new Networking Events and Benchmarking Tours.

 Lean 101 and Whitebelt:

We have special programs that we conduct internally at our clients facilities. For instance we may provide Lean 101 and introduction to tools and principles to an entire organization. This is a great way to begin shifting an organization's culture to 'lean thinking' from the bottom-up. One day sessions for small to large groups can be arranged on a client-specific basis.

Internal Whitebelt Training is also offered over a three day period where participants can get exposure and training in some of lean's best practices. Included in the training is a 'Kaizen' event in which whitebelts are asked to overhaul a process or area as part of their hands-on application of lean principles. Kaizen events can also be client-specific.


Yellowbelt certification takes approximately a week and is comparable to the first module of the Greenbelt program. It's a great way to have a number of employees well versed and practiced in Lean tools.


What we could refer to as our 'bread and butter'. Most of our clients choose to send a number of their employees to our public greenbelt programs (held in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Edmonton). In this setting people from many different industries get to share insights and come together to learn and experience Lean Philosophy and Lean Tools. Their time in the classroom is cut short- as the coaches get them up and problem- solving (through 'lean lens') at our various clients' facilities. Participants are also required to apply the tools that they've acquired at their own company during the breaks between modules-as part of their homework.   

Here's a look at our Winter Greenbelt Programs and Dates:

The Greenbelt Program 

Greenbelt (Operation) WINNIPEG Winter 2012
Module 1 Jan 17-20
Module 2 Feb 13-17
Module 3 Mar 12-16

Greenbelt (Operation) VANCOUVER Winter 2012
Module 1 Jan 23-27
Module 2 Feb 20-24
Module 3 Mar 19-23

Greenbelt (Service) VANCOUVER Winter 2012
Module 1 Feb 6-10
Module 2 Mar 12-16
Module 3 Apr 9-13

Here's a look at our Spring Greenbelt Programs and Dates:

Greenbelt (Operation) VANCOUVER Spring 2012 
Module 1 Feb 13-17
Module 2 Mar 5-9
Module 3 Apr 2-5 (*Condensed due to holiday)

Greenbelt (Operation) CALGARY Spring 2012
Module 1 Feb 27-Mar 2
Module 2 Mar 26-30
Module 3 Apr 23-27

Greenbelt (Operation) TORONTO Spring 2012
Module 1 Apr 9-13
Module 2 May 7-11
Module 3 Jun 4-8

Greenbelt (Operation)WINNIPEG Spring 2012
Module 1 Apr 17-20 4
Module 2 May 14-18
Module 3 Jun 18-22

Blackbelt Programs Vancouver 2012

This program builds on knowledge gained with the Greenbelt Certification and exponentially increases it to create true Lean Leaders! A series of four modules are spread out over approximately four months to allow ample time for participants to accomplish their work back at their company and begin to absorb and implement Lean Philosophy. The program also includes a trip to Japan- the birthplace of lean- and a special visit to the Toyota Factory as well as other 'benchmarks' in their respective industry. 

Lean Strategy & Lean Assessment
 Feb 27-Mar 2 

Lean Supply Chain
 Mar 26-30

Japan Lean Tour
 Apr 16-20

Extreme Kaizen Module
May 14-18


Lean Strategy & Lean Assessment
Sep 17-21

Lean Supply Chain
Oct 15-19

Japan Lean Tour (*Date Subject to Change)
Nov 5-9

Extreme Kaizen
Dec 3-7

Executive Programs 2012

Designed for executives & senior management whose primary focus is to strategize, lead, direct, and manage lean activities. The flexibility of this program allows executives to earn credits when their schedule permits.

Executive Lean Strategy & Lean Assessment
Feb 27-Mar 2

Executive Lean Supply Chain
Mar 26-30

Executive Japan Lean Tour
Apr 16-20

Executive Extreme Kaizen
May 14-16

Executive Program with Mike Hoseus (Topic TBA)
May 30-Jun 1

Executive Europe Benchmarking Tour- Italy & Germany (*Subject to Change)
Jun 11-15


Executive Lean Strategy & Lean Assessment
Sep 17-21
Executive Lean Supply Chain Kaizen (*Date subject to Change)
Oct 15-19
Executive Japan Lean Tour
Nov 5-9
Executive Extreme Kaizen
Dec 3-5
Please contact us for more details!

Happy New Year!

Our newest Executive Lean Director

Congratulations Shelley Besse!
Each time we receive a First West participant-whether it is to our Greenbelt, Blackbelt or Executive programs- we are sure to have an enthusiastic student. Enthusiasm is infectious and we can bet that the lean virus is spreading quickly throughout this client's organization. We must attribute this contagion to First West's 'lean champions'. And, today we would like to recognize Shelley Besse, Vice President, as one of the key players in the entrenchment of 'lean philosophy' at First West.

Shelley recently travelled with this Fall's Blackbelt group to Japan for our Fall Lean Tour. It was this memorable experience (5 credits) which gave her enough credits (10 credits in total) to reach the second level of the Executive Certification. We are now proud to refer to her as an Executive Lean Director.

One can only imagine the life of a VP in a growing industry. How did Shelley and others like her manage to find the time to get training and hands-on experience in 'lean'? Our Executive Lean Certification program provides complete freedom and flexibility to allow executives to take various programs at their convenience, and complete the certification once the required number of executive credits are completed. Shelley can continue to accumulate credits to achieve the third level of the Executive Program- Chief Lean Officer (15 credits).

This Spring we have many opportunities for Shelley and others to achieve those extra credits.
For example our Europe Benchmarking Tour -a 5 day trip to Italy and Germany to visit some world-renowned factories- is the equivalent to 4 credits towards an Executive Certification (2 more credits and you can achieve our first level of Executive Accreditation).

Please contact us for more details.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lean Sensei Experience

Here is our newest LSI promotional video that shows our special talent in transforming people and organizations through lean.  Big thanks to Chris Yang of I DO Productions who created this video.