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Thursday, August 30, 2012


A culture of continuous improvement needs a workplace where feedback can be respectfully given and respectfully received. For that to happen, you need trust. Trust that you have the best interests of each other and the organization at heart.

You can build this type of trust in your organization by giving gems not insults to your colleagues or employees. Give feedback in a respectful and earnest way.

When you have trusting candor in your organization, your team becomes solutions focused and each employee feels empowered and proud.

Realistically, there still may be times when your gem was received as judgment. In this case, don't give up. If you know what that person's MBTI profile is read up on how that personality type best receives feedback. If you don't know their MBTI, ask them as a gesture of your intention to better understand them so you can better deliver feedback next time. Reaching out in this way might even break the wall down.

It is important "to try to understand what has gone wrong, but don't lose faith in the principal of honest feedback as a whole - be brave enough to try it again."

Credit: Harvard Business Review: Love, Trust and Candor: Today's Management Priorities;
            Candor, Criticism, Teamwork

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Customer Service

We all place high value on customer service. In Samsung's case the human touch they included in their response to a playful request for a free Samsung Galaxy led to a lot of positive PR. Shane, an loyal Samsung customer submitted a doodle of a dragon on Samsung Canada's Facebook page as an advance token of gratitude to his request for a free phone.

Samsung responded politely and with a witty kangaroo doodle.

This personalized response prompted Shane to share his positive experience with the greater cyber community on forum, catapulting a wave of PR for Samsung.

To show their gratitude, Samsung thanked Shane by giving him a free phone afterall and enrobed in the original dragon doodle.

Now that's customer service.

Credit: AOL Tech
           The Register

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Today's Lean Idea

Prevent Waste of Motion - Keep a spare battery where you will need it.

Do you have any Lean ideas? Tell us in a comment to this post.

Credit: Lifehacker

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Treat Yourself

“We've all heard the notion that we're our own harshest critic.” Why is that?

“Possibly it's because we grow up in an academic setting that emphasizes critique over admiration. Perhaps it feels arrogant — unseemly even — to speak to ourselves with effusive praise and positivity […]”

It seems more often than not we opt to punish for mistakes rather than forgive and focus that energy on coming up with solutions. We see this in the workplace and we even do it to ourselves.

This is where we can cue Lean thinking. Besides the methodologies and tools, a Lean culture and way of life creates a harmonious and supportive atmosphere-the perfect environment for continuous improvement to become second nature.

Celebrate small successes and recognize when you (or your colleagues or your employees) do something well. You will feel good about yourself and will be motivated to go for another success, then another and another. You will be actually be applying continuous improvment to your life.

“[I]t's not simply nice to treat ourselves nicely, it's strategic.”

How to do it: love and respect yourself. This may sound over simplified and maybe a bit fluffy but it is that simple.

“Think about it: When you love someone, you don't dwell on their mistakes, you move past them. If they don't know something, you don't make a big deal about it, you find the answer somewhere else. And when they succeed, you feel great about congratulating them. You encourage them when they're struggling, you try to catch them doing things right, and, maybe, if you have the nerve, you sing with them as you go about your day.”

Focus limited time and energy on paying attention to what you did right and repeat that. Practice makes perfect, so repeatedly think about what you did well and do it again. Ruminating on what you did wrong is essentially practicing that mistake-you want to practice the behaviour you want to repeat. “Think[ing] about what you did that led to the success [will give you] a better chance of repeating it. Laugh with yourself. Enjoy yourself. Notice how cool you are.

At first, it might feel awkward. But feelings follow actions — once you get the hang of it, you'll gain more confidence in yourself. You'll start to take more pleasure in yourself […].

At that point, what you find won't look like arrogance. Arrogance is thinking you're better than everyone else, which is often a protective mechanism born from insecurity when you don't feel good about yourself. When you love yourself, you won't need to feel better than anyone else, you'll simply feel good about yourself.”

Once respecting yourself becomes a habit, you will naturally be more respectful to those around you too. The positivity you exude will inspire those around you and you will transform your world.

Credit and full article: Harvard Business Review

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lean Shares Series: Kevin Wack, Lean Sensei Master Blackbelt

Welcome to the 4th edition of Lean Shares for the month of August. This week our feature MBB is Kevin Wack.

1.    What is lean to you? 
Lean is simply a mindset or philosophy that when adopted has an organization and all its employees thinking about the customer, what the customer values, what the customer wants and what the customer might need.  That same organization and set of employees work to deliver the customers’ wants and needs as efficiently and waste free as possible, thereby providing as much value to their customer as possible. 
2.  What impact has lean had on your workplace, in your life? 
One of my favorite quotes is ‘people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year, but underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years’...  In my workplace lean has made a significant impact as we’ve been working at it in varying degrees for five years, so we’re half way to the ten year mark.  Many of our branches are making amazing headway while others are just beginning, so many of our gains are sticking.  It’s encouraging for me to see that people at all levels are working lean and adopting the customer value mindset. 
Lean’s impact on my life has been remarkable;  I’ve been able to achieve many of my goals, write and publish a book (Level One Lean – check it out on Amazon!), I’ve come to truly understand what Lean is and more importantly what it is not.  I love to teach and coach and I’ve had many opportunities to do that.  Cutting waste from one’s personal life has a tremendous amount of value, doing so has provided me with extra time to focus on my priorities.
3.   What is your favourite workplace transformation from lean? 
Too many to list.  One I recall fondly is I had been coaching a friend with a business with approximately $10mm in sales.  In their first two years they pulled out more than $400k in costs, and they know there is more to come.  Best part is they are providing more value to their customers than they were previously!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lean at Home 2

Here are 5 more examples of Lean in everyday life.

Hidden Office
Envelope Pockets

Lean Wallet

Toothbrush Holder

Photo Holder

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Training Simulation for the Importance of Having SOP's

This simulation was created by Blackbelt, Mike Nunn to teach the value of patience when introducing a new process, and also helps teach the importance of a standard operating procedure (SOP).
How did this simulation work for you? Join the discussion on the Greenbelt Group on Lean Sensei's Linkedin page.

You can do this on your own or with a group, it will be effective in both scenarios.
  • pen
  • blank piece of paper (8.5x11" - letter size is ideal but doesn't really matter)
1. On a blank piece of paper, laid out landscape, divide the sheet into three columns. If doing this in a group, give everyone their own sheet.

2. In the first column, give everyone 30 seconds to write their first and last name as many times as they can down the column. They can't start until you say go.

- How many did they get?

- Ask the group what they thought. Was it easy? Why?

- Most likely they will say it's easy because they've been writing their name for years and that it's a familiar process. Good.

3. In the second column, again 30 seconds, get them to write their name as many times as they can. However, right before you say go, tell them they have to remove every second letter from their name.

- How many this time? Almost always it's less, unless someone has a short name.

- Ask the group... Why did you get less, if I took away half the steps to write your name? You should have got twice as many!?!

- Reasons you'll get back: It's a new process/standard, the previous process I knew very well, the new one was harder, needed to think about it, etc...

The underlying lesson:
  • As a leader, you can't expect people to get a new process right away; it takes time and training for people to understand new processes.
  • Did I mention training, lots and lots of training.
  • And remember, people are trained when they're trained, don't put a time limit on training. If people aren't getting a new process after they've been trained, it's not the people it's the training method that needs to be looked at.
4. In the last column, again 30 seconds, but this time write your name with every second letter missing at the top of the column. They now have an SOP and have had training/practice in the previous round.

- Most of the time people get more than the first column.

- This is when you explain the value of an SOP and training/practice.

- Also a good time to discuss the no-blame environment... In a blame environment, people would be scolded for not getting better results with the new process. In a no-blame environment, people are asked what the reason is for their performance, if more training is needed, and what can be done (like a visual SOP) to improve results.

How did this simulation work for you?
Join the conversation and post your comments, improvements, ideas or simulations that you have come up with in the Greenbelt Group on Lean Sensei's Linkedin

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Glow-in-the-Dark Bike

Why didn't someone think of this before? A glow in the dark bike frame!
The paint is solar activated. You ride an hour in the day to light up your ride at night. Sounds like a much needed safety feature for Vancouver cyclists.

Credit: Gizmodo

Monday, August 20, 2012

You Snooze, You Win

Welcome back to work from fun filled weekends. For some of us they may have been sleep filled weekends in an attempt to catch up on sleep. But we should make sure we are getting enough sleep every night to maximize our performance at work each day. Because according to a study in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine published in 2000, getting enough sleep helps to "bolster the brain’s ability to handle taxing mental loads." How many emails, projects, deadlines, requests from management, coworkers and clients do you have to juggle and balance each day?

"Researchers at the City University of New York, for example, gave test subjects a pair of objects and told them that they would be judged on their ability to remember them later. One group was given a 90-minute break to take a nap, while the other group spent that time awake watching a movie. Subjects came back to the testing room expecting to complete the simple memory puzzle. Researchers instead asked them to describe the relationships between the objects that made up each pair, rather them simply recall them." The subjects who were able to reach deeper levels of sleep demonstrated more flexibility in thinking, being able to apply old facts to new situations.

"It was as if sleep stretched the muscles of the brain, and it responded by bending its conception of reality in a way that let it arrive at a new vision." But when we sleep less than six hours a night, our cognitive ability is as reliable as when we are intoxicated. "Researchers gathered a group of subjects that included employees at a transportation company and members of the Australian Army. Each person was tested on his or her ability to drive in a simulated road test. As subjects went without sleeping, their reaction times slowed, their memories dulled, and their sense of time grew hazy. [...] [T]hose who had stayed awake for more than 17 straight hours were in worse shape than those with a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent," in BC you will be deemed legally drunk and police can issue an immediate roadside prohibition (ICBC).

Considering the results of sleep studies, it seems adequate sleep is a crucial factor in reaching our full potential and tapping into our creative and intellectual capabilities. Tonight let's hit the sack early because you snooze, you win.

Credit: The Daily Beast (Newsweek)

Photo of the day - where is this?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lean Shares Series: Alicia Kwiatkowski, Lean Sensei Master Blackbelt

Welcome to the 3rd edition of Lean Shares for the month of August. This week our feature MBB is Alicia Kwiatkowski.

1. What is Lean to you?

Lean to me is getting the right people involved to solve the right problems at the right times that have an overall positive impact to an organization.

2. What impact has Lean had on your workplace, in your life?

Change.  One 6-letter word that has a negative paradigm associate to it!  Lean has been the vehicle that I have used at work and in my personal environment to allow me to break that paradigm.  The world is changing, whether we like it or not, technology and information availability is a perfect example.  If the world around you is evolving, why wouldn’t you want to adapt with it?  I look for every opportunity at work and in my community where I can improve people and establishments that surround me.  Ask me about the Gas attendant at Domo, it’s a perfect example!

3. What is your favourite workplace transformation from Lean?

 I had the opportunity to work in a value stream in the organization that has not been exposed to Lean or continuous improvement concepts.  I made some suggestions on how we can incorporate flexibility into our process in order to positively impact cycle time and the work environment.  The team I was pitching the idea to, had the “deer in headlights” look, “Is she really suggesting we do this?”  After further conversations and going to Gemba to “try it” the team shifted their mindset and shop behaviors that they have been practicing for over 100 years.  It was a break-through moment!  Not only did they implement the concept, they took full ownership for the communication roll out and follow up to ensure it was sustained!

Got something to share? Email your Lean share to

Monday, August 13, 2012

LSI is away

Please note that Lean Sensei's entire staff will be away on our annual corporate retreat from Aug 14 to 16 and back on 17th. We will have limited access to email during this time and therefore would appreciate your patience. Thank you.

Monday Motivation!

As the Olympics have concluded until the next Winter Olympics, let's look to the athletes for some motivation to kick-off our week!

“Falling in life is inevitable, staying down is optional” ~ Carrie Johnson

“Never put an age limit on your dreams” ~ Dara Torres

“When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening anymore” ~ Florence Griffith Joyner

“The only way to overcome is to hang in” ~ Dan O’Brien

“If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do” ~ Michael Phelps

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” ~ Missy Franklin

“Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work” ~ Andre Agassi

“Everything that I’ve ever been able to accomplish in skating and in life has come out of adversity and perseverance” ~ Scott Hamilton

“I wouldn’t say anything is impossible. I think that everything is possible as long as you put your mind to it and put the work and time into it.” ~ Michael Phelps

“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.” ~ Carl Lewis

“I didn’t set out to beat the world; I just set out to do my absolute best.” ~ Al Oerter

“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” ~ Mark Spitz

“I am building a fire, and every day I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match” ~ Mia Hamm

“Failure I can live with. Not trying is what I can’t handle!” ~ Sanya Richards-Ross

“Nobody needs to prove to anybody what they’re worthy of, just the person that they look at in the mirror. That’s the only person you need to answer to.” ~ Picabo Street

“Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.” ~ Mary Lou Retton

“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does… that makes you a winner right there.” ~ Venus Williams

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” ~ Wilma Rudolph

“The potential for greatness lives within each of us” ~ Wilma Rudolph

“Have fun, because that’s what life is all about” ~ Ryan Lochte

Photo: Blackbelt Spring 2012 on our Flickr page

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Photo of the day

Mr. Sensei in Kyoto area....

Saturday, August 11, 2012

LSI at Abbotsford Airshow

Thanks to our client Cascades Aerospace, a few of LSI members were able to enjoy the Abbotsford Airshow from a VIP tent!  Although we were not able to stay long, it was amazing to see the wonderful acrobatic show and enjoy the afternoon sun.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lean Shares Series: Jeff Coates, Lean Sensei Master Blackbelt

Today, our feature Lean Sensei Master Blackbelt, Jeff Coates gives us an uplifting account on his experience being a leader of Lean.

1.       What is lean to you?

Lean to me is going to the gemba to help people find waste, and then teaching them how to be problem solvers so they can implement the solutions.

2.       What impact has lean had on your workplace, in your life?

Lean has changed the way I work, and how I look at things in everyday life.  I now see waste where I didn’t before, and I also find myself analyzing random things and linking it to lean methodologies.

3.       What is your favourite workplace transformation from lean?

My favourite workplace transformation is a heavy lift device storage area because my part in the transformation was minimal.  My influence was limited to training an employee on the methods of 5S, and from there the employee did the rest.  Even recently I was on a gemba walk and I noticed the employee “shining” the shadow boards associated with the 5S and I could tell he was proud of the work he completed.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

5 Coaching Strengths that Foster Champions

The olympics remind us how champions in a corporate organization mentor and motivate those around them to also become champions. 

These 5 coaching strengths will help you lead your team to reach their peak performance.

1. Create a Relationship of Trust and Respect
Trusting your team and having them trust you. A necessary foundation upon which a coach can then build on.

This means open communication going both ways. Both sides are honest about their strengths and weaknesses so that you know where an employee needs to be strengthened and how to strategically build a team of complimenting talents and skills.

2. Build a Development Plan Based on Interests and Talents
In a trusting and respectful relationship, you can work with your employee to get to know their strengths, weaknesses, motivators, temperament, and natural talent.

Your baseline is that much higher when you build off of your employee's strengths.

3. Audit Your Employee's Work World
Is your employee connected to those who can help you develop your employee, people who are motivating and influential?
Is your employee surrounded by people who demotivate them?

4. Remove Obstacles
Is there a clear path from your employee to the goals you have co-created? How can you minimize them?
Energize your employee by verbalizing your intention to help them reach their goals.

5. Provide a Perspective Your Employee Cannot See From Their Position
Give your employee insight from your advantage of having a view of the big picture. Help your employee to reframe their perspective to understand where and how they fit in and how to develop themselves in a manner that contributes to the company.

Bounce some ideas off other Lean practitioners and Lean Sensei's coaches at one of our networking events, announced on our Facebook page and through our Tweets. You can also come by the office and borrow materials from our recommended readings library.

Credit: Harvard Business Review

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cool Cubes - Creative Office Space

Here are some resourceful, creative and comical ideas to make the best use of limited office space.

Immaculate, clean and organized

 Recycle an old product and transform it into something practical like this canoe couch

 This office is constructed from cardboard!

Lean library 

 Making the best of limited office space?


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lean at Home

Just as Kenneth Leung MBB stated (August 3 post), "Lean is truly a way of life."
Here are 5 examples of Lean in everyday life.

Bread tags to label cords

Avoid clutter and prevent tripping hazards, hang your iPhone cradle off the A/C adaptor

Apply visual management to your laundry room

Office in a chest. Takes up minimal space and once you close it, work is out of sight and out of mind

Lean tent!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Photos of the day

Sunshine coast, BC, where LSI is having its annual corporate retreat next week.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Lean Shares Series: Kenneth Leung, Lean Sensei Master Blackbelt

Throughout the month of August, Lean Sensei presents the Lean Share Series.

Get your afternoon energy boost from Master Blackbelt, Kenneth Leung. This Master Blackbelt shares his insights from his Lean journey in the three part question and answer below.

Kenneth Leung, Master Blackbelt (second from right)

What is lean to you?

Lean is a culture or management system to eliminate waste through effective problem identification and problem-solving.

What impact has lean had on your workplace, in your life?

At work, being able to coach others to become change-agents of their respective organizations and make positive impacts to both the culture and the process. Disseminating best practices has also become a habit.
In my personal life, Lean is truly a way of life. Looking for ways to improve everything encountered has become my second nature.

What is your favourite workplace transformation from lean?

There are many memorable workplace transformations from lean. One of my favorites is a fundamental 5S Kaizen at a CNC production area. It was a transformation for both workplace organization and culture.

The workforce had heard about "Lean" before without seeing any noticeable changes. Through a 1-day Lean introduction along with a 1-day 5S blitz, the group of participants gained a better understanding of the Lean concept and also became advocates for Lean after the powerful demonstration in their workplace.

The simple "Learn and Do" method has enabled and empowered the team leader to implement some of his unshared ideas that had been accumulated for years. The change in mind set encouraged him to continue with more improvements in other areas.

Thanks Kenneth!

If you would like to contribute to this series or know an inspirational Lean practitioner, email with For Lean Shares in the subject line. Thank you.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Lean Summer's Night - Networking Event Amidst the Fireworks

Clients from healthcare, finance, education, and transportation, to name just a few came together for a fun night of networking. The night ended with a bang! - As we concluded the night enjoying the colourful fireworks on our balcony.

One of our Bingo winners proudly posing with his prize

Other Bingo winners duke it out with their Mini Sensei's

Meanwhile a battle on Kinect was heating up the Games Room 

And the audience was loving it

Also in the Games Room, a foosball tournament

See the whole album on Lean Sensei's Facebook page and don't forget to like us too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lean Sensei offers world-class programs

Lean Sensei offers more "authentic" lean programs than any other company in North America.

From whitebelt to master blackbelt class, Lean Sensei's programs are now considered the benchmark in the world.

Here are some video clips that summarize our top programs:

Greenbelt Program - intermediate program which offers hands-on lean experience through three modules

Blackbelt Program - advanced lean program that focuses on lean strategy and enterprise-wide waste reduction through four modules.  Program includes a trip to Japan.

Executive Program - an a la carte program that provides decision makers and managers with various ways to learn lean from a basic to advanced level.  One example of an Executive Program is shown below.  It's one of our most popular programs - Lean Problem Solving)