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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

LSI Office is closed for Christmas Holidays from the afternoon of Wednesday, December 24th, 2014 and will reopen for normal business hours on Friday, January 2nd, 2015. 

Check out our calendar for 2015 programs and you can register online at

We wish you a joyful Christmas and a wonderful New Year! We are looking forward to seeing you again in 2015!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Vancouver Benchmarking Tour is finished!

Last week was a busy week for Lean Sensei! We had our second Vancouver Lean Benchmarking Tour of 2014. Each of Lean Sensei's Lean Benchmarking Tours examines companies that have been publicly recognized as successful implementers of Lean, and as such, provides Lean practitioners the chance to see first-hand how Lean philosophies and tools are applied. It also serves as a networking opportunity with Lean practitioners outside of one's organization for inspiration. Genchi Genbutsu - Go see for yourself!

A huge thank you to all our gracious hosts for sharing their Lean knowledge and experience with the group. We learned so much and are looking forward bringing this information home to our respective organizations.

Please email or call us at 604-264-1000 for more information on upcoming tours.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Greenbelt Operations Fall 2014 Graduation Day in Edmonton!

The Greenbelt Operations programs in Edmonton and Toronto happened simultaneously, which means we actually had two graduating classes on the same day! 
(See the post below for Toronto Greenbelt photos)
It's been a busy end-of-the-year and we would like to congratulate all graduated participants.

A round of applause for the three medalists who never failed to deliver. They were evaluated based on exam scores, and overall performance in group activities and Kaizens.

Gold: Melisa
Silver: Michael
Bronze: John

For more information on upcoming Greenbelt programs, please take a look at our calendar. You are also welcome to call/email our team at 604 264 1000/

Excellent work everyone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Greenbelt Operations Toronto Fall 2014 Graduation Day!

This marks the last day of our Greenbelt programs for the year. Congratulations, a job well done to all!

We'd like to highlight the outstanding individuals who received medals based on their overall performance in-class, Kaizens and on their exam score.

Medalists: Thomas (Bronze), Peter (Silver), Derek (Gold)

To get Greenbelt certified, make sure to check our calendar for 2015 program start dates, or get in touch with our team at 604 264 1000 /

See you Greenbelts in the New Year!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

In-House 5S Kaizen in Toronto This Week!

5S kaizen is the hands-on portion of Lean Sensei's Whitebelt program. The Whitebelt program gives participants an overall understanding of the history of Lean as well as the structure and what it means to be "Lean".

Whitebelt training is inherent to Greenbelt certification but similar to what this Canadian company did, the training can be facilitated by Lean Sensei right at your facility.

For more information on running a Whitebelt program at your company, please email us, or call 604-264-1000.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Lean Engagement

Lean Engagement from Lean Sensei's newsletter Q1 2014 issue

If you are a typical organization, you likely struggle immensely with the whole concept of employee engagement.  Discouraging, yes, but true.  Please allow me to explain, and keep in mind that I care about you and want to help you and your business to succeed.  First, I must admit that my research is based only on a “small” sample size: a few thousand managers, a few hundred clients, dozens of business leaders, and multiple industry sectors.  Yet despite these logistical limitations, patterns have emerged in overwhelming regularity.  Yes my lean friends, I have come to the conclusion that most organizations don't really measure engagement well or even understand what it is.  I have seen companies and government agencies equating and measuring engagement through employee surveys, job satisfaction scores, retention rates, and other symptoms that represent a complex set of employee relations issues muddled together in a satisfaction score.  Frankly, these measures fail to get to the root of why people stay or go.  I see many initiatives intended to build team morale that have nothing to do with real work in the gemba.  Sometimes I see hard-nosed managers press their staff and criticize them relentlessly, oblivious to the resulting disengagement. I also see executives and managers pandering to employee whims and apologizing for organizational shortcomings to improve engagement scores, while ignoring needed action to improve business effectiveness.  Sorry, my job is to point these things out, even though few leaders like to hear it.  Thus, the topic for this blog is building real employee engagement. 

It seems many businesses would be happy to ignore the truth about employee engagement.  The stark truth is that engagement is not about having employees feel good about what your company does for them.  It is not about knowing the names of your employees spouse, children, dog, cat, and goldfish.  Yes, you have to care for them, but in the context of what a man or woman can do and how you can help them do it.  It is about employees intrinsically feeling good about making a contribution to your company.  “Wow wow wow!”  That is what we need—a big paradigm shift about what engagement really is.  Let me state this emphatically - from a lean perspective - engagement is about feeling that you are making a difference in the company you work for.  It is not about feeling that someone else is making a difference for you, or gives your trinkets because you are an employee!  It helps if the difference you make is explicitly understood and recognized at the time you make it.  It hurts if someone tosses a few general platitudes out to everyone after the fact without ever acknowledging your specific work, and then HR organizes another company picnic so you can burn another Saturday in an attempt to feel good for the team.   Hmmm.  Time to check the rear view mirror.

I suggest a fundamental re-definition of "Engagement" is needed if we want genuine positive feelings and retention of good dedicated employees to persist.  Here is the key premise: Engagement = the degree to which employees demonstrate a shared destiny with the organization by proactively solving the problems of the business.  Lean engagement is not simply about employee happiness.  It is about commitment to mutual destiny and actively fighting for the business.  It is about working together with your manager, peers, staff, and cross-functional teams to make ‘how you do work’ better.  So from this perspective, voluntary participation in problem solving teams and kaizen activities is the purest form of engagement.  Yet very few companies measure and celebrate problem solving engagement.  Taking ownership of processes and seeing improvements through will not only get results, but will build mutual trust which improves all those employee relations issues, and reduces the relevance of many predictable employee relations symptoms.   

So what are the implications for leaders to promote an engaged workforce?  Here’s a secret ten-step engagement program that any manager can do:
(1)    Stop relying on employee surveys and start having real 1-on-1 “real” conversations with your team
(2)    Find out what makes them upset and frustrated more than anything else at work
(3)    Make sure you and they understand the root cause of the dissatisfaction
(4)    Figure out how to solve it, or who has already solved it (but don’t tell anyone that you know)
(5)    Equip your team to solve it; ask the right questions that will cause them to discover solutions on their own; be delighted in the creative ideas they come up with and assess them objectively
(6)    Coach them through solving the problem, clearing roadblocks but letting them take the lead
(7)    Congratulate them for solving it, and show how it helped the business and the customer
(8)    Ask them how they can pass on what they learned; get them to tell their story
(9)    Have them take ownership of the new standards, and re-training / maintenance of those standards as inevitable changes are realized
(10)  Follow-up to ensure their kaizens do not fizzle out, and their efforts are not diminished.  Show pride in their accomplishments, not your own.

If you do this (or are doing this already), you are actively building engagement.  If you are not doing this, what are you doing?  Whatever it is, please don’t call it engagement.  Have a look at the ten points.  There are always a couple of them that leaders recognize that they can do better.  Commit to doing it.  Engage.

Click here to see the full newsletter

Stay tuned for our last issue for the year!
Email if you would like to be added to our mailing list. 

Bonus Day 5 Japan Lean Tour

Our apologies for the delay in uploading photos from day 5 of our Japan Lean Tour, which was an optional cultural site seeing to the ancient capital city of Kyoto. Perhaps one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Kyoto's historic temples and its amazing fall colors were appreciated and admired by 13 Blackbelts who joined David and Jake.