Blog Posts - Continual Improvement



Should HR Make All Hiring Decisions?

One of the biggest problems companies have that interferes with long-term success is variation in people, team, and leadership styles throughout the organization.  This variation wreaks havoc with the company’s culture and leads to a host of p...

A Solution Without a Problem

“You are non-value added, Charles,” I was told. “Your sole job is to take care of the team member who is creating the value.” – Toyota Trainer to Charles Luttrell (from Toyota Culture: The Heart and Soul of the Toyota Wa...

I Already Do Lean

“The first step is transformation of the individual.  This transformation is discontinuous.  It comes from understanding of the system of profound knowledge.  The individual, transformed, will perceive new meaning to his life, events...

Innovation for the Sake of Innovation

“Our whole company is founded on the principle that there is something very different that happens with one person, one computer.” – Steve JobsThe May issue of Fortune Magazine included an article called, “Startups . . . Inside...

Breaking Down Silos

“What we need to do is learn to work in the system, by which I mean that everybody, every team, every platform, every division, every component is there not for competitive profit or recognition, but for contribution to the system as a whole on a w...

5 Characteristics of a Good Boss

“The greatness in people comes out only when they are led by great leaders. We are all growing and learning, and we all need teachers and coaches to help guide us. We say at Toyota that every leader is a teacher developing the next generation of le...

Lean Leadership: From Doing to Coaching

One of the most difficult aspects of transforming an organization toward a lean mindset is getting leaders to understand the importance of using questioning to develop team members.  It is difficult for someone who has been rewarded many years f...

Using Dashboards to Develop Leaders

It is pretty widely known that the role and responsibilities of a leader differs significantly in a lean environment.  As is often the case, though, knowing and doing are two different things.  Becoming a lean leader, li...

A Deliberate & Calculated System of Improvement

“A goal without a method is nonsense.” – W. Edwards DemingOne of the key aspects of lean that many people have difficulty grasping is that it is more deliberate and calculated than the traditional approach to business.  Once a target...

Beware the Lean Expert

“The man who is too big to learn will get no bigger.” – Chinese ProverbI started learning about lean during my college days when I took a business class that covered W. Edwards Deming’s theory of management.  Since that time, I...

The Lean Formula

I have said many times that lean is simple but not easy.  Although the concepts are fairly easy to understand, putting them into practice requires such a deep level of learning, discipline, and reprogramming of the way people think that few are...

Deming's Influence on Lean

There are numerous books and papers available today that, in one way or another, touch on the subject of lean. I am amazed, however, at the number of these publications that fail to make the connection between lean leadership and W. Edwards Deming’...

Using Lessons Learned to Drive Improvement

It is fairly common for companies to hold a lessons learned session after a major project or an incident to understand the things that did not go well and could be done better next time.  Unfortunately many of these types of sessions I...

The Price of Fear

"Drive out fear so that everyone may work effectively for the company." - W. Edwards DemingWhat does fear cost businesses each year?  Thousands? Millions? Billions?  It’s something that obviously can't be measured accurately, but whe...

Beware the Next Management Fad

“It does not happen all at once.  There is no instant pudding.” – W. Edwards DemingI recently read an article in the February issue of Fortune magazine entitled, The Algorithmic CEO that starts out with, “Get rea...

Want Lean to Succeed? Stop Focusing on Waste!

Although one of the most significant benefits of lean is the reduction of waste, it is not enough to say that lean is about reducing waste.  This may sound confusing, but those organizations that focus too heavily on waste as they go into lean t...

The Science of Dashboards

One of the elements of lean that seems simple but is often misunderstood is the development and use of dashboards.  People are often surprised to learn that there is a science to creating an effective dashboard and that it consists of much more...

The Many Benefits of Standardized Work

“Where there is no standard, there can be no kaizen.” – Taiichi OhnoThe above quote by Taiichi Ohno is used frequently to emphasize the importance of standardized work.  It’s one of those statements, though, that is so simple that I beli...

The Lean Coaching Script

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.” – Peter DruckerThere is little argument...

Can Learning Happen in the Classroom?

Nobody argues with the value of learning.  Most companies establish training budgets and hold classes on a variety of topics from leadership to lean.  When the organization faces a drop in revenues, however, the training budget is one of th...


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