Friday, May 29, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Life improves slowly and goes wrong fast, and only catastrophe is clearly visible
~ Edward Teller

That may seem like a pessimistic comment, but we can also see it as optimistic if for example we look at this next quote:

No endeavor that is worthwhile is simple in prospect; if it is right, it will be simple in retrospect.
~ Edward Teller

Nothing seems easy or obvious until after it is done. A common often heard statement, when people see simple Lean systems functioning is "That's common sense!"
But common sense is far from common when you are working to change the current state.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A message from a CEO

In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else and perhaps even their job. So, after reading this email, I think this lady is on the right track. Let's get behind her!!
My grandson likes Hershey's candy. It is marked made in Mexico now. So I do not buy it any more. My favorite toothpaste Colgate is made in Mexico now. I have switched to Crest. You have to read the labels on everything.
This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed 60W light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets. I was in the light bulb aisle and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off brand labeled, "Everyday Value." I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in - get ready for this – the USA in a company in Cleveland , Ohio .
So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here.
So on to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets....yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada . The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!
So my challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA – the job you save may be your own or your neighbors!
If you accept the challenge, pass this on to others in your address book so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! Stop buying from China or Mexico.......
(We should have awakened a decade ago......)
Let's get with the program.... help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and create more jobs here in the U.S.A.

John R. Kovalcik

Lean thought for the day

Culture of Fulfillment
In my mind, the greatest leaders create a culture of fulfillment, thereby gaining such desired benefits as increased productivity, greater retention, lower costs, and cultural differentiation.

1) Productivity. People who find fulfillment in their jobs work with enthusiasm, passion, and attention to quality—mostly because they develop a sense of ownership and take pride in what they are doing. They’ll arrive early, stay later, pitch in outside their area of responsibility and seek ways to improve their performance—all with-out being asked.

2) Greater retention and lower costs. People hang on to fulfilling jobs as long as they can, knowing that their chances of finding another one are slim. And fulfilled employees attract other good employees, either by actively recruiting them or by telling friends about their enthusiasm for their work. This results in lower costs for recruiting, hiring, and retaining.

3) Cultural differentiation. People begin to take greater interest in their colleagues, helping them find meaning and relevance in their work and find better ways to gauge their own success. This gives them a greater sense of meaning while creating a sustainable cultural advantage.

Lencioni, Patrick. “Greatest Leaders.” Academy Leadership. 02 Oct. 2008.

28 May. 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lean thought for the day

10 Ways that Kaizen Develops Better Leaders

1. Attention. The leader well-heeled in kaizen notices the small things and is bothered by them if they seem abnormal.

2. Vision. The practice of kaizen gives a leader an idea of what is possible, an image of the ideal, enabling long-term thinking instead of a focus on the nearest alligator of daily firefighting.

3. Insight into the business is developed through reflection on problems, their root causes and how to solve them.

4. Teamwork is part and parcel of leadership that is strengthened by effectively facilitating kaizen events or coaching others on turning their ideas into reality through suggestion schemes.

5. Advancing your team member's careers by walking along side them on their learning journey, mentoring them and keeping them from wavering on the path of the creative thinking process is also a leadership habit kaizen develops.

6. Linking the impact of many small, practical improvements requires that the up and coming leader become more familiar in the financial language and formulas of her company, despite its limitations, in order to link these actions to the top level management agenda.

7. Clarity in the mind of the leader well-heeled is developed through observation during kaizen activity, resulting high situational awareness that is not easily distracted by misdirection, but able to focus on eliminating waste, variation and overburden systematically.

8. Respect. Kaizen teaches respect for people, time, resources, and differences in viewpoint, all qualities of an effective leader.

9. Objectivity is the ability to face and manage by fact and kaizen develops this in a leader by requiring them to practice genchi genbutsu, by checking one's assumptions by testing them through experimentation, and turning the PDCA cycle. Connections are built between internal customer-supplier relationships, making stronger personal relationships as well as a stronger organization through kaizen.

10. Connections are built between internal customer-supplier relationships, making stronger personal relationships as well as a stronger organization through kaizen.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Yesterday morning at 7:00 I gathered with about two hundred people at the Vietnam Memorial in back of the Veterans Cemetery in Exeter, R.I. honoring those some 250 men who paid the ultimate price. I am a Vietnam Veteran and not a day goes by that I don't think of the fallen heroes who ransomed our freedom. On one of the plaques was the name George Bourne he graduated with me from high school in 1966. I knew George as a almost painfully shy person who didn't say much but I read that he gave his life to save his fellow men.
lean R.I. is a way of honoring their memory by respecting the gifts we have been given and using our gifts wisely and efficiently. We must become a more efficient nation the private sector as well as in government and nonprofits.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Lean thought for the day

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, to events, to numbers, to interactions between people.
Once the individual understands the system of profound knowledge, he will apply its principles in every kind of relationship with other people. He will have a basis for judgment of his own decisions and for transformation of the organizations that he belongs to. The individual, once transformed, will:
- Set an example- Be a good listener, but will not compromise- Continually teach other people- Help people to pull away from their current practice and beliefs and move into the new philosophy without a feeling of guilt about the past
This is indeed a high bar for personal transformation. If as Taiichi Ohno says "understanding is doing" then personally, I am far from transformed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

VIBCO to Host President's Event on 6/15 - "Learning to See"

PRESIDENT’S EVENT - “Learning to See”
What does every organization have in common? Waste. It is everywhere - all throughout your business. It’s in your inventory, your accounts payable processes, your maintenance program, your production process and (gasp!) it’s in your very own office. Learn to see waste and start acquiring the tools to eliminate it by participating in the next VIBCO University President’s Event. President’s Events are open to any company officer or senior level executive.

You will be welcomed with a few brief remarks over coffee and pastries and then will immediately break into small groups for a 1.5 hour plant tour where you will see, first hand, the unbelievable results of getting lean. This is your opportunity to directly interact with the Vibration Nation... VIBCO employees! Ask questions and get real answers from the folks actually doing the work. They’ll share their lean transformation stories and demonstrate how they are actively removing waste from their work flow.

Once the tour is complete, you will participate in an interactive overview of “lean thinking”. This is the first step to building your lean toolbox. You will absolutely take away ideas that you can start implementing now... passion, culture, leadership, strategic deployment. Prepare to get to work!

VIBCO Vibrators is firmly committed to the sideways sharing of our knowledge and experience - yokoten. We believe in the collective power of lean to transform our economy and create a better future. That is why we host these events. All we ask is that you share the knowledge, inspiration and experience you have with us with others in your organization and your network.

Plus... Once you have attended a President’s Event, any of your staff are welcome to participate (always at no charge) in any VIBCO University lean training course, space permitting. Courses are run weekly, typically on Thursdays. Topics include an Introduction to Lean, Kaizen Events, Value Stream Mapping, and more.

The next President’s Event is:
8:00am - 12:00pm
VIBCO World Headquarters: 75 Stilson Road, Wyoming, RI

To register, please call 401-539-2392 or email

Lean thought for the day

What is Trust and Why is it Important?

In its simplest form, trust can be described as the belief that those on whom we depend will meet our positive expectations of them. While this may sound the same as confidence, they are different. Trust is not always rooted in past experience with others, whereas confidence generally results from specific experiences with people and is built on reason and fact. In contrast, trust is based in part on faith. We sometimes give our trust in spite of evidence that suggests we should feel some caution, if not outright suspicion, about relying on another.

“What is Trust and Why is it Important?.” Academy Leadership. 17 Apr. 2009.

21 May. 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Words of wisdom from Shigeo Shingo

Those who are always satisfied with the current situation and do not question it will never be able to see problems; the status quo is a comfort to them. On the other hand, those who do question will find that, not only can they see the problem, but the very act of asking will lead them halfway to a solution.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Breaking Down Barriers to Continuous Flow

One way to look at lean is that it's all about enabling the continuous flow of actions, information, materials, services and cash in such a way that these things generate goodness, however you may define that. The theory is that when things flow they take less time and resources. When this theory fails, lean says that a problem has been exposed and that by solving this problem we win in two ways: by enabling flow and by getting rid of that problem. Relentless focus on continuous flow can create a positive feedback loop.

Miller, Jon. “Breaking Down Barriers to Continuous Flow.” gemba panta rei. 28 Jan. 2008.

04 May 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Current budget constraints in the public sector require an innovative response from legislators, public administrators and government employees. Legislators must set the course with directive statutory specific policy, administrators must develop the management plan to carry out those mandates and government employees must remain flexible and committed to the personal transformation required to do public business in a new leaner way. Bob Dylan said it right…the times they are a changing. Citizens are demanding ethical and responsible government.

Many states are transforming to a lean culture including: Iowa, Minnesota and Florida.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lean thought for the day

My Recipe for a Lean Transformation.

  • 1 strong dose of leadership involvement
  • Seasoned heavily with tacit learning
  • Bast entire enterprise with employee empowerment
  • Sprinkle frequently with celebrations
  • Add large and small chunks of continuous improvements
  • Incorporate a potpourri of fun
  • Continuously stir with Socratic teaching
  • Season daily with humility
  • Bake relentlessly in pursuit of perfection

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lean Thought For The Day

Lean success comes from cultural acceptance and ownership. This is how it breaks down!

Demographic model
  • 2.5% Innovators (actively driving change)
  • 13.5% Early Innovators (looking for change)
  • 34% Early Majority (open to change)
  • 34% Late majority (Skeptics)
  • 16% Laggards (Concrete heads)

What category do you fall under?

There are a lot of factors in driving success and the formula/recipe is complex – if you fail to plan then you will plan to fail.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Asking the 5 Why's!

Finding the root cause of a have to dig deep! Ask the 5 whys!

The 5 Whys is a question-asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem. Ultimately, the goal of applying the 5 Whys method is to determine a root cause of a defect or problem.

My car will not start. (the problem)
Why? - The battery is dead. (first why)
Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and has never been replaced. (fourth why)
Why? - I have not been maintaining my car according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, root cause).

Sometimes it takes asking fewer or more whys to get to the root cause.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Lean thinkers are intuitive

Intuition can be developed through practice and immersion. Practice is doing the same thing so many times that you no more know that you know. Imagine how Roger Federer swings his tennis racket, without thinking and knowing how exactly he achieves whatever he achieves!
Immersion means such a deep experience that it enters the implicit memory and stays firmly lodged without your being aware it is there. It equates with what sports psychologists call "flow" or being "in the zone."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lean thought for the day

When striving towards a goal, you must focus on what you want to obtain and avoid the impulse to go back to what you know and to what is comfortable. When Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico, one of his first orders to his men was to burn the ships. Cortez was committed to his mission and did not want to allow himself or his men the option of going back to Spain. By removing this option, Cortez and his men were forced to focus on how they could make the mission successful.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lean thought for the day

We hear the buzz words all the time "lean culture." After much thought and reflection on my journey I came up with the following definition.

What is a lean culture?

An organization’s predominating attitudes and behaviors resulting from individual and collective continuous improvements and innovations that begin to occur naturally. As obstacles and opportunities become apparent, action occurs, waste begins to vanish, processes flow smoother, and True North is realized.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lean thought for the day

When eliminating waste you first have to have the "eyes" to see it. Waste can be broken down into eight identifiable wastes:
  1. Waiting
  2. Defects
  3. Transportation
  4. Overproduction
  5. Over processing
  6. Motion
  7. Inventory
  8. Under utilization

Once you are able to recognize the waste you must then act on it and apply the appropriate "lean tool" to eliminate or reduce the waste.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lean Thought For The Day

"You can't control the wind, but you can adjust the sails."

Often times we wait for the economy to get better or for customers to call. We need to look inward at processes that we have control over and identify waste in order to eliminate or reduce it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lean Thought For The Day

How much Lean could this person have done in the time it took to discuss and decide that they were too busy to do Lean? Lots.

Think of the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Dashing from one busy project review or status meeting like a hare, people get done far less than they think, while the tortoise that takes a moment to do a little improvements each day finds they have more time in a day than they imaged. In Japan there is an expression says "cranes live for one thousand years, turtles for ten thousand years." Do turtles take the long view because they live long, or do they live long because they take the long view?

Miller, Jon. “Five Questions to Ask When You Hear We’re too busy for Lean.” gemba panta rei. 26 Nov. 2007.

04 May 2009

Lean thought for the day

The definition of lean:

Lean is a systematic approach to identify and eliminate waste through continuous improvement by flowing the product/service at the pull of the customer (internal/external), while relentlessly pursuing perfection.

Note: At it's highest level "lean thinking" becomes part of the DNA of the organization, it becomes as natural as breathing, "it is in the air."

Friday, May 1, 2009

Lean thought for the day

"Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimal means"

Dr. Koichi Kawana