Friday, June 19, 2009

Presidents Speak Out

 Watch this video

On June 15th, 2009 VIBCO hosted a free Presidents University to teach lean principles to presidents of many companies from around southern New England. Here is what a few of these Presidents had to say about the event. Watch Video Here

Lean thought for the day

Anther pioneer in Toyota

Eiji Toyoda (豊田英二 Toyoda Eiji) born 12 September 1913 near Nagoya in Japan, is a prominent Japanese industrialist, who was largely responsible for bringing Toyota Motor Corporation to profitability and worldwide prominence during his tenure as president and later chairman. Born into a family of textile manufacturers, Eiji Toyoda is the son of Heihachi Toyoda, the brother of Toyoda Loom Works founder Sakichi Toyoda.[1]
He studied engineering at Tokyo Imperial University from 1933 to 1936.[2] During this time Toyoda's cousin Kiichiro established an automobile plant at the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in the city of Nagoya in central Japan.[2] Toyoda joined his cousin in the plant at the conclusion of his degree and throughout their lives they shared a deep friendship. In 1938, Kiichiro Toyoda asked Eiji Toyoda to oversee construction of a newer factory about 32 km east of Nagoya on the site of a red pine forest in the town of Koromo, later re-named Toyota City.[3] Known as the Honsha ("headquarters") plant, to this day it is considered the "mother factory" for Toyota Motor production facilities worldwide.[4]
Toyoda visited Ford's River Rouge Plant at Dearborn, Michigan, during the early 1950s. He was awed by the scale of the facility but dismissive of what he saw as its inefficiencies.[5] Toyota Motor had been in the business of manufacturing cars for 13 years at this stage, and had produced just over 2,500 automobiles. The Ford plant in contrast manufactured 8,000 vehicles a day.[2] Due to this experience, Toyoda decided to adopt US automobile mass production methods but with a qualitative twist.
Toyoda collaborated with Taiichi Ohno, a veteran loom machinist, to develop core concepts of what later became known as the 'Toyota Way', such as the Kanban system of labeling parts used on assembly lines, which was an early precursor to bar codes.[5] They also fine-tuned the concept of Kaizen, a process of incremental but constant improvements designed to cut production and labor costs while boosting overall quality.[5]
As a managing director of Toyota Motor, Toyoda failed in his first attempt to crack the U.S. market with the underpowered Toyota Crown sedan in the 1950s, but he succeeded with the Toyota Corolla compact in 1968, a year after taking over as president of the company.[5] During the car's development phase, Toyoda, as executive vice-president, had to overcome the objections of then-president Fukio Nakagawa to install a newly developed 1.0-liter engine, air conditioning and automatic transmissions in the Corolla.[4]
Appointed the fifth president of Toyota Motor, Toyoda went on to become the company's longest serving chief executive thus far.[4] In 1981, he stepped down as president and assumed the title of chairman. He was succeeded as president by Shoichiro Toyoda.[4] In 1983, as chairman, Eiji Toyoda decided to compete in the luxury car market, which culminated in the 1989 introduction of Lexus.[4]
Toyoda stepped down as chairman of Toyota in 1994 at the age of 81.[5]

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sakichi Toyoda (豊田 佐吉 Toyoda Sakichi, February 14, 1867October 30, 1930) was a Japanese inventor and industrialist. He was born in Kosai, Shizuoka. The son of a poor carpenter, Toyoda is referred to as the "King of Japanese Inventors". He is often referred to as the father of the Japanese industrial revolution. He is also the founder of Toyota Industries Co., Ltd.
He invented numerous weaving devices. His most famous invention was the automatic power loom in which he implemented the principle of Jidoka (autonomous automation). The principle of Jidoka, which means that the machine stops itself when a problem occurs, became later a part of the Toyota Production System.
Toyoda developed the concept of 5 Whys: When a problem occurs, ask 'why' five times to try to find the source of the problem, then put into place something to prevent the problem from recurring. This concept is used today as part of applying lean methodologies to solve problems, improve quality, and reduce costs. Sakichi had a deap respect for people, which is one of the pillars of Toyota today.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What is a lean workplace?
A workplace that is clean, well-ordered, self-explaining, and self-regulating. People recognize pre-failure conditions and correct abnormalities:
–Directly after they occur
–as soon as they occur, or
- even before they occur


•Question: If motion is moving without working, then what is work?


•Waste is identified and dealt with before it accumulates. Materials and information flow through the workplace at an accelerated pace; changeovers happen quickly and often; and people are flexible in their skills and are spirited in their involvement. There is a rhythm to work.
Our appreciation goes out to Terry Grey, Deputy Director of Rhode Island Environmental Managment who has become a lean advocate. Terry just came back from Iowa where 140 people attended a lean government conference. The opening sentence of Terry's summary tells it all.

Karl and Paul:
Absolutely a fantastic event. Focused not so much on “what is lean” but how to get something going and sustained in an organization. Please feel free to circulate to anyone you have been working with on lean, particularly in lean government. As I say in the end, we’ll be refining our approach based on all the information and suggestions from this. If you want to discuss anything or get any further info, let me know. Once again, thanks for all the help so far. Clearly more to come.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Presidents University Attracts A Huge Audience

Here's a photo gallery from our VIBCO President's University event yesterday (6/15/09).

We had more than 45 LEAN thinkers in attendance from government, business, medicine, non-profit... The LEAN movement is gaining momentum!

Developing a Passion for Lean - Reading List

Attention Lean Thinkers!

Here's a Reading List for your reference - great beach reading if we ever get beach weather this summer! Developing your PASSION FOR LEAN is truly the key to your success - the more you read, the more inspiration and passion you can find for your journey. I've linked to their pages so you can easily order them...
the first two books on the list are from the Lean Enterprise Institute (they have a ton of great resources in addition to these) and are available via or via the LEI website

Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process to Solve Problems, Gain Agreement, Mentor, and Lead (Paperback)

Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results (Hardcover)

Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment (Hardcover)

Now, Discover Your Strengths (Hardcover)

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life (Hardcover)

VIBCO Yokoten of the Week

Current State:
Shannon is often assigned projects/tasks verbally or via email. At times projects would be pushed aside or forgotten due to distractions and lack of a proper organizational procedure. She would be asked to report on her progress and often did not have the answers ready. She would run around wasting time looking for the answers.

Shannon knew she needed to find an answer to this problem. She decided to use a dry erase board to list her projects and show the progress she has made on each one. That way as soon as she is assigned a task or project, she writes it on her board! She starts by writing the date the project was assigned, description and any constraints or reasons it may not be completed. Now anyone can come into her office at any time and see what is in Shannon's queue and why it is not finished. Now nothing gets forgotten and Shannon never has to worry about explaining why certain projects take longer than expected.

Wastes Eliminated:

Leaders must face reality.
Reality starts with the person in charge. Leaders need to look themselves in the mirror and recognize their role in creating the problems—then gather their teams together and gain agreement about the root causes. Widespread recognition of reality is the crucial step before problems can be solved. Attempting to find short-term fixes that address the symptoms of the crisis only ensures the organization will wind up back in the same predicament. To see the real reasons for the crisis, everyone on the leadership team must tell the whole truth. Everyone on the team must be candid in sharing the entire truth, no matter how painful it is. How can you solve problems if you don't acknowledge them?

Monday, June 15, 2009

VIBCO hosted another presidents tour and event with over 50 attendees. We had a cross section of people and industries including: manufacturers, service companies, medical practitioners, government officials. To date we have hosted more than 150 people at these events and over 800 on plant tours. We are spreading the passion of lean throughtout our state and beyond.

Friday, June 12, 2009

LeanRI at the Gaspee Tea Party

A group of people representing gathered on the steps of the Rhode Island Statehouse to support the Gaspee Tea Party. The Gaspee Tea Party was organized to protest excessive taxes and excessive government spending. LeanRI believes that it is though lean principles that these taxes and excessive spending can be reigned in. Lean principles teaches us that through the elimination of waste we can decrease expense. If government can adopt lean principles, eliminate waste, they can then provide better services with the current resources and we can all benefit.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Lean across govenment agencies:
How to allign Multi-Agency Government Processes that involve hand-offs among multiple government agencies or offices pose unique challenges and opportunities. Each agency has its own internal process that interfaces with other agencies’ processes. These agency-specific processes may not be well-aligned and process “ownership” boundaries may not be clear. Value stream mapping can be a powerful tool for building cross-agency understanding, trust, and alignment. Kaizen (continuous improvemtent) events can help improve internal agency processes that interface with the multi-agency process. Leadership and political will across the participating agencies is typically needed to navigate obstacles arising from differences in agencies’ missions, goals, and organizational cultures.
Think carefully about which processes types you want to target first and set realistic expectations for results.
By focusing on improving the process and not pointing fingers on people managment and line workers can eliminate waste by finding solutions together.

Lean thought for the day

From Wikopedia
Lean Government is a term used, mostly in the United States and Canada but increasingly more in international public administration circles, to describe an evidence based process for the state to identify the most efficient and value added way to provide needed government services. As more and more government services are delivered electronically,[1][2] Lean Government initiatives are commonly applications of Lean IT.
The practice uses a process called Value Stream Mapping to analyze administrative processes. The results are used to design technology use, task completion and staffing patterns to meet the identified need.
Lean Government practices promote and transform the state into an efficient operation that ebbs and flow with identified needs for infrastructure, education and other services based on the political changes in policy. Lean Government proponents generally believe that the government should cut out "waste" and "inefficiency" from the State, which will result in overall better services and more value for tax supported necessities.
Lean government does not necessary promote low taxes only efficient use of those taxes levied. Tax policy is discerned by the legislative and executive branches of government with oversight of the judicial branch of government. Lean Government is implemented by the administrative function of government through executive order, legislative mandate or departmental administrative decisions.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Find a way to make it their idea. There is a saying "people support what they create" and this is very true. When people generate or help to develop an idea they are more likely to be engaged and to support it. Many times the kaizen leader has a great idea, or sees a golden opportunity to apply a textbook lean concept to a process. The people working in that process may not see it that way. Rather than fight over an idea, grapple with resistance and cause people to disengage from kaizen it is best to clarify and agree on the problem and ask them for ideas. Even if it is 30% wrong, let them try it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

VIBCO Yokoten of the Week

Current State:
Giovanni used a single monitor and needed to have multiple applications opened simultaneously. It took a long time to navigate between all the applications and this had a negative impact on customer service levels - particularly when there were several customers needing Giovanni's attention.

Giovanni had the idea that if he added a monitor he could do more for the customer faster with less repetitive motion. And it worked great! So he added a 3rd monitor and, guess what? It worked even better! He found that he could reduce his call time and increase efficiency while improving the level of service to the customer. Ultimately, Giovanni added a 4th monitor and again showed increased efficiency and faster results for all customers (internal and external)!

Is a 5th Monitor on the horizon? To be continued…

Wastes Eliminated:
Under Utilization

Lean thought for the day

Some pointers on employee development:
Assess current and potential employees objectively. The use of well developed and well validated measures of personality, technical skills, values and cognitive ability consistently lead to higher-quality hiring and promotion decisions.
Create growth opportunities. Survey findings consistently indicate that providing superior growth and development opportunities increases job satisfaction and reduces turnover. Remember that training and development is part of the "total rewards" package that can be offered to employees, and that focusing on skill development is beneficial to individual workers and the company as a whole.
Develop great leaders The stability and excellence of a company's leadership is critically important to its continued success. Do your employees view leaders as committed to the long haul and committed to their individual growth and success?
Track satisfaction. The job satisfaction of individuals, teams and the organization as a whole often serves as a "leading indicator" for operational metrics such as sales, customer satisfaction and profitability. Frequently and consistently monitor job satisfaction via both formal and informal means.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Added New Resource

Please note that I have added a new resource - the "Lean in Government Starter Kit"

This is a great introduction to lean and how government agencies can and are using lean!

(Thanks to Janet C. for the link!)

Lean thought for the day

"You can observe a lot just by watching." --Yogi Berra
"If you see a snake, just kill it - don't appoint a committee on snakes." - H. Ross Perot
"Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I'll understand." -Chinese Proverb

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lean thought for the day

Do You Understand the System of Profound Knowledge?
W. Edwards Deming said "without theory there is no learning" while Taiichi Ohno said "understanding means doing." Deming left a great legacy with his Theory of Profound Knowledge which if followed allows the wayward Western organization to transform itself into one that excels and improves continuously. It could be said that Ohno and others valued practice over theory and transformed Toyota.
Deming explains that Western organizations must transform themselves, and that a system cannot transform itself without first understanding itself. One who is part of the system cannot understand the whole without first stepping outside of it and looking in. Deming called this developing a system of profound knowledge:
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

Lean thought for the day

These are the times that try men's souls. Thomas Paine said these prophetic words almost two hundred and thirty five years ago on the eve of the American revolution. What we are experiencing in our country today is our 1776 and we must do all that we can to save our country and our way of life. Through best practices and lean thinking we can increase productivity dramatically and begin change the paradigm. In troubled times there is tremendous opportunity and we must seize the day and begin the journey

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lean thought for the day

The three simple keys to lean leadership

1) Go see- Sr. managment must spend time in the front lines

2) Ask why- use this technique daily to get to the root cause of the problem

3) Show respect - "respect people at all times"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Introducing: The Yokoten of the Week

Here at VIBCO we have a very special environment! All VIBCO employees really run their own small business and are empowered to improve their own day-to-day processes as long as they "side ways share" (yokoten) the improvements.

I will be sharing one of these once a week in light of our Lean journey and maybe YOU can eliminate some waste from your day!

Current State:
When Lucy needed to use her wrench she would have to look at each end to be sure it was the correct side.Improvement:
Lucy cut the end off that was unused eliminating looking.

Wastes Eliminated:
Under Utilization

Lean thought for the day

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 (eyes to see), action occurs, waste begins to vanish, processes flow smoother, and “True North” is realized.

Paul Cary, Lean Sensei

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lean thought for the day

A reflection on GM
"What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog."
Kaizen. The rise and fall of countless civilizations attest to the fact that is not how big, strong or good you are but how hard you are working to improve that makes the difference over time. It is not the past revenues, reputation, bank account or accumulated glories and credentials that matter. All of those thinks can be washed away in a week. What matters is whether you can pick up and keep fighting, building and improving.

Lean thought for the day

“How do we implement the kaizen ideas which are accepted?” If the ideas are kept local and small, the individual or team who generates the kaizen idea will be able to implement the idea most of the time. When it is an issue of skill or ability to make the changes either physically or in terms of macros, computer code or revision of procedures and standards, the long-term solution is to cross-train and enhance skills of people to enable them to implement suggestions. By expanding the skills of workers to build their own tools, equipment, workstations, visual controls and mistake proofing devices and so forth we can reduce the bottleneck in implementing kaizen ideas caused by reliance on a limited number of skilled engineers, technicians or maintenance people.

The primary motivator for kaizen idea generation should be the opportunity for individuals to learn and grow. For this reason many companies in will make the suggestion program a part of the human resource devleopment organization rather than operations or engineering. The aim is not to teach people technical skills but to teach people how to analyze processes, define value and waste and to solve problems. These are highly valuable, portable skills for a worker at any level in the organization. Beyond problem solving, learning through the kaizen idea generation process can involve improved writing skills, presentation skills, team leadership skills and many other fundamentals of management. engineers, technicians or maintenance people.