What to do before implementing Lean Concepts!

lean concepts

5 things to know prior to making use of Lean Concepts!

Ignore these and your lean concepts will be nothing but dreams!

Changing lean conceptsany enterprise into a Lean Business may be a daunting job if the person participating in the project does not have the knowledge and experience of lean concepts to grasp what needs to be done.    Listed here are 5 factors that each business owner should really know prior to implementing a lean program.

Five factors to consider before turning your lean concepts into reality!

#1. Developing a Lean Culture:

Many organizations employ lean principles on an unplanned basis, they do not think about the consequences of their actions when attempting to develop and establish a Lean Culture. They must change their focus towards using lean concepts. The only way any enterprise will not become another failed lean implementation statistic will be to obtain the appropriate setting to support the identification and elimination of waste to increase value for its customers.

#2. Genchi Gembutsu:

A business owner is unable to know what is happening in their workplace if they are not applying “Genchi Gembutsu.” It is a Japanese phrase that loosely translates into “Go to the place where the work is being done and see it with your own eyes.” It requires employees to understand lean concepts to change their approach to finding solutions. Don’t try to improve company processes while away from the workplace, such as inside a conference room or training office. Go to where the process is currently being performed and watch it in action to get a true understanding about what is occurring.

#3. Kaizen:

The concept of Kaizen is based on two factors contained within the phrase, which are “Kai” and “Zen.” The meaning of these 2 terms is “change for the good.” It is important to understand that this implies never changing something for the sake of change itself. Make it a rule to adopt lean concepts to encourage a different way of thinking.  Only change a process when it increases value for the customer. Doing anything other than this is a waste or muda!

#4. Problem Solving:

Identifying improvements on the job sounds like an easy task, nonetheless, realistically, it is rather difficult, and the reason for this is that people don’t know the place to begin. Most organizations get their workforce to spend their valuable time concentrating on the wrong things. This causes more problems since it increases cost instead of minimizing it. Educate your workers to understand lean concepts and become problem solvers and authorize them to seek and eliminate the waste.

#5. Lean Training:

A technique to get a traditional enterprise to become more profitable would be to train their workforce about Lean Principles and how to utilize them to remove waste and improve their own workspace. This is usually a win-win for any business, its people and its customers. Get the right individual, and that is someone who has a good knowledge of implementing Lean Principles into a company. Ask them for details about previous final results for continuous process improvement (CPI) projects to demonstrate how they applied Lean tools.

Understanding these 5 simple points will get you targeted on doing the right activities and make your Lean implementation successful. Education is important but it is only by individuals following through and also employing their understanding Lean Principles that they will begin to transform their company into a Lean Enterprise. To learn more click here

Chris Turner is the CEO and Director of Training and Development for Radical Transformation LLC. He has 27 years of experience in the Continuous Process Improvement field. During this time, he has integrated Lean Principles, Lean Six Sigma and Change Management into his skill’s portfolio. He has worked with major organizations in the UK, USA and Canada such as the US Air Force, Canadian Ministry of Health, Siemens, Medtronic, APW, English China Clay to name a few. He participated in the design and development of Lean Certification Online, which allows learners to have 24/7 access to online training materials to improve their understanding of lean concepts.

Workplace Organization!


Why is Workplace Organization or 5S so important?

Can 5S help you to find what you need to do your job in 30 seconds or less?

Workplace Organization is a combination of two lean techniques, 5S and Visual Managem5Sent. When implemented as part of a lean program it can help any organization to reduce the amount of time its employees spend searching for parts, materials and equipment. After initiating a Workplace Organization project it is important to communicate so others understand what they need to know about it. Doing this will increase its integrity and effectiveness in achieving its main goal, which is the identification and eliminate of waste. The more people understand the process, the more they will participate in using it and this will help it to continue to improve.

Workplace Organization consists of 5S and Visual Management!

A 5S system can be implemented into any manufacturing, office or healthcare environment. 5S will quickly reveal the many areas of hidden waste. 5S is one of the best tools to identify and eliminate waste in the workplace. Every business can apply 5S principles throughout its work processes.

Visual Management is the process of managing a production system by implementing visual controls. The purpose of doing this is to differentiate between a normal and an abnormal situation. In other words, a defect must be obvious and recognizable as a consequence of using visual controls. Visual controls are techniques that shift an organization from optional to required behavior. This could be something as simple as placing a sign or painting a location square on the floor. A good example of a visual control is lines in a parking lot. If there were no lines , where would people park their cars? Probably anywhere they could find an empty space, right! The lines are there as a guide to show people how to align their vehicles in an orderly manner, which makes it easier for everyone to park.

Workplace Organization (5S and Visual Management) is the one of most difficult techniques to implement when an organization decides to embark on a journey towards becoming a Lean Enterprise. Why is this? Well, its because it requires a high level of internal discipline to implement Workplace Organization using 5S and Visual Management. Most organizations don’t usually have this kind of discipline, this is why so many of the fail when implementing Lean.  If an organization cannot implement a robust 5S system and sustain it, they do not have the required level of discipline to implement Lean principles overall.

To learn more about Workplace Organization (5S and Visual Management) and how to build the necessary internal discipline .

Which first, People elimination or Problem elimination?

lean thinking

It’s a toss up between – Mean thinking or Lean thinking!

Lean thinking is the way of a progressive CEO!

I am often asked why it is necessary for a business to adopt lean thinking! Well, it’s will allow an organization to train its employees about Lean principles and to apply them into their business practices. A business that is not improving on a consistent basis is not growing. A company that is not growing is standing still, it is the same as treading water and it’s only a matter of time before they will sink and drown. This has already happened to many US businesses. It almost happened to the US auto industry and they were suppose to be participating in lean thinking!

I believlean thinkinge that it’s a given in today’s global economy for every company to implement Lean principles into their business practices. Why? Because the results are evident in those companies that use lean thinking to improve their processes. Those business leaders who have followed this advice are finding that  their organizations are improving and staying afloat.

We hear the latest gossip on the 24 hour news channels about how companies are improving productivity. We also hear about how many businesses are reducing their inventories. What we do not hear is why this is happening now, when we know the economy is still going south and will be for a while.

Lean thinking is easy conceptually, but not so easy to put into practice!

When one realizes that according to economists, 70% of the US economy is consumer driven. This means that people are buying things such as houses, goods, cars, etc. The Government and Business leaders alike need to change their thinking about how to overcome the key issue that faces every business today. They need to adopt a process of problem solving using lean thinking. How can consumers go out and buy things, when they do not have money in their pockets to spend? I suggest a dose of  lean thinking might be a good start! What are the root causes of the problem?

One of the root causes is the definition of financial success. The traditional CEO has one goal in life and that is to do everything possible to increase the dividend value to the company shareholders. The traditional way they achieve this is by cutting costs to increase profits. What is the number one method they use to do this? Well, they achieve it through people elimination. This is the worst kind of muda or waste because this leads to a reduction or elimination of the intellectual capital, which is the horsepower that drives service or product innovation. This is why the US is lagging behind many other countries including India and China. These countries have undertaken a paradigm shift by using lean thinking to shape their economy and their future in the global markets.

The traditional CEO will also direct their sales people to go out to find more customers and sell more services or products to drive up sales revenue and increase profits. However, they continue to ignore the simple fact that it is actually costing them 25% to 40% of their annual revenue to maintain the hidden waste that currently exists within their business systems. A 10% increase in sales is a small improvement to the bottom line compared to the effort required to generate it. However, a 10% increase in productivity as a result of eliminating waste will improve cash flow with less effort. Which is better, profit or cash flow?

A CEO of a business that has implemented Lean principles will see it from very different perspective. They will challenge all their employees to find ways to overcome the impact of the downturn in the global economy. The CEO will ask them to participate in kaizen or rapid improvement teams to use problem solving to find solutions to reduce costs and increase value for their customers. These actions will help to ensure long term employment and business prosperity.

These progressive CEO’s have taken on another challenge. They understand that the only successful way forward for any business is to adopt lean thinking and implement lean principles. Today, this is achieved through the implementation of a top down, bottom up communication system, which will encourage collaboration between employees and management. The old methods of management, which are based on a manager having power over the actions of employees is slowly being replaced. The new paradigm is one of shared responsibility and accountability between employees and management. Their focus is to create value for their customers by using lean thinking to improve their workplace.

So, the choice is simple! Increase profits through cost cutting and people elimination? Or, Increase profits through lean thinking and using problem solving to support employment and business prosperity? If you want to learn more …about lean thinking

Which is the better system, Lean or Six Sigma?

six sigma

Getting beyond the hype is improtant whe it comes to implementing Lean and/or Six Sigma?

Which one first, Lean or Six Sigma?

The Lean vsix sigmas. Six Sigma discussion continues to roll on. Which is the best system for a business to adopt? Which one will deliver the best results? Which one gives fast results? What are the implementation cost difference’s between a Lean and a Six Sigma program? These are typical questions that get asked in this long running comparison between Lean and Six Sigma.

There are three factors that will influence any management team to decide on Lean or Six Sigma:

  1. Complexity of the business processes.
  2. Dollar amount available in the training budget.
  3. Discipline of management team to execute improvement initiatives.

1. Complexity of the business processes:

Any business with a high level of complexity in its processes will require an improvement program that can meet the demands of the  customer by using a more analytical approach. These types of businesses will use Lean to stabilize their processes and Six Sigma to reduce variation and improve quality. These types of organizations operate in a more academic or scientific level of industry such as chip manufacturers, software developers, etc.

Any business with a lower level of complexity needs an improvement program that can meet the demands of its customers by identifying and eliminating waste using basic Lean principles and problem solving tools. Kaoru Ishikawa stated, ” that 95% of all problems could be solved using seven basic quality tools.” These seven tools are:

  1. Flow Chart ( or Value Stream Map)
  2. Pareto Chart
  3. Scatter Diagram
  4. Cause & Effect Diagram
  5. Check Sheets
  6. Histograms
  7. Control Charts

Organizations that have successfully implemented Lean Principles use most, if not all of these seven quality tools as part of their Problem Solving toolkit.  In conjunction with the “5 Why’s”, the Lean toolkit can become a very effective set of tools to help identify and eliminate waste.

2. Dollar amount available in the training budget.

Traditionally, companies will spend less than 3% of their revenue on training. The Lean vs. Six Sigma discussion raises a legitimate question: “How much does it cost to implement each system?” Well one thing I know for sure is that Lean is a much cheaper system to implement than Six Sigma. Why is this? Six Sigma requires specialist training to develop a core group of green and black belts to run projects. This training is much more complex and expensive than teaching your employees to understand Lean principles and how to apply them. So, why do companies adopt Six Sigmas if it is more expensive to implement than Lean?

It is easy to answer this question by using the comparison I used earlier in this article. “If a business can improve its process using seven basic quality tools and lean principles, why would they want to implement a Six Sigma program?” I think the answer is obvious, they would only do this if they had complex processes or were influenced by the hype that Six Sigma is the ultimate silver bullet to solve all of their problems and improve performance. Lean is easy and relatively much more cost effective to implement compared to the overall cost of a Six Sigma program.

3. Discipline of management team to execute improvement initiatives.

In the end it really does not matter how much a business pays for any system if the management team lacks the discipline to implement any of their improvement initiatives. During the 27 years I have been working in the Continuous Process Improvement field, it is amazing how many companies do not execute their own strategic or tactical initiatives. The best plan in the world is useless unless it is converted into action. The cost of training employees to understand Lean or Six Sigma in one thing. However, the cost of taking several employees away from their daily productive work to participate in an improvement team and their ideas are not used is the worst kind of waste.

To summarize the article, I would recommend that any company start their Continuous Process Improvement journey by first implementing Lean principles and the seven problem solving tools. Employee training can be done on-site or online.  If you’re interested in signing up for a free access to Lean training, click here. When business processes have been stabilized through the application of Standardized Work using Lean princples, then and only then would I personally consider implementing a six sigma or a lean six sigma program.

What is Strategy Deployment?

strategy deployment

strategy deploymentEvery business needs to know about Strategy Deployment!

Why is strategy deployment so important?

It’s very important for any business to have a clear understanding of what is stopping it from achieving success. Without knowing this important piece of information they will continue to repeat the same mistakes. However, that everyone should know is there are no failures, only results. An organization just has to find the right result to match their needs!

Strategy Deployment helps any business to learn about themselves. It creates a common focus for everyone in the organization. This focus is called a “vision”. Often a vision is referred to as the companies “North Star.”

Strategy Deployment is like a compass, it helps a company to get its bearings and know its moving in the right direction!

The Japanese term for Strategy Deployment is “Hoshin Kanri.” The term for Strategy Deployment is aligned with the concept of a compass guiding a traveler to help them determine the direction of magnetic North or the North Star. Many companies have successfully implemented Strategy Deployment to guide their business process improvement projects to align with their own North Star or vision.

Many organizations struggle with the need to improve their business processes and maintain their revenue stream. Business Process Improvement requires time and money. It s therefore very important for a business to ensure they are putting their money into sound improvement projects.

Many companies lose their way and find it difficult to get back on track. A great tool for helping any business to do this is “Strategy Deployment.” It is an easy system to learn and implement throughout an organization. It does require a change in thinking and the discipline to follow through with the defined activities.

It’s very important for any business to have a clear understanding of what is stopping it from achieving success. Without knowing this important piece of information they will continue to repeat the same mistakes. There are no failures, only results.

It’s very important for any business to have a clear understanding of what is stopping it from achieving success. Without knowing this important piece of information they will continue to repeat the same mistakes. There are no failures, only results.

Many companies lose their way and find it difficult to get back on track. A great tool for helping any business to do this is “Strategy Deployment.” It is an easy system to learn and implement throughout an organization. It does require a change in thinking and the discipline to follow through with the defined activities. Click to check out this website for training about Strategy Deployment.

Continuous Process Improvement Wishlist!

continuous process improvement

Continuous Process Improvement starts with a problem and ends with a solution!

Capturing your employee’s ideas is the best way to support your continuous process improvement program!

Every buscontinuous process improvementiness has a wishlist. It is generated by individuals who see a lack of internal capability based on wishful thinking. I wish we could do this and I wish we could do that! Wishing does nothing except generate a deeper level of frustration with every passing day. Employees actual like to be part of the system and enjoy their ideas being used as part of a company’s continuous process improvement process.

Continuous Process Improvement does not happen by chance!

However, Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) is not something you wish for, it is something you do. Change does not happen by chance, it has to be defined, managed and cultivated over time. Getting things to occur on a Just in Time (JIT) basis requires changes in the organizational thinking. Often, this is counter intuitive to conventional thinking. A good example of this process is to slow down to speed up! Every action starts as a thought! Change your thinking and you can change your world. The desire for change is the initiator of continuous process improvement.

What is Kaizen?


Understanding the meaning of kaizen can impact success!

Kaizen is a philosophical concept of incremental improvements over time.

Does your employees know the meaning of the Japanese term “kaizen“? It is improtant for every business owner to know  and understand the meaning of this term. It can be the difference between success and failure when trying to change your processes!

Kaizen is akaizen way of life that is inherent within the Japanese culture and was integrated into the Toyota Production System (TPS) after World War II. It has become the buzz word or keyword that is immediatly recognizable with the process of continuous improvement.

Cultural change starts with the acceptance of the kaizen philosphy!

When a business can implement small improvements on a regular basis over a period of time, it eventually leads to changes in the culture. Cultural acceptance of change is the goal of all continuous improvement. Without the acceptance of a Kaizen philosophy, there will be an ongoing resistance to change and this will force a business to return to its old ways.

I like what George Bernard Shaw had to say about this, “If a person can’t change their mind, they cannot change anything.” This is the secret to putting Kaizen into practice!