Do Patients Benefit With Lean Healthcare?

Do Patients Benefit With Lean Healthcare?

We have been hearing a lot of talk lately about the state of healthcare. With an aging population, it is becoming a very expensive process to provide adequate healthcare to all who need it. Once you get past the political rhetoric, there are a few simple facts that are beyond dispute.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 12.8% of the U.S. population is 65 years and over. This number is expected to double in size over the next 25 years. By 2030 almost 1 out of 5 Americans, some 72 million people – will be 65 years or older. In fact, the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population is the age group 85 and older.

Do Patients Benefit With Lean Healthcare?
Do Patients Benefit With Lean Healthcare?

This might not seem like a big deal to most people, but it really is when you look at it from a supply and demand perspective. According to a survey conducted by Press Ganey Associates in 2007, U.S. emergency patients spent an average of 4 hours and 5 minutes in the emergency department. The question is: Are patients harmed by long wait times? In 2006, the Institute of Medicine released a report, which found there was “a growing concern” that a patient having to wait is affecting their level of care.  It also stated that waiting could “result in a patient experiencing protracted pain and suffering and delays in diagnosis and treatment.” The aging population is and will continue to overwhelm the U.S. healthcare system and is creating a fragmented care process.

According to OECD data, American health care is a prime example of the consequences of fragmented care: high costs (40% higher than the next most expensive nation), injuries to patients (between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans dying in hospitals each year due to errors in their care), unscientific care (500 percent variation in rates of some surgical procedures from city to city), and poor service. Patients with chronic diseases — who account for 75 percent of all health care expenditures — are most vulnerable.

What is the answer to this growing problem? Is it a matter of throwing more money at the problem? How can we save the next patient from being harmed as a consequence of the next medical error? The answer will astonish many because we need to go to the automobile industry for the solution. In fact, the Toyota Production System (TPS) is where we find the methods to help improve the healthcare system. How do I know this? Well, there are many examples throughout the U.S. and the world where healthcare facilities have implemented programs using Lean principles from the Toyota Production System to help identify and eliminate waste.

What is demonstrated by using Lean principles is that most hospitals are not designed for sick people. The medical facilities are designed to fulfill functional requirements of the healthcare process and staff needs. The result of this type of hospital design is patients have to be moved or transported from one process to the next.

A typical process will start with a patient going to registration in one part of the building. Next, the patient will check-in with someone in another department to take their vital signs, and maybe they need to give specimens (urine, blood, etc.) in another department somewhere else. After several lengthy waiting periods, and visits to different floor levels and multiple elevator rides the patient will arrive at their main destination. This is the actual reason for them being at the hospital, which is to see a physician for a diagnosis and treatment. For a cancer patient, this is chemotherapy, for an emergency patient this is to have their condition examined and stabilized. After their treatment, they may be discharged to go home, or there could be more tests required, which means more travel time to other departments.

In a Lean Enterprise, the customer is the primary focus. Every improvement is the result of seeing the production and delivery process from the customer’s perspective. Hospitals are now starting to implement the same approach in the delivery of healthcare.  I often work with the staff in hospitals, and I find them to be hard working and dedicated people. The problem is they are overworked and overwhelmed because of the bureaucracy and organizational structures they work with.  However, working harder is not going to change the process, it will only exacerbate the problem. So, what is the solution?

We need to get everyone to work smarter, not harder! This means getting everyone involved in the healthcare process to become a problem solver. The people who live and breathe the daily challenges are the medical staff and patients. Training hospital staff to understand Lean principles and how to implement them to identify and eliminate waste is the first step. Organizing them into improvement (kaizen) teams to find solutions to improve their service to the patient is the second step.  Implementing both steps will dramatically improve the patient’s experience.

If you are interested in learning about Lean Principles check out the Lean Healthcare Online website. All of their Lean training is online and available 24/7. To see more information about the Level 1 – Lean Awareness in Healthcare training…click here

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What is Strategy Deployment?

What is Strategy Deployment?

Every business needs to know about Strategy Deployment!

So, 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!

What is Strategy Deployment?
What is Strategy Deployment?

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 one of our other websites for training about Strategy Deployment.

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Is Lean Certification Necessary?

Is Lean Certification Really Necessary?

Dispelling 3 myths about Lean Certification!

I received a call the other day from someone enquiring about Lean Certification. He told me that he wanted to sign up for my Lean Certification training course. I asked why he was doing this. What was his motivation for obtaining lean certification? He was surprised that I asked him this question. “Isn’t it obvious why I would want to do this”, he said! I was not really sure to be honest. I assumed he was trying to improve his knowledge of lean principles or something like this. I was dead wrong! He was doing it because his boss told him that it was the only way he was going to be accepted as a member on the company’s improvement team. Our conversation made me think about the misinformation that has been generated that has led to this perception. The consequence is that business owners think that lean knowledge is only acceptable when it comes in the form of lean certification. Here are three common myths  about lean certification that I want to share to dispel this belief.

Myth #1: People who attain lean certification make better practitioners!

Is Lean Certification Necessary?
Is Lean Certification Necessary?

This is probably the worst myth of all. It is a statement that is perpetuated by people who follow an academic mindset toward increasing knowledge and learning. The problem is that it is incorrect. It is the same as saying that someone with a degree achieves a higher level of job performance than someone without one. Where is the evidence to prove it? It is a statement based on biased opinions and not supported by data. Over the years, I have seen people who did not have a high school diploma achieve amazing results using lean principles when they were given the right learning environment. No lean certification here!

Lean is a process of learning by doing. A more technical way of presenting this is to say that application of lean principles is a method of converting declarative knowledge (cognitive learning) from a book, video, workshop, etc., into procedural knowledge (tasks or activities) to improve the performance of the workplace. The time required for a person to become proficient at a specific task is known as their” learning curve.” In fact, it is the amount of time a person needs to convert the information in their head into the correct physical activities to create the best results. The learning curve applies to everyone whether they have obtained lean certification or not.

The only way to learn about lean principles is through practice, which is implementing them into the workplace. Practice makes perfect and delivers results. If this can be done with the assistance of a lean sensei or mentor this is a better proposition because the learning curve will be shorter. A person with a lean certification can prove one thing, and it is that they received standardized information about lean principles. It certainly does not prove that they are more capable of improving workplace performance. Lean application, experience and measurable results are the only ways to prove if anyone can truly call themselves a lean practitioner. A lean certification is an acknowledgement of formal training.

Myth #2: Lean Certification training from an accredited organization is better!

Find any company with an opening for a lean practitioner and then take a look at their job description. What you will probably find is that they require the person to have attained lean certification from an accredited college or university. What does this really mean? Why are they required to have attended an accredited establishment? What does accreditation really mean? Is this a valid requirement for this type of lean certification?

This is the definition of accreditation according to the folks at the business dictionary online:

Certification of competence in a specified subject or areas of expertise, and of the integrity of an agency, firm, group, or person, awarded by a duly recognized and respected accrediting organization.

In other words, the accreditation process ensures that their lean certification practices are acceptable, typically meaning that they are competent to test and certify third parties, behave ethically and employ suitable quality assurance. Extract was quoted from

So, what are the differences between accredited and non-accredited organizations? The accredited organization can issue Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) with their lean certification training. A non-accredited training organization cannot issue CEU’s. Does this mean that receiving lean certification training from a non-accredited organization is worse? Not at all, because most are professional training and consulting businesses that generate revenues from teaching their clients Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) practices such as Lean Principles and Six Sigma. They have clients that are in the Fortune 500 class. Do you think these companies would use any organization that does not have the capabilities for delivering the best lean certification training to their employees? Of course not! The only reason for attaining lean certification with an accredited institution is to receive CEU’s and have their prestigious logo on your certificate. However, you will pay much more for the privilege of having these.

Myth #3: Lean Certification will guarantee a successfully lean implementation, every time!

Here is a scenario. I am the CEO of a company, and I just paid for 20 people to attain lean certification with a known accredited institution. I have brought all twenty people into the training room. My purpose is to try to solve a problem that has plagued the company since its inception. As the CEO I am working on three core beliefs:

  1. All 20 people have lean certification, therefore, they are well trained and understand all they need to know about lean principles.
  2. All 20 people have lean certification, therefore, they can use lean principles to identify and eliminate the root cause of the problem.
  3. All 20 people have lean certification, therefore, they have the ability to work together as a team to solve the problem.

Are these three core beliefs correct? Is the CEO doing the right thing? What do you think?

These three assumptions are “Wrong, Wrong and Wrong again.” Why would I say this?

This level of thinking has led people to believe that education is the answer to everything. The problem is that education does what it states, it educates people and improves their level of knowledge to attain lean certification. It does not necessarily demonstrate how to apply this newly acquired knowledge into a practical real-time situation. Even if this does happen, it would probably be presented in a form of a case study from a fictitious company or something similar. At best, there are limited examples of the practical application of lean knowledge during lean certification training.

The twenty people in the room are at the beginning of their application learning curve. It is a new experience, and they have no mental model to help them to assimilate their classroom experience. They are probably feeling lost and have no idea what to do next. They are worried about getting it wrong and making a huge mistake. So, what is the best way to use the limited experience of these twenty team members to achieve the desired result?

Use the services of a lean sensei or mentor to take the team through a few events to help them find their feet. This will shorten their learning curve and reduce the possibility of them making any major mistakes. This will help build confidence and bolster their own abilities to apply lean principles in a working environment. Using a mentor will also help the team members to learn how to structure the improvement events. It will help them to gain a better understanding, about how they need to work together to achieve their goal.

In Summary:

I am not opposed to lean certification, in fact, I support it. I have been responsible for facilitating lean certification training in many businesses over the years. What I am opposed to is the belief that it is the only way to create lean thinking in an organization. In my view, this is so alien to the original concepts that were established by the pioneers of lean thinking such as Henry Ford, Sakichi Toyoda, and Taiichi Ohno. The concept of kaizen is small incremental changes over time. What is included in the kaizen process is the learning experience for every individual involved. Each small improvement builds on the previous one till it eventually creates a different type of culture. An ideal one is a learning culture that uses problem solving to reach the next level. The importance of learning is explained perfectly in this quote from the Chinese philosopher Confucius. “Without learning, the foolish become wise.” Therefore, choose your lean certification based on the quality of the program, not the name of the institution!

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, where learners have 24/7 access to online lean training materials. To learn more about lean certification training click here

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Does Lean Management Increase Profits?

Does Lean Management Increase Profits?

How Lean Management is using a new cost model to stay ahead of their competitors!


In this article, I want to take a look at the advantages of lean management and its effect on any business. There is a direct correlation between the style of management and the success of any business. Why is this? All business owners, no matter what type of field they are in are trying to make a profit. However, to understand an important business process we need to start by asking a simple question “what is profit?” A traditional business owner will say that profit is the difference between costs incurred to produce an item and the selling price to the customer. In a traditional company, the costs incurred are usually production costs, which include raw materials, labor and overhead. Profit is the amount of money added on top of the production costs to generate the selling price of a finished product. They used a traditional cost model or formula for calculating the selling price for a finished product.

Traditional Cost Model:  Selling Price = Production Costs + Profit

Does Lean Management Increase Profits?
Does Lean Management Increase Profits?

In today’s global markets, there are very few companies that are driven by supply and demand in the traditional sense. Today, the world markets are consumer driven, which changes the dynamics of selling and setting the sales price for any item. What does this mean for the business owner? It means they must realize that, unless they are in a niche market, there are hundreds of companies competing for the same customers. Therefore, the traditional formula for calculating profit is not going to work in this business environment. Companies must use a different formula to ensure their selling prices are competitive in the global markets. However, if they set their prices too high the consumer will not purchase their products because they will be too expensive compared to other similar products. If they set their sales prices too low they will reduce their profit margins, and this will impact overall business growth. So, what does a company need to do to compete in global markets?

As we moved into the 21st century the old business cost model has changed dramatically, to one of collaboration between consumers and businesses. Product branding has become the buzz word for any items being sold in these new vibrant global markets. Countries like India and China are expanding economies that are generating huge numbers of new consumers.  In the traditional cost model, higher prices were due to higher demand and a limited supply. However, today it is the opposite! The demand for products is still high but the selling prices of finished goods are determined by the consumer, not the business owner. If the consumer believes the selling price is too high they will go find another business selling the same item at a cheaper price. The internet has made the world a smaller place for the consumer in that they can purchase products from anywhere in the world. Modern companies are turning to lean management to change their way of thinking and developing a better understanding of what consumers want and how to meet their needs.

What is Lean Management?

Lean Management is using lean thinking to improve business practices by implementing lean principles to identify and eliminate waste. This has created a paradigm shift in business strategy and product development for the 21st century. The consumer driven markets also demand a new cost model for any business to stay competitive and thrive. A lean management team understands the needs of the global markets and how to establish a new level of thinking about setting the selling price of their products. There is a new lean cost model for defining the selling price of a product.

Lean Cost Model is:   Profit = Selling Price – Production Costs

A lean cost model is forcing companies to review their current business practices to reduce costs and increase profits. The reason for this is because the selling price is determined by customer demand. Lean Management teams understand that they have no control over the selling price, this is determined by the consumer, and therefore, they must find ways to reduce costs. Forward thinking companies are developing lean management teams to use lean principles to improve the quality of their products, while at the same tie reducing costs. The consumer has many choices to take their business anywhere they want to. The business owner has one choice, and that is to find a way to reduce costs. Lean Management is helping them to do this more cost effecively, click hereto learn more…

Is It Lean or Six Sigma?

Is It Lean or 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 vs. Six Sigma discussion continues to roll on. Which is the best system for a business to adopt? Which one

Is It Lean or Six Sigma?
Is It Lean or Six Sigma?

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.

3 Critical Questions About Lean Principles!

Answer these 3 critical questions before trying to implement lean principles into any type of business.

If a company can’t answer these three simple questions about how they plan to use lean principles they are doomed to failure!

The most common question I am asked is “What is the best way to implement lean principles into a business?” The answer will depend on how the business owners can define three critical factors about why they want to use lean principles :

  • Are you a willing to embrace a system of thinking that will challenge your current business model?
  • Are you willing to create a business environment that will support the implementation of lean principles?
  • Are you willing to start to see problems as opportunities for improvement rather than a necessary evil of doing business?

If you are thinking of implementing lean principles into your company and you answered “No” to any of the three questions above, stop reading this article because its not for you.

I know. You are probably surprised that I am ready to challenge you to go do something else, instead of asking you to continue to read more of this article. So, why would I be willing to do this, instead of just telling you more about lean principles?

If any business owner can’t answer “Yes” to these three key questions, their company is not ready to implement Lean Principles. The reason I am so sure that this is true is based on many years of experience working in the continuous process improvement field. To many business owners pay lip service to it, instead of doing it. Action always speaks louder than words!

Accepting change is the first step towards implementing lean principles into any business!

3 Critical Questions About Lean Principles!
3 Critical Questions about Lean Principles!

Change is a condition driven by a need, and it always starts as a thought process. The first part of the process is when someone starts thinking about change and how it will impact their environment. Next, the thinking moves into research, where the person starts to look for tools and techniques. They start to learn about the different applications and may decide to choose to understand more about lean methods. In other words, they become aware of lean principles and start to do deeper research into how they are used.

The call for change usually starts at the tactical or operational level of an organization such as on the shop floor or in an office. The person wanting to implement lean principles will often be a Team Lead, Supervisor or Line Manager, who read a book, went to a seminar or knows someone who works at a company that successfully implemented lean principles. They will start to implement their own changes to help them learn more about how lean techniques are capable of improving their workplace. Some will be successful. However, most will fail and give up. Why is this?

Adults are natural problem solvers. They desire to understand the reasons why and how things actually happen. If left to their own devices they will slowly learn and find ways to improve their environments. History demonstrates this process to be true. However, the one thing that stops this process dead in its tracks is when those in charge refuse to accept change. The same happens in a business.

Executives and managers are often focused on what they consider to be important issues involved in the day to day running of the business. However, the question here is: Are they focused on the “urgent” or the “important”? This is a very simple but significant distinction. Most are entrenched into the re-active cycle of focusing on the “urgent” issues. A few see the light and move towards the more pro-active cycle of looking at what’s “important”. Lean Manufacturing, Lean Healthcare and Lean Administration all focus employees on the lean process of identifying and eliminating waste or muda.

Bringing about change in any organization requires perseverance and discipline. Implementing lean principles needs these and more. If management does not embrace the need for change it will not happen because employees will feel disempowered by the lack of support.

About the Author:

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, where learners have 24/7 access to online lean training materials. To learn more about lean principles click here

Are You Satisfying Your Customers?

Are You Satisfying Your Customers?

The purpose of this article is to get you to ask this question: “Are you satisfying your customer?” This seems like a pretty straightforward question. However, it is not always that easy to get a straight-forward answer. Most business owners will tell you that they are “definitely satisfying their customer needs.” How do they know for sure? Are they telling the truth? Or, are they in denial?

The follow-up question will always throw them if you dare to ask it: “Where’s your metrics to prove it.” BAM…WHAM…KAPOW! A this point in the conversation you’re either going to be shown the door, or experience an awkward silence followed by rapid change of subject. It seems perfectly normal to ask an executive management team to share their customer satisfaction feedback or their on-time delivery metrics to demonstrate their ability to fulfill their customer needs. In fact, you would think they would be extremely excited to let you see them! If they are truly satisfying their customer needs, they are consistently delivering their products or services to them on time, every time, right?

You see the problem with asking the question is that the answer you receive is not always grounded in reality; it’s often based on perception.  So, does this means they are telling lies or being dishonest? No, of course not, they are simply seeing things from a different perspective, and that is all fine and dandy. What is based on reality? How do we get to see the real picture? Well, that would be simply a matter of listening to what your customers are saying about your products and services. A business owner or management team can fool themselves, and many do but they cannot fool their customers, well not for long anyway! You see, in the 21st century, a customer has many choices and they can and will change their supplier at any time if they are unhappy with them.

So, back to the original question: can your business satisfy customer needs, or not? I have created a simple flow chart that will guide you through an easy  process to discover what and how you are dealing with the current situation in your company when it comes to customer needs. Take a look at the graphic to see the customer needs algorithm. Click here to see a larger size.

Answer the first question and then follow the path to see where it leads you. Now, you get the chance to become a character in your own version of Alice in Wonderland as you follow the white rabbit. However, try to keep a tight grip on reality as you enter and go deeper into the rabbit hole.

Are You Satisfying Your Customers?
Are You Satisfying Your Customers?

If you answer the first question honestly, it will clearly identify whether your company’s has the ability to satisfy customer needs or not, and it will tell you what action to take. On the other hand, if you’re in denial, or unaware of the reality of your current situation, it will lead you to where you believe your company is today, and it will tell you what action to take.  Enjoy your journey down the rabbit hole!

Make sure you read my next post to get the next installment about the way companies deal with this issue and try to answer the questions: Are you satisfying your customers? If you enjoyed this article please share it with your friends and colleagues by email, or the social media buttons below.

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What is Lean Production Success?

What is Lean Production Success?

So, the key question that everyone is asking is: What is Lean Production Success? 

How do you define and understand what it is? How do you know when you have achieved it?

Every company that’s seriously trying to implement lean production methodologies wants to read and hear positive things about other companies that are experiencing great results by doing the same.

Anyone that says implementing lean production methods is easy is not being totally honest. It is not easy, however it does not mean that it is impossible as many have tried and failed. It requires patience, perseverance and resolve to overcome the embedded cultural issues that every company faces when starting out on their lean journey. So, you must keep asking the question over and over again: What is Lean Production Success?

Here is a great article from the Association of Manufacturing Excellence – AME that discusses the latest report from Nikedemonstrating how they are achieving lean production success as part of their strategic vision for the company.

What is Lean Production Success?

What is Lean Production Success?
What is Lean Production Success?

Nike Inc. highlighted its lean manufacturing milestones in the recently released “FY10-11 Sustainable Business Performance Summary.”

The Beaverton, OR-based company unveiled its new factory rating system, the Manufacturing Index, which looks comprehensively at a contract factory’s total performance and includes a deeper look at how a factory approaches sustainability, This index elevates labor and environmental performance alongside traditional supply chain measures of quality, cost and on-time delivery.

Within its overall Manufacturing Index, Nike’s Sourcing & Manufacturing Sustainability Index (SMSI) assesses contract factory performance on sustainability measures, including measures of lean, environment performance (e.g., water, energy, carbon, waste), health and safety, and labor management factors, according to the report. Following two years of development and piloting the program, the company has rolled the SMSI out across its global supply chain.

By adopting a “better manufacturing” or lean approach as part of the sustainability initiative, Nike has reduced material waste and production time, allowing the company’s supply chain to operate more efficiently.

The report stated that contracted factories that adopted Nike’s lean approach experienced defect rates 50 percent lower than facilities that didn’t. Delivery lead times from lean factories were about 40 percent shorter. Lean factory productivity increased 10 percent to 20 percent; and the time to introduce a new product to a factory was reduced by 30 percent.

“Sustainability at Nike means being laser-focused on evolving our business model to deliver profitable growth while leveraging the efficiencies of lean manufacturing, minimizing our environmental effect and using the tools available to us to bring about positive change across our entire supply chain,” Nike CEO and President Mark Parker said in a statement…[Read more in the original article]

The Nike executive management team are a great role model for a lean production success story. They have designed and developed a great business culture that has clearly stated their strategic vision for where they want to take their company. They have clearly asked and defined the question: What is Lean Production Success?

Change does not happen overnight and it will never occur by chance. It is to be defined and planned with the ability to roll with whatever the economy throws at you. This takes stamina and guts to take on the risk because there are no guarantees in life, only opportunities. If we miss them, we may not get a second chance.

Article written by Chris Turner

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Five Things To Know About Lean Principles!

Five Things To Know Before Implementing Lean Principles!

Every business owner needs to know this about lean principles!

Transforming any enterprise into a Lean Business can be a daunting job if the person carrying out the work doesn’t have the knowledge and experience to comprehend what needs to be done.

Allow me to share five important points about implementing lean principles! Every business owner should know about

Five Things To Know Before Implementing Lean Principles!
Five Things To Know Before Implementing Lean Principles!

these before they start implementing lean program into organization:

#1. Lean Training:

One way for a conventional company to become more profitable will be to train their employees about Lean Principles and how to apply them to eliminate waste and improve their own workspace. This can be a win-win for the enterprise, its people and its customers. Get the right individual, and that is someone who has a good knowledge of implementing Lean Principles into an enterprise. Ask for details about past results for continuous process improvement (CPI) projects utilizing Lean tools.

#2. Problem Solving:

Finding improvements on the job sounds like an easy step, nonetheless, realistically, it is rather tricky, and the root-cause of this can be that people don’t know the place to start. Most organizations get their workforce to spend their valuable time concentrating on the wrong areas. This causes more issues since it increases cost instead of reducing it. Train your staff to use lean principles to become problem solvers and then allow them to see and eliminate the waste.

#3. Kaizen:

The concept of Kaizen is based on a couple of factors included inside the word, which you will find are “Kai” and “Zen”, the definition of these two words is “change for the better.” It is important to understand that this means never changing something for the sake of change. Make it a rule to make use of change using lean principles only when it will improve business processes to increase value from a customer’s perspective.

#4. Genchi Gembutsu:

A business owner cannot determine what is happening in their workplace if they are not embracing “Genchi Gembutsu.” This is a Japanese term which loosely translates into “Go to the place where the work is actually being done to see it with your own eyes.” Don’t try to improve company methods away from the place of work, such as inside a conference area or an office. Employ lean principles to drive change! Go to where the process is currently being performed and watch it in action to get an accurate understanding about what is occurring.

#5. Developing a Lean Culture:

Many organizations employ lean principles on an unplanned basis while not thinking about the consequences of their actions in attempting to develop and establish a Lean Culture. The only way any company is not going to emerge as one more failed lean implementation statistic is to obtain the proper type of environment to aid the identification as well as elimination of waste to increase value for its end users.

Understanding these five straightforward factors will get you targeted on accomplishing the right actions and make your Lean implementation proceed much smoother. Education is important but it is only by people taking action and employing their understanding of Lean Principles that they will start to change their enterprise into a Lean Enterprise.

Chris Turner is the CEO and Director of Training and Development for Radical Transformation LLC. He has almost 30 years of hands-on 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 lean training materials. To learn more about lean principles click here

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What is a Lean Process?

What is a Lean Process?

One of the questions that I receive in my email inbox more than any other is “What is a Lean Process?

what is a lean process

You would think that everyone would know the answer to this question, especially when we are living in the 21st century. It makes you wonder where these people that ask me this question have been living for the past few years. With companies like Toyota and GM appearing on the main news channels almost nightly for one reason or another. Did they not see the ongoing reports? Or, maybe they were focused on more important things?

It really demonstrates that people don’t find it easy to connect  common or related events together. However, this is not a scientific study, it is based on my own observations. Why is this happening?

Well, its because there is so much information being thrust at us from social media sites and news channels that its easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the quagmire of data.  The same thing happens with companies that are trying to get through their day to day business activities, going from one crisis to the next to correct an issue with a customer order, etc. They are focused on the “Urgent” and forgot to take time out to get back to the “Important.”

When you live in the fast track and get use to dealing with the urgent issues, you never get time to step back and see reality. You live in a mental construct that is like your playing a character part in the Matrix movie. You are unaware of how things are working or not working. Everything becomes a habit and we get addicted to the certainty and comfort of activities that are repetitive and familiar.

Here are a couple of short videos that will help answer the question:

What is a Lean Process?

Lean Process Training LIVE NACE 2011

Thinking about Lean in your collision repair center? The experts from 3M break down the basics of Lean Process LIVE from NACE 2011.


So, the first video gives a good overview of lean principles, the next video will demonstrate how an organization is using them to improve its processes.  It is important to understand the what, when and how to use lean principles to give a practical answer to the question we are posing in this article – What is a Lean Process?


Transforming your business through Lean Process Improvement

Don Wetekam, Group Vice President of MRO, gives an extensive presentation on how to cut costs while still operating at a high level.

This quote by George Bernard Shaw explains it better than most, “Progress requires change and if you can’t change your mind, then you can’t change anything.”

If you want to change, you have to become aware of the flaws in the current process and this cannot happen by maintaining the status quo, it requires a paradigm shift. An executive management team must gain insight into their business practices and realize that something it not working. They must stop blaming the system and start to realize that they are enabling and supporting their organizations poor performance. So, what is a lean process? It’s when employees learn how to work smarter and stop believing that the only way to improve performance is to work harder.

If you enjoyed reading this article – What is a Lean Process?

You will enjoy reading this article too – Do Lean Manufacturing Principles Work?

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