Monday, 23 September 2013

Setting the Lean Agenda

Past delegates tell us that our UK Lean Summits and our YouTube channel are setting the agenda for the lean movement in Europe. I am convinced that the speakers Dave Brunt has gathered this year's Lean Summit on 5th - 7th November 2013 will do so again. Let me give you four reasons why, if you are serious about lean practice, I think you should join us. 

1. Last year we shared the lean transformation model in which capability development is the key engine for solving business problems and delivering the performance leaps we know are possible. This year Dave and I will put more flesh on these bones and Art Byrne, the heroic leader from Chapter 7 of Lean Thinking, will describe what it takes to lead multiple lean transformations. Kevin Robinson heads the group helping organisations learn from Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK and well-known sports coach Dr. Peter Treadwell will demonstrate what practice really means. All of this will challenge our understanding of what lean is really about and give new direction to our lean transformations.

2. James Morgan is unique in having not only studied and written about Toyota’s new product development system, he went on to build the lean product development system that was key to rescuing Ford from bankruptcy. He recently retired and having heard his very wise words I would absolutely urge your product development folks to hear and meet with him. They would learn a lot.

3. If you have been following our evidence based experiments with hospitals you will be fascinated by the next installments. Owen Williams, the Chief Executive of Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, will show how they are combining the lean building blocks (described at our 2011 Summit) to create a truly customer driven hospital. Liam Duffy, Chief Executive of Beaumont Hospital in Dublin will describe how they are making big steps to catch up fast! Healthcare is a long journey – but the path ahead is becoming clearer.

4. One of the biggest challenges is collaborating across functions. We tackle this from different perspectives. Steve Warren will talk about transforming global supply chains at Akzo Nobel while Peter Ayeni describes how they keep airliners flying at Lufthansa. Phil Mayhew and Kim Silcock show how delivering all kinds of services is not about the services themselves but about improving the lives of the citizens of Solihull Council, a leader in lean local government. Pierre Masai will share some fascinating insights about the very different role played by IT at Toyota Motor Europe.

Our Summits not only make you think but they are also full of wise reflections from very experienced lean practitioners with real stories to tell. They have also triggered many new initiatives and led to collaboration between participants. I always come away inspired by them, I hope to see you in November.

For more details and to view the full programme visit

Best wishes
Daniel T Jones
Chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Lean IT

Lean thinking should always start with the customer or user. We create value in our lives, meet our needs and solve problems by sourcing and using a combination of products, services and information. The same is true at work – we make or use products, we deliver or use services and deploy them to best effect using information. The Internet is fundamentally changing the way we acquire and use this information and translate it into knowledge. Yet there are still enormous frustrations with the way IT is currently used in organisations. We are often still prisoners of the logic of mass production – using big systems for command and control.

A lot of progress has been made in using lean in developing and managing production and services. But a new synthesis is now emerging around how to use lean in the development and management of information and knowledge, combining lean insights into managing processes and developing capabilities, agile insights into software development and the very active Lean Startup movement. This is summarised in a recent article by Dan Jones and Steve Bell on Lean Thinking and Knowledge Work for the Cutter IT journal and recent blogs on the Lean Startup movement on the Lean Edge. We have also added two important books by Steve Bell to our bookstore, Run Grow Transform and Lean IT which are worth reading, as is the Lean Startup book by Eric Ries. You can join in this growing debate at the third Lean IT Summit in Paris on 3-4 October 2013. Please pass this on to colleagues involved in IT in your organisation.

Yours sincerely
Daniel T Jones
Chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Two Gurus

We have just posted the final two video talks from our last Lean Summit on our YouTube Channel, featuring two lean missionaries who are making a big contribution to the lean movement.

Mike Rother gave a stunning presentation on his latest research into the Kata discipline of learning and acting. This brings his book Toyota Kata to life and show how important it is to coach and practice Kata. For those who want to go deeper there is more on the Improvement and Coaching Kata site on the LEI web site.

Michael Ballé gave a challenging and inspiring presentation on coaching leaders and employees on the Gemba. This talk distilled his thinking and practice in coaching organisations in France and elsewhere and developed themes from his books The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager. Many of you will also be familiar with his Gemba Coach column on the LEI web site and his contributions to The Lean Edge.

We hope you enjoyed these videos from our Lean Summit and hope to see you at our next Summit on 5-7 November 2013 – details to follow shortly.

Yours sincerely
Daniel T Jones
Chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Policy Deployment in Healthcare

We have just posted five more video talks from our last Lean Summit telling a remarkable story of the power of using policy deployment in healthcare. Two years ago, inspired by a talk from Takashi Tanaka, David Furley leading the lean transformation at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust went home determined to do this too. Two years later he returned with his team to show how policy deployment has not only given focus to their transformation journey but has also significantly changed the way management meetings are run and the behaviour of employees at every level in the organisation.

These videos tell this story from four levels from Director level to the Wards. The passion and inspiration of these stories are worth watching and sharing to inspire your colleagues, whatever industry you are in. They complement the pioneering stories of the use of Plan for Every patient and Visual Hospital at the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust at our 2011 lean Summit. Together they form two aspects of a management system described in Making Hospitals Work that is delivering significantly better performance
within the NHS.                                                 

Yours sincerely

Daniel T Jones
Chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Lean Leadership

Two more presentations from our last Lean Summit are now available on our YouTube channel. They shed a unique light on how two of the most successful manufacturers in the UK, GKN and Rolls-Royce, each with over a decade of experience in using lean thinking, are developing their lean leaders. They talk frankly about how they are tackling this key threshold to sustaining and accelerating their lean journeys.

Last year Peter Watkins, who leads the lean activities at GKN, presented one of the most dramatic examples of the power of compressing supply chains for next generation products. They unscrambled complex supply chains based on “focused factories” and “low-cost sourcing” to reduce total lead times from 90 weeks to 30 days - click
here to view. This year Peter outlines how GKN is helping their leaders to change their behaviours as they learn how to develop the problem solving capabilities of their subordinates - click here to view. Brendan Hindle describes the Rolls-Royce lean journey and their Process Leadership Academy - click here to view. These are very important experiments from which we can learn a lot as we all embark the long journey to create our own lean leaders.

These talks build on the insights from John Shook about lean leadership at Toyota. These were summarised in his presentations to our Lean Summits in
2008 and 2011 which are worth viewing again. In them he talks about “leading as if you have no power” and what Toyota means when they say they “develop people before making cars”. Very significantly they change the focus of lean transformation from experts teaching lean tools in a classroom to line managers developing the problems solving capabilities of their staff. The new skills of mentoring and problem solving are only truly embedded through “learning-by-doing”.

Yours sincerely
Daniel T Jones
Chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy

If you are inspired by these videos why not join in the discussions at out latest Lean event, the
LEA Community Sharing Day on Thursday 18th April 2013 in Cardiff. We have extended the deadline for abstracts until this Friday 22nd March 2013 if you would like to present and will continue to take bookings for attendees right up until the day itself but please note spaces are limited.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Hoshin and Oobeya

We have just posted two more presentations from our last Lean Summit on our YouTube channel addressing key challenges facing lean managers – how to focus activities on the vital few and how to improve the effectiveness of cross-functional projects.

The fact that most strategic plans are still built on a long list of projects shows how organisations struggle to deselect and focus.  Pascal Dennis and Tom Jackson have described the Hoshin planning tool to unlock this dilemma in their books, yet progress in using it has been slow. In his talk at the Lean Summit Laurie West describes how he learnt to use Hoshin in his own business and then to teach it to other executive teams in the automotive and engineering industries. He stresses the importance of the process a team goes through to define their priorities, not just the tool itself. We will take this further at our Sharing Day on April 18th in Cardiff when Mark Reich from LEI will describe the Hoshin process he was responsible for at Toyota North America.

In 2008 Takashi Tanaka has highlighted the power of using the Oobeya visual project management room to bring PDCA discipline to managing cross-functional projects. In 2010 Takashi and Sharon Tanner described how Boeing was taking Oobeya project management out of engineering and into the Executive Office. In 2011 Takashi described how Oobeya formed a key building block in Toyota’s management system. This year Takashi extends the story to create Digital Oobey
a rooms to enable remote teams to work together across the world.

We have been very encouraged by the response to the Sharing Day on 18th April. Already several organisations with a long history of lean have indicated they will share their stories and questions. If you would like to share your stories please submit your proposed summary by Friday 15th March, for us to review and shape the day. Do join us for what looks like being a fascinating day.

Yours sincerely
Daniel T Jones
Chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Science and Lean Transformation

We have just begun to post the videos of the presentations at our Lean Summit 2012 on our YouTube channel to share them with the wider lean community. The first two videos are of my opening presentation on Science and Lean Transformation and my closing speech summarising the lessons from the Summit. We will post the rest of the plenary talks in the coming weeks.

The opening presentation argues that Toyota’s example creates a new basis for managing by science. Lean has a much sounder empirical foundation and goes considerably beyond Frederick Taylor’s Scientific Management or modern management’s attempts to correlate strategy and leadership with performance. 

What distinguishes lean practice is that it focuses on customer value and not just investor returns, on the horizontal value creation process as well as the vertical deployment of knowledge and the allocation of resources, and on engaging everyone and not just a few experts in solving tomorrow’s problems.

The latter point entails a very different transformation process than the traditional expert-led training and consulting model. Lean is learnt by solving business problems in their specific context, by developing the capabilities of line managers and their teams to unblock the flow of value creation, with leaders giving clear direction and support. The objective is not simply to solve today’s problem but in so doing to develop the capabilities of the team to solve new problems once the teacher has left. 

The underlying purpose of lean is the systematic use of the scientific approach by every employee every day. This is what Toyota means when they say “we make people before we make cars”. This raises new challenges for managers used to hiring experts to solve problems for them and it challenges lean folk who are drawn to “professionalising” and “certifying” their knowledge of lean tools. Lean practice evolves through carrying line responsibility and through coaching and mentoring the capabilities of employees. What is common is the scientific thought process that can bring different perspectives to very specific business situations.

It also raises big challenges for the lean movement. A true scientific approach starts with reflection on what is currently known as the basis for framing the next step of questions about what is not yet known. If we are to deepen our knowledge of lean we need to initiate, mentor and reflect on many experiments to address these questions and learn from the results. Rather than seeking universal laws through correlating the use of tools with business results, where science can help is in understanding the learning-by-doing process which will in turn build the capabilities that lead to superior business results in diverse circumstances. As long as we are interested in framing the next set of questions there will be a healthy future for lean.

Further Lean Summit presentations will focus on lean leadership, Gemba management, the Hoshin strategy deployment process and the practice of learning through Kata. You might also be interested in three books featured in my talk; The Management Myth by Matthew Stewart, which exposes the lack of any empirical evidence behind scientific management, The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzweig, which demolishes attempts to correlate leadership and strategy with performance and Ignorance by Stuart Firestein, which is a wonderful restatement of the purpose of science. You might also look at my summary of Lean in 10 Slides.

Yours sincerely
Professor Daniel T Jones

PS. We will be discussing all these issues at our Sharing Day in Caridff on 18 April. This is a unique opportunity to share stories of your lean journeys and discuss your next questions and challenges with a distinguished panel of lean experts, including Mark Reich, COO of LEI, and other lean practitioners. I look forward to seeing you there.