John Hunter, the Curious Cat, proposed that we share our favorite posts from 2009, so I'm pitching in...
Lean bloggers have been influential forces in my lean journey. When I first discovered some of the following blogs, I hesitatingly started adding my comments. When they were received with respect, I found more blogs and entered more conversations, learning from bloggers as well as other commenters. Then I thought, "If I'm going to be involved in web publishing, I'd better learn how to use this blog thing." My Lean Reflections blog was met with encouragement from my new blogpals.
Since then, I've turned to these same blogs and bloggers, plus many who have joined us, for background, ideas, details, and case studies for articles. A community made up of learners and teachers has evolved around our lean blogs, weaving them together. John Hunter's Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival exemplifies how we recognize the best contributions of our fellow bloggers.
So here are nods to just a few of my favorites:
Jon Miller's Gemba Panta Rei
Because Jon was raised in Japan and he reads and speaks Japanese, he brings us news and insights that we would otherwise miss. His bicultural perspectives, and his own lean experience and knowledge comes through in all his posts.
How to use lean to achieve bottom line results
Heather asked Jon about the bottom line, so he provides several ways to communicate with the CFO by quantifying the dollar value of potential lean scenarios, including one for declining sales. Then he refers to another blogger, Lee Fried, who says he refuses to discuss ROI at all. Nicely balanced article for lean leaders who don't realize they are failing to use the right language with financially-oriented managers.
The advantages of A1 over A3 thinking
Jon says it's better to find a whiteboard the size of A1 paper (594 x 841 mm) than to hunt around for a piece of 11" x 17" paper for A3 problem solving. (Why do we let such obscure terminology persist?) The whiteboard allows more people to work together to explore a PDCA approach. Standing rather than sitting gets the juices flowing. While there's the temptation to cram more information in the larger space, Jon says to write big and make the board visible from across the room. Seven more people commented with their experiences using the larger format, with some dissension about what Jon asserts. When a post prompts comments, that's the sign of success.
The positive tension between SMART and stretch goals
In a hoshin planning session with a client, Jon was asked about the seeming conflict between stretch and SMART goals. He says, "Stretch goals are meant to be ambitious, challenging and out of reach according to the current ways of working. SMART goals are by definition narrowly scoped and individually and discretely attainable." This leads into a new definition for "STRETCH" that integrates its positive tension with SMART, highlighting the capacity building that raises performance to new levels.
Joe Ely's Learning about Lean
Joe's blog may be the first I ever followed. He always sounds humble, and you'd never know about his long and deep experience in lean thinking and practice. Joe's posts are neither frequent or lengthy, but always engaging.
You go to the "gemba"--then what?
Joe says, "Had a useful walk through our production areas today. And it hit me, just what was I looking for? Where were my eyes going? What was attracting my attention?" There were the usual physical attributes, but Joe outlines three ways to tap into the human factors.
How do we learn?
Our mental model of learning is a point-to-point series of steps, but Joe explains how he's started to see it as a circular model, continuously learning more about what he already knows. Joe says, "Depth comes from repetition. Don't be afraid of it."
Hal Macomber's Reforming Project Management
Much of Hal's work is in the construction industry, where the revolution in applying lean is the collaboration of project partners, usually including contractors and subcontractors, to achieve a realistic project plan in a synchronized just-in-time manner, making each phase job-ready for the next contractor to start at the right time. Everyone has projects, however, and Hal's insights into making them successful can help project teams of all types continuously improve their performance.
Lean project implementation is not adoption
Hal talks about how daily experience should influence behaviors to create new attitudes and approaches to work, and how that's worth much more than lean programs and initiatives. He says that each little difference from expectations is exactly that opportunity to learn what we need to learn. Because lean means individuals adopting new behaviors, there's really nothing to "implement."
Last Planner(R) System for Project Delivery
This "lens" references several that examine the Last Planner lean project management system. It has now been validated in hundreds of major projects, especially as construction companies are setting themselves apart from their competitors by using LPS. I strongly recommend exploring these ideas to see how they could be applied to your work.
Don't forget that commenting on blog posts does more than give feedback to the author. It prompts dialogue from people around the world with similar interests but diverse viewpoints. Join the conversations!