Dec 27, 2011

2011 Management Blog Roundup: The Lean Thinker

Mark Rosenthal
My second pick for a great blog that might be new to you is The Lean Thinker: Thoughts and insights from the shop floor by Mark Rosenthal.

Mark's got plenty of experience in the trenches, including an 11-year stint in the military getting maintenance operations processes straightened out. He has since led front-line change at Boeing, Genie Industries, and Terex, among other companies known for their strong lean capabilities. I have been fortunate enough to meet Mark and have some thoughtful discussions about what improvement thinking is in the right direction and what is off target.

And he fully qualifies as a thinker, considering many of the post he writes in his blog. A few examples:

Mark dissects the folly of thinking that KPIs and incentives are going to lead to real improvement. He points to a couple of credible sources that puncture the idea that incentives do much at all for motivating performance.

Adding to his criticism of incentives to reach goals, Mark takes on the whole goal-setting process in the annual plans most companies kick of the year with. First of all, he says, they are inflexible when conditions like demand don't turn out the way you predicted they would. I've asked groups before, "What is the first thing we know about a forecast?" Surprisingly they rarely respond, "They are always wrong." Nice to have Mark's agreement on that.

Looking at work and identifying decision points can be a key to improving processes. Mark asserts that because mental bandwidth is finite, having people make decision after decision every day, no matter how small they are, is not a good idea. Indeed, if you look up "brain" and "decision fatigue" you'll find out that it is true -- and when you think about your own day and how tired you are, that's why it can be so hard to decide what to have for dinner.

And while Mark's blog's title implies that he is the lean thinker, he's always ready to have great discussions with lean thinkers like you when you comment on his posts.

The complete Management Improvement Carnival list

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