Monthly Archives: July 2009

Lesson: Consulting Is A Different Beast

I am an internal consultant but just recently learned I do not fully grasp what consulting is.

I feel I am an effective communicator, I can train, I have a good understanding how to implement and sustain Lean improvements, and I can help people solve problems.  I was under the impression that all of these skills added together to equal consulting.  I was wrong.

I have been pressing in with my coworkers to get coaching on what consulting skills are and I am reading Peter Block’s “Flawless Consulting“.  I also have another book someone lent me as well.

You will see some of my reflections as I get a deeper understanding of consulting.  I welcome your comments about consulting or suggestions for blogs/articles/books to further help me understand.

My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Filed under Business, Change Management, Consulting, Improve With Lean, Problem Solving, Project Management, Reflection

Book Review: Kaizen Express

Kaizen Express: Fundamentals for Your Lean Journey Kaizen Express: Fundamentals for Your Lean Journey by Toshiko Narusawa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kaizen Express from the Lean Enterprise Institute is an interesting book. The book focuses on the basic fundamentals of Lean and should be interesting to anybody wanting to reflect more on the principles.

I really like the book’s drawings and its focus on how to implement things like standardized work, visual management, jidoka, flow, and others. I want to emphasize a strength of this book is these concepts are not just defined like a glossary or a single paragraph but have a few pages dedicated to exploring the thinking and practicalities to operationalizing them.

Some lessons that stand out are the definition of three kinds of muda, the idea of islands, auto-eject devices, “A type pull” and “B type pull”, visual management, and zone control. The forms at the back of the book were interesting to see how similar or different to what my organization uses.

I do have some criticisms of the book. The biggest issue I have about this book is the lack of PDCA mentioned. While I learned TPS and TQC were developed separately by Toyota, PDCA is usually bundled into all Lean materials at this point. For a book about the basic fundamentals, this seems like a glaring omission to me.

I also need to discuss that this book is written in Japanese on the left side of the page and English on the right. I do not have major problems with this but found it to be slightly distracting – especially when some of the page layouts are in the middle of the page. It is quaint to see the Japanese writing but I do not see this as value added to me.

Overall, this book has a lot of gems in it and I would recommend it. I see this as a very handy quick reference book.

Conflict of interest disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes.

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My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Filed under Book Review, Change Management, Improve With Lean, Visual Language

Oil and Water

If you stay in this world, you will never learn another one.” – W. Edwards Deming

A lot of organizations call themselves Lean because they use the tools yet they still manage the same way as before their journey began.  You will never gain a deep learning of Lean by trying to live in both worlds.  This formula is like oil and water becasue they do not mix. 

When leadership asks their front-line workers to change, the managers have to change as well for it to truly work. 

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My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Book Review: The Birth Of Lean

 “The Birth Of Lean” published by the Lean Enterprise Institute is a terrific book.  This book is for people who want to gain a deeper insight into the thinking and struggles Toyota went through to develop what we call Lean. 

I have been on my Lean Journey for 1.5 years.  This book was perfect for someone at my stage of learning.  I do not think this is a good introduction to Lean but functions as a book to help get a deeper understanding of the topics.  If Lean was a college course, this would be a book for the level 300 classes. 

The most powerful aspect of this book was the first person narrative from TPS & TQC pioneers such as Taiichi Ohno, Masao Nemoto, and Eiji Toyoda.  I felt I was able to “get into their head” for a bit and understand their thinking and perspectives.

There are many gems in this book and different things that stood out to me.

  • SCOLDING – This surprised me to see how often the speakers talk about scolding workers and showing what went wrong and why.  I am not suggesting this becomes a new practice, but this really shows an approach Toyota took to creating a learning organization.  Many Lean transformations strive for the feel-good approach.
  • EXPERIMENTATION – Toyota just kept trying new things over and over again.  They stopped the line and kept at it. They did not wait for a workshop.  They practiced GAMBARE (just do it).
  • TWO PILLARS – I was surprised to read that Ohno’s Toyota Production System was created almost in parallel with Nemoto’s Total Quality Control.  The two systems complimented each other but were not made in conjunction.  Most Lean literature has merged these two systems and call it TPS but they were independent for quite a while.

If you want to think like the pioneers of Lean, this book will let you hear directly from them.  There are many nuggets inside the book that will be valuable for you.

Conflict of interest disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes.

If you liked this post, then try:

My 2009 Hansei: Scarcity inspires creativity and innovation.  How can I help harness that inspiration?

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Filed under Book Review, Improve With Lean