Lean for the Holidays

Over the past few days, I’ve received a number of  clever holiday and Lean-themed videos, maps, and stories that I thought I’d share. I’m sure[…]

The Human Side of Value Stream Mapping

When you think of value stream transformation, what are the most common desired outcomes that come to mind? Shorter lead times? Higher quality? Reduced expenses?[…]

Eliminate the Need for Heroics

Any leader or skilled improvement professional knows that metrics are necessary to define what success looks like, measure progress toward a defined target, and assess[…]

Leadership: What’s Love Got to Do With It?

In 2012, I spoke at the Lean HR Summit, which is one of the many excellent annual Summits delivered by Lean Frontiers. I had heard about[…]

The Case for Kaizen Events

One thing that there’s no shortage of in life is criticism about things we don’t fully understand—or haven’t experienced success with. Another thing there’s no[…]

Decision-Making Hierarchy

As many of you know, I’m a rabid fan of clarity (along with focus, discipline, and engagement, the foundational organizational behaviors that I address in[…]

Value Stream Mapping: Ferrari or Pinto?

Mike Osterling and I decided to write our latest book, Value Stream Mapping,  to deepen people’s understanding about this powerful improvement methodology. In particular, we wanted[…]

Value Stream Mapping: Lead Time

One of the joys of writing a book is interacting with readers. Many authors experience forehead-thumping “duh!” moments as they hear questions and realize that they[…]

The Power of Hope in Improvement

I love how conversations can challenge one’s thinking and spark new ideas. Interviews—for a new job, a board position, or with the media—are particularly rich[…]

7 Reasons Why Most Organizations Don’t Know Their Customers

It’s difficult to say when and where the concept of “business” was borne. It’s often attributed to ancient Roman law and to British law in[…]

Developing Lean “Chops”

Friday was a deeply gratifying day. It was one of those joyful days that, as a improvement consultant/coach and change “facilitator,” makes up for those[…]

Gaining Clarity through Value Stream Mapping

In The Outstanding Organization, I assert that outstanding organizations operate with high degrees of clarity, focus, discipline, and engagement. In the chapter on clarity, I present the various[…]

Why Value Stream Mapping? Why Now?

Value Stream Mapping has been released. One of the most common interview questions I’ve been getting is: Why this book? Why now? The topic may seem a[…]

Value-add: The “Buzzword” You Should Love

In 2009, Inc. magazine listed “value-add” on its list of 15 Business Buzzwords We Don’t Want to Hear. In 2012, “value-add” was again reviled, this[…]

Customer Appreciation: The WestJet Way

Finally, there’s a glimmer of hope in an industry known for abysmal customer service. I flew on Canada-based WestJet several times this year and found[…]

Lean Leadership: Listening & Humility

The holiday season is my favorite time of year for two reasons: the holidays themselves and business planning. Proper business planning requires significant reflection, an activity[…]

Great Visuals: Subway Maps

I’ve long been a fan of ease, which is a large reason why Lean management has always appealed to me—and why I’m such a fan[…]

The Problem with Fuzzy Words

Those of you who’ve read my recent book, The Outstanding Organization, know that clarity, focus, discipline, and engagement are the four core behaviors required to[…]

Problem Solving: Is There an Easier Way?

For many months now, I’ve have a rash of random encounters and conversations with people who mention in one form or another that they want[…]

Eiji Toyoda: A Consummate Leader (1913-2013)

The world lost one of its brightest business leaders this week, Eiji Toyoda. Fortunately, he left behind a legacy of leadership philosophies and practices that[…]

The “Fake Doors” Approach to Innovation

I love Twitter! I come across all kinds of tidbits that get me thinking in new directions.The key is to follow smart people. Case in[…]

When “Corporate” Gets in the Way

One of the things that pains me the most is when I hear people saying they can’t make improvement because “Corporate” won’t allow it or[…]

3 Ways to Tame Email Chaos

Today I’m featuring a guest post by one of The Karen Martin Group team members, Tiffany Mock Holton, who shares her take on how to[…]

Does Lean Really Work?

Yes. It really does. Deployed properly, that is. One of the biggest problems we currently face in the Lean movement is that there are an[…]

Podcast with Scott Rutherford

After my keynote at the American Society for Quality’s World Conference, I finally caught up with Square Peg Musing’s Scott Rutherford for a podcast interview.[…]

The Outstanding Organization Book Trailer

After receiving notification that I won a 2013 Shingo Research Prize for my book, The Outstanding Organization, the Shingo organization asked me to submit a[…]

Got Mad Coaching Skills?

If you’re a leader or an improvement professional, becoming an effective coach is THE capability to be developed and, frankly, most people in these roles[…]

“Fake It Until You Become It”

I begin each weekend watching at least one TED Talk. I usually watch them twice: first, to learn and be inspired. Second, to study the[…]

The True Meaning of Kaizen

I love learning. Especially when it’s about something I thought I understood already. Enter this gem I received in this morning’s email. This video, produced[…]

Is Lean Dependent on Executive Support?

Unequivocally, YES. But…there’s more to the story. We don’t throw in the towel if we don’t have all of the preexisting conditions in place. Without[…]

My Annual Oscar Fete

I’m going off-script (pun intended) to share one of my other passions besides operational excellence: the movies. Maybe it came from living for 12 years[…]

How to Capture an Audience’s Attention

We’ve all been there. A boring talk. At a recent conference I keynoted at, I watched as a speaker failed to capture his audience’s attention.[…]

The Allure (and Myth) of Multitasking

As I explain the Focus chapter in The Outstanding Organization, multitasking is a fallacy—you can only perform one cognitive task at a time. What you actually[…]

Rules Are Meant to Be (Thoughtfully) Broken

When I learned The Outstanding Organization’s publication date, I groaned. The book was slated for release in July 2012, just as summer vacations were getting[…]

Good Reading

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to implement pull in as many places as I can. Early last year I implemented it quite successfully[…]

Developing People: The Bane of “Training”

I frequently receive calls from prospective clients who seek “training” of some sort. The requests include Lean overviews, problem-solving workshops, value stream mapping training, and[…]

Goals & Priorities: Your Personal Hoshin

The New Year has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not for the revelry and good cheer, although that can be a nice element.[…]

Metrics-Based Process Mapping: What & How

Mike Osterling and my new book, Metrics-Based Process Mapping, appears to be striking a cord with many. Yesterday I held a webinar with the highest[…]

Consistency is Key

“In the unsexy tedium of daily operations, consistency is key.” This is a line from p. 107 of my new book, The Outstanding Organization. As[…]

The Bane of Organizational ADD

Businesses routinely attempt to accomplish too much and quickly lose focus when the next fire erupts or a new shiny ball appears. When I work[…]

Lean vs. Six Sigma Debate (Sadly) Rages On

As many of you know, I’m a passionate advocate of Lean management practices and the power of Lean in transforming organizations. So I grow weary[…]

Hello Phone: Welcome Back!

A disciplined Lean thinker is always looking to improve his or her own personal efficiency and effectiveness. Lately I’ve had ample opportunity to explore how[…]

Lean is Chaos Reduction

It’s been interesting to see what people have picked up on as I’ve been promoting my new book, The Outstanding Organization. My original title was[…]

Blogging Away…

Earlier this week I learned that my blog posts weren’t being pushed to my subscribers as I thought they had. I was blogging away but[…]

Avoiding Organizational ADD

Outstanding organizations—indeed outstanding individuals—are highly proficient in two related skills: prioritization and focus. They don’t flit from one project or goal to the next, in[…]

Dear Chase Mortgage: Voice of the (Unhappy) Customer

Wednesday’s post featured a local business that I applaud for their Lean efforts. Great customer service, Lean layout, efficient processes, the whole nine yards. Today’s[…]

Start a Campaign for Clarity

…Well, I don’t mean literally. But if you don’t commit firmly to breaking bad habits, replacing them with new ones becomes more difficult. And accepting[…]

Co-location: Efficiency & Customer Ease

One of the hazards of being a  performance improvement practitioner and coach is that most of us see “opportunities for improvement” everywhere we go and[…]

Accountability or Chaos?

New clients nearly always list “greater accountability” on their short list of performance improvement goals. Leaders cite missed project deadlines, finger pointing, and “not my problem”[…]

What is Lean?

“What is Lean?” may seem a strange question to be asking 15 years after the approach gained recognition in manufacturing and began its progressive spread to other industries. But[…]

My Venture into Blogging

I’ve been thinking about blogging for about five years. A few years ago, a friend who knew I was thinking about it (and has long[…]

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