Monthly Archives: May 2006

Gemba Keiei by Taiichi Ohno

Jon Miller has been posting thoughts on chapters of Gemba Keiei by Taiichi Ohno for quite some time. His latest post in on chapter 23 (of 37): Producing at the Lowest Possible Cost. The series of posts provide great doses of management wisdom. As he said in the first post: “As I re-read this book in the original Japanese, I will summarize the nuggets of wisdom from each chapter in Mr. Ohno’s book.”Some great examples, If You Are Wrong, Admit It:

If you fancy yourself a Lean thinker go ahead and test your beliefs the next time you think you are right. If you are wrong, admit it. Make Mr. Ohno proud.

Great idea. The PDSA is a great tool to help test your beliefs (when related to an idea for improvement). Make sure you predict and then test your prediction. Continue reading

TRIZ – Managing Creativity

The World According to TRIZ by Reena Jana:

TRIZ is the brainchild of late Russian inventor Genrich Altshuller (1926-98), who worked as a patent inspector. In the process of observing invention after invention, Altshuller sought to identify a consistent formula for innovation. In 1946, he published an article laying out his theory of structured innovation, which he titled “Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch.” That translates roughly into “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving,” or TRIZ, for short.

Creativity related:


Lean Software Development

I have posted on the topic of Lean Software Development previously.

Lean Software Development: A Field Guide – the first 3 chapters of this new book are available online [the broken link was removed]. Excellent book that I recommended for anyone interested in lean thinking ideas. Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit for Software Development Managers by Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck, 2003. Articles on lean programming by the Mary Poppendieck

David Carlton has an interesting post on this topic: lean software development.

I’m not sure what concrete effects it will have on my work in the short-term; for now, I’m going to continue reading about lean, waiting for concepts to sink in and crystallize. I imagine that I’ll return to this book in a couple of years and find specific inspirations in it, and indeed that it will have subconsciously inspired me in the interim.

Software development can be extremely complicated and can benefit greatly from making problems visible – jidoka. Inventory is not the key to hiding problems in software development. It might be in the “production of software” but so much software is “produced” and distributed over the internet without producing inventory etc. that the production step is not the main source of problems and longer (in the past boxed software had the same inventory problems other industries experience today). Yet all of us using software have many experiences with the problems users have with software (often on a daily basis). Lean thinking has a great deal to offer for those involved in software development.

By the way, if you are interested in lean application development and are looking for a job in the Washington DC area see, job announcement for a programmer (dead link removed), and maybe we can work together – John Hunter.


Six Sigma Spells Success in India

Six Sigma spells success for BPOs by Pradeep Kapur:

However, while Six Sigma’s pedigree can indeed be traced to TQM, it is differentiated from these earlier approaches by the bottom-line focus and intensity of its application. Experience has shown that Six Sigma works and if applied appropriately, it can be the key to enhance customer experience by adding to the bottom line. This can provide you a winning edge.


Lessons From Visit to Toyota’s Kentucky Plant

Construction Executive Lessons from the Toyota Visit [the broken link was removed] by Hal Macomber including:

Stopping to fix the problem – jidoka – could lead to far fewer quality problems.

Establish standard work – the currently understood best way – for key project operations.

As leaders, involve yourself to ease the work of the project team members rather than operating in the illusion that you can control.

via: Construction Executives Visit Toyota, Learn Kaizen [the broken link was removed]

Improving Engineering Education

On our Science and Engineering blog I just posted on the Olin Engineering Education Experiment. It is a great story of doing things differently.

The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering was founded with a donation of over $400 million and opened to students in 2002. All students get a full tuition scholarship. Interesting article: The Olin Experiment by Erico Guizzo gives an excellent overview of the different focus of the school:

Olin’s aim is to flip over the traditional “theory first, practice later” model and make students plunge into hands-on engineering projects starting on day one. Instead of theory-heavy lectures, segregated disciplines, and individual efforts, Olin champions design exercises, interdisciplinary studies, and teamwork.

To some extent this is something a number of schools are attempting to do. Continue reading

Lean Transformation Tips

The 12 Half Truths of a Lean Transformation [the broken link was removed] by Charles Hagood. A one page article reinforcing what adopting lean methods will require.

The process of improving never ends. A Lean transformation has no end date! The process is ongoing and is never a closed out action item. There is no such thing as the perfect company or process, therefore the closest to perfect you can become is to recognize that it is a continuous process of improvement.

Better and Different

Reaction to Toyota: Better or Different? and Seth Godin’s post.

The answer, as I see it, is to be better and different (when necessary). In Seth’s post he talks about challenging people to find not just better solutions but different solutions. That is fine, as long as people don’t lose focus on being better. Neither one alone is adequate (at least not always). To achieve great success you must be both better and different. That is what Toyota does.

Frankly, if you have to choose one, just being better will work most of the time. The problem is (using an example from Deming, page 9 New Economics) when, for example, carburetors are eliminated by innovation (fuel injectors) no matter how well you make them you are out of business. Continue reading

Financial Education

Federal Reserve System: economic and personal financial education [the broken link was removed]

“Financial education is a critical component of a robust and effective financial marketplace but it is not a panacea. Clear disclosures, wise regulation and vigorous enforcement are also essential to ensuring that financial service providers do not engage in unfair or deceptive practices,” Bernanke said.

Outlining the various initiatives that the Fed already sponsors to boost public understanding of financial matters, Bernanke pledged to keep up the work.

The financial decisions we make have huge impacts on the quality of lives. This blog focus largely on management improvement: in such posts we often mention the importance of long term thinking and systems thinking. When planning our personal financial paths long term thinking and systems thinking (to optimize our long term financial well being given the options available in our individual situation) are necessary.

One advantage over attempting management improvement is when working on your financial plans you don’t have to convince others to change: you have the ability to implement your personal financial plan.

Financial information: