Tag Archives: blogs

Lean Daily

Lean Daily iPhone app

Lean Daily consolidates the latest posts from seven excellent lean blogs in one convenient, free, iPhone app. Learn more about it, see a simulator demo, and download it directly from iTunes.

Mark Graban, Lean Blog, took the lead and a number of us combined efforts to provide this as a free service to our loyal readers:

This iPhone app allows you to read these lean blogs while on the go. You can also listen to and view some multimedia lean content, such as the Lean Blog Podcasts and Video Podcasts and the Gemba Academy sample videos in the app as well. You can also find lean news and some other feeds.

Related: Curious Cat management blog directoryInteresting management content (Reddit)search for management content online

Management Improvement Carnival #105

The management blog carnival is published 3 times a month with select recent management blog posts. Also try our collected management articles and blogs posts at: Curious Cat Management articles.

  • Instead of a Layoff by Gregg Stocker – “Everyone has a stake in the company. When a company has a history of layoffs, though, people feel powerless, disconnected, and expendable. The organization’s leaders send a very clear message that employees are not important when jobs are cut in response to a crisis.” (Also see my 2007 post, Bad Management Results in Layoffs, John)
  • The Importance of the Storefront in Lean Manufacturing by Jon Miller “Like fish, the defects should be ‘sold’ or taken care of that day, because old fish begin to smell bad.”
  • Comparing Lean Principles to the 14 Toyota Principles – “Toyota Principle #1: Base Your Management Decisions on a Long-Term Philosophy, Even at the Expense of Short-Term Financial Goals… Toyota Principle #2: Create Continuous Process Flow to Bring Problems to the Surface”
  • 10 Engagement-Building Behaviors for the Boss by Wally Bock – “Make sure people have the resources to do what you expect. Resources include skills and time and equipment and support. If your people don’t have them, get them before you hold people accountable for results.”
  • Switching to a Data-Driven Culture by Brent Dykes – “How can a data-driven identity transform your online marketing team’s behaviors? Rather than perceiving analysis to be someone else’s job, what if they thought of themselves as analysts, not just marketers?”
  • A chance to prevent failures rather than cleaning up after them – “FMEA is an analytical approach that is used in the development stage as well as operations management to focus on “What could go wrong?” with respect to a product or service. Teams identify potential failures in a system, and in the design stage, try to eliminate these potential failures as far as possible.”
  • Valid or reliable – in the board room by Jamie Flinchbaugh – “In order to maximize the utilization of board time, use of a suite of reliable metrics can provide a steady point of focus. Most of these will be quantitative such as financial, customer-focused, or employee-focused.”
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Management Blog Posts From June 2006

photo of Jack the cat and a bear

  • Management Advice Failures – It is amazing to me how often we accept non-solutions. If someone objects that we have tried that “solution” and it didn’t work they are often shut down with a version of: “don’t be negative” or “I don’t want to hear we tried that before and it didn’t work” (we are different now) or “we need team players” or “if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem”…
  • Edward Tufte’s new book: Beautiful Evidence – Another great book by Tufte in which he explores how to best display evidence looking at: mapped pictures; sparklines; links and causal arrows; words, numbers and pictures together; the fundamental principles of analytical design; corruption of evidence; and more.
  • More on Obscene CEO Pay – In the 1960’s and a970’s CEO of the largest companies made about 35 times what an average worker did. In the last 15 years they are making 200 times as much. They in no way deserve too.
  • Signs You Have a Great Job… or Not – “When someone is learning a new skill they will often need to spend time developing (which mean they won’t be doing what they do best). Again this is expected but managers, by and large, don’t do enough to support development in my opinion.”
  • Trust: Respect for People – “A bit different than laying off tens of thousands of workers and then taking huge bonuses. And in case you don’t know, I think Toyota’s approach is more honorable and what should be aimed for…”
  • Tesco: Lean Provision – “Tesco’s lean provision system combines point-of-sale data, cross-dock distribution centers, and frequent deliveries to many stores along “milk-runs” to stock the right items in a range of retail formats.”
  • Bad Arguments Against a Gas Tax – the increased prices, which have the same negative impact of a tax increase go to foreign producers and the oil companies instead of the taxpayers. We would have been better off increasing the gas tax 50 cents a gallon and cutting the huge deficit instead of accepting such arguments that a gas tax would kill the economy.

The photo shows a tabby cat that chased a bear up a tree.

Management Improvement Carnival #100

I started the management improvement blog carnival in 2006. At the time the number of blogs posting useful management ideas had already grown to a large number. It took years after I started my Curious Cat Management Improvement site, in 1996, to have even a handful of consistently useful web sites for those interested in improving the management of organizations.

Blogs really started the explosion of good management content online. Now we have more great blogs nearly every month. This jumbo sized edition could be much larger and still not run out of great posts to include. Hopefully the regular carnivals help you keep up with great management posts from blogs you already enjoy, and introduce you to new blogs to add to you RSS (blog feed) reader.

Photo of Arches National Park

Arches National Park by John Hunter, Curious Cat Travel Photo Blog

  • What’s Deming Got To Do With Agile? by Dennis Stevens – “If you equate Kanban with manufacturing you won’t be successful. You need to understand what Deming has to say about knowledge work and how management is responsible for creating an environment for success. Kanban brings an easy to implement – low friction implementation of Deming’s philosophy.”
  • Remember – We Want to See Problems by Bryan Zeigler – “Well if you designed your system to truly follow the lean ideals, you have problems! That’s the whole point! Make your problems visible instead of hiding them with inventory, extra labor, long lead times, etc.”
  • Control Systems and Feedback Loops by Tom Foster – “why don’t we change this control system into a feedback loop? Why don’t we have the feedback loop tell the team, and why don’t we run the feedback loop in real time? The manager just gets in the way.”
  • My Favorite Southwest Airlines Moment by Rachel Barry – ” If you live with gratitude, you will have reached life’s highest ideals. And your letter is grateful. You are a wonderful woman. Thank you, thank you, for being you and for writing me. The truth is, it just doesn’t get any better than that. ” (Southwest encourages people to act like people [and treat customers like people not numbers] instead of cogs in a machine. Not amazing when put that way but when contrasted with most other large companies it is an amazing difference. – John)
  • Organizational Kryptonite: Fear of Confrontation by Kris Dunn – “Because the world is full of people who suffer from fear of confrontation, giving good, direct, honest feedback in a professional way is often the best way to stand out as someone who can be trusted.”
  • The False Theory of Meritocracy by Nigel Nicholson – “A true theory of meritocracy would acknowledge that we all have multiple talents and motivations; and that we all can learn and improve in most of the roles in which we are placed — though how much and how fast will vary from person to person.”
  • Corporate Renewal, Waste, and Turnaround by Pete Abilla – “Each of us has a responsibility to improve those areas where we have influence. Given that, what are you going to do today to improve the business you are in? Help the people you work with? Improve the world around you?”
  • Show Me the Results by Mike Wroblewski – “Despite our efforts to make all results objective and quantifiable, in many cases, subjectivity remains. Overlooking this problem, we obsess over results… In our obsession with results, do we actually miss something, perhaps something greater?”
  • Drucker’s Surprising View of Corporate Social Responsibility by William Cohen – “Drucker concluded that considerations for workers in and out of the workplace were the responsibility of the corporate leader just as much as the profits, survival, and growth of the business or organization. Therefore, he taught that there were social responsibilities of business.”
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Finding Great Management Articles, Posts and Resources

Reddit is a web site that ranks web pages by user votes. The site uses an algorithm that has a very large timeliness factor. So top ranked links move down the list fairly quickly. This results in a nice site to look at to find links others have found interesting recently.

I created a management sub-reddit (a distinct topic-focused-area on the management improvement topics covered in this blog) in 2008. The sub-reddit seems to be about ready to reach a critical mass, so I am making a push to get those interested in management and specifically Deming, lean management, agile software development, six sigma and the things I normally write about on this blog to participate.

If you sign up you can not only vote on the links displayed but add new links (that then will be voted on by others). I think Reddit does a very good job of using social aspects of the internet to provide recommendations that are worthwhile (I have used the site for years).

The management subreddit depends on the community of users to voice their opinions. And I have an interest in having the community form around the management ideas I value (see my other blog posts for what that is). So I encourage you to give it a try and vote on links you enjoy and add new articles, web sites, blog posts… The benefit of this subreddit will grow as we grow the number of participants and if it develops a shared culture of value.

Related: Creating the Management Sub-Reddit (2008)John Hunter’s social site links (Reddit, Kiva, LinkedIn)Dell, Reddit and Customer FocusCurious Cat Management Improvement LibraryManagement Improvement Blog Carnival

Management Improvement Carnival #90

The Curious Cat Management Improvement blog carnival provides links to recent blog posts for those interesting in improving management of organizations.

  • Leader Standard Work Should Be…Work! by Mark Hamel – “A lean leader’s standard work, among other things, may require him to check a particular work cell once in the morning and once in the afternoon to ensure that the workers are maintaining their plan vs. actual chart (usually by hour), and that specific and meaningful reasons for any shortfalls are documented.”
  • Innovations in innovation by Karen Wilhelm – “Innovation, for example, is hampered by patent processes and the extensive litigation often rising around them… These models all seem to fit into the emerging philosophy of Open Innovation growing out of the open-source software movement.”
  • “Single Piece Flow” in Medicine by Mark Graban – “They could have done it at the doctor’s office at the same time as the EKG, but the insurance company won’t pay for it there, so she has to take this afternoon off to go to the hospital instead.”
  • A different view of leadership by Glyn Lumley – “1) Thinking and acting systemically 2) People are the route to performance 3) Achieving through impact on others”
  • Identifying the Root Cause by JC Gatlin – “By taking systematic steps to get to the root cause of a problem, the trouble shooter should be able to avoid assumptions and logic traps to keep the problem from recurring in the future.”
  • The Emerging Importance of Nemawashi by Connor Shea – “it’s about aligning individuals to see the whole picture, share a disgust with the actual, and agree to a standard / standard process to close the gap.”
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Management Improvement Carnival #87

The Curious Cat Management Improvement Carnival provides links to recent articles to help managers improve the performance organization.

  • Lean in Sweden: Tools < Thinking by Mark Graban – “Tools have some value, but only in context of lean thinking and the lean management philosophy. Tools aren’t value-less, but thinking is better.”
  • Manufacturing starts to come home by Dan Markovitz – “NCR sees domestic manufacturing as key to increasing sales as well. It enables them to make higher value-added products that their customers want.”
  • Correlation or Causation? Interceptions and the Playoffs by Jeff Hajek – “this is a classic case of confusing correlation with causation. If this data truly was a cause and effect relationship, meaning interceptions caused losses, fixing the problem would be simple… If you never threw the ball, you could win nearly four out of five times.”
  • Learning from Toyota’s Stumble by Steven Spear – “But as we are now sadly seeing, the capacity for developing people can be overstretched. It was not recognizing this and succumbing to the temptation to make growth its first priority that led to Toyota’s current problems.”
  • When in doubt, timebox it by Mark Imbriaco – “If we can solve the compatibility problems in those 30 minutes, it will be a nice win and we can make use of the plugin that we want to. On the flip side, we already have a known solution to the problem.”
  • Be Proactive – Prevent your problems! by Sonja Hughes – “Monitoring process performance through statistical process control or other performance measures allows us to detect changes or trends so we can take appropriate action before problems occur.”
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2009 Annual Management Blog Review Part 3 of 3

The 2009 annual management improvement blog carnival continues with more bloggers posting highlights from some of their favorite management blogs. Also see 2009 Annual Management Blog Review Part 1 and part 2.

Mark Graban’s review took a Boston theme covering Chasing the Rabbit, Running a Hospital, Gemba Coach and John Shook’s Management Column. Highlights include:

In the 3rd carnival post on the Stats Made Easy blog Mark J. Anderson took a look at Seth Godin’s blog and among other things liked: Godin suggests that under the bright light of the internet being generous and fair in business dealings pays off now more than ever.

Bryan Lund found some inspiration from the Three Star Leadership Blog, Process Rants, Capable People? and the Leadership Styles Blog. Highlights include:

And I covered, Training Within Industry, Visual Management Blog and Making IT Clear to bring the annual management carnival to a close. Highlights include:

This year 10 blogs took a look back at excellent post from 34 management blogs in 2009, providing some great idea to help managers improve. Don’t forget to visit each carnival post and find some excellent ideas you can use and perhaps some new blogs to add to your RSS reader.

Related: Management blog directory2008 Annual management blog review

2009 Curious Cat Management Blog Carnival

10 management blogs are participating in the 2009 Management Blog Carnival. Be sure to check out all the great posts. Here we are looking at some exceptional posts on the , Training Within Industry and Making IT Clear. The quotes below are taken from blog posts on these blogs (and include links to the posts they are taken from)

Visual Management Blog by Xavier Quesada Allue

photo of a software development task board

“Visual Management is the practice of using information visualization techniques to manage work. A simple example is using sticky notes on a wall to manage a list of tasks, a better (and more complex) example is kanban.”

Agile and lean management both stress to the importance of making work in process visible. With agile software development workload is often managed using short iterations to create software code and deploy it (similar to continuous flow). “The goal is that any team can do any story in the backlog. You should stress that the ‘real’ Team is the big one. Sub-teams are just created for communication and coordination purposes. In my opinion, they should not develop too strong a team identity. For example, I would not measure sub-team velocity, and I would make sure people rotate from sub-team to sub-team a lot.”

Short software development iterations “require both soft and hard commitments from team members. The team is required to work as a team (for which soft commitment is required) and to commit to finishing a certain amount of work in one Sprint.”

Training Within Industry by Bryan Lund

Another method of making in process work clear is to make clear what the process is.
Building up Standard Work Using Job Instruction explains why job instruction is critical skill that supports standardized work, in that training is used as a countermeasure against variability. An important idea that is far to often ignored.

“The primary purpose of a Job Breakdown Sheet is to serve as a trainer’s aid. It is not meant to be read by the trainee.” and “My experience is that Work Instructions are used so a number of objectives may be achieved”: reduce training time, have trainees more directly involved with training and compliance and accountability through a a chain of approvals.

Early in the year Bryan included a series of lean comics, including:

Remove clutter comic by Bryan Lund

Making IT Clear by Harwell Thrasher

Harwell Thrasher focuses on explaining IT issues to a business audience, and giving business people advice on how to improve the effectiveness of their IT organizations. “IT doesn’t succeed because of technology — it succeeds because of its contribution to the business.”

He has several posts with straight forward ideas for managers such as How to Become a Manager – 13 Skills You’ll Need: “Obstacle Removal… Part of your job is to remove the obstacles that are preventing your employees from doing their best.” Managers responsibility to intervene in the system to remove obstacle preventing people from doing their best is a big key to management I believe. One great thing about agile software development is how clearly this is shown to be a project managers responsibility.

As he says in The 7 Biggest Challenges of a Manager “If you ever get to the point where you honestly have no idea how to improve things further, then you should either (a) seek outside advice, or (b) look for another job. There’s always a better way, and you have to keep looking for it.”

“Most technical people who become managers do so because they want more scope and control… perhaps most important, you don’t become a good manager by being good technically – you become a good manager by being able to get things accomplished through other people.

Take a look at the full list of posts pointing to excellent posts from over 30 management blogs from 2009.

Related: 2008 Curious Cat Management CarnivalManagement RedditCurious Cat Management Search

2009 Annual Management Blog Review Part 2

The 2009 annual management improvement blog carnival continues with more bloggers posting highlights from some of their favorite management blogs (see 2009 Annual Management Blog Review Part 1). Kevin Meyer looked back through the posts from TimeBack Management, Lean Six Sigma Academy, Curious Cat Management Improvement, A Lean Journey, and Stats Made Easy and found some gems, including

Dan Markovitz reviewed the Lean blog, Evolving Excellence and Jason Yip’s blog. Highlights include:

Hank Anderson has highlighted posts from the Hexawise blog for Stats Made Easy. Mark Anderson has reviewed Work Matters and will be reviewing Seth Godin in an upcoming post. Highlights from the Hexawise blog include: What Else Can Software Development and Testing Learn from Manufacturing? Don’t Forget Design of Experiments (DoE) by Justin Hunter, my brother.
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