EDITOR’S LETTER – If you have missed any of our June content, don’t worry, as our monthly round-up has you covered. So here are the Planet Lean highlights from the past month to keep you up to speed with the latest in lean.
Words: Roberto Priolo, Editor, Planet Lean
I hope that your summer (or your winter, if you are south of the Equator) is off to a good start. Mine certainly is. Not only have I had a few days on the beach – never a bad thing for an Italian living in Britain – but I have also had the pleasure to attend two incredible summits.
The first event, organized by Lean Management Instituut (the Dutch affiliate of the Lean Global Network), took place at Nyenrode Business University. With John Shook, Arnaldo Camuffo and Orry Fiume on the list of speakers, the Lean Experience Days represented a great opportunity to learn from some of the most well respected experts in the field. And learning I did!
The second event was the Lean Healthcare Summit in Barcelona, organized by the lovely team at Instituto Lean Management. The one-day event had 270 attendees coming from all over Spain to share their experience with lean thinking in their hospitals and to learn from each other. It was truly wonderful to see so many people attend: it showed that the healthcare lean community in Spain is now progressing on its own. In turn, this demonstrates how big a contribution Instituto Lean Management has given to the advancement of lean in the sector. Its approach is paying off: providing lean courses to people in organizations (by means of the successful Lean Practitioner Program) and then coaching them as they make their first steps towards a lean transformation. If you are trying to make inroads in a certain sector, I encourage you all to adopt the same strategy.
But let’s get back to the task at hand: offering a summary of what we covered on Planet Lean this past month.
As you might have noticed, we now have a number of regular features on the site, from Ian Glenday’s articles on leveled production (in June, Ian explained the actual first steps a company can make to start off) to Boaz Tamir’s column on lean product development and innovation. This past month, Boaz focused on what it takes to develop a product or a service your customers covet. Using a winery in Israel that produces custom-made wine for its customers, Boaz wrote how the North Star of any innovation effort should be customer value. If only more organizations understood this!
It is with this same idea in mind that Legal Sea Foods, a group of restaurants on the East Coast of the United States, is introducing lean in its kitchens. By streamlining the work and empowering its people, Legal hopes to provide an ever-improving service to its customers. Planet Lean recently spoke with two of the organization’s chefs to see what’s cooking.
Speaking of people empowerment, this past month Wiebe Nijdam set out to understand what seems to hinder so many lean transformations: the failure to develop the capabilities of teams and leadership, and to strengthen the interaction between the two. Wiebe’s practical guide explains the steps you can take to successfully develop the capabilities of your people, thus ensuring the engine of your lean transformation runs as smoothly as it should.
For our monthly dose of inspiration from other lean leaders, we have prepared a profile of Pierre Masai, the CIO of Toyota Motor Europe. Pierre’s commitment to learning and his thorough understanding of the secrets of TPS make him someone whose behaviors you will want to understand and imitate. Warning: doing so means committing to a lifetime of learning. But that’s what lean is all about, isn’t it?
Learning in lean happens on the job, at the gemba. Yet, there is a growing debate over whether we should teach more lean in universities and other higher education institutions. Sérgio Caldeirinha, President of the Lean Academy Portugal (one of the latest additions to the LGN family), seems to see it this way. In his call to arms, he encourages lean practitioners the world over to do what they can to facilitate the spread of lean in university curricula (which, in his mind, is now the prerogative of too few pioneering institutions).
We had more on the public sector in June, with Norman Faull discussing what government needs to get right in order to finally change and embrace principles of efficiency, customer value and transparency. While Norman uses South Africa as an example throughout the piece, the lessons he shares apply to government organizations around the world.
Last week, we published the second installment of our new Q&A series, which has been received really well by our readers. It asked five lean thinkers about their lean a-ha moments. Their answers reflected the wide array of experiences animating the lean community.
This new series is meant to encourage you to reflect on your lean journey and ask yourself questions, no matter how difficult the answer might be to hear. I have always believed that learning from success is great, but that learning from failure and mistakes is even better. So we have asked Dan Riley to share his very bad experience with lean. In a powerful and candid piece, Dan gives us an important reminder that saying we are “doing lean” is not enough. We need a strategy to really responds to the needs of our customers, our people and our organization.
A few years ago Jim Womack famously talked about how our organizations need “less heroes and more farmers.” I didn’t know how literal Jim could be until his June Yokoten column on lean farming popped up in my inbox. In it, not only does Jim describe a fascinating application of lean, but he also draws a number of macro-economic conclusions on industrial farming, agriculture and their future in our world.
I am also happy to introduce a new series of interviews I am conducting with experts from outside the lean community. The aim is to figure out what we look like from the outside, hoping this will help us to understand ourselves better and expand our reach even further. The first interview was with University of Chicago economist Chad Syverson, who shared with me his insights on why in the West labor productivity has been slowing down at a steady rate since 2004. Hint: it’s got to do with management behaviors and learning (or lack thereof).
That’s it for this month, but before you go let me thank each and every one of you for continuously supporting Planet Lean by reading our articles, commenting on them and sharing them with the world.
Till next month…
Roberto Priolo is a London-based journalist and Managing Editor of Planet Lean. Prior to joining the Lean Global Network and launching Planet Lean, Roberto was editor of Lean Management Journal and associate editor of The Manufacturer magazine. He holds a degree in Political Science from the Università Cattolica in Milan, Italy, and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from the London School of Journalism.