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Lean Articles

The Improvement Strategy “Trinity”

In a memorable scene from the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” one of the bad guys challenges Indiana Jones to a sword fight. As the challenger brandishes his sword in preparation for battle, Indiana sizes him up for a moment, then just pulls out his gun and shoots him. Duel over.


Invest for Success

I shared this experience with some of my contacts earlier this week, but wanted to post it here as well as it might be of use to some of our readers…


Can you solve the same problem twice?

Recently I was working with a project team looking at machine data for a key piece of equipment.  The data showed the machine had several sporadic losses in that particular week.   To dig deeper into the data, we spoke to the operators and maintenance staff; one seasoned associate told us, “Oh, I know what caused that loss, we’ve had to fix that a few times.”...


Beyond the Improvement Strategy

Recently we were invited to help a metal manufacturer with two business units and several production facilities address the issue of their continued under-performance; despite what the company felt was a herculean effort to drive cost from their system.


The Big Miss·take

The ‘big miss’ in golf terms refers to a bad golf shot, one from which the player cannot recover par.  I was reminded the other day about another type of ‘big miss’, this one occurs in the workplace rather than on a golf course.


Solving the “Sustainment Problem”

Quick hit improvements achieved through event driven activities such as rapid-improvement events will only benefit the organization in the long term if those improvements can be replicated across shifts, lines and facilities.


TPM before Lean

Total Productive Maintenance helps organizations achieve more than just equipment reliability, it also ensures a reliable process. By establishing a partnership between production, maintenance and engineering technical…


Do You Have A Healthy Business Strategy?

As managers, it is a good practice to ‘pop’ your head out of the weeds and have a look beyond the day to day. What is the overall health of your organization? Does your business strategy rest on differentiation?


Convincing the Unconvinced

This week I was reminded of some advice I received from a Japanese sensei early in my Lean career.  We were working together in an organization that had just embarked on the Lean journey. 

They were about 3 months into the effort when the Japanese sensei and I sat down to meet with the Plant Manager. The plant manager shared his frustration with the progress he was having getting his associates to accept the change…he proceeded to tell us that...


7 Key Decisions for TPM Implementers

In any TPM implementation there are key questions that need to be asked and answered. There are no right answers—they’re all “how?” questions—but if the answer to any one of them is “We are not going to do this,” then the effectiveness of your TPM implementation is in serious doubt.


Fixes that Fail – 5 Why or Six Sigma?

“Fixes that Fail” is one of the archetypes of systems dynamics – common patterns which we see in organizational change. It is probably the simplest of the systems archetypes, with just two feedback loops – the balancing loop where we fix symptoms (not root causes) and the reinforcing loop where the fix actually prevents us from finding a root cause solution or, in some instances, makes matters worse.


The Cost Benefit of SMED

In 1988, when I first met Shigeo Shingo, the creator of SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die), he asked me if I had been using his SMED System. I replied that I had in fact been using it in a machine shop where we had reduced changeover times from 90 minutes to 15 minutes – not bad I thought.