Friday, April 10, 2015

Lastest Podcast with Chris Burnham at Lean Leadership Podcast

Hello Everyone,

Wanted to share with you our latest Podcast w Chris Burnham at Lean Leadership Podcast.  Check it out.  Ernie and I share our Toyota experiences and stories of our time with our sensei's as well as today teaching others.  Enjoy!!

iTunes Link:

Until next time,
Tracey and Ernie Richardson

Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Lean Thinking" in NASCAR- if you look close enough it's everywhere you GO !!

Lean Tools in 

By Ernie and Tracey Richardson
Owners-Teaching Lean Inc.


So Ernie and I attended the 2015 Daytona 500 this year with a little different lens than usual.   We were fortunate to receive “hot pit” passes which gave us access to the garages, and pits during actual live racing.   We were able to get up close and personal with every aspect of the race from behind the scenes.   So of course we were doing what we are conditioned to do – look for examples of lean and how each team uses the tools to be more effective and efficient.  It literally comes down to seconds, preparation, execution, continuous improvement and a little luck to cross the line in front.

As we were walking through NASCAR team trailer area, we noticed various 5S examples of how the Goodyear racing tires were being mounted and staged before the race for each team to pull from based on certain track conditions and even unforeseen events during the race.

We noticed how visual management was being incorporated by the pit crew in order to differentiate the rear from the front tires (different tape color being applied) and how to align the lug pattern on to the studs in the quickest way possible during the tire changes.  If you notice the yellow lug-nuts are actually glued to the rim to save time by the tire change pit member.  An ideal pit stop time is around 12 seconds or less to be competitive.  These visual controls are crucial for standardized work.  

As we continued to walk down the pits we observed more examples of visual controls,  problem solving and data collection which allows the teams to understand the relationship of tread wear and proper air pressure. The relationship of these are necessary in order to meet track conditions before and during the race.   If you notice the various numbers that are visually displayed on the outside tire tread its telling the pit crew what the specific tread depth is on various areas of the tire in order to grasp the situation before its placed on the race car.

If you notice in the 2nd picture these tires had been removed from the car at one of the pit stops and immediately were measure by depth and pressure to understand how the tire is performing under the current track conditions and allows them to adjust the next set if necessary.   You could consider this a leading key performance type indicator that is predictive to future tire wear and the handling capabilities for the car/team.  PDCA throughout the race.

As we were visiting various pit areas we noticed the use of a Kanban and pull system with the gas replenishing process.   They come to the pit area in a Kanban of 4, then placed next to the pit wall for quick access and usage by the fuel replenishing pit member often called the “gas man”.   When these two are emptied it creates an open spot giving direction to the pit support crew to fill both slots for the next pit stop.  When all 4 are used the support crew refills the cart to restart the process.  It’s practicing just in time.  
Another data collection point in the gas refill process is weighing the gas can before and after the pit stop to determine exactly how much gas went in and how much the race car is consuming during the race to understand when the next pit stop is necessary and to determine fuel mileage for the team.


Lastly, on our tour of pit row we noticed a wheel hub mounted on the side of a pit box for the tire changer to actually practice their standardize work of placing the lug nuts on and off in a specific pattern in order to master the timing and body placement during a pit stop tire change.   Tire changers are one of the essential parts of a pit stop, it can often make or break a team in how they come out and are placed after a caution or green flag pit stops.

It was very enlightening to get this special opportunity to see the things we teach in our sessions used so well with discipline and accountability for standard work with each of these teams.  We learned lean is everywhere if you just take the time to look for it.  NASCAR is a prime example of holding each member accountable for their actions and to always be looking for ways to continuously improving their processes.   Unlike most companies there are many more “leading” type key performance indicators allowing them to be predictive of their outcome, versus lagging and after the fact.   The next time you get to watch a race look for the lean tools in action they are there!  Keep the lean movement going—Green flag thinking!!!
Until next time
Ernie and Tracey Richardson

Monday, February 9, 2015

Got Questions about Lean culture and Problem Solving? Ernie and I will be on The Lean Post Wed 2/11 to answer questions.

Ernie and myself are doing an "Ask us anything" post about Lean culture and Problem Solving and any other lean questions.  If you would like to join in.  Visit   Will be live at 8am Feb 11th, 2015 (Wednesday), hope to field as many as possible.    Hope you can stop by!

Ernie and Tracey Richardson
Owners of Teaching Lean Inc.

What should be the "target" value-add percentage in a process?

Hello everyone, Happy New Year a little late.  I was traveling on the road all of Jan so this was my first week at home.  Sorry for the blog delay.  Trying to spread the good words of "Lean Thinking" all over!!  

This blog is a cross-blog share from where thought leaders are discussing this question--here are my thoughts below.

In the past several months I have had this question come up actually in different industries. So how should one determine or “calculate” value add percentage within a process (micro)? This can be subjective depending upon what you are measuring and how, but I know, based on my Japanese sensei’s, you can weave through a process and determine its value add and non value add content/percentages if you are conditioned to see it and categorize it. In manufacturing type work, by nature, can be easier to “see”. In M & I flow (for example) the “day and the life” of signatures needed on a document electronically, well– it’s not as easy but can be done if “go see” is involved with any primary process owner taking you through their steps.
In my infant learning stage of lean thinking, before we called it that, I was told a good goal to start with is a 70% value add process. This says that we understand with any process there can be minor layers of non value added categories (described below). Our first goal is to recognize it and second is the minimize it. For example where I worked in Plastics we had mold changes daily. It was an accepted process we embedded into our day, and the changes were part of set up or ancillary work that supported the process, but its non value add to the customer in all reality. Our goal is not to eliminate it in this case, but to minimize all the waste involved in it–so waste within waste. If mold changes were steaks we would want a filet mignon version.
I was taught by my sensei’s a tool called a Yamazumi board. This was a multi-function tool we could use for various things. This is basically a cycle bar chart in its essence, but this one is based on customer expectations which makes me back step into process capacity, machine capacity and manpower. Factoring all those in one could (if taken the time) can determine a takt time. If I have some level of takt time based on customer pull I can them determine a process necessary to meet expectations. Many are unwilling or unable to take the time to look through this lens of thinking for various reasons, some out of their control. The yamazumi can categorize a process into the various type of work it has. I’ve seen elaborate yamazumi’s the Japanese trainers would create for an entire line trying to minimize and re-balance the work to be as value added (without muri and mura) as possible. You would have colored magnets that could be moved around that would describe for example – waiting, walking, machine time, delay work, downtime, conveyance, rework and actual working time. This would be considered a “grasping of the situation”.

Once this is understood based on go and see then the challenge begins to try and minimize the non value added factors listed above and improve the process to achieve some stability for standardization. We cant improve without a standard so all this thinking helps up understand we need a starting point. If you can factor all these into a process and minimize waste to create a 70% value add process for an individual then you are creating a benchmark to be competitive no matter what industry you are in. If more organizations took the time to categorize work and develop people to see recognize the differences– the need for “fire-fighting” would minimize drastically. By determining value add from non value add it sheds a whole new light on process versus results and leading and lagging indicators and how organizations measure. When I answer the original question it can be overwhelming for individuals, leaders and executives to realize how much waste is really there and its the accepted norm. If you translate that “norm” to hemorrhaging costs then it gets “real” in a hurry! The buzz from my some of my sensei’s I still get guidance from still practicing today that 75-80% is sought after to be competitive with the kaizen spirit of always raising the internal bar. So a challenge for all LE readers is to try and differentiate value from non value add and then put them into categories to minimize. It’s really eye-opening, I promise. :) – 
Until next time
Tracey Richardson

Friday, November 21, 2014

GTS6 = E3 = DNA - Take a look inside if you want to break the code !!!!

Hey everyone, 

I'm #crossblogging again :).  I seem to be writing for so many other sites that I don't have enough "home-time" to write on my own blog.

I want to make sure that everyone gets a chance to see my columns, posts and blogs so I'm sharing a link this week from

Here is a short link to my column on GTS6 + E3=DNA - Break the code to Standardization, Sustainability and Kaizen.  #greatstuff #lean

Click here to break the "lean" code :) !!

Until next time, 
Tracey Richardson

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What are the Key Competencies to needed for a KPO position within an Organization?

Hello @thetoyotagal followers,

This post comes to you from with Michael Balle' - The question this month was:

What would you say the most pertinent competencies are for a team member to be promoted to join an internal Lean team (Kaizen Promotion Office) whose responsibility is training and facilitating Kaizen?

This was my response below, for other lean practitioner's viewpoints visit !!  

I like the question and I will try to answer from a duo perspective. One being a person who was hired and developed under specific competencies at Toyota and secondly through the lens of the trainer/leader. You know I think its important to not only look at how you promote into a KPO position but also what is the filtering process to bring team members into an organization before they even have an opportunity for promotions. Think of it as a leading indicator that is predictive for people capability.
In my humble opinion you have a higher rate of success with the development of people if you have the ability to be more selective to begin with. I know it isn’t always feasible just sharing my personal experience.
Before I walked through the turnstiles at the first Toyota plant in North America I had to go through a robust hiring process- I suppose that was necessary when you had 150,000 people wanting 1500 jobs which was the situation in 1987. So the “sifting and sorting” (I like to look at it as the 5S’ing of people), based on the competencies that Toyota wanted in their employees in order to “further” develop them once they were on the team. I found out later when I was in Human Resources training and development that the “initial” hiring competencies were:
  • Listening capabilities
  • Teamwork (working with different personalities and functional areas (silos)
  • Personal Initiative
  • Problem Solving capabilities
  • Leadership qualities

So if scoring well in these areas landed me a position on the most coveted team, then what enabled me to get promoted into leadership and/or training roles within the company such as a KPO or Organizational development group? If we follow true continuous improvement thinking (DAMI- Define the standard – Achieve the standard – Maintain the standard – Improve the standard) then we must always be looking for specific competencies that further develop and enhance our workforce and our cultural infrastructure that supports long-term growth and sustainability.
There are so many facets to people development and the “thinking” behind it that we really have to look at it holistically from a team member to the true north perspective.
Internally at Toyota (after you were hired) they looked at some specific areas/competencies that team members (any level/role) were required to “demonstrate and be evaluated on” that moved the needle for personal development and growth. There were different variables for moving into kaizen support roles but the many of the competencies needed for succession planning were:
  • Accurate information Gathering & Analysis (ability to go and see and separate assumptions and opinions)
  • Unbiased Innovative Thinking (ability to envision the order to customer value stream using leading/lagging indicators and fact based thinking)
  • Coaching and Teaching Problem Solving (TBP)
  • Develop Countermeasures incorporating mid to long term perspective
  • Appropriate decision making based on Business conditions (flexibility to the ever-changing market)
  • Perseverance (ability to overcome barriers and constraints and gather the necessary resources/stakeholders)
  • Allocation of management resources based on Organization’s priorities (ability to direct change management for company priorities)
  • Establish Business Framework and Systems (Values,True North and Culture)
  • Appropriate Assignment and Consistent and fair performance review (ability to understand team member capability and stretch assignments/challenges)
  • People Development
  • Realization of the mission and vision based on the company values
  • Building Mutual Trust and Respect (executives to management to team members)
  • Ability to understand proper Delegation (based on resources and KPI’s)
  • Accurate Self Awareness (ability to see your own gaps in your daily work / line of sight to the company true north)

I feel with competencies such as these in place it can allow you to have the right people in the right place at the right time. I was always told by my Japanese trainers that having good processes in place will give you the results you need. Most organizations do not take the time to develop good thinking processes therefore results are skewed and mediocre at best. Invest in your people and the criteria and standards they work with and what you will find is a slow but advancing progression of thinkers empowered to make a difference not only in a KPO role but every role.
Until next time
Tracey Richardson

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Please follow Ernie and I on our new Business Facebook page!

Hello everyone, 
Wanted to share with our followers that we created a new Facebook Page for Teaching Lean Inc.  Keep up with all the great things we are sharing about Lean on a weekly basis!   Please "like" if you have a FB account!  

See you there! :)

Until next time
Tracey Richardson