Thursday, October 29, 2015

Recognizing waste is a "Golden" Opportunity at Kinross Round Mountain Gold Corporation

Ernie and I have been blessed to be a part of the learning journey with our friends at Kinross Gold Mine, in Round Mountain, Nevada.  We had the distinct pleasure of meeting several of their continuous improvement team back in 2012, and it is been a true learning "excursion" for us all.   We often admit they are one of our unique clients in location and their gemba is just indescribable (see pic above). The term "going to the gemba" has been redefined for us at Kinross to say the least.  There was absolutely nothing that could prepare us for the trek outward to Round Mountain (4 hours from Las Vegas).

  The sheer natural beauty that surrounds the mine, residing at approximately 6065 ft. elevation; as well as the internal anxiety I had my first trip out.  So imagine if you can for a moment going "home" (within eyeshot of your work every day), and all your neighbors are your co-workers.  Imagine going to the local grocery store and you know everyone's face that surrounds you.  Think of a place where there is no traffic, no stop lights, no Walmart or shopping opportunities, no fast food or restaurant chains,  just people living simply between spectacular mountain ranges where a vast amount of wild animals roam freely. 
Each worker, regardless of their level in the organization, goes to their process each day as if they were an owner which invests them all towards their future.  Without the efforts put into succeeding, failure would most likely result in uprooting their families, one that now have children who work there.  The town of Round Mountain combined with the mine and the workforce have created an all-inclusive community for their people which includes a K-12 school, library, recreation center, fitness center, golf course, post office, gas station, grocery store, daycare and churches. 

Our Kinross family enjoyed watching us "acclimate"  at our very first session in 2013 to life between the mountain ranges, but what we all didn't realize that it was the start of a great opportunity to visualize together how to do business a bit differently.  We excitingly admit that after a "Kinross training session" we can feel the enthusiasm for change in the air and the urgent motivation from everyone to get back to their roles and make an impact.  The energy there is contagious, and the discipline and accountability for actions are inching towards the norm.  After almost two years of training (customized for Kinross by Teaching Lean Inc.) and demonstrating learned knowledge at the gemba their recent improvement efforts at the mine have shown early success.  This has created an environment where the majority of the workforce are empowered and have become invigorated by the opportunity to extend the mine life and improve the way they do business.  They are evolving towards an environment where employees feel like they can share their ideas and make change happen.  Much of their workforce has taken ownership in the overall improvement effort and the need to change for the better.

As many of you know the price of gold is controlled by the market so flexibility and adaptability is crucial to when prices are on the lower side.  As history has shown us when the price of gold drops; so can employment in the form of layoffs, and cutbacks and mines may have to close the doors to their operations.  As Ernie and I make that trek from Las Vegas to Round Mountain, we are often reminded along the way of the once booming towns that are now just an eerie remnant of what the market can do if an organization does not apply forward thinking.  Round Mountain Gold is working diligently through developing their people and improving processes to avoid another deserted town in the canyons of Nevada.  They are very aware that the price of gold and ore reserves will determine the mine life unless they are all willing (entire value stream) to do business differently. 

Everyone is vested and realizes their job security depends on their ability to think their way into mining more effectively and efficiently.   RMGC is comprised of 900 employees – approximately 1,000 (including contractors at the mine).  Their vertical roles start with their General Manager “equivalent President level", Department Managers, Superintendents, General Foremen, Supervisors, Leads, and workforce.  All the functional areas (silos) of the mine have to work together to optimize production & efficiency of mining/processing.

Some have been intrigued and asked - "What is the value stream of a mine?"  So at a high level I can describe that it starts with: 

Geological determination (where does the gold reside) >> Mine planning>>Mining>>Hauling>>Processing>>Milling>>Leaching>> Refining>> Gold Bar

Let me share just one example of how waste was discovered at RMGC through the development of people.  So looking a bit closer at the "hauling" value stream:

Some of the work is done with excavators and front end loaders, so the areas of focus that can impact company KPI's are-- (productivity,hang, load and operational delay time)

Once loaded, hauling is an integral part to getting the ore to the next step of the value stream which is processing.  RMGC utilizes a fleet of 785 (150 ton), 789 (200 ton), 793 (260 ton) type hauling trucks.  (I will have to admit the tires on some of these are almost as tall as my house).   The granular value stream steps they are keying on are:   Motion waste, truck exchange time, load time, travel w/load time, dump time, travel empty back to loading equipment.  This is all considered cycle time.

So, in short- optimum utilization of haul trucks (improve productive time) & loading equipment is crucial to their business:
        Reducing operation delays
o   equipment inspection
o   fueling
o   blasting
o   scheduled break times
o   shift & shift change

There are various value streams but looking at one focus area>> a 793 Haul Truck with a capacity of 260 tons, a grossly generalized number would be about 1 oz of gold per load (~$1,150/oz.) With 800 loads per day, and the improvement of overall utilization of equipment; an extra five loads per day can be achieved. This practice demonstrates the application of the "One Second Rule" we often use in our sessions and have written about in previous blogs.  So if waste can be reduced in the value stream, then five extra loads of ore moved per day equates to approximately 2,000 more ounces each year.  You can do the math.  Amazing when you look at each specific value stream how it can contribute to the overall in grand ways. We call this cost translation.  This is one of many examples of waste elimination that results in adding more value and positively affecting productivity and costs.   

So rather than accepting closure of the mine as the fate of many before them, the employees of Round Mountain Gold are proactively working together to raise the "gold" bar and continue to learn and build on the successes they are achieving each day.  They have to lead, empower, engage and challenge each other believing that future "mine life" is totally possible and attained through continuous improvement and people development.

Kinross Round Mountain Gold mine with the support of Teaching Lean Inc. will be telling their "story" of how they are changing the way they are doing business differently to extend the life of their mine and uniquely created community at the Lean Transformation Summit in March of 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.   If you are interested in learning more about them and being a part of the Summit, go to  

Ernie and I would like to personally thank:
Frank Wagener, Vicente Ramirez, and Deanna Hall for all their hard work and willingness to share some insight to their business practices and helping us share this very unique blog.  They are part of the continuous improvement team at Kinross Round Mountain, they are truly visionaries and change agents for Kinross, and we are thankful to call them friends.  We look forward to seeing your future evolve through people development.

Until next time, 
Tracey and Ernie Richardson 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Lean Leadership "Unplugged" Webcast Recording

HI Everyone,
If you missed the live webcast today facilitated by Chris Burnham - Featuring myself, Ernie Richardson, Sam MacPherson, and Jamie Flinchbaugh.  We were discussing many aspects of #Lean #Leadership as a prelude to the Summit on Lean Leadership next month in partnership with Lean Frontiers next month in Atlantic Beach, FL.

Please check out this link to watch -

Come join us in sunny Florida next month!!!
Until Next time
Tracey Richardson

Thursday, August 6, 2015

PDCA, Fitness Apps, and Using Social Media to Improve Our Health

Happy August Everyone,
#crossblogging from The Lean Post

I often find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle with my travel schedule these days. When my husband and I are home, it’s much easier to follow the standardization techniques we’ve created for ourselves with regard to meal choices and exercise. Similar to lean thinking and practice, it’s a choice we’ve made to create a “business” lifestyle. We’ve decided how it is that we want to think about our health, just as how at work, a team will decide how they want to think as an organization about their business.
I remind myself that I become healthier by following the same attention to process with personal health as I do when applying Lean, which is mostly about understanding mindset and how to measure success. Am I focusing on process or results? If I want to lose weight, for example, when I step on the scale, what I’m looking at is simply a “lagging indicator”. It’s what I do next in terms of process that determines the result of what the scale will tell me the next time I jump on.
As I try to be proactive about my health, I find social media, technology, and apps to be helpful in this regard. Whether you have them or not, you’re probably aware of the Fitbits, Jawbone 24s, and countless other models out there that help us track data about ourselves and the choices we make on an hourly basis. Many of these apps have the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) process embedded within them if you look deeply.
When I look over my personal current state (grasp the situation), and see how am I doing against the standards I have set, it takes me back to my production days at Toyota when I had to track hour by hour where my team and I were against the standards we set as well. It’s fascinating to me how in depth you can get with your own behaviors if you are willing to track them. Some people are reluctant to do this because it may tell them something they aren’t ready to hear.
Take Fitbit, for example. (I’ve used three different apps to find the right one for me, comparing the different measurements offered to customers). If you are willing to play along, it will ask you to set standards for yourself so in a sense it’s allowing you to set you own takt time with the hopes that kaizen will be applied when those standards are met, raising your own bar. You can track and set goals for:
  • Tracey RichardsonSteps in a day (miles walked/ran)
  • Sleep (awake, light deep)
  • Water intake
  • Calorie intake
  • Calories burned
  • Food categories
  • Floors climbed (stairs- elevation)
  • Heart Rate (resting and during a workout)
  • Active Time
  • Weight (Current and target)
Think about it… within an organization we are always looking for process indicators to be more predictive to our outputs. Most organizations track lagging, results-oriented indicators. This means we are reacting to results that happened months ago. But are we able to make changes to that process that took place 3 months ago? What we really want to do is search to find the leading indicators to make change in the present before it ends up on the lagging report. 
The parallel I see with lean thinking and personal health decisions is about how we look at what we do. We have the ability to make change each day/hour in order to meet our goals. For example, if it’s 12pm and I only have 1,500 of my 8,000 steps allotted for my day, then I know I must change my process in order to meet the standard. The same goes for calorie intake. If my goal is 1,500 calories a day and I went to Cracker Barrel and had “Uncle Hershel’s breakfast”… then I may be way off my calorie ratio for the day! So what does this tell me? If I want to try to meet my standards, I must exercise or reduce my calorie intake for the rest of the day.
Health isn't about always being perfect. Just like in our organizations, we all have imperfect days. It’s how we change our process to meet expectations that is important. We all want to be able to have a nice dessert or treat from time to time… we deserve it, right? We just have to understand moderation. Just like in an organization, we don’t try to implement every improvement we want to make or new activity or behavior at once. It’s a process of changing our daily habits, changing how we think, and working toward the milestones we set in order to create new ones.
The other thing I like about Fitbits or Nike Run apps is the friendly competition they create among “friend” networks! If I see my friends are walking more steps than me, it’s an internal motivator to keep up or even do better. We all have some level of that competitive gene! For me, I’ll do whatever it takes to find fun in healthy practices and share them with others. In our business life, our “friends” are our competitors and we should always try to stay one step ahead of them to keep them in the rear view mirror. Just as apps show our competitive side, in business healthy competition can lead us to improve our processes for better profits and long-term sustainability. I personally love seeing the way lean thinking and practice translates in everyday life The more we can see it in our own lives, the easier it is to get buy in in our workplace. This is the same thinking we want in our work lives, whether we lead or are the ones doing the work.  
So challenge yourself to see the PDCA that is all around you in this new, technologically advanced world. I try not only to build muscle for the purpose of my own personal health, but to flex my problem solving muscles as well. It’s all about finding ways to translate personal behaviors into different choices – at work and at home. Always, focus on making sure you #movetheneedle! #lean #fitness #PDCA #Problemsolving #workout #measure
Until next time,
Tracey Richardson

Monday, July 6, 2015

Why do we like change in our personal life, but not at work?


Here is a post I made on that I am sharing here with my followers.

Why do we like change in our personal life, but not at work?

It's enlightening to me when Ernie and I ask during a session, "how many people have the latest smart phone version of their phone", we get an 85% hand raise from the participants.   We deepen the conversation with the participants by asking:
Tracey/Ernie: - "was the current version not working?"
The participants: the majority answer, "yes it was working".  
Tracey/Ernie:  "if was working properly why would you change?" 
The participants: "we wanted the latest technology"
Tracey/Ernie:  "so you are expressing to us that you like change?"
The participants: "Absolutely!"
So we grin and continue on with one more question for the participants, we ask - "How many of you have the same TV you had 20 years ago?", again the majority of hands show there has been a change.   Similar to smart phone and other electronic gadgets these days we tend to gravitate towards the latest and greatest.  So we have come to the realization that most people within this facet of life, love change.  Why is this?  
So we ask, "if you are so willing to change in your personal life, why is change in your work life so difficult?"   When new concepts of thinking are introduced to a business why are they looked at with such judgement? For example, we can use 5S - how many people remember their first experience with it?  Do you remember thinking of it as an "add-on?"   Usually the first response we get is, "we have always done it this way and it's worked well--I don't have time for this!".  Our response is "oh really, didn't we just establish change is good?"   We are so open to it when we are in control of it, but yet we aren't in other facets such as work.  It's fascinating to me what dynamics in our minds change.   We have shown we like it, now how do we tap into that source for work.   It's like re-framing our viewpoint in a sense.  We need a hook!
We continue to fuel the flame and ask, "do you do business the same way you did 20 years ago?"   We refer to our personal pasts and share "if we made the same model of Camry we made when we started (1988) would it still sell today?"  Probably not as well, right?   We try to make the point that change is a part of who we are as individuals (from the moment we are born) and what should naturally take place within an organization to meet the need of the ever-changing market.   The problem is it doesn't, we migrate to a comfort zone and for some reason we like to stay there, as in ~ "we make plenty of profit now, why rattle the tree?"  As we know from experience it takes a little shaking to get the fruit sometimes.  
We feel that if an organization takes the time to explain why change is important, then people may find the buy-in process a little more acceptable.  For instance if you are an Apple person, we may often watch the infamous Fall "announcements" about the latest and greatest Iphone.   We as the consumer then make the decision as to whether we upgrade or not--did they present a good hook?.   From what I see as a smart phone owner this tactic must influence the market well enough to encourage change, otherwise you wouldn't see a new one out each September.    
So the question is how do we tap into area of our brains that is so accepting of change and create that feeling within our work lives.   It's intriguing to us, we will continue to look for ways, how about you? 
Ernie and Tracey Richardson - @thetoyotagal

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

SDCA versus PDCA- when to use them.

#crossblogging from a Linkedin in article I wrote this month.

I know many of us have been exposed to Plan-Do-Check-Action (PDCA), (note some earlier versions from Deming the PDSA (Plan- Do-Study-Act) cycle).  Both being a scientific, process oriented, approach to solving problems efficiently and effectively. 
Often times if we have a known standard in place and a measurable difference in the current state, I like to refer to that as a caused gap.   This means there are root cause(s) that need to be investigated and sought out at the gemba.  Basically a discrepancy in a process (doesn't have to be manufacturing).   Caused gaps use the PDCA process to get back to the original standard. 
Another usage of PDCA is for a created gap problem which is more strategic in nature.   A scenario could be I am meeting an expectation and looking or proposing or strategizing a new way or standard.  Raising the bar through continuous improvement bringing to life the visual staircase depicting kaizen. 
Here is a short video I did with The Lean Enterprise Institute using a visual to show caused versus created gaps:
During my tenure with problem solving I have come to the realization there are 3 commonalities when you get to the root cause analysis step.   Once confirming the true root cause based on facts you can categorize them into 3 bucket areas.  They will fall into either:
  • Lack of a standard
  • Not following a standard
  • Wrong standard (not valid to the customer anymore)
So can you recognize the similarity?  - Standards!   I share with clients if all our A3's are telling us we needs standards I wonder how many A3's or problem solving events could be reduced if we just set standards to begin with.  Imagine that theory.  
One of my early lessons from my Japanese trainers was Standardize-Do-Check-Act - (SDCA).  This was a process we often used when we knew there wasn't a established standard and by potentially setting one that it "could" remedy the problem properly by following the process.  It's not as simplistic as it sounds and you have to gain some experience to determine when you use SDCA or PDCA.  Both processes can move the needle for your organization if the time is taken to practice.   
When using SDCA you start out with standardization first, putting what you know to be the best known standard in place that meets the internal and external customer needs.   Once you determine the correct standard you continue the process by putting it into place with the "Do" phase and "Checking" the effectiveness of your change based on the performance measures before you change and after.  Otherwise how are you going to know it was the right standard, so you must stay true to the process just as PDCA.   When you have determined it's meeting the expectation then the "Act" is to make it the new documented policy or procedure and share it with other affected areas.  This becomes the benchmark for improvement. 
As you develop your problem solving muscle you can begin to make the determination when its best to use PDCA or SDCA.   Either process must be followed thoroughly without taking the short cuts that are often driven by results of solving it quickly, instead the process of efficient and effective problem solving.  
Until next time
Tracey Richardson - @thetoyotagal

Friday, May 22, 2015

What it Takes to Share One's Wisdom: A Q&A with Tracey Richardson

Hello Blog readers - Sharing a column from The Lean Post - out many other posts from Lean Thinkers here as well!!   

Sharing Wisdom Interview:

What it Takes to Share One's Wisdom: A Q&A with Tracey Richardson

Toyota veteran, LEI faculty member, and Lean Post contributor Tracey Richardson has written for the Post on problem solving, A3 thinking, leadership, lean culture, and visual management, among other topics. We sat down with Tracey to talk to her approach to both teaching and writing with the aim of learning more about her process of sharing lean thinking with others so that they might better achieve their business and organizational goals.
What led you to not just practice lean, but teach?
Having the opportunity to learn from Japanese trainers in the early days at the TMMK plant (1988), sparked a passion for me to go into training and development not just for Toyota but outside as well. I've personally experienced how successful the "thinking" can be, how putting people development (respect for people) first and foremost can be. I'm also a very hands on visual and kinesthetic learner, so getting to go to many gembas across industries and share with people all the dynamics around problem solving and culture is priceless. As my trainers would say, I'm giving back and also "sharing wisdom."
What seems to work best in teaching lean ideas and practices to people who are just getting started?
I try to lessen the "tool talk" and "lean talk." I think when the labels are more important than the process and thinking behind it, people can lose the true intent of why they are doing something. It often becomes more about outcomes, return on investments, measuring the wrong things.

"When you make a decision to change the way you do business, it should hold you accountable for certain leadership actions – new leadership behaviors that engage and empower team members to want make a difference in their daily work."

When you make a decision to change the way you do business, it should hold you accountable for certain leadership actions – new leadership behaviors that engage and empower team members to want make a difference in their daily work. If people have an ability to impact key performance indicators for the organization, then they suddenly have a new line of sight. They understand their role in the organization or what their role could be. In other words, folks need to be supported in visualizing their own gaps in performance and then they need to want to learn more. That's how I learned. I had a responsibility to the company to contribute to the job security for then entire company as well as myself.
In the beginning we didn't call it anything but our job. When I teach, I try really hard to help people understand that investing in people and teaching problem solving – these are the actions of leadership. It's about recognizing nonvalue-add activities and creating value in every dimension of each functional area from order to customer. That is truly Lean to me.
And what's been most valuable for you about putting what you've learned into writing?
I like to consider myself a practical instructor using past lessons to teach others to translate the learning into their world. I love the classroom. I try to hit all the learning styles and have fun doing it. I think writing can be just as impactful if I can grasp the readers' attention like I do in class. I truly try to write as I would tell a story in class. So far people have given me good feedback, but I'm always learning, so feel free to give me more so I can improve how I share!
What's the hardest about writing?
I'll be honest, writing is not easy for me. This goes all the way back to when I was a kid. It takes time for me to extrapolate what's in my mind and put it into words. When I'm in the classroom I'm very animated and theatrical. If you taped my arms down I don't think I could talk! My fear or difficulty with writing is that I will miss some key translation points because I can't always put the depth of my learning experiences into the right words. I'm thankful to other authors and writers who share their wisdom, and I'll continue share what I can. It's a process like anything else.
What are you looking forward to seeing in the lean community? What new opportunities and challenges do you see ahead?
This is a good question for all of us who are trying to improve how we teach others and share ideas. I think a really important thing to think about is how organizations measure how they are doing. We often find the scales are shifted on the heavy side of results-oriented indicators which are historical in nature. I'd like to see the lean community shift that a little – shift expectations a little – in the direction of leading more predicative indicators so people can make a difference before they get the "3 month report". It also puts the focus on processes and standards, which is important for continuous improvement to actually happen and be measured.
People get so focused on outcomes and not the processes that get them there. Embedding effective gemba walks along with good visual management – these are also important factors for longterm growth and sustainability. I think our challenges as a lean community reside in raw discipline and accountability to practice the right thing even when it feels uncomfortable. My trainers would tell me if I'm too comfortable everyday, then I'm probably not learning.
Tracey Richardson will be teaching "Managing to Learn: The Use of the A3 Management Process" at LEI's Washington D.C. workshopsJune 16-18th. Ernie Richardson will be teaching "Key Concepts of Lean" and bring a "virtual gemba" to the classroom using a Landcruiser simulation (to demonstrate the Toyota Production System, Standardized Work, 5S, Visual Controls, Kanbans, Work flow, Push versus Pull systems, and KPI integration). Ernie will also teach "Gemba Walks: A Management Process for Leading the Organization" workshop focusing on what a gemba walk is and isn't and how to run one by use of a real life gemba near the conference. Use the code "FACULTY" to receive a 50% discount on either workshop at the DC location only!
Until next time, 
Tracey Richardson

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