Friday, December 2, 2016

Public Session with LEI in Charleston SC (Jan 31 - Feb 2nd, 2017)

Hello everyone, 
Many ask us if we do public sessions, so I wanted to share that we will be part of the Lean Enterprise Institute's conference in Charleston, SC.  Here are the courses that will be offered! 

Charleston, SC - Charleston Marriott
January 31 - February 2, 2017


Key Concepts of Lean

Lean Management System

Capturing the Value of Lean

Gemba Walks - A Management Process for Leading the Organization

Special holiday discount (one week only) is being offered from December 5th to Dec 12th - $300 off per class ($600 for a 2 day class)!!  Sign up while you can.   

Ernie and I will be teaching Managing to Learn, Key Concepts of Lean and Gemba Walks !!  Come see us!! 

Until next time, 
Ernie and Tracey Richardson

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

PRE-SALES LINK Amazon books for "The Toyota Engagement Equation"

Hello everyone, sorry for my absence on the blog lately.  Ernie and I have been traveling quite a bit lately working with our clients, and when we are home we have been working diligently on our upcoming book in Q2 of 2017 - The Toyota Engagement Equation publish by McGraw Hill.

We are excited to share our Amazon PRE SALES link with you!!

Click here Pre-sales link to "The Toyota Engagement Equation"

Here is the cover design just released!  It should be available in May of 2017!  We are very excited to share our story with everyone and how we have translated the "thinking" we learned at Toyota in ALL industries!   Thank you, Tracey and Ernie Richardson

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Video clip from Lean Enterprise Institute Mining Gold with Kinross and Teaching Lean Inc.

Check out this short video clip by Chet Marchwinski with the Lean Enterprise Institute at the Lean Summit this past March in Las Vegas.   Chet is interviewing Kinross Gold who has been on a Lean journey now for several year, along with Ernie Richardson.

Interview with Kinross and Teaching Lean Inc at the Lean Summit in March 2016

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Raised by Toyota - Q&A with Ernie and Tracey Richardson

Hello everyone, #crossblogging this month.  Spent a week on a Q&A interview with the Lean Enterprise Institute extrapolating our thoughts and experiences from our time at Toyota and how we translate them to other across all different types of industries.

Check out the link to the column on The Lean Post by LEI

Raised by Toyota - Q&A with Ernie and Tracey Richardson

Have a GREAT 4th of July weekend coming up!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Have you found the point of occurrence (poo) in your process?

Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone,

This post is to have a little fun while we learn, and if any of you have been in our sessions the past few years you will know what this means. It's the funny things that often allow us to remember important thinking as we learn and practice lean in our daily activities across all functional areas of our organization.

We all should be familiar with PDCA (Plan - Do - Check - Action), its a systematic approach to problem solving among other business practices at a micro and macro level.   In this blog we will focus a bit more on the micro aspect.

So if you think of the 8 steps of problem solving we are looking at framing problems based on a proper go and see approach.   We determine from as much data and facts what is our current state.  This doesn't have to be manufacturing, it can be any process that creates an output, service, end result or product.   Material and Information (M & I) flow can be involved, or perhaps the "day in the life" of a document (hard-copy or e-copy), or a process of approval.   Once we have determined our current state and measured it against a known standard then we should have a quantifiable gap.

   What we find is most are unable to measure effectively so assumptions are made and problem solving begins and our result could be from shear luck.   As my trainers would say "lucky isn't sustainable" especially if we are running a business.  This thinking allows us to only get a symptom of the problem not the root cause and it normally just returns.   Also if we don't have a known standard, then start to document what should be happening in a process (based on customer internally and externally needs it to be).   Often I refer to it as an Ideal state or expectation - believe it or not standardization is a perceived bad word in some organizations.   I think for the most part we all can agree that we are doing "something" that creates our output, shouldn't we document it in order to improve?  Doesn't Taiichi Ohno tell us that we can't have continuous improvement without a standard?   So I encourage everyone to really look at how you frame problems in order to begin the shift from reactive problem solving to more proactive.   Minimize the "fire-fighting" approach and reduce your hose-holders in the rear.

Once we have determined our problem or gap properly we must think about slicing the data into manageable pieces.   Please reflect back on one of my past blogs about breaking down the problem. How to breakdown a problem correctly!

Once we have done this then we go to the process of a smaller portion of the gap.    Now how do we define a process?  A process can be:  (not an all inclusive list)

  1.  A standardized work document
  2.  The day in the life of a document, product, or individual etc.
  3.  An administrative process (how to apply for medical leave) or get approved for vacation time.
  4.  A flowchart
  5. Work Instruction or Job Breakdown
  6.  Engineering specifications
  7.  Material and Information flow
  8.  A pattern or routine that has been created (gym, workout, run path)
  9.  Grocery shopping
  10.  GPS directions

As you can see there are many articulations of what a process can be, usually it consists of a step-by-step approach that leads me to an outcome.   Now the question is, as an organization, where does the waste reside?  Do we recognize it?  Do we consider it an accepted norm?  Do we develop work around's to embed it as part of our process?  Does tribal knowledge cloud our thinking?   All these are good questions we need to answer through a go and see and engaging with people who do the work in all areas of our company. 

As we teach in class, of course in a jokingly way, we ask have you discovered the point of occurrence in your process(es)?  We often refer to as the POO? (Point of Occurrence).   We say if you have stepped in the POO, you have found the discrepancy that is creating "pain" (translates to KPI's) to your organization.  It could be in the form of quality, safety, productivity, or cost.  Point of occurrence's are there it's up to use to think in the most granular form to find those wasteful steps and eliminate the POO,   Just of late in the marketing world I have seen the Emoji's or Emojicon's come to life outside of our texting realm.   I see these in the form of stuffed animals and often pillow size.   We are in airports almost weekly and I ran across this little guy.   Of course one of the popular emoji's we all have seen.   This has become a "mascot" if you will within our sessions as a visual to know if you have found the point of occurrence (poo) in the process.  

 Many laugh or smile, some roll their eyes but secretly think its funny.  I guarantee its an engaging way to remember are you finding the actual step in the process where the point of occurrence resides.   Because until you do, I promise you will continue to fight symptoms and your problems will continue to manage you, not you managing your problems.   Which is more value add for your company?  So use the Emoji in a completely different way than intended, it has a key chain latch so attach it to a process so the root cause can be identified.    Make "lean thinking" fun(ny) and see how much more interesting it can be.   It has been a little joke now in our sessions and we will be handing them out for the teams who find the most point of occurrences on a gemba walk!   Whatever it takes to move the needle!  Lighten up and LEArN!  Keep calm, go see, and step in the point of occurrence!

Until next time, 
Tracey and Ernie Richardson

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Join us at LEI in Cambridge for a RARE public session Aug 1-5th,2016

Hey guys, come join us for a rare public session at the Lean Enterprise Institute in Cambridge August 1-5th, 2016.


Go to this link below, learn more and sign up! 
Note you do not have to do all 3 classes--pick and choose as you like!

Mon-Tues-Aug 1st-2nd- we will be doing the Key Concepts of Lean class with our Landcruiser Manufacturing simulation as a conduit to bring to life the thinking behind TPS and other tools and people development skills.  Great interactive class!

Wed-Thurs 3rd-4th - We will be doing Managing to Learn/A3 session.  We will talk about Culture, Leadership, coaching, and practice-- reading, writing and coaching A3's in class.

Fri - Aug 5th - will wrap up a great week with a 1 day Gemba Walk session (Gemba TBD) but will be a company close by.    Expect to work in teams!  Great session to understand what a true Gemba Walk is about and what you are looking for that is value add versus non value add.

Come join us for a GREAT week of learning!!!!! 

Ernie and Tracey Richardson
@tracey_san  on twitter

Monday, April 25, 2016

Why don't we solve problems like we eat pizza?

So we have been conditioned since our youth that pizza normally comes by the slice, of course if we make our own we bake it then slice it, right?  Perhaps you can describe this as tribal knowledge or a learned trait.  I think many are familiar with that and have.   In the world of Lean thinking or doing business with the focus on adding value and respect for our people, we need to put problem solving methodology into that same category as well.

There is a misnomer out there that when we problem solve (using PDCA) that we must take on world-hunger level problems.   Some, that are experienced in A3, tend to think putting a largely scoped problem into that format will help them solve it faster.  Or should I say for some who may have minimal time, allow us to jump to countermeasures faster.   Even at my time at Toyota TMMK, I caught myself being pulled into this vortex.   We often need the problem fixed or the results to change so taking it all on a once seems like a faster process.  When you lower the water to see the rocks is it really faster?  You can do the cost translation to your KPI's.
When I first was introduced to problem solving I will admit we often went from a larger measurable gap (difference between the current state and the standard) to asking why, usually a fish-bone diagram.  This process often reared us many root causes, more than we should change at one time to be honest. Many times we found ourselves outside of the Gemba trying to make the best selection based on assumptions, opinions and past experiences.  This sounds good, especially if we have tenure in an area, but it's not a sustainable process - lucky at best as my trainers would remind me.   As we all know when we trying to implement too many countermeasures at once it's very difficult to measure which one actually fixed it, and how do we know?  So it's great if we can avoid rework and non value-added time if possible.  As John Wooden as said, "If you don't have time to do it right the first time when will you have time to do it over?"

When I was introduced 12 years ago, when I was an internal trainer for Toyota, to a new way to approach problem solving that developed an additional step in the process - the light-bulb came on for me.   Imagine for a moment, a process that encouraged you to take the large gap you have after defining a problem, and breaking that down into manageable pieces.  In essence you would slice the gap up into weighted (based on data) contributors to the overall gap.  Similar to a pareto chart where the sum of the bars equalled the total amount of the problem.   A tree diagram often works well visualizing the "funneling" of the gap into one slice.   Similar to pizza.

If we tried to eat this pizza in one setting without it being sliced it would be difficult for us on many levels.   There may be a few that can accomplish the task, but it's not a preferred style of eating.   Often times we would feel terrible afterwards, similar to the frustration commonly felt when we don't put problems to bed using true root cause analysis.   If we just take a slice at a time as we have been conditioned to do eating, we should get down to a portion of the gap that takes you to a process level.

  This process level allows you to be around 1-3 root causes maximum.   If you find yourself with 5 or more root causes at an individual slice it should be a red flag indicator to lessen the size of the problem we are tackling.   PDCA will talk to you if you use the process correctly and listen.   Only when we try to take shortcuts and by pass people or the Gemba we fall in a potential state of frustration and band-aid fixes.   Then the A3 gets blamed for being a terrible tool.  Folks will say, "This doesn't work, why are we using it?"

A mock example I use of breaking down a complex problem is below.   It shows how taking a world hunger level problem and getting it down to a manageable "slice" which is a process I can influence and go see.  Not just manufacturing but service industry and material and information flow style processes as well.  

So you can see the highlighted path down to one slice, which we can say is 40 of the 500 defects.  This is a mock example so just allowing you to put some number to see the slice.   In our real world problem solving we would attach values to each of these so they track back upward to the gap.   It not only illustrates our path of thinking but shows there was Gemba visits to differentiate facts from our beloved opinions and assumptions.   This process shows how many slices of pizza are remaining that contributes to the whole gap!   It seems like a lot of time, it can be if you aren't an organization that track / measures very well.  But this gives you the entire picture.   It shows to you as a leader how many stakeholders I potentially need to involved and how many "city level" A3's I can disperse as training and development opportunities for a team or department.   I think many feel they have to take everything on themselves.   Another misnomer, we are only as good as we let our extraordinary people think for us each day.    We have to foster that and find ways to manage all the gaps that are out there.    It does come easier with having standards in place, either way you will get to improving a process.  That is where the "extra cheese" lies.

So next time you consider tackling a world hunger problem just remember we need to feed the cities first, just as you would prefer a slice of pizza at a time. 

Until next time
Tracey and Ernie Richardson
Teaching Lean Inc.