The Lean Starting Line [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on October 2, 2014 · 0 comments

Starting line promoIt’s time for another installment of Lessons from the Road, my column for IndustryWeek. In the next few installments, I will talk about the lean roadmap, or how to handle the change management of the lean journey.

This month, I am talking about the beginning of the journey, The Lean Starting Line. Here is an excerpt:

3. “Quick wins” doesn’t mean the easy stuff. It is beneficial to focus on quick wins for three reasons. First, the money or time you gain in savings can be reinvested in continuous improvement. Second, it keeps people interested and engaged. And third, it starts generating learning cycles to build capability and culture.

But quick wins is often confused with doing easy stuff. Organizations do 5S because they think it’s easy. It’s not easy to do right. I saw one organization put kanban into place in the office supply closet and call it a success. Work on something meaningful, even hard, because that’s where the benefits are found. And that’s where the learning is generated.

Just doing lean is not worth it. But doing lean in a meaningful way is worth every ounce of effort.

You can read the entire column here.

As always, I appreciate your comments and questions, which you can post here or send me by email.



Saving childhoods one at a time

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on September 9, 2014 · 0 comments

DSC 0006Please help!

For most kids, a childhood is defined by play, running, jumping, riding bikes, and all sorts of activities. There are several ways in which this can be lost. My daughter experienced Perthes, and spent an awful lot of time visiting doctors, in surgery, wearing a brace, and physical therapy. Many kids have had a portion of their childhood stolen by Perthes, and for some, all of it.

Perthes attacks the femur inside of the hip. It is often hard to detect and even harder to treat. Not only may it steal a year, or several, of childhood experiences, but can lead to very early arthritis and hip replacements. There is little research on why it happens, on treatments, and on educating doctors on the most effective treatments.

DSC 0009Given the possible outcomes, we couldn’t be more grateful how Emma’s situation has evolved. She had a more severe condition but went from the surgery and the brace you see in the photo to being able to run and play soccer. She still has to manage her body differently because of it, but she is able to do whatever she decides. We attribute this outcome to a few things. First, we caught it very early. Second, after several failed attempts, we found the right doctor who was able to prescribe the right path forward. And third, her focus to following the path to recovery with unbelievable commitment, matched only by her mother’s commitment to support her every step of the way.

DSC 0002But not every kid is so fortunate. This is why Emma raises money every year for the Save-a-Limb Foundation. She is so committed to this event, that she misses a soccer game (one of the passions that helped her stay motivated) to attend the event. Please consider helping her raise money to help battle Perthes. Everyone bit helps, and we appreciate everyone who has supported her in this endeavor. You can donate through her personal page here.



Welcoming Andy Carlino’s new blog

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on August 27, 2014 · 0 comments

AndycarlinoPlease help me welcome my longtime partner and friend Andy Carlino to the community of lean bloggers. You can find his blog at

Andy is my co-founder of the Lean Learning Center and co-author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean. It is the “co” that is most valuable to me. Most partnerships don’t last that long. You will find co-authors collaborate on a book, or two, and then go their separate ways. Our partnership has only strengthened through support and collaboration, along with a passion for helping our clients be successful.

Please visit the blog, make a comment or two, and share it with your friends.



Want to learn more about KaiNexus?

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on August 25, 2014 · 0 comments

KaiNexus, that cloud-based tool to help the flow of communication in continuous improvement efforts, has produced a new video explaining what it does.

For those not familiar, capturing continuous improvement activity in a traditional manufacturing facility is relatively easy. White boards and small pieces of paper can go a long way. But if your team is distributed geographically, or distributed across time, or you work in an environment where paper isn’t conductive (such as a clean room), then software can be a great means to connect people and ideas as improvement happens.

I identified the need for this many years ago and planned to develop it myself, until I ran across KaiNexus. I have seen them deployed at many clients successfully and am glad to see them continuous to evolve their solutions to this challenge.



Using Observation Systematically [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on August 13, 2014 · 0 comments

I’ve written about observation many times before, but in my latest IndustryWeek Lessons from the Road column, I address how to use the different levels of observation and make better decisions about observation. Lessons promo

Here is an excerpt from Using Observation Systematically:

There are four distinct levels of observation, each with a degree of abstraction from the truth. A management system of observation determines the pattern with which these different levels are utilized, and for what purpose. Determining the right level of observation should not be done on autopilot; it requires purposeful decisions.

The less abstract our level of observation, the more we have to invest our time and energy. As a result, getting to the ground truth for every decision and insight would be all-consuming.

You can read the entire column here. Please share your comments, and if there are other topics that you would like addressed in the future, I certainly appreciate your suggestions.



Gemba Academy interviews me

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on July 25, 2014 · 0 comments

Our friend from Gemba Academy, Ron Pereira, recently interviewed me for his Gemba Academy podcasts. Here’s a brief synopsis of what is covered.

  • Jamie’s lean career history (2:42)
  • The quote that has inspired Jamie for over 15 years (4:08)

  • Jamie’s definition of a Lean Leader, and why it’s a verb, not a noun (6:07)
  • Why Lean Leadership is often overlooked (9:05)
  • How Lean Accounting fits into Lean Leadership (10:14)
  • The best way to coach leaders, in Jamie’s opinion (13:43)
  • How lower level practitioners can succeed without leadership support (15:56)
  • What “Respect for People” means to Jamie (19:13)
  • The one problem Jamie is really trying to solve at the moment (20:51)
  • The best and most unique advice Jamie has ever received (21:52)
  • Jamie’s simple but effective personal productivity habit (22:49)
  • Jamie’s final words of wisdom (28:58)

I hope you’ll check it out. Please let me know what you think.

Keep Calm 605



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