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.

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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.

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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.

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Using Observation Systematically [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on August 13, 2014 · 1 comment

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.

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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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Innovation VLOG 1300694269969Boards of directors are usually associated with governance issues such as risk management and financial controls. They of course have a major role in strategic direction, either in establishing it, approving, or hiring the right executives who will establish the strategic vision.

But does that extend all the way into such amorphous topics such as innovation?

I suggest it does, as innovation becomes a more crucial capability for continuous regeneration of a company’s strength. Wharton School professor and author of Boards That Lead Michael Useem agrees.

Useem, in his article How Board Can Innovate, states:

All that is true, or least should be so, but companies are also forever having to reinvent themselves — IBM, Nucor, and Wipro bear only the faintest resemblance to their founding forms — and boards ought to be at the forefront of those transformations, not rearguard or resistant. New products are, of course, the province of R&D teams or research partners. But new strategies and structures are squarely in the board’s domain, and we have seen any number of governing boards innovating with, not just monitoring, management.

His suggestion as to how they should engage is through an innovation committee. It certain companies where product innovation is the centerpiece of innovation, I believe this model can be effective. It service innovation is just as core a part of the need to innovate, then perhaps it belongs more to the strategy committee. Useem expands on the innovation committee idea with an example from Diebold:

Diebold’s innovation committee members are on call for everything from brainstorming to networking. When Diebold executives began looking for new technologies it might buy, Crandall and his two colleagues — rooted in tech start-up and venture capital communities — helped the CEO and his staff connect with those who would know or own the emergent technologies that could allow Diebold to strengthen its current lines and buy into the right adjacent lines.

When innovation is specific enough, and big enough, to be presented and reviewed and encouraged, then this can help enable innovation. But it should not be its source. Its source should come from building a culture of innovation.

I wrote about making innovation a core company-wide capability through lean for my IndustryWeek column, in Making Innovation a Capability. So then leads to the question, should boards have a role in building a culture of innovation?

I still believe the answer is yes.

Boards cannot establish the culture, as they engagement points with the rest of the organization are not plentiful enough to initiate such a change. But they can help support the behaviors that lead to innovation. They can do this through the questions that they ask, the focus they provide, the recognition they offer.

Boards can have a greater impact on culture than they often realize. But only if acting deliberately towards a specific culture. And if a board of directors wants to have an impact on innovation, they should focus more on the culture of innovation than any discrete innovation actions.

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Role Modeling for Change [Lessons from the Road]


My last two Lessons from the Road columns [Building Behaviors Bedrock of Lean Success and Build a Deliberate Culture, Not an Accidental One] focused on the tactics and strategies of culture change, which is crucial for a successful lean journey. One of those tactics is to role model the right behaviors, and so I have […]

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The single best way leaders support cultures of continuous improvement


I recently published a new post on the KaiNexus blog site titled The single best way leaders support cultures of continuous improvement. Here is an excerpt: In working with one VP responsible for supporting 3,000 people, she found a small change in her email use habits that turned out to be a productivity improvement. If […]

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The self-development of leadership development


Leadership development has gone by many names over the last century and has evolved in many ways. It has come in the form of apprenticeships, to purposeful rotational assignments, to training, and executive coaches (which are about as generic today as accountants). But through this entire evolution, leadership development has almost always been about the […]

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The beauty and effectiveness of simple communication structures


This post originally appeared on the Lean Learning Center blog. How do I get engaged communication going with my team? How do I reach them? How do we get people talking without it dragging into an endless venting session? These are questions many leaders struggle with. In an effort to engage people, they open up […]

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