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 · 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.

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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]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on June 8, 2014 · 1 comment

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 taken my next column to focus on role modeling.

Before you read this column answer these questions for yourself first.

1. Do you think you role model?

2. Name 10 specific instances in the last month where you role modeled a specific behavior in a specific way.

3. Do you still think you role model?

For many, the answers will be Yes, Uhhhhhhh…, No.

Lessons promoHere is an excerpt from the column:

Direct observation. Some people call this going to the gemba, or go and see, but the behavior is being able to observe work as it occurs in its true form. You observe what actually happens, not what is supposed to happen. This is one of those behaviors that’s all too easy to say that you do without actually having to demonstrate it.

At a BMW plant, after each daily quality meeting, time is reserved for direct observation. The time is reserved, but the topic and participants aren’t determined until the meeting. The observation is focused on which problem appears to be the least well understood. The leader in the room participates in the observation and often makes the decision about what observation needs to be done. Because everyone has reserved the time on their schedule, there are no excuses for not doing it immediately.

You can read the entire IndustryWeek column here.

I’m sure many of you do have good examples of role modeling, especially those who easily answered my second question. I would encourage you to share some of your examples for others in the comments section below.

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Kainexus logoI 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 kept to herself, then it’s a nice idea. When she shared through the system for managing improvements, it both encouraged others to adopt the same improvement, and encouraged others to find their own improvements.

I recommend reading the entire blog post here.

Some of you know that I support KaiNexus as an advisor, as I believe in their mission, their solutions, and their team. You might also check out a webinar coming up that they are hosting titled Leadership Behaviors That Create a Culture of Continuous Improvement. Hopefully I didn’t step on their toes with my post.

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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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Build a deliberate culture, not an accidental one [Lessons from the Road]


In my last Lessons from the Road column, I introduced the the idea that culture is the most important element of lean transformation. I was fortunate to have the opportunity early in my lean journey to see just how important the correct behaviors would be, regardless of how well you designed the system. If you […]

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Building Behaviors Bedrock of Lean Success [Lessons from the Road]


For my latest column, I set out to write about culture change. I barely got through the introduction and realized I’m already out of room. Such is the restriction of a 1-page column. So, the introduction became the column. You can read the latest installment of Lessons from the Road, and here is an excerpt, […]

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