direct observation

The Founder and Experimentation

06.27.2017

Learning what works and what doesn’t work is driven by experimentation, real-world trials that inform us about cause and effect. How do we improve the ability to experiment? By reducing the cost, the effort, the friction required to test what works. As we continue my effort to de-jargonize (ok, that’s not a real word) lean […]

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People Bottlenecks

06.20.2017

In the flow of a manufacturing plant, the bottleneck should often be the most valuable, or at least most expensive asset. We actually should be designing our processes around that fact, and then ensuring there is no unnecessary waste in the process that affects that bottleneck. In the Theory of Constraints, this is called “elevate […]

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Using Observation Systematically [Lessons from the Road]

08.13.2014

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. Here is an excerpt from Using Observation Systematically: There are four distinct levels of observation, each with a degree of abstraction from […]

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Going to the Gemba

09.20.2011

My latest column for Industry Week, Lessons from the Road, titled Going to the Gemba has been posted. Here is an excerpt: Going to the gemba has become popular for the simple reason that it is powerfully effective. But there is more to it than getting up from your desk, as even this simple explanation attempts […]

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Diagnosing Current Reality as 1, 2, 3

03.22.2010

..although note I did not say “as easy as 1, 2, 3.” Diagnosing our current reality of any situation is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks for a lean thinker. It’s harder for a lean thinker than for a non-lean thinker. Why? Because a non-lean thinker is quite comfortable just assuming they know what’s […]

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What NOT to Learn from the Undercover Boss

02.15.2010

I don’t know if the show will last, but the Undercover Boss certainly has an interesting premise. Leaders of organizations go undercover in their own organizations to do front-line jobs, learning what is really going on. This is a great idea, and one consistent with lean where we talk about getting to the point of […]

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Measurement Misnomers, and Toyota Dealership Problems

01.29.2010

On our LinkedIn Group for the Lean Learning Center, we get many good discussions and questions. We had one from Roger Cook that I thought was worth repeating and expanding upon. Here is the question: I’m curious if any of you have foolproof ways of insuring your metrics (which lean folks are famous for measuring […]

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Go ahead, play musical chairs

01.25.2010

How often do you sit in a different seat at the dinner table? A regular meeting? A plane? When I travel, often starting on a regional jet, I’m usually in seat 1B. Not 1A, or 2B, but in 1B. It’s where I’m comfortable. Of course, my objective is to be comfortable. If my objective were […]

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Test for Actual Use, not Intended Use

12.22.2009

When you test, what attributes are you testing for? Most testing begins with design criteria. This is reasonable to include but not the right starting point. You must develop with the user in mind. You must test with the user in mind. You must test for actual use, not just the use you intended. This […]

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Observe with purpose

10.22.2009

Direct observation has been an under appreciated aspect of lean for most of its life. It has gotten a lot more attention in recent years, unfortunately this is thanks in part to the use of jargon, such as gemba and genchi genbutsu. For those of you who know me, you know I hate jargon. It […]

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