How do we progress beyond just using the Lean Tools?

Jim Womack and John Shook are constantly reminding us of the importance of the balance between “Process” (Technical) and “People” (Social) to achieve our organisation’s “Purpose” as we implement Lean in our companies. John Shook has told us that in the eighties we generally had too much weight on the social side of the scale, and in the nineties and beyond the balance has swung to the opposite side with the emphasis now on the technical (or tools) side of the balance. Also we hear all the time that Lean is more than “just” a set of tools. This is true, but if we are serious about implementing Lean in our organisations, how do we progress beyond the tools? Every organisation implementing Le

5S: What problem are we fixing?

Put simply, 5S is method of creating, maintaining and improving a clean and orderly workplace that exposes waste and errors. 5S helps identify unplanned levels of inventory either as tools, materials, work in progress or finished goods. Often we can use simple visual processes to help us identify these problems quickly through systems that provide instruction, information and feedback on how well the operational process is working. 5S can be applied to any process, including administrative and electronic systems. 5S is much more than just “housekeeping”. Housekeeping and an organised workplace are the results of 5S, but the real purpose of 5S is to make problems more evident more quickly

Separating Authority & Responsibility in Lean Leadership

How does the Lean leader separate responsibility and authority? This might seem strange because we normally think that authority and responsibility are linked together. Could this be another Lean thinking paradox? The focus in a Lean organisation has shifted from “who has the authority” to “what is the right thing to do”. Successful leaders in maturing Lean cultures have moved from "we have all the answers" to "what do you think?” This is achieved by getting each team member to take initiative to actually solve problems that improve his or her job, by transferring individual responsibility for improvement to the lowest possible level where the work is actually done. It is also achieved by en

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