Lean Podcast

How does Lean fit into the Start up mentality?

Jason Burt

There has been a significant push for a Lean approach among entrepreneurs ever since the book, The Lean Startupwas published.  As a Lean Consultant with a very strong entrepreneurial mindset and approach to life, this has been very interesting to me.  I have enjoyed talking with other inventors about their MVP (Minimal Viable Products) and learning about how they test their ideas in the marketplace.  The process of testing your product frequently against the market or some criteria of customer expectations is Lean Manufacturing at it’s core.  Testing and Learning…  Listen to the podcast below where Scott Tarcy and I spend some time discussing Lean and the Lean Startup approach.

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Carmine Denisco on the Inventors Launchpad Podcast

Jason Burt

Using Lean as an Entrepreneur: Lean Manufacturing in Start-ups

Lean Manufacturing is used broadly in many manufacturing companies around the world.  Lean has become a common language in more manufacturing industries and has become a staple approach to providing more value for customers through increased quality and efficiencies.  But what many don’t realize is that Lean Manufacturing is actually more about the management system and the learning that comes from problem solving than the technical tools that are so widely publicized.  With that, Lean Manufacturing is able to be used and applied in any company or industry and at any stage of the process.  In this podcast, we discuss Lean Manufacturing and some potentials for use in the Start-up world along with the host Carmine Denisco on the Inventors Launchpad Podcast.

 

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Top 4 questions to ask a Lean Manufacturing Consultant or the Lean Consulting Firm you are looking to hire.

Top 4 questions to ask a Lean Manufacturing Consultant or the Lean Consulting Firm you are looking to hire.

Jason Burt

There are many Lean manufacturing professionals that have either started working for a consulting company or have ended up as their own version of a management consultant.  The questions are “which Lean Coach will work for me?” and “what does the correct lean consulting help look like?”.

The goal is to create a culture where your entire company can learn to continuously improve their processes.   To improve while receiving the needed lean training and development that allows your company to solve problems and drive your own lean strategy…eventually without the Lean consultant.

Here are a few things to think about when vetting your potential Lean Consultant…

Is your Lean Coach Humble?

This one can be difficult to evaluate sometimes.  As a Lean Consulting professional, I would want to highlight all of the successful examples of eliminating waste and developing team members, but there should always be some humility in every Lean Trainers mind.  

A foundational part of any Lean Journey is the learning and reflection as leaders are continuously striving to develop their culture to establish a lean enterprise.  Failure and struggle are a big part of the Lean process.  We learn through failure as much as success any good lean consultant, or lean consulting firm, should recognize this and be talking with potential clients about planning for some failures and learning.  

If the Lean consulting company does not acknowledge this extremely important part of the lean journey…then I would be cautious.  The Lean journey is not easy, and is a series of mistakes, pivots, and struggles that are all learning opportunities to build a Lean Management capability.

Where does the Lean Consulting Company do their training?

For me, it is a firm belief that 95% of the Lean Manufacturing training should be out on the “shop floor”, or where ever the work is being performed.  

I am not saying that there is never a need for a classroom lean training course.  I use them, as needed, and I think can be some good value…but the real lean learning happens by “Doing”, and you typically are not getting your hands dirty in the classroom.

The struggles and failures that we gain our best learning moments from come from “doing”….or attempting to improve the process in some way.  Go to the floor and solve a simple problem for a team member on the floor, you will learn more and accomplish more for the company and lean culture than sitting in a classroom.

So find out where and how the Lean consultant plans on training you and your company.  If the majority of the time is planned to be spent in a classroom or away from the shop floor, than question it and think twice about their lean training approach.

Lean Training, are they selling “Belts” or “Capability”?

The trend continues to create an expectation where everyone going down a lean training path is going to get some kind of “lean certificate” or “sigma green belt”.  I understand that as individuals, we are always trying to increase our marketability in the workplace and that there are companies out there that expect the “lean green belt”.  

So with that being said….I do not fault anyone from wanting to get a Six Sigma Black Belt, or a Lean six sigma green belt, or the next Lean Certificate for supply chain…..or whatever.  

But when you see that you can get one of these “Certificates” or “Belts” for $49.95 on Groupon….I would start to ask a few more questions.  What really is it that you are looking for in the Lean training process.  

Many lean Consulting companies are leading with the “Certificates” because it plays into an individualized value that can help them get the client.  The lean Consultant should be talking to the potential client about the increased “lean capability”  that the organization and the individuals will have over time of working with them.  

Just because you were handed a piece of paper, it does not mean that the lean Consulting Company or their Lean Coach working with you provided the best Lean Training and development.

What is the Lean Consultants Background?

Like we just discussed above…it is very easy to look like a Lean Consulting expert in today’s world.  Collect a bunch of lean belts and certificates and eventually you have a Lean consulting company built for $500 through Groupon.  Yes, I am exaggerating…but I do believe that there are many Lean Coaches out there trying to help companies eliminate waste and drive a lean management system…that are over their head, and the clients don’t know the difference.

In order for a Lean Professional in an organization to be able to step into the Lean consulting role….there are experiences that they must have along the way.  I believe that a great Lean consultant needs to have had implementation experience at most levels in the organization to be able to guide a Lean enterprise journey for a client.  

As a Lean Consultant, it is necessary to be capable on the shop floor getting your hands dirty and solving problems at the lowest level in the organization and yet later that day, sitting with the CEO to discuss the implementation strategy to bring the most value to the customers and shareholders.  This is the reality of any Lean Journey….the correct lean strategy spans the entire organization and has a different strategy at each level that is all very purposeful by the Lean Consultant.

So…has the lean Consultant that you are talking with worked at all of these different levels in their past, or will they struggle.  Were they a past executive that never spent any time on the shop floor solving problems or a internal lean consultant that never spent time developing the overall lean strategy?  

Do your homework.  Evaluate the potential Lean Consulting Companies….and if you don’t feel you have the knowledge to evaluate them for their Lean Consulting Capabilities, find someone to help you.  

And of course, we are always willing to help.  Just check us out at ehiipconsulting.com.

-Jason

Lean Training with RMP

Jason Burt

Over the years, I have been very fortunate to be a Lean consultant for some amazing companies and work with some great people. Rolled Metal Products has been a client for several years….Lean Training for their employees, in depth problem solving, leadership development for their informal and formal leaders in the organization, and constantly striving to get closer to True North as an organization. Their culture continues to change and develop every year, and I am lucky to be along for the journey to see them make progress.

Please click one of the links below to read about RMP’s journey or to tour their website:

http://www.rolledmetalproducts.com/lean-concepts/
http://www.rolledmetalproducts.com/

Susan Baroncini – 2questionsTV.com

Jason Burt

Creating Stability in your business so you can sell it!

Great discussion on 2questionsTV.com with Susan discussing the issues and struggles making sure your business is sustainable and successful during and after sale. What needs to be done and when in order to prepare your business. What will a potential buyer be looking for to make sure the business will continue on without issue after the owner has moved on.

Lyndsay Phillips – Smooth Business Growth Podcast

Jason Burt

Getting Lean & Profitable

Sometimes as Small business owners it is difficult to get out of the doing mode and actually look at the process for improvement. How can we make time to improve everyday? How do we fit it into our daily routines? Here are some simple tips of how to use the scientific method to improve your processes without it feeling like more work…

 

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Lean Practitioners should Pay Attention to the Financials

Jason Burt

I am a firm believer of a long term approach to all company improvement strategies.  Whether you are using Lean Manufacturing, Toyota Production System, Six Sigma….Theory of Constraints or some other approach, It should be a longer term approach focused on creating a culture that empowers the entire company to improve and solve problems on a daily basis.  I’m not going to debate the “approach”…that was another blog post that you can read here when you feel the desire.  I want to talk about why some short term impact is important and how the company financials should play a part in your work.

As a lean consultant, I work with many different clients of varying knowledge in reference to Lean Manufacturing.  They all come to me for help with different business needs and struggles, and typically those needs are shorter term issues that need to be resolved.  These issues include cost struggles, quality issues, delivery problems, Lead time issues, and many other daily issues that business leaders deal with.  All real issues, all needing immediate attention, all issues that a Lean Manufacturing approach can address for the company. 

Now also as a long time Lean Practitioner and life long student of Lean (or Toyota Production System if you prefer), I also understand that taking a short term approach by implementing a bunch of Lean tools without a significant culture change will ultimately be unsustainable.  Any “improvement” gained from the work will be lost and the company will fall back to the previous level of performance.  

So why do I think it is important that we look at short term financial goals and look to the P&L for results.  Because part of that culture change includes the Leadership.  The Board of Directors, the Executive Leaders, the Senior Management….every single one of them needs to start on their journey of “shifting their mindset”.  The fact that the level of leadership that we are talking about is measured on a short term financial picture is the reality of the world we live in.  

So I take the “give and take” approach with leadership teams.  I GIVE them what they need right now to be successful, which is short term results that are moving the company in the proper strategic direction.  I then TAKE them to the shop floor to start showing them the power of Lean and how a long term approach to build the culture can shift the company today, tomorrow, and for the future.  

Shifting the thinking in the Leadership is your best chance to extend the vision of Lean and the impact it can have on a company.  Leadership is often looking month to month from a financial performance perspective….what if you helped them short term, and spent significant time with them on the shop floor developing their thinking.  Could the Leadership start seeing the improvement possibilities on a quarter to quarter basis, how about a bi-annual basis, multiple years?  Help the leadership, because they have the power to drive the culture change.

I often hear lean practitioners talk about why Lean has failed in companies and it typically has to do with lack of support from leadership.  

“leadership didn’t see the long term possibilities”

“they only wanted to implement tools”

“there was no investment in the people and culture”

And then I hear from Leadership about why it failed…

“all they were focused on was learning, I needed results”

“The company is in crisis, we have to have an immediate impact”

“I don’t understand how their work is going to move the needle”

In my humble opinion, they are both correct…and we need to find the middle ground that allows us to move forward.  So don’t be scared to help leadership with short term goals.  Use it as a way to develop a trusting relationship and then coach them on what the long term approach needs to look like.  This will allow you to slowly move leadership in the direction that will help the company, culture, employees, and the leadership.  

Sometimes we forget that every relationship is a GIVE and TAKE….especially when we are trying to help shift an entire culture within a company.  No journey is a simple straight line path…we have to be willing to find the balance to teaching and learning along with the realities of running a business.  

And of course, we are always willing to help.  Just check us out at ehiipconsulting.com.

Jason

Solving Problems with Kaizen

Jason Burt

I was very fortunate to be a part of this Lean Transformation from the very initial involvement of the Toyota Supplier Support Center (TSSC).  This was the start of my Lean Journey with Toyota and eventually went to work for TSSC for a year and a half to learn more about the Toyota way and bring it back to Herman Miller.  This was a great turning point in my career in Lean Manufacturing.  This video does a great job of summarizing the long journey of Kaizen to create an entirely different capability and culture of problem solving and meeting customer needs.

How a Lean Strategy Can Help You Run a More Profitable Business

Jason Burt

On the Business Owners Radio podcast we discussed using the lean manufacturing approach to run a more profitable business.  Business owners of all industries and sizes could benefit from the lean approach, whether you are in the service industry, manufacturing, healthcare, or another industry.  The approach to develop a continuous improvement culture makes sense in all businesses.

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