Features

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All the world is a stage
March 24, 2022
All the world is a stage

FEATURE – The conflict unfolding in Ukraine acts as a tragic reminder of the threat posed by despotic, unapproachable, and paranoid leaders, says Sharon Visser.

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Understanding the context of your process
March 17, 2022
Understanding the context of your process

SERIES – The authors discuss the first of six elements in their process development model – Context – highlighting the importance of gaining clarity on the objectives of the process being created.

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Where to look for hope in dark times
March 14, 2022
Where to look for hope in dark times

FEATURE – When the clouds gather, it’s tempting to throw in the towel and ask, “What is it all for?”. The author tells us why the kaizen spirit should be our beacon now more than ever.

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My gemba visits in Ukraine
March 11, 2022
My gemba visits in Ukraine

FEATURE – As the senseless war in Ukraine continues, the author looks back to his visit to the country in 2017, recalling and celebrating its vibrant lean community.

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A fork in the road for lean research?
February 28, 2022
A fork in the road for lean research?

RESEARCH – The author reflects on several highly-ranked academic publications to paint a picture of salient lean knowledge, both past and present, and suggests several avenues for future lean research.

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The value of software
February 24, 2022
The value of software

FEATURE – The authors explain why putting value at the heart of customer discussions is key to developing a successful, resilient tech firm.

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The competitive advantage of lean process creation
February 17, 2022
The competitive advantage of lean process creation

SERIES – The authors of The Power of Process open their new series by explaining why it’s critical to integrate product and process development.

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Back from the brink
February 14, 2022
Back from the brink

ROUNDUP – Our editor looks back at the best articles explaining how Lean Thinking can help in a crisis and bring an organization back from the brink of disaster.

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How to shorten product development lead-time
February 10, 2022
How to shorten product development lead-time

FEATURE – Reflecting on the transformations he has supported, the author provides a few recommendations on how to get products to market faster.

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Lean and the 5th industrial revolution
February 7, 2022
Lean and the 5th industrial revolution

FEATURE – The author shares a few lessons learned on his company’s journey to Industry/Quality 4.0, the foundation to 5.0 Artificial Intelligence.

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Control or cooperate?
January 27, 2022
Control or cooperate?

FEATURE – Lean Thinking is about voluntary participation, not audits that are meant to ensure compliance. The authors explore the advantages of pursuing cooperation rather than control.

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Lean on the agenda
January 20, 2022
Lean on the agenda

FEATURE – This Brazilian manufacturer was able to achieve significant improvements in its processes in just one week thanks to kaizen.

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Taking the next step
January 17, 2022
Taking the next step

FEATURE – How Lærdal Medical was able to enthusiastically restart its lean journey with help of a good old-fashioned Kaizen Week.

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The power of suggestions
January 13, 2022
The power of suggestions

FEATURE – At Toyota, led by senior executives, suggestion schemes have contributed to decades of improvement. This article explores why they are so effective and encourages you to try one out for yourself.

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What kind of executive are you?
January 10, 2022
What kind of executive are you?

FEATURE – Lean provides everyone with a framework to learn continuously and do an ever-better job. Without this understanding, an executive will not be able to steer the organization in the right direction.

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A lean Christmas tale
December 23, 2021
A lean Christmas tale

FICTION – The pandemic is throwing curveballs to us all, including a certain bearded gentleman who lives in the North Pole – until a magic “time-bending” solution is presented to him, that is.

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Lean lessons for the climate crisis
December 20, 2021
Lean lessons for the climate crisis

FEATURE – Tackling climate change forces us to rethink everything we do as a society. Here’s three lean lessons that can show us a way forward.

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Cultivating CI in a digital work environment
December 13, 2021
Cultivating CI in a digital work environment

FEATURE – This global designer and manufacturer has leveraged a remote kaizen initiative to keep the flame of continuous improvement burning during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Lean Houses for Dragons
December 9, 2021
Lean Houses for Dragons

FEATURE – As her new book comes out, the author discusses how it is people who breathe life into an organization and how much a leader’s behavior can influence them.

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Embracing the kaizen spirit
December 2, 2021
Embracing the kaizen spirit

FEATURE – When we emphasize systems and roles but fail to encourage and support kaizen, we cannot expect to tap into the full potential of Lean Thinking as a cognitive revolution.

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A story of caring leadership and creativity
November 28, 2021
A story of caring leadership and creativity

FEATURE – A leader’s creativity and care for her people can lead to extraordinary results even in the most challenging of environments. As the latest LGN book comes out, the author reflects on one of the most impressive lean transformations you will come across.

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Lean around the clock
November 25, 2021
Lean around the clock

FEATURE – With one of the biggest lean events of the year just four days away, John Shook tells you why you should participate and what you can expect.

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It’s the pebble in our shoe that wears us down
November 22, 2021
It’s the pebble in our shoe that wears us down

FEATURE – We assume that what holds our transformations back is the lack of high-price resources, but more often than not it is the simplest of items.

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Pathways to reduce emissions
November 11, 2021
Pathways to reduce emissions

FEATURE - Imagine targeting a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by setting our lean minds to it? The authors discuss building better, circular supply chains and designing sustainable products.

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The power of process
November 1, 2021
The power of process

FEATURE – The introduction of a new process can be disruptive to an organization’s improvement efforts. But what if the process were designed to be lean from the start?

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Reflections from a Norwegian lean road trip
October 21, 2021
Reflections from a Norwegian lean road trip

FEATURE – Fresh from a number of visits to Norwegian gemba, the authors share their reflections and discuss the importance of making the information flow visible.

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Software vs visual management
October 18, 2021
Software vs visual management

FEATURE – We often spend a great deal of time and effort trying to fit our organizations into a box instead of building a box that fits our organization, says Sharon Visser.

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What is respect for people?
October 11, 2021
What is respect for people?

ROUNDUP – Our editor reflects on the all-important lean concept of “respect for people” and shares some of the best content published by Planet Lean on the subject.

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Once More, All Together Now: “JIT is …”
October 5, 2021
Once More, All Together Now: “JIT is …”

FEATURE – As global supply chain suffer ongoing disruption, the author addresses the misconceptions on Just-In-Time that keep appearing in the media.

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Production as a mirror to the organization
September 30, 2021
Production as a mirror to the organization

FEATURE – The gemba tells us more than we think. The authors discuss what we need to look at during our walks to understand the impact of non-manufacturing functions on the overall process.

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The lean magic lies in problem finding
September 27, 2021
The lean magic lies in problem finding

FEATURE – Reflecting on the recently published book by Nate Furuta, the author discusses the role that deep thinking plays in a problem-finding culture and warns us against ready-to-use solutions.

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Lean healthcare - optimizing the chemotherapy process
September 23, 2021
Lean healthcare - optimizing the chemotherapy process

FEATURE – A Brazilian hospital has used lean healthcare principles to optimize the chemotherapy process and prevent patients from unnecessarily wasting hours before their treatment.

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What my Toyota mentors taught me about problem-finding
September 20, 2021
What my Toyota mentors taught me about problem-finding

FEATURE – Introducing his book, the author tells us what his Toyota mentors taught him with their contrasting, but ultimately complimentary approaches to problem finding.

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How the gemba shaped my leader standard work
September 16, 2021
How the gemba shaped my leader standard work

FEATURE – Sharon Visser shares her leader’s standard work from when she ran the Ngami car dealership and encourages us to use what we see at gemba to shape our own.

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Don’t try to copy Toyota, understand it instead
September 13, 2021
Don’t try to copy Toyota, understand it instead

FEATURE – Based on his direct decades-long experience at Toyota, the author explains what it takes to establish problem-finding and a kaizen culture in new environments.

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Is radical quality possible in the tech industry?
September 8, 2021
Is radical quality possible in the tech industry?

FEATURE - The author explains how a recent book on radical quality improvement in manufacturing inspired him to initiate similar experiments in his software development firm.

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Creating Toyota cultures around the world
September 6, 2021
Creating Toyota cultures around the world

FEATURE – The Lean Global Network just published a new book by Kiyoshi “Nate” Furuta sharing compelling examples of how Toyota principles and culture can be effectively spread to new environments.

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Lean and agile, how they interact
September 2, 2021
Lean and agile, how they interact

FEATURE – This article explains how Lean Thinking and the agile method can strengthen and optimize our digital transformation efforts.

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Deep dive in a lean digital company #6
August 29, 2021
Deep dive in a lean digital company #6

FEATURE – In the final article of her series, the author spends a day with Theodo’s CEO and co-founder to learn how lean informs its strategy and vision.

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Prospering, not profiteering
August 26, 2021
Prospering, not profiteering

FEATURE – The impact of humankind on the environment is now beyond dispute. Yet, too little is being done to adapt our business models. This compelling read explains why we need to create prosperity beyond profit.

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Lean-powered decision making
August 16, 2021
Lean-powered decision making

FEATURE – As lean thinkers, our focus is on problem-solving. The author explains why effectively solving problems depends on our ability to make the right decisions and suggests the lean community plays closer attention to this.

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Bringing Dantotsu quality improvement to parts makers
August 12, 2021
Bringing Dantotsu quality improvement to parts makers

FEATURE – Improving supplier quality and reduce defects was an important part of Toyota Industries Corporation’s (TICO) Dantotsu activities since the very beginning. In this article, the author visits two parts suppliers.

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Andon squares - 5S in the office
August 9, 2021
Andon squares - 5S in the office

FEATURE – As she gets ready to publish a book on her experience running Halfway Toyota Ngami, the author looks back at one of the best visuals the team implemented during the transformation.

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Lean leadership and Industry 4.0
August 5, 2021
Lean leadership and Industry 4.0

RESEARCH – The authors explore the leadership traits that Lean Thinking and the implementation of Industry 4.0 practices call for and explore their synergies.

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The way to radical lean
August 2, 2021
The way to radical lean

FEATURE – Reflecting on Nomura-san’s recently published book on radical quality improvement, the author encourages us to embrace the spirit of “Dantotsu” to meet the challenges we face as a society.

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The legacy of LEANardo da Vinci
July 29, 2021
The legacy of LEANardo da Vinci

FEATURE – Was Leonardo da Vinci a lean thinker? This thought-provoking article looks at his legacy, connects it to lean, and reminds us of how ahead of his time the Italian genius was.

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The paradox of learning
July 19, 2021
The paradox of learning

FEATURE – In this call to arms, the author encourages us to fight to prove the relevance of Lean Thinking in such difficult times and explains why only mastering it can truly address our problems.

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Superior quality to beat the competition
July 15, 2021
Superior quality to beat the competition

FEATURE – Today we repurpose a great article published in 2016 on Japanese industry magazine Kojo Kanri that focuses on radical quality improvement at Toyota Industries Corporation.

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Lean as a path
July 12, 2021
Lean as a path

FEATURE – The author describes Lean Thinking as a path of discovery and explains why attempts to define it “once and for all” are destined to fail.

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Deep dive in a lean digital company #5
July 5, 2021
Deep dive in a lean digital company #5

FEATURE – For a few years now, Theodo has made of quality and customer satisfaction the main focus of its work, and it is paying off. But what does it mean to pursue and improve quality at a digital company?

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People, invention, and radically great quality
July 1, 2021
People, invention, and radically great quality

FEATURE – The authors discuss radical quality improvement at Toyota and introduce a new book by Sadao Nomura that the Lean Global Network has just co-published.

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Standard work for leaders
June 28, 2021
Standard work for leaders

FEATURE – The author reflects on the importance of standardized work in her daily life as a manager and explains why one can’t expect to run a company only using reports.

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What is a real lean transformation?
June 24, 2021
What is a real lean transformation?

FEATURE – Looking at successful journeys, the authors explain why a true lean transformation requires a chain of mentoring in TPS to fulfil the promise of each person’s individual learning.

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What pull systems can I combine?
June 17, 2021
What pull systems can I combine?

FEATURE – In the last article in his series, the author discusses how you can mix and combine the different pull systems available to the lean practitioner.

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Kaizen I didn't know was there
June 15, 2021
Kaizen I didn't know was there

FEATURE – As she packs before leaving Botswana, the author tells us of a wonderful example of Lean Thinking that resurfaced from her past working in the Botswana tourism industry.

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Improving the front-line work in construction
June 10, 2021
Improving the front-line work in construction

FEATURE – What is the key to improving the front-line construction work? Our lean construction coaches pull their experience together to shed a light on the subject.

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What pull system is right for you?
June 7, 2021
What pull system is right for you?

FEATURE – In the third article in his series, Christoph Roser provides a practical guide to understand the most adequate pull system to your circumstances.

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Deep dive in a lean digital company #4
June 3, 2021
Deep dive in a lean digital company #4

FEATURE – This month, the author learns how gemba walks happen in a digital environment, where the work and information are typically hidden in computers.

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Developing problem solvers to advance lean construction
May 31, 2021
Developing problem solvers to advance lean construction

FEATURE – Construction is rife with waste, and yet lean is not widely adopted in the industry. The authors highlight how lean could benefit the sector, emphasizing the importance of developing problem-solving capabilities.

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The criteria to decide on a pull system
May 27, 2021
The criteria to decide on a pull system

FEATURE – Before you decide which method to use to establish pull, you must consider a number of factors. Here’s the things you should be paying attention to.

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Troublesome problems and threshold concepts
May 24, 2021
Troublesome problems and threshold concepts

FEATURE – Looking back on the lean journeys he's seen firsthand, the author concludes that a true lean transformation occurs when you establish lines of mentoring to the Thinking People System.

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7 tools to establish pull production
May 20, 2021
7 tools to establish pull production

FEATURE – Kanban is the best-known method to establish pull production, but it is not the only one. Here’s a few other ways you can create a pull system.

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Every second counts
May 17, 2021
Every second counts

FEATURE – As Italy rolls out its vaccination campaign, the author reflects on what he recently observed at a vaccination hub in the Veneto region and discusses how the process could be made leaner.

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Remote working at SulAmérica
May 10, 2021
Remote working at SulAmérica

FEATURE – Fourteen months after the beginning of the pandemic, the author reflects on the challenges and opportunities that remote working has brought to this insurance company.

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Deep dive in a lean digital company #3
May 6, 2021
Deep dive in a lean digital company #3

FEATURE – The third article in this new series discusses Theodo’s approach to talent recruitment and development, to ensure the right resources are there to support the company’s growth at all times.

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When digitalization reaches the gemba
May 3, 2021
When digitalization reaches the gemba

FEATURE – During a recent Jishuken workshop, Poland-based Schumacher Packaging experimented with a newly-developed App to quickly create standardized work instructions at the gemba.

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Why is it so hard to do lean without a sensei?
April 29, 2021
Why is it so hard to do lean without a sensei?

FEATURE – Why do lean transformations benefit from the support of a sensei? Michael Ballé discusses how we typically need help to take the emotions out of the work and go down uncomfortable paths.

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Pull: a way forward for supply chains
April 26, 2021
Pull: a way forward for supply chains

FEATURE – The release of Christoph Roser’s new book All About Pull inspires John Shook to discuss the origins and true meaning of “pull” and why it is incorrect to blame JIT for the shortcomings of global supply chains.

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Mr Joe and the most important A3 of his life
April 22, 2021
Mr Joe and the most important A3 of his life

FEATURE – This story will take you through the development of the most important A3 of Mr Joe’s life – the one meant to turn around his health and help him to live longer.

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Six digital tools to make your marketing “leaner”
April 19, 2021
Six digital tools to make your marketing “leaner”

FEATURE – To make the right decisions, the contribution of the team and the leader’s intuition are not enough. It’s also critical to identify the most effective channels and activities for your marketing activities.

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The 19 billion doses challenge
April 14, 2021
The 19 billion doses challenge

FEATURE – What does it take to meet the historic challenge of rapidly increasing the annual global vaccine capacity from 5 billion to 19 billion doses? And how could Lean Thinking help?

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Think in terms of value networks, not supply chains
April 12, 2021
Think in terms of value networks, not supply chains

FEATURE – This article explores the concept of “value network”, emphasizing the importance of looking at lead-times and value creation in a more holistic way.

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Bringing lean to Chinese hospitals
April 8, 2021
Bringing lean to Chinese hospitals

FEATURE – Lean healthcare is new to China. The authors share some examples of improvements projects taking place in Chinese hospitals, which they hope will inspire more organizations to take lean on.

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Deep dive in a lean digital company #2
April 1, 2021
Deep dive in a lean digital company #2

FEATURE – In the second article in her new series, the author discusses how focusing on customer value helped a fintech start-up to grow fivefold just last year.

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Kamishibai for better conversations at the gemba
March 29, 2021
Kamishibai for better conversations at the gemba

FEATURE – How do kamishibai boards work and what sort of benefits can they bring to a lean transformation? The author discusses what he saw on a recent gemba walk.

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An authentic blueprint
March 25, 2021
An authentic blueprint

FEATURE – The lean house can be seen as a blueprint for a transformation. But what happens when CEO or other senior leaders are not aligned with the vision expressed in the roof?

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Lean and happiness
March 18, 2021
Lean and happiness

FEATURE – Employee happiness leads to greater efficiency and higher quality, which is why it’s increasingly being adopted as an indicator by firms. But how does lean relate to happiness?

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Lean marketing and the voice of the customer
March 15, 2021
Lean marketing and the voice of the customer

FEATURE – What does it really mean to listen to the “voice of the customer”? This article discusses how lean marketing can help us to truly understand customer value and, therefore, increase our sales.

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Asking the right questions. Sure, but how?
March 11, 2021
Asking the right questions. Sure, but how?

FEATURE – This interesting article asks what it means to ask to right questions and explains why the way to success is learning about problems, not wondering whether solutions are wrong or right.

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Keeping up with change in retail
March 8, 2021
Keeping up with change in retail

FEATURE – A lean retail experiment: Carrefour Group in Brazil has started a lean journey to rapidly adapt to market changes and reach excellence in the delivery of value to customers.

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Observing Covid-19 vaccination at the gemba
March 4, 2021
Observing Covid-19 vaccination at the gemba

FEATURE – In his first gemba walk in months, the author observes the Covid-19 vaccination process in a physician’s practice in Wales and reflects on how lean it is.

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'Steel' going strong
March 1, 2021
'Steel' going strong

FEATURE – With the help of Lean Thinking, this Ukrainian producer of stainless steel pipes is retaining its competitive position against larger players in the market.

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Caught between a rock and a hard place
February 25, 2021
Caught between a rock and a hard place

FEATURE – What is the role of middle managers in a transformation and how can we ensure they can fulfil that role – instead of being blamed for the failure of the initiative and even excluded from it?

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Deep dive in a lean digital company #1
February 18, 2021
Deep dive in a lean digital company #1

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – The author visits the office of Theodo France and learns how the lean digital company is leveraging lean thinking and practice to support its ongoing growth – even through the pandemic.

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The role of coaching in hoshin kanri
February 11, 2021
The role of coaching in hoshin kanri

FEATURE – The author discusses how the hoshin kanri process, coupled with effective coaching, helps us to tackle the challenges inherent to implementing change.

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The J-Cost theory
February 4, 2021
The J-Cost theory

FEATURE – The approach described here, first adopted by this Chinese company, directly connects the daily work in manufacturing with an organization’s financial results.

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Two giants, two communities, one lasting thing
February 1, 2021
Two giants, two communities, one lasting thing

FEATURE – John Shook remembers the work of Ezra Vogel and Norman Bodek and discusses how, in their own way, each of their contributions help us to understand the Toyota Production System.

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A lean view on... strategic thinking
January 28, 2021
A lean view on... strategic thinking

FEATURE – For many organizations, devising effective strategies remains a gap to fill and that’s something lean can help with. Michael Ballé discusses strategic thinking with our editor.

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Bringing strategy into your digital transformation
January 25, 2021
Bringing strategy into your digital transformation

FEATURE – In many organizations, strategy is often lacking from the digital transformation agenda. The authors provide insights into how value chains and Wardley Maps can assist.

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Just-in-Time and the Covid pandemic
January 21, 2021
Just-in-Time and the Covid pandemic

FEATURE – The pandemic has brought back into the spotlight the common misconception that Just-in-Time causes disruption when spikes in demand occur. Torbjørn Netland debunks the myth.

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The synchronization of material flow with demand
January 18, 2021
The synchronization of material flow with demand

FEATURE – Aligning supply flows with demand is crucial to success, but it can be complicated. Lean Thinking can help us identify the strategy and sequence of activities that we need to make it a reality.

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What lean marketing teaches us about packaging
January 14, 2021
What lean marketing teaches us about packaging

FEATURE – What role does packaging play when it comes to marketing a product? The author discusses “lean packaging” and shares the example of an Italian toilet paper maker.

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Lean in SMEs
January 11, 2021
Lean in SMEs

FEATURE – SMEs represent the backbone of many economies, but few of them contemplate embarking on a lean transformation. The author discusses why and offers some tips to help them embrace lean.

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A hospital CEO on lean and the Covid resurgence
January 7, 2021
A hospital CEO on lean and the Covid resurgence

FEATURE – As South Africa fights a second Covid-19 wave, the CEO of a hospital group shares some of the lessons learnt so far and how Lean Thinking is helping the organization resist.

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Lean strategy means learning what to improve
January 4, 2021
Lean strategy means learning what to improve

FEATURE – Lean represents a strategy to understand what needs to be improved, the critical skills that must be developed to solve a specific problem – whether it’s a quality defect or a pandemic.

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Hope in lean nation
December 21, 2020
Hope in lean nation

FEATURE – As 2020 finally draws to an end, our editor reflects on the year that was and discusses why the Lean Community is a such an important source of inspiration and hope.

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Enabling change with a value stream Jishuken
December 17, 2020
Enabling change with a value stream Jishuken

FEATURE – In March 2019, this hospital partnered with the Lean Global Network on a two-day Jishuken event. Nearly two years later, the authors reflect on the legacy of that initiative.

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The lean developer
December 14, 2020
The lean developer

FEATURE – How can digital companies develop a competitive edge in the "tech first" future? By using Lean Thinking to ensure continuous learning and transform the way coders think and work.

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Leadership: tackling the P in SQDCP
December 10, 2020
Leadership: tackling the P in SQDCP

FEATURE – Whether or not a lean transformation succeeds largely depends on management behaviors. This assessment tools helps you understand what leadership traits you need to develop to achieve your goals.

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10 obstacles to a lean transformation
December 3, 2020
10 obstacles to a lean transformation

FEATURE – Hansei is a powerful tool that helps us understand Lean Thinking and advance on our journey. The author shares the lessons he learned from the struggles Halfway Toyota encountered during its years-long transformation.

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