Category Archives: Management

All posts about management techniques, success stories, failures, etc.

Employee Motivation and Lean Implementation – Part 4: Respect for People

Motivating employees is not easy. In previous posts I described that the carrot and the stick approaches don’t work very well. What in my experience works best to improve the system is Respect for People!

This is actually a very important aspect of the Toyota Production System, and Toyota puts in lots of effort to show respect to all people. This includes not only employees (the focus of this post), but also customers, suppliers, neighbors, and pretty much everybody else it comes in contact with. At Toyota, it is actually called Respect for Humanity (人間性尊重, ningenseisoncho). Unfortunately, all too often I find this lacking in Western lean implementations. Continue reading Employee Motivation and Lean Implementation – Part 4: Respect for People

Employee Motivation and Lean Implementation – Part 3: Lack of Respect

Motivating employees for change is tricky. What often helps is respect, but in reality the opposite is common. While managers claim that of course they respect their people, the employees feel very differently, and quite often there is a lack of respect. In this post I want to talk about this lack of respect and why it happens, before showing how to do it better in the next post. Continue reading Employee Motivation and Lean Implementation – Part 3: Lack of Respect

Employee Motivation and Lean Implementation – Part 2: Money

Lean improvements often fail in implementation, meaning the employees do not follow the new standards. In my last post we already saw that pressure (“the stick”) doesn’t work very well. The second option is the carrot. In this post I will show different “carrots” that are sometimes used to get employees to follow the new standard. However, most of them won’t work very well either. What often works best is actually simply treating people with respect – but I will talk about this in my next post. Continue reading Employee Motivation and Lean Implementation – Part 2: Money

Employee Motivation and Lean Implementation – Part 1: Carrot and Stick

All too often, good ideas for a lean implementation fail because workers won’t use the new ideas. They simply stick to their old habits. And, no matter how good the ideas are, if they are not used, then the improvement project is a failure. In this post I want to talk about this common problem in industry. The solution is – in theory – easy: Get your people motivated! Doing this in reality, however, is an extremely challenging task with an often-unknown outcome. Continue reading Employee Motivation and Lean Implementation – Part 1: Carrot and Stick

Where Lean Went Wrong – A Historical Perspective

Clueless ManagerThe Toyota Production System is widely considered to be the best production system for any larger company. Achieving similar performance is the vision (or dream?) of many companies. Pretty much all of lean manufacturing is the attempt to copy the approach of Toyota in the hope of a similar stellar performance. Yet most lean transformations fall way short of the goal. In this blog post I would like to give some insights, from a historical perspective, on why lean so often fails. Continue reading Where Lean Went Wrong – A Historical Perspective

Lean Is Tough – The Phases of a Lean Transformation

Sometimes, consultants sell lean as a quick and easy way  to success that pays for itself. Unfortunately, this is usually not true, as many companies have found out the hard way. Getting lean in a company is similar to getting a lean body; it is usually neither quick nor easy. Let me show you the different phases of a lean transformation. Continue reading Lean Is Tough – The Phases of a Lean Transformation

The Lean Mindset – Te & Kaffi in Iceland

Lean is my life. Whenever I see someone working, I cannot help but to think about the work from a lean point of view. Every now and then I come across a little gem, where I am just thoroughly impressed with someone’s approach to manage and improve their work. During my winter vacation in Iceland, I came across just such a gem with an excellent corporate culture for continuous improvement. Let me introduce Te & Kaffi and its lean mindset. Continue reading The Lean Mindset – Te & Kaffi in Iceland

Dealing with Uncertainty

UncertaintyA lot of decisions in lean manufacturing have uncertainty. How many products will I sell (and what is my customer takt)? Which layout is more efficient? Should I believe expert A or expert B? Uncertainty is a part of life in manufacturing. In fact, the higher up you go in the hierarchy, the more you have to deal with uncertainty. And often these are not just simple “A or B” type of questions, but highly complex and interacting decisions like “What should our new line look like?” Here are some suggestions on how to deal with uncertainty. Please note that they will not answer all of your questions but will help you make better decisions. Continue reading Dealing with Uncertainty