Book Club: “The Joy of Lean”

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The Dozuki book club is your go-to place for industry books and resources. Our team curates knowledge from industry experts, letting you identify key takeaways and start implementing solutions quickly.

This Month:

The Joy of Lean book“The Joy of Lean: Transforming, Leading, and Sustaining a Culture of Engaged Team Performance” by Dodd Starbird shows leaders how to cultivate a positive lean culture of excellence that creates value for customers, profitable growth for businesses, sustainable cost reduction, and fulfilling jobs for employees.


Why Lean Isn’t Working

A 2007 Industry Week survey found that only 2% of companies believed their Lean program was achieving its intended results

Major reasons companies fail to achieve the benefits of Lean:

  • Senior management is not committed to and/or doesn’t understand the real impact of Lean
  • Senior management is unwilling to accept that cultural change is required
  • The company lacks the right people in the right positions

A lean culture can’t be created by training alone

  • Processes need to be aligned
  • Measurements need to be created
  • Standards need to be in implemented
  • Customer needs must be a priority


A History of Process and Performance Improvement

Lean methodology

  • Developed by Toyota
  • Popularized by consultants (Womack and Jones)
  • A set of tools that assist in the identification and elimination of waste

Lean tools helps organizations eliminate waste, they do not...

  • Share a vision with employees
  • Create a culture of teamwork and collaboration
  • Sustain their own gains

Eight (traditional) wastes of Lean

  • Transportation
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Overproduction
  • Over-processing
  • Defects
  • Skills

The new “9th waste of Lean”

  • Failure to sustain elimination of the other eight wastes by ingraining Lean into a culture of engaged team performance.

Engagement Defined

  • An engaged employee is one who freely gives discretionary effort
  • Engagement doesn’t come from rewards

“Engagement happens when everyone on the team wants to do something good and feels truly empowered to do those good things all the time.”


The Power of Teams

  • People become more engaged when they’re doing something for their team, rather than themselves
  • Organizations work best when individuals identify with their teams and have a collective goal
“The grand paradox of an efficient culture is that improving processes and performance can result in humanely accomplished attrition and slower hiring in the short term, while efficiency will drive greater job security for everyone in the long term.”


Find Your Purpose: Commit to Change

Align your purpose with your customers to build commitment for change.

  • Focusing on internal company aspirations doesn’t motivate change
  • The company purpose should be developed together
  • Engage the whole team in the writing and revision process

Lean culture transformation requires leadership.

  • Leaders have to commit to change and share that with the entire team

Drive Value: Streamline the Process

Everything that an organization does is a process

  • Lean provides a new lens to help you see every process in a different way.

Lean and Engaged Team Performances (ETP)

  • A “single piece flow with as few handoffs as possible” is the most efficient way to run a process.

Observe the unintended consequences of the roles, handoffs, and process steps you create; when you do, you’ll sometimes find that having one resource do the job from start-to-finish has a lower total cost than alternatives.

  • Additional Work - a process handoff will always create some additional work
  • Missed Handoffs - create the need to go back to the originator of the handoff to clarify missing information or mistakes
  • Accountability - involving more people disperses responsibility
If you have to pick just one Lean concept, processes, or performance tool, make it visual work and data."

Control The Process: Make Work and Data Visible

If you have to pick just one Lean concept, processes, or performance tool, make it visual work and data. In a lean culture, the team has to know how it’s doing in order to care about it’s results.

  • Drive motivation by displaying common and shared metrics for teams to connect their work to:
    • Available work - backlog of read-to-work tasks that we could do today if we had time
    • Oldest date available - an indication of how long each tasks wait for “first touch”
    • Pending - work that’s waiting for missing information or some other external action
    • Incoming - the amount of work that arrived in the last 24 hours
    • Completed - the amount of work that was done in the last 24 hours
  • Visual work and data lets the work manage the people
    • This creates a more positive environment than the traditional approach of supervisors managing the people

Sharing team performance numbers makes business a game

  • Teams pits themselves against the numbers, rather than management
  • This approach is often called “gamification”

Place team productivity goals just outside of the capacity of the team in order to motivate them

  • Individual goals don’t work because they undermine the purpose of a team
  • Create team goals that center around providing value to your customers
  • Make sure the goal doesn’t seem unattainable


Stand the Test of Time: Sustain Lean Engaged Team Performance

  • People will always be resistant to change.
    • It’s up to company leadership to influence a positive outlook on changes
    • All leaders in the organization have to understand and commit to implementing and sustaining the principles
  • After dedicating the necessary infrastructure, transform your company one department at a time
  • “Instead of focusing on beating the competition, focus on making the competition irrelevant by creating a leap in value for buyers and your company, thereby opening up new and uncontested market space”
  • Sustaining a lean culture requires keeping your organization focused on the long-term value of innovation

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Written by Dozuki

Founded in 2011, Dozuki has been the leader in connected worker solutions for over a decade. We’ve helped hundreds of companies plan, implement, and scale our frontline digital transformation solution.

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