Monday, May 16, 2022

Agriculture - The Next Frontier?

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

The past several years the Lean Pathways team and I have been lucky enough to work in agriculture.

Good, smart, well-trained people, an instinctive grasp of the PDCA cycle, and a solid ethical foundation.

The soil, so to speak, is fertile indeed. (And the gemba is often glorious.)


We should tip our hats to farmers & agricultural industry. The past few decades, they've led a technological revolution.

Yields have increased exponentially through better crop varietals and farming methods.

Despite the dire warnings of the 'doomsters', food is more plentiful than ever.

(Just one example: India, plagued by famine when I was a kid, is now a net exporter of grain.)

Fresh fruit & vegetables are available year-round at reasonable prices. (My family has fresh berries every morning.)

We've seen marvelous kaizen in farming technology. Now we have to extend Lean thinking into farming operations.

Value/Waste consciousness, visual management, standardized work, and other Lean fundamentals, have the potential to extend & deepen farming's transformation.

Should be a great ride - GIDDY-UP!

Best regards,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Lean Thinking in Software Design
Problem Solving and the Worlds of Reflection & Experience
Learning How to Manage
Bozos and HR


Monday, May 2, 2022

Lean Thinking in Software Design

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

One of my great work pleasures is helping to translate the System of Profound Knowledge, as Deming called it, for new and different industries.

Taiichi Ohno, Deming, Shingo, Juran et al have given us fundamental principles gained through hard experience.

But we have to translate these so they work for us in the here and now.

Thus, Lean is both

  • Do – a set of principles that informs one’s life, and a

  • Jutsu – a practical set of techniques that works

It’s fun translating visual management, standardized work, quality in the process and other fundamentals in industries like software design.

Agile, Scrum and related practices are very simpatico with Lean. In fact, if I may suggest, they are Lean’s child (or grandchild).

Our software partners recognize the need for an integrated management system that aligns things like:

  • Purpose

  • Core Mental Models – how we think

  • Two work streams: Run the Business, and Improve the Business

  • Connected Level 1, 2 and 3 checking

  • Leader Standard Work & Daily Accountability

  • People & Leadership Develop

  • The Four Rules etc.

If we check well, reality gives us frank, binary feedback: OK or Not OK.

The answer is usually the latter! And, as ever, we learn by doing. Each organization’s journey is unique and their own. Coaches are guides, whisperers, and on occasion, taskmasters.

Step by step we walk the narrow path to enlightenment and good business results! We must have both, no?

We partially succeed – and that makes all the difference.

Best regards,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Problem Solving and the Worlds of Reflection & Experience
Learning How to Manage
Bozos and HR
Strategy and the Worlds of Thought & Experience


Monday, April 18, 2022

Problem Solving and the Worlds of Reflection & Experience

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Good problem solving entails moving fluidly between the worlds of Reflection & Experience.

Go See (genchi genbutsu) is central to the latter. Analytical tools like the famous Q7 Quality Tools are abstractions that exist in the world of Reflection.

Problem solving begins in the world of Experience.

What is actually happening right now? Go See the defect the moment you hear about it.

Or stand in a circle, as Taiichi Ohno suggested, until you see it in real time.


We then move to the world of Reflection to define What Is Actually Happening & What Should Be Happening.

Problem solving, of course, concludes in the world of Experience - otherwise it's just 'academic'.

This pattern -- experience - reflection - experience is central to practical problem solving and to Lean as a whole.

Lean thinkers are comfortable in both worlds.

My mental image: a person with one hand deeply embedded in the ground, and the other reaching for the sky.

Reflect, then get your butt to the gemba.

Reflection without action is lifeless. Action without reflection is aimless.

Best,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Learning How to Manage
Bozos and HR
Strategy and the Worlds of Thought & Experience
PDCA in the Trades


Monday, April 4, 2022

Learning How to Manage

By Pascal Dennis (bio)

Like many of you, I was lucky enough to go to a professional school in a well-known university.

My studies were in business and engineering. Chats with colleagues who went into law, medicine, nursing, architecture and so on, suggest we picked up similar mental models and habits.

Many of my courses were ostensibly focused on ‘management’ – at least that’s what the curriculum said.


But I never learned how to manage till I got to Toyota. And then, the first order of business was to unlearn what I’d been taught!

Chatting with y’all over the years, I know my experience was not unique!

It’s hard to avoid the following conclusion: Our professional and business schools do not teach us how to manage, or how to lead.

We learn many valuable things, to be sure. In Chemical Engineering, I learned chemistry, fluid dynamics, mass and heat transfer, unit operations and the like.

I learned how to organize my time and thoughts so as to cope with difficult, simultaneous assignments and tight deadlines.

But I did not learn how to manage a team of people toward the achievement of some great endeavour.

I did not learn how to define and communicate Purpose, how to develop and deploy strategies, how to check and make status visible to all.

I did not learn how to get to root cause, and how to test for cause and effect. I certainly did not learn how to confirm countermeasures.

Don’t want to be misunderstood. I am not suggesting that our professional schools are lousy, or that we should shun them.

But I think we need to be clear about their strengths – and limitations.

You’ll learn valuable things there, but you won’t learn how to manage – or how to lead.

As the education bubble continues to inflate, and more and more students graduate carrying crushing debt loads – that’s good to know.

More on the education bubble next time.

Best,

Pascal




In case you missed our last few blogs... please feel free to have another look…

Bozos and HR
Strategy and the Worlds of Thought & Experience
PDCA in the Trades
Nick Saban on the Power of Process Thinking