• http://business901.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Reality2.png

AME Webinar – The Role of Sales in a Lean Enterprise

 Association for Manufacturing Excellence hosts The Role of Sales in a Lean Enterprise
on June 11, 2015 | 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm EDT.


Value Stream MarketingLean Sales and Marketing concept may differ from the more traditional approaches found in other parts of the Lean Enterprise. Its primary focus is not the discovery of waste but of process improvement with a very specific strategic intent; delivery of superior value for the execution of an organization’s value proposition. This means that the focus of the analysis must be on those segments and processes within value streams that have the most substantial impact on the most important value drivers of the organization.

Lean Marketing is about using SDCA, PDCA and EDCA (Explore-Do-Check-Act) through-out the marketing cycle with constant feedback from customers that can only occur if they are part of the process. It is about creating value in your marketing that a customer needs to enable them to make a better decision. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.

This webinar will introduce the Kanban as a planning tool or an execution tool. Improving your marketing process does not have to constitute wholesale changes nor increased spending. Getting more customers into your Marketing “Kanban” may not solve anything at all. Improving what you do and managing the cadence can result in an increase in sales and decrease in expenses.


  • Sales & Marketing Personnel struggling to understand what Lean means to them
  • Supply Chain and Purchasing personnel that want to collaborate with Inbound Sales People
  • Lean Coaches that struggle communicating Lean Principles to Sales & Marketing
  • Manufacturing, Operations, Development, Support personnel who interface with Sales & Marketing
  • Business leaders that want to “Lean” their Sales & Marketing


  • Value Streams in Lean Sales & Marketing
  • Demonstrate Work in Process is wasteful even in Sales & Marketing
  • Understand Cadence in your Marketing Kanban
  • How to Create a Lean Sales & Marketing Transformation


Problem-Solving Leadership

Dr. Jeff Soper is a seasoned executive, consultant, author, and coach who is a recognized expert in the fields of leadership development, performance improvement, and creativity and innovation. He expresses Problem-Solving leadership in different terms than most of us do.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Getting to the Leadership Table

Joe: Even in a Lean way when we look at the scientific method or PDCA is it different when you’re attaching the word leadership to it?

Jeff: Yeah, I believe so. I’ll tell you here is the difference. This is an evolutionary step. This is not a revolutionary step. Nothing I’m suggesting in problem-solving leadership refutes anything that went before. Before, the majority of the work and the majority of the focus were first on the individual, the “leader”, him or herself. What are the skills that you need? Then they came up with problems such as charisma. How do you teach charisma and those types of things?

Then the next evolution in leadership thinking went to the followers. What do the followers need? What are they ready for? There are lots of workouts on that. I’m sure you know many of them. Situational leadership was one of them. There are several others. What was missing in thousands of articles and books that were written, giving examples of what works in one instance but they weren’t generalizable with context.

What problem-solving leadership does, it adds the context of the work from the perspective of the nature of the complexity of the work along with the followers and the leadership.

Joe: Problem solving leadership evolved out of the CLICK Process or are those two completely different processes?

Jeff: It’s a chicken and egg question. When I was at Penn State, when Jack [Matts] and I created the Engineering Leadership Developing Minor there, the first of its kind in the world, Jack is a radical who is very, very focused on creativity and innovation. I am as he used to call me; a blue suit suck up that’s focused on change and leadership. Well, somehow we got our peanut butter, and chocolate mixed up together and we put those components together, and we discovered that there is a process for creativity and innovation. That is what the CLICK Model is all about.

Essentially, creativity leads to innovation. Innovation leads to change. Change leads to knowledge. And knowledge is the basis for creativity. The problem is that is not a natural cycle. It doesn’t flourish in and of itself. You need to have the environment for that cycle to operate, and that’s where the leadership component came in, and that’s where we were able to make things click. That’s how it got its name.

So, the CLICK Model is all about creativity, and I believe creativity is the foundation for all progress, all innovation in organizations. I know, as an academically qualified person when I say all it makes it suspect but believe all is dependent on creativity and innovation. But, leadership has to exist in order to create that, and that’s again, leadership at all levels, not just the C-Suite.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Struggling with the Difference between a Feature and Story

One of my most listened to podcast is with a relative unknown Agile guy named Eric Landes. In the Agile world, I expect he is well-known and has spoken at a few of the conferences I have attended. I was re-reading the transcript today after seeing how highly rated the original podcast was on my iTunes list and took a few treasures from the review.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Agile Discussion with Landes

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:  Well a lot of my listeners are from the Lean manufacturing background so Agile may be a little foreign to them. We think of agile more what I have heard from different people that it is really from concept to consumption is a buzz word I have heard a little bit. Can you explain a feature in a story to me?

Eric:  Sure. So, I am going to a couple of differences in Kanban. You can use feature and story within Scrum, as well. Most peoples do tend to use stories in Scrum. Usually, a term used… A minimal marketable feature. It’s the smallest feature we can deliver on software that is going to be used by the customer. That makes a difference for the customers.

If you are in a software development shop and you have software or website that you are selling something digital like software. That feature is going to be something, say like a marketing person is coming up, whereas if it’s an internal software application you might actually talk directly to the customer and get that feature. The feature verses story, normally what I would say is those features normally break out into stories from the feature. You can almost think of stories that’re a smaller set of a feature if you will that probably have to be grouped together if you are actually going to sell your software.

What happens when you are moving from, say Scrum into Kanban… A lot of the Kanban teams are using their ideas of features. And then, the idea is, they want to take the feature from… As you said, from concept to cash or whatever, and bring that through their system of software development.  When I look at the differences between what we call like a Scrum or XP, and the Kanban process. The Kanban processes really are the lean process that the software development uses. We are looking at mapping your process as it stands. Seeing where the bottlenecks are, using a board to map your flow, see where the bottlenecks are, and then try and fix those bottlenecks as you’d go.

You’re going to use a lot of the Agile methods for software engineering. Some people even use iterations during their Kanban. But, for the most part, you’re looking in the flow of things. You aren’t really doing fixed link iteration, time?box iterations. You’re doing more of… I don’t want to say one piece flow because that’s wrong.

I mean, we would love to get to one piece flow. But I don’t know anybody who would claim that they’re doing one piece flow in a software Kanban. At least, I’ve not heard of anybody doing that.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)


Is Your Sales Team Prepared to Sell to a Team

We spend a lot of time discussing the inner working of our teams and breaking down silos between everyone. We will all admit that it requires work, and most of us will even say maybe some outside help or facilitation. When we start working with others, we might even if we are real progressive, invite vendors into the mix. The next step is inviting customers into the mix. These are somewhat common, at least the discussion about them are, and progressive steps to be taking. However, how often do we train our sales force on selling to this environment?

Most organizations are looking to sell to the decision maker. That is the pot of gold we are always striving for and narrowing down the magical sales funnel to the very fine point of closing a sale. The problem that exists is that today’s purchase decisions don’t fit the sales funnel. For example:

  1. Purchase decisions are being made with an average of 5.4 people needing to sign off.
  2. Gartner says that 56% of the purchase decision (B2B) is completed before a sales person is invited to the table.,
  3. The Sales Acceleration Formula author and HubSpot VP Mark Roberge  says that you must first create an internal user base before reaching out to executives for purchase decisions.

With these simple facts alone, is you sales team ready to combat these obstacles? My instincts say no. Do a quick search for a book on “selling to teams on Amazon” and what do you get?

How prepared are your sales people to quickly recognize:

  1. Is there a common language within the organization on this purchase or change needed to implement it?
  2. Can they map the informal networks that exist?
  3. Can they identify and prioritize informal groups?
  4. Does their approach match the culture and behavior of this organization?
  5. Do you understand the individual roles within the group?
  6. Can you identify the points of resistance?

Many of you that understand, coach and facilitate team dynamics, these may seem like simple characteristics to address. Now, fast forward your last team engagement and take the time spent in creating that successful outcome and ask yourself if you could have done it in less than 10% of the time that you did? Or, could you have done it with a group you had no previous relationship with? Or, could you have done it with a group that was not being required to collaborate with you? That is just a few of the barriers that exist for the sales person.

How should these be addressed?

How are your sales people presently handling the situation?

Is there an App for this?

Sales AppTeam Dynamics

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

7-Part Video Series on the Toyota Kata

I wanted to have one collection point for the the 7-part series with Brandon Brown where we discussed the the Toyota Kata. Toyota Kata is documented in Mike Rother’s book Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results. Brandon Brown

The series consists of these 7 videos:

  1. What is Toyota Kata
  2. Using Kata for Alignment
  3. Establishing Target Conditions
  4. Picking the Obstacle to Overcome
  5. Overcoming the Unmovable Obstacle
  6. The Coaching Kata
  7. Putting the Kata to Action

Brandon Brown delivers tangible and sustainable continuous improvement results as a Toyota Kata Coach and Lean Instructor/Facilitator as an Associate for the W3 Group. Since 2006, Brandon has been a Professor of Operations Management at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville teaching courses in the Industrial Engineering department such as Lean Production and Leadership Principles and Practices for the Master of Science in Operations Management degree program. Brandon is a Southeast Region Board Member for the of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence. He is also a Certified John Maxwell Coach, Teacher, and Speaker.

An excerpt from the series:

Joe:   We came here to talk about today was Toyota Kata. You have a lot of experience in that, your W3 Group does, but let’s just start at the basics. Let’s start out with what is Kata?

Brandon: A Kata if I could discuss briefly, just the basis of it, it’s really a routine or I’ve heard it translated as a way of doing, a way of practicing in order to gain skill or to develop a skill. Many times it’s used in the Martial Arts setting; many people will be familiar if they are Martial Arts — or they’ve taken Taekwondo as a kid, you learn forms for blocking and kicking, and you practice them to both learn the proper form but also to teach your muscle memory and to get your brain to thinking in a pattern of learning that particular skill. We do it also in music.

My son is learning to play the violin and music teachers use it and I don’t think they even realize that it’s a Kata. The first thing he taught my son in violin is how to hold the instrument properly, how to hold the bow and have him play all four strings with the proper bow angle to learn that. He then progressed one level up and he taught him how to play the first clause notes by pressing his fingers on to the strings. And eventually, he’s to the point of learning the next step of how to play a song. Now the teacher doesn’t teach him the whole song; just like in Martial Arts, they don’t teach you all 26 Kata’s that are involved with Karate. The teacher in Music focuses on just the first bar and maybe it’s the first 10 notes, and he wants him to repeat that over and over so his brain is learning and his muscles are developing to the point where it’s starting to become a habit, or a skill that seems natural.

A Kata is a way of practicing, a way of doing a particular routine, and we really use it in many areas. But one thing that’s really interesting from some of the research that Mike Rother has done when he wrote the book Toyota Kata is that what we’re learning from Neuroscience is that even we as adults, we want to learn or we seek to learn in a particular repetitive pattern. Our brains are tremendously adaptive organs that really as we learn a new skill, as we crack a Kata over and over again, we get new neural pathways that actually start to allow us to form a meta-habit so to speak; almost slip in to the routine once we’ve mastered the particular skill into a meta-cognition.

Those terms are used around Neuroscience and I can give you an example of how we as adults have turned something into a meta-habit and we function under meta-cognition. At 14, or 16, 17 year old, all of us learn to drive a car usually at that age and you’re really excited; the first form of independence, of going out into the world. But when you’ve first been in the car, if you can think back to that time, it’s pretty intimidating to a 14 to 16 year old. You got the brake pedal, the steering pedal, the turn signal, the steering wheel, how you adjust the mirrors, the seat and everything. And we as adults, 15 to 20 years later, we kind of slip-in to a meta-cognition. We drive and don’t even think about how to operate the car. We react to the stoplights and the traffic, all while carrying on a conversation with someone next to us. We slip into that meta-cognition because we’ve mastered that particular skill. So that, in a nutshell, is a Kata in the way that it has developed how our brain learns a skill in repeated patterns.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info

Old Style Thinking of Plan – Do

One of my favorite authors (even though he has turned me down several times for a podcast) is Jim Highsmith. Jim has authored, several books with my favorite being Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products (2nd Edition) which comes as no surprise to most readers of this blog.

One of the items that Jim challenges in the book is the project management thinking of Plan-Do. In the book, he states that when considering plan-do it assumes that we already have the acquired knowledge to get the job done. He believes it should speculating not planning and exploring versus doing. In the process world and most specifically in the area of Lean, we think of PDCA and the planning portion of it as a hypothesis and the do as the experiment. Which I feel lies somewhere in between Jim’s explanation of the two. If I use the three components of how I visualize my Lean thoughts, Standard (SDCA), Incremental (PDCA), and Exploration (EDCA), I believe I can safely say that my thinking does align itself with Jim’s.

Lean Thinking

In the before mentioned book, Highsmith discussed the “Story” aspect of iteration planning. He says in the book,

I was slow to embrace the term “Story” for iteration planning. What finally convinced me was this need to change people’s perception of planning. The traditional terms we used were “requirement” and “requirements document”— words that conjure up fixed, unvarying, cast-in-concrete outcomes. “Story” conjures up a different scenario, one that emphasizes talking over writing and evolution over a fixed specification. Using the term “speculating” rather than “planning” has a similar effect. When we speculate, we are not prescribing the future, but rather hypothesizing about it. And, to those who practice the scientific method, we hypothesize and then run experiments to test that hypothesis— exactly what happens in agile iterations. Speculating also conjures up a vision of a group musing about the future instead of one rushing to document.

In the past several months, I have really started to embrace this “Story” type of thinking. I have started to create more narratives in the planning phases and even in my proposals.

  • In project scoping there are fewer tasks being assign in the earlier phases but it also seems to drive more conversation in beginning of the project or an iteration such as SDCA, PDCA, and EDCA. I think it is a good thing.
  • On the proposal side, I have found many people uncomfortable with this process. They are looking for what you are going to do. I equate that to starting with the answers. Which I typically think in the sales and marketing world is a disaster waiting to happen.

What are your thoughts, is more narrative/speculation a good thing or a bad thing?

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Solutions – Simple Enough for Everyone to Master

Alain Patchong is the founder of the TheOneDayExpert and author of a series of books on Standard Work. TheOneDayExpert is built around the simple idea that in today’s highly competitive environment, industry, which has already harvest low-hanging fruits, cannot rely anymore on single-minded or one-size-fits-all tools. TheOneDayExpert leverages 20+ years of industry Alain Patchongexperience to offer creative training for academy and industry. It also partners with companies to develop smart technology and deliver manufacturing excellence.


Download MP3

Business901 iTunes Store

Mobile Version

Android APP

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Coaching An Agile Team Virtually

I have coached a variety of teams virtually and wondered how someone else did it. So I asked a could of questions.

An excerpt from last week’s podcast, Managing Product Development .

Joe: Much of a consultant’s role is relationship and trust building; when we do it virtually, that’s sometimes very difficult to do. How does working internationally as a consultant different for you than let’s say working with a client in Columbus?

Gabi VanderMarkGabi Vandermark:  Yes. There is nothing like a face to face interaction, a handshake, or a hug, or whatever the culture accepts and requires, that face to face interaction is absolutely important, but you also can’t afford to travel every day to another country to see your client or see your customer. What I typically do is I combine the two. You have to find ways to build a relationship up front with some face to face interactions and then maintain it throughout with whatever online tools we can find. Video chat, I spend most of my day on video chat. When conversations need to happen, that if I was around somebody, I would maybe call them into my office, shut the door, a one on one conversation. I typically choose to do a video call. There is that face to face. It’s not as warm as being in there with someone, but you can still see their facial expressions, and it gives you a little bit more of a sense of being close to that person.

But upfront, it’s important to be together and especially when you’re going through sessions where you’re designing something or you’re starting a process. A lot of times in Lean Product Development, I would always suggest to a client to start with a vision. The vision not only for the product, especially for the product but also for the team that’s going to be building that product. In those sessions where you’re defining a vision and maybe defining an identity for that team, it definitely needs to be face to face.

Joe:  In developing a team, you’re just not ending up with an existing team, let’s say in Brazil that you have to work with and then six months into the project, you meet them most of the time, you’re at the very beginning. You’re trying to meet that team in some capacity as visually or face to face if possible.

Gabi:  Absolutely, yes. Typically what we do is we identify who the team is, who are the members of that team, and plan a first meet and greet in person to validate that that team makeup makes sense. A team is one of the most important things for Product Development or any sort of project. You want people that are dedicated and you also want to explain to them the ‘why.’ Why are we doing this? Why are we putting in a brand new URP system that’s going to change your entire life? There have to be ways to you connecting with that team to explain the why. They may not like the why but understanding the why will at least help them deal with that change and be focused on the project. Definitely upfront, a face to face interaction as quick as possible with enough information on my back pocket about what we’re about to execute. Because also meeting the teams without having enough information, just to sit in front of them and say I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know – that’s not worth it. When I do meet the teams, I need to be prepared to answer a lot of their questions about what we’re about to do.

Joe:  Do you find that limiting the size of teams is important, even more internationally?

Gabi:  I think the makeup of the team is more important than the size. Having the right people doing the job that one, they’re good at, and two, they like to do, is more important than the size. I do tend to try to build smaller pockets of teams, if I have a large number of people, so that they become self-organized in their little groups and it’s easier to spread that knowledge and reuse knowledge. But when I do break into smaller groups, I have to find a way to bring collaboration amongst them. When I was at Nationwide for example, I had three different teams. Two in the US, one offshore, and collaboration communication was a constant job for me or a constant task for me to bring those three teams together to make sure that they were talking amongst themselves, because all three of them were touching the same product. That becomes kind of my role, as the quarterback of bringing everybody together and making sure that collaboration exists.

About Gabi Vandermark: Founder of Rottie Consulting LLC, Gabriela (Gabi) Vandermark, discussies Lean Product Development with an emphasis on Product Owners.  Rottie provides consulting services to a variety of industries specializing in IT Project Management & Delivery, Technology Leadership, Organizational Change Management, Leadership Coaching, and International (South American) Relations.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)