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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


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)

Pull Planning

One of my favorite and a podcast that ended up influencing me quite a bit was with Gregory Howell. At the time, Greg was the managing director of the Lean Construction Institute (LCI), a non-profit organization devoted to production management research in design and construction. The Last Planner® (sometimes referred to as the Last Planner® System) is a production planning system designed to produce predictable work flow and rapid learning in programming, design, construction and commissioning of projects.

Joe:  How does the name “Last Planner” relate to the planning system?

Greg: There’s always somebody who is the person who makes an assignment. Lots of companies say, “Why don’t you call that Foreman Planning?” The reason we chose a different and outside term was we wanted to talk about the function. That is the last person who makes an assignment, as opposed to the necessary position within a company. Because sometimes it’s the foreman, sometimes it’s the general foreman, sometimes it’s an office.

Calling it “Foreman Planning” would in a way blind people to the real function of this person, so “Last Planner” seemed like a good idea at the time. That’s why we chose it. We wanted to distinguish it from traditional positions in construction.

Joe:  You talk about Pull Planning. Can you help someone get their arms around what Pull Planning is?

Greg: Sure. There are two ways to advance stuff on a project or probably anywhere. One is by push where you advance stuff based on some schedule. Whether or not the project is ready for order or not, the schedule says this should be delivered to the site, and so we deliver it.

Pull is when you advance stuff when the site is ready to use it or the next station is ready to use it, and in that case, you signal from the work site, and I’ll use that because that’s where I live. You signal back to the logistics chain saying send me the beams, and that’s a request. A pull signal can be understood as a request, and something that really informs our approach to Lean management is something called the language action perspective, and I won’t go very far in this.

There are some actions that we take in language. I make a request. You asked me if I would do this podcast. I made a promise. We set a time. We set conditions that it would be done in about 30 minutes, and so you made a request, I made a promise. It will reach a point, I’ll say I am done, and all of that speaking is the action. I request is the action.

When we begin to think about pull as a request, then we understood that we were designing a system that fundamentally was promise centered. You can say we’re designing the production system. You can also say it another way, we’re designing a project as a network of commitments, a series of request promise cycles that are designed to deliver the big promise that somebody made to a client.

So that’s where that language comes from, and there is a significant body of knowledge about that. We think it’s a more important approach to – I’ll call it human resources than the kind of traditional motivational approach. We think people do their darndest to do what they promise and if we can learn to speak more clearly and listen more sharply for requests and promises, we can do a much better job.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Respect in Lean

I asked Michael Balle in a past interview (Related Podcast and Transcription: Pushing Kaizen Beyond the Walls) what the term “respect” means in Lean. Michael Ballé is the co-author of, The Gold Mine, and The Lean Manager. His most recent book is Lead with Respect.

Joe:  You touched upon a point there. In “Lean”, can you define what respect means?

Michael Balle:  We try. We try. I think that the tools are very easy to define because they’re quite specific. I can give you my own take on respect, and I’ll be very cautious on this, as this is the result of my current work. The way I see it, respect has two very pragmatic things. The most immediate thing I see: respect is about making sure people understand their opinion counts. This is as pragmatic as it gets, is that you acknowledge people’s opinions all the time. It doesn’t mean you agree with them. Understanding doesn’t mean agreement, but we use the production analysis board with the comments all the time.

We use specific ways of just saying to people, “We hear your opinion on this. And we’re interested in your opinion. And please give us your opinion.” I think it’s very important for people who work in a company that they understand that the senior people actually take their opinion into account.

The second part I would say about respect, which the deeper part is; I believe that people in a company have a right to succeed. It’s not a duty to succeed. It’s a right to succeed.

They have a right to succeed in their day. They have a right to come home saying, “Darling,” to their partners, “Darling, I’ve had a really good day, I’ve succeeded.” And they have a right to succeed in their career.

This is part of what management should do. How do we create situations where people can succeed? I believe that this trust that comes from this is very powerful. This mutual trust is built on mutual wins.

It’s short wins, and this goes with the Kaizen, is that if people work together and have wins together, in short, ways, they will build this trust. This is so powerful for companies.

So, respect has many, many different dimensions. One is the teamwork that we were talking about. You develop individuals by teaching them how to solve problems with others. The other is this notion that it has to be a win-win. It has to be some element of shared success that leads to developing these mutual trusts.

Marketing with PDCA (More Info)

Targeting what your Customer Values at each stage of the cycle will increase your ability to deliver quicker, more accurately and with better value than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.

Software and Product Development Leads into HR?

The founder of OdBox, Matt Barcomb, partners with organizations to help leadership teams develop and deploy strategy, optimize product management and development, and evolve traditional HR functions into modern talent development practices. Matt can be found on LinkedIn or on Twitter.

Related podcast and transcription: Matt Barcomb’s Journey into Lean Software

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:   One of the things that I associate you with, of course, is software and product development, but it seems that umbrella has started to incorporate more parts in the company, and it’s affecting and becoming an integral part of other parts of the company. How is that affecting your work because you talk about a lot more type of organizational work, a lot more type of work with HR – is software the push into it or is it just your growth in trying to make people work together?

Matt: That’s a good question. I would probably say it’s a nice little cocktail of both. One of the reasons I got into human resources, talent development is again through client work. I would go into a place, and they were having problems hiring people that could fit for the skills and we started talking to them and then they’re kind of following a very traditional or recruiting through Monster or whatever, and they ask for help, like how do you find talent, and so we can talk about that. We wound up kind of rejiggering how they do recruiting, we kind of talked a little bit about how should they do promoting, what are their current performance plans and structure, what do those things look like, do they make sense. It’s just sort of pluck a little thing here, and you try a lot of things; a lot of companies are willing to try some things. Not every company has been willing to try all my crazy ideas, but some of them are just things that make sense. I mean I can’t remember ever being at a company ever who thought that how they did ratings, and rankings, and performance, and tying it to compensation was a wonderful, fair and equitable system that everybody enjoyed. So given that that’s never happened, one of my first principles is like well what happens if we get rid of it? Instead of trying to figure out a way to make it better or improve it or add something to the system, what if we try to simplify it first? Not that that will solve the problem, it will very likely cost other problems. But let’s take the thing away first, so when we do try to inject something, we’re injecting something into a simpler ecosystem.

Like HR is one area where we try to grow it more towards talent development, where to find people, how to promote people, how to make that a collaborative thing and I’m kind of a proponent of setting up structures such that transparent salaries could be possible. I want to be clear that I don’t necessarily advocate for going all the way towards actually making salaries transparent; it just really depends on the context. Working with sales organizations was sort of the same way. I started working more with product management as part of product development, this idea that you’ve got a group or an organization that’s sort of incented or they’re going like this to help create a product or sweeter products that has a strategic fit for a market and that they’re sort of always butting heads with this other department in the organization who’s incented to hit quarterly revenue targets at almost whatever sales price, that incented to drive some crazy behavior. I’ve seen product development departments get thrown under the bus because they couldn’t make the features fast enough, and they could have made their numbers if product had just delivered faster. I’ve seen sales departments reel because the BP of product are really hard-lined pricing strategy, and that was not allowing them to make their numbers. So trying to encourage them instead of trying to just throw sales under the bus and say, “Oh sales guys are coin-operated, evil, moron people. They should just go all be car salesman…” Let’s figure out what we’re really trying to achieve through sales.

I mean that’s a pretty obvious problem, we need the company to make money. So how we change sales and how do we change software and how do we change the product to all work together? I mean again this just taking a page out of the systems thinking kind of playbook of how are we not aligned? We have these different functions, we need a strategic fit to a market, we need to make sales, we need a revenue, we need to develop product – how do we get these three things to swim together instead of feeling like they’re often tearing the company apart?

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Putting the Kata into Action

This particular video, Putting the Kata into Action is the last video of a 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.

The series consist 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.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

When Not To Use 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. Experts with holistic view and deep insight are needed. Yet solutions must be made simple enough for everyone to master and own them. Alain Patchong is the founder of the TheOneDayExpert and author of a series of books on Standard Work. Alain also is the guest on next week’s Business901 podcast.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:   Would you recommend sometimes not using Standard Work? Are there times that it’s obviously besides let’s say repeatable, are there other times that you would shy away from it or is repeatable the key part of using Standard Work?

Alain:  Standardized Work has no interest when there is variation when there is volatility when there is low repeatability. This can be due to a lot of causes. It could be just like this process is designed on purpose not to be repeatable – then there is no Standardized Work. But there is some occasions, some situations where it is simply due to the machine, the machine which is very, very unreliable, the machine which is all the product which is causing huge problems and so in those situations, my advice is start fixing those problems first. Start fixing making your machine reliable, so we can use tools like TPM or whatever.

If you try to implement Standardized Work when you have this environment with a lot of disruptions, first of all, operators will be frustrated because they are already frustrated by those stoppages which are coming over and over. But they’ll say, okay why are you focusing on us? First of all fix the problem. Fix all those machine stops. So fix them first and then you’ll get this credibility to be able to go ahead and start working on Standardized Work

Joe:   I think it’s interesting when you say that because so many times workers, frontline people and nurses for a great example, they find workarounds to problems to be able to take care of things and make them work. When you try to implement Standard Work, they just look at you because there are so many other things going on, they’re like — and so that’s a great indication.

Alain:  Yes, yes. That is what I explained in the first book actually. Is that okay? Before doing anything, okay well, fix all the problems because if you come — and this is what I’ve noticed during my personal life at Goodyear when I was implementing this. People are willing to work, they are willing to work with you in improving and doing Standardized Work but first, you have to show them that you are taking seriously the daily problems, the daily frustrations, and this is where we have to start first.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Taking Ownership of the IT Project

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.

This is the slide deck of the presentation we reference several times in the podcast.


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Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)