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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


Why use all Three? TOC, Lean, Six Sigma

A favorite podcast of mine was with Bob Sproull,  an experienced manufacturing executive with a distinguished track record of achieving improvement goals in Manufacturing, MRO, Quality, Product Development, and Engineering. In the podcast (Related Podcast and Transcription: Can Theory of Constraints, Lean and Six Sigma Co-Exist), I asked Bob; “Why do we need all three? It seems mind-boggling. I don’t have enough time to implement Lean. I have enough trouble implementing Six Sigma. Now, you throw Theory of Constraints on there. I think I’m headed for failure.”

Bob: Well, Joe, I can tell you it is not the first time I’ve been asked that question. So, let me try and tell you actually why I think it’s a whole lot easier using this integrated improvement method. In a typical Lean or Six Sigma or Lean Six Sigma implementation, one of the reasons why I think a lot of these efforts fail is because the organization ends up trying to do what I call “solve world hunger.” In other words, they try and Lean out every aspect of the business. When, in fact, if you look at the business, every business has key leverage points.

My thought is rather than trying to improve every single aspect of the business, let’s focus on those leverage points, and those leverage points end up being what Goldratt referred to as the system constraints. One of the things that you have to be a believer in, and I know you’re a believer in the Theory of Constraints, but one of the things you have to believe in is throughput accounting.

By that I mean, if you look at the components of how you make money in the business, you’ve got basically three things. You can go through an inventory reduction. The second thing is what most companies do is, they focus on reducing operating expenses, and, unfortunately, that typically comes in the form of layoffs, which I despise. The third component, though, is by increasing your revenue base.

If you look at those three components, when you reduce inventory, typically that’s a one-time improvement in cash flow. If you look at operating expense -my definition of operating expense is any money that you spend to turn inventory into throughput. And you can cut operating expense way too low. You actually can debilitate the organization, and that’s what happens to a lot of companies.

Throughput, on the other hand, and the definition of throughput in the Theory of Constraints world is new revenue entering the company, and that is really revenue minus total variable cost. That’s such things as the cost of raw materials, sales commissions, those things that vary with the sale of a product.

The bottom line here is… Back to your original question, why is it so much easier? Well, you don’t need nearly the army of improvement resources that you might think. I think another mistake a lot of companies make is they go out and train the masses and expect to see bottom line improvement. My belief is you need enough to focus on the constraint until you improve the constraint to the point where it’s no longer a constraint. But, as soon as that happens, another one takes its place.

Then, you simply move your resources, your improvement resources, to that new constraint, and it becomes a cyclic cycle of improvement. It sustains itself. So, from that perspective to me it’s a lot easier. All three initiatives, Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints, not just complement each other, but they enhance each other. You get faster bottom line improvement with less effort. So, that’s my take on it. That has worked for me in many of the companies that I have implemented this.

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.

Should You Be Using Multiple A3 Formats?

A Lean Implementer with a passion for continuous learning on all subjects related to business and lean, Matt Wrye is the author of the popular blog “Beyond Lean,” which centers on evolving leadership and changing business. Matt was a past podcast guest of mine (Related Podcast and Transcription: Building a Learning A3) and I asked him, “Where would you warn people not to jump in and use an A3?”

Matt:  Well, I don’t know if there’s a place or a type of situation where I would warn them not to use an A3. But what I would warn them on is formatting or the A3 itself. In our example, or in our case, we have multiple A3 formats depending on what type of work we’re trying to do. So if we’re trying to solve a problem, we have one format. If we’re trying to develop a strategy, we have another format. If we are trying to work with a client in scope work, we have a different format.

We’ve used the A3 format in concepts to lay out the work that we need to do but have set it up and put templates in place to meet that need. It’s not a one?size?fits?all. You know, we’re even having a discussion now to say, “Is that’s working for us or not?” and having a reflection piece on it now. I don’t know, because, honestly, from my standpoint, I could see A3’s being used anywhere because it’s a great tool to help foster discussion and bring items to the table. A side benefit of using it and putting it on paper is it actually will focus ?? it’s a small psychology thing ?? the discussion on the issues on the paper and not the person whom you’re talking to.

I’ve even used an A3 one time for no other reason than that I’ve framed up the current state and what I believed the future state needed to be, to go have a discussion with a person where it was believed their area was causing problems in another area. Just by using that and focusing on the piece of paper, we were able to have a discussion and a better understanding where both areas wanted to be, and not the areas pointing fingers at each, saying, “No this is your fault, no this is your fault,” type of thing.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Organizational Development Cards

Sarah Lewis’s new Positive Organizational DevelopmenOrg Cardst Cards offer an engaging and playful way of introducing exciting positive development ideas to individuals, teams and organizations. Sarah and her organization, Appreciating Change aim is to achieve whole system change, with positive and creative solutions working through psychological processes such as emotional engagement, the creative imagination, core values and key strengths.

Sarah describes her cards below in an excerpt from our recent podcast. The podcast and transcription can be found at, A Positive Approach to Organizational Change.

Joe:  Can you use the cards to kind of frame a conversation that you might have?

Sarah: I tend to use them more with groups at the moment. So, as you know, in each of the cards the front page, the front side just gives you a sense of the concept that we’re thinking about, the thing that helps make a positive organization. So, just picking up a couple here, I’ve Feeling Connected, so in positive organizations people feel much more connected. Mindfulness, the very popular topic people, are very interested in and again in some of the more positive flourishing organizations is one of its characteristics that people are not just running on automatic pilot. They’re sort of thinking about what they’re doing and the impact on others. And so, on the front side there’re some words like with Mindfulness, we got the words Presence, Attending, Noticing, Relating and Decision Making because mindfulness is very important to effective decision making so that we don’t just keep making the same decisions as if the world hasn’t changed. And then, on the reverse side, I’ve got a few questions to help people have a really good discussion. So, again, for the Mindfulness one, we’ve got ‘Describe a recent experience of really being in the moment. What was happening?’ So, we’re asking people to identify when they are mindful and of course we might, you know, they might discover that actually they’re always living in the past or the future or, in a worry stage about creating lists for something rather.

And then, there’s another question, ‘What are the most important situations where you need to be very mindful?’ It’s quite generic so we could apply them to an individual or a team or an organization. You know when do you really need to be paying attention because something different might be happening here? Because, there may be changes going on that you haven’t noticed that could be important. Of course, there’s ‘How does your organization encourage people to be mindful when working with customers, suppliers or other stakeholders?’ which is part of that same question again about how do you help your people notice the little changes in the world, their social world that might be indicative of a need for the organization to adjust in some way. So, the questions are to help people explore the concept, to discover something about themselves and about their situation. You can also, of course, add in a question that’s a kind of weighting scale so thinking about your organization at the moment, on a scale of 1 to 10, how mindful would you say it is, how attentive is it to what’s going on, where would you like it to be, what makes that difference, what would it look like if it was a 9 rather than a 4, that kind of thing. There’re a few kind of suggestions of what organizations might want to do or individuals or teams to help increase the sort of quality and quantity of this facet, aspect or their organizational life.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

The Coaching Kata

This particular video, The Coaching Kata is one of a 7-part video series with Brandon Brown where we touched upon some of the finer points of the Toyota Kata versus staying at the 20,000 foot level.  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)

Taking a Pragmatic Systems Approach to Change

Matt Barcomb, founder of OdBox, has over 18 years of experience as a product development leader that takes a pragmatic, systems approach to change. Matt BarcombHe 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.

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Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

Can Change be Managed like a Project?

David J. Anderson is a thought leader in managing effective technology development. He leads a consulting, training and publishing business dedicated to developing, promoting and implementing sustainable evolutionary approaches for management of knowledge workers. David is CEO of Lean-Kanban University, a business dedicated to assuring the quality of training in Lean and Kanban throughout the world. David may be best known for his book, Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business. David joined me for a past podcast and I ask him acbout Change management.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Change Should Evolve

Joe:  When you talk about business change management, can it be a project?plan?type environment? Can you do it that way?

David: I think lots of people try to do it that way that they think, OK, we know the target, in the same way, that we know the requirements for our IT project. So we know the organizational design that we want as an outcome, or we know the process we want to be following as an outcome. Perhaps we even have a good way of testing whether we’ve gotten there or not, some way of recognizing the practices being performed, the artifacts being created, some mechanism for appraising whether we’ve reached the goal. And we’re either taking that target from some textbook or we’ve employed some consultants to come in and design a re-org, an organizational change, a new process. They could be using all sorts of methods for that. It could be Six Sigma. It could be Lean. It could be Theory of Constraints. There may be several others. They may have some customized, hybrid method that their consulting firm has branded and sells directly.

What it amounts to is someone comes in and designs the target process that should be adopted and the target organizational structure. Then someone creates a project plan for it, just like they would with a set of requirements for an IT system, and they figure out which people will need to do which tasks and in what order and perhaps what training may need to be delivered and so on, and they go ahead and they execute against that plan.

Unfortunately, to quote a phrase from the military, the plan never survives an engagement with the enemy. And the enemy, in this case, is people resist, and that resistance is often deeply emotional because the change is perceived as being an attack on their self, their person, their self-image, their identity, or the identity of the group they’re a member of, or it affects their social standing.

As Bob would say if he were here on this interview, they’ll look at the proposed change, and they’ll say, “There’s nothing in it for me.” In fact, it may be deeper than that. They might look at the proposed change and say, “Not only is nothing in it for me; the only thing in it for me is significant career and personal risk.

The best that can really happen from this change is that I survive it. And the worst that could happen is that I end up with lower social status; lower self-esteem, lower respect from my peers, perhaps even a demotion, certainly a job?title change, and perhaps left being asked to pursue practices and skills that at the moment. I don’t have competence or expertise in.

Many individuals look at these proposed planned life skill changes. They think, “There’s nothing positive in this for me, and there is really only a downside.” As soon as they start thinking that way, they resist. The plan that was made with all the best of intentions does not survive that. That’s where these change initiatives get into trouble.

Where there’s really a harmony and synthesis between the work that Bob and I have been doing, is this belief that the change needs to be accepted at the individual level. Individuals need to be motivated appropriately. The change that’s proposed needs to have a positive outcome for them, and they need to believe that in advance. If you can’t design the changes that way, then you run into trouble.

When Bob’s talking about change should be to be pooled. He’s really saying that individuals need to want changes to happen. They need to recognize those changes as something that’s positive for them individually, as well as their organization as a whole. When change is designed by someone outside and then implemented by the individuals. They will push stuff on them. They are likely to resist that.

So, change that’s pulled is self-motivated, if that’s the term we’re looking for. So you’ll recognize that a lot of this is coming back to techniques that are buried inside the Kanban method that a lot of it is about getting people to recognize where change needs to happen and to feel the correct motivation for it and to be suggesting many of the changes themselves.

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)