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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


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)

Reusable Knowledge – The Focus of Lean Product Development

Rottie Consulting LLC was founded in April 2013 with the intent to provide 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. My podcast guest tomorrow is the founder of Rottie, Gabriela (Gabi) Vandermark.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:   I had the pleasure of previewing your slides before your presentation and you discuss something that popped out of me that was different. When you talk about waste in Lean Product Development, you mention Reusable Knowledge. Is that a major waste? Reusable, what does that really mean?

Gabi:    Reusable Knowledge is actually the focus that you should have in Product Development. Lean Manufacturing, the focus is on removing waste, but in Lean Manufacturing, you already have a product developed, and a product identified. You’re really just finding a way to produce that and deliver that to your customer in the fastest, cheapest, quickest and most quality manner. For Lean Product Development, you’re discovering. You go from an idea all the way to market launch and to do that, you need to reuse knowledge because it’s a set of experiments. It’s that iterative process where you need to learn as you go so that you can ultimately come up with a product that is ideal for the market. In Lean Product Development, the focus is really on Reusable Knowledge. How do you share the knowledge that you gain through your iterations of that product with your entire team so that everybody can benefit from that, and even more important is how can you share that knowledge that it can be validated and complimented by other people’s ideas.

Joe:   So reusable isn’t something that is stale; the existing knowledge over in a file cabinet that you’re reusing. It’s something that you’re creating.

Gabi:    Correct and the key here is collaboration. One of the important things in Lean Product Development and Agile, in general, is how do you collaborate with your team? If you’re all collocated, it becomes not easy but it becomes a little bit more natural. You can implement visual management systems where you expose your information on boards and stickies and make it very visible to the people that are there. In my case, when I work with international projects, it becomes a little bit more challenging because we’re not physically together, but collaboration and communication are the keys to that reusable knowledge, so it doesn’t become stale.

The way I do it typically, I find ways of translating the visual management that you would think of – whiteboards and stickies to an online version. Not to plug anything but Trello is one of the tools that I use. It’s very easy to use; anybody can jump in there and there’s a lot of flexibility to build the boards that you need. So for my projects, when I’m working with people in South America where communication and collaboration is key to making sure that that knowledge that is gained, one, is spread out to the team, and two, it doesn’t become stale as you mentioned.

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)