Lean Six Sigma

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.

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)

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)

What is Toyota Kata?

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.

This is the first part of a 7-part series with Brandon discussing the Toyota Kata. The series will consist of these 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

Lean Sales and Marketing: Learn about using CAP-Do

Lean Engagement Team (More Info)

ApRecs Field Data Scorecard Training

At last year’s Northwest Food Processors Association Expo, 72% attendees said food safety was a prime concern. A reason stated was that a single food safety incident can cause damage to your brand and to your bottom line. Do you think attendees would say they are making better decisions this year over last? What is missing in most cases is that Food Safety has never been tied to business objectives. How do you use Food Safety Data in Your Organization?

Join ApRecs for 3 exciting leadership sessions, learn the Field Data Scorecard Method.

February 13  @ 9:00 am PST: Creating a Quality Environment from Compliance: Dr. W. Edwards Deming introduced the idea that the best way to quality was to assure the quality of the processes that creates the product. Food Safety ValuesThrough this type of thinking, we stopped thinking of quality from perspective of inspection and whether it passed or not. Instead, we learned that quality took place in real-time and by the people doing the work. Compliance is very much like quality. The best way towards compliance is to move compliance into work processes and towards the place of work. As Lean taught us, quality/recordation can be used to improve our business process and achieve business objectives.


  1. Creating a normalized process out of your field data
  2. Ownership: Taking responsibility for the privacy and security of your data
  3. Transparency: Trusted connections, who are they and what they do with your records

March 13th @ 9:00  am PST:  Leveraging Compliant Data for Awareness: Most Packers/Shippers/Processors lack a system of measurement and a way to monitor field data performance. However, what would it be like if the status in real-time was displayed for all growers and Food Safety Valuesproduct varieties with the capability to drill down instantaneously to any give field, block or individual record.  What if these indicators were available for Sales Desks and at the fingertips of operations and productions? Ask Food Safety now for information and most of what you will receive is a thumbs up and/or information for the product much later in processing when a label has been attached.  If there is a wrong chemical applied, an invalidated record, the issue would now surface practically immediately, not several weeks later from a lab report or discovered at the time of an audit. When discovery happens in real-time, problems can be handled when both risk and cost are at a minimum.


  1. Quality tools what are they and how to use them.
  2. CAPA: Corrective Actions and Preventative Actions
  3. Develop Forecasting Tools

April 10 @ 9:00 AM PST: Putting Awareness  to work  thu Scorecarding:  The Field Data Scorecard solution is a catalyst for change. The power of the scorecard lies in identifying opportunities to increase value recognition and predicting future performance with some confidence. If we Food Safety Valuesimprove our processes, we improve quality, conformance and the speed at which we do work. Meeting Business Objectives is a key part of the scorecard. It adds the dynamic characteristic needed to shift from compliance to awareness.


  1. Delivering a Compliant Product
  2. Privacy and Data Security
  3. Brand Protection and Risk Management
  4. Performance Measurements

There are undeniable short-term costs, but most of these will eventually become costs anyway. Creating new data does not mean simply putting it in a report. That would be wasteful. Instead, it should be used to spark creative solutions that, in fact, makes your organization better. The opportunity is to use the Field Data Scorecard to move from short-term fixes of avoidance to the long-term capability of awareness.

Learn the Field Data Scorecard Method

  • February 13  @ 9:00 am PST:  10:00 am PST: Creating a Quality Environment from Compliance
  • March 13th @ 9:00  am PST:  Leveraging Compliant Data for Awareness
  • April 10 @ 9:00 AM PST: Putting Awareness  to work  thru Scorecarding

When you start thinking this way about your Food Safety Data, your Field Data…there are endless opportunities to use your data in constructive ways.


There will be a short 10 minute introduction on the Field Data Scorecard before the regular ApRecs Packer/Shipper/Processor webinars. You can stay for the rest of the webinar or you can leave after you hear about the scorecard. ApRecs does not impose its platform to develop the Field Data Scorecard. You can use your existing system though it may have certain limitations across platforms that may need to be added or manually created.



Disclaimer: I work with ApRecs and will be facilitating these sessions.

Help! Do You Know Anything about the 4P Process?

I have been doing some project work in Scorecarding and Dashboarding lately and ran across the term the 4P Cycle in Gupta’s book, Six Sigma Business Scorecard. $P Cycle

The 4P Cycle consist of

  1. Prepare represents ensuring good inputs to the process, The inputs consist of Ishikawa’s 4Ms (material, machines, methods, and manpower or people). The objective is to ensure these four Ms are received well as inputs to ensure the process output will be on target.
  2. Perform implies the process steps are well defined, and understood for effective and consistent execution.
  3. Perfect means assessing the performance against the established target performance. If the process output is not on target, the gap is assessed.
  4. Progress leads to reducing variability or the gap around the target, and striving toward the targeted performance.

By continually applying the 4P cycle, one can reengineer process to achieve the results desired by the customer through better process management, instead of increased inspection.

My understanding is that it is the method to Perform an Opportunity Analysis of a project or undertaking like PDCA or Six Sigma. Of course to a Six Sigma person it may make perfect sense. To a Lean person that thinks continuous improvement is continuous ( we know that is not exactly true) it seems a little out of sync.

Either way, I found it fascinating but have found little reference to it in other literature. In fact, Gupta I feel leaves me hanging a little on the 4P Cycle and was interested if anyone could reference it in other work or shed some light on their understanding or use of it.