It's About Time

Square Logo #NELEAN2023

Our 19th annual Northeast L.E.A.N. Conference (L.E.A.N. = Lean Enable and Nurture) is now just weeks away. This year’s theme, IT’S ABOUT TIME, suggests that Lean is, as Taiichi Ohno said, about “reducing the time between paying and getting paid” by eliminating wastes like motion or defects through the application of effective countermeasures such as SMED or mistake-proofing.   Shigeo Shingo referred to these as the better methods.  

An unfortunate misconception however has been that the better methods alone are all that’s needed to make improvement. No doubt, there is a technical science that is a prerequisite for improvement. Understanding and proper use of Lean methods is necessary. However, understanding requires time be invested for learning and practice. As Deming said “You can’t sharpen the blade while the saw is turning.”   Even today, 40 years into our Lean experiment, managers are still reticent to take time from a bad process in order to improve it. Perhaps a day of improvement time will be set aside each month for training and improvement; or maybe an engineer or two will be assigned as problem solvers. But there’s no serious commitment to invest broadly in employee development. Shingo accused American businesses of treating employees simply as a cost to managed (a practice incidentally supported by modern cost accounting) rather than an asset for investment. Ohno and Shingo referred this as the 8th Waste -- not an industrial engineering waste in the sense of motion or defects, but a squandering of human capability through lack of respect for the most valuable resource: the persons who are actually seeing and living with the problems. The impact of this waste is disengagement and demotivation. According to Shingo, the single biggest obstacle to improvement is lack of motivation to improve!   If the work culture is not favorable for improvement, employees will not use the better methods.

So, for this year’s conference we are going back to basics with better methods as the ‘means’ to improvement showcasing outstanding application of tools, but with an emphasis also to create a robust, organization-wide culture to assure that better methods will flourish.

Motivation + Better Methods = Lean Transformation

I invite you to join us for two days of motivation and better methods with Lean leaders from manufacturing, healthcare, service, education and retail. In additional to four world-class keynoters and five full speaker tracks there are so many more opportunities to share and network:

  • Our community of Lean Lounge where employee teams share best practices.
  • The annual Silver Toaster award recognizing Lean leadership from non-managerial employees.
  • A Lean Pioneer Award – new for 2023 – honoring leaders whose trailblazing efforts have brought about significant change.
  • Over a dozen exhibitors including the Lean Enterprise Institute bookstore
  • A special executive TPS session from Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC)
  • And Lean After Dark – just networking, Karaoke and fun in the evening.

All in just two days – October 3-4 in Worcester, Massachusetts.   And, if by chance, businessBruce with Mug travel is not in this year’s budget, join us virtually via Whova. All sessions and events will be live-streamed, and recorded to be available for attendee viewing for one year.   Hope to see you there. Isn’t is About Time to transform your organization?


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This entry was posted in Silver Toaster Award, Toyota Production System. Lean manufacturing, 7 wastes, LEI, Northeast L.E.A.N. Conference, Lean Management, Lean Culture on August 24 , 2023.