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The Lean Learning Center was founded in 2001 to address the gaps and barriers that are holding back companies from successful and sustainable lean transformation. In addition to the advanced curriculum, the Center has developed a learning environment designed specifically for adult learning utilizing techniques that include discovery simulations, case studies, personal planning, and reflection – ultimately engaging people at a deep and personal level. We bring our unique lean understanding in creative ways to executives, managers, supervisors, change agents and front-line employees. The Lean Learning Center is a Troy, Michigan-based organization that helps organizations transform themselves through lean tools and methods.

Lean Thinking Will Reveal Some Leadership Lessons from Jazz Musicians

Lean thinking can help you see things from a broader perspective. Lean thinking will help you derive leadership lessons from a Jazz performance. The following are some of the leadership lessons that one could get from Jazz. To many, Jazz and leadership have nothing in common. To the few that can see the broader perspective, they find a lot of lessons to lift from how jazz is played, and how they can be bought into the boardroom. Whether you are an executive at a company, or you are an entrepreneur, there are some important lessons you could take from Jazz players. Taking Risks Playing it safe will never move you forward. If anything, it gets you booed off stage. While everyone else boos a Jazz player who tried to play it safe and it backfired, take a lesson that business is all about taking risks. Many entrepreneurs and executives cringe at the thought of taking massive risks in today’s volatile economy. Businesses grow when they are able to overcome risks and perform in the face of adversity. Listen You learn more by listening to those around you than by playing yourself. Jazz players have spent hours listening to their tutors [...]

By |2019-05-24T12:45:44-04:00May 24th, 2019|Articles, Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Lean Thinking Will Reveal Some Leadership Lessons from Jazz Musicians

One Bad Month in a Great 2018: Can Lean Thinking Help U.S Manufacturing Have a Better 2019?

The American technology manufacturing sector seemed not to have much to smile about after the release of orders volume data for December 2018 by the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT). The data revealed that total orders in the sector had modestly reduced year-over-year. 2018 had been a strong year though. December results were just a small blemish on what would have otherwise been a perfect year for the sector. Numbers for all the other months have also been released and they look impressive. Orders in the technology manufacturing sector summed up to $443 million in December 2018. This was a 2 percent decrease from November orders. However, the orders were higher by 6 percent than a similar time in December 2017. The drop was unprecedented, as the orders have always been expected to rise. For the 23 years that the data has been released, a drop in December’s numbers from those of November has only been recorded 4 times. Not Enough Lean Thinking? The drop was unexpected, given that the rest of the year had been impressive. The AMT attributed the drop partly to the government shutdown and the U.S-China trade war. Could lean thinking and proper planning have been [...]

By |2019-05-21T14:58:40-04:00May 21st, 2019|Articles, Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on One Bad Month in a Great 2018: Can Lean Thinking Help U.S Manufacturing Have a Better 2019?

Lean Thinkers Know the Essence of the Perfect Working Environment

Farmers use greenhouses to provide the perfect conditions for the growth of their plants. The conditions in a greenhouse are often set to ensure maximum benefit to plants. Compare that to planting the same plant in a cold and dark plot. The yield obtained from the two places would be very different. Thinking from that perspective, one can’t help but wonder why many companies provide working environments that are reeling with depravity instead of being enabling. Your work environment should foster great imagination, ideas, and innovation rather than deprive you of space to breath. It’s a conversation that you ought to have with yourself. You have to find out whether your work environment is set to foster your development or to hold you down in one place. Lean Thinking is Key How do you do that? You’ll accomplish that by practicing lean thinking. You have to start seeing everything from others perspective. Creativity and innovation make the better part of the recipe for success. They both involve being different and thinking out of the ordinary. That’s what lean thinking and learning are all about. The windowless beige cubes that many organizations have become fond of will foster no creativity or [...]

The Best Leaders Never Fake It till They Make It

“Fake it till you make it.” It’s quite the cliché`. It sounds good, and everyone will like any statement that provides some sort of solace. However, it’s a statement used to justify wrong choices. As a business leader you will be setting yourself up for failure if you decide to fake anything. In business, you cannot fake anything. If you try, you’ll waste resources and then your fake business empire will come crumbling down much sooner than later. A business is like a building. You must lay a strong foundation before you start erecting floors going up. At the foundation level of a business, many are tempted to fake things so that their growth is rapid. That’s setting yourself up for disaster. Take for example the celebrity business of the world. Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, etc. These are some of the wealthiest people in the world. The all have a unique story about themselves and the way they grew their businesses. A careful look into the growth of their companies will help you see all the growth stages of a business. You can’t skip a stage, and you cannot fake success in business. Lean Thinking and Understanding It [...]

The Layered Process Audit: Part 2

This is part two of The Layered Process Audit. If you haven’t already, you should read part one.  In many organizations, the line supervisor has the responsibility for auditing to ensure that structures and processes such as standard work, 5S, safety, and quality checks are adhered to. The supervisor is usually the only one who is knowledgeable enough about the process to make these observations. This results in a narrow organizational view of the process. By providing cross functional involvement of the support staff, the collective perspective and experience of the broader organization is integrated into the process directly at the point of value added. For example: Human resources should be observing the process to ensure that health & safety as well as processes for training and operator certification are functioning as planned. They should also be observing that the basic team structure is providing the operator with the necessary support needed to provide value through operator engagement and solicitation of ideas. Engineering should be observing and auditing to ensure that product and process design is capable of producing high quality products or services with the highest repeatability. Quality should be auditing the process with an emphasis on how well the [...]

By |2019-04-30T16:09:42-04:00April 27th, 2019|Articles, Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on The Layered Process Audit: Part 2

The Layered Process Audit: Part1

Many organizations complain about having difficulty maintaining standards on the shop floor.  We often make improvement only to find the process regresses back to its previous state in a short period of time.  A closer look at the audit process will often show the following types of symptoms: Standard work is posted, but no one is following it. The sequence, timing, and content of work changes within each operator as well as from one operator to another. There are inconsistencies in incoming materials that cause over processing at the workstation and overburden to operators. This may lead to defects and operational delays. Poorly designed products and processes that cause unevenness and overburden. 5S is not maintained or consistent between one shift and another. Uncontrolled tools and materials are squirreled away in cabinets as a result of hoarding for just in case reasons. Non-conforming materials are not properly identified which exposes the operation to risk. These issues may indicate a general lack of management oversight of the process. Management oversight may typically occur in the form of system audits, control point checklists, or other structured reviews of the operation. An audit is essentially a check on the system to see that activities are [...]

By |2019-04-17T17:54:03-04:00April 17th, 2019|Articles, Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on The Layered Process Audit: Part1

No-Deal Brexit Puts UK Aerospace Industry in Crisis

The UK is on the verge of a no-deal Brexit after the UK’s parliament overwhelmingly rejected Theresa May’s deal. They most likely haven’t explored the effect of a no-deal exit on the UK’s aerospace industry. Stakeholders in the industry are now bringing it to their attention. It is an industry that provides employment for more than 120,000 people. The industry’s 2017 revenues are estimated to have been up to 35 billion pounds. Time is running out for the UK. They are supposed to leave the European Union on March 29. Up until now, they have not been able to negotiate a trade deal with the EU. If they leave without a deal, they will have lost any preferential trade partner status that they held in the other European countries of the EU. That mean’s UK companies will no longer have access to a free EU market, including those in the aerospace industry. The UK seeks lean transformation in its industrial, social, and political systems. That’s why they voted in favor of Brexit. They must, therefore, employ lean thinking while executing the exit. The UK’s economy could suffer a serious hit if they leave without a deal. The Aerospace industry will [...]

By |2019-03-25T17:40:00-04:00March 25th, 2019|Articles, Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on No-Deal Brexit Puts UK Aerospace Industry in Crisis

Why Just “Good Enough” Will Kill Your Business or Career Fast

Good enough is never good enough for your business. You and your employees might go home patting yourselves in the back thinking that you met all your clients’ expectations, while you didn’t. They just might not have found reason enough to cause a fuss. Many proprietors and workers will assume that clients are satisfied with their products and services, just because nobody has ever complained. That mentality is detrimental to your career or business. Take yourself for instance. Rarely will you complain because the bus you normally use is a few minutes late, but you prefer if it was always on time. You’d certainly opt for different bus service if it proved to always be punctual. (Statistically, we know that 80% of your customers experiencing less than “good” products or services from you, will not say anything to you. They simply do not come back.) Customers who get just “good enough” from you will vanish the moment they get an alternative. Many clients would rather have a costly but delightful experience with your business, than a cheap “good enough” experience. Try to always go above and beyond in the business that you are in. Concentrate on improving your customer experience [...]

Beliefs that Give Rise to History – Making Teams

Today’s business world needs a team that can adjust with the times and keep up with the stiff competition. Creating a set of protocols to be followed does not make the cut anymore. The only way is to have not only a skilled team but also one that is inspired by a set of beliefs. These beliefs should inform the decision-making and response tendencies of your company. The following are a couple of general beliefs that when instilled in your team can drive them to achieve excellence and success. You and each member of your team should aim to do something out of the ordinary. You should aim for the skies and achieve something historical. Proper time management is very essential. In the wake of sophisticated technologies, speed is paramount. The success of your company will to some extent depend on how fast you achieve certain goals. Always adopt the highest standards possible. Ensure you are striving to be the best in what you do. Adopting certain high standards will ensure you are able to provide quality products and services. Do not be afraid to challenge assumptions and traditions. Your next phase of growth could be hidden on the other [...]

By |2019-03-18T12:22:38-04:00March 12th, 2019|Articles, Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Beliefs that Give Rise to History – Making Teams

A Star That Inspires Budding Actresses and Leading Technology Innovators

Actresses are often famed for their beauty and/or acting ability. They have the ability to woo audiences around the world and leave millions in adoration. While people are often left mesmerised at their looks and ability, though, few people tend to see beyond what we see on the screen. Both actors and actresses in the business are real people and many of them have achieved incredible things away from the screen. Hedy Lamarr was one of the most famous actresses of her generation. She was born in 1914 in Austria and would take the film industry by storm. Partly because she was the first ever actress to perform nude in a movie. This was extremely controversial at the time and even prompted Adolf Hitler to ban the movie. What few people realize, though, is that Hedy was also somewhat of a genius and an incredible inventor. For example, she was granted a patent for the frequency guided torpedo immediately after the Second World War. The patent would later enable her groundbreaking“frequency hopping” invention. That technology is the basis for GPS, Bluetooth, WI-Fi, and many other wireless networking applications. Her patent would be worth up to $30 billion dollars today. What [...]

By |2019-03-11T12:02:02-04:00March 6th, 2019|Articles, Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on A Star That Inspires Budding Actresses and Leading Technology Innovators