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.

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 [...]

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 [...]

By |2019-03-19T13:02:11-04:00March 19th, 2019|Articles, Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Why Just “Good Enough” Will Kill Your Business or Career Fast

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

Lean Thinking in Construction Processes – Part 1

The popular belief is that “Lean” is a tool that is only used to enhance a “manufacturing” process. Its suitability in food, health, service, government, sales, among other business enterprises has for long been perceived as inappropriate and misaligned, to say the least. However, it appears Lean Thinking can be quite successful in such enterprises if the recent results are anything to go by. The construction industry, which includes building and facility development as well as shipbuilding have for long steered clear of the Lean initiative. It is, however, emerging that it is about time we started exploring how Lean Thinking can be successfully applied in these business enterprises. At Lean Learning Center we had the privilege of engaging with a luxury yacht manufacturing company. The company would complete 2-6 custom-made luxury yachts in a year for a small select global market. We were to help them in reducing costs through enhancing labor efficiencies of over 400 shipbuilding workers. We were to help them deliver the ships in time as well. Cost of Waiting The cost of waiting emerged as the number one enemy of productivity and efficiency inevery segment. Lean Thinking found its importance during the assembly process design. [...]

By |2019-03-11T12:02:08-04:00February 20th, 2019|Articles, Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Lean Thinking in Construction Processes – Part 1

Trust in the Workplace Starts at the Top

A good leader knows that trust in the workplace is one of a company’s most valuable assets. Ken Blanchard, Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, is quick to point out, however, that trust in the workplace doesn’t just happen by itself. It must be cultivated from the top down, by the company’s leaders. In Blanchard’s article titled “How to Build a High Trust Workplace,” that appeared in the March 2017 edition of CLOmedia’s Chief Learning Officer, Blanchard cites Horst Shultze, one of the retired founders of the Ritz-Carlton Hotels, as a stellar example of a trust-building leader. During the years when Schultz was still one of the company’s executives, he established a special program for the employees. After they had completed their training, Shultze set up a $2,000 discretionary fund for each of the employees. The money was to be used to solve a customer’s problem and employees were not required to report the details of how they spent the money. Eventually, Shultze collected many heart-warming anecdotes that demonstrated employee trust and loyalty. One of his favorite stories was about a business executive who was a guest at the Atlanta Ritz-Carlton hotel. After leaving Atlanta, he had to fly to Los Angeles [...]

By |2018-04-10T17:29:02-04:00April 10th, 2018|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Trust in the Workplace Starts at the Top

Seasoning Your Learning Fare with Cross-Generational Mentoring

Cross-generational mentoring is an excellent way to keep your Lean company ahead of the curve. Ken Blanchard, Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, a highly respected leadership coaching organization, attributes much of his success to cross-generational mentoring. In the May 2017 newsletter, Blanchard reminds us that “given the accelerating pace of change, people can be great at what they’re doing today and be out of business tomorrow.”[1] Blanchard, who is now in his late seventies, chose Claire Diaz-Ortiz, a 33-year-old former Twitter executive, as his co-author to write One Minute Mentoring. How many septuagenarians today would attempt to use Twitter effectively without asking a younger computer-savvy person for help? Blanchard’s classic Lean statement is worth memorizing: “The only job security any of us has is a commitment to continuous improvement.”[2] Many Lean organizations have already learned that cross-generational mentoring is basic to Kaizen, or ongoing improvement. Although the younger generation can deliver the “wings”—futuristic versions of Lean’s strategies and techniques—without the older generation’s “body” of tested and proven results, the work remains both incomplete and unsubstantial. One of the key elements of Lean Learning is flexibility. Commitment to perceive the value of change when necessary automatically builds [...]

By |2018-06-03T09:02:09-04:00April 3rd, 2018|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Seasoning Your Learning Fare with Cross-Generational Mentoring

How important is a manufacturing apprentice program?

If a manufacturing apprentice program is not one of the items on your company’s list of potential improvements, after learning about its many advantages you may wish to consider implementing one. In last week’s blog, we quoted Tooling U-SME Learning and Performance Improvement Leader (LPI) John Hindeman’s six reasons for starting a manufacturing apprentice program, as outlined in an article that appeared in the February 8, 2017 Tooling U-SME edition. Previously, we pointed out that college and other programs of higher learning may give students a textbook education, but before they’re ready to go out in the world and earn a living, first they must acquire practical skills and workplace experience. Advanced degree or certification programs are often costly; the media is filled with stories about college graduates over their heads in student loan debt long after becoming successful well-paid professionals. For most young people with limited financial resources, on-site apprentice programs certainly seem like a preferable option. According to Hindeman, upon discovering that apprenticeships lead to better employees, many high-performance companies implemented their own in-house manufacturing apprentice programs. The following are the final three reasons for starting an apprentice program: It seems highly impractical to invest your time, money [...]

By |2018-03-28T13:47:20-04:00March 28th, 2018|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on How important is a manufacturing apprentice program?

Should Your Company Start a Manufacturing Apprentice Program?

A manufacturing apprentice program is one of the best ways to ensure quality workplace performance. Often apprentice programs are overlooked because business owners and recruiters assume that a college education or vocational program has provided adequate preparation for their future employees. They are confident that satisfactory transition from textbook to factory floor can easily be achieved by scheduling a brief orientation and a few training sessions with the job supervisor. Top-performing manufacturing companies have already learned, however, that this assumption often leads to wasted time and money. Most of these success-driven companies have their own apprentice programs. Historically, apprenticeships were a basic requirement for most vocations, particularly if they required highly developed skills. During the Renaissance, for example, the Italian master painter Cennino d’Andrea Cennini required 13 years of training before his apprentices could move forward to the status of journeyman. In Padua, the minimum period of apprenticeship was three years.[1] Even though today’s hi-tech world is far more efficient, the same type of meticulous hands-on training with supervised practice is still a basic requirement for almost any manufacturing position. This level of performance can rarely if ever be achieved overnight. In an excellent article that appeared in the February [...]

By |2018-07-03T06:32:36-04:00March 20th, 2018|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Should Your Company Start a Manufacturing Apprentice Program?
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