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Continuous Improvement Articles & White Papers

We have hundreds of articles on our site, but some are especially suited to augmenting our Lean Training System. These provide yet another way to get more out of your training time. Hand out these free articles to your team during training. Post them in your lunchroom. Make them part of your brown bag training program. The choice is yours.


Continuous Improvement Article & White Paper Directory

  • 11 Common Misconceptions About Lean (+PDF)

    8 Reasons People Resist Change

    Novices go into their Lean journey with many preconceived notions. This list covers several of the most common of them. Plus, download a FREE 4-Page PDF of the article.

  • 11 Principles of a Lean Office (+Video +PDF)

    11 Principles of a Lean Office

    The Lean Office has several guiding principles that make it effective. Learn what they are, plus, download a FREE 4-Page PDF of the article.

  • 12 Ways to Start Building a Continuous Improvement Culture (+Video +PDF)

    Creating an organization that embraces continuous improvement is not easy. It takes strong, committed leaders who are willing to pay the up-front costs, and who resist the urge to harvest gains at the expense of future improvements. It takes a team that believes that when they make changes, they share in the rewards of their effort. It takes an underlying system that supports the people in the organization, and makes it easy for them to succeed. It is a monumental task to form a continuous improvement culture where everybody believes that the current way of doing things is never enough to ensure long-term success.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • 13 Ways to Apply Lean Principles to a Small Business (+PDF)

    A lot of people register on my site to get access to the wide range of free Lean information I offer. Some of the organizations they work for are easily recognizable as Fortune 500 companies. But many of the visitors to my site come from companies that are not as well known, and likely have only a few people.

    That tells me that there is a thirst for knowledge about Lean from small businesses all over the world.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • 17 Lessons I Learned from Japanese Consultants (+PDF)

    Over the years, I have worked with some premiere Lean consultants from Japan. Here are some of the many lessons I learned from them…

    1. Watch before asking. Observe a process before asking any questions about it. You’ll prevent biasing what you see.
    2. More…

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • 18 Principles of Lean Leadership (+PDF)

    8 Reasons People Resist Change

    There are several principles that should govern your conduct as a Lean leader. This list covers several of the most common of them. Plus, download a FREE 5-Page PDF of the article.

  • 5 Principles of Lean Customer Value (+PDF)

    The 5 Principles of Customer Value

    Learn 5 guiding principles about how customers view value. Plus, download a FREE 4-Page PDF of the article.

  • 6 Big Data Analysis Mistakes That Hinder Lean Efforts (+PDF)

    6 Big Mistakes in Data Analysis

    Learn some of the common pitfalls of data analysis, and what can be done to avoid them. Plus, download a FREE 3-Page PDF of the article to hand out to your team or add to your Continuous Improvement Companion.

  • 6 Ways to Improve Problem Solving in Your Company (+PDF)

    At its core, much of continuous improvement is about problem solving. Tools such as Standard Work, policy deployment, kanbans, and andons are all really just pre-packaged solutions to common problems.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • 7 Tips to Build Good (Lean) Behavior (+PDF)

    My dad lives in the Chicago area. His house has been buried in multiple snowstorms over the course of this winter. A few weeks back, he was driving somewhere during the time when the kids in his neighborhood were walking to school. Along one of the arterials, there are no houses that face the road, so the sidewalks hadn’t been shoveled. As a result, the kids were all walking in the street to get to class.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • 8 Reasons People Resist Change (+Video +PDF +MP3)

    8 Reasons People Resist Change

    Learn some of the main reasons people resist change, and what can be done about them. Plus, download a FREE 3-Page PDF of the article.

  • 8 Ways to Address the “WIFM” Principle (+PDF)

    Remember Mark Twain’s book, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer? On one hot summer day, young Tom Sawyer got stuck doing a hard day’s labor—whitewashing his aunt’s long picket fence. Mr. Twain tells the tale much better than I can, but the basic plot is simple. All morning long, Tom’s friends pass by and give sympathy to the poor lad stuck wielding the brush. In a stroke of brilliance, Tom, instead of accepting their sympathy, refuses to share the fun of painting the fence. To make a long story short, by the end of the day, Tom has collected a variety of payments from his friends for the privilege of sharing in the chore: a kite, marbles, a brass doorknob, a dog collar, many other assorted knickknacks, and for some strange reason, a dead rat on a string (don’t ask me to explain that one—I don’t get it either).

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • 9 Steps to Better Metrics (+Video +PDF)

    As I talk about making improvements, I invariably end up telling people they need focus more on their processes. Time and time again, just the simple act of gaining a deeper understanding of how work is done will shed light on what to improve. The spotlight shines even brighter when one crosses functional boundaries and looks at upstream and downstream operations.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • 9 Steps to Developing a Daily Management System (+Video +MP3)

    Running an effective operation takes a daily management system. To get one up and running, Lean leaders have to:

    1. Identify the demand. This means tracking data for a while to see what your customers are asking you to do. (Hint: Pivot tables are your friend!)
    2. More…

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • 9 Tips to Running a More Effective Kaizen (+PDF)

    If you are in a Lean company, you probably already have a fairly well defined kaizen process. After all, an effective kaizen is one of the most powerful continuous improvement tools in your Lean kit.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • 9 Words That Kill Lean Progress (+PDF)

    As a Lean consultant, I have identified several words over the years that immediately make me see red flags with a process. When I hear them, I immediately start snooping around a little deeper, and often uncover some great opportunities for improvements.

    This list is by no means all inclusive, so I welcome your additions in the comments section. More…

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • How to Overcome 24 Common Lean Excuses (+PDF)

    Change is hard for some people. And since Lean requires a significant shift from typical thinking, it can generate some strong resistance. One of the most common forms of pushback when changing to a Lean mindset is the use of excuses. People are extremely creative at coming up with reasons that Lean will not work.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • Identifying Waste: Stop. Don’t Look. Listen. 15 Sounds That Shout Waste. (+4 Page PDF)

    Waste reduction is a cornerstone of Lean. Waste is anything that does not add value to a process or serve the customer. The first step to eliminating waste is identifying it. Most people do this by observing a process and looking for inefficiency or redundancy. Although you can learn a lot by watching, sometimes you end up identifying more waste by listening. Whether you are on the shop floor or in an office, find a safe place to stand where you won’t get in the way and close your eyes when teams are in full swing. Then listen for the sounds of waste.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • Lean Leadership Soft Skills (+PDF)

    Learning the technical aspects of Lean takes time and effort. But, what few people recognize is that it is much harder to develop the soft skills of continuous improvement. The following list contains some of the greatest challenges—and opportunities—for many Lean leaders.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • Seven Wastes of Lean Leadership and Taiichi Ohno’s Seven Wastes (+PDF)

    Discussions about continuous improvement frequently mention the term ‘waste’ which is anything that doesn’t add value. But how often are the seven wastes in Lean discussed with respect to managing teams?

    Leadership, like operations or any other process, uses resources. Doesn’t it make sense to figure out ways to lead teams more effectively by using the least amount of time and energy?

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • Standard Work in 8 (Not So) Easy Steps (+PDF)

    Let’s start out by assuming that you understand the definition of Lean standard work and are familiar with the three main documents for standard work. Armed with that basic information, you still have one big decision to make.

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

  • The Secret to Successfully Running a Lean Office: Daily Management (+PDF)

    The unfortunate truth is that most leaders, especially in an office environment, don’t have as good of an idea of what is going on as they think they do.

    If you are the manager of an administrative team, there’s a good chance that the last comment offended you. If it did, ask yourself the following questions right now…

    Note: This article is available for download on PDF.

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