Monday, November 20, 2006

"Learning About Lean" takes a new direction

“Learning about Lean” takes a new direction

It has been over five months since I’ve posted to this blog. And now it is moving again. Here’s the scoop.

Through the late spring and summer, I went into the proverbial “writer’s block.” Not only was I phenomenally busy, I couldn’t come up with much to write about. Certainly nothing that struck me as interesting. And, if I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm, I was sure the boredom would come through in my writing. Waste, you know.

Recently, I had a new insight which got me back on track. I wrote the first entry to this blog in September, 2002. I intended to use the blog a mechanism to communicate with work colleagues and suppliers about basic Lean principles. Blogging was in its infancy at that time and there were few resources on the Web about Lean. Thus, it seemed like a good idea; educate and direct.

Four years and a major job change later, I see I can take a new direction with this blog. The educational hopes I had for this blog are now largely filled by other, more capable writers. Notable are the “Gang of Seven” writers I link to on the left side of this blog. These folks are outstanding thinkers and are worthy of your attention to learn about lean. And they regularly improve. For example, Mark Graban’s Lean Blog recently added a message board for discussions about Lean. Long-time blogging buddy Hal Macomber used his Reforming Project Management blog to write, live, from a recent Lean Construction conference.

With such excellent resources out there on the broad principles of Lean, I’m taking this blog to a more personal level. I’m deep into Lean every day and am responsible for implementing it in the very real world of a very real company. It is messy. We regularly see two steps forward and one (or three) steps backwards. We see people get it. We see hard work decimated by one silly decision. Yet, Lean never works if it only stays in the minds of the consultants and authors. Real people have to implement it in a real company. And I love what I do.

So I’ll write about my experience in doing just that. Much as one might write in a diary, I’ll try to describe what I see and feel in the grind of implementing Lean.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.


Anonymous said...

Joe, I'm pleased you've had this insight, and I'm sure your new approach will be very rewarding for all of us. I took exactly the same decision about my agile software development blog a couple of months back, and I'm very happy with the result - and the response.

Anonymous said...

Joe -- Glad your back. Nothing beats straight-talk from the heart and writing about on-the-job "real" experience. Much appreciated. Hope those silly lawyers were not responsible for your five-month sabbatical! Have a Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Laurel in Chicago

Unknown said...


Welcome back! There's nothing to beat the go-and-see and getting a virtual picture of your coworkers and plant. The learning, the mistakes, the recoveries, are all the elements consultants don't write about as much. Which is fine, since we need the best practices as well as the day-to-day. But especially for me as a sort of onlooker, please keep us in the trenches with you.


Anonymous said...

Hey Joe,

I appreciate your comments and insight. I am a lean facilitator and like you am also dealing with the realities of lean implementation. Our projects have improved with each iteration, and we are seeing actual gains at the bottom line from our efforts. Your comment about real people having to implement is so true. We had our supervisory staff go through lean training but they are reluctant to get into the "living lean" mindset. It is only when you see how it applies to improve your own situation does the light really go on. The batch build culture that we have had in place for thirty some years is slowly... changing. We have support from upper management and are maintaining a positive outlook as we begin to move from implementing single piece flow on the manufacturing floor to our technical service and engineering areas. You are not alone, keep sharing your struggles and triumphs.

Tom in Lincoln

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,

Write what you know. That's classic advice to a write. Since you are "Learning about Lean" tell us what you have learned, and we all will learn.

Just like the bassoon scales, write something every day (ideas, impressions, drafts of a blog entry) even if you choose not to post it.

Looking forward to more good insight from you.

Jon Miller

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe, I'm so glad to see you're back! Thanks for letting us know, so good to "see" you again.

Anonymous said...

Hey Joe, welcome back! I've missed your disarmingly candid commentary about your journey. It's refreshing and encouraging for those also on the journey to read no-BS reports from the field.

Many thanks!