A Daniel T. Jones conference


Last Friday I had the pleasure to attend a Daniel T. Jones conference. His speech was full of thoughts and insights about lean, based on his many years of experience. Some remarkable ideas he shared with the audience are:

Lean as a management system for delivering accelerated performance. This means that Lean is a dynamic system and not simply “a better way of using resources” (static). The 2 main differences with classic management (Taylorism) are a) Lean involves front line in improving their work and b) Lean promotes learning through repeated practice in solving problems

Classic management rules: “command and control” + “experts own improvement” + “compliance”. Lean transformation means: Focus (“From managing by data to closing vital few gaps”) + Build cooperation (“From silo politics to focus on delivering value”) + Building capabilities (“The organization supports front line learning”).

Learning practice a) begins with knowledge of the work creating a standard (TWI), b) deepens using PDCA /Lean tools and c) uses A3 to solve business problems

Management must move from “telling what to do” to “asking questions that provoke the right thinking”. Telling people what to do takes away responsibility from the person. Management main goals are a) find and frame problems by observing (at the gemba) front line learning and b) challenge, enable and remove obstacles for front line while they are solving problems.

And his final summary!

  • Expert roll-out does not work. It is not sustainable.
  • Lean is not a Copy-and-Paste exercise
  • Manager commitment is basic. The classic expectation “You are my lean expert, solve my problems for me” is an error.
  • Lean means everyday work. From everybody.
  • “Accelerated incremental learning” beats “big projects”
  • Management most important question is not “How can I help you?”. It is “What are your problems?”


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