Tag Archive | Conference

Webinar: Michael Balle’s align goals to vision

Last Monday I attended a webinar about “aligning goals to vision” by Michael Ballé and the Lean Leadership Institute. It was the last of four webinars based on Michael’s book “Lead with respect”. You can find a summary with my notes here:

IMG_4333Michael shared many interesting thoughts:

  • Lean approach to vision can be described as “deliver quickly several times a day what people want“. The challenge in some cases is defining the customer (“people”) and value (“what people want”), especially in those businesses where lean has not been used very often.
  • Lean is unique defining customer needs because the needs are defined one by one. Lean abolishes generic customers: customers don’t have to fit my process anymore.
  • Companies have human capital (knowledge) and social capital (trust), both are critical for the company success. Social capital, hard to build, easy to lose.
  • Keep this always in mind when implementing lean:
    • Some work will not solve problems, it will help the corporation understand where problems are. Challenges are better understood by the corporation and therefore problem solving will be effective. This is critical.
    • Don’t standardize visuals. Let people create their own panels and change and adapt them as many times as needed. Be dynamic. Sometimes visuals are forced to be similar across the organization (trying to honor the Lean principle of standardization) but this is an error.
  • Lean financial impact analysis:ROCE = margin x turns
    • ROCE: return of capital
    • Margin: improves with Jidoka (first time quality that reduces waste)
    • Turns: improves with JIT (just in time that reduces Lead time and increases responsiveness to the customer)
  • The Lean dynamics:
    • Customer lifestyle: take care of customer’s problems at a reasonable cost.
    • Value analysis: improve quality by solving quality issues right away.
    • Value engineering: learn about customer preferences to figure out new features for your product or service.
  • Final summary: organize the company for learning (choose leaders for their ability to lead teams, teach and learn), not just for output (choose leaders for their ability to hit the numbers).


If you are interested in the webinars, they are available here:


I also recommend the book:


A kind word and a gun

“You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.”

Al Capone

Lean is a team sport and one of the most important things to do is to communicate and influence others (remember, influencing is very different from manipulating). In most cases, aligning people to your project is the key for success, much more than the correct use of tools and techniques.

I attended a conference 2 weeks ago about the science of persuasion. This video summarizes the main ideas:

The basic concept is that people tend to say yes when any of these situations happen:

  1. People give back what they have received first, especially if it was personalized and unexpected (Reciprocity)
  2. People wants more of those things that are not abundant. The value of a product is as important as its cost of opportunity (Scarcity)
  3. People trust credible, knowledgeable experts (Authority)
  4. People like being consistent with the things they have previously said or done. This works best using voluntary, active and public commitment (Consistency)
  5. People tend to say yes to those they like: those who are similar to us, pay us compliments, have common goals (Liking)
  6. People like doing what similar others do (Consensus)

I found it interesting and I discovered that I had used the Consistency and Consensus principles in many projects to improve the chances of sucess. Anyway social sciences are never easy to validate and of course it is your choice to believe this or not.

By the way, the quote at the beginning of the post is often attributed to Al Capone, but in fact humorist Professor Irwin Corey said it. When you thought it was a Capone quote, were you more willing to believe it due to the Authority principle? 🙂

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?”