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  • Not Lean Retailing

    Nothing is wrong with major decisions being made by the leaders but the article leaves the impression many non-major decisions are cetralized too. That is a problem for those who believe in management improvement ideas including lean thinking.


    Again moving away from good lean management ideas such as: longevity of management, focus on value of employees rather than cost of employees…

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  • Is Made in the USA Back In Vogue? (2006)

    This example provides more evidence of the benefits of "lean manufacturing," though it seems they are getting only a few benefits (reduction of waste, faster resupply of "hot items") and they may well not know about <a href="http://curiouscat.com/management/leanthinking.cfm">lean thinking</a>.  By studying and applying lean ideas they should be able to reduce the 45 day turn-around time.  Perhaps they should read the Fashion Incubator blog...

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  • Theory in Practice

    Knowledge is built upon theory… Rational prediction requires theory and builds knowledge through systematic revision and extention of theory based on comparison of prediction with observation.

    W. Edwards Deming, page 102, The New Economics


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  • Innovation at Toyota in Developing the Prius

    By the end of 1993 the development team had determined that higher oil prices and a growing middle class around the world would require the new car to be both roomy and fuel-efficient. Other than that, they were given no guidance. “I was trying to come up with the future direction of the company,” says Watanabe, who headed corporate planning at the time. “I didn’t have a very specific idea about the vehicle.”

    Investing in innovation is risky. If successful, the benefits can build a competitive advantage that is difficult for others to eliminate. However, others will try and if you fail to execute as well in the future those benefits can disappear quickly. Toyota shows few signs of letting others catch up though.


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  • Global Manufacturing Data by Country from 2001 to 2004

    This data shows the United States manufacturing economy is continuing to grow and is solidly the largest manufacturing economy: which contradicts what many believe. It is true manufacturing jobs are decreasing in the United States and worldwide – China is losing far more manufacturing jobs than the USA.

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  • Quality Customer Focus

    Customers expectations change over time. Often what was once enough to delight a customer (remote control for a TV) becomes expected. Once a feature is expected the organization gets no credit for providing it they only risk a negative reaction if they fail to provide it.

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  • Visible Data

    Take the time to find the important measures and then don’t keep data hidden in some drawer or computer file out of people’s view and therefore out of mind. Post the important data for everyone to see. Review the data as changes are made and see that the changes had the desired result. 

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  • Performance Appraisal Problems

    There are no easy answers, but what it should be about is managing the system to produce the best results. My best advice is to read chapter 9 of The Leader’s Handbook and read the rest of the Leader’s Handbook and other great management improvement books. And manage using the ideas of DemingAckoffScholtesMcGregorOhno… 

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  • Toyota Special Report: Thinking Production System

    Minoura warns “simply introducing kanban cards or andon boards doesn’t mean you’ve implemented the Toyota Production System, for they remain nothing more than mere tools. The new information technologies are no exception, and they should also be applied and implemented as tools.”

    Early in his career, Minoura worked under Taiichi Ohno, recognized as the creator of the Toyota Production System. Ohno, through tireless trial and error, managed to put into practice a “pull” system that stopped the factory producing unnecessary items. But Minoura observes that it was only by developing this “loose collection of techniques” into a fully-fledged system, dubbed the Toyota Production System or TPS, that they were able to deploy this throughout the company

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  • Organization, Systems and Culture

    Management improvement is mainly about using great ideas that have been around for years and decades.

    Useful, innovative new management ideas are great. But far too much effort is placed in trying to package "systems" (or copyrighted terms) as some new breakthrough in management when most often they offer little of value.

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  • Learning, Systems and Improvement

    Errors of omission, lost opportunities, are generally more critical than errors of commission. Organizations fail or decline more frequently because of what they did not do than because of what they did.


    The corrective action is itself the result of a decision. A record of this decision should be made and treated as the original decision. In this way the process can not only yield learning but also learning how to learn.

    A record of the entire process (all four steps) should be made and stored for easy access by those who may later be confronted by the need to make a similar type of decision.

    Russel Ackoff

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  • Change is not Improvement

    We trained hard… but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion; inefficiency, and demoralization.

    These lines, from the Satyricon of Petronius written 2,000 years ago…*

    * Unfortunately it seems this quote is not actually his.

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  • Management Excellence

    Most management practices cannot be plugged into any organization and work well. That practice must be applied in a sensible way given the organizational system. Learning how lean ideas (or other good ideas) are applied in varying systems can provide insight into how to integrate ideas for organizational improvement from those applying lean practices.

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  • Zero Defects

    I do not believe you succeed by declaring your goal to be zero defects. You succeed by creating a culture of never ending improvement, of customer focus, of fact based decision making, of learning, of “empowerment”…

    Part of that improvement is reducing variation, reducing defects, implementing smart new mistake proofing but innovation is too. Effectively zero defects is not really achievable in most cases. Defects are largely a matter of definition. As performance improves expectations will often rise. When you eliminate anything you would have called a defect years ago, standards are higher and things that would not have been called defects are no longer acceptable. At some point the system process advances to such a level where zero defects is possible in some cases but in many (say medical care, air transportation, education, computer software, restaurants, government, management consulting, civil engineering, legal services…) I really think it is basically impossible.

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  • Great Charts

    Karl Hartig displays some excellent charts that he created (for the Wall Street Journal) on his web site. The charts seem very similar to what would result from applying Edward Tufte’s ideas. Rarely do I see charts that do such a good job of visually displaying data. The lack of such effective visual display of information is another example of how much improvement could be made just by applying ideas that are already published.

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