Markovitz Consulting

A Better Way to Visualize Hoshin Plans

Markovitz Consulting

The hoshin kanri X-matrix makes my head hurt. I mean, kudos to the person who invented it for creating something so incredibly compact and information-dense. But I’m not sure it’s the easiest way to convey the information in the hoshin plan.

Speaking the Language of Your Team

Markovitz Consulting

I started using Mike Rother’s Toyota Kata approach at a new client in NYC recently. The mechanics are young (18-25 years) old, and the education level is low. No one has been to college, and not all of them have even completed high school.

Better Managers Isn't Enough for Higher Engagement

Markovitz Consulting

(Note: this article first appeared in Industry Week.) A recent article by Sam Walker in the Wall Street Journal argues that better managers are the key to delivering better results. Walker cites research by Gallup showing that the quality of middle managers determines 70% of the variance between high-performing and low-performing companies.

Why Toyota Kata May Be the Right Approach for You

Markovitz Consulting

One of the great benefits of the 2 Second Lean approach to lean is the way that it gets everyone engaged in kaizen with simple improvements. The genius of Paul Akers’ approach is the low barrier to entry for workers. But as I’ve written about before , the problem with 2 Second Lean is the high barrier to entry for leadership. If leaders aren’t completely, continuously, and passionately involved as improvers and cheerleaders, it just doesn’t work.

Assessing the Five Styles of Enterprise Business Intelligence

The world of BI and analytics has evolved. Discover the five styles of reporting and analysis, and learn the pros and cons of each in an enterprise scenario.

Why I Was Wrong About 2 Second Lean

Markovitz Consulting

It’s time to admit that one of my consulting approaches has failed. I’m a huge fan of Paul Akers’ 2 Second Lean philosophy. It’s simple, easy to understand, and has an intrinsic appeal: “fix what bugs you.” Figure out how to do your job two seconds faster each day.” Who wouldn’t sign on to a lean program that promotes that mindset?

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Lessons from Detroit: Three Reasons Why Your employees Resists Lean

Markovitz Consulting

In 2014, The Greening of Detroit (TGD), an environmental non-profit, was pushing hard to reforest the city after years of neglect. To their surprise, the tree planters faced stiff resistance—about 25% of the 7,500 homeowners they approached rejected the opportunity to have a free tree planted in front of their houses.

"Process Mining"? Sounds Like a Waste of Time.

Markovitz Consulting

You know what the problem is with your lean initiative? You’re not doing any process mining. Yup, that’s right. You’re missing the boat on “process mining,” the latest improvement breakthrough that will catapult your firm to the top of your industry. According to a new HBR article , process mining will “revitalize process management in firms where it has lain fallow for years.”

Are We Sending the Right Message?

Markovitz Consulting

The latest issue of the Spring 2018 AME Target magazine excerpts some mind-boggling—and depressing—data from LNS Research about continuous improvement.

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Adding Technology Isn't Always the Answer

Markovitz Consulting

It’s been a long time since I blogged about the inanity of multitasking in a cognitively demanding environment, but my friend Mark Graban sent me an article that reminded me of how important this topic is. According to a new study by Penn Medicine and Johns Hopkins , first year physicians spend 87% of their time on indirect patient care, half of which is consumed by the various electronic medical record systems.

If You Can't Save 1/10 of a Second, You Can't Save 1 Second

Markovitz Consulting

I’m back from joining Honsha on their semi-annual Executive Development Mission to Japan. It was a remarkable learning experience — although I’ve been on two other study trips to Japan, there’s always something new to see and understand when you visit a company that has adopted (and adapted) the Toyota Production System. The president of one company we visited said something that really resonated with me: “If you can’t save 1/10 of a second, you won’t be able to save 1 second.”

The Perils of Internal Disruption (Part 1)

Markovitz Consulting

“Disruption” has become another business buzzword that obviates the need for prudent, careful thought and consideration. If something is “disruptive,” then it must by definition be good. But when it comes to internal operations at least, disruption is often both bad for business and for employees, because it causes unevenness in work.

Apollo 11: A Symphony of Work, a Ballet of Knowledge

Markovitz Consulting

I’m heading to Houston tomorrow for the LEI Summit —always an exceptionally inspiring and educational event. I’m particularly excited to visit Houston because I just saw the new documentary, Apollo 11. It’s amazing. Composed of video taken by NASA and the Apollo 11 astronauts, along with Walter Chronkite’s actual description of the events, the movie provides a kind of fly-on-the-wall perspective of the now 50-year-old mission. It’s riveting.

Of Course People Aren’t Going to Do What They’re Told

Markovitz Consulting

According to the Wall Street Journal , passengers on Southwest Airlines flight 1380, which suffered an engine failure and broken window, didn’t use their oxygen masks properly.

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The Perils of Internal Disruption (Part 3)

Markovitz Consulting

“Disruption” has become another business buzzword that obviates the need for prudent, careful thought and consideration. If something is “disruptive,” then it must by definition be good. But when it comes to internal operations at least, disruption is often both bad for business and for employees, because it causes unevenness in work. Last week , I wrote about how sales incentives cause salespeople to stuff the company’s distribution channels with inventory far in excess of consumer demand.

How to Lay Off the Cognitive Donuts

Markovitz Consulting

Maggie Jackson, a journalist focusing on the effects of technology on the nature of our humanity, and author of the book Distracted , recently highlighted research showing that the mere presence of a cell phone—even if it’s turned off—lowers “fluid intelligence.” That is, the phone essentially siphons our attention away from what’s in front of us, making it more difficult to solve unfamiliar problems.

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Book Review: Four Types of Problems

Markovitz Consulting

The title of Art Smalley’s new book, Four Types of Problems , is misleading. It doesn’t actually address four types of problems. Rather, it covers four types of problem solving. In that regards, it’s an excellent reference book that belongs on every bookshelf. Smalley starts with the hoariest example of root cause problem solving: the machine tool that stops working because of insufficient lubrication.

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The Perils of Internal Disruption (Part 4)

Markovitz Consulting

“Disruption” has become another business buzzword that obviates the need for prudent, careful thought and consideration. If something is “disruptive,” then it must by definition be good. But when it comes to internal operations at least, disruption is often both bad for business and for employees, because it causes unevenness in work.

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The Perils of Internal Disruption (Part 5)

Markovitz Consulting

“Disruption” has become another business buzzword that obviates the need for prudent, careful thought and consideration. If something is “disruptive,” then it must by definition be good. But when it comes to internal operations at least, disruption is often both bad for business and for employees, because it causes unevenness in work. Last week , I wrote about how kaizen events can disrupt daily operations and overburden employees.

The Perils of Internal Disruption (Part 2)

Markovitz Consulting

“Disruption” has become another business buzzword that obviates the need for prudent, careful thought and consideration. If something is “disruptive,” then it must by definition be good. But when it comes to internal operations at least, disruption is often both bad for business and for employees, because it causes unevenness in work.

Lessons from Detroit: Three (More) Reasons Why Your Lean Efforts Fail

Markovitz Consulting

In 2014, The Greening of Detroit (TGD), an environmental non-profit, was pushing hard to reforest the city after years of neglect. To their surprise, the tree planters faced stiff resistance—about 25% of the 7,500 homeowners they approached rejected the opportunity to have a free tree planted in front of their houses.

First, You’ve Got to Show That You Care

Markovitz Consulting

The overhead light in aisle two has been burned out for three months. It’s hard for the workers in that row to see the small parts they handle and repair. Workers sent a request to the facilities department when the light died, but for some reason nothing was done, and no one bothers to complain anymore. Fifteen percent of the stations are missing the adjustable stools workers sit on when they’re doing repairs. Workers at those stations either stand, or use folding chairs, or office chairs.

How to Build a Better Organization? Build Better People.

Markovitz Consulting

The “All Blacks,” New Zealand’s rugby team, is arguably the most successful sports team in history. Since its founding in 1903, the team has won 77% of its matches. However, something went wrong in 2003.

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Don’t Forget the Heart

Markovitz Consulting

Three days at the AME Conference in Boston showed me that there’s no shortage of skilled, knowledgeable, continuous improvement professionals who can teach their colleagues the intricacies of lean.

Technology Ain’t Going to Solve Your Problems

Markovitz Consulting

I was at a conference for internet retailers two weeks ago and was overwhelmed by the software and hardware solutions promising to solve all their operational problems and turn their ecommerce businesses into a highly profitable, eight figure monsters. They’re lying. Technology is not, by itself, the answer. If you have a broken process and you add technology, all you get is a faster (and more expensive) broken process. Let’s say, for example, that you invest in hand-held scanners in a warehouse.

Respect for Humanity Starts with Yourself

Markovitz Consulting

I recently gave a talk to the Bay Area chapter of the Lean Construction Institute. One of the most active discussions centered on how the lean concept of flow translates to individual work. This was a topic in my first book, A Factory of One.) The group concluded that enabling people to have flow in their work is a demonstration of respect for humanity.

Interested in going to Japan with me?

Markovitz Consulting

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be joining the Japan Executive Development Mission to Japan from October 7-13, 2018 as guest faculty and facilitator. Having been part of different Japan study trips in the past, I can tell you that learning about lean at the source is a unique experience. The closer you get to the origin, the clearer you can see and understand the original purpose for each technique. The Japan EDM is hosted by Honsha , a network of former Toyota team members.

Five Ways to Spur Lean in the Office

Markovitz Consulting

Six Failure Modes to Avoid in Strategy Deployment

Markovitz Consulting

I just wrote a new article for Industry Week on common failure modes in strategy deployment (hoshin kanri). Here are the key points: No, you’re not an army of one. Projects are not chocolate: more is not better. Fear the walking dead. And the zombie projects. Beware the Hemmingway rule of bankruptcy. For god’s sakes, not another email. Look through the windshield. Not the rear-view mirror. Intrigued? Read the full article here

Netflix Brings Lean Thinking to Board Meetings

Markovitz Consulting

Well, not really. I doubt Netflix was thinking how Jim Womack would apply lean to their board meetings. But in a new article , the Harvard Business Review describes how the company reinvented board meetings by creating a better way to share information with its board of directors. The authors point out that without day-to-day exposure to the firm’s operations, directors typically have a thin understanding of the company.

How To Get A “Single Minute Exchange Of Brain”

Markovitz Consulting

Reducing changeover time of machines—the time it takes to switch from the last “good” part of product A to the next “good” part of product B—is one of the most powerful tools in lean manufacturing. The goal is to achieve “SMED”—Single Minute Exchange of Dies—in other words, bringing changeover time below 10 minutes. Although "SMED" is perhaps the ugliest sounding acronym ever invented. It sounds like some horribly virulent disease. Or something that oozes from some body cavity.)

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How to Build a High Trust Workplace

Markovitz Consulting

Megan McArdle of Bloomberg View recently wrote about the benefits of a high level of trust—among individuals, companies, and even government— in Denmark: [The high level of trust among people] allows Danish labor to be more productive than workers elsewhere. An economy’s labor productivity, after all, is its output divided by the number of hours worked. Supervision and enforcement are in some sense wasted labor; they don’t, by themselves, produce extra output.

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Improving Teamwork Through Kata

Markovitz Consulting

I introduced Toyota Kata to a new client last week with a short simulation. It was the first time that I formally taught this approach to problem solving, and it was probably as educational for them as it was for me. Note to self: need to get a few more cycles in to adequately model the coaching kata!) The people in the class loved the approach.

Are Companies Following "2 Second Lean" Really Doing Lean?

Markovitz Consulting

A reader questioned my post about the lean conference I recently attended where everyone was a rabid adherent of Paul Akers’s 2 Second Lean philosophy. He wondered whether these companies are truly practicing lean, or just kaizen. In fact, he argued that perhaps Paul should be calling it “2 Second Kaizen” rather than “2 Second Lean.” He has a point. After all, many of the improvements people mentioned are relatively superficial.

Three Ways to Accelerate Your Lean Journey

Markovitz Consulting

I spent two days in St. Louis last week at the Global Lean Leadership Conference. It’s a small conference—only about 150 people—consisting of companies that have embraced Paul Akers’s 2 Second Lean philosophy. Companies that wanted to join the conference were required to have the president attend (although there were many other people from those companies as well). The tone was dramatically different from any other conference I’ve been to.

Why It Makes Sense (Sometimes) to Start With Hoshin Kanri

Markovitz Consulting

I just published a new article at Industry Week about why it (sometimes) makes sense to start a continuous improvement initiative with hoshin kanri (also known as strategy deployment, or policy deployment). Up to now, I've been dismissive (or even scornful), of companies that started with hoshin.

Book Review: Practicing Lean

Markovitz Consulting

I just finished reading Practicing Lean , edited by Mark Graban. It's one of the most refreshing lean books I've read in a long time, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is, well, practicing lean in their organizations. The book is an anthology with contributions by (as of this post) 16 different authors. It's the variety in tone, content, and style that really gives the book its charm.

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Why You’re Struggling to Improve Company Culture

Markovitz Consulting

(This post originally appeared in Industry Week.) The new Proqis BTOES Insights report on operational excellence is out, and by a landslide margin (55% to 37%), the most critical challenge for respondents is “improving the company culture.” Anytime I read that culture is a stumbling block for companies pursuing continuous improvement, I go back to John Shook’s reflections on NUMMI.

Applying Kaizen to Teaching Lean

Markovitz Consulting

I’m back from a workshop with a client in Denmark. The room was filled with continuous improvement experts from about a dozen companies, all of whom were looking for inspiration and ideas for accelerating the promotion of lean in their organizations. I was struck by how little variety and innovation exists in the way we teach lean.

Five Reasons Why You Don't See Lean in the Office (Much)

Markovitz Consulting

I’m leading a one-day discussion for a group of companies in Denmark later this month, and in preparation I surveyed them about the state of their lean efforts. It seems that most of them are struggling to bring lean to the office/admin areas, even when they’ve made good progress in their manufacturing areas. I’ve seen this pattern at most of my clients, and at the companies I meet at various lean conferences. In some respects, it doesn’t make sense.