July 2011


From the Editor

Kevin Meyer

Welcome to the Lean CEO newsletter! This month we're pleased to feature our long-time friend Norman Bodek with the third in his series on Zenjidoka.

Our training partner, Gemba Academy, has just released a five video module interview with Masaaki Imai, founder of the Kaizen Institute. You can view an overview module with a free registration to the Lean Starter Package. In the interview Mr. Imai recounts several stories of his interactions with Shoichiro Toyoda and Taichi Ohno. Gemba Academy now offers 168 video training modules and is being used by over 1,000 companies worldwide.

We have just relaunched our trio of "morning news" aggregators that bring together the best news stories, blog posts, videos and podcasts on key topics. Visit Lean.AM for lean news, CEO.AM for business news, and Manufacturing.AM for manufacturing news.

Finally, I encourage all of you to register for the Lean Accounting Summit in Orlando in September to learn more about how traditional accounting can impede and misrepresent lean improvements - and what to do about it. Your humble editor will also be presenting lessons learned from a company that is going through a transformation.

- Kevin Meyer


Featured Article

Steve Bell

Zenjidoka III: Building Excellent People

By Norman Bodek

“Before cars, make people.” Eiji Toyoda, former Chairman of Toyota

Jidoka is one of the core principles of the Toyota Production System, one that empowers production workers to stop the assembly line and solve problems at the moment they occur. Jidoka integrates the two guiding pillars of the Toyota Way, “Continuous Improvement” and “Respect for People.”

Recently, Toyota has suffered some major blows to its reputation. Toyota’s failure to quickly respond to incidents resulted in the recall of millions of vehicles, millions of dollars in fines levied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), individual and class-action lawsuits, and damage to the Toyota brand name. Because of the problems, Toyota could see a financial loss of over $10 billion.

In the first two articles of this series, we introduced the concept of Zenjidoka, the extension of Jidoka from the factory floor to all employees who interact directly with customers. When a customer reports a problem, Zenjidoka teaches employees (including the dealers) to be self-reliant, empowering them to use every tool and resource at their disposal to immediately investigate and address the customer’s problem. We also introduced the Harada Method for personal and professional success.

Read entire article | More Lean CEO articles


Featured Book

Gemba Walks

Gemba Walks

By Jim Womack

“The life of lean is experiments. All authority for any sensei flows from experiments on the gemba, not from dogmatic interpretations of sacred texts or the few degrees of separation from the founders of the movement. In short, lean is not a religion but a daily practice of conducting experiments and accumulating knowledge.”

Gemba Walks shares Jim Womack's insights on topics ranging from the application of specific tools, to the role of management in sustaining lean, as well as the long-term prospects for this fundamental new way of creating value. Reading this book will reveal to readers a range of lean principles, as well as the basis for the critical lean practice of: go see, ask why, and show respect.

More information | More books


Featured Video

Masaaki Imai

Gemba Academy has released a five video module discussion with Masaaki Imai, founder of the Kaizen Institute and one of the original gurus of lean. In the discussion he recounts several stories of his interactions with Shiichiro Toyoda and Taichi Ohno, among others. More information is here, with a preview on YouTube here.

Gemba Academy has also recently released a new seven video module course on Leader Standard Work as part of its Complete Lean Package. More information.


Key Upcoming Events

Two upcoming events that must be on your calendar:

Lean Accounting Summit

Lean Accounting Summit
Orlando, Florida
15-16 September 2011

Join more than 500 top-level executives from across the globe for what has become THE catalyst for change in progressive, forward-thinking companies.

AME Conference

AME Annual Conference
Dallas, Texas
24-28 October 2011

The world's largest lean conference, for practitioners by practitioners. Workshops, serminars, and tours of factories and other lean facilities.

Lean CEO maintains a comprehensive list of hundreds of upcoming events and workshops.

Full Lean CEO Events Calendar


Evolving Excellence Blog

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Recent posts in the Evolving Excellence blog include:


Forum Discussions

The 7,000 members of the Lean CEO LinkedIn Group are discussing a variety of topics including:

  • What approaches for engaging front line workers in improvement activities have seen produce results?
  • Help rescue me from my own lousy meetings!
  • What lean business book has had the most impact on your business?
  • Where should leaders focus their efforts? Satisfaction? Motivation? Or Engagement?
  • Why do companies find change so difficult?

Lean News

Lean-oriented news stories from the past month.