Category Archives: People Development

Navigating the Learning Hairball

Credit: A lot of stuff comes across my screen, sometimes more than once. I have seen this illustration several times, but don’t remember where it originally came from. If you created it, PLEASE comment so I can give appropriate credit. Improvement is messy. Science is messy. Research and Development is messy. These are all cases […]

Learning To See in 2013

With the publication of Learning to See in 1999, Mike Rother and John Shook introduced a new genre of book to us – a mix of theory, example, and practical application. The story invites the readers to follow along and actually do for themselves. This is one of those books that gives a bit more […]

Creating an Empowered Team

EDIT: There is a follow-on post here: David Marquet: Turn the Ship Around In the past couple of decades, we went through an “empower your people” fad. We saw work teams in world class companies that were largely self directing, surprisingly well aligned with the overall goals of the organization, and getting things done. “Well,” […]

The Struggle

In The Leader’s Journey, I highlighted the struggle with escalating challenges as a core driver of growth in both our fictional heroes and real-life developing leaders. This week I was essentially doing 2nd level coaching with a client I have been working with for quite a while. One of the things we did was have […]

The Leader’s Journey

Earlier this year, Sir Ken Robinson gave a great TED talk about the state of education in the USA. While his talk was about K12, nearly everything he says applies to how we grow and develop leaders. Or stifle their growth. He makes it clear that no teaching is taking place unless learning is taking […]

Shifting the Learning Zone

A client and fellow lean learner today shared a cool extension of the Toyota Kata model for establishing target conditions. Mike Rother’s Improvement Kata Handbook establishes a couple of key concepts about where a target condition should be set. The key is that the target should be somewhere beyond the learner’s knowledge threshold: The knowledge […]

Kaizen vs. Kaizen “Events”

I got an interesting email from a friend a while ago, and am finally finishing up this post about it. Some months ago, he joined a new company and wrote about his impressions of some of the legacy he was walking into: [before my arrival, the company] used Xxxxxx consultants to get their Lean effort […]

PDCA, A3 and Practical Problem Solving

Over the years, I have been party to at least three corporate-level efforts to bring “A3” or “Practical Problem Solving” into their toolbox. Sometimes it has other names, such as “Management by Fact” or such, but the approaches are all similar. Typically these efforts, if they catch on at all, become exercises in filling out […]


Past Due Hours This area was picked for the initial focus because they were way, way behind, and it was getting worse. The initial work was done in mid-April. The target was consistent output at takt time. As the team looked at the process, and identified the sources of disruption and variation, “changeovers” surfaced pretty […]

Pronouns of Ownership

As we push line leaders to the forefront of being the “continuous improvers” I am learning to listen to their language about problems. I My Me We Our Vs. He / She Him / Her His / Hers You Your They Them Their Who owns the problem or removing the obstacle? The “first person” group […]