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Kevin Meyer

Quality Insider

Three Lean Blogs to Follow This Year

Recommended reading for management improvement

Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 - 08:05

Once again I have the privilege to be part of Curious Cat’s annual management improvement blog review and will be taking a look back at three of my favorite blogs.

TimeBack by Dan Markovitz

Dan has become one of my favorite bloggers, and a good friend, by showing how lean can be applied to personal productivity as well as business.

• Dan enjoys telling it like it is, blunt and to the point, which he does again in “More Bullshit Business Blather.” This time it’s “a boneheaded analysis by a supposed expert business journalist” who suggests that hated companies do well.
• Sometimes small mundane changes can create remarkable savings. To find them you must “Go and See”—even at small organizations where you may already be “there.” What will you find?
• Just as automating a wasteful process doesn’t change the fact that it is a wasteful process (you knew that, didn't you), Dan describes how “Doing Stupid Work Faster Is Still Stupid.” Before you try to do something faster or more efficiently, ask whether it needs to be done in the first place.

Edit Innovation by Matthew E. May

Matt has long been one of my favorite authors. His “The Shibumi Strategy” literally changed my life, and I was honored to play a part in “The Laws of Subtraction.” His blog provides thoughtful discussion on applying elegance and simplicity to design, business, and life.

• We’ve all experienced frustration when trying to create simple change—and bumping up against a supposedly unchangeable “system.” Why does it have to be like this? Matt’s “When Systems Rule... and When They Don’t” probes at “should the normal situation be that when you put a good person in a bad system, the system automatically wins?”
• More and more companies are innovating by leveraging close, and sometimes direct, involvement with customers. This is great, usually. But in the case of radical innovation, it may not be best. “When It Pays to Listen to Users... And When It Doesn’t” discusses this situation.
• In “The Presence of Purpose” Matt hits home at a problem I’ve struggled with in both business and personal life: discovering true purpose. And then figuring out how to describe it in words.

Brad Power

Brad’s wide-ranging posts in Harvard Business Review never fail to stimulate thoughts on how to improve my business.

• Some companies have become successful via customer intimacy, and some via operational excellence. In “Customer Intimacy, Meet Operational Excellence,” Brad describes how the best companies are doing both, which is sometimes difficult when the “autonomy to make customer-specific decisions seems to be in conflict with the use of standards, which are essential to delivering consistency, reliability, and low cost.”
• In “Standard Operating Procedures Can Make You More Flexible,” Brad strikes at one of the most inaccurate presumptions of standard work: that it stifles innovation and kaizen. Standards and standard work can create a known and understood foundation from which real improvement can be created.
• The frustration of trying to create change in a bureaucracy is a reason why many of us are now running our own companies. In “Innovating Around a Bureaucracy,” Brad tells us that it is possible to create change if the right combination of people, leadership, and motivation is available.

First published Jan. 3, 2014, on the Evolving Excellence blog.

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About The Author

Kevin Meyer’s picture

Kevin Meyer

Kevin Meyer has more than 25 years of executive leadership experience, primarily in the medical device industry, and has been active in lean manufacturing for more than 20 years serving as director and manager in operations and advanced engineering, and as CEO of a medical device manufacturing company. He consults and speaks at lean events; operates the online knowledgebase, Lean CEO, and the lean training portal, Lean Presentations; and is a partner in GembaAcademy.com, which provides lean training to more than 5,000 companies. Meyer is co-author of Evolving Excellence–Thoughts on Lean Enterprise Leadership (iUniverse Inc., 2007) and writes weekly on a blog of the same name.