Business901 Book Specials from other authors on Amazon

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How do you handle inputs into your life? Do you process them effectively and efficiently?

The book A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance demonstrates how to apply lean principles to the individual.  It delivers key concepts such as visual management, flow, pull, and 5S. Dan provides these concepts to the individual results in the same kind of benefits: greater efficiency, less waste, and improved focus on customer value. The author, Dan Markovitz is the founder and owner of TimeBack Management, a consultancy specializing in improving individual and organizational performance through the application of lean concepts. 2A-Factory-Of-One

These concepts will be very familiar to people knowledgeable with continuous improvement and more specifically Lean and Six Sigma. However, you do not have to be a practitioner to understand or read the book. When trade terms are used the authors explains them in simple everyday language without losing a beat. Few people other than Dan could have provided a book of this sort. His experience with Lean coupled with many years of providing guidance on individual performance has given him profound insight. There may be others with his depth of knowledge but few that can transfer it into simple, practical and useable information. I found myself reading a “how to” book like a novel. I had to remind myself more than once to bend a corner or mark a page for future reference.

Dan is also not shy about crediting or highlighting others when it fits the application. He spends time discussing Personal Kanban and how he looks at applying it. My favorite part of the book was the part on living in your calendar versus your inbox. That comment in itself added a few more minutes of productivity to my day. His A3, Value Map and Information 5S were absolutely flawless.

Are you going to get 2 hours a day of time saving tips from the book? I doubt it. What you will get is more productivity and feeling better about what and how you accomplished it. It was my New Year’s Day read and I have picked it up every day since then. Not saying you won’t be able to put it down but at this point it looks that way for me.

Related Information:
The SDCA Cycle Description for a Lean Engagement Team
The Resilience of PDCA
Lean Canvas for Lean EDCA-PDCA-SDCA
Successful Lean teams are iTeams

Prototypes provide a Pathway for Connecting with Customers

Prototyping is a way to introduce our products or services in a very disarming way. It is a way of saying, “I respect your opinion.” Creating that empathetic connection with others can have a profound impact on your company.

We all prefer to buy products from people that we perceive to be experts in their field. The role of the expert has changed. It is no longer the expert with superior product knowledge; it is the expert that shows knowledge in how the product is used. We have gone from a world of selling benefits and features to a world of listening and collaboration. That connection with a customer clarifies how the product is perceived, not how it may look to us.

Traditional sales approaches in the past center on improving customer experience through techniques that tries to manipulate the customer emotions. In the book Listening With Empathy , author John Selby says,

The new approach is participatory rather than manipulative - teaching you how to shift inwardly from negative to positive moods, and thus become genuinely friendly and helpful. Our Listening with Empathy method will enable you to move through the following four customer-encounter phases with high success:

Phase1 - Preparation: Before meeting with a customer or client, it's vital to put aside any stress, worries, or judgments that may pollute the encounter - and shift your focus toward positive feelings and heart-centered emotions.

Phase 2 - The Moment of Encounter: Right when you meet someone, you need to present an honest, friendly, nonjudgmental greeting, and offer relaxed space. New techniques can help you maintain a bright inner center, emit a friendly presence, and converse with relaxed spontaneity, acceptance, and enjoyment.

Phase 3 - Empathic Communication: When you begin talking business, you need to maintain clear intent to be of service and to enable your customers to truly satisfy their needs. By encouraging an enjoyable emotion atmosphere, you can make sure your customers feel good hands and well taken care of.

Phase 4 - Processing: This fourth phase involves pausing after a meeting to reflect on a recent sales or service encounter and to decide purposefully how to follow up on it. You'll learn to re-experience positive aspects of the encounter and focus on your desire to meet with the customer again.

Prototyping can be a powerful tool but only if you are willing listen and make that connection with your customers. The ability to reach outside of companies and connect with our customers develop a shared outlook of our markets and will allow us to develop new opportunities faster than their competitors. It is a simple fact that the companies that know their customers best are the market leaders. They understand what is important. The companies that don’t, market to the general public and as a result get average results. Our new products, our prototypes are shared experiences. Prototypes should serve as models not just for improved design but for improved connection with our customers.

P.S. The easiest form of engagement is listening. Well, maybe not the easiest.

Related Information:
Your First Prototype is with Pen and Paper
Why Prototype? Customer Interactivity is the Most Meaningful Part of Design
Lean Thinking: Prototype early and often
Will the Mvp crush the Lean Startup?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Product Marketers perspective on Prototyping

Matthew Yubas is the author of Getting Your Prototype Made Quick and Easy and a Marketing Consultant for the Small Business Development and International Trade Center. He has developed products for 24 years as an Engineer, Product Manager, and Consultant for startups, small business, and Fortune 500 companies. As an young entrepreneur, he was a co-founder of a software company that developed one of the first personal information management software products. Matt Yubas

Matt has launched new products such as software applications, wireless devices, and websites. In addition, he has helped clients in a diverse number of industries that include photography equipment, auto accessories, soy candles, children's clothing, sporting goods, digital art, and home d├ęcor. Matthew is the author of several articles, eBooks, kits, and the popular book Product Idea to Product Success: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Making Money from Your Idea .


Download Podcast: Click and choose options: Prototype or go to the Business901 iTunes Store.

Matt’s mission is to help inventors, entrepreneurs, and everyday people with ideas. He Says, “You might have an invention that can benefit society and make our lives easier. No one can do it alone. If you haven't taken a product to the market before, you need a coach to help you get over the hurdles and past the many pitfalls. Be persistent, be smart, and gather the right information before you make your next move”. Mark can be found at

Related Information:
Prototyping into a Working Form
Prototypes provide a Pathway for Connecting with Customers
Your First Prototype is with Pen and Paper
Why Prototype? Customer Interactivity is the Most Meaningful Part of Design

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Prototyping into a Working Form

An original idea may be your starting point and Your First Prototype is with Pen and Paper. If or when your idea receives support from others, you will be at a point to take more serious design steps. Most successful product launches start with a clear vision of what they want to accomplish. This is not saying that you will not change or even “Pivot” later on but without that clear vision initially it is very difficult to generate a lot of steam that is required to drive to a successful conclusion.

In the book Innovation Acceleration: Transforming Organizational Thinking, the authors use the term “project pillars” as a way of clarifying your vision. Their example was the "project pillars" for the Palm Pilot.

    • Fits in pocket.
    • Synchronizes seamlessly with PC
    • Fast and easy to use
    • Costs no more than $299
    • The authors go on to say:

The company was able to build the world's first successful personal digital assistant. Meeting those constraints required a lot of trial and error, but it provided targets to focus the team’s creative energies. Once you have nailed the general design concept, this approach leads to more innovative outcomes rather than meandering aimlessly from one idea to another. This is a tricky position because you have to balance direct with an open mind. palm pilot

They outline a design thinking process in the book that I believe can be utilized in designing your prototype. I paraphrase their material and combined with my own into a format for prototypes:

Keep good records – Archive everything. I use to use a box in my room for different design projects. I would tear out magazine articles, copies of book pages, pictures, sketches. I have since narrowed that down and store most of my files electronically that also includes audio and video recordings, links to other material and so forth.

Constantly generate and refine ideas based on customer’s perspective – This is not problem solving. It is one of the reasons that I discuss the Marketing Gateway of EDCA > PDCA>SDCA. It is also why getting a prototype out in front of customer early – even in the pen and paper stage is so important. What we think are great ideas, may not be so great. If you are going to be radical as Clayton Christensen says, “Consider your customers’ deepest values and interest rather than their purchasing behavior”.

Visualization, Mock-ups, Models - This is the most effective way of advancing an idea into reality. This is the heart of your prototype. Remember that verbal communication is often misunderstood. A better way to communicate your idea is to express it in some type of visual form. It can be done through sketches, mechanical drawings, or 3-D computer programs. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an actual physical representation is worth a million words. If you want to get great feedback on your idea, build a prototype. Nothing gets your idea across better than something people can view from different angles and provide questions and feedback. One of the reasons managers struggle with this guideline is that they fear a lot of craftsmanship and expertise is required to build a prototype, but this is not necessarily true. Prototypes can be inexpensive and basic.

When you see a prototype being used, or played with you'll know you're on the right path. One of my favorite stories and coincidentally again about the Palm Pilot was that the inventor went into a “Shark Tank” (not the TV show or a literal definition) and was completely ill-prepared. Looking around for something to engage his audience, he tossed a wallet in the middle of the table and said it would look something like this. Moments later, he saw them starting to look at the wallet and knew the deal was done when they started passing the wallet around the table.

Consciously Select Solution Paths – You will face issues as you proceed. This is the point where discipline is important. People may give up because the problems seem too overwhelming to solve. In Mark Graban‘s Book Review: One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way on his blog, he states:

Maurer also has tips and lessons about rewiring one’s brain for kaizen and changes, including leading yourself and others by asking small questions, such as “What’s the smallest step I can take to be more efficient?”, learning to practice this habit in a kaizen style by starting small…

Mauer also makes a great case for how we start, with kaizen, by learning how to see and address little problems. Then, we are able to see and fix larger problems.

This is why prototyping early is so important. It allows for minor changes early in the process and the ability to undo changes that later may prove to be ineffective. If you can overcome these challenges, it will give you a competitive advantage over other companies, because you will have gained particular knowledge and a distinct product for the market.

Your solution path is very much like an airplane ride. You are continuously off course, constantly adjusting and finally arriving at your destination.

Get Feedback and Involvement from a variety of People - Search for feedback from a diverse group of potential customers, suppliers, fellow managers, employees, and content experts. You may get a lot of suggestions, but only a few might be useful (that's okay; it is a journey). You never know when someone will give you an unexpected insight that would have been overlooked had you not searched out a lot of the opinion of others. The key point is to build something you can receive feedback on and return to rebuild as soon as possible. Moreover, with available technologies today, it's getting easier to make prototypes. But don’t stop there. What about an interactive play? What would a sales presentation look like as a prototype? You could invite customers and maybe even local actors and directors of local theaters. This is play time, use it and get the most out of it from as many people as possible.

Prototyping is meant to be an iterative process. But this is a new practice for most people and organizations. Most people within organizations are implementing orders and maintaining the way a company operates. So how do create this type of thinking and bring it into reality in everyday work? More importantly, how do you learn to experiment?

P.S. Want to get an idea across, or a problem solved in an internal setting. Remember the old game of telephone. – give them a prototype and see what develops.

Related Information:
Prototypes provide a Pathway for Connecting with Customers
Your First Prototype is with Pen and Paper
Why Prototype? Customer Interactivity is the Most Meaningful Part of Design

Monday, January 23, 2012

Marketing with Lean Series – 4 Pack


Special Offer

It is even more special for a limited time, if you visit the Business901 website and wait 30 Seconds! MWL - 4 books in Line

Lean Marketing House (More Info): A starting point for creating true iterative marketing cycles based on not only Lean principles but more importantly Customer Value. Recommended 1st reading of series.

Marketing with PDCA (More Info): Targeting what your Customer Values at each stage of the cycle will increase your ability to deliver quicker, more accurately and with better value than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value. Recommended 2nd reading of series.

Lean Engagement Team(More Info): The ability to share and create knowledge with your customer is the strongest marketing tool possible. Recommended 3rd reading of series.

Marketing with A3(More Info): Enables sales and marketing to use the Lean tool of A3 as a structured approach for their problem solving, strategies and tactics. Recommended 4th reading of series.

Save when buying all 4


This series of books are about developing a continuous improvement culture in your sales and marketing and re-positioning your customer as the center of your organization. The further we are from our customers’ knowledge base the more effort has to be made to create a larger and larger supply of prospects. The ability to share and create knowledge with your customer is the strongest marketing tool possible. Successful Sales and Marketing are no longer trying to get their message out but developing strategies to get the message in.

Disclaimer: There is no silver bullet introduced in these books.

Related Information:
Lean Marketing House
Marketing with PDCA
Lean Engagement Team
Marketing with A3

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lean Engagement Team Book Released

Sales and marketing can no longer operate in a vacuum. It has become a process output that intertwines across many of the departments within the organization. As companies have become flat, their decision making is increasingly being done by committee. As a supplier, you must mimic your customer decision-making path and as a result your sales and marketing will also be done by committee. Our highest priority is to deliver to the customer content that he deems valuable to his decision-making process. 4 books

Lean is the future of marketing and one of the main reasons is the development of Agile under the Lean umbrella. Using the Agile Manifesto as a basis for Agile marketing or Lean marketing is a good start. In summary they are based on these principles:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Content-rich material over elaborate promotion
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Response to changing customer needs over following a plan

The further we are from our customers’ knowledge base the more effort has to be made to create a larger and larger supply of prospects. The ability to share and create knowledge with your customer is the strongest marketing tool possible. Successful Sales and Marketing Teams are no longer trying to get their message out but developing strategies to get the message in.

Table of Contents

  • The Path
  • Positioning your organization from your customer’s viewpoint
  • Only the Customer Determine Value
  • PDCA from the Outside-In
  • The iCustomer and iTeam
  • New Lean Thinking
  • Lean Engagement Tools
  • Lean Engagement Team
  • Marketing Gateway of EDCA, PDCA, SDCA

The book is available as a PDF download on the website or on Amazon:

Lean Engagement Team (Marketing with Lean, Volume 2) [Ring-bound]

Lean Engagement Team (Marketing with Lean, Volume 2) [CD-ROM]

Related Information:
SALES PDCA Framework for Lean Sales and Marketing
Profound knowledge for Lean Marketing
If all of us need to be marketers, what’s the framework?
The 7 step Lean Process of Marketing to Toyota

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why Prototype? Customer Interactivity is the Most Meaningful Part of Design

Prototypes are becoming a design deliverable with the advent of many sophisticated software applications spurred by Rapid Prototyping, 3D Modeling etc. However, the initial paper sketch is arguably the best tool, at least in the beginning. Prototyping helps us to design better user experiences. However, many of us still forget to include the user! We still dwell on what we can do versus looking at what the user does! Even at the paper stage of prototyping, I encourage you to try to articulate that feeling and function of the design into a model and put it in the hands of the user. Their interactivity is the most meaningful part of design. Do it early and do it often.

From adaptive path blog, Rapid Prototyping Tools:

Making Effective Prototypes

In order to evaluate a prototyping tool or technique, we first need to define what makes an effective prototype. The best prototypes are ones that slipstream right into our design process. We want the ability to quickly take sketches from a whiteboard to something interactive.

Effective prototypes are fast. We want to use techniques that allow for rapid iteration. A prototype should not just be bolted onto the end of a design process. Incorporating the creation of a prototype into your daily design work allows new ideas to emerge and validates concepts quickly.

Effective prototypes are disposable. Just like with any design deliverable, we are creating an artifact intended to express an idea to someone else (stakeholder, developer, user, etc). Once that design idea has been communicated, the prototype deliverable can be discarded. We don’t have to feel the burden of creating a masterpiece that will live on, and we certainly don’t have to work in production-level code.

Effective prototypes are focused. We want to select the interactions of our design that really need to be prototyped. Look for the parts of your design that have of complexity. Look for interaction patterns repeated throughout the user’s experience. Look for the interactions that bring revenue to your product. A prototype that demonstrates these interactions will be the best use of your time and energy.

An informative presentations on prototyping is from Jonathan Arnowitz who happens to be one of the authors of Effective Prototyping with Excel. In the book, the authors discuss how to use use Excel skills to create prototypes especially for wire frames. It is interesting how such a common and widely owned tool can offer such a wide array of solutions. The presentation below labors on wireframes at the beginning but the message soon turns into applicable information for all.

Related Information:
The Death of PDCA
Spontaneous Marks help you think – Doodling
Brilliant – Learn by Doing
Lean Thinking: Prototype early and often

Friday, January 6, 2012

Standard Work in my Sales and Marketing

Make no mistake about it; EXECUTION is what we are looking for from standard work.

If you execute, you can do anything. When a company has a clear mission, and people know how their individual mission fits into the big picture, everyone paddles in the
same direction. —Stephen Cooper

The biggest influence on my ability to execute has been Stephen Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It provided me a personal method to perform standard work. A later program developed by Franklin Covey was the The 4 Disciplines of Execution which I still listen to for reinforcement but without the context of the training, I would not necessarily recommend it. The actually four disciplines serve as a great guideline for execution:

  1. Focus on the Wildly Important: Human beings are wired to do only one thing at a time with excellence. The more we narrow our focus, the greater chance of achieving our goals with excellence.
  2. Create a Compelling Scoreboard: People play differently when they're keeping score.
  3. Translate Lofty Goals into Specific Actions: To achieve goals you've never achieved before, you need to start doing things you've never done before. • Using an entrepreneurial
  4. Hold Each Other Accountable-All of the Time: Knowing others are counting on you raises your level of commitment.

These disciplines are what guides my own work and has allowed me to guide sales and marketing teams into higher levels of performance.

As I started my consulting path a few years back, I became a facilitator for the Get Clients Now – 28 Day Program. I always struggled with it somewhat because of the language used, appetizers, desserts, etc. but for the most part it provided a simple and concise action plan for assembling Wildly Important into Specific Actions into a Compelling Scoreboard (The Action Worksheet). When used with teams, it provides an excellent format for providing you a line of sight in daily stand-ups and weekly meetings. It was easily modified for individuals and organizations in Google docs for the teams that I was working with. As we all know, most sales efforts fall short in their ability to follow up which is at the core of the Get Clients Now Program. This outline became the core of standard work for my training programs.

Follow-through is the cornerstone of execution, and every leader who’s good at executing follows through religiously. Following through ensures that people are doing the things they committed to do. - Larry Bossidy

In my previous project management experience, I had found it was a matter of available resources that was the biggest inhibitor to actual execution. In most instances, thinking from a manufacturing or using GCN terminology a cook’s perspective, it was a missing tool or ingredient. When some has all the tools and/or material to do the job, they usually get the job done efficiently and at a high quality level. It holds true for sales and marketing. However, it always seemed to me that many action steps were started without the necessary resources available. The secret to what we needed to document in sales and marketing’s standard work was the needed resources to complete the action step and accept no workarounds.

In Scott Belsky’s (founder of Behance) book, Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality, he uses an approach called The Action Method. which has become my management planner of choice. It is extremely simple and highly intuitive for a single person and/or team. I use the paper, online and the app for my iPhone all in combination with very little of redundant work. What the Action Planner does is creates a systems that emphasizes action steps and having the supporting resources available. This is the essence of standard work for the Lean Engagement Team. Making the resources you are utilizing and highlighting what you are missing to the rest of the team, Team Coordinator and Value Stream Manager is the single most important part of the Daily Standup and Weekly Tactical. It allows work to flow.

Action Method

I have found that most organizations prefer to customize and many still use Google Docs as the reporting method of choice. However, the point is not what tool you use. The point is mastering it so it takes little effort to make your work visible to the rest of the team. This line of sight is what makes teamwork possible. Both of these methods require little if any experience and more importantly can be completed quickly.

The typical daily stand-up goes like this:

  1. State the action item and report did you do it: yes or no
  2. If not, what stopped you? Was a resource missing?
  3. What I am going to do today. Am I missing any resources? Who can help (if so, meet afterwards)?

The biggest problem I have had in these daily standups is that the managers have a tendency to turn them into longer sessions. They want to manage. The idea behind a daily standup is for tactical purposes. It is meant to enable team members to carry out their actions; nothing more, nothing less. Managers if they are participating should be enablers of the actions or in Lean terms the role of servant leadership.

P.S. The Action Planner resembles a simplified version of Kanban system such as the one offered by Lean Kit Kanban (my favorite online Kanban system).

Related Information
Even Seinfeld used Standard Work
Successful Lean teams are iTeams
The SDCA Cycle Description for a Lean Engagement Team
Evolutionary Change thru Kanban

Can the Lean Knowledge Worker cope with Leader Standard Work?

Leader Standard Work is becoming more commonplace and the standard for the development of a Lean Culture. It is extremely adaptable and found both in trade and professional services. It excels in experienced based professions but it may struggle in what I would call knowledge-based services. The problem is there are more knowledge-based jobs being created every day. The experience based jobs either get automated or outsourced. For more information on that subject, read Dan Pink’s, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.

Since Lean is so intrinsically tied to standard work, many believe Lean cannot apply to their “Knowledge Based” occupation. In fact, it is often resisted in these circles.

When met with resistance, I have found that typically there is a good reason why. As I review most Leader Standard Work for knowledge workers, I still find them heavily laden with specific instructions and very results based focus. In Sales and Marketing (I am considering Sales and Marketing to be knowledge work) , you will see instructions such as make 25 calls, send out 15 e-mails, 3 blog posts a week, etc. On the other hand, I do see slack time allowed under the disguise of daily or weekly Kaizen. So Leader Standard Work can apply to Sales and Marketing, or can it?

Leader Standard Work will fizzle out quickly in the Sales and Marketing arena if you simply try to practice Leader Standard Work through Lean Training, coupled with your experience and try to become more proficient through iteration after iteration. It doesn’t work that way. In fact, it may take years, certainly months, to acquire the skills needed. What stops you is that you not only have to learn new skills but these skills and learning are not stagnant. They are in constant turmoil; developing, adapting and evolving while obsoleting the existing structure.

Many companies may fall short as a result of not creating the internal collaboration structure needed for learning. The organization must develop as a whole and this can only be accomplished by developing their personnel by providing the necessary resources and opportunities. We also need to promote individual differences. Instead of teaching the way to do some things, we may need to step back and determine the key points that are required, as Simon Sinek says the “Why” while leaving the how alone (Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action).

What will drive Leader Standard Work in Lean Sales and Marketing is the “Why” more so than the “How”. The “Why” provides the clear strategic intent which will provide the fuel for Leader Standard Work. This analogy is wonderfully described in David Mann’s Book Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions, Second Edition where he uses the automotive analogy to describe the four principles of the Lean Management System:

  1. Leader Standard Work – Engine
  2. Daily Accountability Process – Gas Pedal and Steering Wheel
  3. Visual Controls – Transmission
  4. Discipline – Fuel

When developing your Leader Standard work for Lean Sales and Marketing address these three items;

  1. Clarification – Minimum standard is explicit
  2. Commitment – Level of commitment is expected from the individual
  3. Connection – A path for support through conversation is provided.

Can your Leader Standard Work pass the 3 C Test?

Related Information:
Lean Sales and Marketing works because of Leader Standard Work
Inspiring Innovation thru Standard Work
It’s the Who, not the Why @simonsinek

Use the tools of Political Campaign Marketing to turn your Social Media into a Handshake!

Campaign Marketing was discussed in the Business901 podcasts, What Political Campaigns can teach business, part 1 of 2  and part 2 of 2. Part one was more of a strategic view and part 2 more tactical. This is a transcription of both of the the podcasts. I find political campaign marketing very relevant to typical business marketing. Political campaigns have more experience in creating touch-points, managing limited budgets and crafting their message to the audience that they are addressing. An excellent primer when developing a social media strategy and turning it into a handshake.    


Derek A. Pillie has served public and political candidates for over 15 years. He has served on the staff of Indiana’s Third Congressional District, most recently as District Director for just over a decade. In that role, he oversaw Indiana operations of the office; including constituent outreach and helping taxpayers solve problems with federal agencies. He also worked on crucial economic development projects and was heavily involved with advising the office on online media and marketing decisions.

After his federal service expired Derek started working at Cirrus ABS, an online marketing and technology development company. He currently manages their business development efforts. Cirrus ABS has added political campaigns to the portfolio of industries they serve since Derek joined the team, and he continues volunteer efforts on behalf of candidates he supports.

Related Information:
Political Campaigning – Strategy Update
What political campaigns can teach business
Lean Marketing Lab Opens!
Start with Journey Mapping vs Value Stream Mapping

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Blog Carnival Annual Roundup 2011: How to implement Lean Thinking in a Business

Tracey Richardson’s How to implement "Lean Thinking" in a Business is  my third and final blog review for the John Hunter’s Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog Carnival.   Tracey is a trainer, consultant and principal of Teaching Lean Inc. She has 22 years of Lean experience and worked at Toyota Motor Manufacturing KY as a team member, team leader and group leader in the Plastics Department from 1988-1998. She has over 460 hours training in Toyota Methodologies and Philosophy and currently is a trainer for Toyota, their affiliates in North America, and other companies upon request. Tracey experience in Toyota methodologies including: Lean Problem Solving, Quality Circles, Lean Manufacturing tools, Standardized Work, Job Instruction Training, Toyota Production System, Toyota Way Values, Culture Development, Visualization (Workplace Management Systems), Continuous Improvement (Kaizen), Meeting Facilitation/Teamwork, and Manufacturing Simulations. gmail pic smaller

Tracey also was the 2010 recipient of the Business901 Podcast of the Year! The podcast discussed A3 problem Solving.

Tracey likes to discuss the culture before jumping into problem solving but she takes a look at culture from a different perspective than others. It just about comes across as an attitude (in a very polite way) and there is type of swagger about the whole thing. Why not? When you become #1 in the world such as Toyota did and you are #1 methodology in the world which Lean probably is, why not have that swagger to your discussion? It is not pompous, it is an attitude that what you are doing works! She doesn’t write enough in my opinion because of her commitments as a trainer but her blog is one you should follow, you do not want to miss a word she says. You can also find her answering questions on the Lean Enterprise’s A3 Dojo Website.    

What does the word "Lean" mean to you or your Company?

As I travel around the U.S. working with various companies that make a variety of different products, I realize a common denominator throughout them. How do they define the word "lean", as well as the word "culture"? What I have realized is very interesting!

When I first started consulting I felt it was all about the "tools", and that's what companies seem to want, so of course, that's what they got. As I have matured as an instructor/consultant I, like many, I have led and learned at the same time. In my experience at Toyota, especially back when we were led by the Japanese and their questioning approach; we all as new leaders were being led but at the same time leading others, so it was bringing about the "respect for people" and developing the workforce as a team. I can't ever recall in my time at Toyota (Toyota Motor Manufacturing KY - TMMK 1988-1998), that we ever labeled what we were doing in a specific word like "Lean", nor did we really think about our daily actions as a "culture". It was just in the atmosphere. It wasn't until I left Toyota to teach others, that those words started to surface. Somehow we felt the need to give it a name, and as I've experience the last 13 years as a consultant, I feel that can have somewhat of a hindering effect…..

Pathway to creating a "Lean Culture"

As I travel around to various clients they are always asking me, "How do you implement or create a culture like Toyota has"? I tell them that's a very loaded question :). There are so many aspects of creating that culture it's hard to give a short answer or even "wave a magic wand" to say... "Here is what you should do!!". I wish I was that good . How I see it, you really need to differentiate the People side of Lean versus the Tool side. The People side will always be the most difficult aspect of the discipline needed to create this thing called Culture. The tools are just what they are, mostly countermeasures to change some discrepancy in our process. For the tools to be successful, People must understand their involvement or the purpose behind the tools. As I have stated in previous blog posts you must explain from the company perspective the WHAT, HOW and the WHY of any change or expectation within a persons work….

Tracey’s website: and email:

Related Information:
Blog Carnival Annual Roundup 2011: Graham Hill at CustomerThink
Blog Carnival Annual Roundup: 2011: The 99 Percent Solution
LabWorks Opens in the Lean Marketing Lab
The importance of PDCA in Marketing