Volume 71, February 2007: Lean Organizations

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2007 ISSN # 1545-8873

“[I]t’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eat the slow” — Book by Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton

“The average American worker has fifty interruptions a day, seventy percent of which have nothing to do with work.” — W. Edwards Deming

“You cannot become a lean and healthy organization by starving yourself … Instead, lean organizations must change their ‘eating’ habits by feeding and strengthening themselves.” — Tom Pryor

“It’s not the strongest nor most intelligent of the species that survive; it is the one most adaptable to change.” — Charles Darwin


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Becoming fierce champions of “value” for the customer, including superior quality and rapid response.
  • Moving responsibility to where the wisdom lies – i.e., where the work is done.
  • Removing “crud™” – complexity,redundancy, unnecessary steps, and delays – from work processes,with the help of people who work in and understand those processes.
  • Becoming wise stewards of precious resources.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

Even if they work in an environment of abundance, why would any leader tolerate “waste” in any form? There is a new lexicon in organizations that depicts a bold agenda: value stream, empowered teams, flow, pull, perfection, transparency, swift change, pull, vital few, error proofing, lean metrics, kanban. The mantra is “do more with less, and do it faster.” But do it with direction and vision. If you can see yourself and your organization in a world where everyone continuously improves their skill levels and processes, is customer-focused and -driven, and thrives on the right product/service at the right time and location, in the right condition, then it is your job to describe it in “word pictures” that your organization can grow into.

Frequently Asked Questions

“What is a ‘lean organization’?”
An organization that is customer-focused, is committed to continuous improvement, and melds its processes into an efficient organization. Further, it hosts a culture that ambitiously seeks to reduce or remove all waste and “non-value-added” activity. Its leaders are dedicated to excellence and wise stewardship of resources.
“What is ‘non-value-added’?”
To see non-value-added CRUD™, you have to first view workflow as a process. See our keyzine on Picturing Work as a Process. Non-value-adding (NVA) is defined from the customer’s perspective on the process. Some CRUD™ (NVA) examples are:
  • a step resulting from something that went wrong
  • a correction ( a do-over, rework)
  • searching
  • an anticipation of some thing that could go wrong(pre-inspection)
  • defects, errors, omissions
  • waiting – for inspection, approval, for the next step
  • over-processing and over-production
  • non-essential steps to deal with defects, errors,omissions, waste, storage
  • transportation
  • steps needed to conduct the “business” of the organization), not to meet customer needs
  • steps with no purpose
  • unclear steps
  • inventory
“What are the benefits of a being a ‘lean organization’?”
  • Reduced scrap and waste
  • Reduced inventory costs
  • Cross-trained employees
  • Reduced cycle/turnaround time
  • Reduced obsolescence
  • Lower space/facility requirements
  • High quality & reliability
  • Lower overall costs
  • Self-directed work teams
  • Lead time reduction
  • Improved customer communication and satisfaction
  • Reduced inventories
  • Improved vendor support and quality
  • Higher work efficiency and quality
  • Improved flexibility in reacting to changes
“How do you get started?”
Plan a Lean Event. Pull major players into a marathon session, in which broken processes will be identified and work will begin on streamlining and redesigning them. Learn more about a model session: University of Iowa Lean. Allow Key Associates to facilitate a one-day quick-hitter team approach to redesign: Creative Tools and Methods for Innovation.


Lean Healthcare Training.

Lean does not mean little – go for a workout: Lean does not mean Little.

Lean Enterprise Institute.

GOAL/QPC has an excellent resource for additional tools, “The Lean Enterprise Memory Jogger.” Visit The Lean Enterprise Memory Jogger.

Join us in learning these tools in Key Associates’ Creative Tools and Methods for Innovation.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

The basics of lean healthcare philosophy: Lean Healthcare Philosophy.

The differences between lean and traditional manufacturing: The shortest path to greater profitability.

Stop tinkering and rethink healthcare processes with Clinical Microsystems.

Keyzines on related topics: Lean Does Not Have to Be Mean, Bureaucracy, and Picture of a Process.



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