Monthly Archives: November 2014

Kanban for Your Desktop

Many of you may know that I have experimented with personal kanban boards, traditional and digital.  In fact, I will have another update in a few weeks.

Today, I wanted to share with you an idea I saw but have not tried.  It is using the desktop screen on the computer as a kanban board.

You can save a .jpg file of a kanban board as your Desktop background.  This creates a permanent background to move Post-Its around on to show your flow of work.


Click on image to enlarge

You can then use the Post-It program that comes on Microsoft PCs now as your kanban cards and move them around, like you would on a physical board.

If you are a person who likes to have a lot of shortcuts on your desktop, then this can present an issue, because the Post-Its will cover up your shortcuts.

Another pointer I got from a different person, was to use the color of the Post-It to signify if you have completed a weekly task for this week.



For the first week, you can have the Post-It in blue and move it across your board.  When it is time for the second week, you can change the Post-It color to green and move back to the queue.

If someone has tried this or does try it, I would love to hear about it.  Leave a comment below or email me through the Contact page.

On my Downloads page, you can download the .jpg file of the kanban board pictured above.


One Man’s Lean Journey: Exposure to SMED and Shigeo Shingo

My lean journey has taken a very common path. I started out learning the lean tools and concepts. Then I evolved to learning how the tools and concepts fit together to create a system that relied on people behaving differently than I was used to seeing. Finally, I was enlightened and understood the thinking that was behind it all and why it works.

For me, I was fortunate enough that my lean journey started back in college. I wish Purdue had incorporated more lean into their Industrial Engineering program, but it didn’t. My lean experience came from my four year internship with Thomson Consumer Electronics. It was a great experience. I would work full time for the company for a semester and then go back to school for a semester. It was a program Purdue had designed with several companies.

My manger at TCE had read books by Shigeo Shingo, specifically A Revolution in Manufacturing: The SMED System. During my second semester with the company, he required all of his interns read the book. The manufacturing geek in me found it absolutely fascinating. I couldn’t wait to put some of the SMED techniques into practice.

My first opportunity to use SMED was in our injection molding house. I worked with a group of machine technicians to reduce the changeover of molding tools. This was a good first opportunity. Shingo had discussed very similar machinery in his book, so it was easier to translate to this actual application. We were able to reduce the changeover time from three hours to one and a half hours. A 50% reduction. I was excited at the time, but looking back now we were still a long way off.

My second opportunity was more a learning because it was on a manual paint booth in one of TCE’s facilities. I had to translate how it would work based on my own understanding. I decided to use videotaping this time. I video taped the changeover on second shift. I was on the road and it was a last minute project. This didn’t go so well. I was able to make my manager laugh hysterically when we watched the playback of the changeover. At one point it became lunch time for the crew so they dropped everything and left. I kept the tape rolling so I could time the downtime. I didn’t have a tripod and got bored quickly, so there is a period where I am spinning and dancing around the area with nobody around. I was loopy by 1AM. We did get a 30% reduction in changeover time so it wasn’t all bad, but the last minute planning definitely showed. Plus, we didn’t included anyone from the facility in the redesign.

It was years before I reflected on these two SMED events and changed my approach.

* Proper planning in advance is critical to a successful SMED event. If you are videotaping, get a tripod. More importantly, how are you going to document the changeover? What is the current changeover time and push to reduce by 75%

* Always include people who are involved in the changeover in the SMED event. Their insights and buy-in is critical to sustaining the gains.

One Man’s Lean Journey – Introduction

I spent a couple of years reading blogs before jumping and starting my own. I have met some great people over that time and learned a lot about myself and others. The biggest thing I have learned is that I am not alone in the trials I have faced when learning, teaching, coaching and implementing lean. Many of us out there have come across similar scenarios and personality types and can relate to each other.

I have had a lot of people reach out to me through the blog. They want to talk about something they are struggling to implement or change and want to bounce ideas around. I do enjoy the fact that people can learn from each other so hopefully they don’t have to make the same mistakes that others already have. That was one of the original ideas around starting Beyond Lean.

Over the last year, I have been thinking about how I can continue to help others from my learnings. Did I have this reflection because of my lean background? Maybe. Did I reflect because I always tell my kids about the good old days? Probably. Was it because I am almost 40 and wonder where the time went? Most likely.

So, this is the first post in a new series called “One Man’s Lean Journey.” The posts will chronicle my lean journey from the start. History, stories, lessons learned from the very beginning. I didn’t make the decision to do this easily. I don’t want it to come across as something that says, “I’m different and it should be documented why for others.” Quite the opposite. It is because I know the learning and lean understanding path I have had is very similar to many other people. I hope people nod their head as they read as a “yep, I get what you mean and I have lived that.” A way to let people know they aren’t the only ones out there experiencing the difficult journey of implementing lean.

The series will be mixed in with other posts of like the ones you might be accustomed to seeing on Beyond Lean. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for being readers of the Beyond Lean Blog.