Blog Archives

Blog Carnival Annual Roundup 2013 – Lean Blitz

At the end of the year, John Hunter does a great job of facilitating an annual roundup of business and lean blogs at Curious Cat Management.  The roundup is a review of blogs by other bloggers.  This year I have the honor of participating in the Blog Carnival Annual Roundup.


A blog that I discovered a couple of years ago was Lean Blitz written by Chad Walters.  I like Chad’s unique way of relating lean and continuous improvement to the sports world, because there are plenty of examples throughout sports to do this.

Take the respect for people as an example.  The NFL was ripe with instances of disrespect this year, from the Miami Dolphins’ handling of the bullying in their locker room to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ unclean locker room leading to three players getting MSRA infections.  Not only in the NFL but in college also.  This post talks about Coach Kelly at Notre Dame not listening to his players when something was wrong with the gauntlet machine.  Chad tackles the issue head on in his posts.

Another topic on the blog is error proofing.  Chad talks about how Clemson and Notre Dame handled a color out night at their school for a football game.  Clemson was a huge success while Notre Dame not so much.  He shows some of the differences.  Another favorite is how sprinklers popped up in the middle of an NFL game at the end of last year.

Chad has created a unique blog at Lean Blitz.  It is a fun and different way to demonstrate lean principles in action in any environment.

The SMED-ing of Football

I was looking for a change of pace for the whole Pit Crew/Racing example used to illustrate the SMED process.   Maybe I just got frustrated with it because, although it does show an example of a fast changeover, I’m not sure how “Lean” the whole process is.   Luckily, with football season around, I have found a new example to talk about.  (For those who may want to stop now, I’m talking about “American Football”, not what most everybody else in the world calls football.)

Judging by ratings, more people watch the NFL and College Football than motorsports.  That’s kind of important if I want to come up with something other than the tried and true pit crew metaphor.  Chances are if you’ve watched a game over the past few years, the talking heads in the booth have spent some of their time talking about “hurry up” or “blur” or some other variance of a no-huddle offense that is the greatest thing since the forward pass.  This is likely to be a huge topic of conversation early in the NFL season as one of the most well known practitioners, Chip Kelly, has left the University of Oregon and is now performing some degree of his voodoo for the Eagles.  What does that have to do with Lean and changeovers?  Hopefully I can show you.

One of the perceived benefits of the no huddle offense is that you can run more plays in the same amount of time because you can run them faster.  How does that happen?  Well, it starts with looking at a huddle as a changeover.  If you can exchange in your head the whistle stopping the previous play for “last good piece” and being in place for the snap of the ball for “first good piece”, the process is actually quite logical.  Here is a typical huddle:


In a no huddle system, you identify the steps in the changeover that don’t add value.  In this example, the steps that don’t add value are the “running back to the huddle” and the “communication in the huddle” steps.  From there, the steps of going to line up in your position and coaches communicating the play have to occur in parallel, and add in speeding up the movement from the end of the last play to getting back to the line for the next play.  The diagram starts to look like this:


3Okay, it’s not a perfect metaphor, but it’s not a bad start.  Plus, it makes both watching football and talking about SMED a little more interesting.  (For the sake of clarity, yes, I realize that no-huddle offenses aren’t a new development in the past 2 years.  Also, from a football standpoint the speed of the plays is mostly important because it allows you to constantly tweak the pace of plays being executed so you can outflank the defense…but that’s a topic for another time and place.)

Are there any other good parallels that are in use to talk about SMED or another Lean concept?  In the interest of space, I’ve condensed some of the “how” out of this post.  If you’re interested, post a comment or drop me a line (joewilsonlean at gmail dot com) and we can discuss this concept or your other examples further.

Blog Carnival Annual Roundup 2012 – Lean Blitz

At the end of the year, John Hunter does a great job of facilitating an annual roundup of business and lean blogs at Curious Cat Management.  The roundup is a review of blogs by other bloggers.  This year I have the honor of participating in the Blog Carnival Annual Roundup.


A blog that I discovered this year was Lean Blitz written by Chad Walters.  Chad is a student of the Toyota Principles and he does a great job of explaining each principle in a separate blog post.  Each post has an example of the principle that can be seen in everyday life.  If you are not familiar with the Toyota Principles I would suggest checking out Chad’s posts on the all 14 Toyota Principles.

Chad uses his business background to write about lean in business like the overproduction Domino’s Pizza has in their stores with all the pre-built pizza boxes.  He also points out how Domino’s can use standardized work toe fold the boxes in the most efficient way like the worker in the TV advertisement.

Chad also shows how the Toyota Principles can help small businesses in a practical way.

A unique perspective that Chad brings is his experience in working with professional sports teams and organizations.  He does a great job of relating the Toyota Principles to happenings in the sporting world.  The Miami Marlins inability to think long-term in order to achieve their goals is a fantastic post about Toyota Principle #1.

Being a very large St. Louis Cardinals fan, I really enjoyed the post about the filth at Wrigley Field (home of the Chicago Cubs).  Chad uses data sited from studies and then relates it to having a good 5S program in place and using visual management.  The morale increases everyone is happier.  Is this the reason the Cubs can’t win?

Chad talks about other lean concepts such as long lead times and how sporting organizations are losing revenue due to long lead times.  Texas A&M got off to a great start in football this past season and their quarterback, Johnny Manziel played well enough to be in the discussion as a Heisman finalist as the best college football player.  The university had long lead times on the jerseys for Manziel and ended up leaving a lot of cash on the table and fans unhappy when they couldn’t get one.

Chad has created a unique blog at Lean Blitz.  It is a fun and different way to demonstrate lean principles in action in any environment.

Guest Post: Pete Carroll

Joe Wilson has worked in a variety of continuous improvement, problem solving and engineering roles in manufacturing and distribution functions  in the automotive, electronics, and food/grocery industries. He was responsible for site leadership of Lean implementation during the launch and ramp up of becoming a supplier to Toyota and was able to work directly with their personnel and the Toyota Supplier Support Center.   His training background includes courses in Lean/TPS through TSSC and the University of Kentucky’s Lean Systems program.  He is a Six Sigma Black Belt and a Shainin Red X Journeyman in addition to training in Kepner-Tregoe problem solving techniques.  Joe also has a BS degree in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri-Rolla.

I’ve gone back and forth on this several times on what to write about a book I recently read.  I’ve settled on stripping most of what I had to say about it because of two reasons.  First and foremost, I absolutely hate the business as sports parallel.  I just can’t see how pushing yourself through to end of year performance is like fighting for a playoff victory or giving a big presentation is like shooting free throws with the game on the line.  Those situations always seemed to have enough levity as it is without adding a made up metaphor to put them over the top.  The second reason is that I’ve already written about a book by a football coach and, frankly, I couldn’t figure out a way to do it again without making it come off like a form letter.

With that in mind, and with a goal of finding ideas that fit with lean without necessarily being from the lean world, I bring you what I picked up from the book, “Win Forever” by Pete Carroll**.  I’ll be honest, I had no interest in reading the book and only picked it up while I was waiting to meet someone at Borders and killing a few minutes.  When I picked it up, I opened to a page where he described his philosophy as, “Doing things better than they have ever been done before”.  I am a true believer in the concept of chasing a ‘True North’ and this struck a chord with me that was along those lines.  Since I had a good coupon and I was still waiting for the friend to show up, I plunked down a few bucks and figured I’d skim through it.

There was one point in the book that has stuck with me as extremely valuable.  One of the building blocks of his philosophy is for the individual coaches to “learn the learner”.  In his practical terms, it meant the coaches that work for him are responsible for understanding what motivates, de-motivates, and engages the players they coach.  That forces the coach to learn how to optimize their message to the recipient so that each person can be put in a position to be the best they choose to be.  It is such a simple and profound concept and one I had never come across before phrased this way.  Matt has made several posts lately that hit on training and coaching. I can’t help but wonder how much effort I have put forth over the years that didn’t make an impact because I spent a ton of time polishing the message and didn’t take enough time to understand how the person needed to receive the message.  Or how many initiatives or programs, lean or not, haven’t been fully realized because the human factor was left out.  It has been quite a point of reflection for me to realize where some opportunities have been lost and what I can do to improve in the future.  Or how best to present information to a large group with very separate motivations.

**As for whether or not you should get the book or not, it depends.  If you won’t be able to get past things like USC football, Reggie Bush, and his 7-9 team making the NFL playoffs this year, you will probably not get much out of it.  If you can ignore those things or don’t know anything about them, I’d recommend it.  It’s a fairly quick read about the path to creating a personal vision and the pieces that were important to him as he determined what he was passionate about.  There are some solid leadership tidbits that can apply anywhere people are striving for greatness.  It is, however, also a bit cheesy in parts…don’t say you weren’t warned.