Continuous Improvement: Prevent frustrations related to the S curve

When implementing some solutions, like in continuous improvement, project managers better take care about the frustrations related to the S curve. The “S curve” is the shape of the performance curve over time. It describes a latency (t1) before the performance p1 takes off after the improvements have been implemented, then a more or less … Continue reading Continuous Improvement: Prevent frustrations related to the S curve


Is Lean about eliminating waste or not?

Some thought leaders and Lean promoters stress the fact that Lean is about eliminating waste while others seem to get away from this idea. Could some have been wrong? Is there a shift in Lean Thinking? What is Lean finally about? Is Lean about waste elimination or not? Well, yes and no. Defining waste Waste is … Continue reading Is Lean about eliminating waste or not?

Stuck with continuous improvement?

This post is a kind of post scriptum to “Improving  50% is easy, improving 5% is difficult” in which I described 3 stages of improvement and ended stuck with continuous improvement as the Return On Investment (ROI) in C stage was not worth going on. Now assume it is not possible to radically change the … Continue reading Stuck with continuous improvement?

What is Kaikaku?

Kaikaku is one of these Japanese words which found their way into the Lean lingo. Kaikaku is usually translated into “radical change” or breakthrough. my tiny Japanese dictionary proposes “reform”, “renovation” and “reorganization”. "Doing" kaikaku means introducing a major change in a process in order to drastically improve it (quantum leap). Kaikaku is therefore “opposed” … Continue reading What is Kaikaku?

Improving  50% is easy, improving 5% is difficult

It is with this enigmatic sentence that one of my Japanese mentors introduced the growing difficulty with continuous improvement. What it means is that at the beginning of an improvement program or when starting in a new area, the first and usually the easiest actions bring big improvement, hence the “easy” 50%. This is also … Continue reading Improving  50% is easy, improving 5% is difficult

How corporate Lean programs spoil golden opportunities

This is the sad and true story of a manufacturing unit of a major manufacturer in his industry. This company has a corporate program to roll out Lean, with permanently appointed staff to support it. The Lean organisation is structured from a corporate level to sites representatives and staff appointed to support departments within the … Continue reading How corporate Lean programs spoil golden opportunities

Continuous improvement: how easily focus is lost

In an industrial environment improvement opportunities are literally infinite, especially if nothing has been done so far about improvement and maturity, about industrial best practices and considering methodologies like Lean, Theory of Constraints (ToC) or Six Sigma was nearly nonexistent. When starting to improve, it happens quite often: committed people get lost and lose focus. … Continue reading Continuous improvement: how easily focus is lost

The myth about common sense

The widespread belief about common sense is that it is innate and widespread. Another widespread belief is that philosophies, approaches or methodologies like 5S, Lean, Continuous Improvement and more are “nothing but common sense”, said with a bit of contempt. What is common sense? According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, common sense (noun) is the … Continue reading The myth about common sense

Downsides of kaizen events

In a previous post I explained what kaizen events are and ended it with some reservations. In this one I'll explain why. I am no opponent to kaizen events, I simply point out the deviations I have witnessed. >Lisez-moi en français kaizen events are quick actions performed in a very limited time, limited perimeter and focused … Continue reading Downsides of kaizen events

What is kaizen event?

You may know from a previous post that kaizen means continuous improvement. A kaizen event is a planned session for improvement on a limited perimeter, usually focused on a peculiar topic or issue and limited in time. A kaizen event lasts generally a week or less. Shorter kaizen events are often called kaizen blitz, a … Continue reading What is kaizen event?