Showing posts with label training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label training. Show all posts

Monday, September 12, 2011

Value Stream Mapping - A 5 Part Video Series

Continuing the Value Stream Mapping theme, here's a 5 part video series on value stream mapping from Simplex Improvement. You may remember Simplex Improvement as the creator of the peanut butter and banana Standard Work video.

This Value Stream Mapping video series brings the same kind of extensive coverage and interesting analogies. Each of the five video sections is almost 9 minutes long, so there's plenty of information here, yet bite-size pieces to watch in multiple sittings.

Introducing value stream mapping, the first video talks primarily about the purpose of doing a value stream map. Comparing the process to a jigsaw puzzle, the value stream map is the picture on the puzzle box. When putting a jigsaw puzzle together, you need to focus on the complete picture to determine where the individual pieces fit in. Otherwise you have no targeted approach and your randomly trying to fit pieces together. A recipe for failure.

It's a great analogy. Unless you're putting together sky pieces, then good luck!

As well, we get to learn about the downfalls of the "Peanut Butter Spread" strategy, where instead of focusing our lean efforts on one particular value stream, we try to spread our efforts over the whole plant, making only marginal improvements that may not stick. I love these analogies, since they're easy to remember when teaching lean.

I've embedded the first video in the series below. When the video's completed, you can click to get to the next one in the series. Or head on over to Simplex Improvement to see them all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lean Examples - Pictures Tell the Story

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. If that's the case, then the following lean site is like a library of stuffy Russian literature. A lot of pictures = a ton of words. is a blog featuring pictures of actual lean practices in different work areas.

 "Photos of lean enterprise examples, concepts, ideas, and critiques."

Recent posts include:

  • Replenishment bins with visible markings indicating refill points. 
  • Stand-up meeting board with colour coded cards indicating staus of different equipment. 
  • Tool storage shadow boards
  • Visual suggestion box
  • Colour-coded tool status board.
Pictures are the best way to show visual management practices. Have you ever tried to describe a shadow board without drawing one? People don't always get it until they see it. And when they see pictures of a whole tool crib set up with shadow boards, then they really start to understand the practical applications.

I usually like to pull up a few of these pictures during a training session to show people what types of things are being done at other places. It gets the juices flowing and starts everyone thinking about how it would work in their situation.

And the best part is that you can challenge everyone to come up with ways to improve on the example. We love to critique other people's solutions and that can easily be flipped back to our own processes. If we did something similar, we could improve on it by changing this or adding that. And now we're talking about our own process, so let's just go and do it. is an excellent resource for all kinds of lean visual examples. Head on over and use the photographic evidence in your next training session.

I've added this site to my list of Lean Tools and Downloads.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lean Video - Introduction to Lean: Nice to meet you too!

Any comprehensive lean training session can only begin with one thing.  An introduction!  This recent video from Gemba Academy provides the perfect introduction to lean manufacturing.

Lean is a difficult concept to introduce succinctly, but this video does a good job, within a 15 minute time frame. With references to office, healthcare and the military, the lean introduction shows that lean isn't just for manufacturing.

The video is current, showing why lean techniques are essential for survival in this global environment, especially considering the impact of the global economic uncertainties.

With quotes from Deming and Ohno, and an emphasis on Lean's respect for people, the key lean tools are introduced, but not as the be all to end all. Just tools as part of the overall lean philosophy.

Even the history facts are interesting, showing lean techniques as far back as 1574 in the Venice shipyards, but not boring us with too much of a history lesson.

An excellent introduction to lean to add to my list of Lean training videos.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Lean Lego Simulation - It's back!

Last year I posted about a Lean Lego simulation at the Aberdeen Lean forums. Sadly, the website closed up shop shortly after and the information disappeared into the ether.

But all was not lost!

I was recently contacted by the game creator, Michael Thelen, who sent me two files to re-post for him. I've posted the game instructions and accompanying presentation in all their glory on

You can view the files below.
Michael Thelen can be found on twitter and linkedin, if you have any questions about this Lego simulation.

LEGO Simulation Overview

LEGO Simulation Instructions

Direct links to the files on scribd:
Lean Lego Simulation Instructions
Lego Simulation Overview

Many more Lean games are on my list!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gain xp in the A3 Dojo - Get input on your problem

Time to level up your Lean skills in the A3 Dojo.
Need some advice on your thinking process? No problem. has started a new resource called MTL A3 Dojo. You submit your A3 to the world and people comment on how great a job you're doing!

What's an A3?

An A3 is a one page document summarizing a project or problem you're working on. The name A3 comes from the size of the paper, which to us North Americans converts roughly to 11 x 17.

As someone once described an A3 to me: "The Japanese have no patience for flipping through 80 page reports. They want to see the critical information on one page."

There's a certain technique for creating this one-pager. It's not just a sheet of paper. It's a whole way of thinking. And many books have been written about it.

You could almost say it's a Standardized Work for problem solving.

I can't clearly describe an A3 in one blog post. That's why the A3 Dojo is perfect for learning. You can view real-life A3's that people are working on. You can see how other people think. You can see how they put their thoughts to paper.

Lean games and simulations are great for demonstrating Lean techniques. But nothing beats the real thing!

I've added the A3 Dojo to my Helpful Lean Tools and Downloads page.

The A3 Dojo:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Toast Kaizen Video with a Twist! Peanut butter and bananas make any sandwich better.

Perhaps you've heard of that Toast Kaizen Video? You know the one with that guy with the monotone voice, making toast in his kitchen for his wife while we watch and try to improve his process? A great video, perfect for teaching the 7 Wastes.

Well, here's a new twist. Rather than kaizen the toast making process, the video below uses that same sandwich-making process we're all familiar with to teach standard work. With analogies to football play-books and casino dealers, the content is fresh and relevant.

But the real content is the sandwich! Peanut butter, bananas and honey. . . the perfect midnight snack. And no need to struggle in the dark for all your equipment, because everything is labeled so nicely.

One thing this video addresses very clearly is Standard Work in Process. Don't tie the operator to the machine. Rather than waiting with bated breath for the toaster to pop, the operator is working on the follow-up processes of spreading, and cutting.

Two slices toasting, two slices being made into a sandwich, and repeat, until the loaf is done!

I hope none of us will be working the sandwich assembly line soon, but the concept of Standard Work in Process is something that is important for any work cell with machines that do stuff. Here's another example of Standard Work in Process. 

Be sure to check out the entire Standard Work video series at You'll learn how to fill out a Standard Work Chart, a Capacity Sheet and a Combination Table, all useful skills. If you're interested in the banana sandwich only, it starts at around 6:30 (or just make your own sandwich).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What is takt time? Zero to coffee in 60 seconds.

Ah, the subtle nuances of takt time. So many questions.

What does takt mean? Why are you teaching us German? Isn't Lean a Japanese philosophy?

In traditional manufacturing, factories make parts as fast as possible. Output is king, as long as quality is queen. It can be hard to fathom actually slowing down a work cell and being more productive (assuming you’re using less people).

The benefits of levelling production and timing work cells to takt time are enormous. Steady production is easy production!

Wikipedia has a decent explanation of takt time.

I try to keep it simple when explaining takt time. Here's a typical conversation:

Me: How fast can you make a part?

Worker: 60 seconds

Me: That's the cycle time.

Worker: I know that. I've been doing this for 20 years.

Me: Okay. How fast does the customer want the part?

Worker: Well. . . It's complicated. Some days they want more than other days. And sometimes it's just crazy. Like yesterday. . .

Me: I know what you mean. Yesterday was crazy. But if you take the average demand of the customer and you know how much time you have, you can figure out how many seconds you need per part.

Worker: Sounds a little complicated. You do the math and tell me.

Me: Just divide your time by their demand. That's the takt time. This is how often the customer wants a part. Let's figure it out together.

Takt Time Training Video:

This video takes you to the coffee shop to demonstrate the difference. The author also briefly touches on work balancing to match the takt time. A quick little video to clarify the takt time mystery, perfect for training.

Created by Graham Ross at Check out his site for more Lean Resources.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lean Lego Game - 4 Rounds to Successful Lean Training

Watch your senior management scramble to sort Lego against the clock in this Lean Lego Game, designed to illustrate how Lean and Agile techniques can make your process more efficient. This proven Lego game was designed by Danilo Sato and Francisco Trindade and presented at Agile 2008 and 2009.

The large pack of files includes clear instructions and professional presentation material. Everything you need to run your own version of the game is included, except the bricks.

Covering many Lean concepts including waste (the seven wastes), inventory buffers and kanban, kaizen and workcells, it’s perfect for facilitating your own Lego session, whether you’re implementing Lean in software development or on a manufacturing shop floor.

This game runs for 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on whether you want to run the long or short version. The long version includes an extra iteration of the game.

In short:  Professional. Clear. Comprehensive. Adaptable.

Key Files:

  • Facilitator Guide
  • Slides (Long and Short Version)
  • Building Instructions
  • Team Instructions

The production quality of the game material is top notch. The facilitator's guide is easy to follow and the slides are approaching Steve Jobs-like quality (i.e. excellent).

With the emphasis on software development, it will fit right into your Agile training session, while some minor massaging of the material will be necessary for a manufacturing or other Lean environment.

The Game:

The game is played with 4 teams of operators who work different stations.

  1. First team sorts the Lego bricks into colours
  2. Second team sorts the bricks into different sizes (keeping colours separated)
  3. Third team sorts the bricks into specific lots required to build a Lego house
  4. Fourth team takes specified bricks and builds a house according to the instructions
Round 1 - Push System

Teams sort and build as fast as possible. Inventory piles up. Chaos ensues. Debrief. Discuss waste, inventory, 7 wastes, push vs pull, kanban.

Make sure you motivate your team with the included posters!

Round 2 - Pull system

Install buffer limits between stations and only build when buffers empty. Debrief. Discuss solving unleveled process and the concept of a work cell.

Round 3 - Work Cell

Simultaneous house construction in work cells. Debrief. Discuss concept of kaizen.

Round 4 - Kaizen

Kaizen. Teams allowed to change what they want to improve process. Conclusion and final debrief.

Here’s a video of the Lean Lego game in action:


Overall, this is a very well presented game. It has clear instructions and appears to be easy to teach people due to the simplicity. I love the push vs. pull approach between rounds 1 and 2. It clearly illustrates the benefits of Lean and reducing WIP.

Also, since the game can become quite frantic and fast-paced, it's actually an excellent form of stress management and could help people manage similar situations in the actual workplace.

In Round 3, the work cell concept is discussed and demonstrated clearly. I would have liked to see a break-up of the building of the house to level the process, rather than building 4 identical structures at the same time. Perhaps a 2 person work cell for building, each doing half a house would work better.

But I come from a manufacturing background, so perhaps that’s my own preconceptions bubbling to the surface! I’d be interested if anyone separated the building aspect into two parts as a kaizen during any of the sessions run at the Agile conferences.

You can request all the material to run your own session of this game from Danilo Sato or Francisco Trindade.

Here’s a photoset of the Lean Lego game being played on Flickr.

As always, please comment if you’ve had any experience playing this game or running a session. Also hop on over to the creators’ blogs and share your comments there.

I’ve added this game to my growing list of Lean games and simulations.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

List of Lean Games and Simulations!

I've summarized all the Lean games and simulations so far on one page. The link's in the sidebar to the right.

I will continue to update it as I find more Lean games, so bookmark it and check back often!

Check out the huge list of Lean games!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seven Benefits of Teaching Lean with Simulations

Why should you use games and simulations to teach Lean material? What’s wrong with Power Point? Why waste time with a simulation, when you can take your team right out to the shop floor?

Learning through games has many benefits. I’m no Taichi Ohno, but if he can coin the Seven Wastes, I can come up with my own list of seven.

I shall call it the Seven Benefits of Teaching Lean with Simulations. I know, not quite as catchy, but here it is:

1. Simulations demonstrate Lean principles in action.

Demonstrating Lean concepts is one of the main reasons to use a simulation as a teaching tool. During a Lean workshop, the key material can be taught, and then illustrated with a simulation or game.

Once participants have seen with their own eyes the difference between Push and Pull production, they'll never forget it. That massive stack of half assembled Lego is a sight that will burn itself into their brains. 

And when your team members go back to their desks and see the huge stack of papers, they will immediately think,
Simulations drive home the core Lean teaching and get people thinking about their own processes.

2. Games involve your audience! 

Maintaining your audience’s interest is one of the hardest things to do during training sessions. Especially when they don't want to be there!

Some people treat it as a paid vacation day, while others can’t stop working, thumbing their Blackberry’s below the table as if you can’t tell what they're doing.

By involving the participants, you’ll pique their interest. You will force them to get involved in the material. They become active, rather than passive listeners. People learn by doing.

Keep those Power Point slides short and wake them up with a game! You will exercise their legs and their brains.

And not too many people can fall asleep standing up! 

3. Games are perfect team building activities.

Training sessions done at your workplace will typically involve people of different departments and management levels.

Mandate from the top: Everyone needs to know Lean!

These workshops are excellent opportunities to foster team building. 

Games can be used to break the ice and get your audience to participate, but they're also great for getting people to work together. 

Apart from getting your class to be united against you (why do we have to do this silly game?!), you can also create bonds by pitting them against each other!

Design your workshop with multiple sessions and divide your group into teams that compete against each other. Once the teams see the posted simulation results, they immediately become more competitive and try to improve, by working together! 

4. Simulations are small and flexible.

Manufacturing and business processes are large and complex. Providing real-world improvement solutions within the current business is difficult within a two-day training session. If it was that easy, you would have done it!
Simulations are small and compact. They fit into a room. They can be performed in a quiet training room environment, rather than a noisy shop floor. They don’t interrupt normal business. They are short. They are expandable.
They can be tailored for different audiences. For a short demonstration in a kaizen event, use The Penny Game. For a multiple day training session, consider The Beer Game, which can be as complex as you want.
5. Games are confidence builders.

Your audience consists of many types of people. Shy, introverted thinkers mix it up with overbearing loudmouths.
By placing people in roles they are not familiar with, you can empower them. A shop floor employee can shine while directing the divisional manager, who’s struggling with the bottleneck process. When roles are switched in such a way, managers can see what it’s like to be in the trenches, while others can become confident with their new responsibilities, even if their factory is just making paper airplanes.
This is also a good opportunity to identify problem solvers and leaders. These are the people you want in your next kaizen event.
Just be watchful. Not everyone enjoys being pulled out of their comfort zone. A good facilitator must recognize this and balance appropriately.
6. Test real processes with simulations first.

Sometimes simulations are used for exactly that.

To simulate actual processes in your business.

Kanban sizing is a good example. Kanban card calculations can become pretty confusing once all the factors such as lead times and signal stagnation are considered. Simulating this with pieces of paper or on a spread sheet will make things a lot clearer and highlight potential issues before implementing into the real world. 

Another example of this would be designing new work cell layouts with papers representing work equipment.  

7. Give yourself a break!

Let’s say you’re just learning the ropes of facilitation. You’re still a little uncomfortable standing up in front of people. Here’s a little secret. . .

A well-run Lean game will make up for mediocre presentation skills!

That’s right. I said it. Your presentation doesn’t matter. People will only remember the game.

A simulation allows you to break away from teacher-mode and interact with individuals one on one. You can relax, joke around, answer questions and have a breather while the teams are interacting with each other. It’s for you just as much as for them!

What do you think? Have you participated in a Lean game? Did it help you retain the information taught?