continuous improvement

What HR needs to know about recruiting Lean Talent

Some summary points from an article posted at

When recruiting lean talent:

You are looking for someone with preferably NO INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE
o       They bring value by not understanding it through the ‘stupid’ questions they ask, which those familiar with the process would never ask, helping them to understand it. 
o       This gets those with industry experience to see things differently – helping THEM break down and rebuild the process.

There currently is no standard to determine lean training/certification. 
o       There is no green belt or black belt – it is not related to six sigma – but many consultants use this framework, adding to the confusion
o       There is no greater ‘certification’ than true experience and results as a measure of qualification.

Skills you are looking for:
-          Coaching, patience, questioning, problem solving, interpersonal skills, communication & facilitation skills, leadership,
-          Someone who is interested in working with people to learn how lean will apply to your unique situation, because you are different; NOT someone who tells you how it applies
-          Someone who has NO experience in your industry

Yes, a lot of it is counter intuitive at first.  Keep learning click here

A language they don’t understand: Lean in Spanish

Did you learn about Lean in Japanese? Why are we teaching it in Spanish?


Is making a translation sheet for terms rework or over processing? What about using it? Could we be more effective?


We had this feedback during process improvement work at a hospital with a clinician who previously completed her PhD on Jargon being a Power Differential.


Regarding our use of Spanish terms instead of English to teach lean concepts, she said whenever we use a foreign language:


- “it alienates people because you’re speaking a language they don’t understand.”

- “We do this in health care; it’s like we have a culture [the medical culture where we have our own language]”

- “we are not communicating in a language to understand [for end users like patients]”

- “It’s a culture we [medical professionals] all understand, and that myself {medical professionals] maintaining my own culture is more important than ensuring communication actually occurs.”

- “Speaking in another language unintentionally excludes those who don’t understand it.”


Does this promote resistance?


Are you focused on the end user of your communication if teaching something in a language they don’t understand?


What’s the feed back from your learner on language preference?


Examples of Spanish we use to reference lean:

Muda - waste

Kaizen - continuous improvement

Poka-yoke - mistake proofing

Heijunka - leveling

Jidoka - human autonomation (independence)

Sensei - teacher

Gemba - workplace

Hoshin Kanri - strategy deployment


We already use English for 5S;

Should we start using more Spanish terms? Why not?

There is an English translation for each Spanish term.


As continuous improvement leaders we set an example – and look for areas we can self improve; should we use the same language as those we’re talking to?


If during this article you thought “Why are they using Spanish?” -that’s how you audience feels when you use Japanese.


We welcome feed back on this – in a language we understand.

Improving Restaurants

Lean techniques seek to improve product and service quality while simultaneously reducing waste and labor costs. For food service operators, the additional trick is to link such improvements to customer loyalty.

For one operator, this effort meant tackling unpredictable demand and excessive error rates and wait times (ten minutes for simple sandwiches) on orders. The operator mapped daily changes in demand to highlight fluctuations, introduced a self-service counter, and redesigned kitchen and food preparation procedures to standardize sandwich making and eliminate waste, which consequently fell by 40%.

Meanwhile, labor costs dropped by 15% and service times improved by one-third. Best of all, sales increased by 5% and margins on affected products more than doubled, since employees could spend more time influencing customers and less time apologizing to them.