Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 Annual Management Improvement Carnival: Gemba Panta Rei

It's time again for my contribution to John Hunter's Curious Cat Annual Management Improvement Carnival.  Each December, John asks fellow bloggers to participate in an annual review of management blogs to help highlight the authors and posts that made a difference in improvement management effectiveness throughout the year.
My first review covers Gemba Panta Rei, one of the mainstays in the world of lean blogging. The blog's main contributor is Jon Miller, CEO of the Kaizen Institute and someone who has obviously been immersed in lean thinking for many years. Besides being born and raised in Japan, Jon was fortunate enough to learn directly from students of Taiichi Ohno. I believe this important because the further away organizations get from the teachings of Ohno and W. Edwards Deming, for example, the more they fall prey to the influence of traditional management thinking. And when this happens, they lose sight of what made them successful and become like every other organization - focused on short-term profits and share price.
Being part of the Kaizen Institute, Gemba Panta Rei has the benefit of a close connection to Masaaki Imai, one of the pioneers of kaizen, and author of the book, Kaizen: The Key to Japan's Competitive Success.
Because of these connections, Gemba Panta Rei provides some very interesting and different posts related to lean thinking. Where else, for example, can you hear a speech by Taiichi Ohno talking about kaizen (I think . . . since it's in Japanese)? I sometimes find the posts to be too general and overly simplified, but I have to remind myself that lean is simple . . . it's just not easy.
Some of the recent posts I found interesting include the following:
What Does 'Right First Time' Mean in an R & D Environment? This post addresses an issue that has been largely ignored in books and articles - how to apply a lean mindset to product development and project management.
Why the Only Way to Think it Long Term. A good discussion of the age-old debate of long-term vs short-term thinking in business, and that long-term focus as an absolute necessity to have any chance of sustaining a lean mindset.
How to Engage People. A review of a recent survey from Gallup showing that 70% of American workers are not actively engaged in their work. The post provides a lean focus to the results - including a criticism of the Gallup CEO for misinterpreting the results and suggesting fixes from a traditional management point of view. The post has a clear connection to Deming's Theory of Profound Knowledge and shows that western management still doesn't understand people or business.
I have to say that I'm not a fan of the Kaizen Songs section of the blog, but I can skip those and get some excellent thought-provoking material on lean thinking and transformation. There is a good variety of depth on the posts, which can appeal to lean practitioners at all levels. I plan to continue to access the blog every couple of weeks to see any new posts and continue to learn, have fun, and make a difference in the world of business.
More information on the 2013 Management Improvement Blog Carnival can be found on Curious Cat Management Improvement blog at

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