Creating A Lean Manufacturing Environment with Employee Engagement

Creating a lean manufacturing environment requires engagement

In this Lean Manufacturing Podcast episode I discuss with Karen Martin the critical importance of employee engagement.   Before we can move on to things like six sigma,  pull using kanban signals or even a well established 5s program we must create an environment that engages the hearts and minds of our employees.

Creating a lean manufacturing environment requires engagement

“Engagement, in my view is neither an attitude nor a behavior.  Rather, it is an outcome that results when an organization takes active steps with its employees to foster connections, to hand over control of appropriate aspects of  the work environment, and to challenge the employee’s intellectual capacity and creativity in a way that benefits the organization, its customers, the employee, and society as a whole.”  Page 152, The Outstanding Organization.


“The Outstanding Organization has been awarded The Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award.”

Research & Pub logo



TLM 021 Master Plan for 5S Implmentation – Interview with Mark Thompson

Join Mark Thompson with ATN and I as we discuss the importance of developing and deploying a plant wide implementation plan for 5S and linking that plan to the company’s strategic objectives.

Mark Thompson at the board

Mark Thompson at the board

We discuss the need for starting with a clear and easily understood master plan publishing it and communicating it to all team members, then establishing simple accountabilities to ensure the plan is measured and stays on track.

We also discuss the importance of team member involvement and input into the plan to ensure buy in and success of the individual events.

Mark and I discuss a current project in which we employ a triangular approach so to speak.

  1. The use an A3 to record current, and future state conditions, keep track of all the action items from the event.   Ensure their timely execution and keep the team tuned in and engaged.  Download Example: A3 Project Plan
  2. A daily five minute check sheet with a persons name affixed ensuring accountability and sustainability
  3. Regular work place scans (WPS) an auditable numeric record that the area team and supervision participates in, is visibly posted and trended over time to gage long term overall performance.
Team members and 5S

Team members and 5S

Thanks for listening and please leave a comment.

The Role FOCUS Plays In The Outstanding Organization interview with author Karen Martin

The Role FOCUS Plays In The Outstanding Organization interview with author Karen Martin


Focus is a necessary condition of outstanding performance. This seems to be common sense, but unfortunately doesn’t always make its way into practice in many organizations.

A Booz & Company survey found that:

  • Forty-nine percent of respondents said their company had no list of strategic priorities.
  • Sixty-four percent of respondents said they had too many conflicting priorities.
  • Eighty-two percent of respondents said that functional departments had too many competing demands from different business units.

“Karen Martin, 2012, Focus, The Outstanding Organization, McGraw-Hill”

Here is another great podcast from Karen Martin, this one on the topic of FOCUS.

Topics covered in this podcast:

  • The Hidden Costs of Being Unfocused
  • “switchtasking”
  • The Beauty of Not Doing
  • Reward Systems and High Visibility Displays of Individual Heroics
  • Setting Priorities
  • Prioritization Considerations as a Tool to Learn What to Focus On
  • Project Ownership
  • Measurable Objectives
  • Building Consensus with “Catchball”
  • Focused Project Management
  • Focused Meetings


This and much, much more are discussed in this interview with Karen.  Please visit her website and avail yourself of her books and other great resources.



TLM 019 Clarity and the Outstanding Organization

Karen Martin author of:

The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence

The Kaizen Event Planner: Achieving Rapid Improvement in Office, Service, and Technical Environments

And her newest book:

Metrics-Based Process Mapping: Identifying and Eliminating Waste in Office and Service Processes

Karen shows us how Continuous Improvement isn’t haphazard but rather all begins with achieving clarity in our organizations.

Clarity around:

Telling and seeking the truth: by being honest and not being tempted to use “soft” language that may run the risk of introducing imprecision and ambiguity into the situation and by staying away from “Fuzzy Words”, phases I think, Maybe, and I’ve heard can be symptoms of fuzzy thinking.

Clarity around:

Performance and key performance metrics and the necessary tools used in organizations that seek to become outstanding.

Clarity around:

Measuring quality and work effort in terms of process time, speed in terms of lead time  and quality in terms of percent complete and accurate.

Clarity around:

Visual management that provides baselines and other visual essentials for process management around where we are headed as an organization.

And Clarity around Vision

Clear, Specific, Differentiation and Inspiring.  Clear vision galvanizes our workforce toward achieving our goals in the Outstanding Organization and our markets respectively.

Join me as we listen in with Karen.

TLM 018 – ISO Audit Stage 2

 ISO 9001-2008 Stage II Audit preparation: Part 2

In this podcast we discuss with Mark Thompson of ATN the steps necessary in getting your company ready for a Stage II ISO audit.

  • What to expect from an outside auditor.
  • Is your Quality System effective?
  • The benefits of ISO certification for your company.
  • And much more…

ISO 9001 2008 Certification/17

ISO 9001 2008

In this podcast, Mark Thompson from ATN walks us through the ISO 9001 2008 certification process.  He starts with the reasons why a company would decide to commit the necessary resources to get an ISO certification project done.  Mark then describes what a company needs to do to get prepared, and how to select an ISO registrar.  Finally he shares how to begin the process for a Stage I audit, and beyond.

So where did the ISO name come from?

Because ‘International Organization for Standardization’ would have different acronyms in different languages (IOS in English, OIN in French for Organisation internationale de normalisation), the founders decided to give it the short form ISO. ISO is derived from the Greek isos, meaning equal. Whatever the country, whatever the language, the short form is always ISO.