My guest for Episode #395 is Michael Parent. He is Managing Director of his firm Right Brain Consulting and he is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with the AAA Auto Club Group. Michael has a BS in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from William & Mary. Michael and I are both from the same home town, by the way -- Livonia, Michigan.

In today's episode, Michael first shares what he learned working for Bridgestone, a "typical Japanese company, " as he puts it. He learned, among other things, that "culture is everything."

We then talk about the LSS project that he led in HR and Talent Acquisition for the AAA Auto Club Group. What was the problem statement? "Time to fill" a position. What was the approach for the project? Who was involved and how? What was Michael's role as a facilitator? What was learned about the current state and variation in the work? How were the results and benefits determined? And, what were his lessons learned from this work?

His case study is available to read through

Today's episode, #394, is a little different. I have nine different guests today... not all at once, but sequentially in today's episode.

Many people have started podcasts (or similar projects) during the pandemic. I've started two (Habitual Excellence and My Favorite Mistake) in addition to this series that's about to hit its 15th birthday).

Some of my guests today started a podcast during the pandemic... some of them were already going. Most of them are doing podcasts related to Lean (and one is a college buddy who has an HR podcast). We've all been part of a formal networking group recently that we call "Lean Communicators." I have experiences to share with them, but I'm also looking to learn from what they're learning as they get started -- what new ideas or best practices was I missing?

I talk with each guest about why they started their podcast or video series, what they've learned, and more.

My guests and their projects are (in order of appearance):


Podcast or Project
Bella Englebach The Edges of Lean
Jon Thurmond  The #HRSocialHour Half Hour
Brian Buck People, Purpose and Profits Business Coaching Podcast (and YouTube)
Jamie V. Parker Lean Leadership For Ops Managers
Brion Hurley Lean Six Sigma Bursts and Lean Six Sigma for Good
Deondra Wardelle High Five Fridays (and more to come)
Paul Critchley The New England Lean Podcast
Sam Morgan 90 Second Purpose and C.I. in 5 (YouTube)
Patrick Adams The Lean Solutions Podcast

Joining me for Episode #393 of the podcast is Woody Zuill, who does "Mob Programming workshopstalks and presentations on agile topics," and "coaches and guides folks interested in creating a wonderful workplace where people can excel in their work, and in their life."

I had a chance to meet Woody last year when I saw him speak at an Agile conference and I really enjoyed his perspectives. Woody has also participated quite a bit in a "Lean Consultants Stuck at Home" group that I had organized earlier in the pandemic times.

Topics today include "flow" in software development, the difference between "mob programming" and "paired programming," and the "no estimates movement" and why that is important. I hope you'll find this interesting even if you don't work in software.

Joining me for Episode #392 is Mike Leigh, the President of his firm OpX Solutions, LLC. Mike was one of the contributors, writing a chapter for our anthology book Practicing Lean.

Some highlights from Mike's career, from his bio:

  • Began his career as an officer in the US Navy in the late ‘80s, specializing in nuclear propulsion and surface warfare
  • Mike spent 13 years with General Electric and held various leadership and senior management positions at several different manufacturing sites
  • During his last five years with GE, Mike was an internal lean consultant and helped over 25 GE factories/suppliers and hundreds of work teams become more productive, reduce costs, and improve their bottom line
  • Had 45 weeks of training by mentors from Shingijutsu, considered by many as the best Lean consultants in the world

Today, we have a wide-ranging conversation, starting off by talking about the need for leaders to "break down barriers" (and to understand what those barriers really are). What lessons did Mike learn about leadership from the Navy? What leadership behaviors are really problematic? And what are the root causes of those behaviors? We talk about all of this and more.

My guests for Episode #391 are Mary Poppendieck and Tom Poppendieck, the authors of books including Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit, Implementing Lean Software Development, and The Lean Mindset: Ask the Right Questions.

In the episode, we'll hear their thoughts on Lean as "a way of thinking that values people" and how teamwork, problem solving, and customer focus are integral to Lean -- in software or otherwise. How can we build capabilities for problem solving ("producing people") and how can we "learn how to learn"?

Questions, Links, and More

  • How did you first discover Lean? How did you come to see the potential applications to software development?
  • You published Lean Software Development in 2003 -- how do you define that term “Lean” and what does it mean to you?
  • How has your view of Lean evolved over those 17 years?
  • What have you learned about Lean / TPS from visiting Japan?
  • Your 2013 book is called "The Lean Mindset" -- as the subtitle says, asking the right questions is important... why so? How do we know what the right questions are?
  • 2009 -- Leading Lean Software Development -- another provocative subtitle... "results are not the point" -- what do you mean?
  • Their website:
  • Mary on Twitter

Show notes, with transcript and more:

My guest for Episode #390 is Keith Ingels, the TPS (Toyota Production System) Manager for Raymond Corporation -- Raymond is part of Toyota Material Handling North America, which is part of Toyota Industries.

Wait, so a Toyota company needs a "TPS Manager?" Yes, when that company was acquired by Toyota, which creates a need to "become more like Toyota" instead of just "being Toyota." What are the differences between TPS and the Raymond Lean Management System, if any, and why does that terminology matter? What is the "adopt and adapt" strategy and why is that so important?

I want to thank Raymond Corp. for making Keith available and for sharing the videos and resources that I've linked to below. Also, here is an article that Keith had published recently on shifting to a culture of continuous improvement.

My guest for Episode #389 is Elisabeth Swan. She is the co-author of The Problem-Solver's Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe Podcast. As her bio says, she's "been helping people successfully build their problem-solving muscles for over 30 years, and she loves what she does every single day."

In the episode, we discuss brainstorming, using an article she wrote for as the starting point: "Green Belts: Group Brainstorming Is a Waste of Time." Why has classic brainstorming proven to be ineffective, especially in the context of Lean, Six Sigma, or process improvement? And how can it be better given the reality of remote teams?

The conversation also veers into talking about Elisabeth's history in improv comedy and how lessons from the improv approach influence her to this day. Why does "structure set you free" in improv or Lean Six Sigma? We'll talk about that and more.

My guest for Episode #388 is my friend Michael Lombard. I first met Michael when he lived in the DFW area and first got into healthcare. He has been a Lean facilitator / coach in numerous healthcare organizations and has been a hospital CEO in Louisiana before taking his current role, again focusing on process improvement, at Kaiser Permanente in California.

Michael is doing a unique and, I think, groundbreaking keynote talk at the upcoming AME Virtual Conference. The session, which he invited me to moderate, is called "Striving together in a crisis: How improvement science can build resiliency in a crisis and perhaps even progress complex social issues." These crises include Covid-19, wildfires, and social injustice and unrest.

He will be incorporating videos by two physicians, Dr. Rita Ng and Dr. Carla Wicks and they will both be participating in the Q&A for this "conversation-style" keynote. Our podcast today is a preview of this session.

Michael and I also talk about how (and why) he got into healthcare and why the Toyota Kata methodology is so important to him.

My guest for Episode #387 of the podcast is Sán Paul Teeling, who joins us from Dublin, Ireland. He is the Programme Director for the Professional Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Lean Healthcare at UCD Health Systems. Seán Paul is also an Assistant Professor in Health Systems/Mater Lean Academy. He was previously Lean Manager at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital Dublin. You can read his full bio here.

Seán Paul and I have collaborated a few times — I was invited to give a virtual lecture last year and I had the opportunity to visit the hospital and the Lean Academy last November, leading a workshop for a group there about continuous improvement and the methods from Measures of Success (yes, I had my “red bead game” kit with me).

Seán Paul also invited me to review articles and to contribute an editorial to a special supplement about Lean and Six Sigma in the journal International Journal for Quality in Health Care.

In the episode, we discuss the Irish health system and his experience practicing and teaching Lean. We also have the unique opportunity to chat with somebody who designed a Covid-19 clinic and then got treatment in that same clinic (thankfully, he has now recovered).

I hope you enjoy the conversation like I did. 


I'm crossposting Episode #5 of my new podcast series "My Favorite Mistake."

My guest here is Billy Taylor, who was my guest on episodes #293 and 298 of this series, Lean Blog Interviews. Billy is a retired operations executive with Goodyear who now has his own consulting group.

In this episode, Billy talks about how he learned from mistakes related to not respecting standards -- when he was a kid and when he was a rising operations leader at Goodyear.

I know you'll enjoy this episode as a Lean practitioner and I think you'll like the whole "My Favorite Mistake" series on the theme of learning from mistakes.



Load more

Play this podcast on Podbean App