September 2014

Sociology of Lean

By: Darrell Rogers, a speaker from our 2014 Annual Conference

“Social Norms”
Sociology is the study of people in groups, the study of social behavior. One of the fundamental elements of this study is recognizing the social mores and norms. Norms are group-held beliefs (typically unstated and undocumented) about how members should behave in a given context. 
Some behaviors occur that are outside the norms of the group. The response to these behaviors functions as an attempt to move them back into line with what’s acceptable. Behavior that fits the norms is encouraged and behavior that does not is discouraged. That enforcement is very powerful, ubiquitous, and effective.  

This enforcement of a set of group norms creates a "Stable Social Structure.” This structure is a transparent but predictable, reliable, and consistent set of behaviors that are manifested in literally every interaction, transaction, and decision within the group.  

 “Social Capability”
If the norms of the current stable social structure discourage the types of behaviors needed in the Lean environment, this is likely to be the root cause of our inability to create or maintain a new culture of continuous improvement. 

We know that capability analysis measures the ability of a process or system, based on its normal state, to do what it’s supposed to do.  “Social Capability” determines if the existing stable social structure enhances or constrains efforts to become Lean.  The viability and sustainability of all Lean/TPS, SixSigma, or Continuous Improvement implementations are determined by our social capability.

“Social Destabilization”
In an organization that lacks social capability the existing stable social structure must be destabilized and then re-invented with new and more effective norms.  Efforts to create a culture of continuous improvement/problem-solving without social capability are ultimately destined to fail or be marginally successful. 
Destabilizing the existing Stable Social Structure is dangerous and treacherous work.  To create true systemic change this work must be done by the top leadership of the organization.  Individuals who are not in top leadership roles can certainly demonstrate more socially capable behaviors but they will ultimately leave, be asked to leave, or become resigned to the current status of social capability.

 “Social Leadership”
This combination of organizational and personal strength needed to change an organization’s Social Capability comes from two types of leaders: “Revolutionary” and “Revelationary”.

Revolutionary Leaders come from outside the “core” organization. They may be total outsiders or they may come from somewhere within a larger organization. 

“Revelationary Leaders” are already in charge of the organization or have significant autonomous authority. They may be founders, “O” level executives, or owners.

Both types of leaders have three attributes: 1) They realize that a non-capable Stable Social Structure exists in their own organizations. 2) They realize that it MUST be changed in order to be successful on the journey of continuous improvement.  Revelationary leaders may even have been complicit in its establishment or perpetuation.  3) They become the agents of destabilization of the old, non-capable social structure and they re-stabilize outside the old norm in an aggressive, demonstrable, consistent manner until a new set of norms develops.  They socially destabilize in order to create social capability.

Eliminate Fear 

By: Mike Taubitz, MLC Secretary

Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s 8th Point is “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.”  In this Newsletter, we will explore what if means from the employee perspective.  We all recognize that a management that demands unrealistic goals with the threat of termination, incessant demands to cut costs or jobs will be sent overseas and a myriad of other behaviors are things that any person would immediately recognize as an organizational culture based upon fear.

However, well-meaning mangers and lean practitioners can unintentionally instill a form of fear that inhibits learning and continuous improvement.  My experience is that the use of technical terms and the strict adherence to using one type of tool for a given problem may instill a form of fear in those whom we are attempting to teach.  Let me use a safety example to explain this further.  Discussion of OSHA, hazards and risk make employees glaze over even more than when we use Japanese terms and complex forms to implement “lean.”  Risk assessment is a methodology that can be either simple or complex.  If we follow Dr. Deming’s approach to drive out fear, we will have a multitude of complementary risk assessment tools for different participants.  Examples of these differences include:
1.    Sophisticated software for engineers and designers
2.    More complex forms for large companies where the adherence to one form and format is critical
3.    Paper copies that are less complicated, but will still provide equivalent answers for small companies where #1 and #2 would not fit their culture

Recently, I taught a risk assessment class to a group of mechanics who fly around the world commissioning new machines (getting them ready for production) and repairing these machines.  For the hands-on exercise, I normally hand out a simple form for an individual or team to complete.  However, I made a judgment call that proved to be accurate.  We did away with the form.  I told the teams to walk every step of an identified task and record those steps on a sheet of blank paper.  The teams then identified the steps of the task that posed the greatest risk.  The one-page guideline for risk assessment was all they needed to satisfactorily complete the task.

At the conclusion of the class, each person was asked what they liked and did not like.  Many cited that using language they could understand and not using forms and templates was appreciated – and would allow them to apply their learning on the job.  Isn’t that what lean and continuous improvement is all about?

When in doubt, keep it simple and concurrently eliminate fear that inhibits adult learning.

Lean in Action 

W3 Group LLC, is a globally recognized consulting and training group that assists organizations who are striving to create a culture of deliberate continuous improvement based on innovation and adaptiveness. 
The methodologies, principles, and techniques W3 Group teaches are on the cutting edge of global understanding in regards to deliberate culture creation, organizational alignment, and lean deployment. 
Our expertise in the teaching and organizational deployment of the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata, defined in the book “Toyota Kata” by Mike Rother, is well-known throughout the business community. 

Our main competencies, in short, are: 
•    Process and Organization Stability through Daily Management a.k.a. Shop-floor Management 
•    Organizational Alignment through effective Strategy Deployment a.k.a. Hoshin Kanri
•    Process Challenge Development though Value Stream Mapping, linking organizational objectives to every process performed in an organization. 
•    Materials and Supply Chain Management in support of Value Stream objectives, Including Kanban and Heijunka, a.k.a. Level Loading
•    Lean Leadership development through interactive simulation and coaching experiences designed for middle and front line managers and supervisors
•    Lean Knowledge and Skill through the highly interactive teaching methods available in our W3 Group Lean University
•    Organizational Standard Work through our Management Support System. This is a system specifically designed for and deployed in your organization, which enables you to successfully integrate and SUSTAIN the methodologies mentioned above.

The training and interactions with our course participants and client’s associates are based on learning-by-doing. We use highly interactive experiences for skill-development by deliberate practice under the watchful eye of our experienced coaches. Our worldwide associate’s knowledge and skills are continuously being enhanced through our ever extending network of lean community influencers and global collaborators 
Our vision is to “Benefit our world with better paradigms of engaging, thinking and collaboration.” 

The Leaning Edge
The Leaning Edge Radio Show, led by MLC Co-Founder Debra Levantrosser, airs every Friday and Saturday on the Michigan Business Network. 

Tune in on Fridays at 11 am, 5 pm, 11 pm and Saturdays/Sundays at 5 am, 8 am, 1 pm, 6 pm, 11 pm. You can also listen to and download past episodes on the website. If you are interested in being a guest on the show email Debra at

Please note that hits on the radio show determine whether or not it stays on the air. Thank you for your support. Please listen and email the station with your positive feedback if you love the show!


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Upcoming Events

Lean 103 - September 24, 2014 in West Olive

Lean 102 - September 26, 2014 in Burton

Healthcare Kaizen: Improving the Way We Improve with Mark Graban - October 9, 2014 in Muskegon

2014 Annual Healthcare Symposium: Lean Strategies in Transforming Patient Care - October 10, 2014 in Muskegon

Benchmarking at Amway - November 21, 2014 in Ada

End of Year Event - December 5, 2014 in Troy

If you have an idea for an event or would like to host an event, please email our Event Commitee co-leads at Thank you!

Click to Register Now
"Lean Leadership for Healthcare"
Ron Bercaw, President of Breakthrough Horizons

This presentation covers the essential elements of lean leadership for transforming a healthcare organization. The presentation begins with an understanding of deploying a lean strategy to create world class improvement in performance and culture. A road map for lean deployment from standing up your infrastructure through sustainability and spread follows. The presentation closes with an understanding of avoiding unnecessary risk in the transformation journey and an understanding of the leadership behaviors and attributes necessary to ensure success.

Breakout Sessions will include:

Breakout Session 1 Option #1: “Lean Transformation Model: Implications for Beginning and Sustaining Lean in Enterprises.” by Lester Sutherland, Sr. Lean Six Sigma Coach

Breakout Session 1 Option #2: “Supply chain improvements: moving from the model line to hospital wide implementation” by Amy Sequeira, Performance Improvement Training, Education, and Yokoten Manager, Kristin Hurt , Process Engineer and Registered Nurse, and Ryan Adams, Process Engineer, Spectrum Health Systems, Grand Rapids

Breakout Session 1 Option #3: “Lean Daily Management: Leadership in the Gemba” by Jamie Klimp, Process Management Consultant and Eduardo Osorio, Process Management Consultant

Breakout Session 2 Option #1: “Leveraging Lean Management in Healthcare: the System, Tools and Teacher” by Margy Dayton, RN, Senior Process Excellence Consultant and Heather Toppen, Senior Process Excellence Consultant , Mercy Health Systems, Grand Rapids

Breakout Session 2 Option #2: “Leveraging Lean Process Improvement Methodology to Enhance Patient's End of Life Care” by Brian Vander Weele, Senior Process Engineer, Spectrum Health Systems, Grand Rapids

Breakout Session 3 Option #1: “How To Use Lean Principles to Overcome A Broken Paradigm” by Cynthia Seaver, Certified Six Sigma Black Belt & Lean Expert and 2014 MLC/Mercy Health Hackle Hospital HealthCare Symposium Planning Committee Member

Breakout Session 3 Option #2: “EPIC Reinventing Efficiency: Changing organizational culture one step at a time” by Christopher Kamarada, MDOC Dental Reporting LEAN Team Manager and Jeffrey A. Taylor, DDS, MDOC Dental Reporting LEAN Team Leader, Michigan Dept. of Corrections

The Day will Conclude with a Presentation:
“Waste not, want not - conducting a Lean assessment” by Todd Sperl, Lean Coach, Lean Fox Solutions and Jeff Nagy, Critical Access Hospital Consultant ,The Rybar Group


Volunteer Spotlight

Katelyn Dunaski is a junior studying Applied Engineering Sciences at Michigan State University. She had been working under Jim Manley and Kristin St. Marie as a lean apprentice since October 2012. Her experience includes working on a variety of projects at Magna International, Demmer Corporation, and GE Healthcare. She enjoys being actively involved in groups across the university and is always looking to challenge herself to learn new things.


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