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Lean Leadership Podcast

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Compelling stories from leaders and authors in the Lean, Six Sigma, and Continuous Improvement fields like Mark Graban, Jamie Flinchbaugh, Karen Martin, and Andy Carlino. What do they consider their biggest setback or challenge in their lean journey? Hint: They are just like you and got through the challenges that are holding you back.) What do they consider their ah-ha or success moment in their career? What tools and resources do they use to achieve success? What advice do they give individuals just starting their Lean journey? Sadly, Chris passed away in 2023. We love you, brother.


Memphis, TN


Compelling stories from leaders and authors in the Lean, Six Sigma, and Continuous Improvement fields like Mark Graban, Jamie Flinchbaugh, Karen Martin, and Andy Carlino. What do they consider their biggest setback or challenge in their lean journey? Hint: They are just like you and got through the challenges that are holding you back.) What do they consider their ah-ha or success moment in their career? What tools and resources do they use to achieve success? What advice do they give individuals just starting their Lean journey? Sadly, Chris passed away in 2023. We love you, brother.








Episode 071: John Dyer - The Façade of Excellence: Defining a New Normal of Leadership

Today’s guest is John Dyer John is President of his firm John Dyer and Associates located in Mooresville, North Carolina. John started his career at General Electric and later moved to Ingersoll-Rand where he was VP of Operations for their Safety and Security division. John had the benefit of learning directly from W. Edwards Deming and we talk about his experiences learning from Dr. Deming in the famed four-day seminar which included going through the Red Bead Experiment. John is a frequent contributor to Industryweek.com and is the author of The Façade of Excellence: Defining a New Normal of Leadership. John also frequently helps as a judge for IndustryWeek Best Plants Award competition. John has a degree in Electrical Engineering from Tennesee Tech University and an International MBA from Purdue University and the University of Rouen in France. Here’s our guest, John Dyer Connect with John: LinkedIn Twitter John’s work on Industryweek.com


Episode 070: Nick Katko - The Role of Lean Accounting in Continuous Improvement

Today’s guest is Nick Katko. Nick is the President and owner of BMA. For over 30 years, Nick has leveraged his lean accounting experience and philosophy in assisting BMA clients in developing, leading, and coaching them in their lean accounting transformations. Nick has worked with companies around the world, from family-owned businesses to multi-national companies, in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, software, engineering, and service. Nick is an early pioneer of lean accounting. In the 1990’s, as CFO of Bullard, Nick implemented a complete lean management accounting system in conjunction with Bullard’s lean transformation, which included eliminating standard costing. Nick is a regular speaker at the annual Lean Accounting Summit and has also presented at conferences in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Nick is co-author of “Practicing Lean Accounting” (2021) and author of “The Lean CFO” (2013), which has been translated into Turkish and Italian, and is a regular contributor to The Journal of Cost Management. Connect with Nick: LinkedIn Nick’s Company: Maskell.com


Episode 069: Peter Docker - Leading From The Jumpseat

Happy New Year. I hope your 2022 is filled with all of the personal and professional success that you endeavor to achieve. I’m really excited about our first guest this year, Peter Docker. Peter is inspired by seeing others harness what makes each of us extraordinary as human beings. He enables people to shift the context around what they see as possible for themselves and their team. Often, the greatest thing in our way is ourselves. A keynote speaker and facilitator, he presents around the world, having delivered workshops and bespoke leadership programs to audiences from 20 to 3000 people. He also stages high-quality online/virtual events using professional television studios and his production team. Peter is the author of ‘Leading From The Jumpseat: How to Create Extraordinary Opportunities by Handing Over Control’, published in October 2021. He is also co-author of 'Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team' with Simon Sinek and David Mead, published in Sep 2017 and now in over 26 languages. Connect with Peter: LinkedIn Twitter Peter’s Website: LeadingFromTheJumpseat.com


Episode 068: Crystal Davis - Building in Learning and Sustainability in Lean Transformation

Today’s guest is Crystal Davis. Crystal has over 20 years of proven Lean experience in the automotive, beverage, and supply chain industries and she has a STEM Industry focus. Her client roster consists of Fortune 500/1000 Companies. Crystal has been formally mentored by Toyota Senseis and helped lead companies to award-winning results. The organizations she’s worked with have been recognized for operational excellence at the "Lean Enterprise Institute Summit" and "Industry Week Best Plant". She has her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Mississippi State University and earned her MBA at Samford University and is a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt. She is a fellow podcaster and the host of The Lead Lean Podcast on the IBGR Network Here’s our guest Crystal Davis Connect with Crystal: LinkedIn Twitter Crystal’s Company The Lean Coach, Inc Crystal’s Podcast The Lead Lean Podcast


Episode 067: Skip Steward - Connecting the Dots: Lean Executive on Improvement in Healthcare

Today’s guest is Skip Steward. Skip Steward earned an MBA and is experienced in diverse industries including automotive, machining, food, process, service, and healthcare. He is a Shingo examiner, a Certified Quality Engineer (CQE), a Quality Management System Auditor, a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, and a certified Lean Champion. Skip is a certified trainer in TWI Job Instructions (JI), Job Relations (JR), and Job Methods (JM). He has spoken both nationally and internationally. Skip currently serves as Vice President and Chief Improvement Officer at Baptist Memorial Health Care headquartered in my hometown of Memphis, TN where he develops, directs, and implements performance improvement activities identifying inefficiencies; implementing strategies to improve quality, service, and finances; and fostering a culture of continuous improvement and excellence. Skip is a co-host of one of my favorite podcasts Connecting the Dots. Here is our guest, Skip Steward Connect with Skip on: LinkedIn Twitter Connecting the Dots Podcast


Episode 066: Deondra Wardelle - Being Authentic: Alignment, Communication, Great Questions, and Humility

Today’s guest is Deondra Wardelle. A visionary leader, entrepreneur, coach, and speaker, Deondra R. Wardelle specializes in empowering individuals and corporate groups through strategic visioning to achieve goals and sustain transformative change. Deondra launched On To the Next One Consulting, LLC, to serve as a strategic partner, cultural change agent, and operational expert for clients. She works alongside business partners to assess, prioritize and address operational challenges. Her services range from facilitating strategy and alignment workshops to coaching leaders on diversity, equity, and inclusion principles; educating teams on the tenets of Lean and the Toyota Way, and creating affinity and employee resource groups - all designed to help partners meet short and long-term business goals. Deondra’s vision is to help organizations, groups, and individuals overcome obstacles and achieve their grandest visions and goals – one step at a time. This includes her current passion project the #RootCauseRacism movement, a global initiative to end systemic racism and advance social justice. Connect with Deondra on: LinkedIn Twitter Instagram Facebook YouTube Learn more about #RootCauseRacism Upcoming Events: ReSourced Retreat with Amy Mervak and Dorsey Sherman: Registration link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resourced-retreat-2022-reflect-reconnect-refocus-tickets-192298729677 Brochure and event details link: https://www.flipsnack.com/o2tn1/resourced-retreat-reflect-reconnect-refocus.html February #RootCauseRacism™ Workshops & Webinars: message me at info@deondrawardelle.com or via LinkedIn to be added to the distribution list Lean Frontiers KataCon 8: https://leanfrontiers.com/katacon8/ Lean Frontiers – Lean Coaching Summit: https://leanfrontiers.com/2022leancoachingsummit/


Episode 065: Hugh Alley - Operational Excellence and Advice for Becoming the Supervisor

Today’s guest is Hugh Alley, Hugh has a breadth of experience in helping organizations make measurable improvements in productivity, quality, and delivery, all of which improve profitability. He also helps people become better leaders. His work has been improving operational performance in manufacturing, services, and the public sector. Hugh lives in Burnaby British Columbia and is very active in the continuous improvement and Kata community in the Cascadia region. Hugh is the author of Becoming The Supervisor (Productivity Press, June 2020), a story focused on developing the core skills of front-line leaders. Connect with Hugh on LinkedIn Hugh’s Website BecomingTheSupervisor.com Hugh’s Book Recommendations Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek The Toyota Kata Practice Guide: Practicing Scientific Thinking Skills for Superior Results in 20 Minutes a Day by Mike Rother Who: The A Method for Hiring by Geoff Smart and Randy Street Get your copy of Hugh’s Book Becoming the Supervisor: Achieving Your Company's Mission and Building Your Team


Episode 064: Karyn Ross - The Kind Leader: Eliminate Fear, Create Trust & Lead With Kindness

Today’s guest is one of the kindest people I know and her name is Karyn Ross Over the past years, our guest has noticed the devastating effects that failures of leadership and failures of kindness have resulted in all over the world. So she decided to do something about the problem. As well as writing a book about Kind Leadership and starting The New School for Kind Leaders, she’s the Founder of The Love and Kindness Project Foundation, a global registered public charity. Karyn is also the co-author of The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformations in Service Organizations with Jeffrey Liker. Connect with Karyn on LinkedIn Karyn Ross Consulting KindLeadership.org Get your copy of The Kind Leader: A Practical Guide to Eliminating Fear, Creating Trust, and Leading with Kindness


Episode 063: Jeff Kaas - The Power of Principle Based Thinking With Humility

Today’s guest is Jeff Kaas I’ve had several guests of the podcast encourage me that I needed to speak to our guest today. When I reached out to Jeff about being on the podcast, he emailed me back and said, “Let’s chat first, I want to get to know you.” We ended up having one of the coolest conversations that I’ve had in my lean journey. I wish that I had pressed record and had that conversation to share but I’m really pleased to share our scheduled interview because Jeff is a leader that just leads in a different way and is one of the most humble company Presidents that I have ever met. Jeff is President of Kaas Tailored a company that focuses on upholstery solutions and design services and also now produces PPE in Mukilteo, Washington. In the mid 90’s they were offered to learn Lean from an airplane manufacturer in Washington. That led them to take one of the first of several learning trips to Japan that transformed the way Kass Tailored approach their people and work in their company and how they teach other companies to do the same. Now several decades later they are doing incredible work and have a team that is “committed to creating a culture of continuous improvement so that our workplace can be one of joy and learning.” Here’s our guest Jeff Kaas. Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn Jeff’s Company: Kaas Tailored and Kaas Academy Learn more and virtual experiences that Jeff’s company offers


Episode 062: Jamie Flinchbaugh - People Solve Problems

Today we are going to do something different. Today’s guest is Jamie Flinchbaugh. Jamie was the second guest on The Lean Leadership Podcast. You probably know Jamie from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean or some of the other publications that he has written in from time to time. He is also the co-host of Lean Whiskey Podcast with Mark Graban. Jamie has helped purpose-driven leaders craft effective, resilient organizations at over 300 companies, leveraging more than 30-years of experience and helping build over 20 companies. Jamie has helped leaders across a wide spectrum of industries including healthcare, utilities, technology, consumer products, and professional services, including Harley-Davidson, Intel, Mars, Amazon, Crayola, Fidelity, Whirlpool, among many others. Jamie is the type of person in our industry who exhibits great lean principles and the type of leadership that I try to emulate in my work every day. He is someone who has often offered valuable advice to me in my lean journey. If you would like to hear Jamie’s story about his lean journey and his setbacks and successes you can check out Episode 2 of the podcast. Today we are going to talk about Jamie’s soon-to-be-released book People Solve Problems: The Power of Every Person, Every Day, Every Problem. Jamie was generous to share with me an advanced copy and today we talk about the book, the process around why he wrote this book, and some of the lessons and reflections from authoring his second book. I think when you hear our conversation you will understand that this isn’t just another book about lean. Here’s our guest Jamie Flinchbaugh. Get your copy of People Solve Problems: The Power of Every Person, Every Day, Every Problem Connect with Jamie on LinkedIn Jamie’s Company: JFlinch Previous Podcast Episodes with Jamie: Episode 002: Jamie Flinchbaugh: Lean Is About Thinking and Behaviors Episode 023: Forum on Lean Leadership with Sam MacPherson, Jamie Flinchbaugh, Tracey Richardson, & Ernie Richardson


Episode 061: Allison Greco - Being Flexible to the Unexpected Can Be Great Opportunities with Lean

Today’s guest is Allison Greco Allison is the Founder of Continuous Improvement International whose mission is to cultivate a passion for continuous improvement and drive the adoption of continuous improvement culture as the key to organizational success. They provide a fresh, modern professional society for continuous improvers and process improvers. They provide support to individuals and teams through member services and their Virtual Program Office. Allison is a professional engineer by trade and got her start with Lean while working on the railroad and has worked with a variety of industries including energy and utilities and the federal government. She is a certified Six Sigma Blackbelt and proud Oklahoma Sooner where she earned both her B.S. in Industrial Engineering and her MBA. Connect with Allison on LinkedIn Allison’s Company: Continuous Improvement International


Episode 060: Patrick Adams - Leadership, Culture, and Avoiding the Continuous Appearance Trap

Today’s guest is Patrick Adams Patrick Adams is the author of the best-selling book “Avoiding the Continuous Appearance Trap.” He is an international speaker, coach, and consultant. Patrick has been delivering bottom-line results through specialized process improvement solutions for over 20 years. He's worked with all types of businesses from private, non-profits, government, and manufacturing ranging from small businesses to billion-dollar corporations. Patrick is a proven leader and a highly experienced consultant with a specific niche focus on organizational strategy and leadership development which brings a uniquely human approach to sound team-building practices; creating consensus and enabling empowerment. He motivates, inspires, and drives the right results at all points in business processes. Patrick is also the host of the Lean Solutions Podcast, which you should listen to as well. Links: Connect with Patrick on LinkedIn Connect with Patrick’s Company: Patrick Adams Consulting Patrick’s Podcast: The Lean Solutions Podcast Patrick’s Book: Avoiding the Continuous Appearance Trap: 12 Questions to Understand What's Truly Underneath Your Culture Patrick’s Book Recommendation: Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn: Lessons from Toyota Leader Isao Yoshino on a Lifetime of Continuous Learning by Katie Anderson


Episode 059: Art Byrne - Lessons From a Lean CEO: Leaders Lead Best on the Gemba

Today’s guest is Art Byrne You can’t study Lean and Continuous Improvement for long without coming across the name Art Byrne. Art’s roll up your sleeves, go to Gemba approach for improvement has been well documented in Jim Womack’s book Lean Thinking and in Art’s own books The Lean Turnaround and The Lean Turn Around Action Guide. Art shares his story and the results of his lean journey from starting at GE to Danaher, and on to Wiremold and private equity. The title of our podcast is the Lean Leadership Podcast and I can’t think of any other individual who personifies an understanding of lean as a long term growth strategy and leadership by demonstrating that the CEO can have the most profound impact on unlocking the unlimited potential of enabling employees to solve the problems they face every day. Today is a treat and I’m pleased to introduce Art Byrne


Episode 058 : Bob Rush - If You're Not Learning in Lean, You're Not Doing It Right

Today’s guest is Bob Rush Bob Rush has more than 40 years of manufacturing experience in the High Technology segment, working with products ranging from disk drives and computers to lasers and finally to electric vehicles. He has a curiosity-driven personality, loving to learn new things. He has held roles ranging from shipping clerk to VP of Operations. His personal lean journey began with an introduction to Kaizen through the Shingijutsu consulting firm more than 25 years ago. He has applied those lessons learned and has spread the love of lean as much as possible. Bob Is presently doing some consulting work but spends more time on mentoring/advising the next generation of lean leaders. He has been active on LinkedIn and frequently posts one of his semi-amusing pieces called Lean Observations of an old guy. Bob lives in Murfreesboro, TN with his wife and youngest son, with 3 older sons living their own lives. His time is mostly spent recently with his dogs, Cali a 9-year-old Golden Retriever rescue, and Apollo a 4-month-old Golden Retriever dynamo. Links: Connect with Bob on LinkedIn Links to Mark Graban's Work


Episode 057 : Julie Simmons - The Importance of Being a Kata Learner Before Becoming a Coach

Today’s guest is Julie Simmons, I’m really excited about our guest today. I was lucky enough to interview both Tracy Defoe in episode 53 and Gemma Jones in episode 54 and they talked about Kata Girl Geeks, which if you haven’t checked it out yet, is an awesome community of women who are growing and learning together. Both Tracy and Gemma both suggested that I reach out and talk to our guest today Julie Simmons and I’m glad I did. Aside from recently being voted volunteer of the year for 2021 for Kata Girl Geeks, Julie currently works with her husband Scott as part of the Scott Wade Simmons & Associates, LLC providing leadership coaching and training in Strategy Development and Deployment, Leadership Development, and the Improvement Kata & Coaching Kata. Julie’s passion is helping others develop their skills, capabilities, and confidence to solve complex challenges in their organizations using scientific thinking. Julie has had the honor to be a frequent speaker and presenter at KataCon. Folks in the Portland, Oregon & Vancouver, Washington area are familiar with Julie’s 15 years of leadership at the Northwest High-Performance Enterprise Consortium. Prior to that, she worked for The Boeing Company for 14 years in various roles including her work as a manufacturing process analyst where she became a Certified Accelerated Improvement workshop leader and supported several Shingajitsu led kaizen events. Julie’s passion for helping others really shows through. I am sure you will enjoy this conversation as much as I did. Here’s our guest today, Julie Simmons. Links: Connect with Julie on LinkedIn Connect with Julie and Scott’s Company CSquaredV Connect with Kata Girl Geeks


Episode 056: Matt Whiat - The Human Element & Building Cultures to Deliver Deliberate Outcomes

In every episode, I ask our guest to share with us a favorite quote or mantra from a leader and why they chose that quote. In episode 44 Jamie Parker shared a quote from our guest today, Matt Whiat. I reached out to Matt and asked him to be a guest on the podcast and I’m glad that he accepted. Matt is the Founding Partner at the Champman & Co Leadership Institute whose parent company is Barry-Wehmiller, well known for combining people-centric and lean thinking. In his role at Chapman & Co, Matt draws on over 20 years of leadership experience as a former military officer, helping organizations create cultures that put people and business in harmony. Chapman and Co believes culture drives organizational outcomes. In other words, culture doesn’t eat strategy for breakfast; it feeds it breakfast (and every other meal!). They help build an organization and/or team culture intentionally to deliver deliberate outcomes. Links: Connect with Matt on LinkedIn Connect with Chapman and Co. on Twitter Chapman & Co. Leadership Institute Website Chapman & Co. Resources Book recommendation: Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family Leading From The Jumpseat: How to Create Extraordinary Opportunities by Handing Over Control by Peter Docker


Episode 055 : Paul Critchley - With Lean If You Don't Quit, You Don't Fail

Today’s guest is Paul Critchley, Paul Critchley is a recognized thought leader on employee engagement and continuous improvement and has helped businesses around the world achieve greater levels of success through the application of Lean techniques. A frequent speaker, he has keynoted at numerous corporate events, as well as at international conventions such as AME’s annual Lean conference and at OpEx Week. He’s also the host of “The New England Lean Podcast”, a weekly show that features management thought leaders, TED speakers, world-renowned authors, and university professors. Paul is also a regular writer and contributor to publications such as Industry Week and Quality Magazines. Paul is a former Board Member of the Northeast Region of AME, holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, a M.S. degree in Management, and a M.S. in Organizational Leadership. He is a proud supporter of CT’s “Skill up for Manufacturing” program. He is passionate about Lean and creating organizational cultures that are sustainably engaged. He co-authored his first book - The Whole Professional, A Collection of Essays to Help You Achieve a Full and Satisfying Life to bring a fresh perspective on Work/Life Balance and how individuals and organizations can work together to achieve greater levels of attainment. Links: Connect with Paul on LinkedIn Connect with Paul on Twitter Paul’s Company New England Consulting Paul’s Podcast The New England Lean Podcast Book recommendation: Quest For The Dawn - Shoji Kimoto


Episode 054 : Gemma Jones - Using Toyota Kata to Impact Improvement in a Positive Way

Today’s guest is Gemma Jones. Gemma started her career studying Mechanical Engineering. She quickly discovered the world of Continuous Improvement and spent 20 years working to improve processes and systems within various manufacturing industries including Automotive, Pharmaceutical, Dairy, Cosmetics & Toiletries, Food, and Medical Devices. She has been a CI Manager numerous times and an Operations Manager running a factory of over 500 people. In 2018, Gemma left the world of employment to establish her own business, SPARK Improvement, aiming to switch on as many lightbulbs as possible. Her mission is to help organizations be the best they can be, through a combination of Lean Thinking, Toyota Kata, Visual Facilitation, and Experiential Learning. Gemma is based in Cheshire in the UK. Links: Connect with Gemma on LinkedIn Connect with Gemma on Twitter Gemma’s Company Spark Improvement Kata Girl Geeks Book recommendation: The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier


Episode 053 : Tracy Defoe - Learning Together with Toyota Kata

Today’s guest is Tracy Defoe, Tracy Defoe is an adult education consultant specializing in workplace learning. Her work history includes research, teaching, and program development - much of which culminates in peer-led learning. She is a proud Kata Geek and a humble lean practitioner. For more than 10 years, Tracy has been learning, coaching, and sharing her experiences with the Improvement and Coaching Kata described in Mike Rother's book The Toyota Kata Practice Guide. Tracy is keen on building community and connecting people. She is co-founder of the worldwide online community Kata Girl Geeks, and of Kata School Cascadia. She also facilitates the Kata Coaching Dojo. She is a frequent speaker at conferences including KataCon & KataCon Europe. Links: Connect with Tracy on LinkedIn Tracy’s Company The Learning Factor Kata School Cascadia Kata Girl Geeks The Toyota Kata Practice Guide: Practicing Scientific Thinking Skills for Superior Results in 20 Minutes a Day


Episode 052 : Rick Bohan - The Importance of Conversation in Lean

Today’s guest is Rick Bohan, Rick is the Owner and Director of Chagrin River Consulting in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Rick’s route in his path to working in lean and continuous improvement started with a mining company in eastern Kentucky, teaching miners about safety, and has progressed over the years in helping steel mills, hotels, and manufacturing companies implement lean manufacturing initiatives and developing growth-oriented strategic plans. Rick’s humility shows through on his LinkedIn profile where he says: “I'd like to say that I've been successful at helping the companies that have hired me both as an employee and as a consultant. And, in a way, I have. But, really, it was the managers and employees at those companies that were successful. I just got them pointed in the right direction, gave them some tools and ideas, and facilitated their conversations about making needed changes. They did all the heavy lifting.” Links: Connect with Rick on LinkedIn Rick’s Company Chagrin River Consulting Link to Rick’s Articles in Industry Week