This is the first of my three installments as part of John Hunter’s review roundup. John has hosted his annual blog review for three years now and this newbie of a blogger is honored to participate. In this installment, I am fortunate enough to review the Evolving Excellence blog, authored by Kevin Meyer and Bill Waddell.

The subtitle of Evolving Excellence is, “Thoughts on lean enterprise leadership.” Of course, no one has cornered the market on thinking, but Kevin and Bill are deep thinkers and excellent writers.  Their body of work is pretty prodigious  and unafraid, and extends well beyond the parochial lean tool mindset to include thoughts on subjects as diverse as WikiLeaks, Chinese ghost cities, BP, and leadership. I certainly can’t do it justice, I can only share with you a smattering of Meyer and Waddell’s articles. Here are a few of their many articles from 2010:

  • Small Changes Can Solve Big Problems. Kevin Myer relates how a case study within Fast Company‘s article about the “cloning of bright spots,” provides some powerful insights into how small, gemba-based improvements, shared in a respectful manner (and ultimately adopted) can drive profound results. The case study? Child malnutrition in Vietnam. 
  • A Tale of Two Companies. Here Bill Waddell shares a story about a mega-giant, multi-national company that made a less than genuine inquiry into some lean accounting help from Bill, versus a much smaller one that made the inquiry, and invested their time and talent. One company was full of well-paid, really smart folks who, in the end, were superficial and really unwilling to change. They’re in trouble and their situation is not getting better. The other company is perhaps (definitely) less sexy, but they’re willing students and do’ers  and are truly improving. Which camp is your company in?
  • Whiteboards vs. Computers and the Impact on Learning. Kevin Myer shares how a Wall Street Journal article reinforced his appropriately lean-rooted preference for low-tech versus high tech. It seems that handwriting actually enhances the learning process.  The implications for whiteboards and visual indicators as well as value stream map creation seem pretty darn good.
  • Hopelessly Lost, but Making Great Time. Mr. Waddell reveals how Nike is a lean poser, employing some great lean rhetoric but wastefully and blindly chasing cheap labor. They carry over $2 billion in inventory throughout a 10,000 mile supply chain, use 600 contract factories and deploy “armies of inspectors to try to minimize…sweatshop-type abuses.” Makes me glad I buy New Balance!

There’s a lot more where that came from. Please visit the Evolving Excellence blog and comment on the posts. The writing and discussion will expand your lean thinking universe. What a great thing to do in the new year!

Related post:  Management Improvement Carnival #99