From the Archives of a Common Sensei – Volume 2: Building a Kaizen Environment


Continuing on our journey of sorting through my father’s archives, I am reflecting on the power of having him as a mentor. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate being fed small bits of information and then following the trail of breadcrumbs to wherever they may lead. This approach has my approach to life and allowed me to be more agile, adaptive, and creative in solving problems as opposed to simply accepting processes as they have been laid out before me. Volume 2 intends to drive the practitioner to discovery and growth rather than simply going through the motions.

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Volume 2:  A Checklist for A Kaizen Environment

While this document from my archives includes the word “checklist” in the title, do not let that be a sticking point! In fact, these questions can lead you toward building a “kaizen” or “Lean” culture. Every section of this list of questions applies to nearly every type of organization. Admittedly, the “machines” section is more manufacturing oriented, but I have applied all the other questions in nearly every business sector and found they are fundamental in building the Kaizen (Lean) Culture. Granted, this document was produced back in 1995 prior to intense use of PowerPoint, but most of the foundational Lean principles in the United States were based on a “learn – do” practice. While hiring employees, it was preferred to hire people without relevant experience (except for skilled trades employees) to develop the desired new culture without having to undo people’s old cultural habits. Try using the questions on the document below in your work.

Max Allway

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Filed under Business, common sense, consulting, efficiency, government consulting, Kaizen, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Management, process improvement, Toyota Production System

From the Archives of a Common Sensei – Volume 1: PDCA


As an organically grown Lean Sensei, I have my childhood to thank for my training. Growing up in the home of one of the first American’s to be charged to instill the Toyota Production Systems (TPS) in North America, I grew up learning the “Culture” as part of my day-to-day life. As I grew older, I realized that my approach to most things in life were not the same as my peers. Like most children, I learned from my environment but, was not interested in “listening” to my parents. As an adult, the conversations began and I started to understand that I was applying TPS to nearly every activity in my life. Now well into my career, my father, Max Allway has retired and is sorting through his notes from the early days of TPS in the U.S. It is our intention to share those notes with you to reveal our Lean Foundations.

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Volume 1: PDCA

Over the past 40 years or so, I have been fortunate enough to have learned from some of the first Toyota leaders in North America plus several of the leading consulting firms, and those clients we served, while advancing the principles of TPS, Lean, and Lean Six Sigma as a practitioner.  Now in retirement, it has occurred to me that a few of the original documents (often hand drafted) might be of interest to others who are currently wading through systemic and holistic problem solving.  This document is an early document used to inform the meaning of PDCA and set the stage for a different way of improvement thinking.

Max Allway

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Filed under Business, common sense, consulting, efficiency, Goal Deployment, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, PDCA, process improvement, Toyota Production System