Fisher Senior Lecturer Mrinalini Gadkari is breaking down a recent week in the life of Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence program. Today is the final installment.

The Fisher College of Business adds to its already stellar slate of instructors for the MBOE program with major players in the lean world. Here’s a snapshot of advice from a pair who worked with our students at the session I’ve been chronicling all week: Lean Enterprise Institute CEO John Shook and author Jean Cunningham, both winners of the prestigious Shingo Prize.

John Shook LEI

John Shook, at a 2011 MBOE session.

Ask the right questions

Shook, a highly experienced sensei focused on the importance of teaching and coaching others, told students that trait is highly important in successful lean implementations and efforts to sustain them. Shook used the same format as his landmark book, Managing to Learn, to describe a scenario in which a supervisor is helping a manager translate technical documents from Japanese to English with help from the A3 problem-solving method. Although the supervisor has a lot to do and it might simply be easier to take the problem into his own hands to solve, he steps back and patiently provides support by asking the right questions. That tactic, Shook said, helps your mentee find the root causes of the problem and come up with the appropriate countermeasures.

Lean works for accounting, too

Cunningham, author of the book Real Numbers, walked students through a simulation to stress how pull and one-piece flow concepts help drive down inventory. She also illuminated the differences between traditional and lean accounting. Lean accounting, she said, involves modifying traditional financial statements to provide “Plain English Financial Statements.” These must:

  • Be usable by non-accountants
  • Eliminate complexity (a big theme this week)
  • Comply with General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)

Thanks for joining us this week and check back for more updates on the MBOE program, the next cohort
of which begins in just a month.



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