Curious Cat John Hunter, the maestro of the Curious Cat Management Improvement blog and the year-end Management Improvement Carnival has once again allowed me to contribute a list of some of my favorite blogs and posts from 2013. I never miss reading these three blogs—they consistently educate, enlighten, and entertain me.

I'm breaking the list into three separate posts to increase the chance that you'll take the time to check out these posts. For the first installment, I've selected Michel Baudin’s blog

Michel Baudin’s posts fall into two general categories: the first is an in-depth discussion of some topic that he finds interesting—and given that he seems to have read a library’s worth of dust-covered tomes related to manufacturing, production, and industrialization, he has a lot of topics to cover. Did you know anything about orbit charts—when to use them, where they came from, and how to make them? Neither did I, until I read Baudin’s post on this topic. His exegesis on the purpose of standard work is a masterful explanation of why it’s essential to manufacturing excellence, while this post explains how it can foster improvement in a non-manufacturing environment as well. And if you want to know anything about poka-yoke, you don’t need to go any farther than this column.

The second type of post you’ll find on Michel Baudin’s site is a commentary on a news story or blog post—he calls this “Michel Baudin’s insight.” From almost anyone else, defining one’s own comments as “insight” would be insufferably arrogant. Michel pulls it off, however, due to the extraordinary depth and breadth of his knowledge and to his serious analytical acumen. Take a look, for example, at his compelling argument that mistake proofing must not add any labor to the operation, lest the people working in the operation work around it. Or the way he skewers the oft-cited maxim that “only the last quarter turn of the nut adds value.” Or his keen eye in spotting space design mistakes in the background photo of a newspaper article about lean in a hospital. Refreshingly, Baudin isn’t just a gear head. His understanding of lean goes far beyond the factory floor and the simple ROI metrics that other, less knowledgeable writers focus on. Notice how he takes to task the BCG consultants who wrote an article on lean that “only speaks the language of money,” neglecting the fact that not all improvements have a direct financial impact.

Read Michel's blog. The extraordinary breadth and depth of his knowledge guarantees that you'll learn something every time.

Check out the other year-end blog reviews on the Curious Cat website here. Or browse the entire blog review category here.