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What is happening in lean manufacturing in the world
Curated by Michel Baudin
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Is it Lean’s Fault or the Old Management System’s? | Mark Graban

Is it Lean’s Fault or the Old Management System’s? | Mark Graban | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

Blog post at Lean Blog :

"The problem is the culture doesn’t change overnight. Leaders have years or decades of old habits (bad habits) that run counter to Lean thinking. They might be (might!) be trying to change, but people will still fall back into old habits, especially when under pressure.

I hear complaints (in recent cases) coming from different provinces in Canada that say things like:

Lean is causing hospitals to be “de-skilled” by replacing nurses with aidesLean drives a focus on cost and cost cutting, including layoffs or being understaffedLean is stressing out managers by asking them to do more and taking nothing off their plateNurses hate Lean because they aren’t being involved in changes[...]"
Michel Baudin's insight:

In this post, Mark Graban explains how the leadership in Canadian hospitals is slapping the "Lean" label on ancient and counterproductive "cost-cutting" methods, and how the victims of these practices unfairly blame Lean. 

 

This is definitely L.A.M.E., Mark's apt term for "Lean As Misguidedly Executed," and is found in Manufacturing as well as Health Care. Much of the article -- and of the discussion that follows -- is about what I call yoyo staffing: you hire more than you should in boom times, and lay off in recessions. 

 

Of course, it isn't what Toyota did, and churning your work force in this fashion not only disrupts people's lives but is bad business. Hiring, training and firing repeatedly prevents your organization from accumulating the knowledge and skills it needs. 

 

Mark makes the case that Lean should not be blamed for mistakes that have nothing to do with it. Other than raising consciousness, however, the post does not propose solutions to keep this from happening.

 

While there have been studies published on Toyota's approach to Human Resources (HR), I don't recall seeing much in the American Lean literature on topics like career planning for production operators. 

 

In his comments, Bob Emiliani paints the current generation of leaders as "a lost cause," and places his hopes on the next. He seems to suggest that the solution is to wait out or fire the current, baby-boomer leadership and replace it with millenials. I don't buy it and, deep down, neither does Bob, because he ends by saying "While one always hopes the “next generation will do better”, it could turn out to be a false hope."


Like everything in HR, generational change has to be planned carefully. The people who rose to leadership positions presumably did so not just because of bad habits but because they also had something of value to offer. And the way the baton is passed is also a message to the incoming leaders: it tells them what to expect when their turn comes. 

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Lean Handbags and Micro Failures | Mark Graban

Lean Handbags and Micro Failures | Mark Graban | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Blog post at Lean Blog :

I enjoy reading the magazine Inc. for my interests in startups and entrepreneurship. There are often examples and case studies that dire[..]
Michel Baudin's insight:

Well run businesses are always good reading, even if their stories are usually embellished. Starting the design of fashion accessories from a market price or organizing to allow chefs in a restaurant chain to experiment with new dishes, however, just sounds like good management, not examples of "Lean Thinking." 

 

I have never found much depth in the contrasting of "Margin = Price – Cost" with "Price = Cost + Margin," maybe  because I have never worked in a cost-plus business. Commercial manufacturers usually do not have the power to set prices this way. Perhaps, the Big Three US automakers did have that power in the 1950s, and Toyota didn't. 


In Tracy Kidder's 1985 documentary book "House" (http://bit.ly/1ivu7Hn),  a Boston lawyer hires a local contractor named to build a house in the suburbs. The contractor rigorously calculated the costs of the materials and labor, tacked on a 10% profit, and presented a bid with no wiggle room. It was not intended for negotiation, but the lawyer just had to wrangle some concession out of the contractor.  The culture clash between the two makes great reading, but also throws light on how "cost-plus" works in practice. 


The equation "Margin = Price - Cost" is based on the assumption that Price and Cost are characteristics of the same nature, both attached to each unit of product. It is true of Price: whenever a unit is sold -- in whatever form and however it is financed -- it has a unit price, and it is not ambiguous. 


Unit cost, on the other hand, is the result of allocations among products and over time done in a myriad different ways, with different results. By shifting overhead around, managers make the products they like appear cheap, and the ones they want to kill appear expensive. Once the "expensive" products are terminated, the same overhead is spread among fewer survivors, thus making new ones unprofitable, and the death spiral ends only with closure of the factory. 


Instead of the simplistic  "Margin = Price - Cost" for each unit, a sound economic analysis of manufacturing considers the flows of revenues and expenses associated with making a product in given volumes over its life cycle, and sometimes a product family rather than an individual products with, for example, some products given away as free samples to promote the sale of other products. 

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A brief rant about the ABC’s | Bill Waddell

"Apparently the folks writing about stratifying inventory into A, B and C items and building calculations of such into ERP packages didn’t get the lean memo.

Wikipedia is typical of such thinkers when they describe the ABC thought process as:

‘A’ items – 20% of the items accounts for 70% of the annual consumption value of the items.

‘B’ items – 30% of the items accounts for 25% of the annual consumption value of the items.

‘C’ items – 50% of the items accounts for 5% of the annual consumption value of the items.

The idea of micromanaging some items and slacking off on others based on purchase price is the very same theory they taught me at the University of Cincinnati back in the days  when … "

Michel Baudin's insight:

I agree with Bill that, from the point of view of manufacturing operations, the purchase price of materials is not the most important parameter. because the lack of a nail can prevent the completion of a product as effectively as the lack of a pump costing 1,000 times more. 

 

It doesn't mean, however, that classifying items to treat them differently is wrong, but it must be done by frequency of use rather than price, and I prefer to call the categories "Runners," "Repeaters," and "Strangers" rather than A, B, and C. 

 

As a function of rank, I then look for the percentage of units actually built that can be fully assembled with only the items of this rank and higher. It starts at 0%, and, as long as it stays at 0%, I consider the items to be Runners, essentially items you can't build any product without. At the other end of the spectrum, I call Strangers all the items without which you can make 95% of the units. And everything in-between is a Repeater. 

 

Then you may decide, for example, to dedicate an easily accessible storage location to each Runner, and make special arrangements with suppliers. For Repeaters, you may use the Kanban system, with smaller dedicated locations.  And you don't keep any stock of Strangers, but order them as needed and store them, if at all, in dynamically allocated slots. 

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Chrysler Group's WCM Academy Hosts First-Ever Awards Ceremony -- WARREN, Mich., Dec. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

WARREN, Mich., Dec. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Lights! Glamour! Assembly lines? Chrysler Group's WCM Academy Hosts First-Ever Awards Ceremony.
Michel Baudin's insight:

Awards, and the rituals of presenting them to winners, are a tool of management communication. To give the desired message, you need to think through what you give the awards for, who you give them to, and the mix of tangible and symbolic rewards attached. 

 

Chrysler awards categories are not all self-explanatory, and there some that I just don't understand. The name of the awards, ETTEE, stands for "Excellence, Talent, Togetherness, Energy, Etc."

 

There are no awards under the "Etc." heading. All the "Talent" awards are given to individuals for "Highest Level of Project Savings." In other words, the only form of talent recognized is that of individuals to reduce costs. 


Under "Excellence," you have more individual awards for "Trainer of the Year," "Facilitator of the Year," and "Most Projects Tracked by an Individual." 


Under "Togetherness," you have awards for plants and teams: "HHH Best in Class," "Highest Percentage of People Involved," and "Excellence in Joint Leadership," 


Under "Energy," you have plant awards for  ""Highest Percentage of Projects Tracked by Plant, " and "Most Hosted Plant." and and individual awards for "Most Training Hours Completed." 


For the "person of the year" type of awards, the name gives no indication of the evaluation criteria, and perceptions of fairness may be as difficult to achieve as in Olympic figure skating. 


On the other hand, awards given based on metrics --  like cost savings, percentage of people involved, or number of hours of training taken -- have objective criteria that individuals can understand and pursue. The key issue here is whether you really want your employees to do that. 

 

 

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(Still) learning from Toyota | Deryl Sturdevant

(Still) learning from Toyota | Deryl Sturdevant | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"A retired Toyota executive describes how to overcome common management challenges associated with applying lean, and reflects on the ways that Toyota continues to push the boundaries of lean thinking."

Michel Baudin's insight:

You just can't pass up an article with the perspectives on Lean of a recently retired Toyota executive, even if it is in the McKinsey Quarterly. Most interesting are his stories about plants outside of Toyota that he visited recently, where he criticizes his hosts for complacency.


Because of the author's background, when he says "Lean," he means TPS or the Toyota Way. He also uses Toyota's own "respect for people." mistranslation of its "respect for humanity" (人間性尊重) principle.  Again, it's not about saying "please" and "thank you" but about taking full advantage of the unique capabilities people have when compared to other resources. 

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The Limits of Imitating Toyota | Bill Waddell

The Limits of Imitating Toyota | Bill Waddell | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"I recently received an email from a guy challenging the legitimacy of organizing into value streams and lean accounting.  The linchpin of his argument:  'I can’t find anything saying Toyota has done any of that.'

[...]

Seems to me if we want to get all Toyota-y about things we have to take Shingo’s words to heart when he wrote, 'We have to grasp not only the Know-How but also Know-Why.'

[...]

Using Toyota as the acid test for whether something is lean or not is rather naive and intellectually lazy. In most companies and most plants, asking ‘what would Toyota do?’ is the appropriate question – not ‘what did Toyota do?’"


Michel Baudin's insight:
Learning by imitationImitation is effective for learning. We condemn outright plagiarism, despise imitation, and value creativity. Yet even an original and unique artist like Pablo Picasso learned as a child by copying paintings. In Karate, you learn a new kata by following others. As you memorize the sequence of moves, you learn to perform them with speed and power. Then you learn the underlying self-defense principles embedded in the kata.  Until the 1970s, many Americans and Europeans dismissed "the Japanese" as imitators who copied what they saw and then competed with the original creators through low wages. But I have not heard this in decades. A principle behind the way Japanese traditional arts are taught is that know-how precedes and leads to know-why. Once you have assimilated techniques to the point that they are second-nature to you, your mind suddenly understands how they fit together as a whole and why they are necessary.  While this approach works not just for Karate, but also for sumi-e (ink wash painting), sushi, flower arrangement, and even machining, it can be abused. I would not recommend it, for example, to teach math. Sometimes, what you ultimately achieve as a result of going through motions is only an illusion of understanding that rationalizes the years you have invested in getting to that point.  For Lean or TPS, there is no alternative to learning by doing. There is no way to gain an understanding of cells or the Kanban system without living through implementation on an actual shop floor. As a consequence, the first time you do it, you are following along and imitating. Once you understand what you are doing, however, it behooves you to add your own twist and adapt the concepts to your needs. 
When brute force imitation worksOn the scale of an entire company, we should also not forget that brute-force imitation sometimes works. Once I had in one of my Lean classes a student who was a former plant manager in a large, European auto parts company known for its successful implementation of Lean. "Everything you taught," he told me,"I used in the plant, but I never knew why, until today." As he explained to me, the company's top management  issued "guidelines" to plant managers that were specific on which tools to use, regularly audited the plants,  and routinely fired the managers who did not comply, regardless of results. 
It sounds wrong, but how do you argue with success? In retrospect, it worked for that company because it was in the industry for which TPS had been developed and, at least initially, creativity was not necessary to improve on the existing system. Where brute force imitation fails is in new and different industries. 
How do you know "what Toyota would do"?Either you are steeped in Toyota's ways as a result of being an employee of the company for 10 years, and you have an idea of what its management might do outside of its core business --  including the ways it might misunderstand it -- or you have studied Toyota's system from the outside, and you don't really know what it would do. On the other hand, you may have a deeper understanding of the challenge at hand than any Toyota manager. Rather than trying to figure out what Toyota would do, I would rather follow Soichiro Honda's advice to his engineers: "Solve your own problems." Learn everything relevant that you can, then use your own judgement. You will be responsible for the outcome anyway.  Divergence and accurate representationThe whole Lean movement started from people learning about the Toyota Production System (TPS). That Lean should diverge from TPS was inevitable, but the Toyota connection remains the key reason business professionals pay any attention to Lean.  Given that the vocabulary itself has changed, making the connection on specifics is not always obvious. "Value Stream" or "Lean Accounting," for example, are not Toyota  terms, which does not make it easy to gauge the extent to which Toyota uses the concepts. 
There is nothing wrong with Lean professionals inventing approaches beyond TPS, but it must be clear and the tools must stand on their own merits. Business executives assume that what they are being sold as "Lean" is what Toyota does. Where it is not the case, they must be told upfront. 
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The NUMMI Story (Minus the Ending) | Matthew May

The NUMMI Story (Minus the Ending) | Matthew May | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"At the risk of being repetitive, allow me to retell one of my favorite stories. First, imagine the worst place you've ever worked. The darkest, most depressing, soul-sucking work environment you've ever had the misfortune to inhabit.

Got it in your mind's eye? Now, multiply it by oh, say, 100. That's how bad the place I'm about to describe was. I know, because I spoke to people who were there.

The year was 1982. It was the year of Jordaache Jeans. The year of Wendy's "Where The Beef?" commercial. And the It was 1982, the first full year of Reaganomics.

The place was the General Motors Fremont, California plant..."

Michel Baudin's insight:

The NUMMI joint venture between GM and Toyota is a great story of thorough transformation. It is how a car plant from worst to best. Unfortunately, it ended in 2010, when GM when bankrupt and Toyota declined to take over the entire venture. 

 

Now Toyota is part owner of Tesla,  the facility is the Tesla plant, and it has been getting renewed attention as such. This is a new lease on life but Tesla's 10,000 cars/year do not compare with the 250,000 NUMMI used to make. 

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2013 IW Best Plants Winners: Peak Performers | Operations content from IndustryWeek

2013 IW Best Plants Winners: Peak Performers | Operations content from IndustryWeek | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
The 2013 IndustryWeek Best Plants winners meet the challenge of operational excellence -- and keep pushing for more.
Michel Baudin's insight:

It's an annual ritual, like the Academy Awards.

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Internal Threat to the TPS due to new Hiring Practices | Christoph Roser

"Toyota with its Toyota Production System is the archetype of lean manufacturing, which also makes it to one of the most successful companies on earth. This success is due to outstanding management at Toyota; however, recent changes in hiring practices threaten the Toyota Production System at its core."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Now a professor at Karlsruhe University, Christoph Roser is an alumnus of Toyota Research in Japan, so he has first-hand knowledge of the topic. 

 

Toyota's response to the Aisin Seiki fire of 1997 is certainly a shining example of its supply chain management practices at work, but its relevance to employee hiring practices is not clear to me.  

 

Also, one should not confuse dominating a meeting with getting decisions to go your way, and learning to say "No" rather than "It would be a little difficult" is just being culturally sensitive.

 

Having this ability carries no implication on a person's character.  Being articulate and assertive does not mean being selfish. Being selfish means only looking after yourself. Making sure that what you mean comes across clearly to the other side in a negotiation is perfectly compatible with seeking win-win solutions. 

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Pinnacle Misses the Mark with Lean Manufacturing | Gunther W. Anderson | Iowa Labor News

"...There is a difference between lean manufacturing and just plain cutting corners. Pinnacle is attempting to achieve a similar end result (increased profits and productivity) without investing the time, effort, and resources necessary to achieve those results through true lean manufacturing practices, and they are doing so at the expense of their workforce..."

Michel Baudin's insight:

This union member's criticism of his company's implementation of Lean is remarkable for being so constructive. He does NOT dismiss Lean Manufacturing as just another ploy by management to squeeze more out the workers. 

 

Instead, he blames his company's management for being Lean in name only. He quotes Mike Thelen and David Meier on what Lean is supposed to be, and contrasts it with what the company actually does. 

 

Not having heard management's side of the story, I have no idea of the extent to which his points are valid. The tone of the article, however, shows the author as a thinking man who wants to improve the way he works, exactly the kind of people you want around when genuinely implementing Lean. 

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If You're Going to Change Your Culture, Do It Quickly | HBR Blog Network | Brad Power

"The conventional wisdom is that it takes years to change a culture, defined as the assumed beliefs and norms that govern “the way we do things around here.” And few organizations explicitly use culture as a way to drive business performance, or even believe it could make sense to do so.

The logic usually works the other way — make specific changes in processes, and then hope that, gradually, the culture will change.

Yet some leading organizations are turning this conventional wisdom on its head. Consider Trane, the $8 billion subsidiary of Ingersoll Rand that provides heating, ventilating, air conditioning and building management systems. By focusing first on changing their culture, Trane has been driving results — and quickly."

Michel Baudin's insight:

The article is supposed to be about any business organization, but the example presented is only about sales offices.

 

What do sales offices do? They communicate and negotiate with prospects to turn them into customers. They nurture relationships; attitude and teamwork are key to success at it. In sales, working on the "targeted behaviors of associates" is working on the process. 

 

Manufacturing is a different. It is about production, not persuasion, and I don't know of any successful change in manufacturing that would have been driven at the cultural level. When attempted, it quickly degenerates into the kind of exhortation and sloganeering that Deming denounced so vehemently. 

 

I don't know any manufacturing people who would be swayed by it. Instead, they need tangible, physical changes to the way work is being done, implemented with their input and diligently. Only the experience of improvement will change their perception of the work and the organization. Talk therapy won't. 

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Confusion Over Standards: Limits or Basis for Innovation? | Industry Week Blogs | Jeffrey Liker

Confusion Over Standards: Limits or Basis for Innovation? | Industry Week Blogs | Jeffrey Liker | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"As an undergraduate engineering student I spent a term in the offices of a nuclear power company writing standards. I sat at a desk, with a typewriter, and nuclear engineers fed me information while I wrote the standards. Standard 300.47.3.1. I had never been to a nuclear power site and had no idea what I was writing about, and I am pretty certain nobody at the site had memorized the tens of thousands of standards. They were aimed at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who audited the company so we could prove we were safe. To the best of my knowledge pieces of paper never prevented a nuclear crisis."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Jeffrey Liker chimes in on the issue of standards. While efforts to clear up the confusion on this topic in the context of Lean are praiseworthy, I think the terminology of "Standardized Work," and "Work Standards" itself is hopeless. 

 

Every author uses them differently, there is no hope of achieving consistency, and the word "standard" comes with too much undesirable cultural baggage, as illustrated by Jeffrey's anecdote quoted above. As a result, every discussion of this topic is Tower-of-Babel project review. 

 

Just because Toyota in the US uses terms doesn't mean we have to, as they often are mistranslations of its own, Japanese terms, which themselves are not necessarily clear. 

 

That's why I prefer to talk about "work combos" for specifying how different tasks performed at different stations are combined into an operator job that fills the takt time, and "work instructions" for the breakdown of each task into steps with key points. 

 

Then we can reserve the word "standard" for external mandates and internally generated rules and protocols used, for example, in quality problem-solving with suppliers. 

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Anne-Laure Delpech's curator insight, December 7, 2013 3:00 AM

"As Henry Ford put it in his prophetic book Today and Tomorrow, “If you think of “standardization” as the best you know today, but which is to be improved tomorrow—you get somewhere. But if you think of standards as confining, then progress stops.” Properly used standards become a basis of comparison between what you are trying to achieve and where you are."

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From Kaizen to the Kaizen Blitz | Blue Heron Journal

From Kaizen to the Kaizen Blitz | Blue Heron Journal | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

Ken McGuire: "My humble observation is that the degree of enthusiasm about all things Lean is in direct inverse correlation to how recently the enthusiast has discovered it."

Michel Baudin's insight:

Enlightening account from participants in the invention of the Kaizen Blitz in the US in the 1990s. 

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A DEFINITION OF LEAN

Maybe it's time for a better definition of "Lean." Here's one for you to consider and build on.
Michel Baudin's insight:

The proposal is "Lean is the permanent struggle to flow value to one customer." 

 

"Permanent struggle" is fine, but I prefer "pursuit." It means the same thing but it is shorter and "pursuit of happiness" sounds better than "permanent struggle for happiness."

 

On the other hand, I have a problem with "flow value," which I see as the sort of vague abstraction that would prompt Mike Harrison to ask whether it come in bottles. It is exactly what Dan Heath is warning against in the video included in the slideshare. 

 

I also have a problem with the exclusive focus on customers, which I see as Business 101 rather than Lean. Lean includes many features like heijunka, that are intended to make life easier for suppliers and are transparent to customers. Going Lean means looking after all the stakeholders of the business, not just its customers.

 

This is why I define it instead as the pursuit of concurrent improvement in all dimensions of manufacturing performance through projects that affect both the production shop floor and support activities. 

 

Yes, I know, it is specific to manufacturing, but that is not my problem. 

 

 

 

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Philippe Doyon's curator insight, March 31, 5:34 PM

Voici la définition du LEAN de Mike Rother.

Il est, à mon avis, l'auteur du meilleur livre sur le Lean Management: Toyota Kata, Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results.

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Is OEE a Useful Key Performance Indicator? | Jeffrey Liker

Is OEE a Useful Key Performance Indicator? | Jeffrey Liker | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"For manufacturing that is equipment-intensive, how the equipment works is often the main factor in productivity. Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) has become a buzzword in lean and a generally accepted metric is Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). This is measured as the product of three factors:

OEE = Availability x Performance x Quality

Availability = run time/total time

Performance = Total count of parts/target count (based on a standard)Quality = Good count/Total count

Ignacio S. Gatell,  questions whether companies using OEE really understand it, can explain it clearly to their customers, and understand what it means to compare OEE as a KPI across plants. He questions whether even plant managers understand how it is calculated and what it means.

The only good argument for OEE is that at a macro-level in a plant it provides a high level picture of how your equipment is functioning."

Michel Baudin's insight:

About 15 years ago, a summer intern came to work at a client plant in aerospace machining. I thought a great project for him would have been to identify a common tooling package for machining centers that were grouped in a "Flexible Manufacturing System" (FMS). It was challenging, but it would have actually given the FMS the flexibility it was supposed to have. It was a real engineering project that would have improved performance.

 

Management, however, decided that a better use of his time was to collect data and calculate OEEs for another set of machines. It did keep the student busy all summer, but resulted in no change, and no improvement bragging rights for the student. 


I have had a problem with OEE ever since. It is an overly aggregated and commonly gamed metric that you can only use by breaking it down into its constituent factors; you might as well bypass this step and go straight to the factors. 


Among these factors, I find Availability to be most often confused with Uptime. The availability of a device is the probability that it works when you need it, and the total time in the denominator has to be the time you need it for. For example, if you work two shifts a day, the availability of a machine is not affected by your taking it down for maintenance on third shift. There have been cases of managers overproducing to increase run time and thereby boost the OEE of their machines...




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One on one with John Shook | Lean Management Journal

One on one with John Shook | Lean Management Journal | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
LMJ Editorial Director, Jon Tudor, meets chairman and CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute, John Shook, for the second in our One on one series. Jon asks some tough questions posed by a select few of the lean community's ...
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When Toyota met e-commerce: Lean at Amazon | Marc Onetto

When Toyota met e-commerce: Lean at Amazon | Marc Onetto | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"The spirit of lean management was already at Amazon when I arrived in 2007. Since the day he created Amazon, Jeff Bezos has been totally customer-centric. He knew that customers would not pay for waste—and that focus on waste prevention is a fundamental concept of lean. The company’s information technology was always very good at understanding what the customer wanted and passing the right signal down. "

 

 

Michel Baudin's insight:

Read this article for a personal account from Amazon's vice president of worldwide operations and customer service through 2013. 

 

The title is misleading, in that the article is not about any assessment of Amazon by Toyota, and the connection between the Amazon practices Onetto describes and TPS or Lean are tenuous.

 

For example, a service agent taking a product off the website based on repetitive customer complaints on quality is described as "pulling the Andon cord," which is a far-fetched metaphor.

 

An Andon cord, or stop rope, is supposed to be pulled whenever an operator notices anything wrong during the production process. It is not a response to repeated customer complaints and it does not result in pulling the product off the line. 

 

Linking Amazon's approach to Toyota is unnecessary. Amazon has been doing a great job; it is leading the world in e-commerce, an activity that is outside Toyota's expertise. It is Amazon's own approach, and they might as well call it the "Amazon Production System."

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Working for Anonymous Funds | Bill Waddell

Working for Anonymous Funds | Bill Waddell | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"There is a company I know well that will remain nameless that has about 300 employees, and they manufacture stuff on Vancouver Island – Just outside of Victoria, British Columbia.  The major markets for their products are gradually shifting from the Northwestern USA and western Canada to the Southeastern USA.  That puts them about 2,400 miles as the crow flies from more and more of their customers, but since crows can’t take their products to market it is actually a lot farther than that.

 

Closing their plant has never been an option.  They simply accept the fact that manufacturing on an island is never good, and being that far from their customers is a huge disadvantage, so they have no choice (at least no choice they are willing to consider) but to tighten their chinstraps and do that much better to overcome their geographic problems...."

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880 Saskatchewan health care leaders study Lean at Virginia Mason | The StarPhoenix

880 Saskatchewan health care leaders study Lean at Virginia Mason | The StarPhoenix | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Close to 900 health workers will make the pilgrimage to Seattle in search of factory efficiency for hospitals. Take a look inside at the origins of the world's biggest health quality experiment."

Michel Baudin's insight:

This Canadian newspaper article is the most detailed account I have seen of the "Virginia Mason Production System." Virginia Mason Medical Center is a Seattle hospital that has been converting to Lean since 2001and now has a business unit teaching others what it has done. 

 

100 years ago, industrial engineer Frank Gilbreth developed the operating room procedures that are standard today, so it's not the first time hospitals learn from manufacturing.

 

What this article gives is examples of the changes that were made at Virginia Mason, in particular the application of 3P ("Production Preparation Process"), involving patients in the design of new care units, and simulating with full scale mockups. 

 

Other specifics include building design features to support maintenance and upgrades without disrupting care, the use of the two-bin system to manage medication supplies, and visual management. 

 

And the article also touts the results that Virginia Mason achieved through this effort, in terms of both improved care and economic performance. 

 

The StartPhoenix is a Saskatchewan newspaper, and the article also tells readers about the cost to taxpayers of the effort to emulate Virginia Mason in the entire health system of the province.

 

Most striking is the $39M contract over four years given to the Seattle consulting firm that helped Virginia Mason. As this translates to tens of people working full time on the project, it looks more like engineering than consulting. 

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What a Coffee Cup Taught Me About Poka Yoke and Human Errors | Peter Abilla

What a Coffee Cup Taught Me About Poka Yoke and Human Errors | Peter Abilla | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"Human Errors, Poka Yoke are concepts brought to life from my experience with coffee cup. One can learn a lot about Poka Yoke and Human Errors. This is a story about what a coffee cup taught me about how poor design in our products and systems invite human error.

Many years ago, I had to travel to Dublin every few months for work. [...]

One very early morning while waiting for the taxi to pick me up at my hotel to take us to the airport, my colleague with whom I was traveling with at the time had ordered coffee while I ordered a Coke since I’m not a coffee drinker. They brought him his coffee in this cup."

Michel Baudin's insight:

With its unsightly bumps and nooks, the “fancy cup” you show is not even pretty, which makes you wonder what the designer had in mind. The issues you bring up, however, are more about usability engineering in Don Norman’s sense, than Poka-Yoke.

 

A properly designed handle is self-explanatory in that any user who has never seen a cup will immediately understand what it is for. But it doesn’t make the cup mistake-proof: there is nothing physically preventing you from pouring coffee onto it while it is upside down.

 

Usability engineering, including is about controls that look and feel distinctive to the touch — as opposed to rows of identical buttons — that give you feedback when you have activated them, that have shapes that naturally lead you to use them properly, that respect cultural constraints in the meaning of shapes and colors, etc. A

 

Applying these principles in designing human interfaces reduces training costs and the risk of errors. It is valuable, but it does not prevent errors.

 

Incidentally, why do so many cultures, including Japan and China, use cups with no handles? An alternative to handles to avoid burning your fingers is the double-walled cup, and I have seen some from China. Otherwise, I have resorted to the Arab way of holding a handleless tea cup: between my thumb on the bottom and my index finger on the rim.

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And around and around it goes | Bill Waddell

And around and around it goes | Bill Waddell | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

Not long ago I conducted an exercise with a client in which two teams of three people assembled a Lego product.  One team of three folks from accounting was given the 500 or so pieces the way Lego presents them – kitted in bags of parts that align with the largely graphic instructions.  Basically, all of the parts needed to make sub-assembly #3, for instance, are in a bag marked ‘3’, and the instructions for 3 show pictures of exactly how all of the parts are to be assembled...

Michel Baudin's insight:

You can do many things with Legos, and this article shows an example where a team of accountants who were given parts in kits and assembly instructions from Lego performed 40% faster than a team of engineers who were given the parts in single-item bags and only pictures of the finished assemblies. 

 

In drawing far-reaching conclusions from this example, however, Bill is comparing apples and oranges. It was faster to assemble from kits because somebody at Lego had kitted the parts, and the kits were complete and accurate. A fair comparison would require including the time needed for this. Kitting may still win, but not by a 40% landslide.

 

In a real manufacturing situation, you buy components and materials from specialized suppliers and, if you want kits, you have to put them together before assembly. Whether it is justified or not depends on what you are producing and on the parts you use. 

 

Let us assume you are making custom-configured products on a mixed-flow line, but there is one screw that is used in all configurations. You are better off presenting this screw on the line side in bins than distributing it across kits. 

 

On the other hand, it often makes sense to kit configuration-specific parts off line. It requires less labor overall but, most importantly, the work of kitting is done in parallel with assembly rather than in the final assembly sequence, which can cut in half the start-to-finish assembly time on the line. 

 

Even then, however, you have issues with kitting errors by operators who don't know the product, kits rendered unusable by a single defective part, and part stealing from kits, which is often done as an immediate remedy to the above. 

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Using Takt Time to Find Problems Earlier | Zsolt Fabók

Using Takt Time to Find Problems Earlier | Zsolt Fabók | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
The idea of takt time comes from car manufacturing. It shows the elapsed time between two completely assembled cars leaving the factory floor. If the …
Michel Baudin's insight:

A nice effort from a software developer to discuss the relevance of the concept of takt to his profession, or lack thereof. Unfortunately, he gets a few details wrong. 

 

The first sentence is "The idea of takt time comes from car manufacturing." Well, not exactly. Try aircraft manufacturing in Germany in the 1930s. 

 

His example of a car manufacturing plant making 12 cars/day is a bit odd. I suppose such plants may exist in the extreme luxury end of the industry, but 1,000 cars/day at a takt time of 1 minute while working two shifts/day is more common.

 

"Car manufacturers are producing the same kind of car over and over again." Well, not exactly. In the past 100 years, the industry has changed. You now make multiple models of cars on the same line, and each unit has its own build manifest with configuration options. 

 

And car companies do not change the takt time every week. It's more like every four months. Contrary to what the author says, the takt time is not a tool for throughput prediction. The throughput prediction is an input to the calculation of the takt time,  which is a tool to drive how you design and operate production lines. It is adjusted to reflect changes in demand, but not fluctuations, because changing the takt time of a line involves rebalancing the jobs in it. 

 

Having worked in both worlds, I agree that car manufacturing practices are irrelevant to software development. Software development is development, not production. If you want similarity and management tools with crossover value, you should look instead at product development in other industries, not the production of existing products. 

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He got the map upside down

He got the map upside down | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it

"..., at Toyota and at lean companies using visual controls effectively, it [the organization chart] actually looks like this..."

Michel Baudin's insight:

The first time I saw an organization chart with the plant manager at the bottom and the workers on top was in an auto parts factory in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, back in 2001, before it became so notoriously dangerous. 

 

The chart had a photograph next to each name, and it was not a gimmick. The plant was not perfect in any way, but the plant manager wore an overall to the floor every morning to make his rounds, and the operators knew him. 

 

The employment pattern in the maquiladora plants near the US border was similar to the one I saw shortly thereafter in the Pearl River Delta area of China: girls from the countryside came to work in the plants for a couple of years, saved money, and went home. 

 

The work was tough and tedious, but the plant manager did his utmost to provide the best working conditions he could, and the workers knew it. You could tell from the way they were looking at him. 

 

The employee turnover rate at this plant was 11%/year, compared to about 40% for the other maquiladoras in the neighborhood. 

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John Shook – #Lean Production Meets #LeanStartup | Mark Graban's notes

John Shook – #Lean Production Meets #LeanStartup | Mark Graban's notes | lean manufacturing | Scoop.it
Blog post at Lean Blog : After their recent recorded conversation, it was great to see John Shook, CEO of LEI, and Eric Ries, Author of The Lean Startup together on[..]
Michel Baudin's insight:

The Lean Enterprise Institute's John Shook shared the stage with "Lean Startup" author Eric Ries at a conference in San Francisco.

 

I was wondering whether Shook would in any way endorse Ries's ideas as having anything to do with Lean. Mark's notes show no evidence of that. It seems that Shook essentially explained his background at Toyota and NUMMI. 


"The Lean Startup" is a good read. The ideas are reasonable, plausible, and well explained, including the "Minimum Viable Product" (MVP) and "pivoting." In fact, they have taken root in the vocabulary of software entrepreneurs, at least here in Silicon Valley. 


But are they, in any way, related to Lean? 

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How to Promote Disengagement | Lonnie Wilson | Industry Week

"...workers come to work motivated and ready to be engaged. They just need to:

1. know what to do

2. how to do it

3. be supplied with the resources to do it.

Then you will get their engagement..."

Michel Baudin's insight:

The cure Lonnie recommends in Hoshin Planning, and in particular the catchball process to bounce  around ideas and strategies vertically and horizontally in the organization before committing to implement them. 

 

Lonnie give several references on Hoshin Planning or Hoshin Kanri, but does not include my favorite, Pascal Dennis's "Getting the Right Things Done" (http://bit.ly/XejqkK). 

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