What is the Japanese translation of kaizen?

In my last post, I ranted a bit about how we focus a bit to much on jargon and tools without really understanding the literal meaning of the Japanese words we throw around. In that post was a graphic of the kanri writing which represents the word kaizen. I pulled these from wikipedia for purposes of illustration.

I posted a question on the NWLEAN board requesting literal translations of many lean words such as kaizen, mura, muri, muda, etc. So far, a few people have posted the commonly understood english meanings. I'm really looking for the japanese meanings. For example, I plugged these characters individually into alta vista's babel fish translator and received the following words:
"Reforming" and "virtue".
It is easy then, to imply that in english, this means "change for the good" and then is not a leap to get to continuous improvement.
Is there more to this? Is there a different paradigm associated with a system built on "reforming virtue" in Japan that is different than America's version of "good change"? What do you think? Please post your comments.



Lean Jargon, Part I - Is it helpful?

Regarding Lean “jargon”…

People don’t like it. Experience tells me there are two things at play here regarding the Japanese terms.

1) When we talk lean in America and mix in the Japanese terms people see this as transparent. Reason: once people acquire the knowledge of the seven wastes, they do get it and they see why the Japanese are successful at this. People know that the "real trick" is for leaders to follow up with them so that they learn about how to eliminate the waste through the concept of learning by doing. This is a key concept behind the Japanese word, “kaizen”, is it not? Make small improvements, otherwise the knowledge is lost. When we don’t follow up, this is a key point, we are just telling people that muda is the seven wastes. We aren't showing them why, and we certainly aren't supporting them in making actual improvements. Our problem in the U.S. is that we do a good job of developing people’s ability to see waste, we just don’t do a good job of developing people’s ability to eliminate waste within their small sphere of influence. Jargon doesn’t develop anybody’s skill. People can easily see through this.

2) People say they that their workforce can’t handle the Japanese terms and management methods. This is an American culture, not a Japanese culture.

This is generally a true statement, especially the part about culture. It doesn’t mean that we can’t try to learn what the terms mean. In fact, this is really the key point in starting your lean journey. What these people are really telling us is that as managers, we can’t handle the lean terms because we don’t understand them. Why? Our thinking is not rooted in a lean context and we are comfortable with our current thinking: command and control the hands you have hired. Supplement that bias with the notion that the terms are of Japanese origin and you don’t stand a fighting chance. Is it possible that the Japanese terms were developed so that the Japanese could understand and communicate Western management methods exported to Japan in pre and post WWII eras? Is it possible that Ford, Juran, Deming, Mogensen, Gilbreths, and the four horsemen of Training Within Industry heavily influenced Japanese management thinking, long before the 80's JIT failures and the 90's Lean explosion? How many of those English terms directly translated to Japanese? I argue that 98% of the time, you will find the literal english translations of Japanese management terms rooted in American management jargon of the pre-WWII era. The Japanese just took this stuff seriously into the workplace...oops sorry, genba.

This problem of understanding the Japanese management methods is a real problem. The root cause is that we don’t have the patience to stick with problems. I for one have learned a great deal about the origins of Lean, which are solidly rooted in the Training Within Industry program, and other influential work simplification programs, simply because a few of us have stuck with the difficult task of trying to understand the terms and history of TPS. When delivered to Americans, many people understand the American management concepts taught during WWII of “how to instruct”, “how to improve methods”, and “how to lead” people. These skills lead us to standardize, improve and work together in harmony. Sound familiar? By the way, Toyota uses TWI’s Job Instruction, in more or less unaltered format, 60 years later. The problem is not the tools, the jargon or who invented Lean. The problem we are trying to get at here is “us” and the way we learn, think and act...not the way we talk.

The first part of learning lean is to understand the context at a very basic level: 1) elimination of waste, 2) problem solving, 3) standardization, 4) customer focus, etc., you get the idea. The jargon is used to communicate these ideas to others. The usefulness of jargon ends here. The problem with the jargon is that it does nothing to help us break down our old habits of thinking and start building up new habits around the lean context I just described.

Jargon doesn’t break down old habits. People do!
Jargon doesn’t build up new habits. People do!
Jargon doesn’t think systematically. People do!
Jargon doesn’t solve problems. People do!
Jargon doesn’t implement two million improvements per year. People do!

So, Mr. & Ms. Lean Leaders, where will you focus your efforts? On the jargon? If so, that is fine, but you better be prepared to follow up and learn together with your people, or suffer the flavor of the month.
Next post, more Japanese Lean jargon, their meanings and ties to early American management methods.

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Job Instruction - Key Points about Standard Work and Kaizen

People don’t like details. How often have you heard, “I don’t care how you do it, just get it done.” For training, we skip over details so we can get the person working quickly. When it comes to standard work, we focus on filling out the form and getting it posted in the work cell. Unfortunately, standard work can quickly become expensive wall paper if this is the attitude we have towards details.

Fortunately, we can determine how Job Instruction relates to standardized work and methods improvement. What reasons suggest why training someone in the methods used for standard work is so important? Why are we told that standardized work is necessary for a successful continuous improvement program?

There are two major reasons. The first is related to methods improvement. From an industrial engineering viewpoint, there are five basic factors that must be considered when analyzing and improving work:

1) Materials
2) Design of Product
3) Sequence of work
4) Equipment
5) Method

In particular, people get hung up on factor #5 during the JI session: “who cares if Sally does it differently than Betty? They get the same result and nobody gets hurt.” But when we discuss Standard Work, the importance of teaching good methods becomes clear. Remember, in Standard Work there are three basic elements that must be determined:

A. Takt time
B. Work Sequence
C. Standard WIP

Standard work makes an assumption that you have the work area ready, the job is repeatable or patterned, and the volumes are relatively stable. But notice the common link between methods improvement and standard work: work sequence. If we want to adhere to standard work, we must have an established work sequence. An example might be washing dishes. First the material (1) is dirty dishes. Second, the design of product (2) is clean, dry dishes. The sequence of work (3) is clear the table, scrape the dishes, stack the dishes, wash dishes, dry, and put away dishes. The equipment (4) is water, sink, soap, scouring pad, wash cloth, etc. The method (5) is dependent on the person doing the job. The third and fifth factors are where Job Instruction becomes critical for success.

So, if this were an operation that was to make money, we tend to establish time standard associated with the work sequence. The problem of course depends on the person doing the job, whether the area is setup properly, are the methods for each step of the work sequence identical, etc.

This is why Job Instruction is so important, which is the second point of this post. We can establish the work sequence quite easily, but getting people to wash dishes, in step 4 of the job, to the desired specification is the real challenge. People will learn on their own. Should we let them learn poor ergonomics, timing, quality and safety key points on their own? What is the chance of one person adhering to takt time if they learn their own methods? So, if you think standard work is as simple as writing down the work sequence, controlling some WIP levels and establishing a takt time for the pace of work, think again. Remember, “If the person hasn’t learned the instructor hasn’t taught.” The real trick lies in teaching people to do each step of the work sequence using the current best practice.

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Thanksgiving Job Instructions - How to Cook a Turkey!

My son's kindergarten class did a recent exercise where the teacher surveyed each child, one on one and asked them to dictate "How to Cook a Turkey"...below are some excerpts...

"Great Nana cooks the turkey. She is very old. 99 years old. She never makes a mess so there is no clean up!"

"We get our turkey from a turkey farm. The turkey is running around so you have to catch it with a net. You bring it home. You have to clean it first. You use a towel and a hose. Our turkey is really big-like 7 pounds. You put cucumbers on the turkey. You cook it for 15 minutes. Grandma checks it. She walks into the kitchen and checks it with her eyes. She just knows when it is done."

"You get the turkey at Price Chopper. Mom puts it in a pan with chicken and gravy. Turn the oven on 8 degrees. Cook it for 50 hours. We also have macaroni and cheese."

"To get a turkey you go to a farm. They take a big turkey out and hang it on a rope. They peel all the skin and fur off the turkey. You take the turkey home and put the turkey in a big pan. You clean the turkey with a big napkin. Then you spray the pan so the turkey doesn't stick. You put barbecue sauce on top of the turkey. You put it in the oven at 91 degrees. Cook it for seven minutes. They stop cooking the turkey to feel it with gloves. They use special gloves-their tips are poking out so they can tell when it is done. We eat turkey, chicken noodle soup, potatoes and pizza."

"To get our turkey we go to a chicken farm-they have turkeys, too. You get a net and put the net over the turkey. We put him in a box and he sits in the front seat with Mom. The turkey squeaks all the way home. Mom takes him out of the box and he flies around. Mom cleans him in the sink with a wash cloth. She cleans his head first. Then she puts him in a pan and puts popcorn all over him-even inside him! She adds water and sticks him in the microwave. She cooks him for 4 minutes. The turkey is done when it is bubbly. You can hear popping all the time he is cooking."

"We go as a family to Hannafords. We go to the meat aisle. The turkey is frozen. We pick a ten pound turkey. We bring it to Grandpa's house. He unwraps it. He cuts it with a knife. He puts it in a rectangle pan. Grandpa puts salt on the turkey. The oven gets really hot-probably around ten degrees. The turkey cooks for a long time-around 45 minutes. When the oven beeps, the turkey is done."

"We go to Price Chopper to get the turkey. It is where the cooking stuff is. It is in a little box and chocolate milk comes with it. We but a small turkey-about 100 pounds. We put it ina pan and we put spices on it-like pepper fire mix so it is very hot. Then we add sugar. You put candy inside the turkey. Then we put butter all over it. The oven has to be really, really hot- about 30 degrees. You cook it for 40 minutes. The stove dings when the turkey is done. We grab a fork, pull the turkey out and take a bite. That's how you know it is done."

"You buy a turkey at Hannfords. It is 22 pounds. You take off the wrapping paper and put the turkey in water. The turkey stinks-the water gets really disgusting. You take the turkey out of the water and put it in a big pan. You add seasoning and cheese. Put the turkey in the oven for 23 minutes at 18 degrees. The turkey is always done at 6:30 in the morning. It cooks all night. You have to look at the temperature thing-if it turns blue it is time to eat!"

"Thanksgiving is when we give thanks for people who don't live in our state. We get a turkey from a store. You unwrap it and put it in a big bowl. The turkey is big-around 8 pounds. It is frozen. They try to break it open to see if it is hard. If it is still frozen, it goes in the oven. If it is not frozen you don't have to cook it as long as you cook it on the top of the stove. Dad puts hot sauce on only part of the turkey. If it cooks in the oven, you turn it on at 8 degrees. You cook it for half an hour. We know it is done when Mom and Dad say, "Dinner is ready!"

"We go to the store. The turkey is dead. We bring it home. The turkey is big, probably about 3 inches. You take the wrapper off and clean the turkey. You get a facecloth and wash it then the turkey is clean. You put it in a pan. Mom cuts the turkey and puts the gravy inside. You add salt and pepper. Put it in the oven for 4 minutes. The oven is hot, hotter than the sun, about 30 degrees. Mom checks the turkey. She uses a knife to see if it is still raw."

"You go to Wal-Mart to the turkey aisle and pick out the turkey. We pick out a huge turkey-1o pounds. I clean the turkey with a green scrubber. I clean outside and inside. I take the heart out and throw it away. I wash the turkey in the sink with a hose. Now the turkey is clean. My Mom and Aunt put bacon and A-1 sauce inside the turkey. They put maple syrup on top-all over the turkey. We cook it for ten minutes."

"You go to an animal farm. You pick out the turkey. The turkey is dead. You bring it home. You put it on a cookie sheet and put it in the stove. You put salt on first then you stick it in the oven for 5 minutes. The oven gets very hot. The turkey is very big-5 pounds. The clock rings when the turkey is done. You know it is done because it looks like a meatball."

"You go to a turkey farm. You pick out the turkey that you want. We pick out a big turkey-about 6 feet. The turkey needs to be cleaned first. You get a knife and cut out the bones, then it is clean. You put the turkey in a turkey pan. You put spices on it. Then the turkey goes in the oven. The oven is hot-hot-hot-about 9 degrees. You cook it for about 8 minutes. We know the turkey is done because it smells really, really good. "

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Leadership is a Habit

I've been doing quite a bit of reflection on habits lately, after reading Charles Allen's book, Managing Minds, probably for two reasons, 1) my bad habit of procrastination regarding non-value-added tasks and 2) this nagging feeling that leadership is closely dependent on habit formation in some way or another.
On the social network, LinkedIn, I asked the question regarding habit formation, breaking habits, etc. and how that played into leadership and standard work. Many people responded to the question, in slightly different ways, but all agreed that old habits must be replaced by repeating a new one until it is the dominant habit.
In the workplace, I can't help but think this must be led by the supervisor or team leader of an area. After all, they are only one close enough to the process to see variation everyday, yet be able to sort of which habits must be broken first through standardization and then the systematic pursuit of perfection. All of this must be done in alignment with business needs, so if done correctly, the supervisor can develop his people while meeting business needs such as cost reduction, reduced scrap and improved delivery.

While browsing learning organization sites today, I ran across this "time capsule" site. In the sidebar was a quote by Aristotle that suggests that leaders must make a habit of leading.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."


For supervisors on the shop floor, then, the habit of excellence must be done with each and every person, every day. It seems to me that this can best be done by using the J programs in a well thought out Kaizen Teian system. Last Friday on 11/16, Chuck Yorke delivered to the Vermont Manufacturer's Forum a talk regarding suggestion systems. Chuck implemented a daily continuous improvement program at Technicolor where employees offered and implemented over 20,000 ideas per year! The work done at Technicolor was so impressive that, in fact, SME created a video of the program, called The Human Side of Lean at Technicolor. This can only be done by getting people to think about their work and make suggestions until it becomes a habit. In fact, we discussed with the Chuck the value of using a program like TWI as the foundation for a solid suggestion program to which he agreed would only bolster a program such as the one at Technicolor. Chuck really helped me understand how to link how we engage people, similar to those taught to TWI supervisors, to the success of the suggestion program. Thanks Chuck!

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New Book Release - Toyota Culture by Liker & Hoseus

An excerpt from the McGraw Hill Professional website on the new book release by Liker and Hoseus, Toyota Culture:

Toyota has changed the economic and business landscape, and in The Toyota Way, Jeffrey K. Liker explained that this success was the result of consistently applying four key management principles for organizational excellence-Philosophy, People, Problem Solving, and Process. In Toyota Talent, authors Liker and Meier explained how people are trained to perform their jobs at exceptional levels. Now Liker and coauthor Mike Hoseus delve even deeper to explore how Toyota creates and maintains a culture that sustains consistent growth, innovation, profitability, and mutual prosperity between the company and its employees.

My pre-book review is this: Toyota Talent revealed the 60 year old foundational secret of how people are developed at Toyota using the skill of Job Instruction. If Toyota Culture does the same for the culture and philosophy side, the current Lean world has an important opportunity to step forward, relying less on "tools" to get results and begin to actually start learning about the process.



Standard Work Foundations

How do we build good habits in lean? Part of it begins with Job Instruction. The rest is managing to the standardized work in the area. This graphic of the JI-Standard Work connection should help folks understand better the need for JI when trying to establish Standardized Work.

Much of the lean literature today makes an attempt to address standard work. Unfortunately, there has been limited understanding of standard work for two reasons:

  1. TWI Service was decommissioned after the war, like all wartime production programs. This action wiped the service clean from industry just as it was gaining momentum. For example, the TWI Service was awarded "Industry's Award" for Job Instruction, upon the completion of the Millionth Man of Job Instruction. From the end of the war onward, Job Instructions quality control points were lost as people modified the program in to various forms of OJT.

  2. I imagine it would be difficult to "see" OJT, in the form of Job Instruction, in action at Toyota. It is much more exciting to discuss the tools of the Toyota Production System, such as small lot production, work cells, single minute exchange of dies, mistake proofing and Taguchi methods. When is the last time training got everyone riled up in your company?

The simple truth is that Job Instruction creates a thinking skill for people as they do their work. This helps us build the foundation for Standard Work, the success of which depends solely on the ability of people to do the following things, in this order:

  1. Create and adhere to work standards.

  2. Use standards first to analyze problems.

  3. Develop new methods, with an eye on how it affects work standards.

  4. Test new methods in a scientific manner relying on work standards.

  5. Lock in changes with Job Instruction and Standard Work combination tables

  6. Train people in the changes.

  7. Repeat the process forever.

This is something you simply don't "see" on the floor, and must be learned, practiced and mastered over time. See the Standard Work page at TWI Service for more info and download the graphic in this post so you may share with others.

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Good Leaders Learn New Habits

Here is how a typical Job Instruction (JI) session goes: everyone doubts it first, they try it, they love it, and then the reality sets in. “This doesn’t stand a chance in our plant! Who is going to support us in this?!” One of the things people like about JI is that it helps a person think through a process, systematically break down habits and then build up an improved method that can be formed into a new habit.

Let’s face it, getting people through JI training is the easy part. The hard part is supporting the effort after the training is over. Who is going to support the people on the floor who want to see best methods in place but can’t seem to break the habits of those that don’t? Who has the time to see the program through. The founders of TWI had a follow-through plan for supervisors fresh from a JI session so that they may continue reinforcing the new habits learned in Job Instruction. See this link.

In JI we dismantle old habits and build up new ones. The new habits must be positively reinforced through the JI follow through plan. Leaders must be the ones to support this follow up. The problem is, if we expect people to develop new habits in best practices, shouldn’t we breakdown our old management methods an build up new and improved habits?



What is at the heart of Lean?

My google alert for "lean manufacturing" brought the following article to my attention. Please read this quick article about a successful company making low-tech products in the US. I have no reason to doubt that this company is financially successful as a result of their lean efforts.

After reading this article, I was left with the impression that once again, Lean tools are what transformed this company. Stunning improvement numbers reinforce the assumption that automation technology and reconfigured ERP systems that backflush production numbers are the key to this company's success.

My question is this: what is the real success factor in this case? Do these automated machines realize the importance of small lot production? Does the ERP system run the visual (and physical kanban) system prior to backflushing? Does the ERP system go out to the floor to see problems that cause stockouts? Who crosstrained the people to work in the flexible workcells? The ERP system? The machining center? Who learned and performed the value stream mapping and coached people through the 5S principles? How many times can you count the word "person" or "people" in this article? Go back to the link and see if you can find either of these words.

I'm conducting a Job Instruction session this week. During Job Instruction sessions, people tend to conclude that the "emperor has no clothes" when referring to lean tools. What they really mean is that the lean tools are meaningless without understanding. The thing that strikes me as profound about the TWI program are three-fold: 1) PDCA thinking is cloaked in each TWI session, and PDCA is at the heart of EVERY Lean tool, 2) the program is intended to make people of industry better, and 3) TWI founders consciously created a system that was so generalized that it applied to any person in any industry wanting to improve their unique process. The awful irony is that people do not realize that people are the heart of Lean systems.

Perhaps the article referenced above wasn't intended to highlight the importance of people. Perhaps this company is excellent at developing its people to the best of their ability and we just don't know it by reading this article. Perhaps leadership is difficult to describe in less than 750 words. Most companies however, are not excellent at developing their people and focus on the biggest bang for their buck, while never thinking about why developing their people through critical thinking skills will sustain the gains.

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Toyota Market Share More than Big Three Combined

Listening to BBC America this morning regarding the sales war occurring between GM and Toyota. The story painted somewhat of a sour picture for Toyota, with GM selling 7M more vehicles than Toyota in the past 9 months, and two top Toyota executives defecting to GM and Chrysler. Despite these recent challenges, Toyota's market value is greater than the Big Three car companies, combined.
Toyota works well under pressure. They have demonstrated that ability for the past 60 years. How will Toyota overcome its latest challenges? I suspect by sticking to the basics of good management: teaching & learning together, improving best practices and maintaining good relations with employees, customers and suppliers.



New and improved TWI Blog!

As a new blogger, I'm constantly learning about how to run a blog. One of the things that I have learned very quickly is to keep things as simple as possible. The new look of the blog is meant to be simple, easy to read and navigate with a minimum of inconvenience as possible. Please post any comments and suggestions here for further improvement and enjoy!


The Thinking Process

As told in a previous post, I’m reading Managing Minds by Charles Allen, a major influence on the founders of TWI, particularly Job Instruction. In the context of vocational training and industry management, Allen and co-author Harry Tiemann dedicate a chapter to real versus pseudo thinking. Real thinking being a conscious effort and pseudo thinking classified two ways: 1) copying and 2) guessing. Allen and Tiemann explain pseudo thinking classifications through simple illustrations:
Guessing avoids the real thinking process and is no different than say flipping a coin. By guessing, we don’t necessarily consider the facts in a situation.

When we base our decisions on analogy: “it worked for them, so if we do something similar we will come out alright” we substitute copying for real thinking. Guessing and copying sound like gross oversimplifications in explaining the thinking process, but think this through in your own experience: how many series of meetings have you sat through where the final decision was “well, what have we got to lose?” or “it can’t be any worse than we are off now”, or “we don’t know, let’s just try it, we can change it later if we need to.”
The concept of copying something instead of thinking through a problem reminded me of a common occurrence today: “how many companies are literally copying the Toyota Production System?”

Of course sometimes we make a correct guess or get lucky when we copy another tactic or strategy. This leads us to believe that we did think it through properly and made the right decision. The real truth is that we could have made a better decision, or we are ignoring the consequences of the decision (lack thereof) we made. Often the latter is more destructive than we care to admit.
When we change without thinking through the process, we are confusing activity with progress. This is turn breeds discontent among the ranks, people become fatigued with the constant change and vague explanations as they try to adapt; change is difficult to sustain in this way.

Regardless of the consequences, this line of aimless thinking becomes habit. When something becomes habit it completely eliminates all conscious thinking. Any hope to change that persons habit is gone without somehow influencing his thinking, but since habit has replaced conscious thinking, we find little hope. Allen and Tiemann help us out here...

In Job Methods, the first question we ask when analyzing the job is “why”. I found it interesting that Allen and Tiemann conclude their chapter on the thinking process by suggesting that the only effective way to break a habit and instill conscious thinking is to ask the person “why” something must be done that way. This forces the person to answer consciously, not aimlessly which is a hallmark feature of habitual thinking.
I wonder if the founders of TWI found Allen to be influential in Job Methods as much as he was in Job Instruction.



Lean Toolbox: Who’s “teaching” who?

There are more questions about lean today than when it was officially “Americanized” in the early 1990s. This is a good thing because it indicates some people are thinking about lean rather than blindly following dogma. Some common questions regarding lean are: What tools do we need to use? Who should use the tools? How do we evaluate the use of tools when gauging our progress in transforming to a lean company? Within the professional circles of continuous improvement these questions are often met with two responses: 1) it is NOT about the tools! and 2) it is ALL about the tools!

Lean tools then, tend to take a severe thrashing during stimulating discussion regarding best lean practices. This beating pales in comparison to the mistreatment doled out by the American Manager. If a manager uses the wrong tool its o.k. with me. But if a manager uses the wrong tool thinking he used it correctly and then subsequently assumes this makes him a leader...that is a different problem. This behavior is a sure sign of "faddism." A little SMED here, a little 5S there, sprinkle in a work cell or two.....BAM! You are on the lean journey, man!

(whisper) Well, at least for the next fiscal year and then we'll decide if we should move forward with this Lean thing.

This is where folks down in the trenches misdirect our frustration at the lean tools. We see managers abusing the tools, yet we all know lean is NOT just about the tools! Why don’t managers see that there is a systematic way to go about this?The truth is we all regularly struggle with this dilemma of Lean Leadership. Obviously, the tools can make a person more skilled and knowledgeable in Lean. But having an excellent grasp of SMED and Cellular flow
(skills) doesn't make one a good leader. Knowing the history of TPS (knowledge) better than anyone doesn't make you a good leader. In Job Instruction (TWI), people are taught that just because they are the expert in, say, cylindrical grinding doesn't necessarily make them the expert trainer in cylindrical grinding. In fact, most people are horrible trainers, if they are allowed to train people at all.

The same is true of leadership. The reality is it is too soon for any of us to say that Lean is working in America. Leaders need practice in using, refining, mastering and teaching those skills to others through the organization; this means that leaders need support and time to learn by doing. An effective bottom up approach to lean first starts at the top, using the tools of lean to master key skills. In a sense, it is ALL about the tools! Oh, the irony!Unfortunately, the tools are the natural target for this frustrating problem for the following reason: RIGHT NOW, thousands of managers are touting lean tools and barely have a basic understanding of those tools, simply because it is seen as the latest and greatest thing out there that will raise the stock price. The fact is this: traditional managers don’t understand the lean tools, yet Lean is used as the current best practice that will help us obtain short term results. Not surprisingly, our short term thinking falls short of sustaining the results. Why? See this example at the TWI Blog.

Lean is about people. We need to ask questions about Lean in the context of people, NOT in the context of tools. For example: are managers genuinely focused on changing their management methods and attitudes first, before claiming Lean success after using a tool? How many see the long term for their company and understand how the skills of Lean will get them there? How many are getting back to the basics of management; combining the advantages of craftsmanship and mass production while abandoning the disadvantages of both eras? How many managers use Lean tools to teach people critical thinking, systems thinking and problem solving thinking so that people learn how to help them?

Since Lean is about people, thinking Lean is about attitudes. Our attitude must be to honestly answer these questions, but never be satisfied with the answers so that you can act on them in a systematic way in a “learn by doing” manner.

For more surprises about the fundamentals of lean, please see www.trainingwithinindustry.net.

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