Time Magazine covers Training Within Industry, Dooley, Dietz and Wartime Challenges

Read this article in Time's archives. Dated December 7, 1942.


I especially like the part where the plant manager informs Dooley weeks later how Dooley's prediction of reducing time to train an expert inspector from 30 days to 1/2 day was wrong. It was only reduced to 1 day! The more things change, the more they stay the same, right?



Is Lean a religion?

I've seen quite a few discussion forum posts on the Lean debate being compared to a debate on religion. Either you are a believer or you are not is one argument. The other typical argument is that there is common ground in the middle somewhere. A common criticism of this argument is that lean could be advanced much more quickly and effectively if the zealots would stop viewing lean as a religion. My take is this:

It sounds (and in a way it is) a religious argument because as many people will realize about lean, over time we are talking about a philosophy in leading an organization.

Encarta Dictionary: Philosophy

1) school of thought - a particular system of thought or doctrine

2) guiding or underlying principles - a set of basic principles or concepts underlying a particular sphere of knowledge

3) set of beliefs or aims - a precept, or set of precepts, beliefs, principles, or aims, underlying a person's practice or conduct.
There are many similarities between traditional manufacturing and lean manufacturing: each requires production control, sales and marketing, engineering, supervision, human resources and accounting. But the philosophy of HOW to do this while respecting people is drastically different; if not polar opposites. For this reason alone, it is not unreasonable to expect severe differences of opinion in how to run business. Because we hang on to our old habits, we fail at understanding the lean philosophy, and this is due to the cultural behaviors so prevalent in the discipline of U.S. management. When we do not understand, we will not try; when we do not try, we will not do it; when we do not do it, we will not understand. In lean, the concept of 'learning by doing' and experiential learning is so highly valued in the gemba.
A couple of the underlying disciplines in Lean/TPS are production engineering and manufacturing engineering. These two disciplines heavily influence the philosophy of TPS. In my experience, I can think of many examples where a manager of a department or company on the "lean journey" either:

a) doesn't understand any of these disciplines (or those which are related)

b) holds the traditional belief of these disciplines that work standards exist to enable command and control management, in other words - hold people accountable (U.S. speak for disciplining them when they do something wrong or make a mistake.)

In other words, in order for lean to be successful, it must be part of how a person conducts themselves as a manager. Traditional manufacturing in terms of production/manufacturing/industrial engineering does not hold the concept of employee involvement in high regard. This is a fundamentally fatal flaw of traditional western management yet is a core philosophical point that underlies lean management, or TPS.

Is my assessment far off the mark?

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New TWI Service Content – Program Development Training

Check out the new content page at TWI Service. The fourth and least discussed TWI program, Program Development is this week’s feature content. Take a look and see how the TWI Directors used PD to develop leadership among U.S. managers.




Lean Kaizen Teian TWI Survey

A question was posed on a popular lean forum this past week: "why do we have trouble sustaining lean in the U.S.?" Without question, the answers are numerous and all over the board. My basic belief is that any inititative that we want to stick requires a change in habits. But we cannot expect people to change if we don't change our own habits first.

The Kaizen Teian system is probably the most long standing successful program to do that in the factory environment. This blog deals with this topic to a large degree since I feel that everyone should be involved with the change. TWI is the only program I know of that in the past 100 years can be compared to the Kaizen Teian system, and is arguably the precursor the japanese kaizen teian system itself. See my content site with public domain materials and my commentary and judge for yourself.

At any rate, I'm curious what do you think of the modern suggestion system, Kaizen Teian, and how it would work in the United States? See the poll on the front page of the TWI blog and be heard!

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Toyota Culture Book Review I

I'm reading the new Liker and Hoseus book, Toyota Culture. Essentially this book is about how Toyota has taken the unique human systems (human value stream, if you will) painstakingly developed in Toyota Japan and transferred it into a very different Western culture. In short it requires change. If you are a leader and in particular an HR manager wondering, "how do I fit in with this lean thing?", you need to get your hands on this book. As I poke through this book a number of things jump out at me that scream TWI:

Page 25 - “Perhaps because of the profound influence of Sakichi Toyoda, who believed in contributing to group and society, but was also a brilliant inventor, Toyota seems to stand out in placing a high value on both group and individual achievements.”

Since TWI trainers encourage people to establish and improve their own work standards , it is not surprising to see the perfect fit with Toyota’s philosophy of valuing people and their ideas. The missing element in western society seems to be getting individuals to look past the individual rewards and recognize the benefits to the group. Perhaps we make too much hay out of encouraging the line operator to see the “big picture” and don’t balance the emphasis we make on individual and group benefit when an improvement is made? Perhaps we should take a smaller step, not overwhelm the person and encourage them to see the “medium picture” for her team? This seems to be the general approach that Toyota has taken within the gemba: a team leader, who sees the slightly bigger picture above, is able to paint the picture for the team within the scope of that team’s work. Is this the way Toyota deploys the “top-down, bottom-up” management system? Funneling and filtering the big picture down into meaningful chunks of information for the person doing the work in the gemba?

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Skill of Job Instruction - Finding Patterns in Standard Work

A common criticism of Lean and standard work is that it cannot be applied to non-repetitive situations. Over the years, prior to and after having learned about Job Instruction, I’ve always tried to understand the source of this criticism. Although not a complete explanation, nor meant to be revealing of the nature of non-repetitive systems, this short article is meant to convey what I have learned so far.

First, the disclaimer: I’m speaking of the purest sense of standard work routines, those that incorporate the concepts of takt time, standard wip levels and a defined work sequence. Anyone that applies what I say here to another scenario runs the risk of misinterpreting what is written here.

So, let’s look at a classic non-repetitive task in the modern age: a machine tender or the classic machine operator. Pick your product and process as desired. In this case, the operator’s job is to run several machines that perform an intermediate operation on a high volume product. The operator loads material, performs quality checks, fills out paperwork, cleans the area and monitors equipment status. Of these many tasks, there may be a dozen sub-tasks underneath. If we were asked to tally up all of the things this person does in one day, it would number in the hundreds of tasks. In general the person knows what to do and how to do it. Then the problems begin.

“Clearing jams on one day is less on the next. It seems like when things go wrong, all you do is fight with the machine to keep it running. There isn’t time for any of the other things management wants done like 5S and Kaizen. Some days are met with hours of downtime. Scrap is high one day, so sorting is longer than normal. The problems are worse today than they were yesterday, so more time is spent with the mechanic explaining the problems. The second shift operator was so frustrated that he left the area a mess, increasing my time in cleaning.

"Monitoring the equipment is pointless, because adjustments will be made and once that machine is running; there is no point in monitoring settings that work, right? They are only going to change once the machine goes down again anyway. How is a person supposed to get all of this done in one day? The lean guys are coming in and saying we need to standardize this job? It’s a different job everyday! The only thing that is standard about this job is that some days you win and some days you lose.”

Here we see a pretty typical attitude towards the suggestion that standardization is needed. How can we standardize something that changes every day? The problem here is that we have lost our sense of what the standard job operation should be. We think that part of the job is “trying to keep up” but that isn’t what the job really is. Therefore the response to standardization is that the job can’t be standardized. Why is this the response? What if the lean guys came in and said instead that, “we should seven people work on this job simultaneously and do this job anyway they want, so it will reduce the lead time in getting the tasks done.” What would the response be then?

The problem is that when we think of the word standardization we think of a definite sequence or pattern. Since we don’t know the standard job operation, than we certainly don’t see any patterns for standardization or aren’t readily willing to admit that a pattern may exist; we just can’t see it.

My experience in getting people to see this through sheer will and some slight nudging has been as expected; a dismal failure. However, it wasn’t until people started attending my Job Instruction sessions that I realized, people are beginning to see the patterns of work. When a person writes a Job Breakdown Sheet for say, monitoring the process settings for an area, they see a definite work pattern; that is, there is a certain way to do it. When they write down a JBS on how to do a quality check, they see a definite pattern. We can then ask, how often should this be done? Where should it be done? This leads us to see the pattern of so-called non-repetitive work, by systematically breaking down the job into its smaller task elements, we see the tasks as discrete, with certain periods of time to perform them in and in a repeatable sequence masked by stoppages, non-productive work and other disruptions that we normally refer to as “just part of the job.”

The trick then, is to use first understand the repetitive work tasks using Job Instruction. This helps us classify productive work from non-productive work. Once we see the two types in their respective categories, you will be tempted to use process kaizen to create the standardized work routines. This could be a mistake because if you do have excessive stoppages, then you should conduct equipment kaizen next. Then the process kaizen will establish your standard work routines. From there, you may repeat the process of observing the work, making improvements through manual, equipment and process kaizen and locking in the improvements through standardized work and Job Instruction.

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The Great Divide

What is the great divide between “the art of management” and “the science of management”? We get a clue in the December 10, 2007 issue of The New Yorker. In The Checklist, Atul Gawande explains how one doctor is radically changing medicine by improving the processes that doctors, nurses and specialists are engaged in everyday. For example, a checklist used in ICU reduced line infection rates from eleven percent to zero. Think zero defects in manufacturing. Part of a study done in ICUs found that an average of 178 procedures are completed on a patient. Inserting a line is only one of those steps. What else could go wrong?

Read the entire article and get it in the hands of others. It is compelling. It also helps quell the riot of that standard work stuff doesn’t work here mantra. If standard work can be effective in hospitals where an ICU team will face 1 over 32,000 possible combinations of procedures for every patient with on average of 178 steps for each combinations, then it can standard work will work for us in manufacturing.

This article reads like it was plucked from the newest lean manufacturing book. Take for example the quote from the subject of the article, Peter Pronovost,

“The fundamental problem with the quality of American medicine is that we’ve failed to view delivery of health care as a science. The tasks of medical science fall into three buckets. One is understanding disease biology. One is finding effective therapies. And one is insuring those therapies are delivered effectively. That third bucket has been almost totally ignored by research funders, government and academia. It’s viewed as the art of medicine. That’s a mistake, a huge mistake.”

How many people out there think that what they do is more art than science? The fact is, it just feels like an art when everything works well. We just don’t see the pattern of repeatability in what we do. Whether it is the nurse feeling for a vein, an artist feeling the correct brush stroke, an mechanic setting the right torque, or an operator lifting something safely, there is definite and correct technique that produces a unique result.

In management, how often have you heard that management is an art, not a science? Isn’t it time we put that old horse to rest? Is the great divide between art and science then the concept of process improvement thinking?

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Job Methods New Materials Update - TWI Service Website

I'm doing my spring cleaning in the winter! A couple of days ago, I announced the Job Relations materials update. There is also some Job Instruction for Healthcare. Hospitals need as much standardization improvement today as they did during the days of Gilbreth, Mogensen and others recognizing the need for standardization and simplification of healthcare work.

Today, visit the Job Methods page for insight behind Toyota's secrets to Kaizen, TWI! Dig deeper into the development of Job Methods and Kaizen by exploring archival documents retrieved from the U.S. Archives.

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Toyota Builds Inventory

Caution: rhetoric ahead.

A brief at the Detroit Free Press online says that Toyota and Honda, "may modify their just-in-time manufacturing system to avoid possible supplier bankruptcies affecting production."

"We are told inventory is a waste."

Some go as far as (foolishly) adopting a "zero inventory" policy.

"We have "learned" all this from Toyota."

"So, now they are building inventory? Why?"

"Isn't that anti-lean? I thought the kanban system was invincible?"

O.k., I got that out of my system. Thanks! One thing to keep in mind is that the kanban system is not a zero inventory system. It could be better classified as a "right-sized" inventory system. What is the right size inventory for a high demand market? What is the right quantity for a low demand market? What is the right demand for a market where your suppliers go bankrupt?

In this sense, we can see how kanban/JIT systems are countermeasures to external forces beyond the control of Toyota. Kanban is what they can control. By saying that these companies will "modify" their JIT/kanban systems demonstrates the misundestanding of these systems. It is not a fixed. Increasing the quantities in the kanban system is not the same as changing the rules that govern the system. Big difference. The rules still apply, the quantities only change. Another reason why people fail to see how kanban can apply in any organization at any time.

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Job Relations - New Archive Manuals and Materials at TWI Service Website

I just finished uploading the new Job Relations page at TWI Service. Check it out!

Also, I had nearly forgotten about the material I retrieved in the National Archives a couple of years ago, but stumbled across it last night. It is the material created by the original TWI Service so district representatives could convert their Job Instruction Manuals into a Job Instruction for Health care manuals. This is really interesting stuff.

Within the next week or so, I will upload the Red Cross files discovered at the files. This involves the work TWI did with the Red Cross and the only evidence that the so-called multiplier effect was a deliberate and effective plan that spread TWI like wild fire!


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