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At least 30 ways to miss your Lean transformation

Wednesday 21 January 2009 by emmanuel
  Table of contents  

 21 - 30

- 21 : To use only specialists to improve things, to fail to empower and engage the workforce. The specialists impose "their" solutions, the best way the change not to be sustained, by the producers not buying in.

- 22 : To be satisfied by first good results not going on to the end of necessary improvements. In P-D-C-A there’s P for Plan = plan the result of improvement, and C for Check = check that obtained result matches the planned one before improvement.

- 23 : To protect one’s ego. With Lean your ego is going to suffer! Your old projects will be reconsidered and your beliefs too. Universally accepted truths and ways of thinking (e.g. economies of scale, cost accounting) will be challenged. To cling to what has gone before is to reject Lean and refuse to undertake self examination. Small lots, frequent deliveries, production leveling, people development, are hurting your ego. There’s always a Japanese guy to give you an evidence that when you think you’re good, he has still something to teach you. To take advantage of it, put your ego aside for a while!

- 24 : To put the cart before the horse. To create "Brand production system" or "BrandWay" before starting by A-B-C. It needed Toyota 50 years of intensive practice to define its Toyota Production System. Do you want a three years old child to graduate Phd?

- 25 : To want to "Deploy Lean". In your opinion, did Eiji TOYODA woke up one morning saying :" We’re gonna deploy Lean!"

- 26 : To forget "customers". Before making an improvement, step in customers shoes and ask yourself "Will that improvement get me healthier?"

- 27 : Do not feel the pain. How are you going to feel an opportunity of progress if you are insensitive to the "pain"? Is your "thermometer costs" significant enough to make you react or do you watch the same up and down results (rather in the red on the quality, the service rate, time) for months? Do you leave your hand on the grill until it is cooked? Are you a victim of the syndrome of the frog soaked in cold water, which does not jump outside while the fire raises the temperature in the pan?

- 28 : Continue "as before". The lean begins when you are basing your improvements on TAKT time, or the rate at which you must produce to meet smoothed customer demand. This implies a new way to lead your projects at odds with your usual methods.

- 29 : Encouraged by "experts", start with 5S and a Value Stream Map It is quite surprising, isn’t it, that the father of Lean, Taiichi Onho, says very little about 5S [2], and nothing about Value Stream Mapping in his writings? - What a monstrous omission! - Ask a cleaner, painter, or a waste processor if you need to clean, rather than "experts" Lean, it is cheaper and less frustrating for your team in the medium term. As of the Value Stream Map, very attractive and demonstrative, it will not help you that much if you make to order a high variety of products, and it deals with only one of 4Ms, the Materials.

- 30 : Punish the error - blame culture. This has the immediate effect that the general attitude in our business will be that the mistakes are hidden and even "covered" by managers, including senior managers. And this can have catastrophic consequences as per the current crisis. Isn’t it the result of the accumulation of errors that are now "monstrous" because they were hidden and "covered" by superiors who feared sanctions?

What about Toyota? Error is allowed, if not required! Indeed, the manager is responsible for teaching his subordinates. This comes through Hansei, or self-critical reflection. The subordinate is led to reflect on the results he obtained for his actions based on this reflection system, in order to change it. This leads the manager to make him reflect both on errors and success. Learning involves thinking in steps Check and Adjust of the PDCA cycle.

If the problem is seen as an opportunity to Kaizen and therefore technically progress, then the error is considered as an opportunity to grow people, and therefore the entire company.

[1Some people call that "economic quantities"!

[2In Workplace Management, Productivity Press, Chapter 30. To explain that getting rid of useless things and putting in order, this is not "Sorting in stores", but throwing away even your unnecessary production, and ensuring that you do not need to move anything when you try to catch what you want. He also explained that Clean and remove microbes, the 2 following S have nothing to do with painting machinery, floor, and color lines on the floor, but rather create a discipline and a rigour, taught by the closest responsible.


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