Body of Knowledge for Lean Manufacturing

Wes Bucey

Consultant/Advisor
Moderator
#1
It occurs to me to start a new thread on this topic, since there seems to be so many conflicting opinions about whose concept of Lean should prevail.

I wrote elsewhere in the Cove:
I am a charter member of Lean Enterprise (Forum/Division) of ASQ.
In point of fact, we are in the process of trying to create a Body of Knowledge for Lean.

If you have ideas or comments, you can address them to me or to the BOK chair

Quote: (Originally Posted by Lean newsletter)
The interest in creating a Body of Knowledge for Lean is on the rise. George Alukal, Past Chair, is heading up that committee. If you are interested in helping please contact him at galukal (AT NO SPAM) hotmail.com

All current and prospective ASQ members interested in Lean are encouraged to add this Division to their membership.
 

Jim Wynne

Forum Moderator
Moderator
#2
Wes Bucey said:
...there seems to be so many conflicting opinions about whose concept of Lean should prevail.
Why must a single concept prevail? Personally, I never cease to wonder at the hubris (which some would euphemistically call "intiative") of ASQ in appointing themselves the grand definer of bodies of knowledge. Of course a cynic would point to the potential for revenue inherent in new BOKs, and the cynic would be at least partially accurate, but I think it's actually a case of delusions of grandeur. More and more, I see ASQ as a meddling nooge.
 

Wes Bucey

Consultant/Advisor
Moderator
#3
"Nooge"?


Much the same might be said of "Standards" whether they are for products (thread standards, material standards, flammability, etc.) or systems (Quality management systems, environmental, etc.)

I tend to take the view that government regulators (except FDA) have taken about medical device regulations. Many of them have chosen to go the route of "harmonizing" by choosing a "best compromise" among competing ideas of necessary regulation to protect people using or affected by medical devices. The form that this harmonizing has taken is to require medical device manufacturers to achieve registration to ISO 13485, and no manufacturer is allowed "grandfather" privileges. Everybody has to toe the same line before beginning the race (no handicap "leadoffs" for anyone.)

The Body of Knowledge in any field is really a compilation of "best practices" contributed by practicing workers in the field. Almost any school curriculum in any field of study is created in the same manner. There is still room for individual variation, depending on what aspect of the total BOK is most important to the practitioner.

Certainly, a certain amount of arrogance can be attributed to any individual or group which sets forth as an "authority" on a subject. As in anything, however, we look for documented evidence to back that authority, not merely the chutzpah of a bald statement. Even Muhammed Ali had to win some fights before people believed his claim, "I am the greatest!"
 

Jim Wynne

Forum Moderator
Moderator
#4
Wes Bucey said:
A wonderful Yiddish word that (like many wonderful Yiddish words) is hard to adequately translate, but it describes a person who is an incessant pest.

Wes Bucey said:
Much the same might be said of "Standards" whether they are for products (thread standards, material standards, flammability, etc.) or systems (Quality management systems, environmental, etc.)
No, standards come about as a result of a need for agreement. Are you suggesting that the need for congruity in fastener threads is even similar to an alleged need for a Lean BOK?

Wes Bucey said:
...necessary regulation to protect people using or affected by medical devices.
Again, the impetus is a bit different, don't you think?

Wes Bucey said:
The Body of Knowledge in any field is really a compilation of "best practices" contributed by practicing workers in the field. Almost any school curriculum in any field of study is created in the same manner. There is still room for individual variation, depending on what aspect of the total BOK is most important to the practitioner.
I get nervous when I hear the phrase "best practices," especially when it's set off with scare quotes. Once again, the idea of hubris surfaces; "best" according to whom? What makes a committee of "practicing workers" qualified to make such grandiose pronouncements? What useful purpose (other then the aforementioned new source of revenue) would a Lean BOK serve?

Wes Bucey said:
There is still room for individual variation, depending on what aspect of the total BOK is most important to the practitioner
That's a relief. I'm glad you're not suggesting making fealty to ASQ and its holy BOKs mandatory.

Wes Bucey said:
Certainly, a certain amount of arrogance can be attributed to any individual or group which sets forth as an "authority" on a subject.
There's a difference between a hubristic, self-styled "authority" and an altruistic body seeking a confluence of methods for the greater good.

Wes Bucey said:
As in anything, however, we look for documented evidence to back that authority, not merely the chutzpah of a bald statement. Even Muhammed Ali had to win some fights before people believed his claim, "I am the greatest!"
I rest my case.
 

Wes Bucey

Consultant/Advisor
Moderator
#5
JSW05 said:
I rest my case.
OK.
Any other views from other Covers?

It may be hard for some to understand that ASQ is NOT some monolithic monster - the committees which make up the BOK for various topics are comprised of regular folks. At least some of our own Covers are on the committees which determine questions for certification exams and contribute to the BOK behind those exams.

As far as I know, any ASQ member may volunteer to be part of one of those committees. Last time I checked, there was no secret handshake or password to join the ASQ. That pretty much means ANYONE may ultimately be part of the committee which compiles a BOK.

Look at it as analogous to voting in elections. If you have the opportunity to register to vote and you don't register, you can't vote. If you don't vote, whether you were registered or just eligible to register, but didn't, then it will be pretty tough to give credence to your complaint about elected officials if you didn't make an effort to be part of the process.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#6
My view on "Lean" is primarily from an Operations Research perspective. Lean and JIT were an outfall of efforts to optimize the total cost of inventory versus costs of stock-out. You can further extend this to a cost optimization of the whole system, as long as you are indeed capturing TOTAL costs, not just short term costs or easily retrievable direct costs.

There is an interesting paradox. I have seen lately folks complain that we shouldn't rely on "guru" positions (such as don't blindly follow Juran or Deming or Harry or whomever). Yet, there is an advantage when a single person defines a management theory. We have to rely on his/her opinion and take it or leave it.

With "group" developments like "Lean" or "Six Sigma" there is no single owner - and thus we end up with different interpretations of what the "program" entails. Witness the latest fun with Six Sigma on the ASQ Discussion Boards.
 

Jim Wynne

Forum Moderator
Moderator
#8
Steve Prevette said:
There is an interesting paradox. I have seen lately folks complain that we shouldn't rely on "guru" positions (such as don't blindly follow Juran or Deming or Harry or whomever).
You think it is good to blindly follow something, or someone?

Steve Prevette said:
Yet, there is an advantage when a single person defines a management theory. We have to rely on his/her opinion and take it or leave it.
Affirmation of the consequent, I think. Where is the advantage? Why do we have to rely on anyone's opinions? I think it's a good to learn from experience, even if the experience is someone else's. Thus in solving a problem I might well draw on something Deming, or even something Crosby. I also might draw on something Harold, who's a smart guy I used to work with. But if Deming, Crosby or Harold's ideas don't seem appropriate, I feel free to ad lib and trust my own intellect and experience rather than doing what Harold said to do, just because he's Harold.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#9
JSW05 said:
You think it is good to blindly follow something, or someone?
Perhaps straying a little off topic. No, I am not proposing blindly following someone.

However, several of the gurus' management theories are in fact systems. For example, Dr. Deming's 14 points are meant to work together, in their entirety. If I choose to only implement those points that I decide I want to, and then fail and stop without implementing the remainder, I cannot blame Dr. Deming. Dr. Deming's answer was that I should eventually discover the need for all 14 points.

Yes, as we gain experience we form our own theories as to how the world works. Yes, I have personally blended a little Tom Peters in with Dr. Deming. But I do so at my own risk.

Coming back to the topic of Lean - I would recommend going back to whatever research team or company first applied the term "Lean" and understand what they intended, what they meant. No, don't blindly follow it, but also, understand it as they intended.

I have seen so many improvement efforts fail, and then be blamed on buzzwords from "TQM" to "Reengineering" to "Six Sigma" to "Lean" without any understanding of what the originators of those buzzwords intended. I remember a manager who was officially "TQM" though what he did had no relation to the theory behind "TQM". He then switched to the newer buzzword "Reengineering" but just kept doing the same failed things.

I got some good advice from a mentor once - if you want to understand something, go back to the source. Go back to whomever first proposed it. I learned a lot about SPC and how it came about from reading Shewhart, as an example.
 

Jim Wynne

Forum Moderator
Moderator
#10
Steve Prevette said:
Perhaps straying a little off topic. No, I am not proposing blindly following someone.

However, several of the gurus' management theories are in fact systems. For example, Dr. Deming's 14 points are meant to work together, in their entirety. If I choose to only implement those points that I decide I want to, and then fail and stop without implementing the remainder, I cannot blame Dr. Deming. Dr. Deming's answer was that I should eventually discover the need for all 14 points.

Yes, as we gain experience we form our own theories as to how the world works. Yes, I have personally blended a little Tom Peters in with Dr. Deming. But I do so at my own risk.

Coming back to the topic of Lean - I would recommend going back to whatever research team or company first applied the term "Lean" and understand what they intended, what they meant. No, don't blindly follow it, but also, understand it as they intended.

I have seen so many improvement efforts fail, and then be blamed on buzzwords from "TQM" to "Reengineering" to "Six Sigma" to "Lean" without any understanding of what the originators of those buzzwords intended. I remember a manager who was officially "TQM" though what he did had no relation to the theory behind "TQM". He then switched to the newer buzzword "Reengineering" but just kept doing the same failed things.

I got some good advice from a mentor once - if you want to understand something, go back to the source. Go back to whomever first proposed it. I learned a lot about SPC and how it came about from reading Shewhart, as an example.
I've always been a big fan of primary sources. I also fully agree that to blame a deceased (or living) guru for one's own errors is lame.
 
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