Does Lean hold the key to success? Is Lean the ideal vehicle for moving forward?

WALLACE

Quite Involved in Discussions
#1
Since there is an emphasis on Lean tools, techniques and philosophies in this century. Does the group believe that Lean shall be transformed by the needs of western business practices or, shall Lean transform the western concepts of business practices?
Deming, Crosby, Juran, Hendry Ford, Toyoda and many others have certainly contributed to the modern structure of Lean. Does the group believe that Lean is an ideal vehicle for moving forward in this century, the theories and practices of the Quality Gurus mentioned?
Wallace.
 

bpritts

Involved - Posts
#2
This is a challenging question!

IMHO, as Wallace suggests, many elements of Lean originated in western business practice. Read "Today and Tomorrow" by Henry Ford (recently re- published - I believe that ASQ carries it).

Along the way, our Asian colleagues picked up Lean and dramatically enhanced it (Toyoda, Shingo, et al.) Meanwhile much of the US got carried away with mass marketing and financial engineering and lost our focus.

Competitive pressure has a way of restoring focus, though! Now in the '90's and 2000's North America is readopting Lean.

Much of what we call "Lean" seems to be somewhat of a hodgepodge of techniques, some very specific to long term repetitive manufacturing, (e.g. Toyota Production System techniques); others just basic philosophy (avoid waste and strive for continual improvement).

I would expect that ten years from now, we will have further built on Lean, added some more concepts, and have a new name for the resulting management philosophy. What new content? I'm sure that the strategy of finding the most effective global source for the work will be a big part of it; figuring out ways to collaborate on design (even faster and better than today's) will also figure in somehow.

What do others think?

Brad
 

Claes Gefvenberg

Administrator
Administrator
#3
bpritts said:
I would expect that ten years from now, we will have further built on Lean, added some more concepts, and have a new name for the resulting management philosophy.
Well said, and probably not too far off the mark. I think this is already happening, but wether it will lead to success or not, I dare not guess. Time will tell.

/Claes
 
R

Rob Nix

Guest
#5
Wallace said:
Does the group believe that Lean is an ideal vehicle for moving forward in this century
I am loath to assign any ONE technique or tool to being "an IDEAL" for the future. I do not believe there is a one-size-fits-all solution for every business. Certainly Lean thinking is good; just as SPC, Document Control Systems, and FMEAs are good. All of these methodologies we generally put under the "quality" umbrella are useful for helping our businesses become more productive, efficient, and effective. But we have to choose the right tools, uses and combinations. I like what Tim Folkerts said recently in the "Quotations" thread

Tim Folkerts said:
This is actually about science, but the idea applies if you change "science" to "quality" or "Six Sigma", or SPC".

Science is built of facts the way a house is built of bricks, but an accumulation of facts is no more science than a pile of bricks is a house.
- Henri Poincare'

There can be a tendency to do lots of calculations and create lots of charts, but until you can put it together to see the "house" rather than the individual "bricks", you aren't getting as much as you should from the information.
As far as an alternate name for LEAN goes, my particular slant on it, is that I am inclined to lean towards "The leanest, best in class, total quality, highest sigma possible, statistically controlled, optimized business and manufacturing and service system ever". But that might be a bit over the top.
 

The Taz!

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
bpritts said:
This is a challenging question!

Along the way, our Asian colleagues picked up Lean and dramatically enhanced
it (Toyoda, Shingo, et al.) Meanwhile much of the US got carried away with
mass marketing and financial engineering and lost our focus.

Competitive pressure has a way of restoring focus, though! Now in the '90's
and 2000's North America is readopting Lean.

Much of what we call "Lean" seems to be somewhat of a hodgepodge of
techniques, some very specific to long term repetitive manufacturing,
(e.g. Toyota Production System techniques); others
just basic philosophy (avoid waste and strive for continual improvement).

What do others think?

Brad

I'll tell ya Brad. . .

IMHO, we are in a catch up mopde. . .and parsing out pieces of a bigger whole and making it the focus. . . losing the BIG PICTURE

IMHO, one difference in the Asian approach, and the Western MBA approach is;

In Asia, as processes were leaned out and made effective and efficient, the workers who were displaced were actually re-assigned to other areas that were next for improvement. They formed the focus of an experienced team to implement the changes.

As the organization became more profitable, it also expanded it's product focus. . .and had a ready trained force of people to implement newer processes.

In our wonderful Western MBA Numbers World. . . workers are displaced to the unemployment line as production processes are "Leaned Out". . .and that experience is lost. . . or if the operators are lucky enough to find employment, re-distributed.
 

Claes Gefvenberg

Administrator
Administrator
#7
The Taz! said:
IMHO, we are in a catch up mopde. . .and parsing out pieces of a bigger whole and making it the focus. . . losing the BIG PICTURE
Spot on Taz... I think that is exactly where we lose track of things almost every time we try to implement some "new" (very little of it is ever new) gospel. We try to skim the best looking parts from it without ever realizing that a circuit needs all its wires and breakers and things to work. A good example of this is when we tried to launch just in time, and failed to see that it takes a stable and continually improved process to be able to do that in a good way.

What I would like to see is what I call a Giraffes View Management: Feet still firmly on Terra Firma, and yet with a good overview, as opposed to the birds eye view with both head and feet in the clouds.

/Claes
 

The Taz!

Quite Involved in Discussions
#9
Having been weaned on TPS in the late 80's I've watched the pieces come and go. . .and never address the whole. I think it relates back to our short attention span here, and the "Let me make a buck on the part I understand" mentality.
 

Mike S.

An Early 'Cover'
#10
Claes Gefvenberg said:
What I would like to see is what I call a Giraffes View Management: Feet still firmly on Terra Firma, and yet with a good overview, as opposed to the birds eye view with both head and feet in the clouds.

/Claes
Great analogy, Claes!

Even worse than the "bird's eye view" is the "bird-brain's view" too often adopted. I can't pick an "ideal vehicle" for quality improvement in the future, but I don't think it's that important. IMO we have a number of quite good and capable "vehicles" but some are still insisting on using a horse and buggy or crawling along -- in other words, IMO it is not the shortage of knowledge we suffer from as much as it is the shortage of implementation.
 
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