Interesting Topic Lean Manufacturing Concepts - Is 'Lean' hype?

Is 'Lean' hype?

  • Total voters

Bev D

Heretical Statistician
Staff member
Super Moderator
Kevin - I suspect that you are close to the truth. Womack and colleagues got some things right but misunderstood others. Toyota was notoriously close lipped especially in the early days of US curiosity. a lot had to be inferred from observations. and Ohno was even more dense and obtuse in his conversations than Deming. this was confounded by the lack of direct translation form Japanese to English. My experience has also been that some things that were deemed to be 'nationalistically' unsavory to Americans were altered to make them more palatable.

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Hi Bev - you bring up an interesting thought regarding the timing of when Womack was in the midst of doing 'lean' and when he wrote Lean Thinking. Culture was (and still is) an obstacle to clear lines of communication. I'm sure you're right that it added to the tension. But I don't think it was all of it...or necessarily the largest part of it.

Hi Andy - True enough, but some additional background. In speaking with Womack about the time of the recession in the 90's, he was advising his followers/practitioners to pull back equipment and activities that had been outsourced to keep the business intact (with little disregard for the supplier). I felt this was horrible advice. I wondered: would Ohno/Deming have offered this advice? I believe they would not have (convinced in the case of Deming). Womack's version of Lean is suboptimal in the sense it supports maximization of some system components thus lacking a true view of a System. The music isn't just not as's a different tune.
Is Lean a hype? Yes and No.

If you implement Lean only because you want to jump onto the bandwagon then yes its a hype.

If you implement Lean because it makes sense for your business and will increase profit then no its not a hype, its a great set of tools

Top Bottom