Japanese Rest Stops Won’t Keep You Waiting | Motoko Rich | New York Times [Clipping]


“The kids are hungry, the driver has a headache and everyone has to go to the bathroom. If you’re traveling by car on a holiday weekend, the last thing you want to find at a roadside rest stop is a long line for a toilet. Companies that run major highway service plazas in Japan go to considerable lengths to ensure you never will, as they compete for the coveted Japan Toilet Award from the transportation ministry…”

Sourced through the New York Times

Michel Baudin‘s comments: When at airports or museums, you find the Men’s room readily accessible while there is a long line of women waiting on the other side, you cannot help but blame the architects for lack of respect for humanity. The buildings may look great, and may even excel at their primary function — getting passengers on and off airplanes, or giving access to cultural treasures — but they suck at details that are vital to the basic, physical comfort of their users.

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Lean’s Crazy Relatives | Jim Womack | Planet Lean [Review]


vw-assembly-line“Every family has a few members who are eccentric and problematic – like the proverbial crazy uncle locked in the attic. While this makes for fun conversations at family events – provided these folks don’t attend! – crazy relatives can become a real problem if their antics reflect on the whole family. In the lean movement my two candidates for crazy relatives are Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford, who continue to cause us trouble 101 and 69 years after passing from this life.[…]”

Sourced  from: Planet Lean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: First, thanks to Bob Emiliani, for bringing this article to my attention through his own critique of it. I disagree with the article too, but for different reasons. Womack wants to put a distance between his Lean and the legacy of Taylor and Ford, by branding them “crazy relatives.”

I see them as precursors, alongside many others, not crazy relatives. When implementing concepts from Toyota outside Japan, it is better salesmanship to embrace local precursors and stand on their shoulders than to dismiss them. Lean/TPS goes down easier when presented as a new chapter in an existing, familiar story than as an alien approach, and I believe this is why Toyota’s PR literature emphasizes the link to Ford.

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The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism | Max Weber [Review]

Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic And The Spirit Of Capitalism is a 110-year old essay that remains influential today and claims a relationship between the development of science, technology, and industry and the ideology of “ascetic Protestantism,” a label under which he groups Calvinists (American presbyterians), Pietists (Vanished in the US) , Methodists, and Baptists. The English translation is a short 124 pages. It is easy to read, not entirely convincing, and a window into the mind of a social scientist ca. 1900. The obvious flaw in Weber’s argument is the prominent role played in the scientific and industrial revolution by societies like England where ascetic Protestantism had little or no influence.

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Does Respect For Humanity Mean The Same As Respect For People? | M. Ballé [Review]

Sourced through LEI

“Dear Gemba coach,

Does respect for humanity mean the same as respect for people? I hear that the literal translation of the Japanese phrase “respect for people” is really respect for “humanness” – whatever that means?

I honestly don’t know, but it’s a very interesting point. I don’t know a word of Japanese,…”

My comments: It’s odd that a  Gemba coach should admit to not knowing a word of Japanese. This career choice, perhaps, implies an effort at mastering this language.


“…but Jon Miller, who does, makes a similar point here: he says the original Toyota phrase really means ‘holding precious what it is to be human.'”

My comments: Yes, Jon Miller grew up in Japan, speaks Japanese like a native, and has done a great job translating  Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management.  With only four years of immersion in Japan, I am not at his level, but I know the language well enough to read the manufacturing literature and tell the difference between respect for people and respect for humanity in the TPS sense. Here are a few posts on this subject:

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Question On Optional Components | Arvind Janarthanam

“Greetings! First of all, I am thankful to this blog. It has helped me out with my queries.

I’m working as a scheduler and we are facing sudden change in the optional parts that we supply to our customer. The reliability of the forecast we have is coming down. Most of our parts being imported is affecting our cost due to last-minute freight. Can you please suggest an approach to arrive at the minimum number of stock we could maintain against each options(based on past data) so that we strike a balance between the inventory and availability.


Michel Baudin‘s response:

Dear Arvind:

You tell me you are a scheduler, but many of the actions that can improve the procurement of optional parts are beyond the range of what a scheduler can decide. You are also asking a generic question, to which there is no generic, universal answer. All I can do is lay out a few possible courses of action.

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How to Pick the Fastest Line at the Supermarket | New York Times [Debunk]

Inside a Whole Foods in Brooklyn (New York TImes)

“[…] Choose a single line that leads to several cashiers

Not all lines are structured this way, but research has largely shown that this approach, known as a serpentine line, is the fastest. The person at the head of the line goes to the first available window in a system often seen at airports or banks. […]”

Sourced through the New York Times

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

No! Research shows no such thing. The serpentine line does not reduce the customers’ mean time through the system. Little’s Law tells us that, in steady state, regardless of how the queue is organized:

{Mean\, time\, in\, system = \frac{Mean\, number\, of\,  customers\, in \, system}{Mean\, service\,  rate}}

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Why I don’t like Lean houses, except one | Christian Hohmann | LinkedIn Pulse

Christian Hohmann

“I never liked the (Toyota inspired) Lean houses and their many variants. First all these models are generally understood as prescriptive rather than descriptive, thus those new to Lean tend to adopt and copy one model without necessarily understanding its real meaning. The building blocks of Lean houses are principles, methods and tools, reinforcing the feeling that it’s all about “techniques”.

The house building metaphor also suggests a beginning with sound foundations, robust pillars and when the roof is atop, the organization is done. We’ll see later it is not in this way. To add to the confusion, with the broad choice of variants, which is the right one to look at?”

Sourced through LinkedIn Pulse

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

tps-house-300x244I share your reservations about the many “Houses of Lean” floating around, but my main concern with them is vagueness. The descriptive versus prescriptive confusion that you bring up is one concern. In one diagram I am looking at right now, “Heijunka” sits on top of “Stability” and underneath “Pull System,” “Takt Time” and “Continuous Flow.” Whatever it is intended to mean, it can’t be that you should implement Heijunka as soon as your processes are stable. Given that there are very few companies outside of the Toyota supply chain that have even implemented Heijunka, it is clearly an advanced topic, not to be tackled until you have done many other things, including items listed above it.

The basic operation when drawing a house of Lean is stacking. It has a well-defined meaning in computer networks, where you talk about “protocol stacks.” For example, the worldwide web sits on top of the internet, and it means that, behind the web face it shows you, your browser uses the internet protocol to communicate with the world, in ways that would be unintelligible to you. The meaning is obviously different in a “House of Lean,” but what is it? And what does it mean to draw a manager inside?

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Teaching Adults: The Example Of New Plant Design

I have recently been involved in discussions of methods to teach adult learners and the ways if differs from teaching children or young adults. My personal experience is exclusively with adult professionals in a continuing education mode, and I provided examples from my recently most successful course, on New Plant Designdeveloped in 2005 at the request of the Hong Kong Productivity Council, and given more than 15 times in China since, and twice in Russia, although never in the US or Western Europe.

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Industry 4.0 – Revolution or Evolution | Bodo Wiegand | Wiegand’s Watch


Bodo WiegandBodo Wiegand heads the Lean Management Institute, which is the German affiliate of the Lean Enterprise Institute. In his latest newsletter, on Wiegand’s Watch, he explains how he feels manufacturers should respond to the German government’s Industry 4.0 initiative.

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