“Corporate investment is increasingly shifting from machinery and employees to robots and software. Why? Because CEOs think digital transformation will be a source of competitive advantage. And it is a transformation that they think they can execute more rapidly compared to Lean transformation. CEOs also think that automation and artificial intelligence will take on greater roles, while the work of employees will take on less significance over time. They think technology is becoming more valuable than employees.”
Sourced through Bob Emiliani’s blog
Michel Baudin‘s comments: “Digital transformation” is a quaint way of describing the growing pervasiveness of software in business, with its infrastructure of computers, computer-controlled devices, and networks. Digital is normally opposed to analog, as in music CDs versus vinyl LPs. The early work on industrial automation was based on analog mechanical, fluidic, or electronic control systems, and its “digital transformation” happened decades ago with the advent of numerically controlled (CNC) machine tools and programmable logic controllers (PLCs). This is not what Bob is talking about, but I am not sure what he is talking about.
“Twenty-five years ago, I tried to coach adult college students to seek and solve problems using the classic Deming PDCA Circle. In classrooms, students were unused to identifying their own problems rather than having them pre-defined. The first time through this exercise, over half did not reflect on a problem to seek root cause. Instead, they went shopping for a gizmo, a program, or a recipe to fix the problem – a quick-fix mentality.”
Sourced through the Compression Institute
Michel Baudin‘s comments: 33 years ago, Robert W. Hall wrote Zero Inventories, the first original, technically meaty book in English about Lean Manufacturing, and I have had great respect for him ever since.
In Toyota’s Guiding Principles, last revised in 1997, Michael Ballé sees more than “goal-oriented efficiency.” While I would not use a phrase like “goal-oriented efficiency,” the principles do not strike me as anything beyond strategic guidelines to ensure the long-term, worldwide viability of the company. If they serve this purpose, great, but a car manufacturer is the wrong place to look for philosophical enlightenment.
“Nearly two years ago my family and I moved to Tokyo. As a lean coach and enthusiast, you can imagine my excitement. I set out with the intention to deeply learn about Japanese business culture, leadership, and application of kaizen (Japanese for “continuous improvement”). I saw my time in Japan as a unique opportunity to immerse myself in the environment where the principles we call “lean” were born.
Now, after 18 months spent in Japan (we have just moved back to California), I find myself reflecting on what I learned and how the experience living there has shaped my own thinking about and understanding of lean. I want to share some of these thoughts with you.
The main theme that has emerged from my reflection is that Japanese culture does not equal Toyota culture. What we call “lean” is not inherently easy for the Japanese and there are cultural traits that both enable and inhibit the adoption of principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS)…”
Sourced through Planet Lean
Michel Baudin‘s comments: Katie Anderson is back from Japan, after 18 months, where she realized that the Toyota Production System (TPS) is the brainchild of smart people who happened to be Japanese and not the product of Japanese culture. Based on my own immersion in Japanese culture, and years of work with Japanese mentors and partners, I concur.
Two years ago, I advocated dropping the “Sensei” nonsense but it soldiers on. Blog readers keep asking questions about it. Consultants who do not speak Japanese keep answering that there is a fundamental difference between a sensei and a consultant, and seeing a deep meaning in the word “Sensei” that just isn’t there. There is indeed a difference, but it is basic: “Sensei” is a polite term for schoolteachers and other instructors, while a consultant is someone who gets paid for an engagement, as opposed to an employee. One word refers to a role; the other one, to a business relationship.
Sourced through Lean Leadership
Michel Baudin‘s comments:
Strategy originally is a military term, for the plans on where you deploy armies and fleets and for what purposes. It is supplemented by tactics, the methods used in the field to engage the enemy. It is easy to think of it as cascading down, where what is tactics to the general is strategy to the colonel, and so on down to the grunt, who only has tactics. To the CEO, Lean is not a strategy but a tactic; to the VP of Manufacturing, on the other hand, it is a strategy.
For details in this blog, see last year’s About Strategy, Tactics, and Lean.
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:
Bodo 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.
From a Gustave Doré print
“95% of companies report that they are using spreadsheets to augment their ERP system for planning. I asked a good friend that I have known for 20 years to share his experiences with the proliferation of work-arounds and ad-hoc planning “solutions” that we tend to see in most companies that run MRP. My friend cannot specifically name the products his company makes because the market is dominated globally by only two players (he works for one of them). The sales of this company are between $100M – $500M (US) annually. Read about his experiences and let me know if you can relate.”
Sourced through LinkedIn Pulse
Michel Baudin‘s comments:
The issues listed by Chad Smith’s friend are not specific to Excel. His company’s MRP or ERP system does not meet the functional needs of the Planning Department, and its members supplement it by crunching data extracts from it on their personal systems, in their own ways. The manager does not control what formulas are used, and does not know how diligent each member is at keeping the data up do date. The planners happen to be using Excel, but these problems would not be solved if they replaced Excel with any other single-user tool: they should all work on the same data, not individually ordered extracts of inconsistent vintage, and the planning logic should be shared, not buried in private spreadsheets.