Is there a difference between a sensei and a consultant?

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.

Lean Strategy | Bob Emiliani

bob emiliani

“Fifteen years ago, Art Byrne suggested to me that the title of our book about The Wiremold Company’s Lean transformation should be Lean Strategy. I resisted that suggestion because I did not view Lean as a strategy, despite Art’s firm view that Lean is a strategy. Who was right, me or Art?”

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.

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

japan-bathrooms1-master768

“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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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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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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The Routledge Companion to Lean Management | Torbjorn Netland

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 9.47.28 AMThe Routledge Companion to Lean Management is now available for pre-ordering. It is a compilation of contributions from multiple authors, edited by Torbjorn Netland, and Chapter 8 is my overview of Lean Logistics. The other co-authors include Dan Jones, Jim Womack, John Shook, Jeffrey Liker, Robert Hafey, John Bicheno, Glenn Ballard, Michael Ballé, Mary Poppendieck, and many others whose work I am not familiar with.

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Excel Hell – An Insider’s Report | Chad Smith | LinkedIn Pulse

Excel Hell, from Gustave Doré print

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.

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What a Plant Manager and Town Mayor Have In Common | Darrell Edwards | Industry Week

leadership-dictionary-page“If there is ever a time to discuss the similarities between plant leadership and politics, perhaps during an election year is as fitting a time as any.  Some time ago I was attending a class at Columbia University, and over a conversation at lunch with a professor, we discussed what a day in the life of a plant manager was like (I was a plant manager at the time).  After a bit of conversation about my typical day, the professor said, ‘It’s like you really are running for election as town mayor, aren’t you?'”

Sourced through from: Plant Manager/Town Mayor

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

In my presentation on the Lean Leadership Role of the Plant Manager at the Lean Leadership Summit last month, I used the ship captain as a metaphor, but the plant manager as town mayor is enlightening as well. The abstract of my talk was as follows:

The plant manager is like a ship captain, in daily contact with a team that may range from a handful to thousands of people, and accountable to an organization that is remote and has entrusted him or her with a valuable asset. The plant manager is the voice of top management to the plant and of the plant to top management, and represents the company to the local community. Of course, the plant manager must know how to pay bills on time and let maintenance use qualified technicians to fix forklifts, but there is more to the job, particularly about Lean leadership. The plant manager implements corporate policy but does not make it. If top management has adopted Lean, the plant managers can make it succeed or fail.

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The 5-Day Kaizen | Bob Emiliani

Bob Emiliani

Bob Emiliani

“The classic 5-day kaizen was likely created in the late 1980s by Shingijutsu kaizen consultants from Japan as they established their practice in the United States and beyond. Traveling the long distance from Japan to the east coast of the U.S. meant that kaizen consultants should obviously spend more than a day or two at their client’s location before they then return home to Japan. It made sense to stay for a period of time in which many abnormalities could be corrected by facilitating several kaizen teams at one time. Five days seemed about right…”

Sourced from: BobEmiliani.com

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

So the Kaizen Event craze started when the convenience of a Japanese consulting firm met American managers’ quest for instant gratification…

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Lean 2.0: Faster, Better, Permanent | Jim Hudson | Lean Expert Academy

From leanexpertacademy.com Today, 10:16 AM

“The Lean that we all grew up with came to us completely wrong. Messengers Jones and Womack not only mislabeled it, but misinterpreted it too. In their roles as observer-reporters, they described what they saw through the old management paradigm and pretty much interpreted and documented everything from that perspective. They did that really well and Lean Thinking became the “go-to manual” as a result. But it wasn’t the right thing, so they pretty much missed the engine of Toyota’s management system. The result? 30+ years of misfires from nearly all corners of the earth, as leaders and consultants took what Jones and Womack observed and tried to implement it.”

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

I agree with your assessment, but I am not so sure about the remedy. About Womack and Jones, I would say that they authored one good book: “The Machine That Changed The World,” and leave it at that. To them, manufacturing was a spectator sport, and they shared the results of a worldwide benchmarking study of the auto industry.

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