With Respect for Humanity, bowdlerized as "Respect for People," made into a pillar of The Toyota Way, you might expect Toyota's Human Resources (HR) policies to be studied, scrutinized, discusses extensively in the Lean literature, and argued over in numerous forums. But it's not the case.
"Don't expect a positive ROI from your lean and Six Sigma investments if they are nothing but a pretty picture.
I once had a plant manager tell me his factory had implemented Six Sigma, but there was not a single statistical process control chart. How is that possible? Another had the control charts in place but refused to allow the operator to shut the process down when it indicated an out-of-control condition. Another plant claimed it was lean but had a dozen bins of parts stacked on the floor as part of a two bin system. Another plant routinely violated the daily production plan by rescheduling orders, and then the plant blamed the supply chain for causing it to frequently run out of parts (which then drove it to change the schedule… a vicious circle)."
"The company-specific production system (XPS) of Chrysler is the World Class Manufacturing (WCM) concept, developed by the Fiat Group in 2006. But, what exactly is the WCM? And, what does Chrysler see as keys to success in WCM?
A few answers are given these days at the 4th annual Lean Management Journal Conference in Birmingham, UK: in his morning keynote, Mauro Pino—Vice President for vehicle assembly operations and the Head of World Class Manufacturing in the Chrysler Group—explains how Chrysler “achieves manufacturing excellence across the globe”. Pino stresses that “WCM is how we do our business. Period.” The presentation reminds me of the WCM factories I visited in Brazil, Spain and Sweden last year, all of which confirmed that WCM can be a powerful improvement system—if implemented seriously. Let’s take a closer look at the concept of WCM." Continue reading
What passes for "business analytics" (BI), as advertised by software vendors, is limited to basic and poorly designed charts that fail to show interactions between variables, even though the use of scatterplots and elementary regression is taught to American middle schoolers and to shop floor operators participating in quality circles.
But the software suppliers seem to think that it is beyond the cognitive ability of executives. Technically, scatterplots are not difficult to generate, and there are even techniques to visualize more complex interactions than between pairs of variables, like trendalyzers or 3D scatterplots. And, of course, visualization is only the first step. You usually need other techniques to base any decision on data.
"Torero is an Indian leather manufacturing company that is the exclusive global license holder for Cross brand. Here is their story. It aligns with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make In India’ campaign. It has nearly $20 million in annual revenues, employs 4000 workers...."
A3s are still being touted as nothing short of a management revolution, but few organizations actually use them for operator work instructions, problem-solving, or hoshin planning. This raises the question of whether the objectives pursued with a paper format may not be easier to achieve with more recent technology. In this post, we consider options for operator work instructions. The other applications of A3s deserve separate treatment.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is not true that only what gets measured gets done. If it were, business, government, and society at large would come to a halt due to the damage done by metrics gamers, and for the lack of the contributions made by people who do not care whether they are measured. Deming is often quoted on this subject, as saying:
- "It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth.” (Deming, The New Economics. p.35)
- "People with targets and jobs dependent upon meeting them will probably meet the targets - even if they have to destroy the enterprise to do it." It is cited on Brainy Quotes, but without a source, and it may be apocryphal.
As he showed in his "red bead experiments," his primary concern was about people being rewarded or punished based on random fluctuations in metrics that have nothing to do with their talents or efforts, but there are even more fundamental challenges in an area like people development.
You can measure how much dirt you have shoveled by weighing it, but developing people is different. There is not even a single direction. Some individuals are "hedgehogs," who know one big thing like heat treatment, while others are "foxes," who know many things like all the technical and human moving parts of a production line.
There is no metric-- or even set of metrics -- that can reasonably summarize people development, but it is nonetheless tangible and observable.
Three years ago, a previous post made the case for the key approach to nomenclature, as opposed to the obsolete "smart" numbering systems. In the key approach, the only job of a part number is to be a unique item identifier, through which all relevant information can be retrieved from a database. But you still need to think what items you want to have unique IDs for.
"[...]In 2002, Michael George and Robert Lawrence Jr. published Lean Six Sigma: Combining Six Sigma with Lean Speed, a book that started a revolution that quickly took hold in boardrooms around the globe. Total Quality Control and Six Sigma had always appealed to senior managers, but now it came with the added bonus of increased speed and reduced cost. It was a very welcome addition in the post “dot-com bubble” era and was always too good to be true.[...]"
This is a guest post on Mark Graban's Lean Blog. Like Mark, I agree with enough of what Erwin says to recommend reading it. Approaches like Lean or Six Sigma emerge out of specific contexts where they are successful, but then their boosters go global cosmic.
Six Sigma started out as a modernization of the tools used to achieve process capability in various segments of the electronics industry, with the goal of making statistical design of experiments a common practice, and the belt system was a way to propagate this body of knowledge. Success in this limited endeavor did not justify selling it as a business panacea.
Lean started out as TPS, which is, to date, the best known way to make cars. TPS has a much broader scope than Six Sigma, encompassing management and technology. It includes human resource management as well as designs for welding lines. The "Lean" label for TPS was a way to allow other car companies to apply it without explicitly referencing Toyota, and to package it for use beyond the car industry. While it's clearly applicable in many industries, it's not a panacea either.
What happens when you try to expand an approach beyond its range of applicability is that you drain it of substance in order to make it generic, as has happened to both Lean and Six Sigma, not to mention Lean Six Sigma. All you are left with at that point is homilies.
I have explained my perspective on these matters in the post "MIT article comparing Lean, TQM, Six Sigma, "and related enterprise process improvement methods."