Dakkota Systems’ instrument panel factory is joined at the hip to Chrysler’s Windsor minivan assembly plant.
See on www.autonews.com
The following two-minute dialogue between Jeffrey Liker and British consultant John Seddon has caused a stir in the US, primarily for Seddon’s saying “…all this respect for people stuff is horseshit…”
Note: For a video of the full 45-minute session from which it is excerpted, see Panel discussion – Lean Ísland 2012 (08). The third participant in the conversation, the woman sitting between Jeffrey Liker and John Seddon is Yr Gunnarsdottir.
While dramatically stated, Seddon’s point is actually not that controversial. If you listen closely, he says that respect for people is not a “point of intervention,” meaning not a subject for which you bring in consultants or start projects. Mark Graban pointed out that he had never seen a company have a respect-for-people project, and I never have either. In his comments on Graban’s post, Rob van Stekelenborg writes “Still, more and more often I notice, Lean is attempted primarily as a leadership and a formalized (thru methods), bottom-up continual improvement effort without much attention for the strong industrial engineering roots it also has.” While I agree with Rob, I am not sure this is what Seddon meant.
Digging deeper, the following paragraphs quote some of my preferred authors/bloggers on the subject, with my own comments added:
The video starts with Seddon asking Liker to rate Taiichi Ohno’s people skills in a short answer, and Liker answers “terrible.” I would not have answered that. By whatever means he accomplished it, Ohno got thousands of people to work with him to develop and deploy the Toyota Production System, and it makes him only one in a long line of effective business leaders, sports coaches, and military commanders who don’t ooze charm from every pore.
My understanding of people skills is as the art of working with, through, and for other people and that the degree to which a person possesses these skills is measured not by their manners but by their achievements. Some of Ohno’s statements on people issues are surprising. Ohno’s open bursts of anger were not due to lack of self-control but were on purpose, as he explains on p. 93 of Workplace Management:
“I never get angry at the workers. However, with supervisors and above I will get very angry. The gemba is a convenient place to get angry at people. There is a lot of noise so they can’t really hear what l am saying. When I scold the supervisors on the gemba, the workers see that their boss is being yelled at and they sympathize with their boss.
Then it becomes easier for that supervisor to correct the workers. lf you call the supervisor away to a dark corner somewhere to scold him, the message does not get through. The gemba is a noisy place anyway, so if l am yelling at them and the person being scolded doesn’t really know why they are being scolded, this is okay. However, when the workers see their boss being scolded and they think it is because they are not doing something right, then the next time the supervisor corrects them, they will listen.”
For a higher-level manager never to scold workers is consistent with standard management practice going back to Sun-Tsu. On the other hand, that you should publicly scold supervisors for no particular reason in front of their subordinates to generate sympathy and make it easier for supervisors to do their jobs is a strange idea. I have never done it, nor have I ever recommended it. In the plants I am familiar with, sympathy for supervisors among operators is in short supply, and a public scolding would do nothing more than undermine their limited authority.
Yet, I don’t think Ohno would write this unless it had worked for him as a manager at Toyota. As he explains, he was trained to praise in public and criticize in private, but he did the opposite on purpose. Had he failed, you could use this practice as evidence of terrible people skills, but he didn’t fail.
Back in 2010, Art Smalley gave a detailed explanation of what respect for people means in the Toyota context, as he experienced it while working there. In a recent post on the ISPI conference in Reno, I wrote “Lean relies on people to improve operations, provides them with safe and secure jobs, and supports their professional development as a strategy for the company to gain market share, enhance profits, and grow.” While it was not my intention, I think it summarizes Art’s points.
Art also quoted the following excerpt from a TWI Job Relations training manual from World War II as evidence that it is not a new concern:
But we can dig further. In The Visible Hand, p. 69, Alfred Chandler quotes British textile expert James Montgomery writing in 1832, that “To assure good feeling and understanding, while guarding against too much lenity (modern: leniency) on the one hand, to be careful to avoid too much severity on the other, [...] be firm and decisive in all measures, but not overbearing and tyrannical – not too distant and haughty, but affable and easy of access, yet not too familiar.”
In other words, since the industrial revolution, advisers have been telling manufacturers that it was good business to show respect to their employees, but few have acted on this advice. Taylor’s “scientific management” went in the opposite direction, and so did Ford in its early assembly lines. It could be explained by the prevalence of immigrants from many different countries with limited education in the manufacturing work force of early 20th century America. But in California 100 years later, Injex was using TPS to make auto parts for Toyota with great success and a workforce with 19 different nationalities and varied levels of education and English proficiency.
On 2/26, Mark Graban wrote an extensive rebuttal of Seddon, to which I had also added the following:
In concrete terms, I have found disrespect easier to explain than respect. For example, giving a person a job that requires doing nothing 50% of the time is saying “your time is worthless,” and therefore “you are worthless.” Many managers do not realize how disrespectful this attitude is, particularly where labor is cheap.
Ignoring complaints about minor safety issues, like sharp edges on a cart, is also showing disrespect. There are many such issues that must be addressed before asking people to participate in improvement and contribute ideas. The Frank Woollard quote in Bob Emiliani’s comment explains why you should pay respect to your people. It’s not about being nice. In the long run, you cannot compete unless your organization fires on all intellectual cylinders.
Frank Woollard was a British industrial engineer in the 1920s, and Bob Emiliani’s quoted him saying:
“This principle of ‘benefit for all’ is not based on altruistic ideals – much as these are to be admired – but upon the hard facts of business efficiency.”
In his article, Mark includes a photo of an exhibit at the Toyota museum, that contains the following text:
It is in English, Japanese, and Mandarin, but the titles have slightly different meanings. The Japanese title means “Respect for Humanity,” not “Respect for People,” and the Mandarin title means “People-oriented.” To be even more specific, in Japanese, ningensei (人間性) means humanity in the sense of human nature, not humankind, which would be jinrui (人類).
On the other hand, the English paragraph is an accurate translation from the Japanese and clarifies the difference in the titles. Saying “please” and “thank you” is showing respect for people, but it does not imply any consideration for their specifically human sensory, intellectual and cognitive abilities.
I don’t know what the paragraph in Mandarin says, but it is visibly shorter than the other two. Mandarin is concise, but not this concise.
Rob van Stekelenborg, blogging as Dumontis, also posted on this subject, introducing the new word “resp-act.” What Rob does here is go beyond general statements and give examples of how to show respect for people in situations involving suppliers, customers, or employees.
After all the theorizing on the true meaning of respect for people, it remains a vague and fuzzy guideline for anyone on a shop floor today and tomorrow, and what Rob does to bring it into focus reminds me of the Critical Incident Technique I heard about from Steven Villachica at the ISPI conference.
“‘…Toyota Motor’s group leaders were complaining about the systems IT was delivering. They wouldn’t let them focus on being out on the production line. So IT’s focus became providing tools to allow group leaders to be more efficient…”
The article’s author is challenged about getting to the point but, when he eventually does, it is worth reading. What I found most original is IT focusing on the needs of group leaders, Toyota’s name for first-line managers, who oversee four to six teams of four to six operatiors each. It is a constituency is definitely underserved by IT in most manufacturing organizations and whose potential is underestimated.
Most companies expect little from first-line managers beyond expediting parts, tracking time and attendance, and disciplining workers to make their numbers. In fact, being both part of management and in direct contact with production operators on the shop floor puts them in a unique position as agents of change.
This is why TPS puts them in charge of smaller groups, with the expectation that they will spend time leading improvement projects and supporting the professional growth of their teams. Most IT groups pay more attention to the executive suite than to the shop floor, where, in particular, you are not just interacting with people through screens but also with machines through their controllers. This requires a different set of IT skills, and the article says that Toyota partnered with Rockwell Automation for this purpose.
See on mhlnews.com
“Sometimes referred to as “single-piece flow” or “continuous flow,” one-piece flow is a key concept within the Toyota Production System. Achieving one-piece flow helps manufacturers achieve true just-in-time manufacturing. That is, the right parts can be made available when they are needed in the quantity they are needed. In the simplest of terms, one-piece flow means that parts are moved through operations from step to step with no work-in-process (WIP) in between either one piece at a time or a small batch at a time. This system works best in combination with a cellular layout in which all necessary equipment is located within a cell in the sequence in which it is used.”
In the current issue of Reliable Plant, Darren Dolcemascolo explains the concept and the value of one-piece flow in simple terms, including the prerequisites for it to work.
See on www.reliableplant.com
See on Scoop.it – lean manufacturing
“Aerofil Technology Inc. (ATI) began its operations in Sullivan, MO, in the fall of 1988 with two small aerosol lines and less than 50,000 sq ft of space. Since then, ATI has greatly expanded and now serves clients around the world. Its capabilities, customer base and facility size have grown exponentially during the past 25 years. Today, ATI is a Lean contract packager with a continuous-improvement culture with approximately 350 full-time employees and 16 production lines in a 400,000-sq-ft facility.”
See on www.packagingdigest.com
“…Nakagawa, who has been a TPS practitioner for four decades, doesn’t believe in seeing things on his computer screen -he prefers to go where the action is. “Can a computer smell? Genchi Genbutsu is very important because only on-site will your sensory organs be alert – smell, sound, vision,” he says….”
Perhaps, Mr, Nakagawa has not heard of Google Nose, the app announced on April 1.
In all summaries,TPS has two pillars, but never the same. In this article, the pillars are “respect for people” and “continuous improvement.” To Ohno, they were Just-in-time (JIT) and Jidoka, with JIT covering production control, logistics, and supply chain management, while Jidoka was a complete approach to the engineering of production lines where humans interact with machines.
You could try to implement Ohno’s JIT and Jidoka without respect for people or continuous improvement, but it would not work well. Conversely, if all you focus on is respect for people and continuous improvement, you won’t get TPS either. You need both, and, perhaps, two pillars are not enough.
Broadly speaking, the two pillars in this article are about management; Ohno’s pillars, about technology. As TPS is based on the interplay of management and technology, perhaps these are its real “two pillars.”
See on economictimes.indiatimes.com
The articles by Art Smalley‘s and Mike Rother about Standards in The Lean Edge puzzle me, because it seems we all mean different things by “standard.” On a manufacturing shop floor, in particular, I don’t see Standard Work as a basis for comparison, the best way known to perform a task, or a target condition. Instead, it is a set of rules published for the purpose of ensuring that different people perform the same tasks in the same way. This is consistent with the Wikipedia definition of a technical standard.
A process can only produce a consistent output at a consistent pace on different shifts in the same plant, as well as in different plants, if it is performed on the same materials, with the same equipment, and by the same methods. That is what standard work is supposed to accomplish, and it is, for both human and technical reasons, more difficult than meets the eye.
So here are a few thoughts I would like to share on this subject:
When operators on a manufacturing shop floor remain on the same job for years, they come up with their private tricks on how to perform it. They attach “cheater bars” to wrenches, rearrange parts around their stations, and develop the ability to detect anomalies by sight, sound, touch, or smell. By default, as operators perceive this knowledge to be the key to job security, they make sure it remains hidden away in their heads.
It leads to a situation that economist William Lazonick called Craft Control, in which management leaves the organization of work on the shop floor to the operators. The focus of Frederick Taylor’s “scientific management” was to replace craft control with managerial control, and it entailed the detailed specification of all operations by specialists. For decades after Taylor’s death in 1915, the management of American manufacturing companies engaged in a tug-of-war with labor to put an end to craft control, and ultimately failed, resulting in shelves of binders full of specs that nobody pays attention to, except external auditors.
Human resource policies that involved laying off whenever business slows down were an incentive to retain rather than share information. And leaving operators on the same job for years made the specs unnecessary except to train new operators but, when you tried to use them for this purpose, more often than not you found them to be obsolete.
TPS/Lean pursues managerial control too, but in ways that differ as follows:
See last July’s post on What are standards for? for examples and details. These differences do not make it easy to implement, but they remove the key obstacles that account for the earlier failure.
A3 instruction sheets above work stations help supervisors notice discrepancies between the standard and the practice of the operators. When there is such a discrepancy, however, the supervisors must investigate it rather than always “retrain” the operator to conform to the standard. The operator may in fact have improved the process; this improvement needs to be documented and the standard updated so as to propagate this improvement to all other operators doing the same process. When walking through a shop floor that has such posted instructions, one should check the signature block to see when it was last updated. If it was five years ago, the sheet is useless. In fact, It should have been updated in the last six months.
In The Birth of Lean (p. 9), are Taiichi Ohno’s own words on the subject:
”…the standard work display panels [...] let the foremen and supervisors see easily if the operators were adhering to the standard work procedures. [...] I told everyone that they weren’t earning their pay if they left the standard work unchanged for a whole month.”
Changing specs once a month for every operation seems a hectic pace, leaving operators barely enough time to master the new method before changing it. Perhaps it was justified in Toyota’s single machine shop, that Ohno was running in the early 1950s. Managing revisions in a networks with dozens of factories worldwide that is Toyota today is a different kind of challenge.
Posting too many instructions, maps, charts, forms, before-and-after pictures, etc., is counterproductive. The result is visual clutter rather than visual management. Producing, posting, and maintaining displays is work, and it should be done selectively, when it has a clear purpose and is worth the effort.
In daily life, we use complex products like computers, cars, or kitchen appliances without posted instruction sheets. We can, because these products have been engineered for usability and mistake-proofed. Usability engineering is the art of designing human-machine interfaces so that users find the right actions to take without prompting or instruction; it is widely applied to household appliances, based on techniques described in Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. In Taming HAL, Asaf Degani expands on these techniques for application to airliner cockpits and ship control rooms, and Chapters 1 and 2 of Working with Machines summarizes them as they apply to production equipment. Usability engineering is about making mistakes unlikely, but not impossible; this is why, whenever possible, it is supplemented by mistake-proofing. The following pictures illustrate one of the usability engineering principles. In Pixar’s “Lifted,” the young alien taking a test cannot tell which switch to press; Don Norman shows an example of a control room in a nuclear power plant where technicians have replaced identical joysticks with different beer keg handles to make them easier to tell apart.
Toyota in recent years has been pursuing a reduction in the amount of information posted on the shop floor. They simplified the tasks to eliminate the need for posted instructions, which also made it easier to train new people. This has been going on in several plants worldwide for several years, resulting in continuing improvements in quality and productivity. Instruction materials are kept off line and brought out as needed, like a car’s owner manual.
Anywhere but possibly inside Japan, finding local roots for Lean is useful to defuse nationalism when implementing it, but it is also risky. You start by giving a local pioneer credit for what he actually did. Similarity of his insights with Lean then becomes enough to label him a “precursor.” It may be a stretch, but it is a white lie, and it makes local engineers and managers so much more receptive! Further down this slippery slope, however, the local precursor becomes a “pioneer” and soon there is nothing to Lean beyond what he came up with, at which point his legacy impedes Lean implementation more than it supports it. This is where Lean is attributed to Henry Ford.
In reality, while the founders of Toyota learned everything they could from foreign sources in early days, they and their successors are the ones who put the Toyota Production System (TPS) together and made it work, before the term “Lean Manufacturing” was coined. A Toyota alumnus told me that he never heard Toyota people claim they had invented anything; after all, they are in the car business, not the production system business. What is unique about their work is that they have integrated all the pieces — borrowed or not — into a system that outperformed the competition. As part of its 75th anniversary celebration, Toyota published the following illustration of its overall system:
They also published a detailed timeline of the development of TPS from 1945 to 2005, highlighting the key challenges the company faced in each period, and the solutions it adopted in Just-In-Time and Jidoka. Each item has a short explanation in text, and is illustrated with cartoons, technical drawings, and photographs. It is an excellent and balanced account of the technical content of TPS, and I recommend going through it to understand how the pieces fit together.
Based on this timeline, other details contained in the 75th anniversary website, and a few other sources, I compiled the following summary, going back further in time, and emphasizing international exchanges. What I find most striking about this timeline is that the foreign inputs to TPS, primarily from the US and secondarily from Germany, were over by the mid 1950s, almost 60 years ago, and that, since the late 1970s, the flow is in the opposite direction, with the rest of world learning from Toyota.
TPS is still a work in progress. It has been and still is primarily an original development. The bulk of TPS has come from the minds of inventor Sakichi Toyoda, his son Kiichiro, engineers Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo, and hundreds of thousands of Toyota employees over decades. A trade secret until Toyota started training suppliers in the 1970s, TPS was revealed to the world with the publication of Taiichi Ohno’s book in 1978.
The American influence, particularly Ford’s, is readily acknowledged and played up in Toyota’s official literature. The German contribution, while not hidden, is in small print. Takt is a central concept in TPS, and it came to Toyota from the Mitsubishi Aircraft plant in Nagoya, which had learned it from German aircraft manufacturer Junkers. After the subject of Takt came up in a LinkedIn forum a few months ago, I pulled on this linguistic thread to see what came out, and I was surprised by the magnitude of it, essentially a whole production system for aircraft, including some principles of supply chain management. It is summarized in the following blog posts:
Toyota’s study of automotive technology also included reverse engineering a 1936 DKW from Germany, and Toyota’s first postwar model, the 1947 SA, looked like a Volkswagen beetle.
Why Toyota designers chose to imitate this particular car at that particular time is another mystery, but not relevant to the key point here, which is that all of this borrowing from abroad is ancient history.
It was a single thread that gave a man a dream, created a little history and displayed the talents of a remarkable mind and a family with resourcefulness in its genes.
Sakichi Toyoda wasn’t all that interested in fast-moving machinery, just machines in motion. It’s how the Toyota Production System began. It’s how an inventor with a sharp eye and even sharper mind built an empire…
A summary of Toyota history with the usual omissions:
See on www.newsday.com