Is Lean a set of tools – or a set of principles? | Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis

“Is Lean a set of tools – or a set of principles? If the latter, we’ll fall far short of our potential”


Sourced through LinkedIn

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

Because of the way the meaning of Lean has changed over the past 25 years, I think it’s too late to ask this question. On the other hand, it is relevant about TPS or about the art of designing and improving manufacturing operations, whatever shorter name you want to give it.

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Wacky Lean House | Bob Emiliani


“This year is the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI). There will surely be a big celebration. But in my view, there is less to celebrate than meets the eye. Here’s why:

LEI has controlled the progressive management agenda for the last 20 years. That means they own the failures as well as the successes. By LEIs own reckoning (as well as its sister organization, the Lean Enterprise Academy in the U.K.), success has been much less than they had hoped for.”

Sourced through Bob Emiliani’s blog

Michel Baudin‘s comments: Overall, I agree with Bob’s assessment, but I think American manufacturers deserve more of the blame than the LEI, for faddishly latching on to one tool after another and mistaking it for a panacea. For example, in his introduction to “Learning to See,” Mike Rother explicitly warns the reader that, at Toyota, Materials and Information Flow Analysis (MIFA) is not a major tool. Yes, he repackaged it with the attractive but nonsensical name of “Value Stream Mapping” (VSM), but his audience didn’t have to elevate it to the status that it did.

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Coaching Lean Without Knowing | Bob Emiliani

“I have long felt that people have listened too intently to the analysts who have not actually “played the game” – the interpreters of Toyota’s management system, not the people who actually created it. I think that it is easy for all to agree that someone who actually created something is a much better guide than someone who studied it second-hand.[…] Original sources are the best sources to learn from and should form the fundamental basis of your understanding of TPS and Lean. ”

Sourced through Bob Emiliani

Michel Baudin‘s comments: The originators of Toyota’s production and management system are all dead. This includes Sakichi, Kiichiro and Eiji Toyoda, Taiichi Ohno, Shigeo Shingo, and others, which makes it difficult to learn from them through personal communication. We can read what little they published, or rely on the generations that came after them. The people Emiliani shows to the right of Taiichi Ohno as “originators,” Fujio Cho and Chihiro Nakao, actually are disciples of the originators, which isn’t quite the same. As Emiliani sees it, the alternative to learning from these people is learning from “interpreters” who, as he implies in the title, don’t know what they are talking about because they had no hand in creating it. Are these really the only choices?

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If You Think Lean Is Inherently Japanese, Think Again | Planet Lean | Katie Anderson


“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.

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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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:

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 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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Medical Taylorism, Lean, and Toyota | P.Hartzband and J. Groopman | New England Journal of Medicine

Seen today in the New England Journal of Medicine, under the signature of Harvard Medical School professors Pamela Hartzband and Jerome Groopman:

“The TPS is a set of principles designed for the manufacture of inanimate objects in a factory. We accurately depict two essential elements of this system that are directly derived from Taylorism: standardization and time efficiency. In his classic study of the application of Toyota principles to the manufacture of cars in the United States, Paul Adler describes how ‘Each job was analyzed down to its constituent gestures, and the sequence of movements was refined and optimized for maximum performance. Every task was planned in great detail, and each worker was expected to perform that task in the prescribed manner.’ Adler refers to ‘the intelligent interpretation and application of Taylor’s time and motion studies’ as key to its success. He states, ‘The reference to Taylor may be jarring, but it fits.’

[…] Other medical professionals who, like us, have experienced the toxic effects of obsessive standardization and time efficiency in the care of patients have expressed concerns similar to ours. In an era of accountability, we believe that those who advocate the application of Lean principles to medical care must take responsibility for the unintended consequences resulting from these elements shared by Taylorism and Toyota practices.”

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

The authors base their claim that the Toyota Production System (TPS) is “derived from Taylorism” from the writings of Paul Adler, a business school professor at USC who has written many papers over the past 40 years, a few of which touched on TPS and NUMMI, the first plant to apply this system in the US and now operated by Tesla. I met Paul Adler at Stanford in the late 1980s, and found his insights on NUMMI quite valuable. It was also clear to me that Paul Adler was not an engineer, that TPS, to him was one interest out of many, and that his knowledge of the subject was only at the business school level, as reflected, for example in an expression like “Taylor’s time and motion studies.” Taylor did time studies; Frank and Lilian Gilbreth, motion studies with, as stated in other posts, very different objectives.

This distinction, perhaps too subtle for business schools, is of paramount importance to anyone who wants to understand TPS, which owes much more to the Gilbreth’s work than to Taylor’s. Taylor wanted to prevent workers from slacking off; the Gilbreths, to observe the way work was being done and make it easier. And the medical profession has a good reason to remember Frank and Lilian Gilbreth: the way operating rooms function today is based on the analysis and recommendations they made 100 years ago.

The Internet of Things in Toyota Operations | Laura Putre | Industry Week

toyota-logo“… Trever White, divisional information officer, noted that his team is regularly on the plant floor, building good relationships so team members can articulate what their challenges are. One challenge they recently identified was the need to build a containment system to more quickly identify and contain a quality issue when it emerges…”

Sourced through

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

As described in this article, advanced IT for Manufacturing, at Toyota, starts from the needs of the shop floor and works its way up. First, you build systems that take root because they help in daily operations, Then you extract and summarized data from these systems for the benefit of managers and engineers.

ERP, on the other hand, starts from the needs of management and works its way down, and I think it is the key reason why ERP success stories are so hard to find.

Separating Human Work From Machine Work [Infographic]

Most of the work we do today involves interactions with machines. It is true not only in manufacturing but in many other business processes. The machinist works with machining centers, the pilot with an airplane, the surgeon with a laparoscopy robot, the engineer with a variety of computer systems,…, not to mention the automatic appliances that relieve us of household chores. In fact, I think that being good at working with machines is so essential that I wrote a book about it. For the short version, see the following A3/tabloid infographic. To enlarge it, click on the picture, and then on “View full size” in the bottom right-hand corner.

Separating Human Work and Machine Work

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