Is TPS Both a Dessert Topping and a Floor Wax?

Darren Migita, MD

“TPS can be applied to any setting, as long as you can define your customer and product…” – Darren Migita MD– Seattle Children’s

Quoted by Jun Nakamuro on LinkedIn from a podcast.



Michel Baudin‘s comments: To be fair, Dr. Migita is a pediatrician with 20 years of experience. His podcast is about adapting TPS to health care, not to “any setting.” It is an interview, a format that can trip up anybody.

What I find remarkable throughout is that Migita does not hide behind the word “Lean.” He explicitly refers to Toyota and Taiichi Ohno and vigorously asserts that you can borrow ideas for car making to improve patient care.

This opening sentence in Jun Nakamuro’s quote, however, makes TPS sound like Shimmer, the product once advertised on Saturday Night Live as “both a dessert topping and a floor wax.” It almost kept me from listening further.

Let’s not oversell TPS!

“Any setting” includes artists’ studios, basic research, K-12 teaching, higher education, sanitation, software development… It is presumptuous to assume that no professional is any of these domains has come up with something better than TPS for their own domain.

I am all in favor of adapting TPS to a variety of contexts but I don’t think it applies to everything. We have to be wary of overconfidence/hubris.

The Case of Software Development

In software development, for example, practitioners have been thinking through ways to organize and execute it for 70 years. As a field of activity, it is as old as TPS. Perhaps one should look at the concepts and tools from software thinkers before claiming that TPS applies to this setting.

The Case of Semiconductor Manufacturing

Andy Grove is a revered figure in the semiconductor industry, as an inventor in the 1960s, a founder and later CEO of Intel, and a author on both technology and management. No one, however, claims that Grove’s ideas are applicable in “any setting.”

#TPS, #Lean, #HealthCare, #SemiconductorManufacturing, #SoftwareDevelopment