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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“Lean Propaganda Contest” in Russia

As part of their upcoming 10th Lean Forum in Moscow on 11/16-20, our partners in Russia, OrgProm, are organizing a “Lean Propaganda Contest and Exhibition,” co-sponsored by the Russia Academy of National Economy and Public Service under the President of the Russian Federation (RANKHIGS).

This is the banner under which they announced it:

Contest banner

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Update on The Deming Legacy: Free Sample Available on Leanpub

To download the free sample, please click The Deming Legacy, and then on Sample.PDF as shown below:


The book is intended to entertain while providing food for thought during a two to three-hour flight on a business trip. The first three chapters are now available as free downloads. In exchange, I would appreciate the following feedback:

  1. The value of this book for you.
  2. Questions you would like answered about the topics.
  3. Any comments or suggestions.

The complete table of contents is as follows:

  • Rereading Deming’s 14 Points
  • Point 1: Create constancy of purpose
  • Point 2: Adopt the new philosophy…
  • Point 3: Cease dependence on inspection for quality
  • Point 4: Stop awarding business based on price tag
  • Point 5: Improve the System Constantly and Forever
  • Point 6: Institute Training on the Job
  • Point 7: Institute Leadership
  • Point 8: Drive out fear
  • Point 9: Break down barriers between departments
  • Point 10: Eliminate slogans and exhortations
  • Point 11: Eliminate numerical quotas and goals
    • 11.a: Eliminate work standards for workers
    • 11.b: Eliminate numerical goals for managers
  • Point 12: Remove barriers to pride of workmanship
    • 12. a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship
    • 12. b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship
  • Point 13: Institute education and self improvement
  • Point 14: Put everybody to work on the transformation
  • Other enduring concepts from Deming
  • Common causes versus Special causes
  • Deming’s “System of Profound Knowledge”

The plan is for the book to be about 100 pages. Most of the material is already written, with drafts posted on this blog, but it still needs to be edited and organized as a book.

If you are interested, I would also like to know what price you would be willing to pay for it  in electronic or hardcopy form.


Japan Update

Japan in burgundyWhether or not you join us on the Making Things in Japan  Tour 2014 this April, you may be interested in some of the updates about the country that Brad Schmidt and I have been posting on the tour’s site. While the fear of “Japan, Inc.” taking over the world has receded since the 1980s, Japan remains a society that values the art of making things, known as “monozukuri” (物作), hosts a unique concentration of thinkers and inventors in this area, and has developed many brands of manufactured products with worldwide renown.

What is it like today? We plan to keep providing more details, but the following can give you some answers:

  • Today’s Japan in Numbers. Japan is facing the same challenges as other advanced economies, and in particular an aging population receiving high wages. The numbers on Japan’s economy and demographics from the CIA World Factbook and the US Census Bureau bear it out, in comparison with other manufacturing heavyweights, like the US, China, and Germany:
  • Japan’s Manufacturing Sector in Numbers. The numbers on Manufacturing’s share of the Japanese economy show the sector holding steady at about 19% of GDP, 16.9% of the work force, and a value-added per employee of about $97K/year, placing Japan between the US and Germany on all three metrics, and far from China. The numbers are consistent with Japan’s manufacturing sector paying high wages for high productivity and using advanced technology.
  • Manufacturing Trends in Japan. Brad Schmidt, who is based in Tokyo and is in daily contact with Japanese manufacturers, sees a trend for companies to be moving production from China to Japan but only when the market is Japan.
  • The Experience of Visiting Plants in Japan. This is a gallery of pictures from the <120 tours Brad has organized to date, showing the different phases of a plant visit.


John Hunter’s Review of this Blog

On his TimeBack management blog, John Hunter wrote a review of this blog that made me blush. Amid the glowing praise, however, he included one critical comment for which I thank him, and on which I am acting right away. “From almost anyone else,” he wrote, “defining one’s own comments as ‘insight’ would be insufferably arrogant.”

He is right, and I would have immediately noticed it on anybody else’s blog. I use Scoop.It for press clippings, and they are the ones who call everybody’s comments “insights.” It’s OK with other people’s comments, but it is insufferably arrogant to apply it to your own. Everything I clip on Scoop.It is automatically cross-posted on my blog, and this is how this offensive heading ended up in my posts. I am responsible for everything on my blog and should have fixed it, but I didn’t notice it.

I have already changed “insight” to “comments” in the most recent posts and, if anyone knows of a way to do a “Replace all” on an entire WordPress blog, I would love to know.

The “Making Things in Japan Tour” — April 20-26, 2014

You may have noticed a new widget on our sidebar, which links to a site about this tour and registration through Eventbrite. Brad Schmidt and I are organizing this together, and I am thrilled to be working with him again.

Why go to Japan to visit plants in 2014? Until the 1970s, Japanese manufacturing got no respect. When I headed there as an engineering graduate in 1977, a classmate of mine called this move “career suicide.” Whatever competitive success Japanese companies had achieved by then was chalked up to long hours and low wages, much the way China is perceived today.

Then came the 1980s and the discovery that there was more to it — that should be looked into and studied — coupled with fear that “Japan, Inc.” was going to take over the world. The two-decade recession that hit Japan in the early 1990s put a quick end to the paranoia and, more slowly, dampened the enthusiasm for so-called “Japanese methods” in manufacturing and management.

The renewed neglect of Japan today, however, is no more rational than was the exuberance of the 1980s. Japan today has a highly trained but aging and expensive work force, and is facing the same challenges as other advanced economies. And it still has the most advanced, most productive, manufacturing plants in the world, with the best quality. It is still the go-to place for manufacturing excellence, where the art of making things (Monozukuri, 物作り) is valued and honored both in companies and in society at large. 

For those who don’t know him, Brad Schmidt is a South African raised in Japan, a graduate of Japanese schools,  and perfectly bilingual. With 128 tours in 15 years under his belt and counting, he is a pro. Few people have seen the inside of more Japanese factories than him, and he has the logistics of tours worked out, from airport pickups to  interpreters, transportation and lodging. That leaves me with the easy part: promoting this tour in tour in the US and then going on it to help answer participants’ questions  and facilitate site reviews.

We passed 200,000 page views!

Yesterday, the cumulative number of page views since the start of this blog crossed the 200,000 mark. I was hoping it would happen by December 31 to make it an even year since the previous milestone at 100,000, but it came a few days late.

A big thank you to the readers. Please keep making comments.

I hope to keep your interest in the future.

Lean Logistics Seminars in Spain

Following is a translation of the report posted on Asenta’s website on the joint seminars we conducted in Barcelona, Madrid, and Bilao last week:

Lean Logistics – World Class Practices Series 2013

On October 7, 8 and 10, we held the fourth session of our World Class Series 2013 Lean Cycle in three cities, with more than 100 executives in attendance.

We provided an overview of the meaning and scope of the Lean Logistics as a strategy for competitiveness, together with  case studies, to show the solutions used on specific problems and thus show the benefits of  highly effective management

Among the speakers was Michel Baudin, a recognized expert in operations management and a strategic partner of ASENTA. Since 1987 has been advising companies on Lean implementation across many industries in America, Asia and Europe. He has published four books on various aspects of operational excellence.

Also participating were Luis Mauleon, Managing Partner at ASENTA, who specializes in transformation processes in organizations, and Juan Ortega, Management Consultant and coordinator of Lean Logistics at ASENTA.

These seminars were for CEOs, and Directors of Manufacturing, Operations, and Logistics, and, more  generally, for leaders committed to improving their organizations’ supply chains.

Following are a few shots of the seminars in Barcelona and Bilbao:


A new logo for the takt times group

The takt times group has a new logo. The old one was the result of a brainstorm back in 2007 involving Christophe Caberlon, Marc Deloges,and me, and it was intended as a stylized rendition of an old-style metronome, which we thought was an apt metaphor for takt time. We still think it is, but we were engineers, not graphic designers, and we have lately gotten feedback to the effect that the artwork could be improved.
Being based in Silicon Valley has its advantages, like the ability to pick the brains of digital media artists like Nathalie Mathé who took a break from developing the computer-generated 3D backgrounds for movies like Skyfall or Captain Phillips to propose changes to our logo. It is now curvier, less busy, and with less aggressive colors. Actually, if there were a kanji for “metronome,” this is the way it might look.