Aug 19 2020
Jan 6 2020
Swiss Made is a 2013 book by James Breiding and Gerhard Schwarz about the successes of Swiss companies. It came to my attention for a paragraph that celebrates the contributions of my mentor Kei Abe as a consultant to Synthes and its charismatic CEO Hansjörg Wyss. As I was with Kei Abe on several occasions at Synthes and witnessed his interactions with Wyss and with engineers, I can attest that the following quote from the book is true:
“Hansjörg Wyss consolidated and expanded the Swiss orthopedic industry, becoming in the process one of Switzerland’s most successful and wealthy entrepreneurs. Wyss’s career is a tale of conquering the US market and then managing to consolidate the Swiss orthopedic industry, gobbling up one competitor after another — while effectively remaining the controlling shareholder. […] In 2011, Wyss sold Synthes to Johnson & Johnson for $21.3B.
The unsung Japanese genius
[…]The unsung hero of the company was Kei Abe, […] who managed to come up with novel designs for three decades. According to Wyss, Abe helped Synthes by ‘constantly forcing change in manufacturing, bringing new ideas and concepts for machines, thus enabling us to be at the forefront of new technology and having the best margins in the device industry.’
Of the overall strategy, Wyss remarks that ‘competitors thought we were crazy, but this is what kept the company one step ahead and gave us 10% higher margins'”
The book’s authors are journalists and had embellished the story with untrue statements that I edited out. No, Kei Abe was not a professor and never claimed to have “established the Kanban system” at Toyota. He was an aeronautics engineer from Tokyo University who went to work as a motorcycle designer for Honda, later joined the JMA and started his own consulting group, Management & Technology Japan in 1984, where I joined him in 1987.
On my last visit to Synthes, in Switzerland and without Kei, I remember pointing to a machine in a cell and telling my host “This looks like Kei’s handy work.” He confirmed that it had indeed been based on his input.
Jun 8 2018
My colleague Kevin Hop drew my attention to this video of Kazuhiko Furui showing some examples of Karakuri Kaizen at Toyota, the training of Toyota employees in coming up with new devices, and the iterations that go into making them work. It goes deeper into the topic than the videos I had posted earlier.
This is part of a series of videos called econohito, that shows actions by Toyota employees to avoid wasting power or water, and to collect electricity from solar panels. Perhaps the best way forward for sustainable development would be to shift away from cars altogether, but that’s not what this is about.
Feb 24 2015
Sep 5 2013
This form is of interest because it comes from Toyota. Note that, in Toyota literature, to “add value” means physically changing the product. It is not used in the US Lean sense of something a customer is willing to pay for.
The labels for some of the waste categories are unusual. “Defects” is here labeled “Rework,” which seems to exclude the option that defective products are just scrapped.
This audit form has no checkboxes, but instead blocks of space to enter free text. It is even followed by an overall “Notes” section.
What this says is that the purpose of the form is to prompt teams to observe and record their findings. It is not about scoring areas or lines on any scale. It is to help improvement efforts, not benchmark against others.
See on www.toyotaforklifts.co.uk
Aug 18 2013
“The Theory behind Obeya is based on a simple idea: Dedicate time and space to coordination and problem-solving and organizational barriers will be minimized.
The ability to maintain Proper Problem Awareness in Real-time, listen to Teammember concerns, make discoveries, resolve problems together, collaborate, accelerate leader and team-member development and reach our full potential is critical to a Lean Organization
The Obeya promotes coordination, strategy and flexibility while leveraging the expertise and support of teammates from diverse areas.
The Result: Effective solutions and actions that can be developed and implemented quickly…”
A clear presentation, with many informative pictures, as befits this topic.