The Battle for the Soul of Lean | Michael Ballé | The Lean Post

Michael Ballé: “I’ve been a student of lean for 25 years, and the more that I learn the more I believe that […] lean is a profoundly disruptive way of working. From the time that this new approach was popularized decades ago, there have been two completely different ways to look at the same tools, materials, and stories. Some of us saw Toyota as a disrupter, a small bankrupt company that became the dominant automaker in a saturated market ruled by U.S. corporate giants, by doing something radically different. Others, however, were fascinated by Toyota’s ‘operational excellence’ as a means of safe, incremental improvements—they would cherry-pick tools […] to leverage productivity gains without ever challenging either the strategy or the attitudes of top management.”

Sourced from The Lean Post

Michel Baudin‘s comments: I have been a student of TPS for 38 years, and see it as the best way we know today to make cars and auto parts. And, yes, it has been successfully adapted to other manufacturing industries and even to some service businesses. Lean is a marketing label coined 30 years ago that, in the best cases, has been used to describe TPS or adaptations of TPS in situations where explicit references to Toyota would be problematic, for example at Toyota competitors or in hospitals, where the last thing you want to do is convey the impression that you treat patients like cars. In the worst cases, consultants have slapped this label on approaches unrelated to TPS, just to leverage Toyota’s credibility.

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What Is The Metric For People Development? There Isn’t One

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not true that only what gets measured gets done. If it were, business, government, and society at large would come to a halt due to the damage done by metrics gamers, and for the lack of the contributions made by people who do not care whether they are measured. Deming is often quoted on this subject, as saying:

  • “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth.” (Deming, The New Economics. p.35)
  • “People with targets and jobs dependent upon meeting them will probably meet the targets – even if they have to destroy the enterprise to do it.” It is cited on Brainy Quotes, but without a source, and it may be apocryphal.

As he showed in his “red bead experiments,” his primary concern was about people being rewarded or punished based on random fluctuations in metrics that have nothing to do with their talents or efforts, but there are even more fundamental challenges in an area like people development.

You can measure how much dirt you have shoveled by weighing it, but developing people is different. There is not even a single direction. Some individuals are “hedgehogs,” who know one big thing like heat treatment, while others are “foxes,” who know many things like all the technical and human moving parts of a production line.

There is no metric– or even set of metrics — that can reasonably summarize people development, but it is nonetheless tangible and observable.

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