Re-Translating Lean from Its Origin | Jun Nakamuro | LinkedIn

“The world first became aware of TPS (The Toyota Production System) when Taiichi Ohno published a book about his groundbreaking efforts at Toyota. It was published in Japan in 1978. The Japanese version of his book wasn’t translated into English until 1988. Since ten years had passed, this translation did not fully communicate the nuances of Ohno’s vision. ”

Sourced from LinkedIn

Michel Baudin‘s comments: I have also argued for recovering the nuances of TPS that have been lost in translation, whether these losses are due to incompetence or obfuscation, in the following posts:

In his article, Nakamuro bemoans the “decades of confusion” caused by our collective failure to translate Taiichi Ohno’s thoughts accurately. According to him, Ohno frequently called different ideas or methods by names that sound identical but are written differently, which strikes me as a poor communication strategy, if your goal actually is to make yourself understood.

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Continued Evolution of the Toyota Assembly Line | Christoph Roser | AllAboutLean

“Toyota is one of the most visionary car makers with respect to its manufacturing. They continuously and radically evolve and update their production system. Recently I learned about their new “flexible assembly line.” Now, you’ve probably heard about Toyota’s flexible assembly lines producing multiple products on the same line. That is old hat; they’ve done that for thirty years. Their new flexible assembly line involves a completely different aspect of flexibility, with which Toyota surprised me (again). Let me show you …”

Sourced from AllAboutLean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: A must-read post by Christoph Roser for anyone who wants to keep up with new developments in the Toyota Production System.

Women Lean Leaders | Cécile Roche, Marie-Pia Ignace & Monica Rossi | Planet Lean

“Lex Schroeder: What value, if any, does gender equity in the workplace hold for the potential of lean thinking and practice?

Cécile Roche: As it has been well observed by neurobiologists like Catherine Vidal, it is impossible to guess whether a brain belongs to a man or a woman…”

Sourced from Planet Lean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: I was encouraged by this opening sentence by Cécile Roche, who runs the Lean group at Thales, and whom I have had the privilege to serve on occasion. As I once heard Gloria Steinem say, there are very few jobs that require men’s or women’s gender-specific equipment, and the rest should be open to everybody.

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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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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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Toyota’s Shared-Parts Strategy | IndustryWeek

“Toyota said the move, aimed at cutting development costs by 20%, would start with mid-sized, front-wheel-drive vehicles this year. It wants half of vehicles it sells globally by 2020 to fall under the new platform strategy.”


Michel Baudin‘s comments:

Specifics are trickling out about Toyota’s plans. It seems that they want to make more different products from fewer components and have plants that are competitive even at low volume.

Readers’ comments on the idea of having fewer platforms and more common parts are focused on the risk of extensive recalls, and the way such recalls can wipe out any savings achieved by the strategy.

It really is a matter of degree and of execution. Having fewer dashboard options might reduce the attractiveness of your products, but using fewer types of proportioning valves will not. Also, it is easier to ensure not only availability but quality as well for fewer components, making recalls less likely.

With regards to volume in a given plant, Toyota’s strategy seems a continuation of their work on the Global Body Line, in which the same infrastructure and fixtures could be used for robotic welding at high volume and manual welding at low volume.

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Origin of One-Piece Flow at Toyota | Chip Chapados | LinkedIn

According to Chip Chapados, the concept of one-piece flow emerged from the need to rapidly detect defects in engine castings when Kiichiro Toyoda was reverse-engineering a Chevrolet engine in 1934, and it was originally called “one-by-one confirmation.”

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(Still) learning from Toyota | Deryl Sturdevant

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“A retired Toyota executive describes how to overcome common management challenges associated with applying lean, and reflects on the ways that Toyota continues to push the boundaries of lean thinking.”


Michel Baudin‘s comments:

You just can’t pass up an article with the perspectives on Lean of a recently retired Toyota executive, even if it is in the McKinsey Quarterly. Most interesting are his stories about plants outside of Toyota that he visited recently, where he criticizes his hosts for complacency.

Because of the author’s background, when he says “Lean,” he means TPS or the Toyota Way. He also uses Toyota’s own “respect for people.” mistranslation of its “respect for humanity” (人間性尊重) principle.  Again, it’s not about saying “please” and “thank you” but about taking full advantage of the unique capabilities people have when compared to other resources.

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The Legacy of Eiji Toyoda | Businessweek

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Washington Post
The Legacy of Eiji Toyoda
He transformed Toyota into a global powerhouse with management and manufacturing processes that transcended the auto industry.

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The Economist gets Lean wrong

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“Lean production is the name given to a group of highly efficient manufacturing techniques developed (mainly by large Japanese companies) in the 1980s and early[…] When a lean-production system is first introduced, stoppages generally increase while problems are ironed out.”



Michel Baudin‘s insight:

The Economist is a British magazine not known for getting facts wrong, but it did here.

Lean Production is not for the 1980s. The name may be from the late 1980s but the thing itself is a work in progress that started decades earlier. And it is from Toyota, not from generic “large Japanese companies.”

And a competent implementation does not start by making things worse.

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