The world needs to be Lean! The problem is that it has not realised it yet!
For us Lean means “helping people grow so they learn the art of doing things well”. This principle is summed up in the two Japanese words “Monozukuri” (the art of doing things well) and “Hitozukuri” (the art of developing people) as the master, Wakamatsu, often told us before his death. In recent years many managers and consultants have often neglected the human factor thinking that the Lean system is only “Monozukuri” while ignoring the fact that it is impossible to do something well if it is not done willingly, in conditions of discomfort or, even worse, in precarious conditions.
Unfortunately, the application of techniques such as Kanban, Heijunka or TPM is confused with the end rather than the means for a radical change of pace in business practices. Parameters improve significantly when corporate culture evolves.
Kaizen, which is often roughly translated as “continuous improvement”, originally meant to change to get better.
“Monozukuri” and “Hitozukuri” thus represent two sides of the same coin. The absence of one of the two makes the efforts made by companies to apply the Toyota Production System useless, even harmful, and is probably the true cause of the failure of many Lean Transformation projects.
The production area is the physical location where transformations and changes are usually easier to obtain in the short term and can be communicated immediately because they are evident. Identifying waste through the Ohno Circle, a new layout, a set-up time cut by half, or a clean and tidy workplace thanks to a 5S programme are clear signals of a transformation that begins from the “Gemba” (from the Japanese term meaning a place where value is created) and by more operative staff to then spread to all other business practices with a process of involvement through successive waves of improvement.
Our Lean Transformation projects transition through a phase of initial assessment during which we enter into a relationship with the people and the processes to get an in-depth understanding of their characteristics. This phase ends with a period of feed-back and we share a Master Plan for Improvement with management.