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Book Notes - This is Lean by Niklas Modig 


Welcome to the Wild West - We call it Lean

  • Toyota Production System (TPS)
  • Although the term lean was created with toyota as a starting point - lean and TPS are two different concepts
  • Ohno defines the Toyota Production System.
    • Taiichi Ohno - referred to as the 'father' of TPS
    • Ohno rejected economies of scale and large scale production and maintained that productivity was created through flow.
    • 'reducing the time-line by reducing the non-value adding wastes.
  • Lean Sees the Light of Day
    • Identified two types of production systems:
      • A robust system
      • Fragile system.
  • The book that changed the world
    • Best selling book - The Machine that Changed the World - published in 1990
    • The book was the result of many years of research and showed how Toyota successfully managed to achieve productivity and quality levels that none of its competitors could.
    • The book argued that lean is made up of four core principles
      • Teamwork
      • Communication
      • Efficient use of resources and elimination of waste
      • Continuous Improvement
    • In 1996 another book 'Lean Thinking'
      • Focused on what a company should do in order to be lean
      • The book outlined five new principles with a clear focus on implementation.
        • Specify value form the standpoint of the customer
        • Identify the value stream and eliminate all steps that don’t add value
        • Make the remaining value creating steps flow - so product flows smoothly towards the customer.
        • When the flow is established let the customer pull value upstream from the next upstream activity.
        • Process starts all over again
  • Fujimoto places focus on Toyota's Capabilities
    • Argues that the key to Toyota success is the capability of always ensuring development, regardless of what setbacks or obstacles the company may encounter.
  • Decoding Toyota's DNA
    • Four rules for designing, operating and improving processes
      • All work shall be highly specified in terms of content, sequence, timing and outcome.
      • Every customer supplier connection must be direct.
      • The pathway for every product and service must be simple and direct
      • Any improvement must be made in accordance with the scientific method
  • The Toyota Way is encoded internally by Toyota
    • In 2001 - Toyota released an internal publication - 'The Toyota Way'
    • Five basic values that are categorized within two key areas
      • Continuous improvement
        • Challenge - long term vision
        • Kaizen
        • Genchi Genbutsu
      • Respect for People
        • Respect
        • Teamwork
  • Liker Launches 'The Toyota Way'
    • 2004 book release 'the Toyota way' by Jeffrey Liker
    • He packages his own version with 14 key principles.
  • Lean Explosion
    • Although lean was originally developed within the manufacturing industry - the concept has been adapted to other functions.
    • With so many books available - it is difficult to distinguish between what lean is and what lean is not.
    • There is no single generally accepted definition of Lean.

 

What Lean is Not

  • Three problems with the various definitions of lean.
    • The definitions are made at different levels of abstraction
    • Lean has become a means instead of an end.
    • Lean seems to have become all that is good - and all that is good is lean.
  • Problem 1: Lean is defined at different levels of abstraction
    • The higher the level of abstraction, the more general the definition
    • The lower the abstraction level - the more specific the definition.
    • The first question was 'what is lean' the answers can be divided into seventeen different categories or definitions of lean
    • The fact that there are so many definitions is a clear sign that in practice, lean is defined at different levels of abstraction.
    • Some have gone so far as to choose just one of the methods Toyota developed and equate that to lean.
      • 'implement this method and your company will be lean.
    • Others have focused on identifying and describing all the tools that Toyota has developed. They present an entire lean 'toolbox'
      • 'use this package of tools and your company will be lean.
    • If lean is defined at a low level of abstraction, an organization risk misunderstanding what lean is all about.
    • Limits the applicability of lean with it is taken into other industries or sectors of society.
    • Many organizations start their lean journey using the methods and tools that toyota developed. This means that they risk losing the deeper thinking around lean and tend to ignore the why behind the use of the tools.
    • Reactions like these lead to organizations concluding that lean is not for them.
    • The higher the level of abstraction at which lean is defined, the more general the definition.
    • Defining lean at the wrong level of abstraction creates high risk that it will be abandoned.
  • Problem 2: Lean as a means instead of an end.
    • The means describes how - the goal describes the why
    • The problem with focusing on the means instead of the goal is that the connection between the means and the goal is not the same for everyone.
    • The focus on the goal creates flexibility, whereas a focus on the means may create limitations.
    • There has been a strong focus on how Toyota works by emphasizing and defining its values, principles, methods and tools
    • A problem arises when the focus falls on 'which means' toyota uses - rather than asking and understanding 'why' these means were used, that is to say, the goal behind toyota's philosophy.
    • Confusing means and goals often causes an organization to overlook why it is going through a change process.
    • The means have become the goal - the organization sees itself as 'lean' just because it successfully implemented a specific tool or specific method.
  • Problem 3: Lean is everything that is good - and everything that is good is lean
    • 'why did your organization implement lean' -
      • 63 respondents provided as many as 45 different reasons
      • The answers indicate every conceivable positive result - regardless of the type  organization.
      • Lean is not the answer to all the problems.
    • Consider also these statements, taken from and annual reports of three multinational companies
      • Our new operations strategy is to implement continuous improvement.
      • Respect for the individual is our core value.
      • We are going to increase customer orientation.
    • To avoid being trivial, it is important to understand clearly what lean is for and what it is not for.
Posted on Thursday, September 1, 2016 8:34 PM Agile | Back to top


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