The path taken to "create" the Toyota Production System (TPS) has resulted in tremendous visibility, recognition and notoriety from TMC - Toyota Motor Corporation. But in today's implementation of Lean, how many organizations buy the total cultural change that TPS and Lean really require?
Often companies implement a pilot in their manufacturing/production or other (preferably operational) areas to see if it works. If they get good results, then they train some production employees in 5S, 3P, Poke Yoke, the seven wastes, and all the other tools we know and have to do with it.
Usually, if done right, there is immediate cost reduction with waste reduction, so Lean tools are expanded throughout the production department. Cost reduction becomes the main metric analyzed by management. But after a few years, the poor quality fruit has been reduced and the cost of saving has stabilized or decreased. The management then asks: "Okay, Lean is done. What's next? This is a "lean production project" that can lead to short-term gains but without transformation.
And what does a Lean Transformation mean? When looking at TPS, we see that the two pillars on which it is based are easy to identify:
1. continuous improvement
a. Part of culture and expectations
b. For all, every day
c. In all departments, from top to bottom
d. The management/administration goes to Gemba to see the work that is being done.
2. Respect for People
a. Management asks questions as a form of guidance for workers to decide for themselves what is best.
b. Each worker is unique and must be treated with respect and assisted by management to fulfil their capacities and dreams.
c. Communicating to everyone about the company's goals, plans and results ensures that everyone is on the same 'page'.
These two pillars are true for Lean too. Many Lean practitioners may not understand that the "Respect for People" pillar is the basis of the rest - trust, motivation, continuous improvement and excellent performance.
It's a big step to adopt a lean strategy like Lean Management for the whole company, but it's important that everyone has the same goals and expectations - one language. For example, management must take on the mission of teaching Lean principles and tools and often inspecting/auditing both continuous improvement and everyday respect for people! Only then will everyone know that it is important.
There are four simple questions about a lean transformation that you can ask yourself and see if your company is in a lean transformation or just doing a lean production project:
Does everyone in the company understand that this is a long-term commitment?
2. Does the company have a Lean management system that defines these expectations and lives up to them on a daily basis? (The survey identifies this as a recommended practice for companies that have been on the Lean journey for 20 to 30 years.)
3. Does management/administration have standard work? (Yes, this includes senior management, marketing, engineering, purchasing, quality and all other departments.)
4. Is the company attentive to customer needs today and tomorrow? For instance, is the company willing to change what works today to what will work tomorrow?
Can you congratulate yourself on answering YES four times?
Remember that today is tomorrow that you were worried about yesterday and that "The best way to prepare for the future is to concentrate all your imagination and enthusiasm on the perfect execution of today's work" - Dale Carnegie, so accept the challenge.
Start, Go, Walk, Run, Drive... LEAN