Empowering Lean Solutions for Everyone

Lean Thinking

In order to be able to explain better the lean thinking process, we’d like to start with a twist.

Please read below:

NUMMI- 1984:

“I discovered them in a roundabout way in the process of “adapting some” of Toyota training materials to make them appropriate for NUMMI.

When I found myself struggling with some of the concepts of a certain training program, my Japanese colleague fetched from a back-room file a yellowed, dog-eared, coffee-stained copy of the English-language original training manual, just as they had received it (minus the coffee stains I trust) some 30 years before.

To my amazement, the program Toyota was going to great expense to “transfer” to NUMMI was exactly that which the Americans had taught the Japanese decades before”.

John Shook, “Bringing the Toyota Production System to the United States: A Personal Perspective”, 1997

You see, what goes around comes around.

The lean manufacturing concepts and tools, even if named differently, are not different from what we’ve learned decades ago.

What is different is the way people feel about their work.

We keep talking about culture change when we refer to lean. In fact it’s an attitude change. We call it Lean Behavior.

Lean Thinking Changes

Here are some differences in attitude between the mass production style and the lean production style.

We’ve never done it before _____ We’ll be the pioneers

It’s too complicated ___ Let’s look at it from a different angle

We don’t have the resources ___ Necessity is the Mother of Invention

It will never work ______ Let’s give it a try

There-s not enough time _____ We’ll reevaluate our priorities

We already tried it _______ We learned from the experience

There’s no way it will work _____ We will make it work

It’s a waste of time ________ Think of the possibilities

It’s of waste of money _______ The investment will be worth it

We don’t have the expertise _______ We’ll benchmark those that do

We can’t compete ________ We’ll get a jump on the competition

Our vendors won’t go for it ____ Let’s show them the opportunities

It’s good enough ________ There’s always room for improvement

We don’t have the money __________ Can we afford not to?

We’re understaffed _____________ We are a lean machine

We don’t have the room _______ We better organize our space

It will never fly _____________ We’ll never know until we try

We don’t have the equipment _______ Can the equipment be rented?

It’s not going to be any better _______ We’ll try it one more time

No one communicates ___________ Let’s open the channels

Isn’t it time to go home? _______ Days go so quickly around here!

I don’t have any idea _________ I’ll come up with some alternatives

Let someone else deal with it _______ I’m ready to learn something new

It’s too radical a change _________ Let’s take a chance

It takes too long to approve _______ We’ll walk it through the system

Our customers won’t buy it _________ We’ll explain the benefits

It’s not my job ______ I’ll be glad to take the responsibility

CAN’T _________________________________________________ I CAN

Remember the cartoon with Bob the Builder?

The question is: Can we do it? The answer: Yes, we can!

And that is lean thinking.

(You must think I’m going out of my mind but, hey, I have a little one at home so it’s understandable, I hope).

Please read What is Lean Manufacturing to understand the basics of this extraordinarily powerful system.

Please check Lean Manufacturing Definitions and Lean Implementation sections anytime you wish.

Put your lean thinking hat on and you will succeed.

If you are looking for materials to help you turn your organization into a Lean one check out our online store.