God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference. (Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr)
Lean manufacturing or lean production, which is often known simply as "Lean", is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination (Wikipedia).
Principles of Lean
- Specify value at from the standpoint of the end customer.
- Identify all of the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
- Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
- As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
- As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.
The Toyota Production System / The Toyota Way
The Toyota Production System (TPS) / The Toyota Way (Liker) is a benchmark for organizing reliable, high quality process and organizational performance.
The 14 Toyota Way Principles
Base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals
- Have a philsophical sense of purpose that supersedes any short-term decision making. Work, grow and align the whole organization toward a common purpose that is bigger than making money. Understand your place in the history of the company and work to bring the company to the next level. Your philosophical mission is the foundation for all the other principles.
- Generate value for the customer, society, and the economy - it is your starting point. Evaluate every function in the company in terms of its ability to achieve this.
- Be responsible. String to decide your own fate. Act with self-reliance and trust in your own abilities. Accept responsibility for your conduct and maintain and improve the skills that enable you to product added value.
Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface
- Redesign work processes to achieve high value-added, continuous flow. String to cut back to zero the amount of time that any work project is sitting idle or waiting for someone to work on it.
- Create flow to move material and information fast as well as to link processes and people together so that problems surface right away.
- Make flow evident throughout your organizational culture. It is the key to a true continuous improvement process and to developing people.
Use "Pull" systems to avoid overproduction
- Provide your downline customers in the production process with what they want, when they want it, and in the amount they want. Material replenishment initiated by consumption is the basic principle of just-in-time.
- Minimize your work in process and warehousing of inventory by stocking small amounts of each product and frequently restocking based on what the customer actually takes away.
- Be responsive to the day-to-day shifts in customer demand rather than relying on computer schedules and systems to track wasteful inventory.
Level out the workload (heijunka) (work like the tortoise, not the hare)
- Eliminating waste is just one-third of the equation for making lean successful. Eliminating overburden to people and equipment and eliminating unevenness in the production schedule are just as important - yet generally not understood at companies attempting to implement lean principles.
- Work to level out the workload of all manufacturing and service processes as an alternative to the stop-start approach of working on projects in batches that is typical at most companies.
Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time
- Quality for the customer drives your value proposition.
- Use all the modern quality assurance methods available.
- Build into your equipment the capability of detecting problems and stopping itself. Develop a visual system to alert team or project leaders that a machine or process needs assistance. Jidoka (machines with human intelligence) is the foundation for "building in" quality.
- Build into your organization support systems to quickly solve problems and put in place countermeasures.
- Build into your culture the philosophy of stopping or slowing down to get quality right the first time to enhance productivity in the long run.
Standardized tasks are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment
- Use stable, repeatable methods everywhere to maintain the predictability, regular timing, and regular output of your processes. It is the foundation for flow and pull.
- Capture the accumulated learning about a process up to a point in time by standardizing today's best practices. Allow creative and individual expression to improve upon the standard; then incorporate it into the new standard so that when a person moves on your can hand off the learning to the next person.
Use visual control so no problems are hidden
- Use simple visual indicators to help people deterine immediately whether they are in a standard condition or deviating from it.
- Avoid using a computer screen when it moves the worker's focus away from the workplace.
- Design simple visual systems at the place where the work is done, to support flow and pull.
- Reduce your reports to one piece of paper whenever possible, even for your most important financial decisions.
Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes
- Use technology to support people, not to replace people. Often it is best to work out a process manually before adding technology to support the process.
- New technology is often unreliable and difficult to standardize and therefore endangers "flow". A proven process that works generally takes precedence over new and untested technology.
- Conduct actual tests before adopting new technology in business processes, manufacturing systems or products.
- Reject or modify technologies that conflict with your culture or that might disrupt stability, reliability and predictability.
- Nevertheless, encourage your people to consider new technologies when looking into new approaches to work. Quickly implement a thoroughly considered technology if it has been proven in trials and it can improve flow in your processes.
Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others
- Grow leaders from within, rather than buying them from outside the organization
- Do not view the leader's job as simple accomplishinig tasks and having good people skills. Leaders must be role models of the company's philosophy and way of doing business.
- A good leader must understand the daily work in great detail so he or she can be the best teacher of your company's philosophy.
Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company's philosophy
- Create a strong, stable culture in which company values and beliefs are widely shared and lived out over a period of many years.
- Train exceptional individuals and teams to work within the corporate philosphy to acheive exceptional results. Work very hard to reinforce the culture continually.
- Use cross-functional teams to improve quality and productivity and enhance flow by solving difficult technical problems. Empowerment occurs when people use the company's tools to improve the company.
- Make an ongoing effort to teach individuals how to work together as teams toward common goals. Teamwork is something that has to be learned.
Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve
- Have respect for your business partners and suppliers and treat them as an extension of your business.
- challenge your outside business partners to grow and develop. It shows that you value them. Set challenging targets and assist your partners in achieving them.
Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation (genchi genbutsu)
- Solve problems and improve processes by going to the source and personally observing and verifying data rather than theorizing on the basis of what other people or the computer screen will tell you.
- Think and speak based on personally verified data.
- Even high-level managers and executives should go and see things for themselves, so they will have more than a superficial understanding of the situation.
Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapdily
- Do not pick a single direction and go down that path until you have thoroughly considered alternatives. When you have picked, move quickly but cautiously down the path.
- Nemawashi is the process of discussing problems and potential solutions with all of those affected, to collect their ideas and get agreement on a path forward. This concensus process, though time-consuming, helps broaden the search for solutions, and once a decision is made, the stage is set for rapid implementation.
Become a learning organization through relentless reflection (hansei) and continuous improvement (kaizen)
- Once you have established a stable process, use continuous improvement tools to determine the root cause of inefficiencies and apply effective countermeasures.
- Design processes that require almost no inventory. This will make wasted time and resources visible for all to see. Once waste is exposed, have employees use continuous improvement process (kaizen) to eliminate it.
- Protect the organizational knowledge base by developing stable personel, slow promotion, and very careful succession systems.
- Use hansei (reflection) at key milestones and after you finish a project to openly idenfity all the shortcomings of the project. Develop countermeasures to avoid the same mistakes again.
- Learn by standardizing the best practices, rather than reinventing the wheel with each new project and each new manager.