Lean on me

So a lot of people have asked me about what Lean is over the years and also how it compares to other methodologies such as Six Sigma.

I am not going to go into the difference here as it is a job for a specific post and this post ain’t it kids!

So what is this post about. Well I came across an old but very good youtube video that introduces Lean. You can find it here Linkythingy I recommend watching as it does a great job of giving a quick overview. It misses a key point though and I would like to highlight this to you.

When the Toyota dudes came up with Just In Time it was around the start of the Second World War. Now we all know why happened to Japan during that war. So after the war ended things were a little…. erm….. tight. Toyota had little money but plenty of people. They therefore challenged themselves to constantly push the productivity of each individual as much as possible. Maximizing output per head. This is why lean started for Toyota, through a lack of cash. Respect for people is an offshoot of this not the genesis.

Yes, customers are important. Their wants are essential in order for us to have products that they will buy but customers never want to pay more than they have to. If I offered you a Porsche for 10€ no strings you would take it, wouldn’t you! There is no point having a very productive company that never sells anything is there. We also know that a just in time production system is dependent on the flow of customers orders to control the pace. No orders. No flow. Get it?

Te lesson here though is that lean is about increasing productivity. Don’t believe any other guff you hear or read. It is about producing products that customers want for as little capital expenditure per product as possible. This will always increase the value proposition to the customer (assuming we reflect that in our prices) , which should drive further sales which then allow us again to continue improving. It creates a positive cycle.

Finally to those that say lean or which ever continuous improvement methodology you prefer does not deliver results. Look at the growth of Toyota. Unparalleled in the world, ever. Yes they have had a couple of blips and may have lost focus in the race to become large but thy are on the ball again and we know the Japanese are good at learning from their mistakes.

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