LEAN 2.0: FASTER, BETTER, PERMANENT – part 1

NEWSFLASH: The Lean that we all grew up with came to us completely wrong. Messengers Jones and Womack not only mislabeled it, but misinterpreted it too. In their roles as observer-reporters, they described what they saw through the old management paradigm and pretty much interpreted and documented everything from that perspective. They did that really well and Lean Thinking became the “go-to manual” as a result. But it wasn’t the right thing, so they pretty much missed the engine of Toyota’s management system.

The result? 30+ years of misfires from nearly all corners of the earth, as leaders and consultants took what Jones and Womack observed and tried to implement it. And it wasn’t just their book that perpetuated the wrong thing – Shingijutsu, the consulting company documented in Lean Thinking, continued to train using kaizen blitzes that reinforced the use of tools and the fast cost-cutting  results.

And as is usually the case in our innovative world, many iterations and derivatives sprang up, like Lean Six Sigma, Operational Excellence, and a host of other “programs.” In the absence of successful long term implementations, people naturally tried to fill the holes that were causing these poor results. But here’s the real issue:

None of these iterations is even on the same logical level as the shift that Lean represents.

It’s also why Lean wasn’t successful in those 30+ years – it was applied on the wrong logical level, which didn’t yield any change at the top. Old school management, where command and control in various intensities is the norm, uses an aberrant version of “lean as cost cutter,” Lean Six Sigma and Operational Excellence, at a lesser logical level than what Lean really represents. They use them at the skill and behavior levels, thinking they can deploy these activities to get results without changing their own thinking. So wrong model (Lean Thinking) plus wrong logical level equals wrong results, and in this case 30+ years of failure.

Enter Lean 2.0: Right model plus right logical level AND an implementation methodology created by actual doers, not observer-reporters. The right model means an accurate description of the thinking behind Toyota, and the engine they use to drive that thinking. In this case, Steve Spear and Mike Rother, two modeling experts, have skillfully documented both. And the right logical level? That would be the IDENTITY and BELIEF level. Lean 2.0 isn’t the tools at all – tools that require skills and aim to change behaviors. No, Lean 2.0 is the brain and the lever working in unison to insure . . . (to be cont’d in Part II)

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Dan
Dan

I bought the first 30 copies of Mike Rother’s book “Toyota Kata” while I was in a Lean leadership role at Delta Faucet Co. and distributed it to our top leaders. And Shingijutsu was not a bad enterprise. Delta has had great Lean results and the company I currently work for is in the early stages of a strong Lean transformation.

Jim

Dan, thanks for your comments. Mike Rother is one of the modelers I cited in the article, and he did an outstanding job of modeling the right things. And Dan, I never said Shingijutsu was bad – Iwata, Nakao et.al. were and are nothing short of brilliant and should be lauded as world heroes. But they chose how they would introduce and implement Lean and my article states that they did so at a behavior and skills oriented level. And that is not incorrect. They chose to implement in the form of weekly kaizens because they were batching their visits… Read more »

Nikolas
Nikolas

Agree with Dan; the cultural or people-related element of LEAN was repeatedly mentioned in ‘THE TOYOTA WAY’, ‘TOYOTA CULTURE’ and many other sources. With all due respect, the way you criticise the work of Womack and Jones is unprecedented and astonishing; it deviates from one of the TOYOTA principles, i.e. “humility” and “respect for people” and is also not accurate; personally, I have read this brilliant book (“the Machine that changed the world”) and with the assistance of a Sensei I successfully applied its practices in a large organisation with spectacular results. In addition, I would expect you to invite… Read more »

Jim

Nikolas, thanks for your interpretation of my article and for the kudos. I too think Womack and Jones wrote two excellent books and I view them as an important step in the world’s move to dragging us out of the dark ages of management. All I said in the article is that they shone the light on the wrong thing. And while I did not mention any of Jeff Liker’s books, with whom I am a partner in the Lean Leadership Institute, neither Jones nor Womack were involved in those two books. Both of them are still active and welcome… Read more »

Bill Gaw
Bill Gaw

Nikolas, Dan, Anonymous are you blind to the facts that at present the majority of lean transformation initiatives have failed to meet expectations. And, that the primary cause of failure is lack of leadership from the top. Maybe you missed Jim’s message or you haven’t followed his crusade to address that problem. I just hope you’re jumping out front with such criticism doesn’t turn off the CXO’s that could benefit from his teaching and coaching.

Jim

Anonymous, you don’t need to follow me. My materials are aimed at Lean change agents who want a repeatable process for architecting Lean change in an elegant manner. Whether you call yourself a Lean expert or not is irrelevant. The real expertise you need to implement Lean consistently well, is how to change individuals and organizations out of the command & control management they’ve grown up with their entire lives, to this new way of managing that is light years ahead of everything else.

Blair H
Blair H

I think you are on the right track, but in my opinion you’re being pretty hard on Jones and Womack, when it may not necessarily be entirely their responsibility that Lean hasn’t reached its full potential in the US. I’m a firm believer in that what gets measured gets improved, and business in the US tends to value profits more than any other measure of success, so it’s natural for our business leaders to look to using Lean as a means to increase profitability through mis-implementation. Lean can be used to improve profits, however, if that is your primary goal,… Read more »

Michel Baudin
Michel Baudin

I agree with your assessment, but I am not so sure about the remedy. About Womack and Jones, I would say that they authored one good book: “The Machine That Changed The World,” and leave it at that. To them, manufacturing was a spectator sport, and they shared the results of a worldwide benchmarking study of the auto industry. I met Jim Womack at Honda’s Anna Engine Plant in 1999, where I was helping a team of engineers on the design of a new motorcycle engine assembly line. We then had lunch together with our common host, Kevin Hop, and… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous

Unfortunately when Lean thinking was extracted from the Toyota Production system it lost some of the original simplicity and two key features. — The main performance goals for TPS are to give the customer; What they want. (The best P, S, and E available in your industry. Products, services and experiences). In the quantity they want, without defects. (Any multiple of one. One piece flow facilitates this capability. Jidoka and Poka- yoke will ensure zero defects). – Delivered when they want it. (Just in time to suit their needs. Takt time is the driver). — These values must also be… Read more »

Sid Joynson
Sid Joynson

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