Archive for September, 2013

As humans, we have always known we produce waste.  Every time we eat food, there are two visible types of waste (immediate trash and longer term liquid and solid outputs). We also talk about wasted time, wasted effort, wasted energy, wasted money., wasted opportunity….In industrial terms, we found crafting and tradesmanship (artisanry) to be too scattered for rapid production so we turned to assemblage and mass manufacturing governed by scientific management techniques (Frederick Taylor).  Now artisanry commands a price premium but that is another topic all together.  Once we had standardized processes, we had data to see that there was a lot of variation in quality.  Eliminating this variation became paramount to remaining competitive (W Edwards Deming). Combining quality and efficiency at a mass production level is an art that was mastered by Toyota.  Lean production (aka just-in-time production) focuses on maximizing the amount of resources directed towards value creation and eliminating non value related activities. (additional information on Lean Thinking)  While Lean has transcended manufacturing (see below), it is only part of the Toyota Philosophy.

The Lean philosophy can be summarized as focusing on the people doing the work and finding ways to improve the processes and level of performance of the work itself.  Continuous Improvement and Continuous Learning are inherent in this approach.

Lean is happening at the government level. The state of Wisconsin adopted a statewide lean initiative both for efficiency and continuous improvement reasons http://walker.wi.gov/wisconsin-reform/lean-government

Other cities and states are doing the same

Non-profits are showing the same benefits industry has

Lean can also be applied to the Service Sector

This article provides a theoretical framework for societal process areas that lend themselves to Lean interventions

The methodology for eliminating waste is known as DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control).

LSSI DMAIC methodology2

It often helps to have a tangible example beyond savings in dollars or time.

Toyota has helped the Food Bank get donations packaged 80% faster (when you’re hungry, faster food is a good thing!)

However, the Toyota Philosophy goes deeper than just Lean.  Toyota’s founder, Sakichi Toyoda, put forth 5 tenants:

  1. Always be faithful to your duties, thereby contributing to the company and to the overall good.
  2. Always be studious and creative, striving to stay ahead of the times.
  3. Always be practical and avoid frivolousness.
  4. Always strive to build a homelike atmosphere at work that is warm and friendly.
  5. Always have respect for spiritual matters, and remember to be grateful at all times.

The company has expanded these into 7 guiding principles (i have added alternative words to principle 7):

  1. Honor the language and spirit of the law of every nation and undertake open and fair business activities to be a good corporate citizen of the world.
  2. Respect the culture and customs of every nation and contribute to economic and social development through corporate activities in their respective communities.
  3. Dedicate our business to providing clean and safe products and to enhancing the quality of life everywhere through all of our activities.
  4. Create and develop advanced technologies and provide outstanding products and services that fulfill the needs of customers worldwide.
  5. Foster a corporate culture that enhances both individual creativity and the value of teamwork, while honoring mutual trust and respect between labor and management.
  6. Pursue growth through harmony with the global community via innovative management.
  7. Work with business partners in research [learning] and manufacture [production] to achieve stable, long-term growth and mutual benefits, while keeping ourselves open to new partnerships.

Using these principles as a basis, what DMAIC steps can we take to eliminate the waste in how we educate children, how we create jobs, how we practice work/life balance, how we establish romantic relationships (yes, there is lean dating)?

Feel free to post comments and/or links!

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