Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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#Lean and @simonsinek’s Golden Circle : there’s hope for you, yet…

February 24th, 2014 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I had a sort of epiphany this morning during commute.

Lean isn’t, or shouldn’t, be transmitted or taught about improving performance or best to achieve performance.

The recent history of Lean seems to me to have gone through the following steps, which, in my mind, mirror the approaching of the WHY center circle of Simon Sinek.

Whats of Lean were the first to be taught (probably because they were the easiest to spot and understand inside Toyota plants) – and is still probably the main line of teaching Lean. Incidentally, these were those Taiichi Ohno warned us against:

  • Results: is orientated toward increasing performance of the company
  • Teaching of Lean: based mostly on using tools

Hows of Lean saw the beginning of a change in how Lean is transmitted:

  • Results: are sought through people and therefore “Respect” comes again to the fore (which it should never have left anyway)
  • Teaching of Lean: centered on how you achieve results (through people), that solutions come from them, not from the sensei. I think the epitome for this is the great “Toyota Kata” approach to teach Lean from Mike Rother.

Whys of Lean is when executives understand there’s really something more to improving a company, and that “respect for people” really is meant for more than mere words:

  • Results: are about contributing to something bigger than the company
  • Teaching of Lean: Lean is about making people flourish both inside and outside the company

Funnily, the more you advance in how you see Lean (according to the preceding three steps), the less you speak about Lean stuff and more about personal and organizational purpose.

Of course, I can’t end this post without this famous quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

Simon, I bow before you…

Don’t do #Lean, Build it instead

October 23rd, 2012 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

People read a lot of books to try to know all about Lean. Indeed, I did it myself (and sometimes still do it). And that’s OK.

But then, we try to have others do Lean as we’ve read in the books.

It’s an error.

We ought to have others build a Lean organization, not do it as per the books.

Trying to do Lean is trying to push solutions onto people, which is a sure way to have them resist.

Whether trying to build a Lean organization is about helping people find their own solutions toward Lean. As I say, it’s about pulling Lean out of the people. Not the other way round.

Indeed, Taiichi Ohno told us so: we shouldn’t try to replicate the Toyota Production System, we must grow our own. That’s the main reason he didn’t want to write down what TPS was in the first place (other reason was to avoid it becoming fixed).

Why is it, then, that we try to replicate all that Mr Ohno told, except for this one fundamental, point?


Motion analysis: the Gilbreth where more detailed than #Lean

December 8th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , ,

Franck and Lilian Gilbreth were two engineers who pioneered motion analysis, one of the thing that Lean does (despite sometimes being a conflicting activity on the shop floor). I’ve already blogged about them, to show some video they did.

They predated Lean by a few decades, yet their center of interest is still historically interesting.

They devised a kind of hieroglyphic alphabet called Therbligs (their name reversed) aimed at analysing movements people do to identify whether such activity brought value or not.

Motion analysis in Lean is often done using simple forms, the simpler being the spaghetti diagram of course. Googling a bit, I find an interesting piece on Gemba Panta Rei.

Taiichi Ohno himself used to look at this and explained in his book “Workplace management” how, sometimes, he had problems explaining to people the difference between motion/activity and work, because, in some regional japanese, the oral words were the same and the written kanji only differed slightly (pages 33 and ff).

A Lean expert at Toyota TIE in Ancenis, France once explained to us how they had to work on motion analysis to reduce the length of a production line and how they were far behind what’s done in Japan. France was looking for associates in need of moving their legs 1 meter during their work, when Japan was looking at optimisation when an arm had to reach out for something: timing and magnitude is different, like Lean expertise!

So, next time when you look at a spaghetti diagram, please notice how you may be missing finer therbligs!

Besides, should you wish to know more on the Gilbreths, please have a look at the Gilbreth Network!

Reblog: #SOLUTIONFOCUSED CHANGE: The word ‘talent’

Here is an excellent and well researched blog article: SOLUTION FOCUSED CHANGE: The word ‘talent’. There are reports on the fact that talent and intelligence may be grown and that confidence in this growing possibility actually make it more effective.

This is in line with other work on systems thinking and systemic therapy (from Palo Alto’s mental research institute and the work of, for instance, Gregory Bateson and Paul Watzlawick).

Of course, Solution Focus is an approach with roots in these works, so the article on this blog should not come as a surprise :-). I’m currently reading that book, by the way and created the corresponding category on the blog, because I think I’m going to invest more time in this!

What also strikes me is the link with experience. Aren’t we in the field of Constructionism? Isn’t it what the Thinking Production System (aka Toyota production System, TPS or Lean) is also all about?

  • Plan an experiment to learn something
  • Do
  • Check the result and seek to understand the results
  • Act / Adjust as a consequence

So, not only did Taiichi Ohno enforced doing and having experiences, he also enforced thinking out the results to ensure learning did occur (this is hansei in japanese). In effect, this probably raised intelligence of workers and he didn’t know it at that time (though he probably knew that people not doing things were indeed dumb, given the low opinion he had about most managers! 😉

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