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Conundrum of Lean and Life

One thing that is often† encountered during the lean process, and in life every day, is the challenge of finding the best possible solution to any problem. Lean is really nothing more than applying problem solving thinking to the challenges of individuals, teams, groups, and entire organizations, and inevitably you will come to the fork in the road where a decision is needed on a countermeasure. One thing that has taken a very long time for me to really understand is that there is no “one best way” to do anything. Every choice and possibility has both pros and cons. Everything‡ is a trade-off.

Think about this in the physical world. In aircraft for example, there is a trade-off between lift and drag. Lift is needed for the plane to actually fly, and typically† a larger wing with a larger profile (airfoil shape) will provide greater lift, and thus lift a heavier plane. But the larger wing also causes more contact with wind and resistance (like a bicycle rider sitting straight up) and thus more drag. Increased drag requires more power to overcome the effects (just like it is harder to pedal a bike with a strong head wind), but that comes with the trade-off of increased fuel consumption. Read More→

Do you follow your values in difficult times?

It is easy to proclaim our values either as individuals or as organizations, but it is an entirely different thing to actually LIVE them! It is especially challenging when the proverbial stuff hits the fan- when times get tough.

Later in my life I finally learned the wisdom of not “casting the first stone” and how it is to live in a glass house. I know all human beings struggle with doing the “right thing” from time to time. One of the challenges is that we have different opinions on what the “right thing” is. A philosophical side note here regarding Toyota- I Read More→

Do Toyota’s Recent Challenges Indicate That Lean Does Not Work?

I have not been getting this question so much these days, but it is still relevant. I posted some comments on LinkedIn that I will copy here with a few additions.

First of all Toyota uses TPS (Toyota Production System) and TBP (Toyota Business Practices) and recently started using the term “lean” in conversation, but lean as we know it is really just a copy of TPS. Before Ican answer the question I want to clarify one thing….people LOVE a good story and controversy and gossip and so forth so the FACTS are glossed over in favor of the good story. If we step back and look at the facts we have to see that with a greater number of vehicles produced comes a higher probability of defects (1% of 10 million is greater than 1% of 100,000) even if the actual defect rate per vehicle is constant. So while it appears to be more of a problem proportionately it is not. But again to the public that is beside the point. Read More→