’Twas the night before Report-Out, and all through the House of Quality,
Not a creature was stirring, (no Six Sigma frivolity!);
The Standard Work Combination Forms were hung in the gemba with care,
In hopes that some measurements soon would be there;
The team members were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of continuous flow danced in their heads;
And the Process Owner in her sari, and I in my TPS cap,
Had just settled down with our Value Stream Map,
When out on the gemba there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the vertical blinds and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to the work cell below,
When, to my wondering eyes appearing like jewels,
Came a miniature Toyota, and eight tiny Lean Tools,
And that white-robed figure, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Sensei Nick.
More rapid than point kaizens his Lean Tools they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Seiri! now, Seiton! now, Seiso and Seiketsu!
On, Shetsuke! on, Kanban! on, Jidoka and Kaikaku!
To the top of the work cell! to the top of the wall!
Drive waste away! waste away! Waste away all!”
As muda and mura and muri all fly,
When tackled by process teams, to make quality high;
So up to the ceiling the Lean Tools they flew,
With the sleigh full of Value, and Sensei Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard in the shop
The Lean Tools at work as they made the waste stop.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Sensei Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in white, from his head to his foot,
But his gi wasn’t tarnished with ashes or soot;
A Value-packed process he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a JIT vendor just opening his pack.
His Kanban cards—how they sparkled! His cycle time – how fine!
His andons were green, and his Production Control Board did shine!
His work sequence was beautifully charted,
And it was clear that line balancing soon would be started;
The S. M. E. D. plan he held tight in his grip,
And it was clear that while he was there, quality wouldn’t slip;
He had a set-up reduction down to a fine science,
And no problem at all with SOP compliance.
He was lean but not mean, a right jolly little creature,
And I laughed when I saw his distinctive feature;
A black belt with multiple bands on the end,
Soon gave me to know I had found a new friend;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fulfilled the customer demand; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his Toyota, to his Tools gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Value-added steps to all, and to all a good-night.”

(With apologies to Clement Clark Moore, who wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1822 as a Christmas gift for his children.)

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