Heijunka: The Art of Leveling Production

Heijunka (pronounced hi-JUNE-kuh) is a Japanese word that means “leveling.” When implemented correctly, heijunka elegantly – and without haste – helps organizations meet demand while reducing while reducing wastes in production and interpersonal processes. According to many Lean experts, heijunka is better achieved as a later-stage implementation in a Lean organization, long after value streams have…


Three Lean Expert Authors Win Shingo Prize

Writers Steven E. Hoeft, Steven C. Bell and Michael Orzen have all been named winners of the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence, Research, and Professional Publication, which is bestowed on authors who advance the Lean body of knowledge into new areas and promote a broad understanding of operational excellence.

Quality Industry Rallies Around ‘Toyota Way’

After overtaking General Motors as the world’s largest car maker in early 2009, Japan-based Toyota Motor Corp. is now facing withering criticism from its own shareholders and the U.S. Congress as a result of the accelerating and braking systems in its cars, which have led to the recall of about 9 million vehicles worldwide as…


Building Cultural Acceptance Key to Lean Transformation

Successful transformation to a continuous process improvement culture is arduous. It requires an enterprise approach that engages the entire organization and challenges its norms. It requires knowledge of new tools and methodologies, and a level of internal discipline beyond that in which most organizations operate. Most organizations are addicted to quick fixes and immediate results….


Hoshin Planning: Making the Strategic Plan Work

Hoshin planning, which focuses on achieving a vital annual stretch goal, has been used successfully by Toyota and other companies in Japan since the 1960s and some top-tier companies in the United States and elsewhere. However, interest in using Hoshin planning now appears to be growing. Bank of America, for example, has made a very…


Lean Manufacturing: Adapting as Important as Adopting

Lean is a wonderful experience when deployed properly and can be a nightmare when it is not. When properly deployed, a company has productive and relatively happy employees, increased efficiency, on-time deliveries and all sorts of other desirable outcomes. When it is not deployed properly, a company can have angry customers, frustrated employees, late deliveries,…