When Lean Is H-A-R-D

Six Sigma – iSixSigma Forums General Forums Implementation When Lean Is H-A-R-D

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Author
  • #55835


    My company is doing so many “Lean” things: Quality circles with root cause analysis; monthly supervisor-lead kaizen events; monthly company-wide quality meetings, weekly Lean training videos and more. Everybody knows the lingo, but few people are willing to reveal problems, look for root causes and do the often tedious work of fully implementing an improvement in the real world. It seems to be something subtle, something internal, so …

    … how can we figure out what we are doing wrong?



    Think about organizational culture. Many lean implementations fail to deliver results when they are focused solely on the application of the tools. If your organizational culture is not open to lean methodology then no matter how many tools you implement you will never realize the benefits. Start looking into why you are on this journey. Two suggested readings : Start with Why by Simon Sinek and Switch by Chip Heath. These may help


    Chris Seider


    Also, you need some experienced folks who can see problems that others can’t see.

    is a great purveyor.


    Mike Chambers

    Successful Lean involves a long-term respectful, problem-solving culture. Many more fail than are successful. Keep in mind it took Toyota over 30 years to develop their culture before anyone started paying attention to them. Today, Toyota has been at it for well over 60 years and many at Toyota will tell you they are just starting.

    To reinvigorate your effort, you might want to study the Toyota Production System rather than Lean. 40 Years, 20 Million Ideas: The Toyota Suggestion System by Yuzo Yasuda might be a start. Yasuda describes how Toyota used their employees to drive their kaizen/continuous improvement process. Mondren and Ohno have published some good books on TPS but they don’t tell you “how” like Yasuda does. Similarly, Shingo is a great source to learn about tools but not the culture. As for Western authors, Liker does a decent job with his first book The Toyota Way. I personally don’t think Liker’s subsequent books are nearly as helpful. If you’re close to a Toyota plant, take a tour. In addition to Toyota, you might learn about Danaher and Milliken. Unfortunately, there’s not much written on either of the latter systems.

    mentioned Sinek’s Start with Why. I like the book as well but I use it more for leadership training. Sinek has a great video on TED that will give you an overview of his thoughts RE starting with why.



    Great book suggestions folks! I will start with the Kindle edition of “Switch.” Hey, for #2.00, you can’t go wrong! Thanks to all.


    Seamus Maguire

    You need to focus on the very basics. Are you eliminating waste and seeing improvement?

    Start tracking areas with hour by hour boards, are you hitting target, are you efficient.

    Once you track with hour by hour boards, you can take action to eliminate waste and see the results. If hour by hour is not feasible then you need to track an area daily with a meaningful metric.

    Lean is all about exposing problems and waste.

    I have found in the past that people just want to jump to the cool looking tools….these can be a waste in themselves. Stand in an area for an entire day and do not talk to anyone, just observe, make note of the TIMWOOD waste you see in the day. I bet there will be absolutely tons.

    If you are in production. Find your bottleneck (The step with all the inventory building up behind it) and work on that, take some work away from that person or run it through break times, you will be amazed at the increase in throughput

    If you have inventory everywhere and you are meeting customer demand, that just means you have too many people working in that area

    Get back to basics :-)



Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.