As we get ready to say Good bye to 2022 and hope for a better 2023 I thought to take on a topic which many of you will relate to and hope that it can get better in 2023. There are no secrets about the origin of LEAN, but for those who does not know, let me quickly give a quick tour. Lean was primarily an inspired concept and adopted from Toyota Production System. The original seven Mudas ( " Muda" is a Japanese term which means "wastefulness") was developed by Taiichi Ohno, the Chief Engineer at Toyota, as part of the Toyota Production System (TPS). The seven wastes are Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Over processing and Defects. The TPS mantra always has been "MAXIMISING PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY THROUGH THE ELIMINATION OF WASTE".
The core mission of TPS was to provide the customer with the highest quality vehicles, at lowest possible cost, in a timely manner with the shortest possible lead times and to provide members with work satisfaction, job security and fair treatment. It gives the company flexibility to respond to the market, achieve profit through cost reduction activities and long-term prosperity. Also note that TPS only had 7 Mudas originally since it was primarily for manufacturing industry during the early 1950s when the concept was born. The concept gained popularity throughout the world due to primarily 3 things, Quality, efficiency and maximizing Profit. TPS success story soon made headlines Globally and Western World during the boom economic years of 1980s and 1990s pounced on this concept, their special interest grew around the concept of maximizing profits.
Lean Manufacturing was coined in 1991 by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones and Daniel Roos from The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in their book The Machine That Changed the World, in which they compared Japanese and American companies. The most efficient turned Toyota Motor Company with its Toyota Production System (TPS). The TPS was hailed the first system working in accordance with the guidelines of Lean. In 2001, James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones published „Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation”, in which they precisely defined the foundations of the Lean Philosophy (Cholewicka-Goździk K, 2001, translation mine, ŁD). Lean Manufacturing is regarded as a successor of the TPS. ( Journal of International Studies, The Origins and Evolution of Lean Management System )
THE 8th MUDA
In early1990s Western World introduced 8th Muda of Lean and embraced not only in manufacturing but also in production and service sectors. The 8th waste is also described as the waste of unused human talent and ingenuity. This waste occurs when organizations separate the role of management from employees. In some organizations, management’s responsibility is planning, organizing, controlling, and innovating the production process. The employee’s role is to simply follow orders and execute the work as planned. By not engaging the frontline worker’s knowledge and expertise, it is difficult to improve processes. This is due to the fact that the people doing the work are the ones who are most capable of identifying problems and developing solutions for them.
As you can see that the theory of 8th Muda is not the problem, the misuse and application is. 8th Muda on ground is used as a tool to get less employees to do more work so that organizations can save costs and maximize profit. The sheer focus is on saving cost and maximizing profit. Lean although adopted from TPS almost completely destroyed the core mission of TPS and focused on Creating Wealth for Corporations. The idea of work satisfaction, job security and fair treatment, flexibility to respond to the market, long-term prosperity remained as name only, rather pushed to the back burner and idea of achieve profit through cost reduction activities and short term quarter to quarter revenue making programs became the on ground reality of Lean. In my past articles, I wrote about a business story on Patagonia and explained the merits of thoughtful Capitalism, if you have not read it, please CLICK HERE to read the Story, they did not have to abuse the concept of TPS but they made good money. But, there again, these are my own observations working in multiple companies, I leave it up to you to decide whether LEAN is being properly applied in your company or not. Please share your feedback and stories on LEAN applications in the comment section below, I want to read them. Also if you have liked my perspective please like and share with your network so that the word spreads.
Let us Lead will continue it's mission in 2023 and I wish all of you and your family members a very happy and prosperous New Year 2023.