Category Archives: Management

All posts about management techniques, success stories, failures, etc.

Where Lean Went Wrong – A Historical Perspective

Clueless ManagerThe Toyota Production System is widely considered to be the best production system for any larger company. Achieving similar performance is the vision (or dream?) of many companies. Pretty much all of lean manufacturing is the attempt to copy the approach of Toyota in the hope of a similar stellar performance. Yet most lean transformations fall way short of the goal. In this blog post I would like to give some insights, from a historical perspective, on why lean so often fails. Continue reading Where Lean Went Wrong – A Historical Perspective

Lean Is Tough – The Phases of a Lean Transformation

Sometimes, consultants sell lean as a quick and easy way  to success that pays for itself. Unfortunately, this is usually not true, as many companies have found out the hard way. Getting lean in a company is similar to getting a lean body; it is usually neither quick nor easy. Let me show you the different phases of a lean transformation. Continue reading Lean Is Tough – The Phases of a Lean Transformation

The Lean Mindset – Te & Kaffi in Iceland

Lean is my life. Whenever I see someone working, I cannot help but to think about the work from a lean point of view. Every now and then I come across a little gem, where I am just thoroughly impressed with someone’s approach to manage and improve their work. During my winter vacation in Iceland, I came across just such a gem with an excellent corporate culture for continuous improvement. Let me introduce Te & Kaffi and its lean mindset. Continue reading The Lean Mindset – Te & Kaffi in Iceland

Dealing with Uncertainty

UncertaintyA lot of decisions in lean manufacturing have uncertainty. How many products will I sell (and what is my customer takt)? Which layout is more efficient? Should I believe expert A or expert B? Uncertainty is a part of life in manufacturing. In fact, the higher up you go in the hierarchy, the more you have to deal with uncertainty. And often these are not just simple “A or B” type of questions, but highly complex and interacting decisions like “What should our new line look like?” Here are some suggestions on how to deal with uncertainty. Please note that they will not answer all of your questions but will help you make better decisions. Continue reading Dealing with Uncertainty

Kanban Card Design

kanban-card-pileA kanban is, in its basics, information to reproduce or reorder parts. Hence, in its most basic form it has to say “make me this part” or “bring me this part.” While such very simple kanban systems are possible, usually it helps to include other information on the kanban card. In this post I want to talk about the design details of a kanban card, especially what kind of information we should include on the card. Please note that the items on the list below are suggestions. Which ones you actually include depend on the system you want to establish. Continue reading Kanban Card Design

Volkswagen Supplier Relations Failure

volkswagen-fightIn the last months, there has been an unprecedented power struggle between Volkswagen and its suppliers. Two of the suppliers stopped delivering, leading to a full stop of multiple production lines at six Volkswagen plants, including its main plant Wolfsburg. This whole mess comes on top of the separate problems Volkswagen has had with its Dieselgate. In this post I would like to look in more detail at what happened. Continue reading Volkswagen Supplier Relations Failure

The Curious Case of 100% Work Performance

Poker of acesEmployment is an exchange of work for money. In my last post I showed a few tricks on how operators keep management in the dark about the true workload. However, management is also not giving out all the details on their side either. Naturally, the true value of the work is difficult to asses. Even if companies could know exactly how much each employee contributes to the success, they probably would keep this information top secret.

More interesting, however, is the value of the target workload, where operators are able to work continuously at 130% capacity without problem. The following are my own thoughts, as I have never seen these conclusions anywhere else before.

Continue reading The Curious Case of 100% Work Performance