Category Archives: History

All postst related to the history of lean, management, manufacturing, and any other topic covered in this blog.

Visual Management during World War II – A Visit to the Lascaris War Rooms in Malta

Royal Air Force Operations in Malta, Gibraltar and the Mediterranean, 1939-1945.For larger improvement projects with a dedicated project team, there is frequently a “war room,” a conference room where all the project-related information and performance measures are kept. The name sounds cool and gives a certain air of focus to the project.

The name, however, comes from war rooms for real wars. Recently I had the chance to visit the Lascaris War Rooms in Malta, where I was able to see many tools and practices that are still common nowadays in manufacturing and project management. Continue reading Visual Management during World War II – A Visit to the Lascaris War Rooms in Malta

Manufacturing – A key stepping stone on the Road to Prosperity

Open Door and GearsManufacturing is an important part of most economies. However, during the development of an economy, manufacturing plays different roles at different times. In fact, manufacturing is a key stepping stone on the road to economic prosperity. During the development from an agricultural society to a service society, nations must go at one point through a industrial society. Continue reading Manufacturing – A key stepping stone on the Road to Prosperity

Culture of Quality – A Comparison of Toyota and GM Recalls

Return to SenderOne of the main aspects of lean manufacturing is quality. This post discusses the differing attitudes regarding quality in different corporate cultures. In particular, the Toyota brake recalls and the GM ignition recalls are compared. Continue reading Culture of Quality – A Comparison of Toyota and GM Recalls

Toyota Employee Relationship Crisis and Countermeasures 1990’s

Employee Relations at ToyotaToyota has developed what is probably the finest production system in the world, the Toyota Production System. There is general consensus in the rest of the world that its methods and philosophies can significantly improve efficiency and quality, to the point that anything Toyota does is admired and copied. Some practitioners seem to wear rose-colored glasses when talking about Toyota. However, like any company, Toyota does have its fair share of problems and mishaps to deal with, from the 1950 near collapse, to the US gas pedal recalls during 2009–2011. This post will discuss the employee relationship crisis at Toyota around 1990 and Toyota’s countermeasures. Continue reading Toyota Employee Relationship Crisis and Countermeasures 1990’s

The Difference Between Lean and Six Sigma

Six SigmaLean Six Sigma (also abbreviated as 6σ) seems to be everywhere in industry nowadays. There are tons of consultants, job offers, projects, and articles about Lean Six Sigma. In this post, I would like to talk about where Six Sigma comes from, its difference from lean manufacturing, the reason for its popularity, and its shortcomings. Continue reading The Difference Between Lean and Six Sigma

How a Little Bit of Industrial Espionage Started the Industrial Revolution

Top SecretThe Industrial Revolution changed the lives of ordinary people faster and more radically than any other period in history before it. Within only a few decades, small artisan shops were replaced by large factories. The Industrial Revolution started with the mass processing of cotton. Yet, as we will see, this happened only due to significant industrial espionage across multiple countries. Continue reading How a Little Bit of Industrial Espionage Started the Industrial Revolution

The History of Quick Changeover (SMED)

Appetizer Course
Set up history

In the previous post, I explained the basics of a quick changeover. In this post, I will go through the history of quick changeovers (also known as SMED). It is quite interesting to learn how things have developed during the twentieth century. The next post will look at different, unusual ways to teach SMED. Continue reading The History of Quick Changeover (SMED)

Shigeo Shingo and the Art of Self Promotion

Shigeo ShingoShigeo Shingo is a name that everyone in the United States lean community knows. He is considered “the world’s leading expert on manufacturing practices and the Toyota Production System,” an “engineering genius,” and the foremost guru of lean production. Some sources even claim he invented the Toyota Production System and taught Taiichi Ohno. Unfortunately, his achievements were much less stellar than this, but he was very skilled in the art of self-promotion. Continue reading Shigeo Shingo and the Art of Self Promotion