How a Planned Economy Can Screw Up an Entire Country – Analogy between Cuba’s Communist Economy and Push Systems

Cuban FlagOver Christmas I escaped the cold weather in Germany and relaxed on the warm beaches in Cuba. Of course, being a lean expert, I was also interested in the Cuban economy. As a communist economy (or more precisely, a socialist economy), it is based on centralized planning. In comparison, the capitalist system of the US (and most of the rest of the world) leaves most business decisions to individual entrepreneurs. This is somewhat similar to push and pull in manufacturing. Push systems also rely on centralized planning, while pull systems have their signal from inside the system to match the customer demand. As capitalism outperforms communism, pull usually outperforms push. Hence, in this post I would like to show you the shenanigans that happen in Cuba due to the effects of centralized planning. Warning: Lots of images ahead!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The History of Quick Changeover (SMED)

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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.

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