A Lean Obituary for Maybach – A Cautionary Tale About Cost of Complexity

$439,000 gift with every car purchased
$439,000 gift with every car purchased

With the end of last year, Daimler stopped selling its flagship vehicle, Maybach. I would like to use this opportunity to talk about the danger and harm to your company by increasing the number of product types sold. As an illustrative (and expensive) example, I would like to split the total cost of the Maybach in its individual parts (as far as I can estimate them).  My hope is that this motivates you to reduce, or at least no longer increase, the number of variants in your product portfolio.

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How to Manage Your Lean Projects – Prioritize

Impact Effort MatrixIn our first post of this series, we discussed how to avoid void work overload using a project management board. The key was to limit the number of active projects. Start a new project only when a previous one is completed. This second post now details which project to start next. Here I want to emphasize the importance of prioritization. I describe some simple tools on how to quickly determine the most important task at hand.

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How to Manage Your Lean Projects – Number of Active Projects

Project management boardLet’s face it – you have more things to do than you can reasonably do in the available time. A constant stream of tasks or problems are waiting for a lean solution. This two-post series wants to help you with that. In this first post, we will discuss how to avoid work overload using a simple project management board. A second post will tell you how to Manage Your Lean Projects – Prioritize.

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Consistency at Toyota – The Board of Directors of the Toyota Motor Company

TMC Board members
TMC Board members

The Toyota Motor Company (TMC) is one of the most well-managed firms in the world. Among multinational corporations, it is probably the most famous one. Since its founding in 1937, TMC has continuously improved. The question is, how did Toyota do that? What does Toyota do differently from other companies, who stumble from one problem into the next? I believe the corporate culture and style start with the behavior at the top. Hence, in this post I will look at the board of directors of TMC in more detail.

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Hell is Other People – Workplace Conflict between Managers and the Managed

Little birds and big bird on wire
The boss and the bossed …

Throughout the history of industry, there has been a constant conflict between managers and subordinates. For some reason, we just don’t get along well with each other. Or, as philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre phrased it, “Hell is other people.” In fact, large advances in mechanization and automation were due to managers wanting to take power away from workers or to get rid of workers altogether.

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Know Your Priorities!

Is this really your Focus Area?
Is this really your Focus Area?

The concept of lean manufacturing originated on the shop floor at Toyota. Since then it has expanded into many other areas, including but not limited to lean healthcare, lean administration, lean logistics, lean services, lean hotel, lean military, lean banking, or any lean whatever topic. There is even a lean government, albeit I am somehow skeptical on that one. Even so, most practitioners of lean work in manufacturing. Hence it comes as no surprise that most lean efforts are focused on the shop floor. However, while there is usually much improvement potential on any given shop floor, it is not necessarily the area you most want to improve.

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Lean Shop Floor Checklist – Top 4 KPI to Watch in the Factory

Lean Shop Floor Visit Checklist
Check my List!

Due to popular demand related to my two posts on “Make Your Plant Tour a Success!” and “How to Misguide Your Visitor – or What Not to Pay Attention to During a Plant Visit!,” I have created a  checklist for a lean visit to a manufacturing shop floor for you to download. Take this checklist with easy-to-use metrics during your shop floor visit to make yourself independent of potentially misleading data given to you by the shop floor staff. Metrics include worker utilization, machine utilization, inventory reach and turnaround, and order & cleanliness.

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Japanese Multidimensional Problem Solving

Don't try just one ...
Don’t try just one …

In the West, the standard approach for problem solving is to take a good look a the problem, after which a solution approach will pop into someone’s head. This approach is then optimized until the problem is solved. However, while this often ends up with one solution, it usually is far from the best solution possible. In Japan, a very different multidimensional problem-solving approach is common. Rather than just use any solution that solves the problem, they aim for the best solution they can find.

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