What Is True North in Lean?

True NorthLean manufacturing often talks about true north. This is the direction in which your operations should move to become better. Sometimes that may be a bit fuzzy, so let’s have a look at what true north could include.

I am fully aware that reaching true north in all aspects is unrealistic. If you actually reached true north, there would be nothing left to improve… which goes against my beliefs in manufacturing. You can always get better! Hence, achieving the list below is not realistic. But hey, as I am writing this, it is almost Christmas, and it is okay to make a wish! I hope that this unrealistic list helps you to get closer to true north in at least some aspects.

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How to Do a Lean Transformation – The Toyota Approach

Companies continuously need to improve to survive. Lean can help them with this continuous improvement, so many companies aspire to become lean. The question is, how do you do that? How do you do a lean transformation, or more generally a change management? In this post I would like to talk about what is needed for a company to start their journey to lean. Be warned, it is not easy, and it does require a lot of support from the very top.

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Hoshin Kanri and the Kanri Noryoku Program: Rejuvenating Toyota

In my previous posts I explained how Hoshin Kanri works. This post looks at how Toyota embeds Hoshin Kanri as part of their overall management structure. Toyota started this in 1979 when director Masao Nemoto started the Kanri Noryoku Program (管理能力プログラム), usually shortened to KanPro.

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How Cheap Can You Make it?

I was on a quest, a quest to find the cheapest ballpoint pen possible. And what I found was amazing. Modern manufacturing has achieved stunning productivity, where even a complex product like a ballpoint pen can be produced at costs that were unbelievable only a few decades ago. While everybody can make a pen, the goal in manufacturing is always to make it cheaper! For the same functionality, the customer will almost always go for the cheaper products. Let me show you the results of my quest.

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Example of Problem Solving – Japanese Men’s Relay Team Rio 2016

Good problem solving can seriously help you with the performance in your plant. John Shook recently pointed out another nice example to me: the Japanese Men’s 4x100m relay team during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. They were the underdogs, with none of their team having ever run 100m in under 10 seconds. Yet they stunningly won the silver medal! They achieved this through good problem solving. Let me show you the details:

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Strategies for Mass Customization

Steering wheelsMass customization promises us individually customized products at the price of a mass-produced item. We get something that is customized to our needs but doesn’t have the luxury price tag usually associated with custom-made products. While challenging, numerous different companies have managed to achieve customization with only marginally higher prices than standard products. In this post I want to look in more detail at how to achieve mass customization.

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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.

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