A lot of lean is about problem solving, and most of these problems are complex and difficult. Otherwise, someone would have solved them already. Hence, I would like to introduce you to different creativity techniques for problem solving. Most of them can be used in groups to access the collective wisdom and creativity. Most of them are also suitable to develop a number of alternative solutions, of which you can pick the best ones (see my previous post on Japanese Multidimensional Problem Solving). Many of them can be combined in sequence. Let me start with the most common one, brainstorming:
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.
A 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.
I am Chris Roser, a professor for production management; a lean expert; a Toyota, Bosch, and McKinsey alumnus; and I’m interested in the past, present, and future of manufacturing. I lived and worked for multiple years in the USA, in Japan, and in Europe. I run a blog, AllAboutLean.com, and just completed my first book, “Faster, Better, Cheaper” in the History of Manufacturing: From the Stone Age to Lean Manufacturing and Beyond.
In 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.
Accounting is one of the cornerstones of the modern economy. Cost accounting in particular helps in decision making with the goal to maximize profit. Many decisions are based on these numbers. Unfortunately, cost accounting usually does a really poor job of capturing the essence of manufacturing in general and lean manufacturing in particular.
The largest ten car makers sell over 200 different car models on the US market. Without vans, SUVs, and sport cars, there are still 100 consumer cars left. Toyota has the largest number with a total of 14 models, yet they still have an excellent market strategy and very little self cannibalization. BMW has much fewer models, yet still manages to cannibalize itself. GM has 13 models and also steps on its own toes, while completely missing another market segment. This post is based on a master’s thesis of one of my students, Amir Javanshir, and the detailed source is at the end of the article.
There is an inflation of key performance indicators (KPIs) in industry. In my last posts I have explained how KPIs are often wrong, and why bad and fudged KPIs are a huge waste. Yet, you cannot really run a larger corporation without KPI. In this post I will finally give some advice on (1) what you need to do to measure good KPI, and (2) how to avoid fudged KPI.