100th Anniversary of the Death of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the Father of Modern Scientific Management

Frederick Winslow Taylor
Frederick Winslow Taylor

It was exactly 100 years ago today that Frederick Winslow Taylor died. He is considered the father of modern scientific management, the first management consultant, president of the ASME, and the first management guru. He invented and patented the first modern tool steel, designed new golf clubs, and optimized the growing of grass. He could swear like few others, but he also won the US Open tennis championships.

His work was already controversial when he died, but nobody doubts the enormous legacy he has left for industry. Without his achievements, there would be no modern manufacturing.

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The Seven Types of Waste (Muda) – Now with 24 More Types of Waste Absolutely Free!

Seven Trash Cans Labeled

One popular and well-known concept of the Toyota Production System is the elimination of waste, in Japanese also called muda (無駄). It is one of the three evils of manufacturing systems, the others being unevenness (mura, 斑) and overburden (muri, 無理). In this post I would like to go through the details of waste with you. This includes the traditional seven types of waste – of which I am a big fan. For completeness sake I also included a lot more types of waste I have come across in industry. However, you have to decide yourself if these additional wastes are not themselves a waste.

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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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