Examples of how Lean Thinking is implemented through communication

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We all have heard about Lean Thinking, Lean Culture or Lean Philosophy, but how do we have to implement this abstract idea into the companies we work for?

It is about time, about constancy, about not giving up, about not getting frustrated, about using informal conversations in an everyday basis so that we can see results in a medium/large period of time…

My suggestion is to basically train the employees in a formal way and, afterwards, repeating Lean Thinking Philosophy as many times as you can using informal meetings and conversations (it may seem cumbersome, but it works!)

Example #1:

(1st Principle Toyota Way, long term philosophy; 5th Principle Toyota Way, Stop, solve the problems, get quality at first)

Maintenance Op.: There has been a catastrophe within the plant! One of the main machines is broken due to an electronic failure, I will bypass the signal and will be able to work with it but without any speed control, but at least we’ll have the machine doing its work.

Ops Manager: What have I told you the other day when we spoke about doing the things right from the beginning? What I mean is that, putting a patch fixes the machine for several hours but we need a good and sustainable solution!

Maintenance Op.: I agree, but, speaking to the Production Manager, we need the batch to be delivered tomorrow afternoon or otherwise we won’t be able to dispatch it.

Ops Manager: Our customer will appreciate a delay if we do things right rather than doing botched jobs. So, please, find the way of solving the problem definitely without patching it.

Example #2:

(5th Principle Toyota Way, Stop, solve the problems, get quality at first).

Operator: The product we are manufacturing is having quality issues!

Prod. Manager: What can we do to eliminate the problem?

Operator: I have tried everything but it’s still not ok.

Prod. Manager: How long have we been with the machine running in this condition?

Operator: For about an hour and a half.

Prod. Manager: Please, stop the machine. (The operator stops the machine). As we have always said, when we are producing scrap we are loosing the cost of the raw material, workforce time, machine time, energy, the time used to manufacture bad material could have been used to manufacture good quality material. Please, bear in mind that producing scrap is the same than producing nothing with the aggravating circumstance that you could have used that time to manufacture product that could have been sold.

Example #3:

(9th Principle Toyota Way, Make your Leaders Grow within your Company following the Company’s Philosophy).

(While maintaining the appraisal meeting…)

General Manager: Do you remember the meetings where I trained you about the 14 principles of Toyota Way? This will be the background I want for all of you, you’ll have to use them as you Bible, as your new way of life, which will provide the company and us with nothing more than benefits.

Operations Manager: Yes, the good point about it is that when implementing this philosophy I’m feeling motivated. You can see the results in a long term basis, and they are so logical, that everyone understand them at first. Sometimes it gets tough because, as we are programmed with older ideas, I need to repeat to my team the principles almost everyday.

General Manager: I totally agree with you, the secret of success is about being constant and faithful to this principles and make everyone believe in them and use them in their area of work. Both the company and ourselves will get a reward from it. We’ll work less, be more efficient, get better results and have more time to think strategically about the future. We need to spread this way of “doing things and change of mindset” to all of our staff, so the same I’m doing with you, you’ll need to do it with your team.

Please, do not hesitate to add your opinions or comments.