Tag Archives: management history

Management Webcast: Introduction to Lean Manufacturing

Webcast introduction to lean manufacturing by Ron Pereira. This is a great 9 minute introduction to the topic, for those not familiar with lean thinking. It sets the context for lean thinking and provides some history on how lean manufacturing has developed. Get videos on learning about lean from the Gemba Academy.

Related: Oranges, Pebbles, and SandDr. Russell Ackoff Webcast on Systems ThinkingAn Introduction to Deming’s Management Ideas by Peter ScholtesEric Schmidt on Management at GoogleManagement WebcastsWorkplace Management by Taiichi Ohno

Online Management Resources

Since long before I started this blog I have maintained the Curious Cat Management Improvement web site. In fact, that web site has been online since 1996; the blog started in 2004. I feel the web site has tremendous resources for managers looking to improve the performance of their organization (or course I am a bit biased).

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New Management Truths Sometimes Started as Heresies

‘New’ management truths sometimes started as heresies by Cecil Johnson

“The most effective management ideas follow a life cycle — from heresy to outlier (championed by a small group of people) to ingrained practice to conventional wisdom,” Kleiner writes. “In the process, if they are genuinely powerful management ideas, they distinguish the organizations that adopt them.”

One of the management heresies focused upon by Kleiner that has morphed into accepted management wisdom of the highest order is the Toyota Production System, which embraces much of the thinking of heretical quality advocate W. Edwards Deming. That system, Kleiner reminds the reader, entrusts teams at each station in the assembly process to control their local operations. Performance is not evaluated on a predetermined numeral basis.

I agree with this idea except the implication that these ideas are accepted now. To the extent they are excepted it is only a surface understanding of a couple of tools and concepts. The true power of the new ideas are still adopted in a very small number of organizations. Thankfully small initial steps are being made but there is much more to be done, before we can think of these ideas as accepted.

Which of Dr. Deming’s seven deadly diseases of western management have been effectively addressed in several decades? My opinion? Zero. Granted 2 are probably closer to economic failures (political issues that management could have spent time trying to fix but not really in the control of a single company): excessive medical costs and excessive legal damage awards.

Excessive legal damage awards was the one disease most business school graduates would have agreed was a disease decades ago, and they still do. They have spent a great deal of effort to reform the legal system, but have not been effective. Many now agree the health care system is broken. But I would say less than 50% understand this, even decades later, even after the situation has deteriorated much further. And certainly little effective effort at improving the health care system has been made. At least in the last 5 years some real efforts are being made by senior executives as some companies.

And I strongly believe Dr. Deming would see the current unjustified taking of companies resources by CEOs for their own use, in ludicrous pay packages, as a new disease. If these “new” (the system of management ideas are at least 30 years old, as a system, and it has been 60 years since Dr. Deming present them in Japan after World War II) management ideas were common, such horrible behavior as we continue to see would not be tolerated.

Related: Deming CompaniesToyota Execution Not Close to Being CopiedManagement Advice FailuresPurpose of an OrganizationNew Rules for Management? No!

Workplace Management by Taiichi Ohno

Workplace Management [the broken link was removed] by Taiichi Ohno, translated by Jon Miller.

This classic work by the founding father of the Toyota Production System returns to print in a new translation. Ohno delivers timeless lessons on how to effectively manage the gemba – actual place or work. He relates stories from across his nearly 40 years of struggle to establish the Toyota Production System as both a mindset and supporting behaviors of constant improvement. In the book’s 37 chapters, Ohno covers a broad range of topics and lays out the fundamental philosophy of kaizen (continuous improvement) that has made Toyota the most successful automobile manufacturer today.

Jon Miller posted excellent items to his blog on each chapter. You may pre-order the book now [the broken link was removed] for delivery in March, 2007.

Related: Gemba Keiei by Taiichi OhnoKaizen the Toyota WayOrigins of the Toyota Production SystemLean terms defined: KaizenCurious Cat Management Improvement Books

Deming in Japan

Great article by John Dowd [the broken link was removed], How the Japanese learned to compete:

This is a key lesson because with attention to quality, the company begins a journey on a “virtuous circle” of simultaneously improving quality and lowering costs. As quality improves, there are less rework, scrap and waste of all kinds. As products become more attuned to customers’ needs, there is less effort spent producing items people don’t want. Costs go down. Quality improves. Thus paying attention to quality becomes the primary competitive strategy. Understanding this is vitally important.

Related: Management Improvement HistoryDeming on ManagementDeming related blog postsPDSASpeech by Dr. Deming to Japanese Business Leaders in 1950My First Trip To Japan by Peter R. Scholtes

Ackoff, Idealized Design and Bell Labs

Excerpt from Idealized Design: How to Dissolve Tomorrow’s Crisis…Today by Russell L. Ackoff, Jason Magidson and Herbert J. Addison: How Bell Labs Imagined — and Created — the Telephone System of the Future in the 1950s.

Great stuff and another example showing the obsession with “new” ideas is wasteful.

Idealized design is a way of thinking about change that is deceptively simple to state: In solving problems of virtually any kind, the way to get the best outcome is to imagine what the ideal solution would be and then work backward to where you are today. This ensures that you do not erect imaginary obstacles before you even know what the ideal is.

A simple idea, and a powerful one too. Ackoff always presents his ideas very well, in this book, and in many articles by Dr. Ackoff available online. I still remember Dr. Ackoff’s presenting this material at a Hunter conference years ago – great stuff.
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Toyota Production System History

Norman Bodek on TPS history: Who Can Shout Louder? [the broken link was removed]

TPS focuses on improving the overall process from the customer’s demands to the delivery of the product. Prior to TPS, manufacturing companies were filled with smoke stakes, operational centers separated by machine types: the stamping machines, lathes, drilling, milling etc. each producing mountains of inventory taking weeks even months to produce an automobile. TPS focused on eliminating the wastes created by these separate machine centers. TPS primarily focuses on improving the overall process as opposed to the old way of improving the efficiency of each operational center without consideration of the overall flow.

This article continues the chain of articles on the topic – last month: Origins of the Toyota Production System.

Origins of the Toyota Production System

Brief Investigation into the Origins of the Toyota Production System [the broken link was removed] by Art Smalley. Another excellent article by Art Smalley. Loaded with great historical information. I find these articles interesting on at least two levels. First there is great management information. Learning more about how the ideas we use now developed adds to my understanding. Second it is interesting historical information – I am not sure if it actually makes any difference in how I would manage but I just find it interesting.

There is some excitement over different views of how much credit Shingo should get versus Ohno (and such questions). I find the discussion interesting, but I don’t worry much about how much credit each deserves. I suppose that is partially my personality and particularly that I am not that connected with either of them. The debates about how much value Deming provided I get a bit more emotional.

With Deming I find when people don’t recognized his contributions they often missed much of what he talked about (so their understanding of for example innovation in Deming’s ideas were flawed which lead to less effective management by them). So I can see a justification for trying to argue that for example, Ohno’s contributions were more significant than is generally accepted. Based on that believe, looking more closely at Ohno’s ideas would make more sense.

Certainly our focus should be on improving our understanding of management. It seems to me the discussion has been beneficial thus far. I would also admit that this is probably of interest to a small sub set of those interested in lean manufacturing. That is fine. I do believe there is no benefit for discussions to degrade into negative attacks but when the discussion is mainly sharing views, information and ways of looking at the historical record I find it can be very interesting.

Via: Much Ado About Shingo and Ohno

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Management Advice Failures

Topic: Management Improvement

Management Advice: Which 90% is Crap? by Bob Sutton, Stanford University:

At first, I couldn’t believe that someone as well-read as Hamel claimed an old idea was new and that he had invented it. But I eventually realized the problem wasn’t Gary Hamel, or any other individual making claims of originality. Rather, his column reflected a prevailing practice in the business knowledge business. I asked two former Fortune columnists why “Hamel’s Law” and similar claims that old ideas are brand new appear so often in the business press.Both emphasized that you couldn’t blame Hamel – that was just how things were done. Both writers even speculated that some Fortune editor probably had inserted the phrase, “Hamel’s Law,” to create the impression that the magazine publishes exciting new ideas. After all old news doesn’t sell magazines!

I share this frustration with declaring old ideas new: Management Improvement, Better and Different, Quality, SPC and Your Career, Deming and Six Sigma, Management Lessons from Terry Ryan, Everybody Wants It, Toyota’s Got It, Fashion-Incubator on Deming’s Ideas and on and on.
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Shigeo Shingo’s Influence on TPS

A very interesting article by Art Smalley based on an interview with Mr. Isao Kato: Shigeo Shingo’s Influence on TPS [the broken link was removed]. For those interested in the history of the Toyota Production System this article provides some excellent information.

Some background on Isao Kato:

As much as anyone alive Mr. Kato knows the history of TPS development from an insider’s point of view from the 1950’s forward. He also had working relationships with Mr. Ohno even more so with Mr. Shigeo Shingo (or Dr. Shingo as he is known in the west). One of the interview topics I discussed with Mr. Kato related to the historical role of Shigeo Shingo in the formulation of TPS inside Toyota Motor Company. Much to my surprise the role of Mr. Shingo and actual development of TPS according to Mr. Kato has been somewhat mistaken over the years especially in the U.S.
Mr. Isao Kato: By far the biggest area was helping us develop a course that replaced the Job Methods (JM) part of TWI. Together we summarized Mr. Shingo’s material into a training course that we called the “P-Course which stood for production and how to analyze a production process. As I mentioned he trained a couple thousand young engineers and managers over a twenty year period. His influence on these people and their subsequent ability to see problems and waste was quite large.

The article does convincingly argue those most responsible include the Toyoda’s and then many others inside Toyota such as Ohno.
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