Lean Sensei and His Tools
In the manufacturing industry, there is a systematic way of eliminating waste – lean production. The whole idea of lean production is ridding manufacturing processes of waste resulting from overburden and waste coming from uneven work loads. Any person who has mastered and teached this skill is called a Lean Sensei.
Lean production is a management principle introduced by the Toyota Production System (TPS). It was previously called Toyotism, until the 1990s when it started to be identified as “lean.” It centers on reducing manufacturing waste to improve production systems and increase customer satisfaction. The concept rose to popularity when Toyota grew to be one the world’s biggest car manufacturers, from a very small production company in Japan. Its success was largely credited to TPS’ mentorship program, widely recognized as unbiased and straightforward.
The closest mentoring program to TPS’ is one conducted by a Lean Sensei – an in-house or third party expert that provides mentoring services and unbiased coaching to manufacturing companies. As he is involved in the training and direction of internal teams, he is expected to possess desirable leadership characteristics. Among others, he should be an active advocate of change, open to new ideas and has excellent problem solving skills. He/she should also have a good grasp of business processes and strong technical knowhow. In order to maximize his capabilities, however, strong management support should be given.
Armed with strategic planning tools, a Lean Sensei brings in a wealth of experience from past executions that can benefit a company. Here are some of the tools most commonly used :
- Ohno Circle. Named after TPS’ first sensei, Taiichi Ono, the Ohno Circle is aimed at training manufacturing personnel’s eyes to distinguish process wastes. During his time in TPS, Ono was popular for drawing a circle around plant supervisors, and making them keep their ground until they have done a full scan of their areas for possible problems. To date, this principle provides company leaders a structure for continuous improvement.
- Ishikawa Diagram. More commonly referred to as cause and effect diagram, the Ishikawa Diagram focuses on quality management procedures. It was introduced by Kaoru Ishikawa who was in charge of revolutionizing processes in the shipyards of Kawasaki Motors. The diagram illustrates possible causes of a problem and how they lead to the formulation of an action plan.
- Pareto Chart. Coined by Vilfredo Pareto, a renowned Italian economist, the Pareto Chart focuses on the root causes of reduced productivity, thereby keeping a company from reaching its goals. It entails identifying the top 20% of the factors that yield the most impact to bridge the gap between the present and target scenarios.
- Gantt Chart. The Gantt Chart is the most common tool used by a Lean Sensei. Introduced by management expert Henry Gantt, the classic productivity tool makes it easy for leaders to manage and schedule long-term, large-scale and complex processes. A Lean Sensei himself, Gantt developed later versions featuring a day’s work schedule and work combination.
- Deming Wheel. Also know as the Plan Do Check Act (PCDA) Wheel, the Deming Wheel is credited to Edward Deming, a PCDA teacher in Japan. Like the name implies, the tool showcases the progression of a process improvement effort, from planning, doing, checking and acting.
- Taguchi Method. Japanese Lean Sensei Genichi Taguchi worked towards the understanding of the effect of variation parameters in addition to the mean. It the normal process, variations are considered wastes that companies should eliminate. In Taguchi’s explanation, however, they are the focal point of scrutiny wherein improvement efforts must be based.
- And many other tools like: VSM (Value Stream Mapping), Flow value, Line Balance and Takt time, Feed Little pulled and law, Kanban , safety stock and replenishment, Poka Yoke, 5S and Visual Management, SMED and reduced preparation time, Kaizen ( Kaikaku ), 5 Why , A3 management…
Looking for some inspiration here are some Taiichi Ohno Quotes
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