Virtual JKE – Final Entry

Kent Bradley
VP, North America
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Confucius
“Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve seen ’til you get back home.” –Luke
Friday, our group’s’ last day. After a very, very early morning (5:00 AM) departure, a small hard-core team of intrepid tourists Brett and Dale of Western Idaho Cabinet, Stefano from Cassappa, Jorge from Pentaire, and Marty representing Entek led by Naoko, Brad and Kent visited the world famous Tokyo fish market.
Although the visit to the fish market was not designed to showcase Lean principles, it was hard not to see the role of the water spider in the intricate and high speed supply network to the stalls, Jidoka in the blend of machines (primarily transportation) modified or designed to complement human skills, or a kind of natural Standard Work in the dance-like choreography within the shops to rapidly convert that morning’s catch into customer orders or the day’’s inventory. Standard Work whose steps have been refined generation after generation for hundreds of years.
We regrouped at the hotel at 8:00 (some people smelling somewhat like fish for some reason) for the final two hour work session of the tour—, a fun but mind testing, hands-on simulation led by Brad and Kent where the group (split into two competing teams) gets to apply the Lean principles studied during the week. It was time to walk the talk together and, after some normal rough spots, it was evident the concepts were really kicking in.
The remainder of Friday was turned over to being tourists, with Naoko leading us on a sightseeing tour to a Shinto shrine and a Buddhist temple in Tokyo—, both stunning in architecture, history and sense of spirituality. We also said farewell to Christine, the first of our group to head home.
Ever the human dynamo, Naoko then spent the afternoon assisting wayward group members in the arduous task of shopping for loved ones in the fabulous Ginza district of Tokyo. Disneyland meets Rodeo Drive on steroids.
Befitting the end of a long, hard, fascinating, and professionally stimulating week spent in the company of interesting and knowledgeable people, –and did I mention fun?–our farewell dinner was good food, good conversations, lots of laughter and an all around pleasure.
Enough to still put a smile on my face on the long flight home the next morning.