Lean Manufacturing

One-Hour Low Tech Lean Introduction

By Jon Miller Published on December 4th, 2006

Today was a lesson for me in just-in-time delivery of Lean training (or Lean Lean training) and also in the value of being prepared. We arrived half a day late to a distribution center where we were asked to give Lean overview training to the warehouse managers. We had prepared fifty plus PowerPoint slides complete with Lean fundamentals, a simulation, three case studies, and a road map to implementation, everything had asked for. We had a plan.
But no plan goes according to plan. Arriving late, we were asked to give one-hour low tech lean introduction rather than the slick presentation we had prepared for to the group of managers, since time was limited. Twelve of us crowded into an office.
Think fast: if you have only 60 minutes, no visual aids and you have to communicate what is most important about Lean, what would you say?
Looking back, there were 10 main points. We spent the most time on topics 3, 4, 5, 6. Here is the recipe:
1. Where does Lean come from?
2. Why has Toyota been so successful?
3. “Kaizen and respect for people”
4. What are the 7 types of waste?
5. What is 5S and how does it make waste visible?
6. What is flow and how does it make problems visible?
7. What is takt time and how do we use it?
8. What should we do when you find a problem?
9. What is the role of standards in Lean?
10. What is the role of the manager in a Lean company?
To these ingredients add your own experiences, ask for examples from the audience, and stir. Sprinkle impressive kaizen statistics as appropriate. At the end of one hour your audience will have a better understanding of Lean and how it applies to them.
As in Lean, less is more when doing presentations. This off-the-cuff (or just-in-time) training resulted in good discussion among the managers. “Let’s take a walk and see if we can have a discussion about the wastes in our facility” said the director and we all took a ninety minute gemba walk across half a million square feet of warehouse.

  1. dc

    December 5, 2006 - 4:16 am

    I hope he understood after the presentation that the facility for the most part is waste and not the functions inside the facility.

  2. Nancy Kress

    December 8, 2006 - 8:37 am

    I introduced lean in a not-for-profit service environment. We have been using lean since the summer of 2005 and I asked my team what they felt were the most important lean concepts. The first is value stream mapping. Visually mapping the work processes helps everyone see things – often for the first time. Secondly, identifying waste. The most common waste identified was re-work. Identifying activities that add no value to the customer is a close second. Third, understanding flow. It took a while for staff to comprehend this concept. Once they could identify bottlenecks in work processes though, they started to see flow everywhere. Finally, what has stuck with everyone is Chairman Cho of Toyota’s three keys to lean leadership: Go See, Ask Why, and Show Respect. We have gained the most benefit from lean philosophy in discussing these three ideas.

  3. Jon Miller

    December 9, 2006 - 5:06 pm

    Thanks Nancy. This is very good real-world feedback on what about Lean is meaningful to people.

  4. Ray Hayter

    December 12, 2006 - 4:41 am

    Nancy, couldn’t agree more. I have used Value Stream Mapping for a number of years, walking and recording the flow we management at facilities, and it is amazing how much they did not see until it is mapped and clearly visual.

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