100% Dissatisfaction is Our Goal

A May 4, 2007 USA Today article titled Toyota’s success pleases proponents of ‘lean’ looks at the story of Toyota surpassing GM by volume of cars sold and from the angle that the Lean consulting industry benefits.

The publicity about Toyota becoming No. 1 will create another burst of energy to lean, even though a survey by management consulting firm Bain shows that just 19% of companies that have tried it are happy with the results

So the failure rate for Lean so far is 19%. The success rate is something smaller than that, I’m sure. Doesn’t add up to 100%? That’s because 100% dissatisfaction is our goal.

The ideas of lean probably date to Eli Whitney in 1800, but it has its modern roots in the Toyota Production System of the 1950s and 1960s, when Toyota was preparing the groundwork for its assault that culminated last week when it sold 2.35 million vehicles in the first three months of 2007 vs. GM’s 2.26 million, the first time Toyota won a quarterly volume title.

The most revealing word in this paragraph is “culminated”. Definitions of the word include “to end”, “to reach a final stage”, “bring to the highest point”. The Toyota Production System is so-not-about beating GM at the quarterly volume game that it’s not funny.
Bain’s head of performance improvement speaks:

Gottfredson says that if four in five companies remain dissatisfied, LSS may fall from favor and go down as the latest fad. But something much the same will replace it. It will just have a new moniker, Gottfredson says.

I disagree. Only when five out of five companies are dissatisfied with their condition of badness, whether they call it Lean or LSS or other, will we have success since 100% dissatisfaction is our goal.
This article warmed my heart because as long as large, influential institutions such as Bain and USA Today are getting it so wrong about TPS and Lean manufacturing, this member of the “industry of experts and consultants who sell the no-waste business regimen” will have TPS teaching work that needs doing, or redoing, for some time.

1 Comment

  1. rob

    May 5, 2007 - 12:53 am

    Nice post Jon. I blogged about this article here:
    I like the logic you’ve used with this and agree entirely that with this general lack of understanding you’ll never be out of a job!
    Rob