Start Simple, Go Back to Basics, Repeat

This is an image of the assembly line at Toyota’s Honsha plantin Koromo City, over 60 years ago.

We may think we have come a long way from this, but in fact nearly every month I see a 21st century factory that looks not too different from this picture. We now have the benefit of half a century of accumulated know-how and knowledge of how to make a Lean conversion. We can close this gap in 6 years, not 60, if we only choose action.
The following statements on knowledge and action by two great Lean sensei seem to contradict each other:

Edwards Deming said, “Hard work and best effort put forth without guidance of profound knowledge may well be the root of our ruination.”

Taiichi Ohno said, “If you don’t have money, work with your ideas. If you don’t have ideas, work with your sweat.”

Deming wanted us to think very deeply. Ohno wanted that, but more importantly he wanted us to get to work. Luckily PDCA is arranged in a circle with planning followed by dong then the reflection of checking, with action again to follow. If you want success in Lean, start simple, go back to basics, and repeat.

1 Comment

  1. Rob

    December 15, 2007 - 3:05 am

    I like this quote on procrastination, “Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn’t the work he’s supposed to be doing at the moment.” Too true!