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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: Lean Ain’t Just Cost Cutting

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Friday, December 18, 2009 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Question:  How do you avoid lean becoming just cost cutting? How do you get people to embrace the philosophy?

When we started investigating Toyota 20 years ago we looked at Toyota’s outcomes — reduced waste — and labeled that “lean production“. That’s what we’ve been trying to implement, and what then leads to lean as ruthless cost cutting. We missed Toyota’s less visible thinking, intentions and behavior routines that produce the outcome of reduced waste.

Is Toyota simply cost cutting? Try this on for size:

Toyota corporate guidance in the current harsh economic climate is:  “No permanent layoffs of full-time associates at any location in the world.”

We tend to manage with an outcome-oriented mindset, while Toyota strives to strengthen its business via a skill-development oriented mindset. Toyota’s approach emphasizes incremental learning and adaptation as a way of meeting new challenging objectives. That’s a different philosophy.

Mike


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