Lean Frontiers: Are they differences in getting middle management on board from getting executive management support?
Are there differences in getting middle management from executive management on board for 1) developing the lean enterprise and 2) direct engagement on their part? What are the differences, if any?
Posted on May 9, 2015
Archives by Tag 'Sammy'
Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: visualize normal from abnormal and target problem solving

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Monday, October 20, 2014
I agree and think that there may be subtle differences (or similarities) between visual control and visual management. But the second question on floor management development system and its role, can be better explained by what Toyota calls the 4 phases of FMDS. Visual Management is the entirety of phase 3: Visualization of abnormalities and target problem solving. The official name for phase 3 is just “Visual Management”. This is the only phase with laser sharp focus, and straight and to the point title. The other phases sound a bit more superficial in their description: ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Lean creates disruption as it challenges the status quo

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Friday, July 4, 2014
I think the answer to this short question will be a very long list of items to do or to stop doing. But at the same time, I believe we should be very cautious to make such a list past item #1. Item #1 in my view would be to perform a diligent genba assessment, finding then the causes and the root causes for the current situation. Only after item #1 has been concluded, we can continue the list. Perhaps the immediate next items will include raising awareness, or creating a burning platform, or bringing in a lean sensei (or psychologist or coach or etc.). Having said that, assuming ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Kaizen every day, everywhere, by everyone

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Tuesday, June 3, 2014
I think Toyota had some pressing reasons to make Kaizen part of their culture. But I can’t think of any one more evident than the elimination of waste itself. Perhaps that was what compelled Toyota into making Kaizen, a culture. It is a shared value and belief. It is everyone’s expectation. Kaizen every day, everywhere, by everyone. At Toyota Japan they call it Kaizen Teian, which is impossible to properly translate into English. Teian can be interpreted as a proposal that has been already implemented, it is done. (in English, ‘proposal’ always means something for ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Sensei means professor

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Saturday, May 3, 2014
I am not sure what is just semantics when we differentiate a consultant from a sensei. Is consultant a title and sensei a role? Is that a matter of posture? In Japanese, sensei means simply professor. I strongly believe that a sensei can be a consultant and perhaps vice versa. In fact, some of my Toyota senseis became consultants after they retired. Now, how good a consultant were they? Some Toyota senseis who were very respected in Toyota and even had direct learning from Mr. Ohno, became very poor consultants according to their clients ("according to their clients" is the key piece of information ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Conitnuous improvement is more than repetitive improvement

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
As CEO of my company I have a grasp of lean and have experienced it in my career, but now that I'm CEO, I find it difficult to ask my people to make time for improvement work. They’re already completely busy doing their regular work. Moreover, this company is in the outdoor sports industry, and many people join these companies because they want time to climb, backpack, canoe, etc., and I'm reluctant to ask them to work more hours and sacrifice time for these activities. Any advice? Hi Edgers, I believe an improvement in the true lean context is continuous (as opposed to ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: First aks yourself: “how not to start with lean”, then go find a good sensei

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The question on "how to start with lean" allows for a wide range of answers and perspectives, probably most or all of them correct. Without more background information, I guess a safe answer would be to find a good sensei. An easier question would have been how not to start with lean. Perhaps understanding that could be as helpful. Top places I believe you should never start: 1) learning how to use the "lean tools". They may all have their benefits and merits, but once we learn how to use them, we run the risk of using where they are not needed. ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Insource when you can, outsource when you need capacity or competency

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Core competencies and problem solving capabilities as Jeff and Steve mentioned seem to be good indications that there are multiple reasons why Toyota would insource or outsource. I frequently had to do insourcing/outsourcing/nationalization of parts and components. That included feasibility studies on components ranging from wire harness to stamped/machined parts to roofing, etc, etc.. In some cases, the studies would point out that Toyota would need to hire more people rather than using the existing capacity. In other cases we learned the floor layout wouldn't allow adequate placing of the oven needed to cure the glue for the roof trimming. There were also ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: sustaining requires well prepared and conscious leadership

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Friday, June 28, 2013
It sounds like you already have introduced lean to a great extent and that you were satisfied with what you did (otherwise you wouldn't be seeking ways to sustain). Your challenge is specifically in the sustainability of what you did in a decentralized organization that you have. Besides being decentralized, you may want to consider some other factors that typically make sustainability tougher: Size, larger organizations just seem to have a tougher time sustaining lean company wide (of course there are exceptions). Employee turnover, organizations with high turnover and temporary labor seem to have more difficulties ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Getting all the stakeholders involved to agree on the destination

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
As a resource, I would suggest the book Getting the Right Things Done, by Pascal Dennis, or the Hoshin articles by Darril Wilburn. A common theme on those resources indicates that there is one tricky and sometimes difficult to accomplish element of Hoshin Kanri. And that is the early step of bringing all the "liars" to the room (at the same time). Even when that is possible, the job is far from done. I recently facilitated a smaller scale PDCA (Hoshin is a PDCA in larger scale in my view) with the executive team of a multi billion dollar company. Although that same team ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Transparency allows for better productivity (and can be stressful)

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Monday, April 15, 2013
The same way we have different ways to handle manufacturing scenarios: slow or high mix, low or high volume, custom or standard products, etc, etc… I think there are some distinctions when we talk about office environments.  There are those transactional standard procedures with limited variations, such as the one a postal service clerk would have at the counter.  There are those that can require a lot more decision making and unpredictable resources, perhaps as in mortgage banking.  There are those of knowledge creation, which may seem one of the most difficult ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Since metrics drive behavior, we want to be careful about how we establish them

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
old question but very current, A friend of mine, ex-Geek Squad, told me BestBuy created an incentive bonus to those store people who sold the highest number of gift cards that month. Gift card sales indeed went up that month, I'm not sure revenues did, though. He said he and his friends sold their gift cards by easily convincing customers to pay for their already planned purchases using a gift card. It worked like this: They would get customers' payments for say a laptop (cash, charge or cheque), buy the gift card with that money, pay for the purchase with that card, and get bonus points ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Ringi as used by Toyota, ensures that resources will be allocated according to the Hoshin Kanri for that period

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Sunday, December 23, 2012
Great topic.   As to how widespread Ringi is in Toyota, I think most people in Toyota would be well familiar with this practice as it is used in all areas, from production to sales to IT.   In Toyota they refer to it as Ringi Sho, which is roughly translated to Approval Document.  But as some other Japanese or Toyota terminologies, this one should not be just roughly translated.  It brings a much deeper concept which makes it fair to use the Japanese terminology. Ringi as used by Toyota, ensures that resources will be allocated ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: Lean in Sales starts with Genchi Genbutsu and PDCA

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Monday, December 3, 2012
Interesting notes from different perspectives. The little I know about sales and its TPS practice comes from joint efforts when they were teamed up with us, production engineering, in my old days at Toyota. 1)      They did genchi genbutsu to its full extent.  A few examples:  Once, we went w/ sales people to the port of Santos in Brazil to follow up cars arriving from TMC to be sold in the Mercosur market.   Also, when in Japan, their first several weeks on the job included selling cars door to door.  Another example when I ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: You get what you inspect, not what you expect

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Saturday, July 14, 2012
Ensuring a constant focus on lean efforts seems to be a current interest in many organizations. I believe that constant focus has always been a reward for constant inspection.   As manager Doug Jennings from NUMMI used to say, you get what you inspect, not what you expect. It would be very difficult if not impossible to keep the focus and momentum along the lean journey, if you don’t have a structure of constant follow up.  Some of the existing metrics/indicators in your organization, provided that they are correct, will have to be inspected daily, weekly, monthly or with the frequency that is ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: It depends on how many people you really need to make the effort on this specific improvement to take place with its adequate adjustment of standards.

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Sunday, June 3, 2012
Maybe the core question ends up being:  whose role is it to improve? The question seems too simple now: When we say we are improving specifically the "standards", and if by that we mean improving standardized work and its three documents, then very often that is done by a team as small as 2 people, the team member and his supervisor (or many times a process engineer), who can document, do time taking, record steps on paper, etc. On an extended definition, I think that in most cases, when we say we are improving standards, it is implied that there has been an improvement in the process first, so ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: PDCA is the missing element

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
I'm not sure we are not doing anything about it.  But perhaps what we are doing is not working.  Perhaps the PDCA element is missing. As people say, the problems of today are all solutions from yesterday. One example is the home ownership catastrophe.  Smart people created several avenues to allow millions of people to buy their own home.   Home ownership was solved for people who otherwise would never afford to buy those much-more-than-I-can-afford-mansions.  Those smart people were celebrated by the home buyers, builders, banks, and even the US government.   The great solution for home ownership almost became the great depression of the century. Perhaps it is not that we ...

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Samuel Obara

Sammy Obara: A good leader will show the way, a lean leader will have the follower find it

By Samuel Obara, - Last updated: Thursday, March 29, 2012
I think the ability to influence other people and the skills needed to do so would be somewhat similar to both types of leaders, provided they are both good leaders. Perhaps a distinguishing trait between the two leaders can be perceived by observing how they interact with their followers.    While the lean leader will frequently challenge their followers beliefs and paradigms, the good traditional one will put a lot of weight in the praise and motivation. Maybe implicit in the lean leader's approach is the opportunity to learn and develop the thinking.  A good leader will show the way, a lean leader will have the follower find it. In the ...

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