SCDigest Editorial Staff
James Womack, who coined the term “Lean Manufacturing” as co-author of the book “The Machine that Changed the World” in 1990, describing the Toyota Production System, recently recounted an interesting tale.
Now president of the Lean Institute, Womack noted in one of his blogs that he recently visited two sites, just miles apart, of a single company, both of which were involved in aggressive Lean initiatives. Womack, however, saw very different results between the two facilities in terms of Lean success.
“At the first, I found high levels of technical knowledge, a clear transformation plan involving a change in management behavior, and a high level of energy,” Womack said. “At the second, I found some technical knowledge, but no management insights about needed changes in behavior and no effective transformation plan. This was despite both facilities having listed "lean transformation" as their top priority for the year.”
The key factor: “Yokoten,", the term Toyota adopted to capture the idea of horizontal transfer of information and knowledge across an organization.
Importantly, Yokoten is a two-way street, requiring proactive effort from both those acquiring and developing the knowledge and those who could benefit from greater understanding of the requirements for success.
In Womack’s view, the facility making progress was somehow not sharing its learning with the other facility despite reporting to the same higher-level management and being only a few miles away, while the lagging facility was somehow unaware of how to learn.
The learning component is really at the core of Yokoten. It does not imply the “copy exactly” method, which some companies, such as Intel, have used in the approach to Lean and best practices. That is a more “top down” approach.
(Manufacturing Article - Continued Below)