Monday, July 29, 2013

This Site Says Lean is Just a Toolbox; Toyota Disagrees

A Lean Sigma website (and many others) portray Lean as "a set of tools."

Lean Sigma people often say things like "Lean and Six Sigma are just tools in the toolbox, so you choose the one you need for the problem at hand."

The problem is that calling Lean a "set of tools" diminishes the power of this management system. There's nothing in that toolbox about the core Toyota Way principle of "respect for people." There's nothing about the management system, like going to the gemba, asking why, and not blaming individuals for systemic problems.

TPS isn’t just a tool kit; it’s a culture of problem solving at every level of the organization, from top management to the workplace.
Here is how Toyota illustrates their production system as more than tools:

It's technical (tools) as well as managerial and philosophical. It's an integrated system. 

Using tools is fine, but if you're just using a tool or two from some toolbox, you shouldn't call it "Lean."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Lean Sigma Author Says Lean is Just about the Non-Value Added Steps

From the website of an author of "Lean Six Sigma" books:
"Six Sigma can help you improve the value-added steps and Lean can help you eliminate the non-value added activities."
Yes, Lean often focuses on reducing delays and waiting time between steps in a process or between the value-adding steps in a patient's visit. There are HUGE opportunities in the so-called "white space" between process steps and reducing waiting and non-value-added time can really help improve flow.

But, it's wrong to say only Six Sigma is used to improve the value-adding steps. Lean has methods that are used to reduce waste AND improve the actual work.

Lean uses "standardized work" as a concept and practical method to improve the way the actual work is done - including, yes, the value added steps.

I'm really not sure where somebody would get the idea that Lean doesn't help you with the value adding steps.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Book Thinks "Mistake Proofing" is "A Six Sigma Tool"

From a seminal "Lean Sigma" book (click for a larger view):

Lean Sigma people have this bias that Six Sigma is the only methodology that can improve quality.

The bias comes out when mistake proofing is referred to as "a Six Sigma tool."

Toyota would beg to differ.

Mistake proofing ("poka yoke" in Japanese) is arguably the FIRST Lean or TPS concept that Toyota introduced to its own company. It's a core Lean methodology.

You can do Six Sigma and also do error proofing, but it's silly to think mistake proofing is "a Six Sigma tool." Good grief.

An additional thought -- real mistake proofing would prevent the error from being MADE, rather than just preventing it from being SHIPPED.

A Book Says "Lean Means Speed" & Lean Cannot Bring a Process Into Statistical Control?

From one of the seminal books on "Lean Six Sigma:"

I guess that's where the others learned this supposed "fact" to cite in their definitions of Lean and Six Sigma.

From the author's definition:

Lean cannot bring a process under statistical control? Good grief, that's not right.  Toyota does not use Six Sigma. Toyota doesn't have processes that are in statistical control?

The book furthers the falsehood that Lean is about speed and Six Sigma is for defects. We see this parroted in many other Lean Sigma books that followed.

Another comment that's incorrect, that Lean is primarily about speed:

A Website Incorrectly Claims Toyota as a Member of the "Lean Sigma" Club

From the website of a company selling "Lean Sigma" training (click for a larger view):

"a combination of the two (LEAN Six Sigma) seems to be a preferred methodology implemented by many companies around the world including Toyota."

Let's be clear -- Toyota is NOT a Six Sigma company. I've heard others claim this and it's factually incorrect.

I was a guest at the Toyota San Antonio plant when somebody asked a manager if they used Six Sigma. The manager plainly said, "NO, we use the seven basic QC methods but we don't train belts and we don't do Six Sigma."

Toyota uses statistical methods - simple ones like Pareto charts, run charts, SPC, etc.

Toyota does NOT use Six Sigma.

Therefore, you cannot call what Toyota does "Lean Six Sigma." You can't call what Toyota does "Lean Sigma."

From a Fast Company article: "SIX SIGMA STIGMA":
Not long ago, in its global pursuit of the Truth, the Consultant Debunking Unit (CDU) journeyed to Japan for a tour of the car-making facility in Toyota City. Guided by engineers, we heard a lot about the legendary quality of Toyota's vehicles. Eager to show we knew a thing or two about quality ourselves, we soft-balled our hosts with the obvious question: "When did Toyota start using Six Sigma, anyway?" 
Long silence. After some awkward consultation in Japanese, the engineers asked us, "What is Six Sigma?"
Looking back at the quote from the top of this post, I could also take issue with the "Lean is Art and Six Sigma is Science" comment, but maybe that's best left for another post.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This Lean Sigma Program Has A LOT of Six Sigma and a little lean

A website lists its online "Lean Six Sigma" curriculum (click for a larger view):

Far too often, "Lean Sigma" training is basically regular Six Sigma training (a rigorous and oft-helpful statistical methodology) with just a handful of superficial Lean tools.

Lean is more than a bunch of tools. Lean is a philosophy and a management system.

When the Lean component of "Lean Sigma" training is limited to 5S, the types of waste, value stream maps, and spaghetti diagrams... that's very superficial. 

Lean parts of "Lean Sigma"

Where is the talk of culture? Where is the discussion about leading differently? This is not Lean, it's just tools.

A Book Incorrectly Takes Credit for Lean Success Stories

From a "Lean Six Sigma" book:
Pioneering hospitals such as Virginia Mason, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and many others have started using the Toyota Production System (a.k.a., Lean) and Six Sigma to make dramatic improvements in all aspects of healthcare. SSM Health Care in St. Louis and the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative have used Lean Six Sigma...
I know for a fact that neither Virginia Mason nor ThedaCare (sometimes also cited wrongly as a "Lean Sigma" success story. The CEOs of both organizations have confirmed this with me.  They have not used "Six Sigma" and they don't label their approach as "Lean Six Sigma."

I'm also pretty certain that PRHI has never taught Six Sigma. In fact, there is only one reference to the phrase on their website:

"Lean Six Sigma" is not the same as "Lean." Many organizations use Lean methods and management principles without doing any formal Six Sigma work.

Again, there's nothing wrong with Six Sigma. My beef is with Lean Sigma people claiming credit wrongly.

When a book from a major publisher has a factually incorrect statement like this, it leads to others spreading the same incorrect idea.

This Article Says Lean is Just About Faster and Cheaper

From an article:

It's wrong to say Lean is only applicable only when there are "no major defects in the process" (a Lean Sigma person says that Six Sigma is required for fixing quality problems).

It's wrong to say that lean is only about efficiency or just about being faster and cheaper.

This Article Says Lean is Just About Flow

Click image for a larger view

It's factually incorrect to say Lean is only about "flow" and "waste."

Lean is also about quality. See the dual pillars of the Toyota Production System:
  • Just in time (flow)
  • Jidoka (quality at the source)
Six Sigma is not the only methodology that focuses on improving quality or reducing variation. Lean does this too.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

This Article Says Lean is Just About Speed

From an online article:
When I first heard the term Lean Six Sigma, I wondered what Lean added to Six Sigma. I found that the answer is speed. The first principle of Lean Six Sigma is: Delight your customers with speed and quality. The second principle says: Improve process flow and speed. Lean Six Sigma emphasizes that speed is directly tied to excellence.
Again, the two core pillars of the Toyota Production System are:
  1. Just-in-time (flow)
  2. Jidoka (built-in quality)
Read more directly from Toyota (with a partial screenshot below). Lean is not just about flow and speed. It's much more.