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What is Lean Management?

Guadeloupe Island Wave – April 2015 – When it flows it flows…

In the past two months, I had to answer this recurrent question: What is Lean Management? Why Lean Management and How to make it happen?

This is what I answered to my clients: Lean Management is the way to change your company by establishing a continuous improvement culture at all levels of your company.

Lean Management will mean new Managerial practices based on the Lean method, i.e. « Daily Huddle meetings » and Visual Management. It will mean also new roles and responsibilities for operators and employees. Indeed, Lean teaches us that to improve, an organization must rely on its operators, to analyze problems and their root causes, find wastes and define concrete solutions; that they will implement themselves for the happiness of the company customers.

Lean Management has several outcomes:

Employees understand what they do at work and why. They seek permanently how to improve their ways of working for their personal benefit, the customers benefit and finally their employer’s benefit.

Managers are managing. They lead and develop their team while developing themselves by learning more and more Lean techniques and deploying them.

Customer Requirements are taken into account by Management and Employees and they end up more satisfied.

Shareholders make more money by spending less on defects, wastes and process inefficiencies.

Finally it looks like Lean Management is a win-win for all the involved actors!

So now, the question is « How to start Lean Management? » Several answers exist but it seems that the so-called « five lenses method » is very popular among industries and particularly among Financial Services.

Below, you will find a summary of the five lenses approach.

Five organizational levers are identified to implement the cultural change. For each of them, key deliverables using Lean Management tool box must be implemented to achieve the transformation:

  • Lens 1 – Voice of Customer

−Identify the customer needs and expectations : prioritize request / expectations and specification per process

−Assess the customer’s level of expectations, including demand management

  • Lens 2 – Process Efficiency

−Identify the main end-to-end value chain through value stream map design

−Question their performance and determine whether it matches customer expectations : analyze of resources involved, measure of efficiency

  • Lens 3 – Performance Management

−Identify the relevant KPIs to follow and the escalation process

−Assess the organization’s ability to balance work to match customer demand proactively

  • Lens 4 – Organization and skills

−Assess the level of people / job alignment

−Identify roles and responsibilities

−Identify the needs for skills and the roadmap to build capability

  • Lens 5 – Mindset and behavior

−Assess the current / target mindset to ensure successful transformation : be a agent of change, set up a vision, create a shared need, mobilize engagement, sustain change, monitor progress

−Lay the foundations for continuous improvement

Franck Strub, CEO of Equable, a Lean Management and Lean Six Sigma Consulting company

Business Operations Excellence with Actionable Insights and Measurable Results


tel. +33 689 061 398


My 2014 Japan Tour: day 6 with the Shingo Institute

Tokyo, May 23, 2014

Hello everyone,

Today is the sixth and last day of « JAPAN TOUR 2014 » with the Shingo Institute. We start the day at 7:15 am with the following program:

  1. Visit of the SANDEN factory a plant that produces vending machines (30% global market share), refrigerating equipments for supermarkets (25% global market share) and of air conditioning systems for car and home (30% global market share), located in AKAGI.
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: the Sanden Factory in beautiful Mountains
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: the Sanden Factory in beautiful Mountains

(Left Photo: arrival at the Sanden factory)

What is remarkable in this plant is the willingness of leaders to a factory that makes one with nature. It is also the mark of great respect for people: the CEO of Sanden has located the canteen at the best area of the plant where the view is the most beautiful of the valley, this plant being located atop a hill 700 meters high! Sanden applies the methods TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) and STQM (Sanden Total Quality Management) and Kaizen (improvement) and its values are: Challenge, Create, Contribute. Sanden explains Excellence by the top of a mountain to which you climb continuously.

  1. In the afternoon, Seminar with Mr. Hiromitsu Hayashida Consultant and former Manager of Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan presenting us the « Toyota Production System »
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: Mr
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: Mr Hiromitsu Hayashida and myself

(Left Pictured: Mr. Hiromitsu Hayashida and myself)






What I learned today:

  1. Respect for human operators in all the visited companies (unlike a priori ideas that we have in Europe, the japanese companies take care of their employees and not the reverse)
  2. Management must constantly improve employee satisfaction and employee work
  3. Always treat the following process as a customer
  4. Doing what is written, by the book without any possible deviation (discipline)
  5. Always his best to lower production costs

This is the last day of my trip to Japan and I am so happy by what I learned and saw there. I recommend you the trip. This is really great discovery and learning in situ of the « Toyota Production System » from a cultural point of view.

Franck Strub


My 2014 Japan Tour: day 5 with the Shingo Institute

Nagoya, Yokohama and Tokyo, May 22, 2014

Hello everyone,

Today is the fifth day of my « JAPAN TOUR 2014 » with the Shingo Institute. We start the day at 9:00 am with the following program:

  1. Visit of the Toyota Memorial Museum of Industry and Technology in Nagoya which focuses on weaving machines (1st business of Toyota) and cars
Lean Management Japan tour: The machine that changed the world
Lean Management Japan tour: « The machine that changed the world ». The Toyota famous Type G looming machine.

(Left photo: the famous Toyota weaving machine type G with automatic roll change during production and automatic detection and shutdown when a wire is broken (original Toyota concept of « Jidoka ») Note: this machine is « The machine that changed the world, » according to the book of James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones, Daniel Roos, 1991-Harper Perennial)

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Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: At the Toyota Memorial Museum in Nagoya

(Left photo: reconstitution of a Toyota automobile assembly line – around 1950 )








2. Trip from Nagoya to Yokohama (Tokyo suburb), visit of the Nissan (formerly known as Datsun) Yokohama factory that manufactures engines. The visit takes place in two stages with :

a) Presentation of the  » Nissan Production Way  » by the General Manager of the site. Note that the new factories opened by Nissan in the world are designed and prepared in Japan and then started with the support of Japan ( 20 plants outside Japan )

b) a Tour in the production line of 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engines with high, central and lower parts of the cylinder block molding and assembly of the components of the engine (production of 50,000 units per year). Note that Nissan as all the other visited plants, pulls the production by the customer orders and that Nissan has a synchronized production system of all the subsystems in a car : chassis , engine , component assembly in order to ensure fast manufacturing and fast delivery to customers

  1. Route from Yokohama to Tokyo and visit of the Ginza district in Tokyo

What I learned today:

  1. There is no end to the Kaizen continuous improvement in productivity, quality, safety and production time

2 . Important is to focus on operators and to facilitate their work and their working lives

3 . Nissan (such as Toyota) has the desire to keep all its operators and does not want to part with them. For this, they require flexibility in their operators by multiple skills aquisition (being able to work on different workstations and to make job rotations on the line) and overtime. If the target production of the day is not completed at the end of a team shift, then they do immediately overtime (often between 30 to 45 minutes) to achieve it.

Talk to you soon

Franck Strub

My 2014 Japan Tour: day 4 with the Shingo Institute

Nagoya, May 21, 2014

Hello everyone,

Today is the fourth day of my  » JAPAN TOUR 2014″ with the Shingo Institute. We start the day at 8:00 am with the program two seminars:

  1. Application of Lean Management in the professional time by Mr Daniel Markowitz Timeback President of Management and author of the book  » A Factory of One ». This was very interesting to understand how we can personnally waste our time by not organizing our days.
  2. Lean Culture by Mr Ritsuo Shingo .:

a. Toyota has a culture? yes, and people have a culture of Toyota too…

b . You must create your own  » Toyota Production System  » in your business .

c . It will take time ( years )

d. Gemba ( go see problems where they arrive (at shop floor)

e . Kaizen (improving constantly , continuously)

f . Toyota built a culture with the full participation of all!

g . Meet operators and ask them what they do not like to do in their work , what is hard, painful, and which tasks they hate, ask them what they would like to say to the Management? then do something for them.

The afternoon is spent visiting a JTEKT plant, manufacturer of digital machines and subsidiary of Toyota :

Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: the Jtekt factory
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: the Jtekt factor

Again this company uses the methods of the Toyota Production System, but what is remarkable is the Respect for people and values around the person as « Sincerity » which are their guiding principles to achieve excellence.


What I learned today:

GEMBA : Go, See and Watch


Practice KAIZEN: Improve, Improve, Improve

Talk to you soon.

Franck Strub


My 2014 Japan Tour: day 3 with the Shingo Institute

Nagoya, May 20, 2014

Hello every body,

Today, my third day with the Shingo Institute in Japan, we start the day at 8:00 am with three visits in our agenda:

  1. Visit of the Tsutsumi plant in Toyota City that manufactures, among other hybrid Prius cars
  2. Visit of the Toyota museum in Toyota city
  3. Visit of the Avex plant, tier 2 supplier of Toyota and manufacturer of parts for automatic transmissions
Lean Management Japan tour: Welcome to Tsunami plant by the robot
Lean Management Japan tour: Welcome at Toyota museum in Toyota City, from the  the robot playing trumpet jazz

(Left photo: the Toyota Partner Robot welcomes us at the entrance to the Museum by playing an air trumpet jazz)







Lean Management 2014 Japan tour p11
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: Toyota slogan « Good Thinking, Good Products »

(Left photo: the Toyota slogan « good thinking, good products » for quality and efficiency)





Lean Management 2014 Japan tour:
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: Assembly line model of Prius cars production unit with an Andon panel

(Left photo: a model simulating the assembly line of Toyota Prius and a panel of signals called « Andon » in the Tsutsumi plant in Toyota-city)




What I learned today: a lot, I saw the Toyota Production System in application with the « Jidoka » and « Just in time » with a production line of Prius cars set to a Takt time of 83 seconds so all the workstations have 83 seconds to complete their tasks on a passing car on a conveyor (like a trademill).

And then the focus on the human aspect everywhere: for example, in AVEX, one of their three management principles is « Kindness » with the application of « teamwork » and also « do what you decided « . Very impressive.


Talk to you soon

Franck Strub

My 2014 Japan Tour: day 2 with the Shingo Institute

Nagoya, May 19, 2014

Hello every body,

Today is the second day of « JAPAN TOUR 2014 » with Shingo Institute. We start the day at 7:00 am.

Lean Management 2014 Japan tour within Hirashima Consulting Headquarters
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour within Hirayama Consulting Headquarters

Our group of 16 people is expected in Hirayama, a consulting firm formed by former managers of Toyota Motor Corp.. and specialized in teaching and counseling practice of « Gemba, Kaizen and the Toyota Production System. »


Hirayama Consulting Business

Head Office 1-8-40, Kounan, Minato-Ku, Tokyo Japan
URL http://www.genbakaizen.com

The morning is animated by Mr. Susumu Minegishi, Mitsuri Fuji and Takamasa Ishigaki (photo below: front, left to right respectively).

The day is dedicated to the improvement of an assembly line in L producing radiators for SUV, by practicing two basic principles of the TPS (« Toyota Production System »):

  1. The « Genchi genbutsu » (visit on site) also called « Gemba » (where it happens)
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour p7
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour L line before Kaizen

Photo above: The L line before the « Kaizen »

  1. Result of Gemba: We cannot produce the 175 units requested by the client in one shift of 7H 40 minutes. The current measured cycle time is equal to 174 seconds instead of 158 seconds to produce at Takt Time (7H 40 Minutes/175 units = 158 seconds). It will therefore make costly overtime to reach the goal to meet customer demand or another solution will be to decrease the cycle time with a Kaizen.
  1. The « Kaizen » (improvement workshop):
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour p8
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: finding inexpensive solutions during the Kaizen


Lean Management 2014 Japan tour p9
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour. After Kaizen: I line

Left Photo: Implementation of « Kaizen » after an analysis with inexpensive and quick solutions.



Left Photo: I-Line after the « Kaizen »

Result: The cycle time is decreased from 174 seconds to 115 seconds, the gain is 59 seconds per unit produced.



The benefit is twofold:

  1. We do not need overtime
  2. 2:12 minutes of working time won per shift

Note: the Managers told us that they will not occupy the operator with other tasks to perform during the 2:12 minutes saved. Why? To show everyone that Kaizen worked!

What I learned today: Toyota performs continuous Kaizen with time savings that result into productivity. This productivity can be used to increase local production capacity or to reallocate resources to other plants on a voluntary basis.

Talk to you soon

Franck Strub

My 2014 Japan Tour: day 1 with the Shingo Institute

Lean Management 2014 Japan tour p5
A lean Transformation with my nice Cap

My 2014 Japan Tour: 1st day with the Shingo Institute

Nagoya May 18, 2014

Hello everyone,

Today is the first day of the « JAPAN TOUR 2014 » at Shingo Institute.

We begin the course on a Sunday at 9:00 am and will end on Friday at 08 :00 pm. The morning was introduced by Mark Alan Baker, Director of the Partnership of the Shingo Institute with the Utah State University, in the presence of Mr. Ritsuo Shingo, son of the famous Dr. Shigeo Shingo and President of The Institute for Management Improvement.

The day is dedicated to Shingo model for the « Enterprise Excellence » which is based on 10 principles:

Lean Management Shingo Institute guiding principles
Lean Management Shingo Institute guiding principles

The afternoon was hosted by two former Toyota executives who are now trainers:

  • Mr Susumu Minegishi
  • Mr Tadamasa Ishigaki
Lean Management Japan tour p4
Professors and Students at 2014 Shingeo Japan Tour

Picture from left to right: Mr Shingo, Mr Minghini, Mr Susumu Minegeshi, Mr Tadamas Ishigaki, myself

What I learned today: At Toyota, the unit demand (from clients) is produced at Takt time. The Takt Time of a process is calculated monthly and updated only after 15 days and if there is an important change in demand (customer orders). The Takt Time is based on customer demand and the operating hours of their plants.

It means that the production is organized according to the Takt Time with what they call « a flexible workforce line to absorb demand increases/decreases with the production line. »

Talk to you soon

Franck Strub

My 2014 Japan Tour to study the Toyota production system: day 1 minus 12 hours

Lean Management 2014 Japan tour p01
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: my first view of Nagoya city

Nagoya May 17, 2014

Franck Strub – 2014 Japan Tour, Day 1 minus 12 hours

Hello everyone,

Today is my first day in Japan. Since my arrival at Narita international airport, I discover a new country, new people, and of course, I ask myself what are their specificities?

It’s simple: I find them very friendly, polite, smiling and disciplined by nature. Imagine clean subways (trains are cleaned at the end of each service), a functional public transportation system, people who place themselves in a queue and waiting up spontaneously to get in the train, no waiting time to get off the plane, go through customs and get back the luggages.

Lean Management 2014 Japan tour p1
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: Arrival at Narita International airport (1 hour from Tokyo). My Lean journey is starting

On my Paris to Tokyo flight, I was placed at the rear of the plane which contained 250 people, and stopwatch in hand it took me 20 minutes to complete this process. What fluidity! How effective they are! « Here’s what a « Lean » system is », I told myself.






Lean Management 2014 Japan tour p02
Lean Management 2014 Japan tour: Nagoya by night

Talk to you soon of my first day in the 2014 Japan Tour.

Franck Strub