We hosted an impromptu poll on our website where we asked “What Lean initiative tops your priority list in 2014?” We gave them the following choices just to simplify the responses:

  • 5S
  • Cellular/Flow
  • Pull Systems/Kanban
  • Kaizen/Continuous Improvement
  • Total Productive Maintenance

The results surprised me a little. I was shocked to see 5S being the largest percentage of responses; but then I thought that this probably made sense for two reasons: 1) many companies start their lean journey with 5S, and 2) it was probably biased since the website is 5S Supply (although we carry everything lean). The next thing that caught my eye was that Cellular/Flow had no responses – zero. Flow is one of the things that we are trying to create with lean so I was amazed to see that no one responded that they would have a focus on it this year. It was nice to see that 21 percent of the respondents selected Kaizen/Continuous Improvement as a major priority. I think organizations get too caught up in only using Kaizen Events (a.k.a. Rapid Improvement Events, Kaizen Blitz, etc.) and forget about the daily kaizen – as our friends Bruce Hamilton and Pat Wardwell from GBMP said it in their book (e2 Continuous Improvement System) “Everybody, Everyday”. To finish out the poll, only some responded that they would focus on creating Pull Systems/Kanban and even fewer mentioned Total Productive Maintenance (TPM).

I know this was just a quick polling questions and I wouldn’t read too much into the results, but what do you think?

2014 Lean Priority Poll Results

Here are some of my thoughts while attending a dinner with guest of honor Mr. Hiromitsu Hayashida, former Toyota Manager and trainer.

Tony Manos and Hiromitsu Hayashida

Tony Manos and Hiromitsu Hayashida

Fireside Chat

Another highlight and something unique to the Shingo Prize International Conference is the ability to attend a “Fireside Chat” (for a fee) with practitioners of the Toyota Production System. I had the honor to spend an evening with Hiromitsu Hayashida. Through a translator, Tyler, we had a wonderful evening of questions and answers, storytelling and insights from someone who had lived TPS and had an effect on future Toyota leaders. Here are a few quick stories that I thought I would share.

Pull the cord

Mr. Hayashida talked about work at the Toyota-GM joint venture at the NUMMI plant in California. He said it took over a year to get the American workers comfortable to pull the andon cord when there was a problem or issue.

The principles of “Quality at the Source” and “No defects Passed Forward” are still difficult for many organizations to embrace. I remember years ago telling a production manager “We don’t need 800 parts per hour, we need 800 GOOD parts per hour.” We need to continue to instill the notion that it is okay to stop a process to make it better (instead of continuing with a bad process).


When I asked Mr. Hayashida what would be his advice if we wanted to train managers that haven’t spent a lot of time coaching to be coaches (Toyota starts the coaching training before they become managers), he said “That is a tough question.” He paused and thought about it and stated that there needs to be a specific training plan for these managers.

As more organizations pursue operational excellence they will have to find a way to have management become more of coaches and mentors. This may be difficult for people that have already been in management rolls without the specific coaching/mentoring, people development.

Kaizen – Operators move with production line

Mr. Hayashida thought that the toughest job at the first Lexus plant was the assembly operator. They had to walk along the moving conveyor with the car while doing their task in less than the takt time. Nobody wanted to do this tough job. Mr. Hayashida and his team focused on this to improve things for the operator. Someone on the team spoke up and said “Why don’t we put the operator on the conveyor so they can move along with the car?” What a breakthrough; this is a very common method of car assembly today, but the original idea had to come from somewhere.

I appreciate the time Mr. Hayashida spent with us and the wisdom and insights that he shared.

Do you need Systems to Win?

September 13, 2012

5S Supply and Systems2win – a winning combination!

5S Supply has recently established an affiliation with our friends at Systems2win to offer you 150 Word and Excel templates for continuous process improvement. Dean Ziegler, owner of Systems2win originally developed these templates during 14 years of manufacturing systems consulting. Systems2win has all the bases covered from 5S to Value Stream Mapping and everything in between. Here’s a short list of some of their great offerings:

Value Stream Mapping

The Value Stream Mapping bundle of templates includes not only a simple drawing tool, but also the “power tool” that has dozens of lean calculations pre-programmed. There is also a Supply Chain Map, a Value Stream Plan, and a template for sorting out your Product Families.

Lean Tools

The Lean Tools bundle has a 5S Scorecard, Red Tag Log, Sustainment Checklist, and an entire suite of templates for Standard Work – with diverse tools to fit diverse processes.

Kaizen Bundle

The Kaizen bundle has templates not only for kaizen events – but also A3 problem solving, a Gantt Chart project plan, Hoshin strategic planning, Leader Standard Work, and other popular ways to organize your teams.

Six Sigma

The cornerstone of the Six Sigma bundle is the FMEA template – which (by some amazing programming) allows you to use Excel’s Filter and PivotTable features (that are usually disabled by merged cells within an FMEA). And it comes with the entire suite of templates for Root Cause Analysis, QFD, OEE, Pareto, etc.

Why choose Systems2win?

The most common reason for a company to standardize on Systems2win templates is… standardization.

A standardized set of templates, with a consistent standard user interface, consistent standard online training and videos, using familiar Microsoft Word and Excel that is now leveraged beyond where you thought it could take you.

For example… with the click of a button, any Systems2win Excel template can now be in Chinese, then Spanish, then Portuguese, then back to English.

For example… every time that you upgrade your templates in the future, Systems2win has a utility to cycle through YOUR legacy templates to find YOUR personalization’s and automatically merge them with the new version.

Check them out for yourself. You can download a free trial at wwwSystems2win.com.