I heard from more than a few folks last week in response to my post “Lean Manufacturing in the Age of Trump” who were less than optimistic about his chances for success. While I am still optimistic that he will do as he pledged, the doubters have plenty of reason to doubt. The opponents of leveling the American manufacturing playing field are many and formidable.
To say that we are living in interesting times is quite an understatement. This is especially true for American manufacturers listening to Donald Trump promise a resurgence of their trade in America, which he asserts will happen through a combination of carrots and sticks – the carrots consisting of reductions in regulatory burdens and taxes, and sticks made of stiff import duties on goods brought in from low labor cost countries.
On Wednesday I went into a local Kroger store in Michigan where I am working with another great client. Among other things I bought a pack of razor blades that were (as usual these days) locked down tighter than Fort Knox in a plastic case that required the cashier to use a special tool to open. She set the package aside to do her security thing after she rang up the rest of my stuff. End of a long day for both of us, I suppose, but we both forgot about the blades sitting off to the side and I didn’t notice until I was back in my hotel that they were left behind.
You cannot become lean by studying Toyota through your own eyes. You can only become lean by learning how to look at your own organization through Toyota’s eyes.
Stop. Reread that sentence and ponder the enormity of it. It has profound implications on the path you must take to success.
The Japanese just seem to have way of looking at things from a different angle, which has had a big impact on Toyota’s thinking as their production system came to life. An interesting example of this is the concept of kintsugi, or kintsukuroi. It means something like ‘the art of the golden repair’. The person fixing the broken piece does the opposite of trying to restore it to original condition – he laces the resin with gold or silver particles and actually highlights the break; and by using the precious metals renders the object more valuable for having been broken.
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