The Lean Story – Actions Speak Louder than Words

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In the beginning…..when the forefathers started developing the Toyota Production System, which most of us accept as the blueprint for Lean, there were only processes. Some good, some bad – but lots of processes. No sexy tools like Hoshin Kanri, Kaizen or Kanban, no Poke Yoke to slap in place. So how did the improvement happen?

As more experience was gained in looking at processes, it was deemed that they were not the best processes in the world. After investigating what was going on elsewhere in the world, plenty of examples were seen in different industries; replenishment in American supermarkets, car production at Ford, and therefore began to experiment

They started to run the processes in a different way; planning, doing, checking and adjusting what they were doing in a scientific way. If it worked –  fix it and improve, go around the cycle again. If it does not work –  try again with a different approach, go around the cycle again. Not once did they try to implement a Kanban or a JIT process, these were just the names given after the improvement had happened and appeared to work. What they did have was a desire to improve and tenacity to get there.


Continuous Improvement Cycle

Remember – If you set out to apply the standard lean tools to your business it will not work. The lean jargon stems from someone else’s experimentation with their processes – yours do not run the same way, your culture is not the same. Don’t worry if you don’t know the difference between a Kanban and a Poke-yoke, chances are you have examples of them in your organisation already. Instead, spend your time looking at your processes and applying a scientific approach;

Plan, Do, Check, Act.

Then you will truly be improving your system.

Actions do speak louder than words, so set out on a journey! Actually, go and look at your processes, then experiment and improve, and with it, you will create your own company lean jargon and your own desire for improvement.



Diagram taken from

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