One of the problems facing all of us – from pundits to practitioners alike – is “too much information.” We look at a complex state, like the way Toyota operates, try do describe it in great detail, break it down, build models, and say “OK, make it look like that.”
So one of the most common questions is “Where do I start?”
The platitude is “start with 5S” but in reality, that doesn’t really work very well either. It doesn’t really drive a cultural and behavioral shift. If you have to audit people into compliance, that’s how it is working for you.
What we know today is that TPS is much less about how it looks than it is about what people do.
I have seen a handful of other companies who have managed to get a true continuous improvement culture running (at least for a while). There is something very different about them vs. a standard “lean implementation.”
Yet these companies have the same caliber of people, the same resources, the same baseline problems as everyone else. They operate in the same environment, and yet operate differently.
A key point in Switch is “find the bright spots.” That is – look at who has success in the same environment, and grasp what few factors are actually making a difference.
Perhaps, rather than “looking for waste” we ought to be looking at what few things make a big difference. Just a thought.