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Becoming the Student of a Master

By Karl M. Kapp, EdD, CFPIM, CIRM | September/October 2013 | 23 | 5

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System. Ohno was a machine shop manager; a managing director; and, eventually, an executive vice president. But his legacy goes much further than his impact at Toyota.Books to let you learn from the best

Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management

By Taiichi Ohno
Published in 2013
McGraw Hill
191 pages

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System (TPS). Ohno was a machine shop manager; a managing director; and, eventually, an executive vice president. But his legacy goes much further than his impact at Toyota. Ohno’s ideas revolutionized production techniques, making an immeasurable contribution to the manufacturing industry as a whole.

Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management is a collection of his thoughts delivered in short but impactful chapters. As you read the book, it feels as if you are sitting with Ohno himself. You can picture him leaning over, pointing his finger, and then slowly revealing sage advice about the TPS, manufacturing, and life in general. He quotes Confucius, tells short parables, and sprinkles the text with Japanese terms explained in the footnotes.

A number of Toyota and manufacturing luminaries also contribute to the book, providing insightful commentary on Ohno and the TPS. They characterize Ohno as not only a brilliant manufacturing mind, but also a person genuinely interested in growing and fostering people.

One chapter is simply a listing of sayings by Ohno. I particularly enjoyed, “The production line that never stops is either excellent or terrible.” And his view on taking his own advice proves interesting: “You are a fool if you do just as I say. You are a greater fool if you don’t do as I say. You should think for yourself and come up with better ideas than mine.”

Because it is based on a series of interviews with Ohno, the book does have some awkward sentences and broken flow. However, this actually contributes to the discussion. It is a refreshing, unpolished opportunity to be mentored by the creator of the TPS.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System. Ohno was a machine shop manager; a managing director; and, eventually, an executive vice president. But his legacy goes much further than his impact at Toyota.Back to Basics: How the Eight Basics of Kaizen Based Lean Manufacturing Turned a Failing Manufacturing Plant into a Success Story

By Bill Gaw
Published in 2013
CGW Publishing
192 pages

Research indicates that people learn and retain more when the information is presented in the form of a story. Perhaps Bill Gaw took that into consideration when writing Back to Basics, as his book is very much like sitting around the campfire and having someone tell you the tale of a lean implementation.

The story opens with the protagonist, Tommy, in a rather uncomfortable meeting with his boss. The plant that Tommy is running is a mess: too much excess inventory, not enough of the right inventory, and shipping woefully behind schedule. Tommy is given one more chance in the form of Hank, a lean consultant. If they don’t save the plant, Tommy needs to pack his bags. Thus begins his adventure.

Hank teaches Tommy about the eight basic components of kaizen-based lean manufacturing: information integrity, performance management, sequential production, point-of-use logistics, cycle time management, production linearity, resource planning, and customer satisfaction. Tommy also receives a lesson about the importance of self-directed teams and discovers the concept of coaching teams instead of directing them and working on longer-range plans instead of fighting fires. After some twists and turns, Tommy goes off to implement kaizen-based lean manufacturing.

The interweaving of instruction and story makes this an enjoyable experience from both a recreational and professional perspective. If you are in the mood for a little fun and a little education, you should read this book.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System. Ohno was a machine shop manager; a managing director; and, eventually, an executive vice president. But his legacy goes much further than his impact at Toyota.The Lean Hangover: Why Businesses Still Struggle with Lean Manufacturing and How to Get It Right

By Rob Jablonski
Published in 2011
Tate Publishing & Enterprise
294 pages

Why do so many businesses still struggle with lean? Rob Jablonski blames two specific types of “lean hangovers.” This term is defined as poorly founded or misguided lean efforts. Jablonski explains that lean hangovers can take many forms, but the most prevalent are early lean failures and later lean pitfalls.

The early lean failures keep organizations from getting a lean system operating well from the start. This often happens when a business does not fully commit to building the right organizational capabilities or has a general lack of commitment. Later lean pitfalls arise even in successful implementations—they are bounce-back issues that result from failure to continually adapt lean processes. They often are related to lack of innovation.

Avoiding these two hangovers is the essence of The Lean Hangover. The lessons therein include a short set of critical behaviors that lead to lean success, as well as models for structuring and managing the organization in order to overcome challenges.

Many have journeyed down the lean path, and leveraging that experience is highly beneficial for any organization. Through interesting case studies, this book will show you the right way and wrong way to implement lean. It will help you avoid lean pitfalls, start a lean project more effectively, and learn valuable lessons.

Karl M. Kapp, EdD, CFPIM, CIRM, a professor at Bloomsburg University, is author of Gadgets, Games, and Gizmos for Learning and coauthor of Integrated Learning for ERP Success. He may be contacted at kkapp@bloomu.edu.

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