May 20, 2013

Contradictions between Lean and Deming

While exploring best-practices in asset maintenance I faced contradiction to Deming’s SoPK in one AM approach, namely, Six Sigma. The thing is, when we talk about knowledge management, I immediately associate it with Deming and his theory,…thus, to adopt Lean Maintenance through KM, we should be sure that it follows Deming’s core principles.

To be more specific, I found few articles where Lean was recognized as methodology for eliminating wastes and cutting the time flow, which, in turn, brought some reduction in workforce. Thus, the process improvement using Lean brought staff reduction. Whereas, Deming’s “chain reaction” says that by improving quality, we reduce production costs which, in turn, results in better productivity, lower price for the product. The better price and quality attracts more customers that let us stay and grow in the market and create new jobs. So, the promise is just opposite comparing to Lean.

However, I couldn’t believe that Lean bring company to staff reduction, just because it initially was developed by Taiichi Ohno who combined Shewhart’s control charts with Deming’s philosophy and therefore couldn’t contradict to SoPK. Later I found a book “The Machine That Change the World”, where managing people in a Lean way had just opposite meaning to employees reduction. By considering TOYOTA experience, author stated that optimizing the process would release some labor, but this extra human resources should be not fired but placed to improvement projects. Thus, company will support itself with both, people working with the core business process and people improving that process.


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  1. John Hunter

    I would say knowledge “lean” folks understand the and the need to respect people (share success and not lay people off do to productivity improvement). The problem is people that have a very limited understanding make lots of mistakes (like thinking lean is about laying people off). Look at how many people Toyota employees today compared to when Taiichi Ohno was there. Layoffs are a failure of management http://management.curiouscatblog.net/2007/06/03/bad-management-results-in-layoffs/

    24 May 2013, 01:21


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