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Topic Title: John Shook Replacing Jim Womack as CEO
Topic Summary: Reactions? Reflections? Hopes for the Future?
Created On: 08/25/2010 09:55 AM
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08/25/2010 11:04 AM
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leanblog
Mark Graban



See the LEI press release:

http://www.lean.org/WhoWeAre/L...cfm?NewsArticleId=127

And Jim's last e-letter:

http://www.lean.org/common/display/?o=1634#farewell

What are your thoughts during this transition?
08/26/2010 09:21 AM
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PhilCoy
Phil Coy



I think there are several challenges that the lean community will have to face in order for it to sustain itself for the long run. LEI is clearly the leader but the community extends beyond to many other organizations both official and ad hoc and individual practitioners everywhere.

1 - A high percentage of lean initiatives don't succeed over the long run. There are lots of attempts and far, far fewer successes. Why are there not thousands of Toyota's after all these years?

2 - A proper balance between the "lean as a management system" and "lean as a set of tools and techniques". Tools had been dominant, now management system is in the ascendency with tools being downplayed. Both are necessary.

3 - Developing a common "framework". One of the reasons that ERP systems are so dominant is that Oliver Wight and a very few others developed a standard way of going about it and were persuasive enough to get industry and eventually software to all play by the same rules. One MRP is very like another and no one argues with the basic MRP logic (even though they should!). You can't say the same for the lean community. For example, do you start with 5S? Is it even important to begin there? What's the "best lean practice"? This cannot happen without someone or some group able to catalyze the community. Maybe it's not possible - like herding stray cats.

4 - An accomodation to work with and not against the enterprise software community. In general, Lean is not taken seriously by "materials management professionals" and the big ERP players. They do enough "work orders disguised as kanbans" for them to check off lean on their functionality checklist. Why don't all ERP products integrate value stream mapping with their bills and routings, calculate their buffer inventory using EPEI for their lead times, support heijunka scheduling, do FIFO and supermarket sizing, and provide fully lean scheduling for pull and flow aligned with visual management? The chasm between ERP and Lean is entirely dysfunctional to the detriment of all. Lean risks being marginalized just by the continuing cold war between MRP and lean in the face of industry-dominating ERP products (SAP, Oracle, etc).

In my opinion, lean must be standardized, institutionalized within the enterprise information context, and proven with repeatable successes.

Mark, thanks for opening up this question. I think that any transition in leadership is a great opportunity for some reassessment and casting a new vision. I'll look forward to the dialogue. These are my thoughts only, I'm interested in others.

Phil
08/26/2010 04:11 PM
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Boeing_Lean
Ken Hunt



The titles change, but fortunately one thing does not. We will continue to receive wisdom and insight from two of the best "Lean thinkers" anywhere.
08/27/2010 09:35 AM
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3744
Ronald Turkett



One of the problems in fully utilizing ERP systems in a Lean environment is that ERP systems have not fully adapted to Lean principles. Several examples:
1. Not being able to generate leveled assembly schedules based on multiple parameters interfered by the production planner. We did this manually at GM for seven axle plants in Detroit early 80s. It took a knowledgeable planner many hours just to level the assembly schedule in MRP. When I joined Toyota in 1987 the program for leveling production was advanced and the objective was to level manpower. Other rules were entered to control the mix to accommodate various cycle times of vehicles with different Powertrain combinations and options.

I have asked at many conferences for this feature to be added. Representatives of major ERP suppliers are still trying to convince me that this is the wrong direction for production planning.

2. The insistence by the major ERP suppliers that if the manufacturing process differs from the ERP software approach then it needs to change to fit the software model. Software systems must support manufacturing operations and not the reverse.

3. Handling incoming material. The best way to handle incoming material is to set up staging and/or supermarket areas or direct line delivery. The use of min/max levels to monitor inventory provides real time control. ERP systems require the person unloading the material to plug in the receipt and then will be instructed what warehouse location to store it. When it comes time to deliver material to the production operation the system will tell the fork truck driver where to pick the material to ensure FIFO. Eliminating ERP from this process is one of the more difficult areas to convince clients to abandon.

4. The idea that ERP systems can print Kanban for pull systems is misleading. What I have seen is that Kanban is printed to support the push schedule. Kanban is used to replenish on a real time basis. Schedules will always change and ERP cannot react quickly enough in real time.
At Toyota Georgetown our Engine Plant Production Control checked assembly production hourly and made slight changes to mix if needed to ensure engine production was fully in line with assembly plant build.

I am still open to constructive cooperation from ERP suppliers. I have asked for this since the 90s and am still waiting. Several companies have presented their solution only to discover flaws in the approach.

Ron Turkett
08/27/2010 09:54 AM
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PhilCoy
Phil Coy



Ron,

Exactly my point, I think the challenge to the lean community and to John Shook now as a leading spokesperson for lean is to engage with the ERP players to encourage them to support lean and not to ignore or disparage them.

I know it's frustrating with each camp is in very separate silos. There not a lot of us who understand in depth both ERP and lean.

Phil
08/30/2010 09:05 AM
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leanblog
Mark Graban



I'd suggest setting up a separate thread for the decades-old debate about ERP/MRP and lean. This thread was supposed to be about Jim / John and the future of LEI. I understand bringing it up once as an issue, but let's please not go back and forth a bunch on that topic here, OK?
08/30/2010 10:18 AM
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Boeing_Lean
Ken Hunt



I'm with Mark. Somehow this veered WAY off course.
08/30/2010 10:19 AM
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duecesevenOS
Kris Hallan



I have always kind of thought of Jim Womack as the heart of lean and John Shook as the brain.

Jim has such a compassionate almost philosophical perspective on the lean movement. Not that he doesn't have a huge depth of knowledge on the subject, just that his emphasis always seems to be from that direction. Jim's experience being primarily as an academic observing on the floor, this makes sense. His knowledge base is theoretical first with practical application of that theory second.

John's primary experience is that of a manager who lived lean at Toyota. His perspective seems to be more factual and direct. John's knowledge base came from practical experience first. From that experience, he developed theories.

I don't predict much change in the overall direction of LEI. There might be a slight change in tone however. I think LEI might turn from an organization directed primarily from a theoretical perspective heavily influenced by a practical one to the opposite. An organization directed primarily from a practical perspective heavily influenced by theory.

Which is better? Time will tell...
09/02/2010 10:53 AM
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prcuddy
Priscilla Cuddy



Both Jim and John have more brains and more heart around lean than I do. I am glad that Jim will remain with LEI and I don't expect to see radical change in the great service the organization provides. We are fortunate to have them as leaders in our communities of practitioners. Best wishes to you both. Keep sharing the wisdom.
09/03/2010 12:53 PM
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oberkele
Owen Berkeley-Hill



I think the challenges suggested by Phil could be the way forward for the Lean community in general and for LEI under John Shook. Yes, trying to work with the IT community is critical but that will only happen after some radical education of the IT professionals along the lines dictated by Pol Pot. :-) But seriously, how many of them can and want to spell Genchi Genbutsu? And until they manage this conversion, you will get the arrogance described in earlier posts related to ERP systems. However, if and when there is a meeting of minds between the two communities, things will really rock.

There are two areas in which LEI and the wider community has failed and these might be seen as future challenges:

The first is that none of the Lean networking watering holes (e.g. here or in LinkedIn) seem to have engaged anyone from the Gemba. I did raise this as an issue (as Rachel may recall) a while back, but things do not seem to have changed much. I suspect the vast majority of contributors (99.99997%?) in these forums are Change Agents, NOT Change Targets. We all want to change someone else and show them the promised Lean land. And that gives a distorted perspective on the discussions about Lean. Is that the reason why "there not thousands of Toyota's after all these years"? We, the Lean community, could be accused of the same arrogance that the IT people have when they preen themselves with the belief that they, and only they, are "knowledge workers". A larger percentage of postings from people on the frontline who actually do the work might be a sobering, salutary and possibly humbling lesson for all of us. Will LEI under Jon Shook accept the challenge of encouraging greater participation from the Gemba?

The second is challenging current management thinking (a.k.a. Command & Control). Yes, Uncle Jim has described "Modern Management" (Bad) as opposed to Lean Management (Good) but did not address why this is so prevalent after three decades of Lean. Why do we still get questions about the best way to make a good business case for Lean to those who live above the snow line on Mt Olympus? Surely by now this must be wasted effort?

A couple of years back I posed the question: "Do MBAs support/oppose Lean?". It fizzed along for a few weeks, and then blinked out. Many MBAs do support Lean but it does not seem to be as a result of their education, more the result of their work experience. I am not opposed to management education, but I question whether the business schools teach the right things to their MBA students. Remember there are over 8,500 universities around the world, and I suspect everyone has at least one business school as they are fairly lucrative cash cows (I believe Oxford has two). I don't have the numbers, but it would be reasonable to assume that around 250,000 MBAs are mass produced every year, with nearly 100,000 in the USA alone. With that level of production it could be argued that never in the history of this planet have we had a management class so well trained. So why the resistance to Lean and why so very little questioning of this resistance by organisations like LEI?

I thought that this was just a bat in my belfry, but at a recent Lean conference in Cardiff, I was advised to read Henry Mintzberg's, Managers not MBAs, which I am doing at the moment. I have got through about a third of the book and Prof Mintzberg does not pull his punches, or wear gloves. He makes some very valid points about the need to change management education and has done so with the International Masters Program in Practicing Management (IMPM). He has done this, I understand, because he argues that the MBA develops the wrong skills and attitudes in the wrong people who are attracted to the degree, not because it will make them better managers, but because it will increase their incomes. The degree in its present form corrupts educational process, managerial practice, established organisations and social institutions, and he makes some very reasoned arguments for his views.

The question for the Lean community is whether Lean represents a radically new leadership philosophy which is at odds with Command & Control, and what is taught in most business schools. I believe this to be so, and it might be an interesting challenge for the new CEO: helping his colleagues in academia around the world, with their attempts at Learning to See.
09/07/2010 10:20 AM
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tplutino
Tim Plutino



I see John has worked in the private sector previously. That's good news. Lean is about doing and trying. There are already too many "thinkers" out there and Lean' s about getting your hands dirty and improving the value propisition, because the economic pressures always apply in private industry.

Other than MIT, where exactly did Jim work?
09/07/2010 12:16 PM
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Robert_ELSE_Inc
Robert Drescher



t is a fact of life that nothing stays stagnate, so change at LEI was going to come at some point.

First all my best to Jim as he takes a slightly different direction.

Good Luck to John as he takes the lead.


I do not really see that much will change as both of these men are on the same page as far as Lean is concerned. People and Common Sense will still be the dominate message, reduce waste, and do not start with expensive solutions.

Lean only fails when people get forgotten, and trampled on in the stampede to mindlessly cut cost, or when executive ego and pet projects come ahead of real change. That was Jim's message, and I have never heard John disagree
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