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The Birth of Lean (Chapter 2)

Shimokawa, Koichi and Takahiro Fujimoto (Editors)
3/4/2009

An excerpt from  The Birth of Lean: Conversations with Taiichi Ohno, Eiji Toyoda, and other figures who shaped Toyota management

What I Learned from Taichii Ohno
A talk by Michikazu Tanaka

Professor [Koichi] Shimokawa has asked me to describe for you my memoriesof Taiichi Ohno, the father of the kanban. I, like numerous others,owe a huge debt to Ohno-san. And since he has passed on, we wholearned from him have a responsibility to convey his teachings to the next generation. I don’t know how well I can fulfill that responsibilityin the limited time available here today. But I will try at least to describe Ohno-san’s basic approach to kaizen, and I will offer some concrete examples.

My first encounter with Ohno-san was in 1967. Daihatsu had entered a strategic alliance with Toyota that year, and Ohno-san visited our headquarters plant, in Ikeda. I was aproduction manager there, and the first thing he said to me was, “You’ve got too many parts along the assembly line and too much work-in-process between the processes. You can’t get any kaizen done in that mess.”

Read the entire Chapter 2 of The Birth of Lean.