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Lean Lessons from Japan: Day One

by Lean Leaper
June 25, 2018

Lean Lessons from Japan: Day One

by Lean Leaper
June 25, 2018 | Comments (3)


This week, LEI is in Japan with 19 eager learners. We are in Fukuoka, Kyushu to be exact. For one week, we will learn from what JD Power has called the best auto plant in the world for the past two years - Toyota Motor Kyushu’s Miyata Plant. The 19 participants on this learning journey represent 4 industries: construction, manufacturing, hospitality, and healthcare.

We kicked off the week by visiting Daizaifutenmangu, a Shinto Shrine dedicated to Tenjin, a spirit devoted to education and learning.LEI people at shrine

Why go to Japan? After all, there are exemplary lean organizations around the globe. You don’t need to travel 6,000 miles (if you’re coming from Boston) to see lean. Yet, this week LEI will be in Japan with 19 eager learners - some of whom have traveled  6,000 miles to get here.

The purpose of this trip is not just to see Just-In-Time. The purpose is to understand the social and technical context that gave birth to and continues to develop lean.

Monozukuri and hitozukuri are Japanese words that translate to “making things” and “making people”. Like many Japanese words they mean much more than that. With monozukuri there are nuances connected to craftsmanship, dedication, and reverence. In short, it does not distinguish the maker from his/her object; the two are inextricable. Hitozukuri is about developing people’s capability. The combined terms get at the heart of lean thinking and practice: products are a function of the people who make them; to make good products an organization must make good people.

This week LEI and 19 people will explore how Toyota Motor Kyushu does just that: make good products by making good people.

--Matt Savas

If you are interested in joining LEI's next Learning Tour (Georgetown Kentucky with Jim Womack) this September, please email LearningTours@lean.org.

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
Keywords:  leadership,  learning,  reflection,  Toyota,  work
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3 Comments | Post a Comment
Mark Graban June 25, 2018

Who is "LEI" and "we" here? Just curious. I'm guessing the entire Cambridge office didn't up and go...

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Don Schwartz June 30, 2018
1 Person AGREES with this reply

I am guessing LEI - is Lean Enterprise Institute - see the link in the upper left corner of the webpage.  The "we here" may be defined in one of the other pages.

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Shan July 16, 2018

It would be great to Join ,  i wanted to visit to Toyota Japan ,  will look forward for next opportunities

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