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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Muda:   see Muda, Mura, Muri
Muda, Mura, Muri:   Three terms often used together in the Toyota Production System (and called the Three Ms) that collectively describe wasteful practices to be eliminated.  MudaAny activity that consumes resources without creating value for the customer. Within this general category it is useful to distinguish between type one muda, consisting of activities that cannot be eliminated immediately, and type two muda, consisting of activities that can be eliminated quickly through kaizen.  An example of type one muda is a rework operation after a paintbooth, which is required to obtain a finish acceptable to the customer from a paint process that is not More »
Muda Corporation: Improving Your Suggestions System
By: Marius Gil | September 7, 2016
Anyone who's had to implement a suggestions system in their organization knows it's not an easy task, especially from a cultural aspect. Marius Gil may have just the tool to help - a fun illustration featuring eight common, suggestion-suppressing behaviors to watch out for. More »
Muda Corporation: The Pitfalls of 5S
By: Marius Gil | February 14, 2017
In the latest installment of his "Muda Corporation" series, Marius Gil shares nine common mistakes he has seen people make with 5S. More »
Boatloads of Muda
By: Ken Eakin | April 12, 2016
Ken Eakin saw his fair share of waste during his 13 years in the ocean-shipping industry, especially in the transportation process. Now a lean coach, he looks back on some of the industry's most common wasteful practices and shares some lean tips and logic for avoiding them. If your lean work involves transportation, we're willing to bet you'll find something to relate to! Read more. More »
Eiji Toyoda and Management Muda
By: Shook, John | November 20, 2008
Columns; eLetters
Eiji Toyoda is well-known to Toyota enthusiasts but almost unheard of among general management commentators and observers. He did make it into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1994 (following Shoichiro Honda, the second of only six Japanese individuals among 136 industry leaders to be so honored) but has probably never even been mentioned in an analysis that is not specifically about Toyota, the company.  Enthusiasts know how tremendously influential Eiji has been to the development of Toyota and its revolutionary management system. Perhaps his story will never be fully told, but Eiji, a former president and chairman of Toyota, More »
Mura, Muri, Muda in the Kitchen
By: Emmanuel Jallas | April 16, 2014
Emmanuel Jallas demonstrates variation, overburden, and waste through the simple/not-so-simple challenge of breaking an egg. More »
Mura, Muri, Muda?
By: Womack, Jim | July 6, 2006
Columns; eLetters
Twenty years ago this month, when my first daughter was born, the young men I supervised in MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program went dashing out of the office to buy her a gift. They returned shortly with a pink T-shirt, size 1, with the stenciled message on the front “Muda, Mura, Muri.  ”My wife was bewildered – “Is this how guys welcome a baby girl?!” But I could understand. We had made an intense effort that summer to understand these new Japanese terms for waste (muda), unevenness in operations (mura), and overburdening of people and equipment (muri) that entered our More »
The Worst Form of Muda
By: Womack, Jim | August 14, 2008
Columns; eLetters
I've just returned from India where I attended the first Lean Summits, in Mumbai and Chennai, organized by the Lean Management Institute of India (www.  leaninstitute.  in). One of the souvenirs I collect on my visits to different countries is special reasons why lean is impossible in each country. And a number of Indian managers told me what I expected to hear. Some explained that managers there don't have the discipline to create a lean enterprise. Others solemnly told me that a lean logistics system would be quite impossible on India's chaotic and crowded roads. The media -- who everywhere More »
Is there “mudagement” in your organization?
By: Tony Lamberton and Lean Leaper | June 15, 2016
"Mudagement.  " What a strange word. But to Tony Lamberton, the concept behind that word has made all the difference in identifying invisible waste in his organization - and by extension, eliminating it through targeted coaching. Lean Post editor Cam Ford recently sat down with Tony to learn more about the concept of mudagement and the value it holds for all organizations: here is their interview. More »
New Year 2009
By: Shook, John | January 5, 2009
Columns; eLetters
During one of my final company visits last year, I was asked by a young engineer in South America, “Why do you recommend lean?” His question had a slightly challenging tone and he appeared poised to dispute my answer, whatever it may have been. I answered without thinking, “Because it can make people’s lives better.  ” His challenging demeanor vanished; his eyes sparkled with curiosity and even -- forgive if this sounds like hyperbole -- hope.  It is indeed my hope that lean will make all of our lives better, something that, we desperately need wherever we are in the More »
The Hidden Waste in Inspection
By: Andrew Quibell | June 29, 2016
When looking for areas of muda, your inspection department probably isn't the first place that comes to mind. But you may be surprised to find out that inspection is waste by its very nature. In his third installment of his series on areas of waste in manufacturing, Andrew Quibell breaks down this problem and illustrates the true solution to eliminating defects. More »
Standardized Work in Machine-Intensive Processes
By: Ballé, Michael | August 4, 2010
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, Most lean literature and case studies to date focus on assembly type manufacturing which utilizes very people-intensive operations. This is not the case in the machine-intensive process industries and therefore has major implications on the format of standardized work. Can you shed some light on what standardized work should look like in the process industries?  Thank you for this question, which provides an opportunity to investigate the point of a lean tool. Many people use magical thinking when adopting tools—assuming that by simply applying them, the process will improve and so will performance. Five S is typically prone to More »
Real lean vs. fake lean
By: Ballé, Michael | June 6, 2012
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,I am a lean consultant who is totally dedicated to applying the lean principles. Unfortunately most lean gurus who I encounter seem to look down on our work. They argue that consultants like me don’t do “real” lean.  Where do you weigh in on this? Are they being too snobby? Should I work to be more authentic in my practice? More »
Gemba Walks (Table of Contents)
By: Womack, Jim | March 14, 2011
See the Table of Contents from the book Gemba Walks More »
Is Lean Mean?
By: Womack, Jim | December 2, 2003
Columns; eLetters
Is Lean Mean?Recently I had lunch with an old colleague from MIT I hadn’t seen in a while. His first question was, “What new ideas are you working on? Surely you’re way beyond ‘lean’ by now.  ” That question was just what I expected from a professor, whose life is a quest for the next new idea. Since our work at LEI is about deploying useful ideas that are already familiar (rather than just talking about them), I let that one pass.  But the next question demanded an answer. “How can you advocate ideas that improve efficiency but destroy jobs? More »
LEI’s new tool for seeing the big picture
By: Womack, Jim | March 1, 2002
Columns; eLetters
Value stream maps help us see our Current State so we can implement Future States with more flow, leveled pull, and less waste. We’re delighted that 85,000 members of the lean community have now used Mike Rother and John Shook’s “Learning to See” to map value streams within facilities. Today we are taking the next step by expanding our field of view from the individual facility to the entire value stream. We are launching the latest LEI workbook, “Seeing the Whole”, which provides a simple tool for mapping the extended value stream for your product families. (It’s now in the More »
Performance versus costs, part 2
By: Ballé, Michael | July 22, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,I’ve read your recent column on performance versus cost with great interest, as I believe we’re currently having a similar discussion at management level. Would you clarify further the difference you see between performance management and cost cutting? More »
Gemba Walks (Excerpt - The Work of Management)
By: Womack, Jim | March 14, 2011
Essay in the book Gemba Walks(original essay for this book)The Work of Management"When looking at a value stream, lean thinkers have the useful habit of asking, “What is the work to be done?” That is, which of the many activities occurring actually create value for the customer? And which steps are waste that can be eliminated? But I find that we rarely look at the process of management in organizations in the same way, asking of managers, “What is the management work to be done?” That is, what are the value-creating activities of the managers who oversee the value streams? It More »
Jim Womack on how lean compares with Six Sigma, Re-engineering, TOC, TPM, etc., etc.
By: Womack, Jim | July 14, 2003
Columns; eLetters
 It amazes me, but I still get lots of questions about how “lean” compares with Six Sigma, Total Productive Maintenance, Business Process Re-engineering, Demand-Flow, the Theory of Constraints, and other approaches to improvement.    And I always give the same answer: At the end of the day we are all trying to achieve the same thing: The perfect value stream.    Here’s how I think about it:To create value for the customer – which I hope we agree is how we should be earning our living – a series of steps must be conducted properly in the proper sequence.    More »
Standardized Worrying
By: Womack, Jim | April 26, 2004
Columns; eLetters
          Years ago when Dan Jones and I first visited Toyota in Japan, we were struck by something that seemed out of keeping with their continuing success.    They seemed to worry all the time.    We met managers who had just accomplished remarkable feats of muda removal during kaizen events and yet they couldn't seem to just relax and enjoy it.    Instead they were busy analyzing what they had just done and trying to think of ways it could be even better. Dan and I began to say to ourselves, "Even smiling is muda at Toyota.  "           More »
Gemba Walks (Introduction)
By: Womack, Jim | March 14, 2011
From the Introduction by Jim Womack to the book Gemba Walks"Gemba. What a wonderful word. The place—any place in any organization—where humans create value. But how do we understand the gemba? And, more important, how do we make it a better place—one where we can create more value with less waste, variation, and overburden (also known, respectively, as muda, mura, and muri)?"I’ve been thinking about these questions for many years, and learned long ago that the first step is to take a walk to understand the current condition. In the Lean Community we commonly say, “Go see, ask why, show respect.  More »
Are lean principles universal?
By: Balle, Michael | October 3, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Can we really consider Lean principles as Universal? I am currently working on a case study about the tea industry. What we have is a very seasonal, perishable product supposed to be available in various format (tea bags, caddies, pouches). The suppliers being all in Asia the lead times are what they are and I do not even talk about EU regulations imposing all kind of constraints. More »
More Thinking About Lean Transformation
By: Womack, Jim | January 16, 2007
Columns; eLetters
Recently we at the Lean Enterprise Institute have started a new research project trying to answer a simple question: “What is the best way to conduct a lean transformation?”This is not a new question, of course. A decade ago Dan Jones and I proposed an “Action Plan” in our book Lean Thinking. We advised readers of the first four steps in transforming their enterprise: find a change agent, obtain the core lean knowledge, seize or create a crisis, and then map your value streams to determine the current situation and to envision future states.  The difference now is that lean More »
Should I use an A3 report to kick off a problem-solving effort?
By: Ballé, Michael | August 1, 2013
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Should I use an A3 report to kick off a problem? I encourage my managers to tell me about their problems on the shop floor. They always pull something out of the air and say ‘lets work on this.  ..  ’ What I would really like is for them to create some kind of A3 report that explains why this problem is happening. Any advice? More »
Standards vs. Standardization
By: Ballé, Michael | May 25, 2011
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,We’re often told that “there can be no kaizen without standards.  ” But when do you start when there are no standards? How do you standardize? And how about “just do it” kaizen?This is an intriguing question, thank you. I’d say that the first point to clarify is that having standards doesn’t mean standardizing: it is NOT about everyone doing the same thing everywhere. In other words standards and standardizing are two different concepts and it’s easy to see how one can be mistaken for the other. Yet, where standards are key to lean thinking, misinterpreting “there can More »
Standardized Work in Business Processes
By: Ballé, Michael | August 11, 2010
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach, How about standardized work in a business process environment? For example, in a procurement process or supply chain processes? There are not many books/articles on standardized work in a transactional environment. Please help to shed some light on how we should approach standardized work in business processes.    Let’s take a step back here: why would you want to apply standardized work in transactional environments in the first place? As you may know if you’ve followed this column, I’m a great believer in the lean tools, and don’t subscribe to the tool vs. philosophy dichotomy – on the contrary, I More »
Standards at workstations
By: Balle, Michael | June 3, 2010
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach,Our corporate production system asks us to post standard work at workstations, but we feel that the paperwork clutters the stations and operators tell us they don’t use it in any case. Should standards be posted at the workstation?Operators are most likely right. I don’t mean to nitpick, but I’m not sure which document you refer to as “work standards.  ” In the “standardized work toolbox”, we usually find four documents:Standardized work chart: this is a graphic chart which fits on an A4 paper (8 1/2 x 11inches) and draws the cell from the ceiling, numbering operations and More »
Gross Domestic Product Verses Gross Domestic Waste
By: Womack, Jim | October 23, 2006
Columns; eLetters
I’ve always been fascinated by how humans count, especially the way we always seem to count the wrong things. Recently I was looking at the American counting of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The U.  S. government reports that GDP was up 2.  6% in the second quarter of 2006, after rising 5.  8% in the first quarter, and the economists offering commentary seem to think this is good. We are producing more product per capita, meaning economic output is growing faster than population. But growth has slowed recently toward a level that can be sustained without causing inflation.  Governments in More »
Seeing the Whole (Foreword by John Shook)
By: Womack, James P. and Daniel T. Jones | February 10, 2003
"When the first item in the Lean Tool Kit, Learning to See, was launched in June of 1998, we at LEI began to hear from managers in many industries that “this is the tool we have been looking for.  ” Readers quickly realized that the great power of Learning to See lies in focusing attention on the value stream for individual product families within plants. Rather than concentrating on isolated processes along the value stream or aggregated activities serving many value streams, readers could suddenly see how to optimize the flow of each product from receiving to shipping. This insight More »
The Beginner’s Guide To Lean
By: Jones, Dan | December 1, 2003
Dan Jones, chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy and coauthor of Lean Thinking, explains that the challenge of lean is to advance beyond eliminating waste in broken processes to creating brilliant processes. He offers advice, based on the history of the lean movement, on how to begin creating brilliant processes. More »
Toast Value-Stream Mapping (DVD)
June 13, 2011
Books; Videos and Webinars
Toast Value-Stream Mapping (DVD) More »
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