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Is it Genba or Gemba?

I get quite a few e-mails every year pointing out errors I have made in spelling and punctuation in various speeches or blog posts. And for the record I sincerely appreciate the feedback so I can correct the oversight or error in question. The most common e-mail (by far and away) every year is the suggestion that I have misspelled the lean phrase “Gemba” because I have instead written it out as “Genba”. For those who don’t know the term in Japanese it means actual place or specifically shop floor and refers to the location where where actual work is performed. For example the phrase is used in the title of Jim Womak’s book Gemba Walks.

gemba_walks_cover.03

In reality the correct spelling of the term in Japanese is “Genba” as the first written character in question is 現 in kanji or げん in hiragana for “Gen” and the second is 場 or “ba” meaning location or place. However when you pronounced the Japanese n and ba sound together in English it sounds like an “m” and hence the confused American English spelling of this term defaulted to Gemba out of that pronunciation pattern. In reality it does not much matter unless you care about spelling and punctuation as some of my readers apparently tend to do :-) I am sometimes haphazard on this topic although I am improving.

Personally I use the “Genba” spelling version simply because I learned it that way in Japan in language classes long before I ever worked for Toyota Motor Corporation in Aichi Prefecture or became a lean consultant. Old habits (especially when they are technically correct) are hard to break. And this one I really don’t think particularly matters all that much in the end. British English and American English often for example have words which are spelled or pronounced slightly differently and yet we manage to communicate.

As a related side note since we are on the topic of Japanese phrases, in lean thinking environments you will often run across various phrases which begin with the prefix Gen as part of the word. For example is Genba, but also the phrase GenchiGenbustsu with means actual place and actual objects. In English it is translated commonly as “go and see” with the implication that you are going to see the actual objects and actual locations in question first hand.

 

 

Go_And_See_Getting_to_Lean

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you might hear the phrase “3 Gen Principle” for problem solving investigations referring to the terms Genchi, Genbutsu, and Genjitsu in Japanese. In English these words in turn simple mean emphasizing the 1) actual location of where the problem occurred, 2) the actual objects, and 3) obtaining the actual facts. Here is one example of that phrase depicted in Japanese kanji for example. As I mentioned above there are quite a lot of Japanese words with begin with the character Gen. My dictionary has dozens of them some of which are common and some of which are pretty obscure. The most common places you will here the Gen terms in Japanese are probably crime based TV shows involving police investigations. Since they are problem solving in their style it is no surprise they invoke many of same terms we do in lean thinking or the Toyota Production System.

Here is a list of what I call the 8G’s of problem solving for digger deeper into the current situation. I am sure there are more but  these suffice to get started. So now you can impress (or bore) your audiences with Japanese terms and phrases. From a marketing point of view I guess the term Gemba Walks sounds better for a book title than Actual Place Walks :-).

 

 

8G Words

 

 

LEI 2016 Transformation Summit

I was asked to give a talk at the recent LEI Transformation Summit in Las Vegas on the topic of “4 Types of Problems” and ways to address each type. The content will be published in a book by LEI later this year. In the mean time for those who asked here is a pdf version of the presentation.  Thanks to all who attended and the positive feedback.  The link below should enable you to download the file.

4 Types of Problems

 

4 Types of Problems

Lean Leadership and Special Forces 2

I was honored to receive a request to visit United States Special Operations Command and deliver a talk on Toyota Style Shop Floor Leadership Practices at Camp Mackall outside of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The talk was filmed and a couple of short excerpts were made available for viewing at the following Special Operations Command Website (click for link).

Lean Leadership and Special Forces 1

I was honored to receive a request to visit United States Special Operations Command and deliver a talk on Toyota Style Shop Floor Leadership Practices at Camp Mackall outside of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The talk was filmed and a couple of short excerpts were made available for viewing at the following Special Forces Website (click for link).

Lean Conference Brazil 2015

I’ll be one of the key note speakers in Brazil this month at a major lean conference in Sao Paulo. The conference theme deals with improving during slow economic times. There will be a mix of attendees from various industries and service sectors. During my 90 minute presentation I will talk about the importance of leadership thinking and “shaping” routines required to drive results as well as 4 types of problem solving routines. Attached here is a copy of the presentation: Brazil Conference Presentation

Brazil Conference Presentation

Lean Coaching Summit: 4 Types of Problems

I gave a presentation at the 2015 Lean Coaching Summit in Seattle Washington earlier this summer. The contents deal with establishing a logical frame work for various types of problems and coaching routines overall. The contents are part of a workbook I am collaborating on with John Shook and the Lean Enterprise Institute. We hope to have it ready to publish by the end of this year. A copy of the presentation I gave is available by this download link:  Lean Coaching Summit Presentation.

4-Types-of-Problems

Improving TWI Part 10

Note: This article is part ten of a ten part series written by Art Smalley in conjunction with the 2014 TWI Summit hosted by Lean Frontiers. Art helped facilitate a meeting of TWI thought leaders that is held each year during the Summit. Following this meeting, Smalley composed his thoughts and opinions in a series of papers aimed to support the TWI community’s body of knowledge. Smalley’s website can be found at www.artoflean.com. The annual TWI Summit website can be found www.twisummit.com.

In the previous nine posts I shared some ideas on how to improve TWI Job Instruction,   Job Relations,   and Job Methods for the 21st century. There is nothing wrong per se with the contents however when scrutinized closely I see some honest needs for improvement. Some of the ideas are across the board such as improving the train the trainer experience. Others are specific to the topic such as developing a more proactive form of Job Relations or more advanced tools for Job Methods. In this final post I will simply summarize the situation and reiterate my request for volunteers. I am hopeful that some parties will be interested enough in these topics to take action and develop some new material. I simply do not have the time any more or attachment to TWI materials. I would like to see them improved for the 21st century.

The original situation with the TWI training courses in the United States was pretty clear and fairly universal. World War II took young men out of the factory while volumes doubled or quadrupled etc. New workers flooded into the work force and there were critical skills shortages in virtually every company. The concept was splendid in design as well as implementation. However we can not hide from the fact that the TWI courses virtually disappeared from the face of the planet within a few years of their introduction. The perceived need was reduced and the applicability somehow lost over time. By the 1960’s the last companies in the U.S. were basically finished with TWI and most stopped much earlier than that. The materials continued to exist mainly in national archives and a few university libraries here and there.  Continue reading Improving TWI Part 10

Improving TWI Part 9

Note: This article is part nine of a ten part series written by Art Smalley in conjunction with the 2014 TWI Summit hosted by Lean Frontiers. Art helped facilitate a meeting of TWI thought leaders that is held each year during the Summit. Following this meeting, Smalley composed his thoughts and opinions in a series of papers aimed to support the TWI community’s body of knowledge. Smalley’s website can be found at www.artoflean.com. The annual TWI Summit website can be found www.twisummit.com.

In this post I will outline some of what occurred in Toyota Motor Corporation with regards to implementation of Job Methods and why the program was stopped after two years. Also I will outline what I think could be done to improve TWI Job Methods in certain regards.

In terms of history Toyota Motor Corporation rolled out TWI training in Japan in 1951,  1952,  and 1953. Each year a new course was introduced starting with Job Instruction,  then Job Relations,  and then Job Methods. Roughly 300 supervisors were trained on each topic by the education and training department of Toyota. Job Instruction enjoyed a long run with Toyota lasting over 40 years of continued training. Job Relations was taught less often and it survived almost as long. Job Methods however was stopped after a mere two years inside of Toyota by none other than Taiichi Ohno himself for several reasons. Continue reading Improving TWI Part 9

Improving TWI Part 8

Note: This article is part eight of a ten part series written by Art Smalley in conjunction with the 2014 TWI Summit hosted by Lean Frontiers. Art helped facilitate a meeting of TWI thought leaders that is held each year during the Summit. Following this meeting, Smalley composed his thoughts and opinions in a series of papers aimed to support the TWI community’s body of knowledge. Smalley’s website can be found at www.artoflean.com. The annual TWI Summit website can be found www.twisummit.com.

In the previous seven posts I outlined some possible ways to improve TWI material for the 21st century. In those first seven posts I dealt with the topics of TWI Job Instruction and Job Relations. In the next three posts I will turn some attention to the topic of improving TWI Job Methods. There seems to be less interest in TWI Job Methods in the U.S. at least compared to Job Instruction and Job Relations. I think that is a shame however I am not surprised when I examine the contents of Job Methods. And I think there are some ways to improve the contents based upon what Toyota Motor Corporation actually did in Japan starting in the mid 1950’s and moving forward. I will explain some of these ideas in two separate posts on the topic.

For starters I will deal with the easy one first and get it out of the way. Just like I believe we can improve the JI and JR train the trainer practice by the creation of Job Breakdown Sheets the same concept applies to JM. So no surprise I would advocate the same practice for Job Methods. This would make it easier to learn how to teach Job Methods and rely less upon staring at the text book. I would still conduct basic ten hour training sessions however in two person teams and make sure one followed along for quality control,  etc. Nothing changes in that regard.

Also in the same fashion I think that Job Methods needs a Session 0 and a Session 6 just like the previous courses. This would explain the basic roles and responsibilities of management and give specific instructions on how to deploy TWI Job Methods after the training sessions have been completed. In that regard I do not have much to add and will simply link to the previous posts for the same concept for improving TWI Job Instruction and TWI Job Relations training.

In the next post however I will explain what is fundamentally weak with regards to TWI Job Methods and what could be done to beef up its shortcomings.

Improving TWI Part 7

Note: This article is part seven of a ten part series written by Art Smalley in conjunction with the 2014 TWI Summit hosted by Lean Frontiers. Art helped facilitate a meeting of TWI thought leaders that is held each year during the Summit. Following this meeting, Smalley composed his thoughts and opinions in a series of papers aimed to support the TWI community’s body of knowledge. Smalley’s website can be found at www.artoflean.com. The annual TWI Summit website can be found www.twisummit.com.

In Part 6 of this series I identified what I thought were some weak points and areas for improvement in TWI Job Relations. Mainly my improvement ideas deal with making TWI JR more proactive and less reactive in terms of design and implementation. I fully realize we need both proactive and reactive tools in life however just having a reactive tool seems problematic to me on this particular topic.

In order to make TWI JR more proactive a different worksheet and four step method would need to be developed. However something that would also helped and always bothered me about TWI JR was the lack of a matrix for management and visual control for the supervisor. The TWI JI Matrix when properly used surfaces problems of training needs or depth before they occur. I would like to see some type of similar matrix developed for TWI JR and a way to visually observe the status of working relationships in some simple fashion. Of course this matrix would need to be managed carefully and confidentially, etc.  Continue reading Improving TWI Part 7