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Industriali Reggio Emilia. July 19, 2005. Lean Thinking for Italy. James P. Womack, President, LEI. What’s Lean Thinking? (Step 1). Specify value from the standpoint of the customer. Hint: Many customers today want their problem solved, not just to obtain an isolated good or service.

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Industriali Reggio Emilia

July 19, 2005

Lean Thinking for Italy

James P. Womack, President, LEI

what s lean thinking step 1
What’s Lean Thinking? (Step 1)

Specify value from the standpoint of the customer.


Many customers today want their problem solved, not just to obtain an isolated good or service.


If value is incorrectly specified everything done will be muda!

what s lean thinking step 2
What’s Lean Thinking? (Step 2)

Identify the value stream:

The set of steps that must be taken properly in the proper sequence at the proper time to create value for the customer.

A value stream is a process by another name.

  • Remove the waste (= steps that add no value.)
what s lean thinking step 2 contd
What’s Lean Thinking? (Step 2 Contd.)

Once you’ve removed the wasted steps:

  • Make sure that the rest of the steps are:
  • Capable (Six Sigma + standard work + poka yoke.)
  • Available (Total Productive Maintenance + right materials at the right time.)
  • Adequate (Theory of Constraints and Toyota.)
  • Flexible (Toyota.)
what s lean thinking step 3
What’s Lean Thinking? (Step 3)

Make value flow smoothly from concept to launch and from order to delivery. (Toyota.)


Draw a map!

what s lean thinking step 4
What’s Lean Thinking? (Step 4)

Only provide value at the pull of the customer. (Toyota.)


Create a one-to-one relation between information and action. Make sure that nothing is done until the next step asks for action and that the action taken is precisely the action requested.

what s lean thinking step 5
What’s Lean Thinking? (Step 5)

Continually pursue perfection (= perfectly specified value with zero waste.)


Practice policy deployment for your entire organization and A3 analysis for each value stream.

Don’t kaizen and kaikaku with overall direction!

adopting lean requires
Adopting Lean Requires
  • Many tools:
    • Standard work
    • Set-up reduction
    • Poka yoke
    • 5S
    • Heijunka
    • 5 whys
    • Value stream maps
    • A3
    • Target costing
    • Policy deployment
    • Concurrent engineering
    • Chief engineer for each product family…Etc.
adopting lean also requires
Adopting Lean Also Requires
  • Creation of a complete business system:
    • Product development
    • Supplier management
    • Customer management
    • Production and logistics
    • Policy management
lean today
Lean Today

Rapid rate of adoption:

  • Toyota marching from victory to victory!
  • Lean now being adopted in manufacturing in high-wage countries, like Germany, and low-wage countries, like Poland and China.
  • Lean now spreading rapidly beyond manufacturing to logistics, distribution, retail, healthcare, maintenance, and even government.

How can every organization make a lean leap?

some advice from toyota
Some Advice from Toyota

“We get brilliant results from average people managing and improving brilliant processes.

Our competitors get mediocre results from brilliant people managing around broken processes.

When they get in trouble, they try to hire even more brilliant people.

We are going to win.”

questions on path to a lean future
Questions on Path to a Lean Future
  • Have you defined your most important processes?
  • Do you have a “plan for every process”? (For any process?!)
  • Who is responsible for continuously evaluating and improving each process?
  • What technical assistance will this person need?
  • Have you developed the technical means needed to perfect processes outside of traditional manufacturing operations?

Barriers to Lean in Italy

  • Lack of practical lean knowledge.

Toyota is not present.

Most multinationals operating in Italy are far behind Toyota.

Most local firms have received no practical advice on lean from firms or sensei with real knowledge.

  • Love of “creativity”, which is actually work-around & re-invention. (Substitute kaizen and kaikaku to fundamentally improve processes!)

A Lean Strategy for Italy

  • Develop better methods of teaching lean knowledge to Italian managers.


You learn on the “gemba”, not in classrooms.

Demonstrations of lean methods are vital!

  • Foster cooperation between firms in Italy to share knowledge (e.g., breakthrough examples) and improve supply base (to compress value streams.)
  • Get leaner faster!
lean strategy beyond manufacturing
Lean Strategy Beyond Manufacturing
  • Most of the Italian economy is not involved in manufacturing.
  • Lean techniques also apply to retail, distribution, services of any type (including travel & tourism), healthcare, construction, and government (except policy making?).
  • Take the lead in applying lean techniques in these areas!

Some real invention will be required, but Italy has always been very inventive!