By December 4, 2006 1 Comments Read More →

LeanBlog Podcast #12 — Jim Womack, “China, Part 1”

Update 12/17: Click here for part 2 of the Womack podcast.

womackLeanBlog Podcast #12 brings us a special guest, James P. Womack of the Lean Enterprise Institute, the author of many books including the classic (published 10 years ago) Lean Thinking and the more recent Lean Solutions. We ended up talking for about 40 minutes, so I’m going to split the discussion into two podcasts. In this first part, we focus more on China’s adoption (or lack of adoption) of lean practices. In the second podcast, Jim talks more about general trends for China and for those considering doing business in China.

 

Click to play:

MP3 File

 

LeanBlog Podcast #12 Show Notes and Approximate Timeline

  • 1:45: Womack’s trips to China started in the 1980’s… on his honeymoon
  • 2:15: http://www.leanchina.org/ is the Lean Enterprise Institute in China
  • 2:45: The Chinese have gone from being “not even mass producers” (staggering, mindboggling inefficiency) where the goal was job creation and control (20 years ago) to where now they are trying to be globally competitive in a serious way (but with a LONG history of doing things the wrong way)
  • 4:10 : “Management is hard” – what is modern management (or even lean management) for the Chinese?
  • 5:00: Chinese learned management from multinationals, entrepreneurs (including “Andre the Pencil King”)
  • 6:00: No real Toyota presence in China (other than a few joint ventures)
  • 6:30: Any evidence of lean practices or lean thinking in China’s shopfloors?
  • 8:00 : Stories of waste from China
  • 9:45: It’s hard, from a cultural standpoint, for the Chinese to hear they should be like the Japanese (due to long standing animosity)
  • 11:45: Lean can be a universal way of doing things, just as mass production can be a universal way
  • 12:50 : Does China have more hope for lean if they don’t have such a long history with mass production? Womack says “why put in place the wrong thing (mass production)?” We can be General Motors or we can be Toyota… let’s be Toyota.
  • 14:30 : “They sense this low-wage thing is time limited…. They can’t go on building cheap goods for Americans forever.”
  • 17:30 : Womack’s recent lean e-letter
  • 19:10 : Wages are rising on the coast, but for commodity stuff, manufacturers will just move inland. We won’t see the cost of labor really going up. The price of management is really going up though – seeing what ex-pats are being paid is putting upward pressure on management wages (folks with education)
  • 22:30 : “I saw nobody at all working to improve the process… it looked like nothing had changed in 40 years.”Big big leap from there to everyone thinking its part of their job to improve.

A complete list of Jim’s books can be found here.

If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at leanpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 776-LEAN (817-776-5326) or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast.

Visit the main LeanBlog Podcast page with all previous episodes.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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