By November 29, 2008 4 Comments Read More →

Hyundai has a "Lean CEO"

Exec Shuffle: Hyundai Motor America Names Lean-Production Expert to Top Post

I wonder how other automakers would do having process thinkers instead of finance people in top posts?

John Krafcik, one of the foremost U.S. experts on lean manufacturing, has been named the new acting president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America. The unexpected announcement was made Monday.

Krafcik, 47, an American who worked on the International Motor Vehicle Program at MIT (immortalized in The Machine That Changed the World), replaces Korean Jong Eun Kim.

Krafcik is actually the one (not Womack or Jones) who coined the term “Lean,” during the IMVP research effort, describing the outputs of a process (Toyota’s) that could produce in half the space, with half the labor, half the defects, etc.

Maybe the closest thing we had to a “Lean CEO” was Chrysler’s Tom LaSorda, and that hasn’t really worked out too well (maybe through no fault of his own).

It will be interesting to see how this works out.

In a somewhat related note — in all of the discussion and analysis of the Detroit Three bailout proposals, has ANY news article mentioned the role of Lean and the Toyota Production System in Toyota’s success? I don’t see any discussion (other than the blog world) about Toyota’s management system being different… just the usual littany of excuses that explain away Toyota’s success.

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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 book 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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4 Comments on "Hyundai has a "Lean CEO""

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  1. Andy Wagner says:

    I would argue that Alan Mulally is something of a “lean CEO.” His focus at Ford has been on improving quality and developing products people want to buy. First quarter was profitable for Ford, before the financial collapse. Mulally is also the only of the little three CEOs to say before Congress that he’s accelerating product development instead of cutting it, and that he only needs the loan as a hedge against things getting worse.
    Of course, he’s shown little ‘respect for people’ in layoffs at Boeing or Ford, or in his own salary.

  2. andrewmc says:

    I thought the term Lean was attributed to Roos……the third author that has slipped in to post TMTCTW obscurity?

  3. Mark Graban says:

    I don’t have the exact reference, but I thought the prologue in TMTCTW gives credit to Krafcik and I think I’ve heard Womack give him credit verbally.

    I saw Roos speak at an MIT event in Dallas back in late 2005. He was a good speaker with historical perspective on Lean, but it seemed like he hasn’t done anything since, as Womack and Jones have done.

  4. Rick Bohan says:

    So Krafcik is the guy who’s to blame for calling it “lean manufacturing”. He couldn’t have come up with a worse name for a corporate initiative if he’d put his mind to it. #2 worst name -self directed work teams. #3 worst name – six sigma.

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