"Perptual Improvement" for Solectron

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MercuryNews.com | 10/16/2005 | Electronics maker Solectron adopts Toyota's laser-like focus on perpetual improvement

Here is another story about Solectron's lean journey. The phrase “perpetual improvement” struck me. The phrase “continuous improvement”, of course, is the commonly used term. I wonder if Solectron people used that or if the reporter, not knowing anything about lean, chose those words.

Either way, I sort of like “perpetual improvement.” It has the same “ongoing” ring to it as “continuous” does. But, the idea of a perpetual motion machine is intriguging to me. If you have an effective continuous improvement, shouldn't it be self sustaining and perpetual, somewhat self-fueling? If your employees are making contributions and being recognized for it, that should tend to drive more of that same behavior.

Most “kaizen” or “continuous improvement” efforts usually start out well. But something kills the momentum (the list is long, but lack of leadership or inconsistent leadership are among the top reasons). How can you make your improvement efforts truely “perpetual”???

Beyond the headline, the article is worth reading too! An excerpt:

Conversations around Solectron have been laced with Japanese terms ever since Marc Onetto, executive vice president for worldwide operations, arrived on the scene. Onetto is a former protege of Jack Welch at General Electric and a true believer in Toyota's kaizen approach to manufacturing. He joined Solectron in 2002 after 15 years at GE in the medical equipment division.

“We're trying to make the supply chain responsive to the customer, which is really hard in the electronics industry,” said Onetto, 54. “There's a tendency to stockpile components in warehouses and write them off when they're not wanted. But kaizen is all about eliminating waste and accelerating the supply chain.”

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