The "Lean Alphabet Analogy"


By Bill Hanover, TPS – ThroughPut Solutions

This is an excerpt from an article I recently wrote for a trade publication. I tried to briefly answer the common question about Lean being a “set of tools” or a “system.” I'd appreciate any feedback on this.

“So, is Lean Manufacturing just a set of tools you throw at your poblems? Many have debated this very question. Really, the best answer I have to this question is; sort of.

It's kind of like thinking of the alphabet as a set of tools. All by themselves most letters really don't mean much of anything. When you put a few together in the right order and inside of a context, then you have a message that conveys meaning. The “rules” of how letters, sentence structure, and grammar etc. are used hold it all together.

Lean is likewise made up of “tools” held together by governing “rules” or principles, that when applied correctly, create tremendous improvements.”

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