To Merge or Not To Merge… Lean & TPS?
By Bill Hanover of ThroughPut Solutions
It was proposed on Wikipedia (an open source online encyclopedia that anyone can edit,) that the main article regarding “Lean Manufacturing” should be merged with the main article regarding “The Toyota Production System.”
Maybe it's all just semantics, or maybe there is a real difference between the two. I stated my humble opinion in the “Discussion” section, and have pasted it below for your consideration.
What are your thoughts?
== Merging with “Toyota Production System” Discussion ==
One Lean Practitioner's opinion…, but I do not believe the “Lean Manufacturing” article should be merged with the “Toyota Production System” article.
Although the majority of what we now call Lean Manufacturing stems from Toyota, it is easy to argue that Toyota's Production System has been bastardized and/or improved upon in the realm of Lean Manufacturing, to the point that there is an increasing disparity between the two.
For example: Many now promote the inclusion of an 8th or 9th waste such as “Untapped Human Potential” or include “6S” in place of “5S” etc.
Although this “evolution” or “bastardization” (depending on how you look at it,) will continue, the distinctions between the two are growing. I do not believe it is incumbent on Toyota to redefine its' system due to popular opinions or practices, nor do I believe Lean Manufacturing, as practiced in diverse ways, should be limited to the confines of Toyota's system.
One need only look to any of hundreds (if not thousands) of companies now practicing their own version of “TPS” or “Lean Manufacturing” to recognize serious deviations from Toyota's system. Consider the following examples: “Ford Production System – FPS,” “GM's Global Manufacturing System – GMS,” “Autoliv Production System – APS,” and etc. This list could go on and on. It seems, increasingly so, more companies prefer to customize or create their own Lean systems.
Perhaps the practice of “continuous improvement” may be the primary reason for maintaining the distinction between “Lean Manufacturing” and “other” systems “established” and “developing,” under the umbrella of Lean Manufacturing. It would seem Toyota's “umbrella” and original authorship are no longer sufficiently broad to cover the evolution of Lean Manufacturing as practiced and emerging.
If you take issue with this line of reasoning consider Lean in service industries such as Healthcare, Education, Government, and etc.
Lean Manufacturing is clearly rooted in the Toyota Production System, but it has “left the building” when you recognize how it is applied in venues outside of manufacturing. This is true even though many of the original tools, techniques, and the guiding philosophy of the Toyota Production System are central to current Lean thinking and practices.
I believe there is more of “Lean Manufacturing” yet to be discovered or created than currently exists. Can we envision “Lean Psychotherapy,” “Lean Knowledge Acquisition,” “Lean Computing,” or even “Lean Relationships”? The future is very bright!
Again, just one man's opinion; I'd enjoy reading yours.
Here is the Art Smalley presentation that's referenced in the comments.
Please check out my main blog page at www.leanblog.org
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