Jim Womack was recently in India, as this article in the Business Standard publication. It's kind of unfortunate for them that they abbreviate the publication's name as “BS”…. such as their “BS Poll.” But let's look past that….
Outside of Toyota City, the best manufacturing operation is in Chennai, says James P Womack, the founder-chairman of Lean Enterprise Institute, a non-profit educational and research organisation. That is evidence that Indian companies can implement and sustain “lean” systems. Unfortunately, he says, not many Indian managers know this.
One of the most provocative and interesting Q&A segment was about the excuse of India's infrastructure:
One of the major issues with the Toyota Way is that it depends on an optimum infrastructure delivery environment, like in Japan, Europe or the US and, therefore, has less relevance for India. Do you agree? I always find this argument very curious. I can't help but suspect that some Indian managers are hoping it is true so they can say, “Thank goodness! Now we don't have to change the way we manage!” All I would ask any Indian manager to do is to think through the Toyota/lean principle of supplying small amounts frequently to customers at every point along a value stream.
I know I have a lot of readers from India — what are your thoughts on this? Is infrastructure and transportation a “barrier” or an “excuse”?
Womack also talks about the Chennai plant that he was so impressed with:
What impressed you at the TVS plant?
The team at WABCO-TVS (manufacturer of vehicle control systems) has done a brilliant job of scanning for lean knowledge, bringing a few experts for a short period and learning everything they knew, and then incorporating it into their business system, from policy deployment to factory operations to supplier development â€” an extremely impressive achievement.
For more, check out the link at the top of the post. And, Indian readers, please do let us know what you think of the article and about the state of Lean in India.
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