Who Coined the Term “Lean”? And Where is He Today?
People often ask “So where did the term ‘lean' come from?” It didn't come from Toyota. And the term isn't an acronym (so no need to type it as LEAN or L.E.A.N.).
The term came from John Krafcik, who was a graduate student at MIT, working for Lean Enterprise Institute founder Jim Womack on the research for the book The Machine That Changed the World. See comment #5 where I added more detail about that.
Where is Krafcik today (pictured at left)?
Krafcik, 48, is currently (in 2010) the CEO of the Korean automaker Hyundai. Maybe GM made a huge mistake in not hiring him instead of promoting yet another finance guy to the head of that troubled company? Maybe there's still a chance he can take over after the next CEO-of-the-quarter is done at GM.
Krafcik was featured in a recent USA Today article, “Hyundai's John Krafcik isn't your typical CEO type“).
From the article:
Krafcik got his first auto break with a venture Toyota and General Motors were setting up in Fremont, Calif., to build small cars for both companies. New United Motor Manufacturing (or NUMMI) was a chance for GM to learn Toyota quality methods and for Toyota to try operating a U.S. plant.
And he saw the difference between GM and Toyota at the time:
Hired as a manufacturing engineer, Krafcik says the experience “was just awesome,” especially his Toyota-trained boss, who wanted him to see what makes an auto plant succeed or fail. Krafcik was dispatched to GM's plant in Oklahoma City, where he says he saw half-built cars backed up and workers napping on the job. Then he went to Toyota City in Japan, a plant he says was so well laid out and efficient he could see across it to the other side. There was little inventory, with parts arriving from suppliers only hours before they were needed.
Krafcik is described as a disciplined, data-driven engineer, but one who is innovative and keeps connected to customers (personally calling an upset customer each day, something I wish American Airlines Gerard Arpey would try, but that's beside the point).
I wonder how GM would be different with Krafcik in charge? Do you think he could make a difference?
Regardless of your workplace, what's the ideal “lean CEO”?