Why there is Y?

T: Traditional Thinker

L: Lean Thinker

T: We cannot do X?

L: Why?

T: Because of Y

L: Why?

T: …..ummm

L: Let us find out why there is Y then we can try to do X

T: We cannot produce in small lot

L: Why?

T: Because the set up time takes long time and it is loss of production

O: Because it needs time

T: Yes, Why?

O: …. umm

T: So, let us go and see why it take long time, then we can find how we can make this time shorter

T: We cannot have small work in process

L: Why?

T: To ensure that equipment will not stop

L: Why do we need WIP to keep equipment running?

T: In case of troubles or bad quality

L: Why we have bad quality of troubles?

T: Many reasons….

L: Let us analyze them, prioritize them and then work on eliminating the major ones. After that we can decrease WIP

T: We cannot purchase in small lot

L: Why?

T: Because ordering and transportation costs will be higher

L: Why?

T: In every order and batch we pay fixed cost

L: Why?

T: …..Ummm

L: Let us find out how to purchase in small lot without paying more

In traditional thinking, we stop at the first “Why?”, while in lean thinking we go deeper.

In traditional thinking, we react to causes, while in lean thinking we try to eliminate the causes.

In traditional thinking, we improve in how we live with the problem, while in lean thinking we improve by solving the problem.

In traditional thinking we  assume there is no other way, while in lean thinking we believe we can find another way.



Less preventive maintenance leads to more troubles

Push production means more WIP

More WIP means chaos

Less 5S means more waste

Less visualization means hidden problems

Hidden problems means chronic losses

Less people respect means less kaizen

No standard means no improvement

Less business ethics means more organizational deterioration

Having MORE is not always good

We always hope for MORE but is MORE always good?

When you have more space than you need at workplace, you will spend more on lighting, cleaning, and security.

When you wear a wider clothes than your size, you do not look good.

When you have more inventory than needed, it will make work space crowded and you will pay for keeping it.

When you have more tools than you use, you have to keep them, arrange them, and clean them.

When you have a wider house than you need, you will have to clean the extra space

When you have larger car than you need, you will suffer when you go in narrow roads.

When you have more things than you need, it will be harder to find things that you need.

When your presentation is too long, you will lose audience attention.

When we have wider roads than we need, it will be harder to clean and maintain the roads.

When you do things in large batches, there will be delays, chaos, and uncertainty.

We tend to love: more, larger, and wider, but it is better enough of everything. Having more than needed always means extra cost, extra effort, and extra waiting. Try to have just enough space, enough inventory, enough slides, enough batch size, and enough road width.

Extra WIP

In many organizations we do have WIP that is necessary for stable process in addition to extra WIP. Why do we have extra WIP? Because we love to have it, we make it, we are glad it hides our problems, and we are not trying to reduce it.  Extra WIP is not there by mistake. No, we made it.This extra WIP is so easy to be removed because it does not need modifications in the process. If we decide to decrease it we can…it is just extra. The other part which is the colored in black may need effort to be reduced. So, you can just start with that big part of extra WIP.

Examples for extra WIP sources:

  • We are producing large batches of the same product although we can produce several products without affecting the productivity. We just got used to it. There is no technical problem that prevents us from producing variety of products.
  • We are a service company and we assign small number of customer service until it is very crowded then we add more employees. We allowed WIP to exist and then we are trying to reduce it.
  • We are a service company and we allow more people than we can service in our service place. There is no reason for allowing more people than our capacity.
  • We are not trying to match the speed of production of upstream with downstream. We are just happy producing in the upstream.
  • We are allowing documents to pile at our desks although we can check them frequently and send them to concerned persons.
  • We are service company and we are doing nothing to encourage people to visit us at certain times when we have less load.

We can remove extra WIP easily if we really want to. We and our customers will be happier if we do.

Gains from Quality Control Circles

Quality Control Circles (QCC) are teams of operators (technicians) who work voluntarily to solve complex work problem using quality tools. QCC is not easy to implement as it consumes time in training, follow up, and preparation for the QCC conference. QCC leads to the following gains:

  • Development of the operators including:
    • analytical thinking
    • observing and gathering data
    • brainstorming (Cause and Effect Diagram)
    • solving the major cause before the minor ones (Pareto Analysis)
    • working in teams
    • comparing solutions
    • Planning for execution
    • evaluating results
    • presenting QCC story
  • Encouraging operators to think and solve problems
  • Great motivation to operators
  • Solving problems

You can feel those gains when you work with operators and help them work successfully on their QCCs. You will see excitement in their eyes, you will be surprised by their brilliant ideas, you will see results in the workplace, and you will enjoy changing a good part of their lives.

Related Pages:

Less waiting time


Creating Muda

How to lose your team?

No problem…It is so easy to lose your team. Try one of the following:

  • Hide schedule
  • Hide documents
  • Show them that you are better than them
  • Do not appreciate their efforts
  • Use their effort to get appreciation for yourself
  • Ignore their suggestions
  • Ignore their personal problems
  • Give them orders only
  • Do not hold meetings to discuss
  • When you have to hold a meeting, keep talking
  • If you want to let them talk, then look in your mobile phone
  • Never say we. Say “I” for achievement and “you” for instructions
  • Do not share future vision with them
  • If someone make an error, get nervous and show everyone that you do not respect him
  • Show them that you like some of them and hate the others
  • Never show them their progress
  • If you have a meeting with your team, arrive very late with reason

It is so easy to lose your team. Never do that.

Related Pages:

Because they do not visit the workplace

How to demotivate your employees

Erroneous management conclusions

Do not forget your objective…

It is obvious that when you have an objective that you are not supposed to forget it; however, in many cases people do forget their objectives. Example:

  • A service provider who wants to enjoy showing the customer how knowledgeable he is rather than serving the customer in short time
  • An organization which is successful by offering lower cost product gets in love with the new technology which will not add value to the customer but will raise the cost
  • A planning manager who make plans to make the work easier for employees rather than best serve customers
  • An auditor or control manager who wants to hide his colleagues mistakes
  • A lean practitioner who get trapped in 5S and forget that the goal was waste elimination
  • A manager who wants to produce more regardless of demand
  • A manager who is proud that a new software or new process has been implemented because it is doing the function without measuring the performance
  • A manager who is very focused on employees satisfaction and forgets shareholders satisfaction
  • An employee who is doing favors for his colleagues rather than doing his job
  • A person who uses social networks to share personal information he usually does not like to share in real life
  • A presenter who focuses on preparing good power-point slide and does not prepare his speech

Always ask yourself about your specific objective and never forget it. Do things that help you achieve your objectives. Do no let technology, sympathy, curiosity, personal interests, …etc. drift you away from your objective.

Related Pages:

Challenges for Strategic Planning in Developing Countries