The past year I’ve blogged about the Greece’s slow-motion, never-ending exit from the European Union in the context of Lean fundamentals – value, waste, and standards.
I’ve suggested that, by voting No last Sunday, Greeks were, in effect, rejecting Europe, American and the standards of the ‘developed world’.
If so, they were following the lead of their inept Prime Minister and Finance minister, Tsipras and Varoufakis, who’ve made a point of alienating their European counterparts.
What’s this got to do with Lean fundamentals?
Value, waste, standards, visual management – the entire language and mindset of the Toyota management system – is predicated on connections.
Connections with external customers, most obviously, but also with internal customers. Such connectivity entails mutual respect and trust.
If in a production or service line, you are my customer and I am your supplier, I express respect by asking, “How can I help you? What do you need from me?”
Through such dialogue we translate your needs into a small number of binary metrics, put them on a team board and every day check how we’re doing.
Better yet, we invite you to attend our team huddles, say, weekly, so we can hear directly from you too. Moreover, our team is also a customer, and has a similar relationship with our suppliers.
This is the essence of the uniquely human process we call commerce.
Thereby, we free each other up to do what we do best. Throughput, quality, cost and other core elements of value inevitably increase, as does mutual prosperity.
There are failure modes, of course – monopolies, oligopolies, rapacious suppliers and customers come to mind - which necessitate legislation and rules to blunt the excesses.
But the essence of a health market economy is direct, respectful, binary connections and commerce thereby.
Does everybody accept this image?
More next time,