Friday, November 24, 2006

Long Live the Philosophy

Long Live the Philosophy

Had lunch with a friend from our church last Wednesday. I was tardy and apologized to Kevin, blurting out my reason for being late; “I had to sort out a philosophical misunderstanding of our manufacturing system.”

Kevin looked dumfounded. “You mean you have a philosophy of manufacturing?”

I tried to explain briefly. And it got me thinking; why is it important to have a philosophical framework for manufacturing? Why this framework Jeff Liker calls The Toyota Way?

If I didn’t have a philosophy of process excellence, I’d have no way of making sense of the seemingly random events and stimuli that happen every day. I would never be able to exercise responsible leadership without a few key principles acting as anchors.

Thus, when I get a request, I ask myself; Does it contribute to single piece flow? Does it help mistake-proof? Does it decrease one or more of the seven wastes? Does it drive point speed or system speed? Does it conform with standard work? Does it help people speak and listen better?

A philosophy is the only way to make a system consistent. And is essential.

And it also has a downside. Listen more tomorrow.

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