Annalisa L. Weigel
ESD.83, Fall 2000
“We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming.”
– Werner von Braun
Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation
by James P. Womack and
Daniel T. Jones was published in 1996 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
This book follows a
previous highly successful book by Womack, Jones and Roos entitled
The Machine That
Changed the World
Both books address the revolution in manufacturing represented by the
Toyota Production System of the Toyota Corporation of Japan.
This type of manufacturing
system is called a “lean system” and is contrasted throughout the book with the traditional “mass
production” system of manufacturing epitomized by batch-and-queue methods.
The authors argue that a lean way of thinking allows companies to “specify value, line up value-
creating actions in the best sequence, conduct these activities without interruption whenever
someone requests them, and perform them more and more effectively.
This statement leads to
the five principles of lean thinking:
Value, Value Stream, Flow, Pull and Perfection.
Value is defined by the authors as a “capability provided to customer at the right time at an
appropriate price, as defined in each case by the customer.
Value is the critical starting point
for lean thinking, and can only be defined by the ultimate end customer.
The ultimate end
customer, or the user of the product, is contrasted with interim customers, such sales, marketing,
distribution, suppliers, etc.
Value also is product-specific, and the authors argue it is only
meaningful when expressed in terms of a specific product.
The value stream is defined in
as the set of all the “specific activities required to
design, order, and provide a specific product, from concept to launch, order to delivery, and raw
materials into the hands of the customer.
To create a value stream, describe what happens to a
product at each step in its production, from design to order to raw material to delivery.
three types of activities in the value stream – one kind adds value, and the other two are “muda”
(the Japanese word for waste)
Those activties that unambiguously create value.
Type One Muda