I came across a great article by Masaaki Imai on Gemba Panta Rei celebrating Taiichi Ohno’s 100th Birthday which contained some of his brilliant quotes on management and thought I will re-post them:
“Let the flow manage the processes, and not let management manage the flow”.
In the lean approach, the starting point of the information flow is the final assembly process, or where the customer order is provided, and then the flow goes upstream by means a pull signal such as kanban. On the other hand, the flow of materials moves downstream from the raw material stage to the final assembly. In both cases the flow should be maintained smoothly without interruption.
Unfortunately, in a majority of companies today, the flow is disrupted and meddled with by the convenience of the shop-floor management.
“Machines do not break down; people cause them to break.”
His life-long pursuit was to make a smooth and undisturbed flow as a foundation of all good operations. He believed that wherever and whenever the flow is disrupted, there is an opportunity to do kaizen.
“The gemba and the gembutsu have the information. We must listen to them.”
Taiichi Ohno always placed respect for the worker first in his approach to kaizen. His focus was always on the customer, both external and internal.
“Just-in-time means that customer delight is directly transmitted to those who are making the product.”
Ohno was a man of deeds. Learning by doing was his motto and he did not engage in empty discussions. You pay money to buy books and go to seminars and gain new knowledge. But knowledge is knowledge, nothing more.
“Knowledge is something you buy with the money. Wisdom is something you acquire by doing it,”
But you gain the wisdom only after you have done it. The real understanding of the lean operations is gained only after you have done it. No matter how many pages you may read on lean books, you know nothing if you have not done it.
“To understand means to be able to do.”