In this edition of 5 Questions we meet Norman Bodek. I've known Norman for many years, and if any of you have been lucky enough to hear him speak you know he places a major emphasis on the respect for people pillar of lean.
1. Who are you, what organization are you with, and what are your current lean-oriented activities?
Norman Bodek, president, PCS Inc. – Press
My job for thirty years (started Productivity, Inc. in 1979) has been to discover the world's best information, tools and techniques to improve productivity and quality and bring it to American industry. Miraculously, in 1980, I was introduced to Japanese management practices and met and published the works of the discovers of Lean: Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo. Also, I was fortunately to be the first in the West to publish and write about Quality Control Circles (self-directed work teams), TPS/JIT/Lean, Kanban, 5S, SMED, QFD, Hoshin Kandri, Kaizen Blitz, TPM and many other wonderful aspects of Lean.
I continue to go to Japan to study and learn (72 trips so far.) Please come with me on my next trip.
Today, one issue I am particularly focused on is Toyota's second pillar "Respect for People." Often, I am asked to keynote conferences on Lean and I like to ask the audience, "How many of your organizations are applying Lean?" Virtually, everyone raises their hand. I then ask, "How many of your companies are Lean?" Not one hand goes up.
Why? Why are we not Lean? Because, even after all of these years, we do not know how to really give respect to our workers. People need a fair wage, a productive job, recognition for their efforts, an opportunity to learn and grow at work, but more importantly they need to be valued as human beings. Ask people to use their brains and to solve the myriad of problems around them; let them discover the solutions to those problems; let them solve those problems and implement the solutions to those problems – that is the best way to give them respect. Instead of waiting around for the boss to "do things for them," they are empowered to solve problems on their own.
If you really are serious about being successful with your Lean activities then start now – now is today – and start to harness the untapped talent lying within every worker.
Gulfstream received 33 ideas per worker last year. Autoliv, in Ogden, Utah, received 66 ideas per worker last year and expects to get 100. How many did you receive?
If you want to learn how to do it, read my book The Idea Generator, call me at 360-737-1883 or send me an email at email@example.com.
Trust me it works.
2. How, when, and why did you get introduced to lean and what fueled and fuels the passion?
I found Lean in 1980, accidentally. I attended an Industry Week seminar in New York City and listened to Joji Arai, manager with Japan Productivity Center. He wanted American companies to open their doors to Japanese visitors and I asked him if he would do the reverse and help me bring Americans to Japan. He set up my first study mission (more then 50 to date) and we visited Toyota, Canon and I serendipitously met Dr. Fukuda, Dr. Shingo, and dozens of other great geniuses. Each genius gratefully allowed me to publish their books in English.
My passion is sustained by the unending information continually being poured into me. From my recent visits to Japan (I went their four times last year), I now have tons of new information of what I believe is "Beyond Lean," and I am trying to find ways to get the material translated from Japanese and disseminated.
Each week, through my Polycom terminal and the PC, I meet with leading Japanese managers and teachers. I listen like a child with a room fool of "goodies," trying to find ways to pass this on to you. Any ideas – call me. If you have a terminal connect with me.
3. In your opinion what is the most powerful aspect of lean?
Of course, it still is the ability to "see" (hard to do when your eyes are colored with the past) and eliminate waste – every single day.
And to me the biggest waste is the underutilization of people's talents. Autolive and Gulfstream saves millions of dollars per year from their worker's implemented ideas. And imagine how the worker feels when their ideas are listened to and they have the privilege to implement their own idea.
4. In your opinion what is the most misunderstood or unrecognized aspect of lean?
I feel that we Americans are running around doing our Kaizen Blitzes (can be very good), implementing lots of tools and techniques: 5s, SMED, TPM, Hoshin (A3), kanban, etc., but are not stepping back and creating an overall conversion process for the next 5 to 10 years. Doing this will tell us what tool and technique we need, when to implement them and what we can expect to achieve from them, and how to sustain the activities.
On my last trip to Japan, I was given in Japanese a MAP, a production technology MAP, showing an organization how to be internationally successful, clearly looking at 38 aspects: zero defects production, design review, target costs, problem potential analysis, zero failure production, low cost automation, hazard countermeasures, skill transfer, automated storage, TP management, TPM, speedy OJT, hardware and software poka-yoke, etc. etc. The MAP is filled with dozens of new terms/abbreviations for me to learn and give to you. If you can read Japanese call me.
5. In your opinion what is the biggest opportunity for lean in today's world? How can that be accomplished?
I recently received a video from Japan showing a cell at Canon. I watched and saw how work went from a conveyor belt to cell production, allowing people to improve productivity 300%.
On the conveyor belt, a worker uses very limited skills, doing very repetitious and boring work, maybe with a one to three minute takt time. While in the cell the worker was building the entire copier by them selves – up to a three-hour takt time. Imagine the skill needed to install up to 3000 parts by your self? And imagine the way the worker feels about them selves?
Virtually all wastes of waiting, motion, transportation, defects, inspection, overproduction, are reduced to a minimum. This worker at Canon is called a "Meister," (master). This meister system is really the wave of the future.
Needed, of course, is your dedication to view your workers differently, not as extensions of machines, but as potential masters with infinite capabilities. Of course, you need an ongoing, never ending training process. Just take the best workers and have them become your teachers.
The vogue today is to send work overseas and outsource and jump with joy at those "short-term profits," but what will happen to America with all those unskilled workers? And, I am sure those outsourcing companies will someday find out that they do not need you – look at Schwinn Bicycle for example, Schwinn went to Taiwan for inexpensive labor and Giant learned how to do everything to produce bikes and ended up with the company.
Lean is great, continue to learn and as Dr. Shingo would always say, "Do it!"
Thank you Kevin,