In Following The Equator, Mark Twain wrote, "I find that, as a rule, when a thing is a wonder to us, it is not because of what we see in it. We get almost all of our wonders at second hand…By and by you sober down, and then you perceive that you have been drunk on the smell of somebody else’s cork."
Twain was probably predicting America’s understanding of the Toyota Production System when he wrote that. Most of us know lean from what an academic guy wrote, which he learned at a seminar from a consultant, who learned it from a guy who went on a study mission to Japan, and while there heard about it from a guy whose brother used to work for a Toyota supplier. Quite often our zeal for lean is the result of being drunk on the smell of somebody else’s cork.
In the Superfactory newsletter due out tomorrow night, we will have a rare opportunity to learn about lean first hand. Art Smalley is not a particularly public lean figure. He is a low profile, bona fide lean authority who has been relentlessly pursuing manufacturing excellence. Unlike most of us, he did not get his wonder about lean ‘at second hand’. He worked for Toyota for better than ten years…in manufacturing…in Japan. His article is not about the concept of lean. It gets to the heart of the reality of lean. We are honored that he put in the time and effort to set the record straight on a few facts.
His is not just another lean article. It is a seminal event in all of our understanding of lean. I strongly advise everyone to read and consider every word. When you reach a point that differs from what you know about lean, assume that your knowledge is faulty. This guy, and this article, is the real thing. Please look for your Superfactory Newsletter and read Art’s article. Don’t let this chance to learn from one of the true American authorities on the Toyota Production System pass you by.