Last week we learned that Newt Gingrich would not join the 2008 presidential race. Although many of you may disagree with at least some of his political stance, we can probably agree that he is a change agent. Lately he has been taking on the Republicans almost as much as the Democrats, and pushing for real change on important issues. Perhaps he realized he could be a greater force by remaining at least somewhat independent… and maybe he, like Michael Bloomberg, is thinking about making the race truly interesting next year.
A few days ago he penned an article that mentions several of his ideas. Among those ideas, and a listing of "what works," is lean manufacturing.
After 33 years of active participation in public life, I believe in the need for reform, innovation, and new solutions even more than I did back in Carrollton in April, 1974. Let me risk being radical. Levees shouldn’t break. Bridges shouldn’t fall. The Detroit school system should not cheat three out of every four entering freshmen.
I outlined the contrast between the world that works (UPS, FedEx, Toyota Production system, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma) and the world that fails (bureaucracies both public and private) in a YouTube clip called “FedEx vs. Federal Bureaucracy.” This video has now been seen by more than 1,100,000 viewers with no advertising. It is spreading because people sense how real the contrast between the two worlds is.
Despite the current failures of bureaucracy and politics, America has a great future with enormous opportunities.
The YouTube clip (about 3 minutes) he refers to is rather amusing, and effectively contrasts what works and doesn’t. My apologies if you find the specific content inflammatory, but get over it and think about the larger message.
Our friend Jon Miller over at Gemba Panta Rei discussed this original speech a couple months ago.
Newt Gingrich wants to kaizen the U.S.A. He talks of "a world that works, and a world that doesn’t" using the example of FedEx versus the U.S. Federal Government. In an August 7, 2007 speech at the National Press Club (you can find the entire speech here) he expands on this idea. There are a number of good ideas in this speech, and a mention of the Toyota Production System under a section called UPS and FedEx Superior to Federal Bureaucracy:
And it’s very straightforward. How many of you have gone online to check a package at UPS or FedEx? Just raise your hand. Look around the room. This is not — and I want to drive this home for the news media — this is not a theory, this is not Gingrich having interesting, unrealistic ideas.
It is an objective fact in the world that works that if you invest in technology, you reward competence — there are consequences for incompetence — you focus on the customer, you have market signals, you have the Toyota production system, Six Sigma, Lee Manufacturing, the writing of Drucker, Deming, Juran and Womack — it works, right?
A politician, or at least someone active in political circles, who understands the power and magic of lean (apologies again to our friend Norm Bodek) is a breath of fresh air. Someone who understands that excellence is not a zero sum game… you don’t have to input more resources to get more out. Eliminating waste, improving efficiency, and leveraging the knowledge and creativity of people can create incredible customer value. In this case, for citizens.
In his article Gingrich goes on to explain his optimism, and the impact private enterprise, free markets, and being customer-based instead of entitlement-based can have on individual wellbeing.
The evidence of what works and what fails is unmistakable. In 1960, South Korea and Ghana had the same per capita income. Today, South Korea is a technological and industrial power house and the 11th wealthiest country in the world. Before Prime Minister Thatcher, the French economy was 25% bigger than the British. Today, the British economy is 10% bigger than France’s and 50,000 young French men and women work in London. Forty years ago Ireland was much poorer than Germany per person. Today, Ireland is much wealthier than Germany per person. We know what works. It is just our current generation of politicians and bureaucrats who don’t get it.
Now if we could only get one of the leading candidates to understand that you don’t need to raise taxes, and you also don’t need to reduce services. You just have to do a better job at understanding the customer and eliminating waste in the process.
That will be the day.