I know that the following data comes as no surprise to the lean manufacturing community. I apologize for telling you what you most certainly have already surmised, but maybe you can use it to convert an old school thinker or two in your organization.
I pulled mid-2008 data because the auto industry – and for that matter the entire world – went crazy soon afterwards, so it is the last reliable data point. I took defects per car from the JD Power report, manhours per car from the Harbour Report, and customer satisfaction from the ACSI data base.
The Harbour Report headline was particularly interesting: "Chrysler Ties Toyota ForTop Productivity"
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Chrysler – last in defects per car, last in customer satisfaction, bankrupt, – but leading the pack in whacking labor cost. Thirty years after Toyota showed them the way and these yahoos still think it's all about direct labor. Years of tunnel vision on union bashing, component outsourcing, and vast investments in labor eliminating automation just greased the fast track to bankruptcy court.
And to make things even more ludicrous, if I can pluck this data from the public domain, Chrysler ceratinly has it – or more appropriately, Fiat has it; and rather than keep the guy from Toyota who could have shown them what was needed, they kicked Jim Press out and put their hot-shot lawyer and finance wizard in charge. You don't call an eye doctor when you have a toothache, and you don't call a lawyer when you have a manufacturing problem – but try telling that to the boys in Turin.
And Toyota is still showing them that labor productivity and quality are not trade-offs, but can and should be complementary. Toyota – first in defects, first in customer satisfaction, and tied with Chrysler for first in labor productivity.
As I said at the outset, the lean community will not learn anything they did not already know by reading this. But you might want to print it out and show it to whoever is the biggest obstacle to lean in your company and ask them just what it is about lean they think is unproven or unfit for your company.