By Jon Miller | Post Date: July 10, 2006 10:31 AM | Comments: 11
One has to be careful these days when making statements about the origins of TPS and check the facts, or else be pinned to the mat for a count of three by the investigative tag-team of Art Smalley and Isao Kato. So I'll confess to a terrible truth of Lean manufacturing that I've known about, but only for a short time: Taiichi Ohno never said there were 7 types of waste.
Kaizen consultant and author Yoshiya Ito was a journalist when he was younger, and knew Mr. Ohno. On his website Ito shares his memories of Mr. Ohno and words that he spoke. In a section called Words of Taiichi Ohno Sensei, Ito credits his teacher with the following:
"I don't know who came up with it but people often talk about 'the 7 types of waste'. This might have started when the book came out, but waste is not limited to 7 types. There's an old expression "He without bad habits has seven" meaning even if you think there's no waste you will find at least 7 types. So I came up with overproduction, waiting, etc. but that doesn't mean there are only 7 types. So don't bother thinking about 'what type of waste is this?' just get on with it and do kaizen."
Wow. At this point it's tempting to follow Mr. Ohno's advice, give up thinking and writing about the 7 types of waste and TPS and just do kaizen. If I suddenly give up blogging, you'll know why.
Mr. Ohno was known for making shocking statements. One of the other gems Ito attributes to Ohno was "Just because it says so in a book doesn't mean I said it."
So who did arrive at the number seven and codify the 7 types of waste? My guess is the managers at Toyota who in 1973 wrote down the Toyota Production System ideas and philosophy that was in the air. Perhaps on his next trip to Japan this summer the Green Hornet* (a.k.a. Art Smalley) can find out more about who actually coined the 7 types of waste if it was not Taiichi Ohno.
Bonus Section: 5S Contains 25% More S than You Need
While we're shattering myths of Lean manufacturing... do you think there are actually 5S in the Toyota Production System? There aren't. There are 4S, the first four. Who needs self-discipline if you do the first four properly? In some smart Japanese companies I have seen 3S, where they drop seiketsu which is literally "cleanliness" as in "spic and span" or "wash your hands with soap". Who needs that if you Sweep properly. Originally 5S was seiri seiton which means "tidy up the place". But 2S was too simple to make a book that sells.
The real reason we have 5S in the Lean manufacturing lexicon instead of 4S is that Hiroyuki Hirano wrote a book on 5S that was translated into English. Had a Toyota person written about workplace organization we would be calling it 4S. Just because it says so in a book doesn't mean it's the truth.
Kaizen. Read about it, think about it but most important, do it.
*For those of you who are not familiar with the Green Hornet, he is an American comic book hero and crime-fighting newspaper owner.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.