40 ◾ Utilizing the 3Ms of Process Improvement
The Toyota Production System (TPS) is Toyota’s methodology for improv-
ing a production system. TPS is now used widely in virtually all industries.
I have seen my teams use TPS for improving electrical safety products and
call center support, reducing wait times in the airline industry, eliminating
inventory, and improving surgical safety. Lean is another methodology and
it is not an acronym. Lean includes TPS and is a very popular performance
improvement methodology in many industries. Lean is a term coined by
an MIT group who studied the auto industry. In the book, The Machine
That Changed the World (Macmillan Publishing, 1990),
James Womack and
Daniel Jones shared the term’s origins. Lean describes the Toyota processes
compared to Ford, GM, and Chrysler processes. The amount of time and
resources to do similar tasks at Toyota were much less than at Ford, GMC,
We could list many more methodologies and acronyms, but this book is
about making process improvement simpler for you and your organization.
Therefore, I will walk the talk here and purposely be “Lean” by sharing the
vital few and most popular “recipes.”
You need at least one recipe and don’t forget a “heaping tablespoon” of
Change Leadership. The key point I want to leave you with in this chapter
is that these methodologies are all you need, and you need them all with
Change Leadership. I could point to elements of Six Sigma, Lean, PDSA
and Change Leadership in each of these methodologies. Reducing waste is
often associated with Lean, and statistical process control by many is consid-
ered Six Sigma by some.
Which recipe delivers the culture and Change Leadership skills? Some
consultants have hijacked culture change and leadership development claim-
ing that only their Lean or their Six Sigma delivers skills beyond the tools of
a methodology. Untrue. Certainly some Lean “purists” have hijacked culture
change to be delivered only through Lean. And, I have heard some Six Sigma
purists claim that Lean-trained people don’t use data or other quality tools.
Many Six Sigma consultants have helped organizations change their cultures
in much the same way as those consultants who describe themselves as pri-
This is a shame and a waste of time to even debate.
Work with Toyota and for Motorola
I have worked with Toyota, taught its former employees Lean and Six Sigma,
and toured its sites. I am one of the few who also has worked for Motorola.