Matt Hrivnak

Kaizen: There's always another future state

Shingo’s Lean Banana Quote

By all accounts, the following quote came from Shigeo Shingo (of course, I wasn’t there to hear it said, but he gets the credit),  “When you buy bananas all you want is the fruit not the skin, but you have to pay for the skin also. It is a waste. And you the customer should not have to pay for the waste.”

Update to original post:  Officially reported by Norman Bodek as having been used by Dr. Shingo at an APICS conference in Las Vegas, as “When you buy bananas you only want to eat the inside but you also have to pay for the skin.  This skin is a waste.”  Special thanks to Norman, and to Paul Akers (who is probably the greatest proponent of lean in the past 10 years via his company FastCap, his travels and his online presence) for posting Norman’s writings.

The truth in this quote is rock solid, but one important fact that people often over look is the type of waste that the banana peel actually represents.  At one time or another, every lean practitioner/participant has been run through Ohno’s 7 wastes:

  1. Overproduction:  producing too much, contributing to the other 6 wastes
  2. Waiting:  people/processes waiting for supplies or go aheads to produce
  3. Conveyance:  unnecessary movement of parts/supplies
  4. Processing:  incorrect or unnecessary processing
  5. Inventory:  more on hand than is actually required
  6. Motion:  operators making unnecessary motions, looking for tools/supplies
  7. Correction:  inspection, rework, etc.

Now, you can find one of those categories in which to put the banana peel, but what type of waste is it?  What do I mean by that?  Well, is it Type I or Type II waste?

  • Type I Waste (Type I Muda):  anything that creates no value, but that is unavoidable due to current technologies, machine or resource limitations, etc.
  • Type II Waste (Type II Muda):  anything that creates no value and can be eliminated immediately.

The banana peel, while obviously being waste, is an unavoidable necessity to the development, harvesting, and delivery of the fruit to the customer.  I would prefer to buy the banana in its organic sleeve and pay a few extra cents instead of buying it peeled, rotten and mushy.

Perhaps the banana industry will find a way to genetically engineer a skinless banana that stays fresh as long as banana in the peel, but until then, I’ll take my banana with its Type I Muda attached!


Shingo’s Lean Banana Quote

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Comments (4) Posted by matt on Thursday, April 16th, 2009

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