Lean quotes are a very important tool. During a lean transformation, lean quotes can greatly increase the retention and understanding of lean educational materials and practices. I always use lean quotes throughout any training session that I perform because it adds that little bit of ‘proof’ that lean thinking is a valid solution to the U.S. manufacturing condition.
I will add more from time to time, and as always, these quotes were not heard first hand, so there may be some discrepancies and misquotes from time to time. Please let me know of any lean quotes that I have listed that are incorrect.
“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.” – Shigeo Shingo
“A relentless barrage of “why’s” is the best way to prepare your mind to pierce the clouded veil of thinking caused by the status quo. Use it often.” – Shigeo Shingo
“Improvement usually means doing something that we have never done before.” – Shigeo Shingo
“The best approach is to dig out and eliminate problems where they are assumed not to exist.” – Shigeo Shingo
“Are you too busy for improvement? Frequently, I am rebuffed by people who say they are too busy and have no time for such activities. I make it a point to respond by telling people, look, you’ll stop being busy either when you die or when the company goes bankrupt.” – Shigeo Shingo
“All we are doing is looking at the time line, from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash. And we are reducing the time line by reducing the non-value adding wastes.” – Taiichi Ohno
“The only place that work and motion are the same thing is the zoo where people pay to see the animals move around” (not exact phrase) – Taiichi Ohno
“Where there is no Standard there can be no Kaizen” – Taiichi Ohno
“Why not make the work easier and more interesting so that people do not have to sweat? The Toyota style is not to create results by working hard. It is a system that says there is no limit to people’s creativity. People don’t go to Toyota to ‘work’ they go there to ‘think’” – Taiichi Ohno
“Costs do not exist to be calculated. Costs exist to be reduced.” – Taiichi Ohno
“Make the bottlenecks work only on what will contribute to throughput today … not nine months from now. That’s one way to increase capacity at the bottlenecks. The other way you increase bottleneck capacity is to take some of the load off the bottlenecks and give it to non-bottlenecks.” – Eliyahu M. Goldratt, The Goal
“If we reduce batch sizes by half, we also reduce by half the time it will take to process a batch. That means we reduce queue and wait by half as well. Reduce those by half, and we reduce by about half the total time parts spend in the plant. Reduce the time parts spend in the plant and our total lead time condenses. And with faster turn-around on orders, customers get their orders faster.” – Eliyahu M. Goldratt, The Goal
“An hour saved at the non-bottleneck is a mirage.” – Eliyahu M. Goldratt, The Goal
“I say an hour lost at a bottleneck is an hour out of the entire system. I say an hour saved at a non-bottleneck is worthless. Bottlenecks govern both throughput and inventory.” – Eliyahu M. Goldratt, The Goal
Misc. Lean quotes
“A bad system will defeat a good person every time.” – Deming
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but habit.” – Aristotle
“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.” – Chinese Proverb
“Quick and Crude is better than Slow and Elegant” – John R. Black, William F. Christopher, from A World Class Production System: Lessons of 20 Years in Pursuit of World Class
“We will win and you will lose. You cannot do anything because your failure is an internal disease. Your companies are based on Taylor’s principles. Worse, your heads are Taylorized too. You firmly believe that sound management means executives on the one side and workers on the other, on the one side men who think and on the other side men who only work.” – Konusuke Matsushita
“Lean is not a program, it is a total strategy.” – Alex Miller, Professor of Management at The University of Tennessee
“Due to the set-up times, the tendency is to produce in batches that are larger than the order quantities. This supposedly utilizes the equipment more efficiently, reduces set-up costs, and reduces unit product cost. But any production in excess of immediate market demand ends up as finished-goods inventory. The result of producing these large batches in today’s competitive marketplace is poor customer service despite high levels of inventory.” – M. Michael Umble and Mokshagundam L. Srikanth. Synchronous Management: Profit-Based Manufacturing for the 21st Century. Spectrum Publishing: 1997.
“Finished goods are products that we have made that no one wants.” “Raw materials are products that we have bought that we don’t need.” – Tom Greenwood, Director of the University of Tennessee Lean Enterprise Forum
“Implementing Lean concepts and principles is not a technological issue, it is primarily a management and human resource issue.” – Kenneth E. Kirby, Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at The University of Tennessee
“We do not suggest that you throw your MRP systems away. MRP should be used for purposes of planning and pull mechanisms should be used as much as possible for purposes of execution.” – Kenneth E. Kirby, Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at The University of Tennessee
“Many people think that Lean is about cutting heads, reducing the work force or cutting inventory. Lean is really a growth strategy. It is about gaining market share and being prepared to enter in or create new markets.” – Ernie Smith, Lean Event Facilitator in the Lean Enterprise Forum at the University of Tennessee
“Kanban is like the milkman. Mom didn’t give the milkman a schedule. Mom didn’t use MRP. She simply put the empties on the front steps and the milkman replenished them. That is the essence of a pull system” – Ernie Smith, Lean Event Facilitator in the Lean Enterprise Forum at the University of Tennessee
“If you do what you always did, you get what you always got.” – Gerhard Plenert and Bill Kirchmier. Finite Capacity Scheduling: Management, Selection, and Implementation. John Wiley & Sons, Inc: 2000.
“Failure to change is a vice” – Hiroshi Okuda
“There are three kinds of leaders. Those that tell you what to do. Those that allow you to do what you want. And Lean leaders that come down to the work and help you figure it out.” – John Shook