Management: "lean" is collective intelligence - Companies

Management: “lean” is collective intelligence – Companies

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Invented by the Japanese group Toyota, “lean management” is now used in all sauces in Western companies. It is often misunderstood, therefore misapplied, explains the Belgian Natacha Jushko in a book.

In the West, we have largely missed out on what lean really is: this is essentially Natacha Jushko’s message. This Belgian, formerly of the Nexans group and who specializes in intercultural management, has therefore decided to devote a book to her “cultural and systemic decryption”. Lean? To understand it better, let’s go back to the aftermath of the Second World War. In a context of labor shortages and limited means compared to its Western competitors, and in a very fragmented market where it is necessary to be very flexible, the Japanese car manufacturer is developing the Toyota Production System (TPS), management method with…

In the West, we have largely missed out on what lean really is: this is essentially Natacha Jushko’s message. This Belgian, formerly of the Nexans group and who specializes in intercultural management, has therefore decided to devote a book to her “cultural and systemic decryption”. Lean? To understand it better, let’s go back to the aftermath of the Second World War. In a context of labor shortages and limited means compared to its Western competitors, and in a very fragmented market where it is necessary to be very flexible, the Japanese car manufacturer is developing the Toyota Production System (TPS), a management method with the least “waste” possible. This management called “lean” (lean) will then extend to Western countries from the 1980s, after the Americans had wondered about the reasons for Toyota’s success. “Western companies have often retained from lean management the only elements that interest them, however observes Natacha Jushko. A shortcoming which results from an analytical and non-systemic approach. draws as it pleases: it’s a global vision!” Second error: a divergent vision of time. The Japanese concern not to waste time must be understood in the context of harmonization which predominates in Japan, hence the desire not to waste time on others, or even to have more his clients. It’s about doing better, not faster. This time will also be devoted to reflection, to improve working methods. At Toyota, one of the slogans was indeed “We want people to stop sweating and think,” recalls the author. We remember: it was with great fear that American workers had welcomed the establishment of Toyota in the United States, the manufacturer being renowned for standardizing production methods leaving no room for personal initiative. On the contrary, rectifies Natacha Jushko, with lean management, it is encouraged, but within a collective and defined framework. The author explains: within the TPS system, it is the first concerned who establish their work standards. It is true that once established, these working methods must be scrupulously respected. But they are called upon to be improved within a collective decision-making process. “The leaders determine the objectives, but the process is based on collective intelligence, it comes from the field, confirms the author. Too often in the West, the processes are imposed without nuance; it has become slavery by the process.” Yet we have the image of a very hierarchical Japan… “Yes, but it’s actually the hierarchy of the system, which takes precedence over personal relationships, specifies Natacha Jushko. In collectivist civilizations, in the Japan as in Korea for example, everyone must be in their place and play their role. Otherwise, the system does not work.” Or how a Western boss often has nothing to do with a Japanese boss. Nor with lean…

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