Dublin Lean Network News

How to Achieve Rapid Process Improvements in your Organisation

By June 2, 2022 No Comments

The event

In May, we were honoured to have Steven Spear speak at one of our monthly events.  Chairman of the Dublin Lean Network, Steve Halpin welcomed Steven and started by saying he highly recommends Steven’s book The High Velocity Edge” in terms of the practical application of Lean in the workplace.  He added that Steven’s approach to Lean is the difference between companies that play at this and companies that really take it seriously.

Press play to view the webinar recording or read on for a short summary.

Toyota Management System

Steven began his presentation by saying that he was inspired by Toyota and the observations made about Toyota back in the 1970s and 1980s. He said that he thought Toyota really created a management system that has a very broad application.

This management systems created the conditions in which people can give much fuller expression to their individual creativity. Furthermore, that individual creativity is much better integrated towards a common purpose than any other management system.

So, in the late 70s, early 80s, Toyota started to say that they're just getting way more yield out of their people and their equipment and their materials than anybody else. But this really became like an idea.

In the late 80s, there was a fellow graduate student at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) named John Kraft. He wrote a paper called “Triumph of the Lean Production System”. And in it, he shows how of all the assembly plants in the world, where every day they double their productivity and their agility is doubled. Their defect rates are one 1000 to one 2000s.

Better Productivity

Then a few years later, another researcher named Durward Sobek, Jeffrey Liker and the late Peter Ward wrote an article called “The Second Toyota Paradox” and they showed that with half the engineers and half the calendar time, Toyota was able to deliver far better product into the marketplace than anybody else in the world. It wasn’t even close. And it turned out this combination of being far more productive, having far more productive design processes coupled with better manufacturing processes allowed Toyota to take the Camry model and make it the leading car in North America.
Now again, Steven added that you may think this is just about lean manufacturing or cars.  But what has become evident over the years is that you see these differences in productivity, quality, safety, and reliability.  Everywhere you see these differences in planes, trains, automobiles, tech, biotech, pharma, health care, education, social services, military, and heavy tech.
Another point Steven made is that when we think about of designing a product, or designing a delivery system, the earlier in creating a business model the better.  But what becomes obvious is that certain organisations achieve levels of performance, not only way higher, but way sooner than anybody else.


Steven emphasised that the starting point for these successful companies is the people.  So taking this a step further, then managers need to ask the question: “what do I need to do as a manager to create the conditions in which people can be creative?”
Steven then recommended another book by Taiichi Ohno, called “Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production”.  In this book, Ohno says that having a really deep understanding about how to engineer these human systems, so that they create the conditions of great expression for individual creativity.
From Steven’s many years working with Toyota, they think their crown jewel is their management system. And in order to advance one’s career in Toyota, no matter how much you know about engineering or marketing, your career development is learning the management system.
In fact, the people were the system, the human system, engineering experts.  Steven said that we see this phenomenon of exceptional performance everywhere because those select organisations have figured out how to create much more intellectually productive conditions than anybody else.

At the end of this presentation, we had a lively and interesting Q&A session.

Next Webinar

Our next Dublin Lean Network is a company site visit to Forest Tosara Ltd on 16th June 2022 from 10am to 11.30am.  Richard Burke is the Production Specialist, OPEX Site Lead at Forest Tosara Ltd, part of the Teva group.  He has over 27 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Dublin Lean Network.

In this webinar, Richard will share their amazing journey when trying to achieve excellence, by describing a culture focused on effective leadership, sound open communication, process improvement, and developing their employees to be the best they can be.

Teva Pharmaceuticals is a global pharmaceutical company that serves 200 million people on a daily basis. It employs approximately 800 people in Ireland and operates three locations in the Republic of Ireland (Baldoyle, Swords, and Waterford) as well as one in Northern Ireland (Larne).

Shingo Model

In early 2009, Tosara Pharma Ltd looked for the ideal roadmap to improve business performance, and decided to embrace the guiding principles that are described within the Shingo Model ®.

The first dimension requires creating an ideal culture, whereby employees feel energised, engaged and motivated to succeed. Leading with humility and respecting every Individual allows employees gain a deeper satisfaction for the work they do.  When they are acknowledged, they feel the desire to reciprocate their productivity in return. It’s a win-win for both the organisation, and employees alike.

This blog post was written by Trish Ferguson, Steering Committee Member of the Dublin Lean Network.

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