Deep Dive into Lean Thinking

A Learning Week in Japan on Product Development and Beyond

What – Overview (contents and structure)

This first part of the tour mainly covers how manufacturing companies deal with lean product and process development. The focus is the automotive sector. Visits will cover carmakers Toyota and Nissan, as well automotive suppliers Mitsubishi and Sumitomo.

All company visits will consist of:

  1. A site tour (including the manufacturing plant)
  2. Presentations by company experts from product development (e.g. managers/chief engineers/designers/engineers)
  3. Discussion with participants who will be allowed to ask questions/curiosities and discuss common challenges.
  4. Local professors will lead each visit according to their field of expertise. Discussed topics include – but are not limited to – the chief engineering system, supplier integration, process development, modularity, concurrent engineering, visual management, project management, knowledge management.

This first part of the tour is unique. It goes beyond manufacturing operations to emphasize the role of product development within the lean enterprise. For example, we’ll explore manufacturing planning and provide opportunities for participants to talk to engineers leading and working on development projects.

In order to further the learning, the tour will go beyond product development and will embrace lean culture and Japanese tradition in general.Indeed, the second part of the tour touches an even deeper perspective: how lean thinking is linked to Japanese culture (lessons from Zen temple) and how it is applied to non-traditional manufacturing projects (Yahoo Japan and Tokyo Dome). The Zen class in Kenchoji Temple, led by a leading researcher who studies the link between lean and Zen, will dive the participants into a unique cultural experience. The application of lean thinking on software development, data management, big data management and analysis will be discussed within Yahoo Japan. In Tokyo Dome both the way the complex construction project has been developed, managed, and realized, as well as the way the Tokyo Dome is daily cleaned, organized, managed, maintained will be discussed by its Director. Final wrap up at Ritsumeikan university will close the intense week featuring presentations and discussions with leaders in the field, together with the participants. Finally, Tsukiji Market tour will be given to show the way fish auction, fish preparation and selling are efficiently managed every morning.

Who – Audience.

The target audience is represented by people who cover high positions with a broad view of their enterprise, primarily from product development (technical department, design, engineering) and operations management. Industrial cross-fertilization is more than welcome. We seek participants from different industries, as well as countries. Diversity presents value for the experience of all attendees, including hosting companies.

Why – Take away.

As we all know, there is not a magic recipe on how to apply lean thinking or any good practice, since every context is different and blind emulation doesn’t work. The tour does not aim to solve your own company’s problem or seek panacea’s generalizable solutions. But – and this is even more powerful and more sustainable – everyone is in charge of finding his own solutions to his very specific problems by finding his own way of acting, that can be inspired by a common way of thinking: lean thinking. Participants will gain benefits by benchmarking, seeing, discussing, questioning, debating, listening and learning from/with other practitioners who daily face different and at the same time similar challenges. Insights, suggestions, shared best practices, ideas, motivation, inspiration for taking actions, getting different perspectives, deeper understanding, networking, new connections, possible collaborations, mind opening and mind changing (and hopefully life changing!) experience are the take away from this exiting experience.

The Program:

Part 1 – Lean Thinking within big manufacturers: Automakers and suppliers (Nagoya and Yokohama)

Day 1 – Sunday 10th – Start of tour/Arrival in Nagoya and welcome

Day 2 – Monday 11th – Mitsubishi Electric (visiting a factory with a person who covers development) and Sumitomo Wing Systems (presentation and discussion at their technical site)

Day 3 – Tuesday 12th – Toyota (visiting a facility where Prius is produced, visiting Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, discussing with former engineers and current engineer/chief engineer)

Day 4 – morning Wednesday 13th – Nissan (Headquarter in Yokohama – special focus on modular design)

Part 2 – Intangible and cultural aspects: How lean culture has been nurtured and sustained (Kamakura and Tokyo)

Day 4 – afternoon Wednesday 13th – Zen class at Kenchoji Temple (link lean – Zen)

Day 5 – Thursday 14th – Yahoo Japan (data management, software development…)

Day 6 – Friday 15th – Tokyo Dome (how Tokyo Domo has been constructed and how it is sustained) and Ritzumeikan University (lessons learned, presentation from experts, brainstorming..)

Day 7 – Saturday 16th – Tsukiji Market (optional) / End of tour