Personally and professionally I found the week extraordinarily rewarding – not only as a fantastic Lean Japan Tour but as a cultural experience not to be missed.
Imagine if you will… taking a group of people you had never met before, under your wing, in one of the most crowded cities in the world. Plenty of traditional food and drink, immersing them in culture, filling their heads with Lean (TPS) concepts and depriving them of sleep whilst being the only two people in the group that can speak Japanese. What could go wrong? All this whilst maintaining the integrity of yourselves and your business (Shinka Management) – which was upheld 24 hours a day. Paul and Ben, you did a fantastic job and the respect for yourselves and your company was apparent with every business we visited. The way the trip was coordinated and flowed was a testament to the organizational skills of both Ben and Paul from Shinka Management.
The systems, machinery, processes and people in Japanese businesses are something to be admired. The passion for TPS shown by every staff member was evident and the dedication shown at all levels of management was significant. The TPS is at such a high level at some of the sites visited that you realize how many more opportunities there are at your own site. Even if the factories are unrelated to your own industry, the message is more about the process and disciplines used to get the business to the current state. Small steps to achieve the ultimate goal, remembering that each one of these businesses started off somewhere and the origin of TPS was born out of a “need” for business continuity.
I have emerged with a new passion and enthusiasm for Lean manufacturing. If you have the opportunity for this fantastic tour, you will not regret it, it is an investment in you and your company’s future.