Students in Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence cohort kicked off their first day with an introduction to value-stream mapping by Gary Butler, an executive in residence in the Management Sciences department. After a good discussion about what value is and who the customer is, Gary gave students a handy acronym, TIM WOOD, to remember the “seven deadly wastes” in any process: Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Wait, Overproduction, Over-processing and Defect.
In the afternoon, we had the honor of listening to Steven Spear, author of The High-Velocity Edgeand a well-recognized expert on leadership, innovation and operational excellence. Steve articulated the inside mechanism of the Toyota Production System in his exceptionally simple and persuasive style in two hours – using only two PowerPoint slides that centered around this question: “What’s Toyota’s real innovation? Is it their car or the management system?”
Steve pointed out four major characteristics of the Toyota Production System, which he wrote about in a landmark 1999 article in the Harvard Business Review:
- System design using the best approach making the problems visible
- Problem solving by escalating and asking for help; containing the problem, and solving it when it is still a micro problem
- Knowledge sharing and applying the discoveries systematically
- Engaged leadership that focuses on managing systems and developing people
The day ended with students practicing current-state value-stream mapping for a simple business case of the pencil pushers and were introduced to a number of concepts. Some students struggled but it’s expected. They’re eager to learn more and had many great questions. At one point we had to remind them that they cannot learn everything in one day. There’s one whole year to go!
Here are some end-of-day reflections:
- If Toyota has found success in nesting to address problems, why does modern business encourage a flat organization?
- It is important to design the work such that one can see the problems
- Mistakes are okay as long as I learn from it and make changes based on what I learned
A long day but a great day!