Jason Yip works for ThoughtWorks in Australia. He is currently (or maybe was) on a Lean study tour in Japan - I’m jealous, where do I book mine? - and he’s blogging about his findings. Well worth reading, so far several points have stood out for me:
• Andon cords are being pulled all the time: a Toyota factory isn’t the perfect place some of us (myself included) imagine sometimes. Faults happen, things need to be fixed and improvements made - all the time.
• Toyota do pay bonuses: for ideas that lead to process improvement
• Hansei is the Japanese word for serious reflection. In the Agile world Retrospectives are Hansei. As regular readers know I always suggest keeping your own personal journal for reflection, more Hansei.
• Pika Pika is a Japanese term translating to “spic and span”: workers keep their work area clean and tidy. Obvious really, how else can you see the problems? (I’m always shy of people taking cards of the board and putting them on their desks after one engineer I knew lost several this way. We tidied his desk and found work.)
• “The Toyota Production System (TPS) is not a system; it's a religion” - to all those who have critised Lean and Agile for being too religious, you were right.
If that isn’t enough, Jason also has a nice set of hand drawn sketches to illustrate Agile and Lean!