Background Information

 The Lean Concepts Program draws source material from several different lean methodologies (TPS, 6S, PM, and Human Competence).   To better understand these ideas, the applications, and the benefits,  it is best to start with a quick perspective on each system  individually: 

Additional Information


1. Toyota Production System (TPS)

The Toyota Production System (TPS) is  an integrated socio-technical system, developed by Toyota that comprises  its management, philosophy, and practices. The Toyota Production System  organizes manufacturing and logistics for the automobile manufacturer,  including interaction with suppliers and customers. The system is a  major precursor of the more generic "lean manufacturing." Originally  called "just-in-time production," it builds on the approach created by  the founder of Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda, his son Kiichiro Toyoda, and the  engineer Taiichi Ohno. The principles underlying the TPS are embodied in  The Toyota Way.

The main objectives of TPS are to design out overburden (muri) and  inconsistency (mura), and to eliminate waste (muda). The most  significant effects on process value delivery are achieved by designing a  process capable of delivering the required results smoothly; by  designing out "mura" (inconsistency). It is also crucial to ensure that  the process is as flexible as necessary without stress or "muri"  (overburden) since this generates "muda" (waste). The elimination of  waste has come to dominate the thinking of many when they look at the  effects of the Toyota Production System because it is the most familiar  of the three to implement. 



Continuous Improvement

  • Challenge (We form a long-term vision, meeting challenges with courage and creativity.)
  • Kaizen (We improve our business operations continuously, always driving for innovation and evolution.)
  • Genchi Genbutsu (Go to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions.)

Respect for People

  • Respect (We respect others,  make every effort to understand each other, take responsibility and do  our best to build mutual trust.)
  • Teamwork (We stimulate  personal and professional growth, share the opportunities of development  and maximize individual and team performance.)

This system, more than any  other aspect of the company, is responsible for having made Toyota the  company it is today. Toyota has long been recognized as a leader in the  automotive manufacturing and production industry.  More recently the  Toyota Production System has been combined with elements of Six Sigma  (below) to create Lean Six Sigma training programs.


2. Six Sigma

Six Sigma (6 Sigma) is a set of tools  and strategies for process improvement originally developed by Motorola  in 1986. Six Sigma (6 Sigma) became well known after Jack Welch made it a  central focus of his business strategy at General Electric in 1995, and  today it is used in different sectors of industry. Six Sigma (6 Sigma)  seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and  removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in  manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality  management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special  infrastructure of people within the organization ("Champions", "Black  Belts", "Green Belts", "Orange Belts", etc.) who are experts in these  very complex methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an  organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified  financial targets (cost reduction and/or profit increase). 

The term Six Sigma (6 Sigma)  originated from terminology associated with manufacturing, specifically  terms associated with statistical modeling of manufacturing processes.  The maturity of a manufacturing process can be described by a sigma  rating indicating its yield or the percentage of defect-free products it  creates. A six sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of the products  manufactured are statistically expected to be free of defects (3.4  defects per million). Motorola set a goal of "six sigma" for all of its  manufacturing operations, and this goal became a byword for the  management and engineering practices used to achieve it.


Six Sigma Doctrine

Like its predecessors, Six Sigma doctrine asserts that:

  • Continuous efforts to achieve  stable and predictable process results (i.e., reduce process variation)  are of vital importance to business success.
  • Manufacturing and business processes have characteristics that can be measured, analyzed, improved and controlled.
  • Achieving sustained quality  improvement requires commitment from the entire organization,  particularly from top-level management.


Features that set Six Sigma apart from previous quality improvement initiatives include:

  • A clear focus on achieving measurable and quantifiable financial returns from any Six Sigma project. 
  • An increased emphasis on strong and passionate management leadership and support. 
  • A special infrastructure of  "Champions", "Master Black Belts", "Black Belts", "Green Belts", etc. to  lead and implement the Six Sigma approach. 
  • A clear commitment to making  decisions on the basis of verifiable data and statistical methods,  rather than assumptions and guesswork.

Six Sigma (6 Sigma) is a  registered service mark and trademark of Motorola Inc. As of 2006  Motorola reported over US$17 billion in savings from Six Sigma (6  Sigma). Other early adopters of Six Sigma who achieved well-publicized  success include Honeywell (previously known as AlliedSignal) and General  Electric, where Jack Welch introduced the method. By the late 1990s,  about two-thirds of the Fortune 500 organizations had begun Six Sigma  initiatives with the aim of reducing costs and improving quality.  More  recently Six Sigma has been combined with aspects of the Toyota  Production System to create Lean Six Sigma training programs.


3. Performance management (PM)

Performance management includes  activities which ensure that goals are consistently being met in an  effective and efficient manner. Performance management can focus on the  performance of an organization, a department, employee, or even the  processes to build a product of service, as well as many other areas.   PM is also known as a process by which organizations align their  resources, systems and employees to strategic objectives and  priorities.  Performance management as term defined by Dr. Aubrey  Daniels in the late 1970s to describe a technology (i.e. science  embedded in applications methods) for managing both behavior and  results, two critical elements of what is known as performance. 

This is used most often in the  workplace, can apply wherever people interact — schools, churches,  community meetings, sports teams, health setting, governmental agencies,  social events and even political settings - anywhere in the world  people interact with their environments to produce desired effects.  Armstrong and Baron (1998) defined it as a “strategic and integrated  approach to increase the effectiveness of companies by improving the  performance of the people who work in them and by developing the  capabilities of teams and individual contributors.”


Main Benefits

Direct financial gain:

  • Grow sales
  • Reduce costs in the organization
  • Stop project overruns
  • Aligns the organization directly behind the CEO's goals
  • Decreases the time it takes to create strategic or operational changes by communicating the changes through a new set of goals

Motivated workforce:

  • Optimizes incentive plans to specific goals for over achievement, not just business as usual
  • Improves employee engagement  because everyone understands how they are directly contributing to the  organizations high level goals
  • Create transparency in achievement of goals
  • High confidence in bonus payment process
  • Professional development programs are better aligned directly to achieving business level goals

Improved management control:

  • Flexible, responsive to management needs
  • Displays data relationships
  • Helps audit / comply with legislative requirement
  • Simplifies communication of strategic goals scenario planning
  • Provides well documented and communicated process documentation


4. Engineering Human Competence

Based on the work of Thomas F.  Gilbert, a psychologist who is often known as the founder of the field  of performance technology. Gilbert himself defined the term Performance  Engineering. Gilbert applied his understanding of behavioral psychology  to improve human performance at work and at school. He is best known for  his book Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance. Gilbert  devised HPT when he realized that formal learning programs often only  brought about a change in knowledge, not a change in behavior. Other  techniques were needed to bring about a lasting change in behavior. 

Dr. Gilbert spent a year on a  post-doctoral sabbatical working with the behavioral psychologist B. F.  Skinner at Harvard University and with Ogden R. Lindsley in Lindsley's  laboratory at Metropolitan State Hospital in Waltham, MA. Dr. Gilbert  received his BA and MA degrees at the University of South Carolina and  his PhD in psychology from the University of Tennessee. His specialties  were statistics, testing and measurement.

Gilbert applied this model to the world of work and school by observing  that Performance is a function of an interaction between a person's  Behavior and his/her Environment (P = B x E) and then defining the  elements of the ABC model within each of these two domains. He called  the resulting model the Performance Engineering Model, and used it to  identify opportunities to systematically develop the managerially  controllable systems and other factors in the work and school  environments which support employee/student performance. These  improvements sometimes resulted in dramatic increases in performance.   Dr. Gilbert's work has created much of the organizing framework upon  which the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) is  based. The ISPI award the Thomas F. Gilbert Distinguished Professional  Achievement Award, previously called the Outstanding Member and  Distinguished Professional Achievement, that was renamed in 1996 in  honor of Gilbert.