Interesting News: State Department needs to be Lean with emails

Last week a news item caught my attention. I went on to read it and found to be very interesting. This news was about employees hitting the reply to all button of their emails and eventually sending that to thousands of people on the list. According to the news this has created very high system loads and plenty of embarrassment. I have given the link at the bottom of this page so that you can refer to the exact news item after complete reading this article.

Suddenly I remembered the series of posts I published describing the possibility of using lean manufacturing concepts in the context of communication. I think you will have to go through this series again and refresh yourselves so that you will never do these kinds of communication mistakes. We do live in an overly communicated world. In simple words it is too much of communication to add little or no value. If something doesn’t add value to the customer it is a waste. So it is very important for us to be lean in our communication.

Incidentally I found another interesting article on Mark’s leanblog on with the title 5S for email. I think this might give you some interesting ideas as well.

BTW I think this article is interesting, so you can hit the Forward button and send to your friends.

Toyota, Lean and TAKT Time in recession

There are many media reports on Toyota’s temporary closure of their manufacturing facilities in Japan. Toyota December Sales has reduced by 36.7%. Reducing demand is causing the manufacturing giant to close down some of its manufacturing facilities across Japan for 11 Days. And Toyota is predicting an operational loss for the first time in the financial year ending from March 2009. This goes to show even the best lean manufacturers might suffer the effects of global recession.

From a lean manufacturing point of view what the closure means? Is it violating the key lean concept of respect for people? No of course not. They are temporally closing their plants so jobs will not get affected (according to my knowledge). For me, Toyota is simply sticking with lean concepts.

One of the most important concepts of lean is the pull manufacturing. Supply is pulled by the demand, not the other way around. So if there is less demand they have to produce less. It is as simple as that. But how do they produce less. They can work full time and manufacture the vehicles needed slowly, in other words with higher TAKT time. But how slow one can get? One can not produce one vehicle a day for an example. So they have to workout a method to even out their load so that they can get the optimal result out of it. Looking at the bigger picture and balancing of resources (heijunka) are among important lean concepts.

Although I am unaware of the actual figures, I am sure this temporary closure for 11 days is well within the lean concepts. I am happy to see an organization sticking to their basics even in tough times. What are your thoughts on this?