Sunday, January 09, 2005

Learning from the Toyota Production System


From Lean Manufacturing to Lean Marketing

The first upheaval introduced by the Toyota Production System came more out of Japanese culture than from the world of process control. It is a philosophical sense of unity with reality that forms the foundation for Lean Manufacturing -- a methodoloyg that has revolutionized assembly lines around the world. This runs counter to the command and control mentality of American assembly line production. It is a “giving in” to a reality that is larger than life. Without this, there can be no big change in existing systems.


Genjitsu, Gembutsu and Gemba are a reflection of Asian culture. They are not tasks to complete. Instead they are a mindset to be absorbed. Like Nature, the 3 Reals cannot be manipulated. They are what they are and those of us in marketing must learn how to flow up alongside them and to be absorbed into them. If you miss these simple truths, you will miss Lean Contextual Marketing.


It reminds me of learning algebra as a kid. The first set of theorems sounded so simple that they were just common sense. So I never mastered them. And for the next year, I never understood algebra. In the summer, I went back to the beginning and built a stronger understanding of things like “if a=b and b=c, then a=c.” Suddenly, the rest of the book made sense and I could do algebra.

The 3 Reals are just like algebra. They need to be absorbed and practiced before the Lean Marketing can be delivered effectively. Skip Reality and you will still be practicing Traditional Marketing and placing a heavy burden on your company.

The 3 Reals in Lean Manufacturing are quite different than The 3 Reals of Lean Marketing. But nonetheless critical. They are the whack along side the head needed to stop doing traditional marketing where the marketer is in charge and pushes products and promotions at customers.

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