2 Lean

A session in which we trace the growth of interest in Lean Operations from its roots in the Toyota production system and explore the issues relevant to its implementation within an operations strategy.


In the 1980s the conventional view of manufacturing management, based on the scientific management of F W Taylor, was challenged when visiting academics and managers observed the management of successful Japanese firms, in particular Toyota. This alternative view of operations, based on even flows of work, continuous improvement and employee involvement is now seen as a new model for operations: Lean Operations.

Preparation Exercise

Over twenty years ago managers from Western car companies visited Toyota in Japan and saw kanban systems, heijunka and jidoka in use.

  • What does each term mean?
  • Why was each of these techniques so interesting to these visitors?
  • Suggest why implementations of them in Western factories were less than overwhelmingly successful?

Key Terms


The Texts of Taylor’s Classic Texts

F W Taylor Principles of Scientific Management
F W Taylor Shop Management

Short Video of the Volvo Kalmar Plant, Opened in 1973

This video shows autonomous group working in Volvo, which can be seen as a reaction to the problems in Taylorist approaches to the design of operations systems.

Lean & Value Stream Analysis

 ShortVideo Introduction to Lean

Society of Manufacturing Engineers Video on Value Stream Mapping: note the focus on team involvement

Society of Manufacturing Engineers Video on Lean in Small Firms

Society of Manufacturing Engineers Video on Training for Lean