Presenting another innovative concept in learning and sharing, the PIM Alumni launched ‘A Business Chat’ on 5 October at the Galadari Hotel.
The inaugural ‘Business Chat’ was titled ‘The Human Side of Lean Management’ and was presented by Katsuhiko Satoh, former President cum Chairman and current special advisor to Ford Japan Ltd.
Also part of the discussion as guest speaker was Sunil Wijesinhe, Managing Director of Dankotuwa Porcelain PLC and the proceedings were moderated by Dr. Uditha Liyanage, Director of PIM.
Dr. Liyanage began the proceedings by explaining the nature and purpose of the business chat. “The best way to learn is by working and playing,” he stated, adding that an informal discussion was a good way of teaching, learning and creating new ideas.
Satoh began by introducing the three lean principles which were 3M, 3G and 5S. 3M – Muda, Muri, Mura refers to the three different kinds of waste; non value-adding work, including over-production (Muda) , unreasonable work such as dangerous tasks (Muri) and lack of consistency (Mura).
The 3G method Genba (actual place) Genbutsu (actual facts) and Genjitsu (actual situation) and the more popular 5S which is Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke were also touched on during the presentation.
Satoh, though affiliated with Ford, professed his admiration for Soichiro Honda who rose to the ranks with only an elementary school education but a dedicated advocate of the 3G system. He also discussed the importance of appreciating skills, the collaboration between workers and engineers, a long and stable employment and also the precedence of a consumer-driven organisation rather than a profit-driven one.
The relationship between workers and management, he stated, was important and added that the workers should be involved in decision making since only they know how production occurs and therefore, the best ways to improve it. He cited Honda, when he commented that “knowledge itself won’t help you solve an issue”.
He added that there also needs to be a balance between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge whereby the engineers and workers must work together and be appreciated in order for the company to succeed.
“Engineers and technology must work together with workers and skills to ensure success. If half the organisation is not appreciated, then it does not work,” Satoh stated.
In conclusion he said that being lean does not necessarily mean to cut costs but was the act of finding people who are not working effectively, discouraged or unappreciated and taking action in order to correct this.
Wijesinhe, who is an expert on Japanese management and organisational styles, shared his experiences while learning and implementing these procedures. He stated that in the Japanese working culture, the involvement of the workers ensured that power remained in the hands of everyone in the organisation.
His recollections were based on his numerous trips to Japan; Wijesinha brought out the concept of the quality circle which was presented by the workers not only to improve the product but also the quality of the workmanship.
The session was followed by a discussion as to why Sri Lanka does not implement the ‘Genba’ style of management. Satoh added to the discussion by stating that ‘Genba’ was an attitude, a vision of leadership, rather than theory.
The concept of ‘Mura’ or the lack of consistency was also part of the discussion. In order to achieve sustained success, everyone needs to be committed to the project and