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Meet Samuel Obara of Honsha.ORG in Scripps Ranch – SDVoyager – USA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samuel Obara.

Samuel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.

I immigrated to the US from Brazil when I was 29 years old to learn English and to finish a masters degree in business administration. With little money to support my living, a company in the Silicon Valley offered a scholarship and support in exchange for some help they needed in their manufacturing plants: they needed to cut cost, improve quality, speed up delivery time, increase customer service, etc… My experience of 13 years in Toyota Brazil, Japan and Venezuela were very useful since Toyota has been regarded as having a model production system. A few years after getting my green card and with enough English fluency, I started a consulting association -Honsha.ORG, aiming to help organizations improve their operations as well as to help disadvantaged communities around the world improve their lives, all through Lean and Kaizen concepts (the techniques I learned from Toyota). I also started teaching classes for the California Community Colleges, San Diego State University, and a few other institutions. Today Honsha.ORG has supported over 450 companies around the world, it has offered Lean and Kaizen support in places as far as Kenya, East Timor, and the Amazon, it has taught thousands in the business community on how to improve their products and services. Our clients are in sectors such as military, healthcare, government, finance, wholesale/retail, manufacturing, etc. And the problems we solve range from reducing wait lines in a DMV office to reducing the cost of a pair of eyeglasses. We were proud to sponsor a San Diegan for the first time, to go to Ethiopia and help poor communities there with the Lean and Kaizen concepts.

Has it been a smooth road?

Not understanding the language is my most vivid challenge, and I think the first one. As an adult immigrant, learning a new language to professional fluency seems to be a tremendous challenge, but it is possible with enough determination. I remember attending adult schools in the evening, carrying a dictionary everywhere I went, trying to read as much as possible, etc… It was draining. Another obstacle was that my first several months in the US were tight. Money was running out quickly, I didn’t have income for my first nine months, I was taking several English classes, I had only a few more months to finish my student visa and return to Brazil, and I realized that money was going to run out well before I could learn what I needed. I still wanted to apply for an MBA but evidently my English wouldn’t get me a scholarship or even admission for that matter. My hopes were low when I coincidentally met an engineer in one trip to Detroit, and right there in the waiting room at the airport he said his boss was looking for someone exactly like me, his company could sponsor me for my education, my English would be just enough for what they needed, etc.. A week later his boss called me and offered me a job!! Just in time before I ran out of money. some people call it a coincidence, synchronicity, I knew at that time it was a miracle.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Honsha.ORG – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.

Honsha is a premier Lean Consulting group that has built a strong reputation by transforming companies using the TPS/Lean philosophy learned at Toyota. Based in San Diego and with offices in São Paulo (Brazil) and Tokyo (Japan), Honsha serves companies of all sizes and types, from small and midsize companies to Fortune 500 and major multinational corporations around the world. For almost two decades, Honsha has been implementing TPS/Lean around the world in a variety of industries: Automotive, Food, Pharmaceutical, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Banking, Insurance, Government, and others. We focus on the purpose of TPS/Lean and the principles of Continuous Improvement and Respect before we look for ways to implement tools. This has allowed us to develop a strong and loyal customer base because this is the basis for our customers to become self-reliant. Honsha associates, as former Toyota team members, have been deeply exposed to the Toyota culture and its DNA. Because of this unique background, their understanding goes beyond the Lean Manufacturing tools learned by reading books. At Honsha, they have all worked it, lived it, and ingrained it into their way of practicing and modeling TPS/Lean. Our clients consistently remind us that we “see things differently”, and this is our edge. I am proud that Honsha has been able to give back to the community and has been able to teach thousands of multipliers about how to improve their businesses and other people’s lives.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?

Having traveled to so many countries and visited cities all over the US, San Diego is unique in several ways. San Diego has everything a big city has to offer, great restaurants and entertainment, excellent colleges, hospitals and employment options, great diversity, parks, zoos, nature, etc, etc. But at the same time, San Diego has the feel of a laid back and relaxed atmosphere of a small beach town. I know San Diego’s traffic is not the best in the world and can be improved quite a bit, but realistically speaking, you won’t find this anywhere in the world: within a few minute radius from downtown you can be at the airport, at the train station, at the cruise ship port, at the zoo, cross the border, visit wineries, and of course relax on the beach. And traffic in downtown still flows!! I like that San Diegans, although very spoiled by the weather and everything else I mentioned, are the friendliest people. Every now and then I hear from people who have visited San Diego that they think our weather forecast is the most boring, “it is always the same, it never changes…”. I console them saying that sometimes we do have very cold weather, too. “but when that happens, we close the window”. haha .

Contact Info:

LEAN2015-0221

LEAN 2015: verslo strategija – efektyvumas

Balandžio 29 d. „Litexpo“ parodų ir kongresų centre vyko pirmoji tokio masto „Lean.lt“ ir „Verslo žinių“ organizuota konferencija „LEAN 2015: verslo strategija – efektyvumas“, kurioje savo gerąja praktika, kaip kurti konkurencinį pranašumą, mažinti sąnaudas, didinti darbuotojų įsitraukimą dalijosi sėkmingai savo veiklą su Lean vystančių Lietuvos įmonių vadovai, bei „Lean.lt“ partneris, „Honsha“ vykdantysis direktorius Samuelis Obara. Pasak „Lean.lt“ vadovo ir praktiko Vido Petraičio, vedusio renginį, šių metų konferencijoje orientuojamasi į pagrindinius Lean iššūkius – lyderių įsitraukimą, Lean vietą organizacijos strategijoje ir vadovų dienotvarkėje, darbuotojų įtraukimą, bei platesnį Lean pritaikomumą už verslo ribų.

LEAN2015-022Vienas garsiausių Lean praktikų pasaulyje S. Obara pradėjo konferenciją pranešimu apie Lean lyderio organizacijoje vaidmenį. Anot konferencijos svečio, vadovas turi padėti tobulinimo pamatus organizacijoje ir rodyti, kokia kryptimi organizacija juda toliau, priešingu atveju, be stipraus vadovo – lyderio, negalima tikėtis ir rezultatų. S. Obara pabrėžia, jog įmones, kurios pasiekia gerų rezultatų be nuolatinių pastangų gerinti vidinius procesus, tiesiog kurį laiką lydi sėkmė, tačiau tie rezultatai laikini. Nuolatinis procesų tobulinimas atneša užtikrintus rezultatus ilgalaikėje perspektyvoje. Lean ekspertas pateikė didelių, gerai žinomų organizacijų „PanAmerican“, „Atari“ ir „Converse“ žlugimo istorijas kaip pavyzdį, kad nors ir dideles, tačiau neefektyvias ir nesikeičiančias įmones greitai gali nuversti lankstesni konkurentai. V. Petraitis šią mintį palydėjo anksčiau S. Obaros išsakyta nuomone, jog keistis nebūtina, nes išgyventi neprivaloma. S. Obara taip pat vedė ir efektyvumo dirbtuves konferencijos dalyviams.
„Phillip Morris Lietuva“ generalinis direktorius Rimvydas Pundinas bei nuolatinio veiklos gerinimo koordinatorius Mindaugas Kulikauskas pasakojo, kaip Lean sistema padeda siekti pagrindinio organizacijos tikslo – būti geriausia vieta gaminti bei dirbti. 2015 m. bendrovė gavo „Top Employers Institute“ geriausio darbdavio sertifikatą. Darbuotojų įsitraukimas įmonėje siekia beveik 90 proc., nes jie turi galimybę patys prisidėti prie veiklos bei darbo sąlygų tobulinimo. LEAN2015-065M. Kulikauskas dalijosi pavyzdžiu, kad siekiant pagerinti darbų saugą buvo sudarytas žemėlapis, kuriame sužymėti visi įvykę incidentai, gedimai ir pan. su išsamiais paaiškinimais, kas nutiko ir kokių priemonių buvo imtasi siekiant to išvengti. „Phillip Morris Lietuva“ atstovas pažymi, jog labai svarbu yra laikytis 5S vizualaus darbų vietų sutvarkymo ir valdymo metodo, nes jei iš pat pradžių nesilaikoma varkos prie įrengimų, toliau labai sunku diegti kitus tobulinimus.

LEAN2015-100Pasak AB „Vilniaus baldai“ generalinio direktoriaus Rimanto Vaitkaus, pastebėjus, kaip Lean sistema padeda įtraukti darbuotojus, tikimasi ateityje šį rodiklį gerinti dar labiau. Šiuo metu namų apyvokos prekių milžinei „IKEA“ prekes gaminančiuose „Vilniaus balduose“ dirba virš 600 darbuotojų, iš kurių daugiau kaip šimtas yra įsitraukę į darbą su Lean sistema, aktyviai teikia idėjas procesų gerinimui.

LEAN2015-108Apie 15 mln. litrų alkoholinių gėrimų kasmet pagaminančios AB „Vilniaus degtinės“ generalinis direktorius Juozas Daunys pasakojo, kaip Lean sistema, diegiama nuo 2011 m. padėjo įmonei išsivaduoti iš krizės. Įgyvendinant darbuotojų pateikiamus kaizenus ir taikant kitus Lean metodus per metus sutaupoma 1 mln. minučių darbo laiko, 2014 m. sistema padėjo sutaupyti net 34 tūkst. EUR. Lean taikymas padėjo pagerinti 2011 m. smukusius rezultatus ir „Lean.lt“ vadovo V. Petraičio teigimu, lyginant su gamyklomis Lenkijoje, Prancūzijoje, Bulgarijoje, Ispanijoje bei kitose šalyse, AB „Vilniaus degtinė“ tapo grupės lyderė.

LEAN2015-165AB „Umega“ finansų kontrolierė Laura Lisauskienė bei meistras Valdas Stanionis dalijosi savo patirtimi, kaip sukurti nuolatinio tobulėjimo rutiną savo komandoje. Pasak pranešėjų, didžiausias iššūkis diegiant Lean buvo paskatinti darbuotojus pačius rašyti ir siūlyti kaizenus. Vadovams įsitraukus bei padėjus darbuotojams pateikti ir įgyvendinti pirmąsias idėjas toliau entuziazmas tik auga.

LEAN2015-171DNB bankas – pavyzdys, jog Lean sistema gali būti taikoma ne vien gamyboje, tačiau ir paslaugų sektoriuje ar administraciniuose procesuose. Pasak AB DNB valdybos pirmininko ir prezidento Bjornar Lund bei banko kokybės, procesų tobulinimo ir palaikymo departamento vadovės Jurgitos Juškevičienės siekiant sisteminių permainų, svarbiausia yra, kad to norėtų lyderis, kitaip niekas nesikeis. Nuo Lean diegimo pradžios 2012 m. banko produktyvumas kasmet auga 6 – 7 proc., o pokyčiais patenkinti yra 90 proc. darbuotojų.

Interviu Verslo žiniose su Darril Wilburn

Darril Wilburn interview – Verslo Zinios

Interviu Verslo žiniose su Darril Wilburn

The chief executive officer is the important role in the management of an organization. Is he also the most important when companies implementing the Toyota Production System in their work?

The CEO, as well as all members of the leadership team, have vital roles of play in the success of Lean in their companies.  Middle and lower level managers can implement Lean ideas in to their areas, and have short term success.  But eventually all aspects of the business must be involved.  The top leadership has the vital role of setting the path forward, the vision.  It is this vision, be it 1, 5 or even 10 yrs forward, that drives the activities of everyone in a lean organization.  In Lean we call it Hoshin Kanri or Policy Deployment.

 

Could you give some tips for CEO?  For example five must-do steps.

-Be patient, results don’t happen overnight when implementing lean.  The purpose of TPS (Lean) is to identify waste (from the customers view point) and eliminate it, to expose problems so they can be solved.  Thus it is a system that has the capability of developing employees like nothing else can.  Improved financial results are the result of Lean, not the purpose.

-Go and See.  No matter how high you get in the organization take the time to go to the “floor”.  The floor is where ever in your company that team members product the service or product that your customers want.  Go and learn and teach.  It will be invaluable to both you and the team members.

-Think long term.  Don’t use lean as a way to cut jobs.

-Get a Lean assessment, have someone skilled in Lean to look at your company from an outside perspective to see where your greatest opportunities are located.

 

What are the biggest and most common mistakes CEO make when implementing the Toyota Production System?

-The biggest mistake companies make is treating lean as a Tool kit.  It is not a tool kit, it has many tools that are useful but the existence of a few Lean tools does not mean you are a lean company. -Results over process, may leaders focus on results ahead of process.  In lean we must balance this view.  If a result is achieved and you don’t know how it was achieved then that is called being Lucky (or unlucky if we don’t like the result).  In a Lean system we must know how we achieved the result, we must know the process so we can learn from the result and continually improve. -Impatience.  As stated before, it takes time and discipline to develop a smooth running lean system.

 

How about employee? A small number will quickly understand it. A small number will feel threatened and try to kill it. Everyone else waiting to see who wins. How CEO should motivate workers?

We must all understand that we are working in a global economy and whatever our product or service we must be competitive. Team Members must understand this and know that long term job stability depends on  our company being able to compete.  No longer can we hope to be shielded from this reality.  If your company doesn’t adopt Lean practices then some other company will and they will have highest quality, lowest cost and shortest lead time and you will be at a disadvantage.  Knowing this we must teach our people about lean, train them to see waste and how to eliminate it. Waste makes up 99% of the time in producing a product, from raw materials to market. There is so much opportunity to get team members involved. Leaders can also put in systems to reward the people who contribute ideas to the company.  Kaizen Teian is our term for the idea of everyday improvement and implementation.  This is vital to motivating team members.  They must also know that Lean is not intended as a way to eliminate them, on the contrary, a company may need more people to fill the orders that result from being more competitive.

 

I find few sentences about it. For example: “Traditional organizational structure hides problems.” Value streams look at the organization horizontally, not vertically”. Why is it important?

At its core lean is about people raising and solving problems.  Even the afore mentioned Hoshin Kanri process looks to understand the problems of tomorrow and work to solve them proactively.  If Problem Solving is our main job them we must structure work in a way to make problems visible.  Many times in a traditional company structure each area has its responsibility but we don’t connect in a way that ensures problems are visible across many divisions, across the entire value chain.  We must have the courage and humility to raise problems and solve them.  If not some other company will and  we may be left behind.  There is so much more to say about problem solving.

 

The benefits of the “lean” production for business and industry are obvious. What would you say about other types of organisations – state institutions?  

Anytime you have a customer and a process lean is right for you.  I say this with a bit of humor but it is true.  Lean looks for waste from the customer perspective and more specifically we say that the next process is your customer.  In this scenario we must them deliver value to whoever gets what we produce internally or externally.  When we do this the end user of the product or service gets what they want.  That is the goal of not only manufacturing but any company or government agency.   One of my biggest clients is a Mortgage Bank that services Government programs.  We have worked with them for quite some time to redesign processes to deliver their service to their customer at the highest quality, lowest cost and shortest lead time.

 

Can you briefly tell about implementing the Toyota Production System in Washington? How state government try to change its working style?

-State government is embracing lean for the same reasons as manufacturing clients and the Mortgage Bank.  They want to do a better job of delivering service and do so within a shrinking state budget.  They must continue learning how waste has been built into their work processes and how this waste does not serve the customer.  We have worked with an Agency in the State government and are seeing decreased cost and increased quality as a result of Lean activity.

 

What influence on the process does the culture have? (The company culture ant culture of the country.)

Many people think that Lean is only for Japanese companies or just Toyota.  We have seen lean transform companies and agencies across the world.  Mars Lietuva is an example of how Lean can work in this country.  They are part of a Global company that has embraced lean from South America, to Europe.  We have found no company or country culture that is against finding ways to improve.  There are some individuals that are afraid and resist Lean but this is not cultural, it is personal.

 

You have been in Lithuania, in “Mars Lietuva”. What cultural differences do you notice here?

Mars Lietuva is doing a great job implementing lean.  They are seeing results that they would not have seen without Lean and the people seem to be embracing it.  One thing I see is that Lithuanians seem to be very positive so it makes it a bit more difficult to also see the problems.  Mars Lithuania is a great example of people seeing problems as a positive!  This may not be natural but they are seeing that we must find our problems and solve them (even with a smile).  Yes problems and the solving of them is quite positive!

 

Interest in Lean Thinking continues to grow. Why doesn’t everyone Do “Lean”?

-Because they are not patient.  Only great leaders develop the type of vision necessary to implement Lean and then have the discipline and commitment to let it work for the long term.  Many will give up and move on to the next thing.  It is not easy, the concepts are easy but actually implementing and having the discipline to see it through it difficult.  It is not for the weak.  Lithuania is seeing a growing interest in Lean, not only do you have successful companies implementing Lean you also have support in companies like Lean.lt.  It is an exciting time to be part of Lean in Lithuania.  

 

What Future do you see for LEAN?

-As long as there are problem to solve and improvements to make then Lean will have an unlimited future.  We are seeing so many different industries involved with lean, from Health Care to Insurance and Banking.  Government Agencies are also leading this next wave of interest.  Lean is simple in concept so it is easy to apply to any situation that involves a customer.  If your company is suffering because of the global financial situation then Lean can be helpful.  If your company is in good financial condition then Lean can help you prepare for when times are not as good.  We were taught at Toyota that “When times are good we prepare for when times are bad.  When times are bad we prepare for when times are good.”  This is what Honsha helps instill in companies.