TPS has been called a “make-sense” system meaning that the components that make up TPS/Lean are logical, simple, common sense. It’s been said that common sense is not always common practice. What has separated Toyota from other companies is the discipline to believe in the principles and to stick with them for the long haul. For all its simplicity, industry has been attempting to understand Lean for years. Superficially, Lean can be misinterpreted as a tool box for management. This view of Lean can cause practitioners to pick a tool or two to implement and think they can leave the remainder in the tool box.
Lean is much more like a house being constantly built. We cannot choose to place the roof until we have built the walls. To place the walls without a strong foundation would be foolish. Most importantly, a house can not be well built if the people working on it are not engaged and committed to Lean principles. Finally, a house can only stand strong through time if it is being continually maintained and improved to meet changing demands.
Lean focuses on improving business value, as defined by customer needs. All efforts are focused on increasing business value through elimination of non-value added activities. Massive cost reduction and improved lead time are just a natural consequence. In applying the Lean business philosophy, we have to consider short term effects but never loose sight of long term goals.