Lean Glossary

Richard Durnall put this together. (see link below) I’ve made some changes and additions to improve clarity.
link from: http://www.richarddurnall.com/?page_id=3

The idea behind this glossary is not only to define some Lean related terms but also for me to share my view of their relationship with IT, software and technology projects. I don’t speak Japanese, I barely even speak English, so I’m sure that some of the Japanese translations will be a bit weird…rd

Andon: an andon is a device that was historically used to both stop the process and to signal the problem to others so that the issue or fault could be immediately corrected. The term is borrowed from the Japanese word for a paper lantern as these were originally used as the signaling component in the Toyota facilities. Agile software development teams often use continuous integration and build lights to act as an andon. The developers will check in their code on a frequent basis assuming the build is not broken, signaled to the team by a green build light. The application will then be ‘built’ (automated tests are usually used as an implementation of Jidoka at this point), with the build light flashing amber signifying a build is in progress. If the build completes successfully then the light will turn green signaling success to the team. However, if there is any failure the build stops immediately and the light turns red. It is then the responsibility of the entire team to get the build fixed and the light back to green before work can continue (this doesn’t mean that the entire team has to be working on fixing it though).

A3 Report: Toyota have a policy that all reports, no matter how important, should be presented on a single side of A3 paper. The idea being that ‘less is more’; there is no value in individuals crafting large documents and others reading them if the information can be contained in something far smaller, the rest of the document is waste. In the software development world this translates to writing as little as is needed to convey the information. Agile teams often use a few standardised, simple diagrams to convey large amounts of information. User stories are also a good example of the application of this principle in the IT domain.

Baka-Yoke: the forerunner to the term Poke-Yoke. The term Baka-Yoke was introduced by Shigeo Shingo (Industrial Engineer @ Toyota) in the early sixties and roughly translates as ‘Fool-Proof’. Unfortunately an employee objected to the ‘Fool’ component so Baka-Yoke became Poke-Yoke which translates to ‘Error-Proof’ or ‘Mistake-Proof’.

Build Light: these are often small lights attached to the machine used to build the application being development that signals to the team the status of the build. A green light is used to signal a successful build, amber or flashing amber to indicate that a build is in progress (and that no-one else should start a build) and red to signal that a build has failed and must be fixed by the team. This is an implementation of the andon principle in the IT environment.

Chaku-Chaku: means ‘load-load’ in Japanese. These are cleverly designed work cells that support the reduction of processing time. They are a good example of the efficiency improvements that can be achieved through cleverly designed workspaces and tools. Cite these the next time your are trying to get acceptable development equipment for your team.

Change Agent: these are the people that introduce and embed Lean principles into an organisation. These people have to break all of the traditional views and processes of the organisation to systematise change. We should all aspire to be change agents. In the technology world we need change agents who have influence and relationships throughout the organisation, not just in IT.Cycle Time: simply the time required to complete a cycle of an operation. The cycle times that often interest me are: the time taken to develop and release a new product; the time taken to make a user story production ready and the time taken to get a release of an application into a live environment. Measuring and monitoring cycle times are key to driving the elimination of waste.

Five S’s:these are 5 terms that all begin with the letter ‘S’ that are intended to make your work environment suitable for Lean. They are, with rough English translations also starting with ‘S’ in brackets, Seiri (Sort), Seiton (Set in Order), Seiso (Shine), Seiketso (Standardise) and Shitsuke (Sustain).

Five Whys: this is a tool that Taiichi Ohno developed to identify a root cause. Taiichi believed that if you asked a person ‘why?’ five times you would finally get past symptoms and identify the root cause of the problem. Use this one with caution, it’s massively powerful but you always run the risk of getting a punch in the face if you’re not blessed with tact.

FMEA (Failure Modes & Effects Analysis): this is an incredibly powerful tool for risk analysis and planning. It translates incredibly well to the IT environment and can be used as a structured model for defining project risk plans and also to drive the non-functional requirements of a product or system. 

Gemba:this term translates to something like ‘the actual place’ and is tightly coupled to the principle of Genchi Genbutsu. It is key in the IT world that wherever possible we go to the gemba to define our understanding of the process, activities and requirements.

Genchi Genbutsu: translates to something like ‘go and see for yourself’ and is the principle of not relying on second hand information to understand something but going to the place the activity takes place to watch it, or even better, perform it.

Hansei: translates as ‘reflection’ and should be performed at key milestones to promote learning and Kaizen. Most Agile teams perform regular retrospectives to review the things that went well, things that didn’t go as well and anything still puzzling the team. I try to install retrospectives at least fortnightly on delivery projects and often daily during workshops and consulting work.

Heijunka: this means creating a ‘level-scheduling’ system to cope with short term variations while planning for long-term demand. Heijunka principles are often directly applicable to software development teams working from user stories. One week a small number of large stories may be planned based on value and priority, the next week a large number of small stories. Some weeks emergencies happen and the development team needs to repond to an immediate business crisis. Development teams can apply the Heijunka principles from manufacturing to directly deal with these same local variations over the long term.

Hidden Factory: a hidden factory is a process that has developed under the radar to ensure an activity to develop a product is successful. A manufacturing example could be where a line worker receives a bolt that always has an inside lip that prevents it from connecting to the sub-component that he assembles. Every time that there is a lull in production he/she grabs a box of bolts and a file and files down the lip so that he doesn’t have problems later. Organisations are full of hidden factories. How many times have you spoken to a developer who has to perform a days work around what should be a trivial task because components he receives are defective? Hidden factories are waste, they should be identified by value-stream maps and removed.

Hoshin Kanri: is often translated as ‘Policy Deployment’. This is a tool used by executives to make strategic decisions aligned to the objectives of the organisation and deploy them at an implementation level by initiating a few key projects. These principles can be applied to IT strategies, programs and projects as well as business initiatives and strategy. Ideally both are done together in a collaborative workshop environment.

Inventory: a company’s merchandise, raw materials and finished or unfinished products that have yet to be sold can all be classified as inventory. This can translate to parts, components, raw materials and vehicles in the automotive manufacturing environment. In the IT world anything that contributes to, but is not directly a part of the final product, or any components that are not in the production environment are often considered inventory. The goal of Lean processes is to minimise inventory levels as much as possible.
Ishikawa: fishbone diagrams or cause-and-effect diagrams are used to perform risk analysis through the application of cause and effect principles.

Jidoka (Autonomation): this concept was pioneered by Sakichi Toyoda with his automated looms. Sakichi engineered a system that stopped the machine when a failure was detected and asked for help. Continuous integration environments that run automated test suites as part of the build can be considered an IT application of the autonomation principle.

(from the Toyota website)

— Highlighting/visualization of problems —

-Quality must be built in during the manufacturing process!-

If equipment malfunction or a defective part is discovered, the affected machine automatically stops, and operators cease production and correct the problem.
For the Just-in-Time system to function, all of the parts that are made and supplied must meet predetermined quality standards. This is achieved through jidoka.

  1. Jidoka means that a machine safely stops when the normal processing is completed. It also means that, should a quality / equipment problem arise, the machine detects the problem on its own and stops, preventing defective products from being produced. As a result, only products satisfying quality standards will be passed on to the following processes on the production line.
  2. Since a machine automatically stops when processing is completed or when a problem arises and is communicated via the “andon” (problem display board), operators can confidently continue performing work at another machine, as well as easily identify the problem’s cause to prevent its recurrence. This means that each operator can be in charge of many machines, resulting in higher productivity, while continuous improvements lead to greater processing capacity.

— Productivity improvement —

– Making only “what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed!”

Producing quality products efficiently through the complete elimination of waste, inconsistencies, and unreasonable requirements on the production line.
In order to deliver a vehicle ordered by a customer as quickly as possible, the vehicle is efficiently built within the shortest possible period of time by adhering to the following:

  1. When a vehicle order is received, a production instruction must be issued to the beginning of the vehicle production line as soon as possible.
  2. The assembly line must be stocked with required number of all needed parts so that any type of ordered vehicle can be assembled.
  3. The assembly line must replace the parts used by retrieving the same number of parts from the parts-producing process (the preceding process).
  4. The preceding process must be stocked with small numbers of all types of parts and produce only the numbers of parts that were retrieved by an operator from the next process.

Just-In-Time: is defined as a system for producing and delivering the right items to the right place at the right time. The intent of a just-in-time process is to reduce inventory by introducing systems and processes that create ‘flow’ and minimise buffering. User stories are often applied to support just-in-time processes on IT delivery teams. The details of the requirement are defined at the latest appropriate moment reducing the level of inventory (requirements defined up-front) within the system.Kaikaku :: this is a radical process improvement activity to reduce waste (muda). In a manufacturing environment this could be a one-off activity to reduce all of the storage space and inventory within an engine plant. In an IT context it could be a one-off activity to colocate a development team to reduce motion and transportation.      

Kaizen: literally translates to ‘continuous improvement’ in English. Kaizen activities are small, incremental activities performed over time where Kaikaku a radical and one-off.

Kanban: translates to ‘card’ in English which are used to create ‘pull’ systems by acting as replenishment triggers to upstream process steps. User stories written on CRC cards can be used to act as kanban and introduce a pull system to the software development life-cycle.
Lean : ‘Lean’ and ‘Lean Thinking’ were terms that were first coined in the seminal work by James Womack, Daniel Jones, and Daniel Roos in The Machine That Changed The World and the follow-up Lean Thinking. The terms refer to the values, concepts, systems and processes originally developed by Toyota and applied in the Toyota Production System (TPS) and Toyota Product Development System (TPDS).

Muda: translates to English as ‘waste’ and is defined as any activity that consumes resources but adds no value.

Mura: is a traditional Japanese term for unevenness and is often also translated as inconsistency. An example is a variation in the pacing of an operation that involves the person performing it to hurry to finish an operation and then wait.

Muri: is the overburdening of equipment or personnel. 
Nagara System: is a system in which an operator can perform seemingly unrelated tasks simultaneously.

Obeya: translates to English as ‘Big Room’ and is similar to the western concept of a War Room. The Obeya is a place for the team to gather to share information and progress, preferably in a visual way. The Obeya will usually contain information in the form of simple, visual charts fixed to the walls.

Pacemaker: this is a process point within the value stream that sets the pace for the entire stream.

Pitch: this is the time taken for a production process to build one container of finished products. If the Takt Time is 60 seconds and the container size is 100, then the pitch is 90 minutes. Pitch can be considered similar to the time taken to develop a fixed size application release in agile delivery terms.

Poke Yoke:: the rebranded term (and less offensive term to 1960’s plant workers) for Baka Yoke. The term translates from Japanese to English as ‘Error Proof’ and a Poke Yoke is considered to be an error proofing device. Some people I know attach a small piece of carpet to their garage walls so that when they open the door it does not get damaged if it hits the wall. This is a good example of the concept of a Poke Yoke.

Pull System: this is a system in which production and delivery instructions are sent upstream only when required by the downstream customer. Nothing is produced upstream until the downstream receiving process signals a need.

Push System: this is a system in which items are produced not at the request of the downstream system but typically by schedule, predicting the downstream need. In a push system items are often ordered and produced before they are required and stored in a batch and queue system until the upstream operator is ready.

Seiri: The first step of the “5S” process, seiri, refers to the act of throwing away all unwanted, unnecessary, and unrelated materials in the workplace.  People involved in Seiri must not feel sorry about having to throw away things. The idea is to ensure that everything left in the workplace is related to work. Even the number of necessary items in the workplace must be kept to its absolute minimum. Because of seiri, simplification of tasks, effective use of space, and careful purchase of items follow.

Seiton: or orderliness, is all about efficiency.  This step consists of putting everything in an assigned place so that it can be accessed or retrieved quickly, as well as returned in that same place quickly.  If everyone has quick access to an item or materials, work flow becomes efficient, and the worker becomes productive.  The correct place, position, or holder for every tool, item, or material must be chosen carefully in relation to how the work will be performed and who will use them.  Every single item must be allocated its own place for safekeeping, and each location must be labeled for easy identification of what it’s for.

Seiso, the third step in “5S”, says that ‘everyone is a janitor.’  Seiso consists of cleaning up the workplace and giving it a ‘shine’.  Cleaning must be done by everyone in the organization, from operators to managers. It would be a good idea to have every area of the workplace assigned to a person or group of persons for cleaning. No area should be left uncleaned. Everyone should see the ‘workplace’ through the eyes of a visitor – always thinking if it is clean enough to make a good impression.

Seiketsu: The fourth step of “5S”, or seiketsu, more or less translates to ‘standardized clean-up’. It consists of defining the standards by which personnel must measure and maintain ‘cleanliness’.  Seiketsu encompasses both personal and environmental cleanliness. Personnel must therefore practice ‘seiketsu’ starting with their personal tidiness. Visual management is an important ingredient of seiketsu.  Color-coding and standardized coloration of surroundings are used for easier visual identification of anomalies in the surroundings. Personnel are trained to detect abnormalities using their five senses and to correct such abnormalities immediately.

Shitsuke: The last step of “5S”, Shitsuke, means ‘Discipline.’ It denotes commitment to maintain orderliness and to practice the first 4 S as a way of life.  The emphasis of shitsuke is elimination of bad habits and constant practice of good ones.  Once true shitsuke is achieved, personnel voluntarily observe cleanliness and orderliness at all times, without having to be reminded by management

Shusa: a team leader in the Toyota Product Development System.

Stop-The-Line: is an approach to managing a process that allows anyone working within that process to stop work when an issue is identified and being resolved. This ensures that issues and defects are not propogated through the process and encourages defects to be fixed at source, never to be encountered again.

Supermarket (Marketplace): this is a small storage area that often appear at the boudary of push and pull systems that allow the amount of stock to be visually regulated, often using calculated minimum and maximum levels. These areas are also sometimes referred to as ‘Market Areas’.

Takt Time: is the heartbeat of a lean system and is used to set the rate of production to meet the rate of customer demand. It is the available production time divided by the rate of customer demand. If the customer wants 6 new online products released every 6 months then the takt time is one month. If customer demand is 20 story points per iteration and the team operates for 10 days within an iteration, then the takt time is 0.5 days.

Technik: is the German manufacturing principle of applying superior and advanced technology. Technik has been combined with lean principles to create a powerful hybrid system.

Theory of Constraints: is a management approach to improving the output of a system by identifying, resolving and managing the constraints of a system.

Training Within Industry (TWI): is a management philosophy originally developed by the Allies to improve production and supply chain processes in support of the World War II effort. TWI was introduced to Japan to support the rebuilding of the economy at the end of the war and is likely to have influenced the values and belief systems developed by Toyota at this time.

Throughput: counts the units of stakeholder value produced in a given time. For example if a software development team complete 12 story points in a two week iteration then the throughput would be 12.

Toyota Production System (TPS): this is the system applied by Toyota Motor Corporation to manufacture motor vehicles.

Toyota Product Development System (TPDS): this is the system applied by Toyota Motor Corporation to design and develop new vehicles and products

Value: is a capability provided to a customer at the right time at an appropriate price that is defined by the customer.

Value-Add: a value-add process step is one that transforms or modifies the product in such a way that a unit of value is added in the eyes of the customer.

Value Stream: this is the set of activities required to analyse, design and build a product from concept to launch.

Value Stream Mapping: a value stream map is a tool that is used to identify all of the process steps within a value stream for a given product. The value stream map can be used to identify process improvement opportunities by documenting opportunities to reduce the time taken for value-add activities, minimise non-value-add process steps and to ruthlessly eliminate waste.

Visual Control :: this is the principle of placing all tools, parts, activities, reports, performance indicators and information in plain sight so that the status can by quickly understood by everyone involved.

VoC (Voice of the Customer): is a principle of ensuring that the ‘real’ customers requirements have been solicited and are well understood. The voice of the customer informs and determines the specification and qualities of the product. 

Wait Time: Time where no activity is occurring.

Waste : see Muda.

Work Cells (or U-Shaped Cells): a work cell is a collection of equipment and workstations that have been specifically designed to support the processing of a product from start to finish as simply as possible.

WIP (Work In Progress): this is any work that has not completed but that has already incurred a capital cost to the organisation. Any software that has been developed but not deployed to production can be considered as work in progress.

original link from: http://www.richarddurnall.com/?page_id=3


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